We don’t leave foxes to be the guardians of henhouses. Sometimes those who imagine themselves to be the protectors of God’s people act in ways that show that they are dangerous wolves who would devour the sheep. We are repeatedly warned concerning this danger in both the Old and New Testaments, and we need to be on our guard for those who would destroy the church. Yet our sure hope is that we have a Good Shepherd in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was willing to lay down His life for His sheep.
There are times when loving and diligent under-shepherds are few, yet the Lord’s people must not give up. Surely our heavenly rescue will come quickly. In the meantime, those who would truly follow the Lord need to remain aware of the demands of righteousness, and keep their hearts pure from entangling distractions that would move them from the pathway of obedience.
Concerning the hopes of God’s Old Testament people, the Lord’s intentions for the rescue of His elect would even bring deliverance for the foreigner and the eunuch, two groups that did not have full privileges of worship in Israel. They would one day be a part of God’s people, and have an “everlasting name” that could “not be cut off.” The prophet speaks of a New Covenant future using the picture of Old Covenant practices that were current in his time. Somehow there will be a new temple of God that will truly be a house of prayer for all the nations.
Israel’s shepherds were without real understanding of the plan of God. They knew their own appetites and furthered their own private interests, but they did not lift a finger for the weak and the confused. They expected great things for themselves with their days ending with plenty of wine and strong drink, but they completely missed the true Shepherd of Israel when He came to give His life for outcasts.
This Shepherd was the perfect “watchman.” He came with great healing power for those in desperate need, but His greatest act of mercy came at the cost of His own life. The wicked shepherds of Israel sought His death when there was no charge that could be rightly laid against Him. Their fathers had killed the prophets, and they would seek to put an end to the greatest Shepherd of the sheep. They imagined that the story of mercy for Gentiles and eunuchs would rest in the grave with Him. Yet when His body was raised incorruptible the hope of the hopeless was secured.
We flee to this same Jesus Christ every day. It is Him that we preach and teach, and we are His body. He is coming again soon, and He will not disappoint the expectations of His faithful followers. The church may have too many false shepherds who do more to block the way to everlasting life than they do to show the only gate to heaven. Yet the Lord Jesus still has His ways of calling the weak to persevere in hope until the end. By His Word and Spirit we must keep justice and do righteousness however formidable the opposition may seem, for our salvation soon will come.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord of our Salvation, we will keep justice, and consider Your Law to do it. Though we are weak, You are capable of taking a fruitless servant and granting him an everlasting name. We will hold fast Your covenant and come streaming to Your holy mountain for the fullness of Sabbath rest. All the nations shall find rest in Your Son. The dogs who tear and kill will be shut out from harming Your sheep. You will grant to us the wine of holy rejoicing.