3 And he was afraid, and got up and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah; and he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked for himself to die, and said, “Enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 Then he lay down and fell asleep under a broom tree; but behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat!” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a round loaf of bread baked on hot coals, and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 But the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him, and said, “Arise, eat; because the journey is too long for you.” 8 So he arose and ate and drank, and he journeyed in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. ~ 1 Kings 19:3-8, NASB
Behold, I am going to do something new, Now it will spring up; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. ~ Isaiah 43:19, NASB
Neither Triston nor Zemora had figured out that they were in a spiritual winter season – a kind of wilderness. That’s why they did not know they hadn’t seen a spiritual spring season for some time. Though delayed, it would come again. In the meantime, their spiritual winter season – spiritual wilderness – was cold, dark, and bleak. It affected them and their sons.
While they were in their spiritual wilderness, they had forgotten that Pastor Brooks had taught them that YeHoVaH was a seasonal God who allowed His Children to experience spiritual winters. They had also forgotten that Pastor Brooks had taught them that any compulsory spiritual growth would always follow time spent in any kind of wilderness – especially a spiritual winter season.
He had additionally taught them that a spiritual wilderness was one in which everything that could go wrong would go wrong, but this Divine Truth was just something else that Triston and Zemora had forgotten. Because this married couple was oblivious to the fact that they had been behaving like spiritually immature believers who had become spiritually stagnant, they had no idea that they were spiritually naked and hungry.
In their wilderness, Zemora’s life would be threatened by an armed robber and by the love of her life. Triston’s life would be threatened by a malignant growth and by the love of his life. Once they both stopped putting in the required effort – everything they should have done to save their marriage – Triston and Zemora not only lost loved ones but also lost faith in YeHoVaH.
For years, Zemora was convinced that Triston could not hear the swelling brokenness and pain in her voice, and Triston was convinced that Zemora would never forgive his repeated displays of gross insensitivity and ecclesiastical reservations. The truth was she and he were not only deaf but also blind because neither could hear nor see how the other person’s brokenness and pain or insensitivity and reservations were slowly but surely crumbling their spiritual houses.
The extended pressure against their spiritual foundation walls’ already existing unrepaired breaches would soon cause them to crack, and those cracks would eventually lead to a severely shaken marital relationship.
~ The above-concluding paragraphs are from CHAPTER EIGHT: Lesser Half – my fictional novel’s manuscript.
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him a third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:17, KJV)
It is difficult to find “good undershepherds” today, simply because most individuals who are operating as God’s undershepherds are spending too much of their time trying to convince their flocks that “pastors” are better than their “sheep.” The truth of the matter is that God’s intent for “pastors” always has been for them to feed HIS sheep. HE never meant for “undershepherds” to dominate HIS sheep.
Contrary to accepted belief, there really aren’t any privileges that one “calling” has over another. Thus, even though there are CHURCH pastors, prophets, evangelists, teachers, apostles, ushers, choir members, musicians, and so forth, in God’s eyes the way people function in HIS Kingdom is not what is most important. What is most important to God is that any disobedience is sin. Therefore, God’s sheep are obeying HIS Perfect Will only when they are performing the duties assigned by God the way God wants those duties to be done.
We who are born again, saved, and justified by the blood of the Lamb are all God’s sheep, which means that even if we are anointed, appointed, and sent out to minister to our Savior’s sheep we must be cognizant of the fact that we still are just a sheep. That’s why it doesn’t matter to God if we are pew sitters or front-line soldiers; small-town preachers or worldwide tele-evangelists; or stay-at-home moms or dads, or corporate bigwigs. If the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us (equipping and empowering us), then we are God’s sheep.
Once again, since we are equals in the Kingdom of God, this is the reason why there never is supposed to be BIG and little sheep in Christ’s CHURCH. Nevertheless, there are BIG and little sheep in today’s churches. That’s why there is nothing more detestable than to hear about or to watch alleged Christian leaders portray themselves as people who “sit in Moses’ seat” or who “make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments;” or who “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues;” or who seek and expect “greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (see Matthew 23:2 and 23:5-7, KJV). What makes their behaviors unacceptable is this absolute truth: the “Good Shepherd’s” sheep, over whom Christ is the ONLY Lord and Savior, never would “see” themselves as being more important than any other sheep (Body of Christ member).
Moreover, although God has entrusted portions of HIS sheepfold (CHURCH) to undershepherds (pastors), as well as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and/or teachers, for them to watch over HIS sheep (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-13), HIS sheep never should be viewed as slaves who “blindly” must do their apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers or pastors’ biddings. While this “slave” image is very negative, unfortunately this image accurately depicts the way countless pastors or undershepherds treat Christ’s twenty-first century sheep.
A major reason why the persons who are supposed to feed the Lord’s sheep often “see” themselves as being more important than the ones to whom they have been sent to minister is that these wanna be potentates are nothing more than hirelings who have exalted themselves above the masses. Indeed, some “pastors” are like many “popes,” they actually believe that the CHURCH and Her sheep are theirs. However, Christ says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep” (John 10:11-12, KJV).
Since a hireling is one who usually takes a ministry position primarily for money (is a hired hand rather than a God “called,” God ordained, and God-sent believer), this kind of person invariably has no intentions of staying on the job when the going gets rough or the prospects look greener elsewhere. A hireling also is not concerned with showing God’s sheep any love and care, unless by doing so the hireling profits from these actions—unless there are praises of men and women, or personal desires to make more money in the particular ministry (SERVICE or HELP) calling of interest.
Furthermore, when troubled, life-threatening times arise and a hireling’s sheep need to be protected from the ravenous wolf (Satan, the terror of the sheepfold), there usually is not enough money that will motivate a hireling to make any altruistic sacrifices that would guarantee the safety and well being of an entire sheepfold. The reason why this last statement is so true is because a hireling is a thief and/or a robber who cunningly enters into Christ’s sheepfold for the purpose of craftily hoodwinking HIS sheep into following false doctrines and/or ungodly visions that ultimately will kill or destroy Christ’s sheep.
Consequently, when the most vicious wolf (Satan) enters into sheepfolds (individual churches) over which hirelings are serving as pastors, these hirelings will flee because only their own welfare and security will matter. These false undershepherds ONLY are interested in saving themselves, because the idea of saving every sheep (or even some sheep) in their individual sheepfolds never will cross their minds. That’s why in times of trouble these hirelings’ main focus always will be about finding a way to save their own names, positions, possessions, and/or earthly lives.
The most important explanation for why modern-day hirelings behave as they do is because today’s hirelings, who usually are trained professionals (from a seminary, Bible college, divinity school, or a secular college and/or university), view their acceptance of their undershepherd or pastor’s appointment, eventually, if not from the onset, as a step toward bigger and better opportunities. A second reason for why hirelings act selfishly is because these counterfeit pastors will see their ministry appointment as a chance for them to make “merchandise” of God’s people (cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3).
Hirelings’ astonishing merchandising tactics are revealed the most in the ways these false pastors gain their profits—how they make a living off of God’s sheep. In the vast majority of today’s churches and ministries, the key ways that hirelings increase their profits are through the marketing and commercializing of God’s Word, anointings, talents, spiritual gifts, abilities, and the like. Yes, that’s right. They charge fees for EVERYTHING they say they are doing for the Lord.
Then too, hirelings (pastors, apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, etcetera) only are serving themselves instead of serving the Good Shepherd’s sheep, and this selfish act makes every kind of hireling not only false but also greedy. That’s why, if given the chance, these hirelings not only will fleece every one of Christ’s sheep but also they will mislead HIS sheep on purpose, all because they want to increase their own wealth, materialism, recognition, tributes, and commendations.
Instead of having the salvation of unbelievers as the main goal for increasing “church” membership—God’s profit, which holy men and women of God should seek to achieve—these hirelings ONLY are concerned about their own images, desires, fame, and other related forms of covetousness, which are temporal at best. As a result, one of these hirelings’ chief objectives is to add proselytized sheep—new converts or partnerships—to an already questionable following in their own churches or ministries, primarily so that these hirelings can receive more money, recognition, and so forth.
As previously mentioned, hirelings’ selfish character also will cause them to mislead Christ’s sheep on purpose, which usually is accomplished when hirelings propagate their own understandings and interpretations of God’s Word. In a nutshell, what many of the modern world’s hirelings are feeding God’s sheep is their own personal opinions about and analyses of God’s WORD that have been endorsed by men and women’s theologies that are rooted and grounded in fables, or NEW AGE teachings (apostasies).
Hirelings, thus, are lying to their sheep, and the most damaging lie these “hired” undershepherds tell is that God’s sheep must submit to their doctrines—or those adapted from world-renown psychologists, philosophers, politicians, television and film personalities, theologians, and the like. Once again, what makes these hirelings’ seduction and deception that much more abominable than the seduction and deception of committed unbelievers is the fact that hirelings, regardless of their functions in Christ’s CHURCH, claim they are saved and, thus, are God’s SHEEP, too!
Concerning the Great Commission, Christ tells HIS disciples that they, too, are sheep sent to minister to HIS sheepfold, with the charge to be wise, sober, alert, caring, peaceable, and loving sheep-characteristics that will set them apart from the unrighteous, worldly wolves rather than distinguish them from other sheep. Christ says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16, KJV).
Yet, instead of operating as the chosen few that God intends for them to be, present-day undershepherds negate God’s “calling” on their lives every time they accept ministry positions with “what the ‘sheep’ can do for me” mentalities. When today’s undershepherds tend to perceive themselves as being “better than” their members, or perceive that their spiritual clout with God is more important than “ordinary” believers’ influence, this stinking thinking will cause misguided undershepherds to become haughty hirelings who have no qualms about using their imagined superiority to intimidate their followers and prospective cohorts.
Eventually, these me-first pastors will deceive and seduce Christ’s sheep until they draw many of them away from the pure, unadulterated Word of God, as well as away from HIS sheepfold. Next, these hirelings will scatter those sheep who are the most gullible and the most ignorant of God’s Divine-Truth (HIS WORD). These me-first hirelings then will desert these sheep, leaving them to seek their own ways to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
As confused, unprotected and unloved sheep, these individuals ultimately will end up running to and fro in search of “a truth” and “a way,” but their search only will lead them to another “false undershepherd.” Because they neither know how to search for God’s Divine TRUTH nor know how to detect their own ignorance about God’s Divine WAY that will lead them into the presence of the One and only “Good Shepherd,” these scattered sheep will perish by the wayside without ever receiving their promised Kingdom of God abundant green-pasture living.
It is unfortunate that today’s Body of Christ has members in it who have been sold to the wolves by undershepherds who neither love nor care for their perceived “less” knowledgeable and “less” spiritual sheep. Moreover, these alleged undershepherds also are not protective of or harmless in their dealings with their perceived “less” knowledgeable and “less” spiritual sheep.
The appalling upshot of these hirelings’ ungodly treatments of their brother and sister sheep is that these hirelings still make some kind of a profit. Indeed, it would seem as though hirelings always end up increasing their worldly wealth, materialism, recognition, commendations, and tributes, even though their individual profits are at the expense of Christian family members—an expense that often could be physical, emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual, or any combination of these five kinds of expenses.
The “…Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” saying (Matthew 25:45b, KJV) has little influence in the lives of these scandalous hirelings who promote themselves as “good shepherds.” However, although these wicked hirelings receive earthly rewards, the Scriptures declare that Christ will cast these hirelings (unrepentant goats) into the Lake of Fire, which is their promised, everlasting punishment for the way they have ignored the needs of Christ’s sheepfold in order to benefit themselves.
Then too, since hirelings look so much like true sheep, the ONLY One who is qualified to separate true sheep from unrepentant goats is Christ. However, the final separation will not happen until near the end of the prophesied Battle of Armageddon.
What, then, is the responsibility of EVERY sheep? How can Christ’s sheep avoid being chewed up and spit out by the most vicious wolf and/or his ravenous hirelings?
Because there are many sheep-looking hirelings in today’s churches and ministries (false apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and so forth, who claim to be Christ’s believers), we who are HIS true sheep cannot trust that a sheep, is a sheep, is a sheep. Sheep’s clothing can deceive, so we are NOT to follow another sheep based on mere sight, as the blind will lead the blind into a ditch (cf. Luke 6:39).
In HIS parable about blind ditch leaders, Jesus is teaching that many church and ministry individuals only have an outward appearance of religiosity, while inwardly they are just rotten to the core. However, it is these inwardly corrupt leaders’ external displays of religion that often fools people and causes them to give their blind allegiance to these blind ditch leaders. The specific blind ditch leaders (hirelings) Christ is speaking about in HIS parable are the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, who thought they were more righteous, holier and better than Jesus.
These first century A.D. blind ditch leaders (hirelings) had no spiritual fruit emanating from their hearts (inner spirits) because the Holy Spirit of God was not in them. Thus, the people who followed these morally and spiritually dishonest religious leaders by sight inevitably ended up becoming just as morally and spiritually rotten, inwardly, as the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, because these religious leaders’ leaven (hypocrisy) contaminated every person with whom they came in contact.
This Divine TRUTH about leaven also applies to contemporary believers’ lives, especially if they are following wicked hirelings by sight. Since this is the case in many local churches, the only logical conclusion to be drawn is that modern-day hirelings’ hypocrisy will cause moral and spiritual corruption in both the hirelings’ lives and the lives of the sheep they are supposed to guide, which is possible because the Holy Spirit either is not in either of them, or they all have quenched Him. That’s why the deciding feature that will keep true sheep away from hirelings’ ditches must be “the voice,” because the Scriptures tell sold-out believers that Christ’s sheep will know HIS voice and follow Him, as opposed to following the voices of false christs, false prophets, false apostles, false evangelists, false teachers, and false undershepherds (pastors).
Then too, the Scriptures declare that besides being able to discern the difference between HIS voice—HIS Divine TRUTH, which is God’s unadulterated WORD—and the voices of hirelings or strangers’ “truths”—men and women’s ungodly doctrines—Christ’s sheep also will know when to flee from the presence of hirelings or strangers (cf. John 10:4-5). Additionally, the Scriptures make it clear that because Christ’s sheep know HIS voice they also will produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control). This fruit is observable in EVERY deed a Holy Spirit-filled sheep does for Christ Jesus’ sake. Moreover, Scriptures say that the lives of the Good Shepherd’s sheep not only will radiate from this fruit, but also this fruit will testify that these sheep belong to Christ (cf. Galatians 5:22-26; John 15:1-6).
Despite these aforementioned spiritual truths, the cold-hard fact about today’s believers is that no matter if Christ speaks in various forms, like shepherding, evangelizing, teaching, prophesying, singing, and so forth, there are too many “sheep” in the Body of Christ’s sheepfold (CHURCH) who are incapable of recognizing HIS voice—the pure, unadulterated GOSPEL. Too many of Christ’s “sheep” are incapable of recognizing HIS voice, because they either have deaf ears or their ears are itching only to hear a watered-down version of God’s Divine TRUTH. As such, these lambs (babes in Christ) are preferring the teachings found in New Age fables because these lambs are ignorant of the fact that NEW AGE fables do not impart “accurate” Kingdom of Heaven revelations—spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Therefore, the hirelings who teach and preach these fables to Christ’s sheepfold are guilty of pulling the wool over some sheep’s eyes.
Eventually, in this “blind” state, these scattered and spiritually lost sheep will end up following counterfeit undershepherds until they fall away from God’s gift of salvation—until they become apostates. Apostasy, then, is the end times’ proverbial satanic ditch. Moreover, the unrepentant ditch-fallen hirelings and their followers either will die in their sins before or during the TRIBULATION period, or they will survive the Tribulation period and then die. In the case of the former, at the end of the prophesied apocalyptic seven years, they will be resurrected from the dead just so they can stand before God’s Great White Throne to be judged, and then they’ll be cast into the Lake of Fire—their second death, an eternal spiritual death. In the case of the latter, these unbelieving Tribulation survivors will be separated from Christ’s Tribulation saints, immediately judged, and then sent directly to their place in the LAKE OF FIRE—their first and last death, an eternal spiritual death (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:29b; Revelation 20:12-15).
There is but one saving grace, which is this truth: individuals who want to be counted as the sold out for Christ believers (HIS true CHURCH—true sheep) must search the Scriptures daily for Christ’s voice—God’s Divine TRUTH revealed through HIS WORD. These same individuals also must make sure that they only unite and fellowship with others who are Kingdom of God seekers and discerners of HIS voice. What’s more, the number of times Christ’s sheep hear HIS pure, unadulterated GOSPEL, along with the number of times they respond obediently to HIS command to increase their spiritual maturity, will determine when HIS sheep confidently, passionately, and assuredly will be able to follow ONLY their Good Shepherd’s voice.
For these reasons, it is crucial that real sheep know what the WORD says about how Christ’s sheep enter the Kingdom of God. The Good Shepherd says that HIS sheep are the ones who know HIS voice and follow it, as Christ leads them through the straight gate, or ‘door’ to the sheepfold. This gate or ‘door’ is Christ Jesus Himself. On the other hand, hirelings or strangers are the thieves and robbers who stealthily enter the sheepfold by sneaking over the wall that encloses Christ’s sheep. Hirelings or strangers have no legitimate right to be in Christ’s sheepfold, and this reason is why they feign HIS authority and abuse HIS true sheep.
Moreover, it is crucial that real sheep know that the Good Shepherd’s intent is to give HIS sheep an abundant life—to allow them to experience green-pasture living all the days of their lives. Contrary to the Good Shepherd’s intent, hirelings or strangers absolutely do not mean to provide an abundant life for Christ’s genuine sheep. Christ Himself says that hirelings or strangers only come into the sheepfold to steal, kill and destroy the Good Shepherd’s sheep (cf. John 10:1-10;Acts 20:28-30 and 2 Peter 2:1-3).
It is imperative, then, that Christ’s sheep listen to their Good Shepherd’s voice when HE tells them to flee from the hirelings or strangers. Hearing and obeying Christ’s voice will cause HIS true sheep’s salvation to remain intact. They will keep their eternal life with God, when they run from the hirelings or strangers’ presence, because this separation will help them to avoid falling into the ditch of New Age apostasy.
What’s more, once true sheep become God’s separated, sanctified sheepfold, the Holy Spirit will be able to teach them how to function in perfect unity—how to live together as one. The Holy Spirit also will be able to mature Christ’s true sheep so that they will produce moral and spiritual fruits, and so that they will have the desires to do holy and righteous acts. Moreover, the Holy Spirit will be able to give true sheep spiritual discernment, which will cause them to see that hirelings or strangers are only about absolute disunity.
Furthermore, because the Holy Spirit and God’s Love are absent from these children of Satan, hirelings or strangers only can produce the fruits of hypocrisies, lies, divisions, desertions, thieveries, robberies, killings, and destructions. These ungodly fruits in the wicked, unrepentant end-time goats (wolves) dressed in sheep’s clothing will confirm for Christ’s spiritually mature sheep that fleeing from hirelings or strangers’ presence is God’s Perfect Will for HIS sheep.
Once again, only spiritually mature sheep will be the ones who consistently hear and recognize their Good Shepherd’s voice. Spiritually mature sheep also will be the ones who eagerly turn a deaf ear to hirelings or strangers’ voices. Then too, spiritually mature sheep will be the ones who continually respond to Christ’s voice by emulating HIS holy and righteous character. Lastly, spiritually mature sheep will be the ones who obediently flee from hirelings dressed in sheep’s clothing, for only they will know that hirelings or strangers really are ditch-bound goats (wolves) heading toward the Lake of Fire.
A sheep, is a sheep, is a sheep, or perhaps not. Which sheep can discern what kinds of sheep are in the flocks (churches or ministries) in which they are a part of the sheepfold? Which sheep can discern if their undershepherds are living laborious lives full of ceaseless watchfulness, love and concern for Christ’s sheep, opting to stay with them day and night? Which sheep know if their undershepherds are living convenient lives full of pretentious power, filthy greed, and evil deception and seduction—who will choose to flee when the going gets tough, or when offers of greener pastures come their way?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Therefore, in order to ensure the safety and well being of other sheep, only true sheep who are functioning as undershepherds will eagerly lay down their lives as a loving sacrifice. If an “undershepherd” is not declaring and living a life that points to this kind of altruism, then that “undershepherd” is a hireling: a thief, or a robber, and a false sheep, from whom every genuine sheep must flee.