The history of Israel found in Scripture is a very important study. We can see what worked out well for Israel, but we can also learn from mistakes. Israel is a nation that was chosen by God, but they didn’t always behave properly towards Him. When they rebelled against Him, they were judged, but when they walked in obedience to Him, they prospered. In Old Testament times, God chose certain men, known as prophets, to speak His words to His people. Prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel told exciting prophecies of what’s happening today. Among other things, Ezekiel told of dry bones coming together, which foretold that Israel would come back to life, and in Daniel, we read prophecies about the coming Messiah, the Tribulation, and much more.
God had given His chosen people the land we now call Israel, and when they entered it under the leadership of Joshua, God blessed them. Israel was a nation intended to be under the authority of God; He gave them His Law, but they wanted a king like other nations. God gave them Saul, a man who proved to be an inferior king. Saul wasn’t the king God had desired for them but is an example of running ahead of God with selfish desires. After King Saul committed suicide in battle, David became king. David was the one God had chosen, and from his lineage, the Messiah would be born.
David ruled well, but many years after David died, war divided the nation. The Northern Kingdom, known as Israel, turned to idolatry. They were ruled by very evil leaders, especially King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, who led the nation into idolatry. This didn’t surprise God, who had the prophet Hosea speak to the nation. God knew that it was the shepherds (the priests) who were to blame, not the sheep (the people). The priests allowed idolatry to invade the places of worship. Idolatry and worship of false gods would destroy the Northern Kingdom.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I also will reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me; seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
It was the religious leaders who didn’t stand firm upon God’s laws and allowed Ahab and Jezebel to force their pagan ways, including child sacrifice, upon the nation. God knew that if the shepherds had been true followers of the Lord and strong leaders of the people, evil wouldn’t have been an issue. History shows that the Northern Kingdom did fall; they were taken captive by the Assyrians. Allowing evil leaders to legalize sin and idolatry can only cause God to bring judgment.
The Southern Kingdom didn’t practice the level of idolatry that the Northern Kingdom did, but they did forsake God. Even a little idolatry is evil. These people didn’t learn from the mistakes of their northern brothers, and they neglected God’s law. Once again, God had a prophet speak to them and point out that it was the shepherds who allowed the sin. This time it was the prophet Jeremiah who spoke for God.
“My people hath been lost sheep; their shepherds have caused them to go astray; they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6).
Jeremiah obeyed God and did all he could to turn the people and the religious leaders back to the right path of God, but his words weren’t heeded. Because they turned from God, the Southern Kingdom fell to the Babylonians. Once again, it was those who should have been standing upon God’s word and leading the people in His ways who were to blame.
“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:1-2).
Instead of following the Law, they began compromising and cutting corners. Soon God allowed them to be taken captive to Babylon. History repeated itself. Those who should have stood strong for God failed in their leadership.
The nation of Israel was created by God when He called Abram (Abraham) out of the pagan life that surrounded Him.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1).
He had to leave all pagan ties behind in order to serve the Lord, and that’s true today. It may not be easy to break ties with family and friends, but if those ties hinder your walk with the Lord, they will stop you from serving Him. God further promised Abraham (Abram) that he would be the father of a great nation.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).
Indeed, in his old age, Abraham fathered Isaac, who in turn fathered Jacob (renamed Israel), who was the father of twelve sons… the 12 tribes of Israel. Israel became a great nation. In spite of struggles, the entire world is blessed because of Israel. Jesus Christ was born from the tribe of Judah, and anyone who places their faith in Him will have eternal life. Don’t get the idea that God has turned His back on His people, Israel.
Other prophets of God spoke prophecies, making it clear that Israel will be reunited and re-established in their God-given land. That miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel began in 1948. Since then many, many prophecies regarding Israel have been fulfilled, and more are on the verge of fulfillment as we watch Russia gaining military strength and nuclear power in the hands of Israel’s enemies. We are swiftly moving to the final stage of earth’s history, and it will take the Tribulation period to bring Israel around to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is their Messiah. He will fight their final battle. Of course, He wins.
Prior to the Tribulation, Christians will be called Home in the Rapture. If you study prophecy, you’ll understand just how close we are to that long-awaited event. Does the shepherd of your congregation teach about that? If not, then you need to do your own study.
Just as in the days of the Northern and Southern Kingdom, many shepherds of today are failing in their leadership. Christians are turning to pagan ways, such as Yoga. In the name of tolerance, pastors seldom speak out against sin, withhold Biblical knowledge, and false doctrine enters into congregations. Most pastors are happy to obey the pagan laws and keep silent on “controversial” issues, such as abortion and sexual diversity. God’s word isn’t silent, but pastors can’t run the risk of jeopardizing the tax-exempt status by speaking God’s truth and standing against evil. The shepherds of today seem to be the same as the shepherds of the Kingdoms of Israel.
Peter followed Christ, but when Christ was crucified, Peter hid. After the Resurrection, Jesus met with the disciples on the shores of Galilee and fed them a meal of fish and bread. After they ate, Jesus talked with Peter.
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).
Peter needed to feed the flock the word of God. Twice more, Jesus put that question to Peter and told him, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:16). Lambs need to learn to turn from the ways of the world and serve the Lord. “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). Peter was not the first pope; he did obey Jesus and fed the flock. Sheep need to be fed on the deeper things of God to keep them strong and healthy. Many preachers today don’t get past feeding lambs. God’s words through Hosea were, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a), and many pastors today are OK with that.
It’s a great calling for a man to be called as a preacher, but it’s a great responsibility. Scripture must be taught in truth and in its entirety—line upon line and precept upon precept. Too many preachers teach the ideas of the particular denomination they serve, even if those ideas aren’t consistent with Scripture. When asked about the end of the age, Jesus warned about deception. “And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). The shepherds need to feed truth to the flock, but the sheep need to study God’s word in order to be properly fed and to recognize false teachers.
What’s missing in our pulpits today? The Gospel truth. It seems more important to keep the pews and offering plates full than to feed healthy food from Scripture to the congregation. The Apostle Paul could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he would have compromised and tickled ears rather than spreading God’s truth. He chose straightforward truth. In his farewell talk with the elders of Ephesus, he had a clear conscience.
“And now, behold I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:25-31).
Paul was driven by the purpose of sharing the Gospel. If the shepherd of your flock is driven by any purpose other than Scriptural teaching of God’s truth, then he isn’t feeding the sheep with nutritious food. The Holy Spirit inspired the men who penned Scripture, but that’s not true of most of the books written by men. Paul declared the Gospel and therefore had done what was asked of him. He didn’t use gimmicks to share the Gospel; he just spoke God’s truth. If people rejected it, at least Paul had declared it.
In his second epistle, Peter assures us that signs and wonders are nice, but the word of God in prophecy is a light that shines in the darkness. We need to learn from the past and study Scripture. Remember, it was the shepherds (the priests) who allowed the downfall of both Kingdoms of Israel.
There were two kinds of prophets. God’s prophets are true prophets, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:1-3). Those blasphemers are working their evil today.
Jesus warned against false teaching, as did the men who wrote the epistles. If false teaching is coming from the pulpit, how can the flock know God’s truth? Study Scripture yourself. All Bibles are translations, but not all translations are true to the meaning of the original language. Use a good concordance in order to understand what the original language means. Jude wrote about contending for the faith and spotting false teachers.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4).
Even when Jude was alive, there were false teachers who perverted Scripture. Many of the false prophets of today write books that become bestsellers because they tickle ears.
“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities” (Jude 8).
I remember when I was researching a best-selling author, I learned that one Thanksgiving, he had his flock host a dinner where Muslims and Mormons were the honored guests and were served with turkey and all the trimmings. Really? In his second letter, the Apostle John warned the “elect lady” not to invite anyone in that does not confess the doctrine of Christ. Muslims and Mormons agree that someone named Christ walked the earth, but they have far different doctrines than those taught by Scripture. Jude also addresses this.
“These are spots in your love feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees without fruit withereth, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 12-13).
Beware of false teachers, even from your own pulpit.
The congregation in Corinth was being taught many false doctrines, and that concerned Paul. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is Christ. For if he that cometh preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
Some false doctrines of today include: a different Jesus preached than what is found in Scripture, a different spirit than the Holy Spirit, and a different gospel than the Gospel of Truth. Mormons and Muslims may talk about Jesus, but they don’t worship Christ as God incarnate. Some shepherds promote “holy laughter.’ That isn’t the Holy Spirit leading those poor deceived people. Christian Yoga? The same Old Serpent, Satan, who deceived Eve, is deceiving many people today. Woe to the shepherds who lead the sheep down these paths.
If sound doctrine isn’t taught, deception will run rampant. Paul’s words to a young pastor named Timothy are important today. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).
The flock may want to feed on junk food, but woe to the shepherd who continually feeds them popcorn and chocolate. Unlike Paul, who spoke God’s truth no matter what, many shepherds today will have the blood of the congregation on their hands because they won’t teach truth. As time goes on, things will get worse. Paul warned Timothy, “But evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). Be careful who you follow.
God didn’t blame the sheep but held the shepherds accountable for the fall of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel. What deception and idolatry are the shepherds feeding the flock today?
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men will be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
We are living in the last days. Be a wise sheep, even if the shepherd is a poor leader.
Where are the shepherds? Many are frolicking with the wolves. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Make it your goal to be a part of His flock.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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