Scattering of the Sheep
Shallow preaching will also trigger a scattering of the sheep—both physically and spiritually. The prophet Micaiah used such figurative speech when he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd” (1 Kings 22:17, ESV). If the sheep scatter, what will become of them? Ezekiel wrote, “When they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals” (Ezek. 34:5, NIV). False teachers will prey on scattered believers (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:1-3).
Paul wrote, “And He gave some . . . as pastors and teachers . . . for the equipping of the saints . . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man” (Eph. 4:11-13, NASB). The primary job of the pastor-teacher is to preach and teach the Word of God (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:1-10). Consequently, believers will “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles” (Eph. 4:14, RSV).
Conversely, a lack of solid biblical preaching will cause people to scatter away from the Word of God, and towards various false beliefs (Heb. 13:9). It partly explains the widespread phenomenon of some believers “scattering” from one church to another and seeking spiritual meaning.
Switching of the Shepherds
What happens to the preacher who preaches superficially, thus causing the sheep to scatter? He invites the judgment of God. Paul told Timothy that the Lord Jesus Christ will judge ministers of the Word very soon (2 Tim. 4:1-2, 5, 8; cf. James 3:1). Timothy therefore is to proclaim the Word faithfully (2 Tim. 4:2).
The LORD God declares “against the pastors that feed my people” (Jer. 23:2, KJV). “You have scattered my flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings” (Jer. 23:2, NKJV). The context applies it to Judah. This is a Messianic passage (Jer. 23:5-6). It will happen when the Messiah regathers all Israel under His rule (Jer. 23:3-8; 30-33).
Yet one thing is certain. The Lord judges shepherds who do not attend to His people (Gal. 2:11-4; 3 John 9-11). He replaces them with pastors after His own heart (Jer. 3:15). “And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them” (Jer. 23:4, KJV). The verb, “set up,” is from a root word (Hebrew, qum), which means, “to rise.”76 In the Hiphil verb stem, it means, “cause to rise, raise.”77 Being in the Hiphil perfect,78 it is causative active.79 This means that the subject is causing the action. Thus, the LORD causes the setting up of shepherds. He initiates the raising up of pastors. The Lord, not people, sets up biblical preachers who can feed the flock.
Further, the perfect tense describes completed action. It refers to the action as a whole, without regard to its duration. The context speaks of a future Messianic age. Hence, it is completed-ness of action in the future. The LORD has already given shepherds who have fed them. Thus, it is elsewhere translated, “And I have raised for them shepherds, And they have fed them” (Jer. 3:15, YLT). The Lord is always one step ahead as to the spiritual welfare of His people. He is not remiss in raising up biblical preachers (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:5-14).
Spiritually Split Lives
Superficial preaching will cause a spiritual splitting up of people’s lives. The Lord said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6, ESV). The verb, “destroyed” (Hebrew, damah), is from a root word, which means, “to fail or perish, cease, be cut down (off), destroy (sic), be undone.”80 It denotes to “come to an end,” and in the context of Hosea 4:6 and 10:15, a violent end.81 The picture here is to disintegrate, come apart, and break into pieces (Isa. 6:5).
The Hebrew verb stem is Niphal perfect.82 The voice is simple passive.83 It means the verb acts upon the subject. The perfect tense signifies completed-ness of action. The act of being destroyed is viewed as a whole action. God’s people are destroyed.
Where does this destruction come from? It emanates from a “lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge” (Hos. 4:6, NKJV). The verb, “rejected” (Hebrew, ma’as), means, to “spurn,” “abhor,” or “despise.”84 The verb stem here is Qal perfect.85 The voice is simple active. The subject is the doer of the action. This means that the Israelites themselves willfully rejected knowledge. The perfect tense refers to perfective action. It treats the act of rejecting as a completed whole. Thus, they are destroyed, because they rejected the knowledge of God.
The word “knowledge” (Hebrew, da’at) means the “knowledge of God” (Hos. 4:1, 6; 6:6; Prov. 2:5), as Jack P. Lewis points out. One gets this knowledge from the revelation of God in the Bible (Ps. 119:65-67). To know God is to fear and obey Him (Prov. 1:7; 2:5; Isa. 11:2; Jer. 22:16). Lewis wrote, “On the other hand where there is no knowledge of God there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery and breaking all bonds (Hos 4:1-2). Such will bring destruction upon a people (Hos 4:6; cf. Isa. 5:13).”86
Cut off from knowing God and His will, believers are unguided in their own brokenness. Left to their wrong decisions and notions, they will spiritually come apart. Instead of becoming spiritually whole with the knowledge of God, they will live spiritually dysfunctional and disintegrated lives. Only God’s Word can make our hearts whole and undivided (Ps. 86:11).
We need preachers who will teach the knowledge of God from the Bible.
76 Strong, Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary [Public Domain] in Power Bible CD.
77 Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew in Bible Windows CD.
78 Groves et. al, Hebrew in Bible Windows CD.
79 Gadiel T. Isidro, “Hebrew I,” (Class Notes, El Theological Seminary, Cebu City, n. d.), 7.
80 Strong, Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary [Public Domain] in Power Bible CD.
81 TWOT, Vol 1, s. v. “dama” by Victor P. Hamilton.
82 Groves et. al, Hebrew in Bible Windows CD.
83 The Niphal stem is simple passive. Isidro, “Hebrew I,” 7.
84 Strong, Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary [Public Domain] in Power Bible CD.
85 Groves et. al, Hebrew in Bible Windows CD
86 TWOT, Vol 1, s. v. “da’at” by Jack P. Lewis.