Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 22:1-23:20 (additional reading: Psalm 83:1-18 and Proverbs 25:11-14 )

Slaughterhouses sometimes find it difficult to direct sheep marked for slaughter up the ramp to the place of their execution. They will mill about in confusion, desperately looking for someone to follow and show them the way home. To overcome the problem, some slaughter houses use what they call a “Judas-goat.” This diabolical creature will mill about the sheep boldly and confidently until he has gained their trust. Then he will walk up the ramp to the place where the slaughter takes place. When the sheep are well on their way, this goat will turn a corner and quickly find a hidden door on the side of the ramp and push his way out, while the unsuspecting sheep keep going to their death.

Over the centuries, our world has seen its share of “Judas-goats.” Some come in the form of national leaders like a Hitler or a Stalin. With their well polished speeches, they have led millions to follow godless philosophies and bloody and ruthless policies. Others come dressed in the robes of a preacher. It is no different today than it was in Jeremiah’s day or in Jesus’ day. The Bible says that “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Political leaders cared little for right and wrong and did little to lead their people. Religious leaders didn’t teach people the truth about God and the plan of salvation. There always have been and always will be Judas-goats who look for sheep who are confused and ready to follow the first person who looks like they know where they are going.

Jesus came to be our Shepherd. He came to be our King. We can follow him without fear. He also gave the church those who have the role as pastor in order to build us up into the fullness of Christ. However we must be careful that we don’t allow the ways and philosophies of the world to become our pastors. We need to be careful that we spot the “Judas-goat” before it blends in as part of our lives and worst part of a local church.

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