WOE TO THE SHEPHERDS, 23.11.18
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
Instead of raising up disciples for Christ, much of church leadership models a lukewarm, compromising brand of Christianity. “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, thus says Adonai Elohim: “Oy, shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should shepherds not take care of the sheep? . . . . you do not take care of the sheep. You do not strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring back the stray or seek the lost. . . . . They were scattered for lack of a shepherd. . . . My sheep wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill. Over all the face of the earth . . . . My sheep were scattered. . . . . . . My sheep became prey . . . . because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My sheep . . . . . I am against the shepherds and I will demand My flock from their hand . . . . The shepherds will no longer feed themselves. I will rescue My sheep” (Ezek.34:2-10).
God will judge the shepherds, in His time: “Listen to the wailing of the shepherds, for their glory is destroyed!” (Zech.11:3). God has given the shepherds a responsibility, and they will be held accountable for how they mishandled/handled their assignment. Yeshua/Jesus said: “From everyone given much, much will be required; and from the one for whom more is provided, all the more they will ask of him” (Lk.12:48). Those placed in positions of authority and responsibility will be measured by a higher standard, and dealt with more harshly. When the Great Day of the Lord arrives, there will be a reckoning with God Almighty Himself; He will be judge and jury.
So much compromise and watered down doctrine abounds, finding models of holy living and righteousness, has become a most difficult task. Existing Christian/Church models simply become mirrors of the secular world. It is becoming commonplace to hear foul language not just amidst Christians but leadership. There have been reports of Pastors subscribing to the famous four-letter word, even from the pulpit, normalizing, even sanctioning what Paul referred to as “filthy language out of your mouth” (Col.3:8). What message does that give to our youth? It fuels liberal lukewarm Christianity, lowering still more the already dwindling moral standards, the distinction between the believers and society quickly disappearing, becoming synonymous instead of distinct. Leadership participating in sexual immorality, pornography, partaking of worldly entertainment, sanctioning foul language – all these practices, instead of teaching God’s people that they are called to a higher standard, leave sheep in wilderness, while the warning, “Stay alert! Watch out! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, searching for someone to devour”(1 Pet.5:8), goes unheeded, leaving the sheep to the wolves.
Rationalizing and justifying indulging in worldly pleasures with the facade of reaching out to the unbelieving world is not congruent with God’s Word/what Christ did. When Jesus/Yeshua dined with sinners, He was not indulging in worldly pleasures; He was preaching, teaching, evangelizing. When Paul went into the streets of Athens, he was not partaking of worldly pleasures, he was evangelizing: “So he was debating in the synagogue with the Jewish people and the God-fearers, as well as in the marketplace every day with all who happened to be there. Also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What’s this babbler trying to say?” while others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign deities”—because he was proclaiming the Good News of Yeshua . . . . “May we know what this new teaching is that you are talking about? . . . . Paul stood in the middle of the Aereopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that in all ways you are very religious. . . . . I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing, this I proclaim to you”(Acts 17:17-23). Paul was the earliest apologist. He was not fraternizing, partaking of carnal lusts/pleasures. He was teaching, preaching, evangelizing, promoting, and defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ/Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. The deceptive implications that Yeshua/Jesus was indulging in worldly pleasures when doing His Father’s business is a blatant heresy, and an effort to justify people’s (and this includes leadership/shepherds) own lustful desires. It is a sad state we are in; it is the Church of Thyatira (Rev.2), Church of Laodecea (Rev.3), speeding towards God’s judgment.
“Focus your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col.3:2-6). According to Paul, we shouldn’t even be interested in the things of the world: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. When Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him, in glory! Therefore, put to death what is earthly in you—sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed—for that is idolatry. Because of such things God’s wrath is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Col.3:4-6). The message most common these days provides deceptive reassurance that “God is not mad at you,” overlain with dollops of God’s Grace, excluding any call to repentance. According to Paul’s words that: “At one time you also walked in these ways, when you used to live in these ways” (Col.3:7), this should be a thing of the past. And Peter preached repentance (Acts 2:38), scarcely heard from today’s pulpit. Rather, the words, sin, and repentance have been abandoned, and the four-letter words endorsed, Pastors striving to please the masses, while fearful of offending with truth. “But now, set them all aside—anger, rage, malice, slander, and foul language out of your mouth . . . . . . you have taken off the old self with its practices . . . . put on the new self that is being renewed in knowledge, according to the image of the One who created him” (Col.3:8-10). Live examples of these dictums are sadly lacking
When Scripture says we “shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free,” it is not intending freedom to sin. That is far from the case. Yeshua calls us to holiness and righteousness. We are to follow Him; and He lived a sinless life. It is difficult to understand the origin and justification of the post modern day version of freedom. There isn’t anything to justify this notion, other than the fleshly desire to sanction such behaviour. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”(Matt.5:48). And does it sound like He is flexing the standards, or sanctioning freedom to participate in lust, perversion, pornography, sexual immorality, etc., when Yeshua/Jesus says “everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away!” (Matt. 5:28,29)? Or when Paul admonishes, “I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom.12:1,2)? These words hardly represent a mandate to indulge in the carnal realm of fleshly lusts, pleasures, and perversions.
Yeshua did not intend for us to partake of the world: “I have given them Your word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world just as I am not of the world. I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. “Make them holy in the truth. Your word is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I make Myself holy, so that they also may be made holy in truth”(John 17:14-19). Does that sound like an endorsement of compromise? of today’s brand of liberal Christianity? May God have mercy on the Shepherds, “for the first shall be last and the last shall be first”(Matt.19:30;20:16).
© 2015, revised 2017, 2nd. Ed, 2018 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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