This meditation is a companion to a previous meditation:
Woe Be unto the Pastors that Destroy and Scatter – Jeremiah 23:1-2
In Jeremiah 23:3-4 the Lord gave promise to the children of Israel, saying, “And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.”
In Jeremiah 23:1-2 the Lord had pronounced his judgment of woe against the ungodly pastors of His people, saying, “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.” Then in Jeremiah 23:3-4 the Lord promised His people that He would gather them from their scattering and that He would set godly pastors over them. Even so, in Jeremiah 23:4 we are introduced to our Lord God’s description of a godly pastor. Furthermore, within the context of Jeremiah 23:9-40, wherein our Lord expanded and explained His condemnation of the ungodly pastors, He provided two additional descriptions of a godly pastor. So then, let us consider these three characteristics of godly pastors who are approved by the Lord our God.
Spiritually Feeding the Sheep with the Wisdom & Warnings of God’s Word
First, godly pastors are characterized by our Lord as those who spiritually feed the His sheep with the wisdom and warnings of His Holy Word. In the opening portion of Jeremiah 23:4, the Lord declared, “And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them.” Indeed, this is just the responsibility that the apostle Paul proclaimed in Acts 20:26-28 – “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God [both the wisdom and the warnings of God’s Word]. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Again this is the responsibility that the apostle Paul proclaimed in 1 Timothy 4:16 – “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”
Yet again this is the responsibility that the apostle Peter proclaimed in 1 Peter 5:1-4 – “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” A godly pastor will not scatter the sheep away from obedience against the Lord. Rather, a godly pastor will spiritually feed the sheep with the wisdom and warnings of God’s Holy Word in order to exhort them and encourage them unto a walk of obedience and service to the Lord.
Sounding Forth the Lord’s Call to Repentance from Selfish, Sinful Rebellion
Second, godly pastors are characterized by our Lord as those who sound forth His call to repentance from selfish, sinful rebellion. Speaking against the ungodly pastors, in Jeremiah 23:22 the Lord declared, “But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” If these ungodly pastors had actually done right, if they had actually stood in and for the counsel (the wisdom and warnings) of God’s Holy Word, if they had actually fed the sheep aright by causing them to hear that which the Lord Himself had spoken, then they would have called the sheep to turn from their evil character and conduct. Even so, godly pastors will be characterized by this very practice. A godly pastor will not strengthen the sheep in the ways of disobedience and rebellion against the Lord. Rather, a godly pastor will preach God’s Holy Word, being “instant in season” and “out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) A godly pastor will preach God’s Holy Word, sounding forth the reproof and rebuke of God’s own Word against any and all sinfulness. A godly pastor will preach God’s Holy Word, exhorting those who are in sin to repent of that sin and return unto the Lord. Yea, a godly pastor will preach God’s Holy Word, exhorting to repentance “with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
Speaking Faithfully to the Sheep the Truth & Teaching of God’s Word
Third, godly pastors are characterized by our Lord as those who speak faithfully to the sheep the truth and teaching of His Holy Word. In Jeremiah 23:28-29 the Lord declared, “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” A godly pastor will not corrupt and pervert the truth of God’s Holy Word. A godly pastor will not handle the Word of God deceitfully or proclaim the some deceitful message from his own heart. (See 2 Corinthians 4:2; Jeremiah 23:26) A godly pastor will not speak “lies in hypocrisy.” (See 1 Timothy 4:1-2) A godly pastor will not hold back from declaring the whole counsel of God’s Word. (See Acts 20:20, 27) A godly pastor will not appease the selfish ears and hearts of the rebellious by speaking forth the soft message that they want to hear. (See 2 Timothy 4:3-4) Rather, a godly pastor will take heed unto the doctrine of God’s Holy Word, and will study to show himself approved unto God, and will rightly divide God’s Word of truth, and will give himself wholly to that truth. (See 1 Timothy 4:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:15) Indeed, a godly pastor will possess full assurance and conviction of faith that the truth of God’s Word is “the wheat” and that all else is but “the chaff.” Yea, a godly pastor will possess full assurance and conviction of faith that the truth of God’s Word alone is the fire that will purify the character of the sheep and is the hammer that will break the hearts of the rebellious.