Weak and Brutish Pastors, Our Lot as in the Days of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah - A Prophet Consumed by God's Spirit
Define The Man - Jeremiah
A man called and ordained from the womb to be a prophet to the nations, not just Judea alone for his words were the words of God and they ring so very true in America today. He did not seek to be a prophet but when the call came, a fire consumed his heart and all he could do was speak as the Lord directed. In Jeremiah 17:16 we find three things about his ministry: 1) he NEVER shrank from his true calling; 2) he hated the woeful conditions of his day and his personal predicament, and 3) he had NOTHING to be ashamed about in all of his preaching (pastoring)! Sadly, there will much shame to bear among the "pastors" of the Western Church for many have never taken James 3:1 to heart. As Peter puts it, "..if the righteous be scarcely saved.." for judgment must begin at the house of God. (1 Peter 5:17-18)
In the end, the Babylonians gave him an option of going to Babylon or remaining in Judea; he chose to remain. Once a faithful prophet, always a faithful prophet: the remnant in Judea forced him flee to Egypt where he continued to preach and warn the Jews living there about the dangers of worshiping false gods. No matter where he set his feet, a true pastor will NEVER stop being a pastor. Truly, the Western (American) Church suffers from a severe drought of true pastors, in season and out.
Have You "Knighted" Your Pastor?
The Indictment - Sound Familiar - Can You Relate?
A journey through the Book of Jeremiah:
In Jeremiah 2:8 we find pastors included in a general statement concerning the spiritual leadership of Judea in his day: the priests act on their on accord, the Law givers were clueless, the pastors sinned against God, the prophets prophesied by Baal and they all walked after things that do not profit the soul. A great opening statement and fully directed at the supposed leadership of the "religious" establishment alone. We will center our attention on the defendant known as pastor, the one who tenders the flock.
In 3:15 we find God's promise to give His people, pastors which will fill them with knowledge and understanding; but there is a great caveat. Verses 3:1-14 decries the unfaithfulness of the people which includes the spiritual leaders and calls them to repentance. He calls them "backsliding children" and the promise of godly pastors is ONLY for the repentant. Whoa, that means that the inundation of weak and powerless pastors stems from the fact that WE, the people of God, are the ones deserving of them. We are they who are being called to repent from our worldliness, apathy towards godliness and lack of communion with our Lord. It is a vicious circle in which we find ourselves. If we, the people, want good pastors, we must repent, return to the One who bought us with His life, then God will flood us with godly pastors and maybe, just maybe the Western Church might recover before it is too late. Please note: the gift of pastors to the Church in Ephesians 4 does not negate the principle of Jeremiah, in that pastors from God are only for the true born-again believers, the repentant ones. Our modern churches are so full of the lost, it is no wonder that the state of our pastors has fallen to an all-time low and we are so blind as not to see the real problem.
Are We So Clueless?
The Articles of Indictment and Judgment
The journey continues:
Jeremiah 10:21 - The pastors have become brutish. Brutish is an interesting word; in Hebrew it means wasting away, as a fire consumes the wood to ash, the NKJV uses "dull of heart". They are the ones that have become somewhat unteachable; they do not find great things within the Word to pass along to their hearers, for the Word has lost its savor to them. I once had a pastor tell me how great of a student he was in seminary and that he had studied the whole Bible and there was nothing else for him to learn. He eventually left the pastorate and went on to be a professor at a seminary, cloning others to be just like him. Do you not notice how many churches now preach a series from someone's book and encourage the teachers of the church to do the same. God declares, they shall NOT prosper and their flocks will be scattered; a very common "modern" phenomena.
Jeremiah 12:10 - MANY pastors have destroyed His vineyard, the faith of the people and have made it a desolate wilderness. The people are sheep and they will naturally follow the leader, but woe to the one who does not handle the faith of his followers with a devoted love of the Savior and His Word. We have become social clubs, with an air of ethics where one day a week for an hour or so, is enough to fulfill our "religious" responsibilities to God. They have quenched the Spirit and truly made their local congregation a model 501(c)3 corporation: repentance and faith are not a requirement. Say the right words, get dunked, get busy and keep your thoughts and opinions to yourselves. Status quo is the goal. Balance of chapter 12 does not give a pretty picture of their end.
Jeremiah 22:22 - the wind (ruwach7307 - the lack of substance, anger) shall eat up all the pastors and all their "lovers" shall go into captivity, and they (the pastors) shall be ashamed and confounded for their own wickedness. Wow, they are bringing on themselves, whether in the here and now or at the judgment seat of Christ, a great fall from grace. They have preached and taught nothing of substance and there is a dire consequence that has already fallen on many, but many more are setting themselves up for a great day of shame. Notice, the lovers, the sheep for lack of substance, knowledge and understanding, they will also suffer due to their own responsibility, for we cannot blame the pastors for our failures; God may, but we cannot.
Jeremiah 23:1-2 - As James puts it chapter 3:1; there is a much stricter judgment for those who desire to be the pastors and teachers of God's flock. I am not talking about the loss of salvation, but so many place their pastors so far above themselves and believe that they will have great prominence in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not how God sees them, for faithfulness to the calling is everything. (Hebrews 11:6) Too many of today's churches have set up a mini-communistic community style of order. The scriptures teach us that we are to esteem one another as better than ourselves and yet, within many congregations, the pastoral staff is more equal than others in the minds of both the leadership and its followers. It has become the American way and is taught in most every seminary in this country. Thus saith the Lord has been replaced by pastor so-and-so says. A questioning soul is considered a trouble maker and a target for exclusion or expulsion.