A Voice in the
Wilderness

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" A Call for Shepherds! "
    "And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, Here am I! Send me. And He said, Go, and tell this people, You listen to hear, but do not understand; you look to see, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back, and be healed." (Is6:8-10)

    "And Jehovah said to me, The prophets prophesy lies in My name; I did not send them, nor have I commanded them, nor did I speak to them. They prophesy to you a false vision and a worthless divination, and a thing of no value, and the deceit of their heart." (Jer14:14)

    "And I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and will bring them back to their folds. And they shall be fruitful and multiply. And I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them. And they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed; nor shall they be lacking, says Jehovah." (Jer23:3-4)

To put the following introductory comments in temporal perspective: This article is being prepared during America's "Memorial Day" week-end.

A bit over a week ago a little college town south of here (Moscow, Idaho) experienced a person gone berserk who went on a shooting rampage. Before he finally turned the gun on himself, he first killed his wife, and then went downtown shooting hundreds of rounds into buildings, cars, and at people. According to 911 tapes the media re-played, at moments he was shooting as fast as a person could keep pulling the trigger. In the course of events several people were killed, and several more injured; one a young man who, upon hearing the gunshots, got his own gun and went to see what he might do, and ended up being shot four times, himself. The lessons of Virginia Tech are still in people's memories. And even though being shot, when asked on his hospital bed if he would "do it again?" his reply: to perhaps "approach the situation differently"...but overwhelmingly, "Yes!" He would do it again...to stop a mad-man and save lives. Now that he's been shot and knows what it's like, he is "no longer afraid of being shot". (They're obviously made of different stuff over there in Idaho!)

One of those killed was a Moscow city police officer who had just signed off his shift for the day. His memorial was held this past Friday. Since I took that day off as part of my extended week-end, I was at home when the service was broadcast live, and since I was relaxing and loafing around the house, with no schedule of anything 'planned' for the day, decided to watch it. In attendance were hundreds of law enforcement from distances like California, N.Dakota, N.York and some Canadian provinces. Quite a procession of police cars and people in uniform. The usual things one would expect: color guard, continual changing of the guard during the service, three-gun salute, music, speeches, presentation of the flag to his widow, etc.

Toward the end of the service a police chaplain gave his speech. I say "speech" because it was clearly NOT a 'message' from the Lord nor the Scriptures. Yes, he used Romans ch13 as a starting point, telling those in uniform how they are God's messengers to uphold the law. When one considers how much abuse of their authority law enforcement seems to be in the news about, lately, I could have wished he had made some different emphases than he did. But the man continually hemmed and hawed over his words; almost as though he had come, seemingly, totally unprepared. Obviously he either did not have a message to present; or if he had one, he was reticent to proclaim it.

When he finally finished addressing power and politics, and was addressing Eternal Life, sin and salvation, it seemed the most he could muster to say was a half-hearted attempt at: "Salvation comes from obeying the commands of Christ" Well, that is certainly a "safe" message, isn't it, that even catholics and mormons can assent to.

When the world thinks of the "teachings of Jesus" they typically think of the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the poor, blessed are the peacemakers, Judge not that you be not judged, etc. And in these things, man can look at many famous teachers throughout history, or legal codes like Hammurabi or the Magna Carta, etc. Various teachings of the so called "great" ones to help man "better himself".

But they neglect the teachings that Jesus spoke regarding the "works of God" and Salvation: "This is the work of God, that you believe into Him whom he sent" (Jn6:29) And Jesus further clarified, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Jn14:6) This is the message Peter proclaimed, "let it be known to you all...that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men that is required for us to be saved." (Ac4:10,12)

This message, the "command of Jesus" regarding Salvation, the chaplain did not proclaim. I expect it would not be considered 'politically correct'. It would be considered too "exclusive", too divisive, too intolerant of those who perhaps believed in some other religion or deity or follow some other guru. The results of not accepting such a teaching results in "death" and condemnation. That is way too "judgmental" and "hateful". And yet, by definition of his position as a police "chaplain", he also carried a Bible, and was an executor of the teachings of the Bible. Just as the police and legal system have their books of law and code books to go along with their 'jobs', the chaplain's -book- for his 'job' is the Bible. And yet, he was not declaring God's Law...considering that God is the Author of the Bible.

As he continued halting along in his half-hearted drone, I had about as much as I could take, and started stomping around the house, yelling at the TV: You don't have a message! Preach the Word! That is not the Gospel message! C'mon, preach the message! Give it to them! Why are you a preacher if you are not going to proclaim, Thus says the Lord? Where are the preachers that preach God's Word??? And other things... I was ranting and raving, well sort of, at the TV. I become quite angry and agitated when somebody is pretending to be a preacher, and does not proclaim God's Word! The Word was "burning" within me for that audience. (Jer20:9) At that moment, if I could have stepped up to that pulpit, I would have; and given the Message that chaplain seemed reluctant to give

This introduction to this article is being typed on Sunday. Some minutes ago on TV was a famous well-known southern baptist preacher. I had never heard him before, but when the sub-title gave his name, the name sounded 'familiar'; but still not knowing who he was I went and found some information about him at Biblical Discernment Ministries. The fact that he would make it onto their list, meant that there were 'problems' with him. As I had been listenning, my spirit had not been witnessing that he was God's servant; which is why my first place to look for him was BDM.

For the most part he was preaching a fairly Biblical message about repentance, faith, grace and forgiveness; but with a few 'flavors' of things regarding "forgiveness" as modern society views the topic, that are not the present scope of this article. But the first thing that caught my attention was his 'air' and 'attitude': I am a person with a famous name, and aren't I just great for standing up here and talking to y'all. So here-now, y'all listen to me.

Later, as I had taken a break from writing, this other fellow was on: his facial expressions as though a demon's. Talking about "thousand dollar seeds". Telling his audience that if God gives them a surprise "thousand dollars", that that is not God's blessing to them, but that it is His "seed" to them, for them to "plant". Of course, "planting" is accomplished by sending that same thousand dollars to 'him' and his ministry, where the operators are standing by waiting for their call.

When I was a kid, preachers used to spout off the little saying: A preacher should always be prepared to Preach, Pray or Die at a moment's notice. This saying would be considered 'funny', especially if the pastor would happen to notice somebody visiting in the audience he recognized as a preacher, and would spontaneously call him up to the pulpit, "Brother, won't you come up and preach to us!"

In recruiting, the U.S.Marines used to have a saying: the Marines are looking for a "few good men". And their slogan is "semper fidelis" (semper fi)... "always faithful" This is what God's servant is to be:

    "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1Co4:2)
But what is the state of -the- 'ministry' today? Preachers who don't preach God's Word; preachers who are prideful of their position; preachers that are fleecing the flock.

They don't preach God's Word, they "prophesy lies in [God's] name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed" (Jer23:25) And people flock to them. My uncle used to call out, "Come sheeeep! Come sheeeep!" and they would come crowding around, bleating, wanting the yummy oats in his bucket. Only thing: today's shepherds don't have oats in their buckets! Their buckets are empty!

The fault is not -just- with the shepherds.

    "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their own power; and MY PEOPLE LOVE TO HAVE IT SO, and what will you do in the end?" (Jer5:31)
People want, and preachers give it to them: the people have said,
    "It is vain to serve God. And, What profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked as mourners before Jehovah of Hosts? AND NOW WE ARE CALLING THE ARROGANT BLESSED. Those that work wickedness are built up; they even test God, and escape." (Mal3:14-15)
And just as alluded to earlier about the growing corruption in law enforcement, there is a corruption in the body of people that call themselves God's ministers:
    "His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs who cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, to his own end. They say, Come, let us get wine and binge on strong drink; and tomorrow shall be like today; much more abundant." (Is56:10-12) They look for their own gain. They do not "give their life" for the sheep like the "good Shepherd" (Jn10:11)
And they fleece the flock...
    "For thus says Jehovah my God, Feed the flock for slaughter, whose possessors kill them and are not held guilty. And those who sell them say, Blessed be Jehovah, FOR I AM RICH. And their shepherds do not pity them." (Zec11:4-5)
Thus, God's verdict:
    "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says Jehovah. Therefore thus says Jehovah the God of Israel, against the shepherds who feed My people, You have scattered My flock, and have driven them away, and have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings, says Jehovah." (Jer23:1-2)
BUT THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE. Who is going to do it?
    "And who is a chosen one whom I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? And who will set My appointments? And WHO IS THAT SHEPHERD WHO WILL FACE ME?" (Jer50:44b)
That last sentence could have several meanings, according to the overall context. However, the last time I read it, one day in my own personal readings, I was reminded of a fellow-fourth grader when I was at Christian Academy in Japan. At the time, his mother was our class teacher. He was a boy who liked to get into mischief. But with his own mother as the teacher, she also knew him; so he could not get away with things like he did with other teachers. I remember very distinctly this one day, there was a 'conversation' between mother and son, and he was making certain claims about 'whatever'. And she abruptly commands: Look me in the eyes and tell me....!

How many preachers/pastors today can LOOK God IN THE EYES regarding their activities? As the verse says, to -FACE- Him?

Many of God's children bemoan the current state of affairs in the church. It is obvious that christendom today is "Babylon", and many in obedience have "come out of her" (Rev18:4)

God also knows: He has proclaimed "woe" upon the shepherds, and knows that most of the flock "loves" the situation as it exists. But He also promises to "set up shepherds over them who will feed them" (Jer23:4a)

Who are the "few good men" that God seeks? What is the character of the "faithful" stewards whose moto is "semper fi"?

The prophet who anointed David, Israel's greatest king, the earthly 'father' of the kingdom Messiah (Mt21:9) was Samuel. What was Samuel's attitude before God?

    "Speak, for Your servant is listening" (1Sa3:10)
Paul, who wrote a good portion of the New Testament, and evangelized most of Asia Minor; when God first got his attention and saved him, how did he respond to God?
    "Trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what do You have in mind for me to do?" (Ac9:6)
And when a person responds to God's call, does God promise times of great success and prosperity? The promise is, as to Isaiah, that the audience is hard hearted, that what they hear they will not take to heart, and will refuse to understand, and will close their eyes in blindness. Like that dog of a former acquaintance: when instructions were being given that the dog didn't like, she would face away and close her eyes, hoping you wouldn't notice and she wouldn't then have to obey.

There is a particular minister/missionary who publishes various studies and messages. One of them regarding how people in a church service should behave during the preaching: that they should sit at attention, pay attention to the pastor, and be of 'pleasant' disposition.

Trouble is, God promises His servants that the hearers will NOT be accepting of the message. If the preacher is truly preaching the whole counsel of God, the audience will NOT be sitting at attention, smiling and applauding. God promised Ezekiel that his audience was a "rebellious nation...impudent and hardhearted children" and likens them to briers, thorns and scorpions. But equally, even though the audience is so antagonistic, God warns the messenger:

    "Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house" and to "speak My words to them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, for they are most rebellious" (Ezekiel ch2)
With that as job description and benefits package, God asks:
    "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" (Is6:8a)
Any takers?

Related topic: the Gospel Burden


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