God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
34 Wail, you shepherds, and cry.
Roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock,
For your day of slaughter has come,
you will be shattered, and your will fall like fine pottery.
Who are these shepherds? Are they spiritual leaders, like the ignorant shepherds whose flocks were scattered in Jeremiah 10:21? No, these are the leaders of the nations that have just been condemned by God. Jeremiah brings back the image of the shattered and useless pot that we saw in chapter 19. When these leaders “roll in the dust,” they are covering themselves in ashes and soot, a sign of mourning and grief.
35 The shepherds will have nowhere to flee.
The leaders of flock will have no escape.
36 Hear the cry of the shepherds,
and the wailing of the leaders of the flock,
for the LORD is destroying their pasture.
37 The peaceful meadows are silenced
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
38 He has left his lair, like a lion,
and their land will become desolate
because of the fierceness of the oppressor,
and because of his fierce anger.
When the last Assyrian king was overthrown, he wasn’t even in Assyria. He had fled to a faraway city. However, these shepherds of Babylon and the surrounding nations can’t escape what’s coming.
The eerie judgment of silenced pastures is hard to describe. Imagine the serenity of a field of grass. There might be birds, or the rustle of leaves. The place might have a satisfying scent, the smell of the wildflowers or just the grass. God’s justice would silence even this peaceful meadow, turning it into nothing at all—as lifeless as a parking lot, as silent as a desert, as cold as the tundra.
This is God’s true justice, the punishment mankind deserves for sin. The storm of God’s wrath has come. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly—like the thunder that the people in our city heard a few nights ago during a snowstorm. Luther said, “When misfortune comes, we quote a German proverb, which says, ‘A storm is brewing.’ When the misfortune is past, we say: ‘The storm is over.’ This is how the Jews express it when things do not go well… No man is so brave that he is not afraid in the dark, especially if he is alone. Then he loses heart and despairs, But in the light, in sunshine, he is bold” (LW 13:404-405).
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). We know that through Jesus we have light and life, but we should not forget that he uses us to be light in the world for other people to see. “Let your light shine before men,” Jesus said, “that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Whatever kind of shepherds we might be—leaders, parents, or good neighbors who set an example—we want to point to Jesus, to keep ourselves and those we lead under the shelter of God’s grace, in pastures that will never be destroyed.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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