Day 113: The Shepherd Becomes a Lion

Jeremiah 25:30-38

“Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and tell them,
“ ‘Yahweh will roar from on high,
and utter his voice from his holy habitation.
He will mightily roar against his fold.
He will give a shout, as those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
A noise will come even to the end of the earth;
for Yahweh has a controversy with the nations.
He will enter into judgment with all flesh.
As for the wicked, he will give them to the sword,” ’ says Yahweh.”

Yahweh of Armies says,
“Behold, evil will go out from nation to nation,
and a great storm will be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth.”
The slain of Yahweh will be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They won’t be lamented. They won’t be gathered or buried. They will be dung on the surface of the ground.
Wail, you shepherds, and cry.
Wallow in dust, you leader of the flock;
for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions have fully come,
and you will fall like fine pottery.
The shepherds will have no way to flee.
The leader of the flock will have no escape.
A voice of the cry of the shepherds,
and the wailing of the leader of the flock,
for Yahweh destroys their pasture.
The peaceful folds are brought to silence
because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.
He has left his covert, as the lion;
for their land has become an astonishment because of the fierceness of the oppression,
and because of his fierce anger.

When you become a fat, satisfied and rebellious sheep, it’s pretty easy to forget that if it were not for your shepherd, you wouldn’t survive long. One of the horrible things about our human nature, is that we can’t handle security and prosperity, that’s one thing we see when we look at a passage like this.

Israel had been given everything they had from God. They didn’t even build the cities that they aquired. God had protected them from the very beginning using supernatural means. They would not have even existed had God not taken them out of Egypt and then continued to protect them up to this point, but instead of being thankful and submissive to God, they became rebellious and challenged God. God had been a good shepherd to them up to this point, but their sin caused Him to make a change.

Jeremiah tells us that God had become angry and was about to roar like a lion at His own flock. I can’t think of anything more frightening than for a shepherd to become a lion. That sounds like something out of a nightmare, but that’s what the sins of Israel caused God to do. God cannot support sin and He was about to demonstrate that fact. Notice that God even says that “the leader of the flock will have no escape.” The people and the leader that God had put over them were going to be punished as if they were sheep being eaten by a lion.

So what are we to do about our problem as humans? Although it isn’t obvious in this passage, hope was on the way. God wasn’t merely delighting in the fact that humans are unable to do anything right. God was making it clear that we have a severe internal problem. We can’t prosper because we can’t stop sinning even under the best of conditions. When Jesus came, God brought our solution. He was able to change our ability to handle prosperity by removing the rebellion from our hearts. That doesn’t mean that we don’t continue fight it in our flesh, but God removed the root of the problem by causing us to be born again. Our Good Shepherd will never turn on us like a lion ever again.

Day 100: Poorly Handling Prosperity

Jeremiah 22:20-23

“Go up to Lebanon, and cry.
Lift up your voice in Bashan,
and cry from Abarim;
for all your lovers have been destroyed.
I spoke to you in your prosperity;
but you said, ‘I will not listen.’
This has been your way from your youth,
that you didn’t obey my voice.
The wind will feed all your shepherds,
and your lovers will go into captivity.
Surely then you will be ashamed
and confounded for all your wickedness.
Inhabitant of Lebanon,
who makes your nest in the cedars,
how greatly to be pitied you will be when pangs come on you,
the pain as of a woman in travail!

It is true that when trouble comes it reveals something about us. When we are in trouble, we find out who we really call out to for help, but this passage shows us something else. What about how we handle prosperity?

Prosperity was Israel’s main problem and I think that it is ours as well. When God gives us prosperity, do we become proud and rebellious and stop trusting in God? That’s what God says about Israel here. Remember that Israel would cry out to God for help when they were in trouble, but as soon as things got good again, they went on with their sinning.

It’s pretty clear that times of prosperity reveal the desires of our hearts. When we have all that we need, what do we choose to do with what we have? As Christians, we choose to give. Our flesh, however, may rise up during times of prosperity and influence us to waste it. The Holy Spirit will bring that to mind and we need to listen and turn away from our fleshly desire to rebel against what God wants us to do. Times of prosperity can be times of temptation.

We have a great example of a man who chose to avoid the temptation of wealth and power. Instead of taking it for himself, he chose to help slaves. I’m talking about Moses. God tells us that he chose to take his reward from God and to lay down his right to become a king in Egypt on earth. Instead, he allowed God to use him to fight for his own people’s release from slavery. He had to run away and become a shepherd for 40 years and then at 80 had to take on a new career as a leader of a very rebellious people. He may not have become king of Egypt, but he did have the privilege of talking to God Himself as a friend and God remarks about it in the Bible.

Israel’s rebellion ultimately cost them their country. No wonder Moses had such a hard time with them. They were living in opposite ways. Because Israel chose to run after other gods and refused to listen to God, they ended up alone with nothing, but Moses ended up with a reward that no one could take away.

Day 65: Boldly Speaking God’s Word

Jeremiah 13:12-14

“Therefore you shall speak to them this word: ‘Yahweh, the God of Israel says, “Every container should be filled with wine.” ’ They will tell you, ‘Do we not certainly know that every container should be filled with wine?’ Then tell them, ‘Yahweh says, “Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness. I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together,” says Yahweh: “I will not pity, spare, or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.” ’ ”

Here again, we witness God’s simple yet powerful teaching techniques. Here, He has His prophet tell the people to fill up all of their containers with wine. It appears that in a mocking way, the people respond by saying that they already knew that. I am told, that what Jeremiah said was actually a well known saying. Everybody knew it all ready. It was like saying: “Everything will fulfill it’s purpose.” It may have come to mean something like: “What you plan for, will happen.” Boy, does that sound familiar today. The problem is that the Bible doesn’t teach that exactly.

Then, Jeremiah shocks them again with God’s message. He tells them that just as they fill up all their jars with wine, God is going to make them all drunk with His wrath! What God actually teaches us is that we reap what we sow. If we sow to our selfishness, we reap God’s wrath. If we sow to God, we reap righteousness and peace. It’s pretty obvious that Jeremiah wasn’t getting any more popular with the people. Not only did he ruin their prosperity ideas, he told them that every single one of them including their physical and spiritual leaders were going to suffer by the hand of God.

God calls us all to boldly speak God’s word. Now we may not be preachers like Jeremiah, but we “boldly speak” by how we live too. The choices we make and the answers we have for those who question us, speak out to them as well. I find that they often don’t like it very much. One major difference we have today is that there are those who will hear our message and accept Jesus as their Savior too, but Jeremiah wasn’t getting a good response from His people.