The Under-Shepherd’s Anguish

July 21, 2011

The heart of a true under-shepherd of Christ’s, one who is genuinely filled with the Spirit of God (who is Love), will mourn over the sins of the people and the judgement coming upon them. He will intercede on his face for the flock which Christ, “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4) has given him to feed. He will weep before the altar of the Lord, pleading for the salvation and transformation of those he is trying to lead out of bondage. He will grip the feet of the Righteous Judge, and refuse to let go, knowing that the Judge not only deals out justice, but abundant mercies as well.

Yet what if God says to the under-shepherd, “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to Me in the time of their distress.” –? (Jer. 11:14) What if the Lord says, “Do not go to mourn or show sympathy, because I have withdrawn My blessing, My love and My pity from this people.” –? (16:5) What if He says of the flock, “The LORD Almighty, who planted you, has [now] decreed disaster for you.” –? (11:17) What if He says, “I have seen these people… and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave Me alone so that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” –? (Ex. 32:9,10)

Will the under-shepherd respond, “Yea, go get ’em, God! They are wicked, cruel, and corrupt –as You say! But yes, bless me, Lord. Let the tithes still come in, let the building still be made larger, let this sanctuary be filled to overflowing. And oh, let me have that new car and all my needs met.” –? No, Christ’s true under-shepherd will respond very differently. He will fall on his face and petition God with weeping. He will plead as Moses did, “Turn from Your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on Your people. Remember [Your promises]…” (Ex. 32:12,13) He will continue, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin –but if not, then blot me out of the book You have written.” (v. 31,32) That is empathy towards one’s flock! The apostle Paul had this deep divine love also, for he asserted, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…” (Rom. 9:2,3)

The Lord’s true under-shepherd will indeed feel pain and anguish. He will cry, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people… for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.” (Jer. 9:1,2) And, “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? [There is! He is Jesus!] Is there no physician there? [There is! Jesus, the Word, is our Healer!] Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (8:21,22) The reason is that the people refuse to turn to their Healer, instead running after idols and worldly comforters, those who cannot remedy the root cause of all their pain.

Hearing the threat of the Lord concerning the people, God’s true under-shepherd will also cry, “My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and His holy words.” (23:9) When such a righteous man hears the Lord’s threat, his spirit grieves. He puts on sackcloth while subjecting his body to fasting and his eyes to weeping, going about mourning as though for a friend, brother, or mother. (Ps. 35:13,14)

And might the Lord relent? He may, for He is gracious and forgiving, and He listens to the prayers of His saints. For what has caused His saints to mourn and petition in the first place? Is it not God’s own Spirit He has put within the intercessors? And is this not because God does not want anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance? (2 Peter 3:9)

Indeed, God who is Love, has raised up under-shepherds to do His bidding, and to do it fervently from the heart –that heart He fills with true and deep and selfless Christ-like intercessory love.

with love,

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