The Lord Supplies Our Needs
9th Sunday after Pentecost
The Lord Supplies Our Needs
1. A Righteous Shepherd
2. Shepherds of righteousness
Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6
The spiritual scene in the country is pathetic at best. Most people say they believe in the true God, yet most people don’t really know who that true God is. Others worship a conglomeration of gods from around the world. But in actuality, few care about religion.
Rather, money is more important. Possessions are prized. Living the good life is the ultimate goal. If that means cheating and stealing, fine. If that means drunkenness, debauchery, and a life of lustful encounters, so be it.
And in this culture and climate of pathetic immorality, worst of all—the leaders are corrupt. Conspiracy is normal. Embezzlement is common. Scandals are expected. Not just the political leaders either. The spiritual leaders are even corrupt!
What a horrible, unspiritual, sinful time . . . the prophet Jeremiah lived in! It isn’t very difficult to relate to Jeremiah. Maybe Jeremiah’s writing tablet was a scroll and not an iPad, and maybe he had actual horsepower from an actual horse rather than a hemi in his garage. But the spiritual climate and cultural situation he lived through and preached in was very similar to our world today.
How blessed we are today then to learn from Jeremiah and from the Lord’s words to Jeremiah as we see this morning that The Lord Supplies Our Needs.
As we sulk in the shameful times of American history that we live in right now, times so similar to that of Jeremiah, we are very quick to point fingers. Especially when an election is less than 100 days away, the fingers point quickly to the top. We have so many needs in our country! We need less taxes. We need more jobs. We need less national debt. We need better immigration laws. So with the coming election we ask, “Who’s to blame for all these problems, and who is going to fix them?”
Leaders haven’t lived up to our standards much lately. They are starting to impose their will and beliefs on all Americans and against Christianity. Their lives are splashed all over the tabloids because of secret or shameful activity. We need things to improve. We need things to get better. We need leaders to uphold a higher standard.
So when we hear God condemning Israel’s leaders this morning, we smile a bit. “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture . . . Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done.” Yes! That’s right! Woe to you Israelite leaders! And woe to you American leaders! Woe to you for leading us astray! Woe to you for letting it get this bad! And woe to you spiritual shepherds for preaching false teachings! Woe to you spiritual shepherds for scamming to get money! Woe to all you leaders for not living up to a higher standard.
But before you condemn the Israelites of old, or Barack Obama, or Mitt Romney, or any other leader, ask yourself this: How have you lived up to God’s standards? The Israelite leaders bore a heavier punishment because they were entrusted with the care of God’s people. But the Israelites were plenty sinful themselves. In the same way our politicians and leaders face heavy consequences for poor choices or sinful choices. But the rest of us Americans are plenty sinful ourselves. We just have the advantage of not being as much in the spotlight and under the microscope.
In fact, that might even lead to more sins. Everyone knows when a celebrity or athlete or senator messes up. But no one will know or care if you make a few bad choices. You can sin in the privacy of your own home and no one will ever know. You can keep your shameful thoughts and actions to yourself and you’ll never get caught.
Those thoughts are just foolish and false though. Even when we are all alone in the privacy of our homes or all alone in the middle of the ninth fairway, God sees and hears everything we do and say. If you could see God standing right next to you at all times, do you think you would do or say half the things you do or say?
Maybe our leaders haven’t met all of our standards. Maybe they haven’t provided for every need we have. But we have also fallen far short of God’s standards. His standard is perfection, and we aren’t even close to that. We may have needs like a better economy or more jobs or less national debt. But the greatest need of all is that something be done about our sins.
That’s what makes these words of the Lord to Jeremiah so special and important. Even though the Israelites were in one of the most sinful times of their history and were being overtaken at the time by the Babylonians, the Lord still faithfully promised his love and forgiveness: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord our Righteousness.” Incredibly, though we are living in and contributing to one of the most sinful times in our history, we can look to God’s same promise of love and grace in these words.
Though neither our leaders nor we have lived up to God’s standards, God sent someone who did. A Branch sprouted up from the line of David. But not just any branch, a righteous Branch that was perfect and holy. A King was sent who wouldn’t rule with scandal or shame. A King came who reigns wisely and makes all the right choices. He didn’t come to save our economy or save our tax dollars. He came to save us.
This new leader, this new shepherd came to take our place as someone who would meet God’s standards. He came to take our place as someone who would fulfill our need for perfection and our need forgiveness. So we can call our Savior Jesus this wonderful name: The Lord our Righteousness. He was our perfection and his forgiveness gives us perfection. You see, The Lord Supplies Our Needs. We have A Righteous Shepherdin Jesus who lovingly forgives us and leads us.
Even with our righteous and loving Shepherd Jesus, we may often feel alone in this world. As humans living in a world with other humans, we need other humans to guide us along the way. It is a psychological fact that we need to connect with others in this life.
But whom do you trust? We aren’t sure if politicians are telling the truth any more these days. We aren’t sure if other leaders are in it for themselves or for money or for good and proper reasons. We are suspicious even of many spiritual leaders who seem to be more eager to line their pockets with dollars rather than their pews with people. We need leaders to guide us through this life!
Graciously, the Lord promises to supply this need as well. Listen to God’s prophecy and promise, starting in verse 3: “‘I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the Lord.”
This is a twofold promise from God. First he promises to gather people from all countries and to bring them safely together. Part of the fulfillment of that prophecy is in the Church. God has brought all of you here from different places and different cultures around the world. He has brought you to his flock.
The second part of God’s promise is that he will provide shepherds who will watch over his flock. Unlike the awful leaders of Israel’s past, God promised to provide shepherds who could lead and guide the people in safety and security. We have fulfillment of that prophecy in the leaders of the Church today.
What a blessing that God provides pastors and teachers and other spiritual leaders who are there to guide people as the sheep of God’s flock. This pastor might not be anything special, but it is a blessing to have one. Those here at the beginning remember that this mission church waited almost two years before finally getting a pastor.
What a blessing that we now have an official principal to shepherd our school. After having me fill two rolls for four years and after waiting for just the right man, God has now provided us with a shepherd to lead our school. What a blessing to have so many teachers of the same faith and belief! What a blessing to have other faithful leaders in our congregation! Pastors, teachers, and other leaders are certainly reasons to give thanks to God.
These are also people we have the privilege to support. It’s okay that almost 70% of our Christ the King budget is tied up in payroll. We are supporting the work of those who lead our church and school. We are supporting those who guide us in the Lord’s paths of righteousness.
This year we even have had the special privilege of being part of training a young man who is nearly done with his studies to become a pastor. As this week coming up is now Vicar Jake’s last week here, we have an opportunity to show him thanks and support him with a special gift of thanks and our words of encouragement. God-willing, the Lord will use him as a shepherd of a different flock one day very soon.
You see, we aren’t all alone in this world. The Lord Supplies Our Needs. The Lord gives to us leaders who preach to us about the righteousness given to us through Jesus. God gives these men and women in order to keep us away from sin and to proclaim to us Christ’s forgiveness. Truly, The Lord Supplies Our Needs with shepherds of righteousness.
Jeremiah was a prophet in such a terrible time. It must have been awful to be living and preaching when Israel was falling to pieces and being destroyed by the Babylonian people. In many ways we might feel the same today. It’s awful to see the world around us falling to pieces. It’s a little scary to feel the walls closing in on Christians. Who knows how long the United States will stand, or how long we might want to live here.
Yet at the same time, we have nothing to worry about. The Lord has supplied everything we truly need. We have a loving Shepherd in Jesus who lived and died for us to bring us righteousness. His holiness given to us means that we will spend an eternity in the peaceful pastures of heaven. And while we remain in this sinful world, God also provides shepherds of righteousness—leaders of his church that we can be thankful for and look to for guidance throughout our lives.
Thanks be to our loving and gracious Shepherd! God be with our spiritual shepherds!
Posted on July 29, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Barack Obama, Church, Good Shepherd, Jeremiah, Jeremiah 6, Jesus, Justice, Leaders, Leadership, Mitt Romney, Perfection, Righteous, Righteousness, Sermons, Shepherd. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.