Why would an ancient Israelite break God’s commandments by making an idol and by installing his own son (who may have been an Ephraimite), as his household priest? Scripture provides us with the reason. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 17:6
Although some contemporary advice would suggest, “let each person discover his own path,” the biblical book of Judges records the disastrous results which ensue when everybody pursues his own ideas about what is right. Judges 18:1; 19:1; 21:25 What God’s people needed then as well as today is strong godly leadership.
Within Scripture we find God’s people floundering whenever they lacked leadership or perhaps more accurately whenever they lacked the right kind of leadership. After a brief period of glory under David and Solomon, tragically Israel’s history was predominantly characterized by a rebellious character.
During the time of the divided kingdom, the history of God’s people was frequently filled with worldly leaders who showed little concern for her spiritual welfare. In one of the saddest chapters of her history, God became so frustrated with his people that he led Ezekiel to describe the departure of his glory from the temple. Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:23
Why did this happen? One cause for this was God’s people were ruined and scattered “because there was no shepherd.” Actually, there were leaders but they were not the type of shepherds God’s people needed. Unfortunately, the shepherds of Israel at that time were only concerned for themselves and not the welfare of the sheep. Ezekiel 34:2
Be A Good Leader
Why did God view those leaders as failing in their leadership?
- They had not strengthened those who were weak or injured. Ezekiel 34:4
- They had not searched for those who went astray and were lost. Ezekiel 34:4,6, 8
Like Ezekiel, Peter also spoke of God’s leaders as being shepherds. He encouraged the elders to take care of God’s flock which had been entrusted to their care. 1 Peter 5:2
You might be thinking, what does this have to do with me, since I am not an elder? If as a sheep you can clearly see the role of our shepherds, how clearly have you acknowledged your God-given function as a sheep? How often do the sheep contemplate what God expects of them?
Be a Good Sheep
Here’s a partial checklist for the sheep:
- Appreciate those who diligently labor among us, and who have charge over us in the Lord giving us instruction. Esteem them very highly in love because of their work. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 How often as sheep have we privately thanked our leaders and encouraged them for their leadership and service? This is one of our responsibilities as sheep.
- Be submissive and obey – this means following their lead even when I want to graze just beyond the fence. Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5 For the well-being of the flock, sometimes shepherds will need to make a decision which a few sheep may find inconvenient or they would prefer something different. One of our responsibilities is to obey, not rebel.
- Do not even listen to an accusation against an elder, unless there are two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19 This is one of our responsibilities.
- Imitate their faith as those who are leading us. Hebrews 13:7 Sheep can not be passive; we must actively seek to grow in becoming more like those who are leading us. This is one of our responsibilities.
Let’s be the shepherds and the sheep God wants us to be.