Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 19 2019 - Jeremiah 23 – False shepherds

In psalm 23, David the shepherd boy thinks of the way the Lord has been his shepherd. The Lord has cared for him, protected him and directed his paths. God's love and faithfulness has surrounded him all the days of his life. The Lord chose David, a man after his own heart, to be king over his people. God's plan was that the king, along with other leaders of his people, should be caring shepherds, reflecting God's own love and care for his people.

But Jeremiah is sent to declare that the leaders of God's people have abandoned God's calling:

"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture! … Because you have scattered my flock … and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the Lord. (vv.1-2)

The prophets and priests in the land have turned away from the Lord so that even the temple has become a place of idolatry (v. 11). The prophets are not listening to the voice of the Lord but are making up words of their own or are copying one from another. They are preaching a message of peace, assuring the people that all will be well, when God is speaking words of warning and of judgment (vv.16-17). Prophets from Samaria are even prophesying in the name of Baal (v.13). Others are telling people of the dreams they have had, visions of purely human origin (vv.25-27). God declares that he will bring disaster upon them and on the people that have delighted in their soothing message. He calls the people not to listen to the voice of these false prophets with their continual message of peace.

But once again there is hope beyond judgment. "The days are coming" (vv.5,7) when God will come to rescue and restore his people. He will bring them back from the land of their captivity and will raise up a new king to rule over them. He will be from David's descendants yet will be a greater and better king than David, the best of their kings. He will reign wisely and justly and will be called "The Lord our righteousness [or righteous Saviour]" (vv. 5-6). The name "Lord" in verse 7 is the name of the living God; the one who comes to save and reign over God's people will be Yahweh himself. He will be the righteousness of his people.

This is what God declares through Jeremiah:

I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing. (vv.3-4)

And this new act of God's saving power will be more dramatic even than when he rescued Israel from Egypt all those years ago. That event was remembered and celebrated by God's people, especially at Passover time. But when God himself comes to save his people it will be this new act of redemption which will be continually celebrated by them (vv.7-8).

We know that Jesus is the one who came to fulfil this ancient prophecy. He is Emmanuel, God come among us to save us. He is the one who has rescued us from slavery to sin and to death through his own victory at the cross. He is the Messiah, God's anointed king, who reigns over us in wisdom and gracious power. He is the Good Shepherd. He is our righteousness and our peace. And he is the model for leaders among his people (v.4). They also are to be shepherds of God's people, caring for the flock of God, the church of God which he bought with his own blood.

Father God, we thank you for the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. We pray for all those who are called to be leaders among your people that you would fill them with your Spirit and make them like your Son. So may we be led in paths of righteousness and be used of you to continue your work of gathering a people for yourself from every nation under heaven.

Aug 19 2013 - 1 Corinthians 12:1-26 – The body of Christ

Paul learned key elements of his Christian theology in a blinding flash on the Damascus road. It was there that he was confronted by the risen Saviour who stopped him in his tracks with the question, “Why are you persecuting me?” Paul learned that there is an intimate relationship between Christ and his people; to persecute them is to persecute him; they are the body of Christ.

In a continuation of the theme we were looking at yesterday, Paul applies this picture to the argumentative Christians at Corinth. They were baptised into one body – the body of Christ – and they all share in the one Spirit – the Spirit of the risen Christ. They may differ one from another not only in natural abilities but also spiritual giftedness and gifts; nevertheless, they form one body in Christ. Indeed, such differences are vital to the proper functioning of the body, “If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear?” Their gifts are complementary, and the needs of each are an opportunity to receive help and ministry from another.

There are many reasons why we should value one another in the Christian family. The first and most fundamental is that the “other” is also a member of the body. If Christ so loved that person that he gave himself for them, should not I also love them and value them? Secondly, Paul reminds us that we need each other just as each part of a body needs the other parts. We cannot function properly without them. When we are tempted to feel that our church would be better off without that awkward person we deceive ourselves and fail to value them as Christ has valued them – and we have over-valued ourselves. Each member is necessary; each is to be valued. Because you all belong to Christ, you belong to one another and belong together.

Paul writes that, “there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24). It is both painful and damaging when Christians fall out. It is a wound in the body and may even cause lasting disability. We belong to one another; let us value one another and cherish one another.

Father in heav’n,
You saved us by your Son,
now by your Spirit
make your children one
that all may see
your kingdom here begun.

Jesus our Lord,
forgive our foolish pride,
heal our divisions
no device can hide;
come, heal the wounds
which spoil your chosen bride.

See how your body
is broken and torn,
mocked by the crowds and
the object still of scorn.

Father in heav'n,
you saved us by your Son,
now by your Spirit
make your children one
that all may see
your kingdom here begun.

Come mighty Spirit
of truth and of love,
visibly fill us
with life from above.

Father in heav'n,
you saved us by your Son,
now by your Spirit
make your children one
that all may see
your kingdom here begun.

Lord, help me not only to be a faithful follower of you but also a ready servant of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to value each one of them as you have valued them. Help me to value and encourage their gifts and to encourage and strengthen them in their weakness, even as I need such strengthening and encouragement myself. By the power of your Spirit, may I bring healing, health and blessing to your body. May I never be a thorn in the flesh of your body.

Peter Misselbrook