I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3: 15
Jeremiah 3 is a call for the people of Israel and Judah to repent or return to the ways of God. This is the only hope for them as a people. The Lord promises them that they will receive shepherds after His own heart to lead them. In many instances in the Bible, including this one, the term shepherd is used to mean ‘king’. There was only one true shepherd in Israel. Their greatest King, David, paid homage to Him in Psalm 23, the Lord [Jehovah] is my Shepherd! God was the one true Shepherd in Israel. What Israel needed then were kings with a Godly heart, kings that would put themselves aside and rule according to the leading of God.
As the Church of the 21st century, the ‘body of Christ and the ‘new people of God’ seems to be slipping into an era of worldliness, the need arises for a new breed of shepherds to lead the People of God. The need however is not for new people, but for people willing to be renewed constantly by God’s Holy Spirit. Persons willing to put themselves to the background so that Christ may be brought to the forefront. There is indeed a need for Shepherds after the heart of God. But what does this mean? In the New Living Translation, the text is translated, ‘Pastors after my own heart’. While the king of Israel was God’s leader of the people, charged with guiding them according to God’s way, today Christians are guided in their congregations by their pastoral teams. In the Moravian Church this would be the Minister/Pastor along with the Elders, Stewards and Sunday School Teachers. These persons should be true servants of God. According to Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, ‘these shall be according to God's own heart; they shall be of his own choosing and shall be qualified by himself: and in consequence they shall feed the people with knowledge’. This knowledge is the life changing gospel of salvation. This is what we share even as much as it is what we become. Men and women after God’s own heart. This is the standard for those of us who lead in church. 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. Leviticus 19: 2.
Know however, that there is not one standard of Christian living for the leaders and another for the followers. When King Josiah led the reform of worship in 2 Kings 23, all of Israel followed him in renewed worship and Israel prospered. As Moravians we believe in, and practice the ‘priesthood of all believers’. This means we are all called to be ‘shepherds after the heart of God’ so that those we meet from day to day may meet God in and through us. A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher; Luke 6:40. Let us seek to set a good example for others to follow as we all seek to be shepherds after God’s own heart.