If The Shepherds Fail, What Happens To The Sheep?

shepherd083When I read the book of Jeremiah, some times I feel as if he was talking about contemporary Western culture. Instead he prophesied during the last thirty or so years before Judah fell to Babylon. During that time, he repeatedly warned the people of the impending calamity. God, he said, would not rescue them because Babylon was His instrument of judgment upon them because of their evil deeds.

Rightly so, he especially lambasted the leaders, who he referred to as the shepherds of God’s people: the rulers, the priests, but especially the prophets.

“Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard,
They have trampled down My field;
They have made My pleasant field
A desolate wilderness.” (Jer 12:10)

The priests were to bring sacrifices to God and to follow the Law. The rulers were to be models before the people of living according to the Law. The prophets were to listen to God’s voice and communicate His word to the people. Instead

“The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me;
The rulers also transgressed against Me,
And the prophets prophesied by Baal
And walked after things that did not profit.” (Jer 2:8)

The people didn’t escape condemnation. They were complicit in the evil that the leaders brought on Judah:

The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it? (Jer 5:31 – emphasis mine)

Which brings me to today. Well, last night actually. I turned on a TV station called Daystar which airs these Christian music/Bible verse/nature picture montages–except last night in place of those was what appeared to be a concert.

I watched for a bit and soon realized my mistake–this was not a concert but the “worship” portion of a large church service. My first clue was the attractive little advertisement that opened at the bottom of the screen giving information about the pastor’s new book which could be purchased by calling such and such a number. As I watched, the ad changed to one for the church newsletter, to sermon CDs, to past books, to a “thank you” for donations and the contact information where people can write. Before long, though, the new book was again front and center.

I’m a writer, so I appreciate that speaking can lead to book purchases, but this particular pastor, who did eventually preach, is well known for his health and wealth message. It’s a false message, as much so as the one delivered by the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day. But there in that packed concert-hall type facility, with its broad stage and professional lighting, the people were only too happy to drink in the false teaching spewing from the pulpit. I suspect there were a good number only too happy to order a copy of the new book, as well.

So there he was, preaching a gospel that is mixed with Baal worship the love of money, using the occasion to advertise so he can make more money. Not surprising, his author bio is filled with numbers–how many people attend his church, how many watch his messages on TV, even how much money he spent renovating his church.

And My people love it so!

Clearly there are thousands–millions, if those stats can be trusted–who love it so. But Jeremiah’s question applies to us today as well: “But what will you do at the end of it?”

How many people are “trusting Jesus” for the misused promises this pastor passes on, and will come to the end of life without any idea about the redemption God offers, purchased by the precious blood of His Son.

Take this one example of a satisfied customer:

[Author/pastor’s name redacted] all that I can say is that you have saved my life and yet we have never even met. You give me Hope. Reading your books have helped me to see and believe that I am one of GOD’s children and well deserving of all the goodness, victory and abundance that is promised to those who love, praise and follow our Father’s wishes. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, you are to me a true deliverer of positive energy (emphasis mine).

To this happy reader, the author/pastor is the one who saves, who gives hope. Rather than seeing himself as a sinner, he now understands he’s deserving of goodness. Positive energy, not salvation from sin, seems to be the end all.

Jeremiah’s words again seem relevant for today:

Thus says the LORD of hosts,
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own imagination,
Not from the mouth of the LORD.
They keep saying to those who despise Me,
‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace”‘;
And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.'” (Jer 23:16-17

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Published in: on April 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm  Comments Off on If The Shepherds Fail, What Happens To The Sheep?  
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