Isaiah 17-18 & 1 Peter 5

Isaiah 17-18

    An oracle concerning Damascus.

    Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city
        and will become a heap of ruins.
    The cities of Aroer are deserted;
        they will be for flocks,
        which will lie down, and none will make them afraid.
    The fortress will disappear from Ephraim,
        and the kingdom from Damascus;
    and the remnant of Syria will be
        like the glory of the children of Israel,
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD of hosts.
    And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
        and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
    And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain
        and his arm harvests the ears,
    and as when one gleans the ears of grain
        in the Valley of Rephaim.
    Gleanings will be left in it,
        as when an olive tree is beaten—
    two or three berries
        in the top of the highest bough,
    four or five
        on the branches of a fruit tree,
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD God of Israel.
        In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.

    In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation.

    For you have forgotten the God of your salvation
        and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;
    therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
        and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,
    though you make them grow on the day that you plant them,
        and make them blossom in the morning that you sow,
    yet the harvest will flee away
        in a day of grief and incurable pain.
    Ah, the thunder of many peoples;
        they thunder like the thundering of the sea!
    Ah, the roar of nations;
        they roar like the roaring of mighty waters!
    The nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
        but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
    chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
        and whirling dust before the storm.
    At evening time, behold, terror!
        Before morning, they are no more!
    This is the portion of those who loot us,
        and the lot of those who plunder us.

    Ah, land of whirring wings
        that is beyond the rivers of Cush,
    which sends ambassadors by the sea,
        in vessels of papyrus on the waters!
    Go, you swift messengers,
        to a nation tall and smooth,
    to a people feared near and far,
        a nation mighty and conquering,
        whose land the rivers divide.
    All you inhabitants of the world,
        you who dwell on the earth,
    when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
        When a trumpet is blown, hear!
    For thus the LORD said to me:
    “I will quietly look from my dwelling
        like clear heat in sunshine,
        like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
    For before the harvest, when the blossom is over,
        and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
    he cuts off the shoots with pruning hooks,
        and the spreading branches he lops off and clears away.
    They shall all of them be left
        to the birds of prey of the mountains
        and to the beasts of the earth.
    And the birds of prey will summer on them,
        and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.
        At that time tribute will be brought to the LORD of hosts

    from a people tall and smooth,
        from a people feared near and far,
    a nation mighty and conquering,
        whose land the rivers divide,
        to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the LORD of hosts.

(Isaiah 17-18 ESV)

1 Peter 5

    So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

    Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.

    Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

(1 Peter 5 ESV)

1 Peter 5: Who is the 'flock of God' among you? Many of us have been specially called by God to help lead, protect and care for His people that He has placed among us. We've been given the privileged position of shepherding some of His flock whether it be our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. As we go about our daily lives and routines, who among us seems to be a wandering sheep with no shepherd? Perhaps, they have no shepherd because we are failing to embrace God's call for us to shepherd them.

This is a role we ought to willingly embrace rather than grudgingly dragging our feet to accept. And we ought to embrace it for the growth of God's people and the glory of God rather than for any personal recognition as some sort of spiritual leader. God has not given us our shepherding opportunity so that we may exercise control over others, but rather that we may serve them as our Good Shepherd has served us. Shepherding requires great sacrifice for the benefit of the flock, but may we remain encouraged that our work will be recognized by our Lord, and we have been promised an 'unfading crown of glory' for our service to the world around us.