Jeremiah 23:1-20; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12; Psalms 83:1-8; Proverbs 20:2-3
OT: ““Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” This is the Lord’s declaration. “Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds who tend my people: You have scattered my flock, banished them, and have not attended to them. I am about to attend to you because of your evil acts” — this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands where I have banished them, and I will return them to their grazing land. They will become fruitful and numerous. I will raise up shepherds over them who will tend them. They will no longer be afraid or discouraged, nor will any be missing.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “Look, the days are coming” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:1-6 CSB)
The authority that God gives to leaders is a great responsibility, especially among the people of God, for the leaders of the people have been delegated authority from God to care for the people and lead them in the ways of life and abundance. Where God is the Great Shepherd, delegated leaders are under-shepherds under His supreme authority and leadership. Therefore, those in leadership are held to a higher standard of accountability and are also corrected more strictly when they stray from God’s ways. King Josiah was the last good and righteous king of Judah. He had a zeal for the word, will and ways of the Lord and endeavored to lead the people of Israel away from the idolatrous ways of his fathers and back to the abundance and blessing that is found in God. After Josiah’s death, his sons forsook Josiah’s way of righteousness, became entangled in the corrupt political maneuverings of the day, and led the people back into faithlessness. This angered God greatly – for His delegated representatives were not representing Him at all, and were instead forsaking the good of the people for their own benefit and political standing.
As the leaders of Judah had forsaken Him, God would forsake the leaders of Judah – and would raise up a new generation of shepherds who would tend His sheep. Not only that, but a day was coming when God would also raise up a new and Righteous King… the promised Messiah from the lineage of David… a King named the Lord Our Righteousness, who would bring true salvation and security to the people of God. That King is Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Isn’t it interesting that before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told Simon Peter so feed His lambs and shepherd His sheep (John 21:15-17). The leaders of God’s church in Christ are called pastors (shepherds). They are under-shepherds to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Their role is to care for the sheep and lead them in the word, will and ways of the Lord – that they may find green pastures and still waters as they follow Christ. Woe to the shepherds who instead of leading the sheep to Christ, lead them astray for their own selfish benefit and political standing.
NT: “This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious strength on that day when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed. In view of this, we always pray for you that our God will make you worthy of his calling, and by his power fulfill your every desire to do good and your work produced by faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7b-12 CSB)
When Jesus stood in the Galilean synagogue and read from Isaiah 61, He said God had sent Him to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… and then purposely left out the part about proclaiming the day of God’s vengeance. God’s vengeance would indeed come, but Christ’s first coming was all about setting people free from sin. When Christ comes again – that will be the day of God’s vengeance. Though the Thessalonian believers were suffering persecution now – there would come a day when all of their persecution would be repaid to them in glory, and all the unrepentant persecutors would experience God’s just and righteous wrath. The believers faith in the midst of persecution was glorifying to the name of the Lord… and one day, the Lord would glorify them for eternity. Therefore, Paul prayed for them, that God would make them worthy of His calling and powerfully fulfill their every desire to do good by faith – so that on that great day of the Lord, they would receive their reward.
Proverbs: “A king’s terrible wrath is like the roaring of a lion; anyone who provokes him endangers himself.” (Proverbs 20:2 CSB)
This reminds me of a quite from C.S. Lewis’ book,”The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” When Susan found out that Aslan was a lion, she asked the beavers if he was safe. “‘Safe?’ said Mr Beaver… ‘Who said anything about safe? Of Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’” God is not safe, and anyone who provokes Him endangers himself. But thankfully, for our sakes, He is good and merciful – and He has extended forgiveness, mercy and grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ… but God’s longsuffering and patience does not last forever. There will come a time, when all who have not taken His offer of forgiveness and mercy, will experience His terrible roar.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your amazing grace, for your unending love and Your mercy that is new every morning. I thank You that through repentance from sin and faith in You, I am forgiven from all my sin and have been rescued from the wrath of God. Help me to live worthy of the calling You have given me, and lead as many people as possible to experience the life and forgiveness that is found in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.