Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, May 24, 2014

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It is a big responsibility to be a spiritual leader and particularly a pastor. My dad is a retired pastor and I have five uncles who are retired pastors, except one. Add to this list a brother and brother-in-law and a son who are pastors. In addition, I have been blessed by many close friends who are pastors, especially my current pastor. I can understand the passion that drives a person to minister on behalf of our God.

This chapter in Jeremiah speaks to spiritual leaders. In the previous few chapters, the focus has been on the political leaders of the nation. Now, God is talking about shepherds or pastors. What is involved when a person stands for God before the people? What does it mean to speak for God? Is it possible to pervert the Words of the God, to misrepresent Him, and to prophesy lies in His name? Is it possible to casually and carelessly use God’s name to give credibility to our purposes? God pronounces a woe against the shepherds who have scattered His people.

In the midst of a failure of spiritual leadership, the Holy Spirit through Jeremiah pours out a bright beam of light into a darkened world. As he prophesies that God Himself will set up new shepherds that will care for His people, he breaks forth into a beautiful Messianic prophecy!

“Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, That I will raise to David a Branch of Righteousness: A King shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” They desperately needed His righteousness and so do we.

There is a saying—“As go the leaders, so go the people.” Is it any wonder that the evil one vigorously attacks our pastors and leaders? We have the privilege of covering them in prayer. The times demand our diligence!

Immorality has proven particularly effective in neutralizing the Word of God. Even though we are dedicated to Him, we are still susceptible to such temptations. In the times of Jeremiah, the false prophets and priests were taking the people in a downward spiral which is called “a horrible thing,” and where the situation is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. This also applies to our time.

This chapter is really about the righteous Word of God in contrast to the corrupted word that was being attributed to Him. To say that God is unhappy about this situation is an understatement.  It is with trembling that I read, “I will utterly forget you and forsake you….and will cast you out of My presence.”

Jeremiah is in deep mourning over the situation with “a broken heart because of the misuse of God’s Holy Words.” He understands the implications. I am struck with the concept of “stealing My words,” and can think of several ways that can be done, but one stands out, the ways of a hypocrite. They say one thing and do another.  Jesus warned His disciples about this because the scribes and Pharisees said one thing but their actions were not in harmony with what they said (see Matt. 23:2-3).

Are we one person in church and a different person in everyday life? Are our thoughts subject to God’s Holy Word? God is longing for His people to shake off the Laodicean condition where one foot is in the church and the other in the world.

My prayer for you and for me today is that as spiritual leaders and fellow believers we handle the Word of God faithfully and put His Word in action in our lives. Words that will transform us into true sons and daughters of the Most High God!

Dan Houghton 
Hart Research Center