2001-02-17 - Messiah: His Final Call to Israel
Messiah: His Final Call to Israel Series, Part 21
Israel will one day return to the one who can and will bring peace. I hope that day comes soon. As we enter the 22nd devotional on this subject we continue to take a close look at the 3rd chapter of Jeremiah, and the command to return is given more meaning to them.
Jer. 3:14-15 "Return, O backsliding children," saith Jehovah; "for I am a husband unto you: And I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."
Frequently, the prophets were carried forward in vision from their day across the centuries to a time in the future and described what they saw and heard. Speaking for God, Jeremiah -- with tenderness and gentleness -- calls upon backsliding Israel to return. Like Jeremiah, Micah presents God as ready to forgive sins and to blot out all iniquities.
Micah 7:18-20 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in lovingkindness. He will again have compassion upon us. He will tread our iniquities underfoot, and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the lovingkindness to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
Notwithstanding the fact that backsliding Israel has played the harlot, engaging in idolatrous worship from time to time, the Lord affirms, "I am a husband unto you." To the same effect, Isaiah speaks to Israel:
Isa. 54:4-8 "Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: Neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame. For thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and the reproach of thy widowhood shalt thou remember no more. For thy Maker is thy husband; Jehovah of hosts is his name. And the Holy One of Israel is thy Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall he be called. For Jehovah hath called thee as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off," saith thy God. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In overflowing wrath, I hid my face from thee for a moment. But with everlasting lovingkindness will I have mercy on thee," saith Jehovah thy Redeemer.
God cannot arbitrarily overlook and pass by sin and iniquity, for He is righteous and His Holiness cannot countenance sin in any form. However, when the sinner repents and forsakes his evil ways and throws himself (figuratively speaking), at the feet of the God against whom he has sinned, pleading for mercy -- God will accept and receive him. The thief who was executed along with Jesus on the cross cried out in faith. Of all the Jews living at the time foreseen in this passage by Jeremiah, only those who heed the warning and accept the salvation full and free will be purged from the nation, and the rest will be cast into outer darkness.
Luke 23:42-43 And he said, "Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom". And he said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise."
The leaders of Israel are often spoken of as shepherds. The prophets frequently denounce them for dereliction of duties. The implication of Jeremiah 3:15 is that the shepherds of Israel of the end time are unfaithful in the discharge of their duties; responsibilities; and service of the flock, the great masses of the Jewish people. God, therefore, through the Prophet, promises to give them the proper kind of shepherds.
Jer. 3:15 And I will give you shepherds according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
God is going to hold the leaders of the people-both Jew and Gentile-to a strict account for the way in which they discharge the duties of their positions. The inspired Apostle Paul urges Timothy to preach God's Word faithfully to the people and charges him before God saying,
2 Tim. 4:1-2 I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
Isaiah speaks of the regathering of Israel and thinks of the people as a flock of sheep in a forest that is exposed to the attack of the wild beasts. The watchmen are not interested in the welfare and the protection of the sheep. On the contrary, they are interested in satisfying the carnal desires of their own depraved nature.
Isa. 56: 9-12 All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind, they are all without knowledge. They are all dumb dogs. They cannot bark -- dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, the dogs are greedy, they can never have enough; and these are shepherds that cannot understand: They have all turned to their own way, each one to his gain, from every quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, a day great beyond measure.
Beasts, when used symbolically as in this passage, always refer to civil governments. Thus the governments, according to verse 9, are not protecting their sheep. What Isaiah said about the leaders of his own countrymen can be truthfully said about many preachers and ministers in the Christian world. A man who assumes the position of proclaiming God's Word will have to give a strict account to the Lord for what he preaches, does, and fails to do:
Jer. 23: 28-29 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. "What is the straw to the wheat?" saith Jehovah. "Is not my word like fire?" saith Jehovah. "And like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?"
Ezekiel also condemns the unfaithful and unworthy leaders of his people (Ezekiel, Chapter 34). These shepherds concerning whom the Prophet is speaking, are probably both the political and religious leaders of the nation. Next week, we will examine this chapter more closely. We will see that when the shepherds of God's people walk off the job, so to speak -- the Lord Himself takes on the form of a man and shepherds His people Himself. Oh that Israel would discover these great truths and heed the messages contained within the Scriptures and (re)turn to Him. May the Lord hasten the day so that Israel will find real peace, and the world a blessing from God through them.
In His Service,