Read: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! (v. 1)
Sheep are physically vulnerable. They have few natural defenses against parasites and predators. They are prone to wander. Sheep depend on others to lead them, which is why they fall prey to false shepherds. Sheep are so accustomed to being led that they are easily led astray by thieves acting like their shepherds.
For much of their history, God’s people followed “shepherds”—prophets appointed to lead his way. They assumed God would only lead them where they wanted to go. The exile was a time in which God used hardship to form his people. Seeking immediate comfort, they fell prey to bad shepherds—for-profit prophets who told them what they wanted to hear.
We are spiritually vulnerable too. We are quickly distracted and prone to wander. When it comes to spiritual matters, we are accustomed to being led. We naturally follow those who tell us what we want to hear. Many religious people are susceptible to the influence of self-professed spiritual leaders motivated not by God’s will but by personal gain. In Jeremiah 23, God promised a Good Shepherd who would lead his people back into life. Our safeguard against the misleading influence of misguided leaders is to know God’s priorities, which is our character more than our comfort. —Ben Van Arragon
As you pray, ask God to help you discern the voice of the Good Shepherd.