"My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill And have forgotten their resting place.Jeremiah 50:6(NASB)
From Abel to Abraham, from Moses to David, and from Amos to those men in the fields of Bethlehem who were keeping watch over their flocks by night, we see God using shepherds as an illustration of His loving-care for the needs of His people Whom He describes as little lambs and wandering sheep - lambs and sheep who have been led astray by false, destructive, and idle shepherds.
He also uses the lowly shepherd as a beautiful picture of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the good and faithful Shepherd of the sheep Who sacrifices His life for the sake of the sheep. He is the great Shepherd of the sheep Who cares for His flock - and gently leads those that are with young. Jeremiah mourned that, "God's people have become lost sheep Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains. They have gone along from mountain to hill. They have forgotten their resting place."
Despite wandering far from their blessed Shepherd, He cares for them with a deep and tender love. He searches them out and rescues each one from danger. He carries them to safety when they foolishly stray from the straight and narrow pathway or wander aimlessly... from mountain to hill... in search of green pastures, peaceful waters, or a secure resting place.
Our great Shepherd is long suffering and of great mercy, for He recognises that His sheep have become scattered afar and dispersed abroad by their enemies. God's chosen people, Israel, have been led astray by many false and careless shepherds over their difficult history. They have been devoured and distressed by ravening wolves that stalk and steal their homes and their hope. And these words of comfort come to them in the middle of a prophecy of judgement against Babylon and its grotesque gods.
Jeremiah, in part, seems to be describing some of the judgements that befell Babylon in 539 B.C. after which many Israelites returned to Israel to rebuild their nation. It also seems to look forward towards the full and final restoration of God's chosen people, with the full and final destruction of Babylon, and the full and final reestablishment of Israel into their promised land at the end of the coming Tribulation. On that day, Christ will return from heaven to earth with His church-age saints, to set up His millennial kingdom in Jerusalem, as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The days is fast approaching when the northern kingdom of Israel and its southern sister of Judah will be united as one nation under one God. In that day, the lost and wandering sheep of God's own pasture, who have been devoured and devastated throughout many centuries of time, will be reunited to the good and faithful Shepherd of Israel.
Today, the chosen people of Israel have become like lost sheep. Their idle shepherds have led them astray and they have wandered about from land to land, from mountain to hill, and have forgotten their resting place. BUT the Lord is still their Good Shepherd and He will one day return from heaven to lead them into green pastures. He will re-establish the nation in Jerusalem and settle each one under his own fig tree and olive grove, and none shall make them afraid - for the mouth of Lord of hosts has spoken it.
The Lord will guide them through the valley of the shadow of death. He will protect them under the shadow of His wing during that future time of Jacob's trouble. And He will one day return in clouds of great glory, at the end of the 7-year Tribulation, to establish the promised Kingdom of Heaven. And every eye will see Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. On that day, He will finally set up His millennial kingdom in Jerusalem, and none shall make them afraid.
Surely goodness and mercy, which by God's grace has followed the despised nation of Israel down through centuries of time, will finally settle them in their land of promise... and they will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Praise God for JESUS - Israel's good and faithful Shepherd-King. Praise God for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus and the wonderful way that You have led Your people Israel down through the years. Thank You that You never forgot the covenant that You made with Your people. I pray for the many in Israel that are lost sheep without a Shepherd. And I pray that many would come to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and King. Thank You that Your Word is true and Your promises never fail, and I praise You that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.