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1 Woe be unto the pastors [ro'im] that destroy and scatter the sheep [tzon] of My pasture! saith Yahweh.
-- Who they are, Jesus makes plain: "My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me" (Jno. x. 27). Here is their characteristic wherever found: men who submit to the word of Christ and do what he commands.
This is a more cordial and distinct type of discipleship than is common among the multitude who recognise the lordship of Christ in the abstract. It is the only type of discipleship acceptable with him, and the type acceptable with him is the only type of ultimate value. He spoke very plainly on this subject more than once: "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (John xiv. 21). "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I have commanded" (xv. 14). "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. vii. 21).
The apostles spoke with equal plainness. Thus Paul: "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. viii. 9). Thus John: "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk even as he walked" (Jno. ii. 6). Thus Peter: "If; after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Pet. ii. 20).
The men who submit to the word of Christ and obey his commandments are most aptly represented by sheep. The sheep is a strong but harmless animal, from which no living thing suffers injury. There could be no more powerful exhortation than the employment of such an animal to figure the disciples of Christ. He is himself the Lamb of God, and those who follow him are like him in the strength of their spiritual attachments and the guilelessness and inoffensiveness of their characters.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 29.
9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name [Shmo.]. But His word was in Mine heart [lev] as a burning fire [eish] shut up in my bones [ atzmot], and I was weary with forbearing [of holding back], and I could not stay.
Pray fervently for intense zeal and inner desire and the mighty power of divine love that will impel you irresistibly by greater and greater work for God and devotion to Him. Remember Jeremiah in all his terrible persecutions:
"His Word was a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I could not stay."
This is a tremendous blessing. Until we have this we are not safe, we have not "attained," we are not really on the Way of Life. There is no greater blessing than the unbearable disquiet and remorse whenever we are doing less than the most and best we can. Natural man (and some natural men bear the name "Christadelphian") thinks this is an irrational obsession, and tries to "cure" it for us.
Sluggish, stodgy natural man has absolutely no idea of eternal truth and reality, no idea of what life is all about, and what the intense zeal of true "living" really means. Natural man is a vegetable: spiritual man is a free-flying bird -- a morning lark of joy, a mighty soaring eagle.
Natural man thought Christ was "beside himself" because the "zeal of God's House ate him up." Always remember the Cherubim: the perfect ideal of divine service: "They ran and returned as the appearance of lightning... They rest not day and night, saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty."
We cannot do that now in our poor feeble mortal condition: but this is the ideal to which we must constantly yearn and strive and seek to eventually attain. It will never come if we are not constantly reaching out toward it with all our heart and strength and desire.
5 Thus saith Yahweh; Cursed [Arur] be the man [gever] that trusteth in man [adam], and maketh flesh his arm [basar his zero'a], and whose heart departeth [lev turneth away] from Yahweh.
Ascertain from the Word your duty, and then go forward unflinchingly-regardless of human praise or condemnation.
To obey God should be the object of our lives. To test whether we will do this, is the end and aim of our fiery trial. The lover of the Word fixes his choice on God, and is cheered and gratified when his fidelity wins the commendation of those around. When it does not-when it incurs the reverse-he is pained, but not moved. He endures, having "respect unto the recompense of reward."
Such an one exhibits single-mindedness, reliability, and candour. He is of service to God, and is a blessing to man. It is this character that will successfully stand the probationary testing.
The Christadelphian, Mar 1887. p104 ...
6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert [shrub in the aravah], and shall not see when good [tov] cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness [midbar], in a salt land [eretz melechah] and not inhabited.
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth [Baruch hagever asher yivtach] in Yahweh, and whose hope [mivtach (confidence)] Yahweh is.
16 As for me, I have not hastened [away] from being a pastor [ro'eh (shepherd)] to follow Thee: neither have I desired [did I lust for the] the woeful day; Thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.
...they were organised into a nation, on the basis of a law direct from God. They had been settled in the land for nearly a thousand years when Jeremiah appeared in their midst...
The surrounding circumstances show us a timid man who has no pleasure in messages of evil...He was almost scared into silence by the public scorn.
"The Word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me daily, therefore I said, I will not speak any more in His name, but His Word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing and I could not stay (17; 20:8-9).
He was sick of life through the bitterness of his work:
"Woe is me, my mother, that thou has borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth. I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury. Yet every one of them doth curse me" (15:10),
"Cursed be the day wherein I was born . . . wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed in shame?" (20:14-18)
He was finally overwhelmed with sorrow at the public calamities:
"Oh, that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people" (9:1; and all Lamentations).
Bro Roberts - Causing Men to Hear His Word
27 But if ye will not hearken [pay heed] unto Me to hallow the sabbath [Shabbos] day, and not to bear a burden [massa], even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem [She'arim of Yerushalayim] on the sabbath [Shabbos] day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates [ eish in the she'arim] thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem [fortresses of Yerushalayim], and it shall not be quenched.
'...the fire went out when its work was done; and Jerusalem was rebuilt, and continued for several hundred years, until it was again consumed in another unquenchable fire, which has also in like manner ceased to burn for ages past (Mark ix. 43,44).
22 Are there any among the vanities [havalim] of the Gentiles [Goyim] that can cause rain [geshem]? or can the heavens [HaShomayim] give showers? art not Thou he, OYahweh our Elohim? Therefore we will [ hope in and] wait upon Thee: for Thou hast made all these things.
It is a first principle of the subject that God is a glorious person, dwelling in heaven, yet filling the immeasurable universe by His Spirit, which is the effluent energy of His person, constituting the basis, or force, or first cause of all things in heaven and earth; in this Spirit all things exist. These things have fixed mechanical relations in Him, and a permitted independence of action, constituting the platform of His higher operations.
All things are of God in the fundamental constitution; but the interaction of their established affinities in their detail, is not due to His volition, but results from the nature He has bestowed on them. He knows them all and can control them all; but He does not influence them where His purpose does not call for it. In this sense multitudes of occurrences are not of God.
Some things He does; some He does not. Here is the sphere for the operation known as providence.
Ways of Providence Ch 27
23 O Yahweh, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
As we view the state of the world, in this age of so much cleverness and so little wisdom, so much mechanical accomplishment and so little true living or understanding of life, we are deeply and sadly and thankfully impressed with the crying need for divine guidance and instruction.
Brother Growcott - She openeth her mouth with wisdom.
We need - and we should earnestly desire-specific, detailed "instruction in righteousness," for we are by nature totally ignorant and foolish, no matter how good-intentioned.
We must realize that by nature we are absolutely ignorant. We are stupid. The flesh can never of itself rise above its native stupidity. Unaided from above, we can never think or do right. The Bible plainly tells us this, and accepting it is the first step in the way of wisdom and life
Before we can do God's will, we must first learn what it is. It will not come to us naturally (though so many presumptuously assume that if they do what they think is right, then God must surely be pleased). But the natural thoughts of our blind flesh are the very opposite of God's holy thoughts. Jesus said-
"That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination with God" (Lk. 16:15).
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them."
Bro Growcott - What Doth Yahweh Require of Thee?
8 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of Yahweh is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
Man, in the history of his race, presents himself to our notice in two states-the social and the savage. The social is his original condition; the savage, that into which he has sunk as a consequence of licentiousness.
At his formation, Man, who was made male and female, was pronounced "very good;" and appointed to live in society, because it was "not good for him to be alone." The primeval society of Eden was constituted of divine and human elements-of God, the Elohim, man and woman: of God, "whom no man hath seen;" of the Elohim, whom he hath often seen; and of man and woman, the perfection of flesh and blood.
This social state was free and devoid of evil; yet was its liberty not absoute, but restrained and regulated by law. Though "very good" and undefiled by sin, man was not permitted to do as he pleased without restriction. A law was given to him by his Creator, expressive of the divine sovereignty over society, and his position in the social state. Hence, society is a divine institution, originally characterized by intelligence, goodness, law, and liberty.
Woman belonged to man, because she was his own flesh and bone, and given to him of God; and they both belonged to God, because He had formed them for himself. Society, therefore, belongs to God; so that whosoever hath the honour of membership therein is free to do whatever he pleases that is not contrary to the letter and spirit of His law.
This is the liberty God permits in society, which is his. Beyond this man must not go if he would continue in the divine favour. Law is the boundary line between liberty and licentiousness. He that crosses it diabolizes, and takes the first step in the descent, which terminates in the anarchy of the savage state.
From the constitution of society, then, at the foundation of the world, we see that law was an essential element of the social state; and that social liberty is freedom restrained by law. Absolute liberty, or freedom unrestrained by law which defines "order" and "decency," has no place in the divine plan. Man aimed at this. He virtually asserted, that he had a right to do what he pleased with the Tree of Knowledge as with all other trees; but experience at length proved to him that he had no unconditional rights; but a right only to do according to the law. He did as he pleased, and in consequence lost the favour of God, as will all others who pursue a similar course.
The existence of society depending upon the maintenance of law, it behooves all intelligent and wise people to coöperate to that end. If flesh were not sinful, or if all men were wise and good, the knowledge of the requirements of the divine law would be sufficient. They would know and do. But flesh is sinful, very sinful; and all men in society have not intelligence, nor faith sufficient to walk by, nor wisdom, nor a love of order, nor a sense of decency; therefore, a simple knowledge of what God requires in society, or a simple reference to what the law says, is not enough to answer the necessities of the case. Law cannot apply itself, it must, therefore, be placed in the hands of an administration, that lawlessness may be restrained, and decency and order maintained in society.
The savage state is the opposite to the social in every particular. The "philosophy" of the Gentiles, "falsely so called," teaches that the savage is the original condition of man; and that society has grown up out of it as a result of necessity. One who believes the Bible, however, discards this as mere foolishness. Divinely constituted society is the primeval state; and savage life the extreme consequence of a departure from its laws.
It originated in transgression of God's law, or sin, which, before the flood, acquired such force as entirely to corrupt the way of the Lord, and to fill the whole earth with violence. Its career was similar after that catastrophe; and where it was not antagonized by divine interference, but allowed in its fleshly inworking and manifestation to acquire absolute sway in portions of the human race, it reduced them to the condition of the natives of New Holland and the Feejees.
The "liberty" of these aborigines is absolute. They do what is right in their own eyes upon the principles of "liberty and equality" in the abstract. They are without law to God, and know no rule but the necessity of their own lusts. They are nature's freemen, democrats of the largest liberty, who, under the impulse of desire, edify themselves without regard to the sensibilities and wishes of the unfortunates who fall into their hands.
This is the extremity arrived at by the uncontrolled working of that principle called "sin in the flesh." Cannibalism, however, is but the extreme manifestation of that "liberty" contended for by some, which impels them to a gratification of their own selfishness and vanity at the expense of the order and decency of the social state. The latter is sin modified in its display by circumstances, which restrain it by present consequences from murder and theft; but leave it rampant in the manifestation of "hatred, variance, jealousies, wraths, strifes, divisions, sects, envyings," which though thought little of by the carnally-minded, as effectually exclude from the Kingdom of God.
The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1854.
16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.
The people referred to were in the abandoned state portrayed in the words a few verses earlier:
"Will ye steal and murder and commit adultery and swear falsely and burn incense unto Baal and walk after other gods whom ye know not, and come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name and say, we are delivered to do all these abominations?" (v9)
But even these were implored to repent with the assurance of forgiveness. See verse 3,
"Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place."
The Christadelphian, Oct 1894. p393