15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart,
who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
The context of this passage in the book of Jeremiah is a prophecy to the nation of Israel in the midst of the Lord’s beckoning message to Israel to return to Him. It was a message of encouragement to Israel that God was going to raise up shepherds who reflect His heart in contrast to some of the unfaithful shepherds that they had experienced.
It is a great encouragement to me that God will not only literally do this with Israel but He is raising up more and more shepherds who fit this description in Jeremiah 3:15 in the church worldwide.
This description is very similar to the description we have of King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22), who was called to be Israel’s “Shepherd King” (2 Samuel 5:2). God prepared David to be a shepherd to His people by being a literal shepherd where he learned to shepherd them “according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”
The “according to My heart” described in Jeremiah 3:15 describes shepherds who are after the Lord’s heart, diligently seeking Him. They are those whose hearts are corresponding with the Lord’s heart, conforming to His heart, and in agreement with His heart; not only His emotions, passions, and desires but His thoughts and His ways.
These shepherds will feed others, caring for them by leading them to the knowledge of God. This is more than just an informational knowing of Bible facts but a “knowing God,” intimate with Him, familiar with His personality, attributes, etc (Jeremiah 9:23). This kind of knowledge is what brings stability to us (Isaiah 33:6). It is not a window shopping type of knowledge but a partaking of every aspect of who He is. The understanding of Jeremiah 3:15 describes insight into, consideration of, and comprehension of the Lord, who He is, what He is like, and why He does the things He does.
In contrast to the descriptions of other shepherds in Jeremiah, these ones the Lord is raising up will be those who don’t “destroy and scatter the sheep,” those who attend to the needs of the sheep, who have stood in the counsel of the Lord causing God’s people to hear His words (Jeremiah 23). We also get other descriptions of unfaithful, irresponsible, and absent shepherds out of passages like Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 10, and other places in Scripture.
We also have prophesies about God himself being a shepherd in Ezekiel 24 & 37, Zechariah 13, and Jeremiah 31. We know the ultimate example of a shepherd of God’s people is Jesus. He had compassion on people because they “were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9: 36). He is the Good Shepherd described in John 10, modeling wonderfully what His shepherds will look like.
So, God is raising up shepherds. They will be after His heart and according to His heart. They will fill others on knowledge and understanding, yet they will not be just in the “pastor of a church” role. They are those who will carry His heart into the workplace and lead like Jesus leads. They are fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older brothers, older sisters who will influence others in their family according to the heart of God. They are mentors and teacher who will tend to others with right understanding of who God is and what He does. Two questions each of us can consider are: where are we serving as shepherds and what kind of shepherds are we?
The most important lesson for shepherds is knowing THE SHEPHERD. How else can we truly impart His heart and truth to others? Shepherds must themselves feed on knowledge and understanding from the Good Shepherd before they can effectively lead others.
Lord, you are raising up shepherds like King David who are after your heart. You are preparing them to tend your people. Prepare us in whatever role of shepherding you would call us to. Feed us. Tend to us. Help us to grow in knowledge and understanding of You. And then use us to feed and care for others, effectively leading others in Your paths. Amen.
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Matthew or Julie Wine