Reading towards the end of my one-year Bible plan this morning, I came across two verses, one in the old and one in the new testament, that were strangely paralleled. Admonition from God to feed the poor, hungry sheep He has entrusted to us.
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: What sorry awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd and they are easy prey for any wild animal. They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.”-Ezekiel 34:2-6
The new testament verse read:
“Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.”-1 Peter 5:2-3
The Lord so strongly continues to put on my heart the need for the Church to rise up out of apathy, idolatry and selfishness, to engage with the needs of the poor. There are poor in spirit and poor in finance, and neither are exempt from God’s command to Shepherd the flock.
What, I believe, most believers (especially Christian leaders — myself included) fail to see is that “God’s sheep”, while first the people of Israel, was expanded to include the gentiles. That means that our “flock” includes the lost sheep of the cities, the country, the highlands and lowlands. Prostitutes, musicians, government officials and housewives alike are all sheep in His fold. Why do we devote the majority of our time and money to programs, church services and budgets that only serve the upper and middle class?
Why have we neglected the poor and permitted our government to take over our God-given role of shepherding and feeding the lost sheep?
This is truly an abomination. We have entrusted our mantle of authority to people who don’t submit to God as Lord and King. As God’s elect, having been grafted into His Holy people (the Jews), we should be ashamed for relinquishing our responsibility of proclaiming the good news to the poor.
May I remind us all, myself included, that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is that the Kingdom is near and available to all, bringing a new heaven and new earth [Rev. 21:1] and its’ citizens will be without tears, sickness, hunger or death.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”-Revelation 21:4
The Kingdom is at hand. We are carriers of the good news — shepherds entrusted with ushering people in and ambassadors entrusted as co-laborers in establishing His reign, spiritually and physically, here on earth.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”-James 2:14-17