Jeremiah 13:20 contains an important question God asked His people in the past and which He might ask us in the near future: “Where is the flock God has given to you?”
This question was asked to the leaders of Judah, in a dramatic moment for the nation. The enemy, Babylon, was coming from the north (Jer. 6:22), and the final destruction was almost inevitable. The testimony of history is conclusive: in 605, 597, and 586 B.C., the Chaldeans subdued the Israelites in overwhelming defeats.
The same question is asked of us today: “Where is the flock God has given to you?”
I. RAISE YOUR EYES.
A. It is a warning. Even more than that, it sounds like an order from the Lord: “Lift up your eyes and see those who come from the north” (Jer. 13:20). The approaching Chaldean army meant the imminent destruction of the people and the city. Babylon took the children of Israel captive. Babylon meant the end of the kingdom of Judea.
B. God always warns His people. The message originally sent to Judah applies to us as well: Open your eyes, He says, and look at the signs. The end is near!
C. The leaders of Judah were not concerned. Although the situation was critical, the leaders in Judah didn’t seem to have any notion of the danger. They did not advise the people and did not take care of the flock. What is our reaction today? Are we so concerned about the world’s business and even the church’s business that we don’t have time for its greatest asset, our children?
II. WHERE IS THE FLOCK?
A. This question did not need an answer. The Lord used the prophet Jeremiah to urge the Israelite leaders to think. It was not necessary for them to respond, however, because the “flock” was already being given to the enemy. That was the sad reality.
B. In our hands. The same question is asked today of church leaders, parents, and teachers. God has entrusted precious lambs to our care, to instruct, to educate, to save.
C. Rendering account. God will ask that we, as His chosen shepherds, be accountable for our flocks.
III. THE BEAUTIFUL FLOCK
A. “The work that lies next to our church members is to become interested in our youth; for they need kindness, patience, tenderness, line upon line, precept upon precept. Oh, where are the fathers and mothers in Israel? There ought to be a large number who would be stewards of the grace of Christ, who would feel not merely a casual but a special interest in the young” (Ellen G. White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 41, 42).
B. A father’s story: “As I walked by the pier, I saw a crowd and I rushed to see what the problem was. They told me a boy had fallen into the deep waters and someone had rescued him. A man was bent over him, giving artificial respiration. Others told me they [had been] battling for the boy for a long time without noticing any sign of life. I was told they had done all that was possible to save the boy’s life. I also agreed they had done their part. However, motivated by a sudden impulse, I approached the fallen body and was horrified to find out that it was my son who was lying there, apparently dead. You can be sure I no longer thought everything possible [had been] done for him.
“Taking my jacket off, I bent over the boy, blew into his nostrils, breathed into his mouth, during the whole time asking God to bring him back to life. I worked and prayed until sunset, and just at that moment I noticed a soft breathing. Thank God, my son had revived! That day, I learned the lesson of my life: never again [will I] look at another boy drowning without removing my jacket and doing all that is possible to save him” (Dr. Scott).
The destruction of Judah was near when God asked the great question to his leaders: “Where is the flock I have given to you?”
We are living at the nightfall of this world, and God asks us the same question: “Where is the flock I have given to you?” The sheep are worth much more than we can imagine. Their value is the price of Jesus’ blood: they are priceless.
Jesus is the ideal model. If we have to lead children to identify themselves with Jesus, (which is the only real form of conversion), we have to lead them to admire and love Him. Christ needs to live in us. It is only then that we will be able to answer the question “Where is the flock I have given to you?” with the same words used by Jesus when He presents the redeemed to God: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me” (Heb. 2:13).
Francisco Lemos is an editor at the Brazilian Publishing House.