So Many Lambs…Wolves, Too Few Shepherds :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Psalm 23; Matthew 9:35-36; Acts 20:28-31; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:8-9

Summary: The events described in Revelation Chapter 6 describe the terrors that will come upon the earth. The lost are like sheep without a shepherd about to face this horrid time. We must bring them to Jesus before it is too late.

Bible prophecy is not preached in a majority of churches today. The sad fact is that a lot of “churches” don’t bother to preach from the Bible but are more than happy to cater to the unholy trinity of “me, myself, and I.” They are in the business of people pleasing and “ear tickling” (1 Timothy 4:1-4). In turn, they lead multitudes astray from the green fields and still waters provided by the grace, mercy, and love from the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10).

By not teaching and preaching the whole counsel of God found in the Holy Scriptures (John 17:17; Act 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21), the church of the last days leads their flocks to the blighted field of compromise and apostasy. These deceived souls will be “left behind” to endure what the book of Revelation so vividly describes.

The rise of false teachers and compromised “shepherds” were prophesied by the Lord Jesus and the apostles (Matthew 24:4-5; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6; Acts 20:28-32; 2 Peter 2:12-17; Jude 1). What we have is a lack of authentic pastoral care and instruction in the modern church and a lack of concern by professing followers of Jesus Christ for sound teaching and the necessity of sharing the Gospel in order to guide lost lambs to the safety of the fold and protect them from the ravenous wolves ready to devour them. The bottom line is that there are too few men willing to take up the call and work of a shepherd, which is representative of the role of a pastor.

This message came about by sitting in on an adult Bible class in a local church. I heard nothing more than a variety of opinions and a conglomeration of voices without unity of thought and focus. This particular church had been without a pastor for almost two years after their previous pastor of fifty years passed away. I had intended to present a message on 1 John 1:5-10, but another message came to my mind from the classroom to the pulpit that would be based upon the compassion of Jesus for those numerous weary and lost souls to Whom He was ministering. The Bible records this work of compassion in Matthew 9:35-36):

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”

In the past, God had sent them leaders such as Moses, Joshua, King David, King Josiah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others to teach the people of Israel to follow and worship the LORD. They also warned the Israelites to repent of sin and return to God. We read in the Bible that Israel, God’s chosen people, did not always heed what God’s spokesmen told them. As a result of their disobedience over the years, they were forced into exile, subjected to the rule of empires such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and the iron boot of Rome.

When the Jews were allowed to return by the decree of Cyrus, emperor of Persia, spiritual leaders such as Ezra and Nehemiah returned to the land to teach the settlers the Scriptures, to live holy lives, and rid their homes of idols, including casting out wives and husbands who continued to worship pagan deities. Ezra and Nehemiah stated that it was incidents such as these that led Israel to sin and, in turn, led them into exile by the hand of God.

It was during this time that certain men took upon themselves a sacred oath to live pious lives before God and devote themselves to the reading, study, and teaching of Scripture. They became known as the Pharisees, or “separated ones.”

These men became types of “shepherds” to the people of Israel, and like any movement, started out well but over time grew to become an organization of tyrannical legalists who were meticulous about following “traditions of men,” moving away from the Word of God, adhering instead to the numerous commentaries on Scripture and rituals written and taught by generations of rabbis.

These shepherds ended up as ravenous wolves who took the joy of worshipping God and the study of Scripture away from the people of Israel, and instead replaced it with emotionless religious ritual, oppression, and fear of angering God for a violation of laws and traditions not found in Scripture. Any violation of these traditions, rituals, and rules brought condemnation from the Pharisees.

The people had become weary of this rote religious tyranny. Jesus saw this and rightfully condemned the Pharisees for their neglect of the Word of God, disqualifying them from being shepherds of Israel. They had become nothing more than “whitewashed tombs who were full of dead men’s bones” and “broods of vipers” who would not escape the damnation of hell (Matthew 23).

Jesus opened the eyes of many to the joy of knowing God as a “Father” who loved them, freeing them from their penalty of sin and restoring the broken relationship between Himself and fallen humanity. This was accomplished by the finished work of Christ upon the cross (John 14:6,19:30, Romans 5:6-11, 10:9-10) and His resurrection from the dead, along with the promise of His glorious return (Acts 1:8-11).

The Lord Jesus fulfilled the role of the Good Shepherd. He and His apostles show us in the Scriptures what the man of God is to be and do in regard to the care and protection of the flock. Pastors and teachers of the Word are to be held to a higher standard (James 3:1). Traditions, trends, and opinions of the world have no place in the pulpit. Pastors, elders, and every single one of us will stand before the Lord Jesus to give an account of our lives and service to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10). I say all of this to remind not only pastors but every Christian to stand firm in the faith and tell others about the truth of the Gospel.

The coming events written of in the book of Revelation can be avoided by a lot of people if we get out and present the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ to a weary world. There are lambs waiting to be rescued, and the wolves are getting closer.


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