Jeremiah 50:6, 7, 17-20
My people has been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains…
This is a favourite theocratic title of Israel - the sheep of God's pasture. In itself an appeal to the traditional pastoral character of the nation, and to the marvellous guidance of their forefathers by Jehovah through the wilderness. He was the Shepherd of Israel. The extent of their apostasy is here described.
I. IT WAS COMPLETE.
1. They had wandered. The allurements of idolatry had led them on and on, and they had at length yielded to them. They had sought other pastures and acquired preferences for other worship. It is an evil sign when men lose taste for the simple services of a spiritual religion. God should be sought alone and for his own sake.
2. They became alienated. A natural consequence. Step by step they went so far that they could not find their way back. Spiritual unfaithfulness produces confusion and spiritual darkness. They forgot their own fold.
3. They became degraded and morally odious. They bore the sign of their spiritual fall upon them. Their history, too, was the record of their shame to the neighbouring peoples. The backslider can never erase the past. He will bear his Cain mark to the end, and even the heathen and unbeliever will despise him. Their oppressors are so struck with the justice of their sentence that they justify themselves in even greater cruelties than were warranted. There is no corner of the world where the backslider can escape God's curse or hide his shame. Do what he may, he will not be as other men.
II. YET IT DID NOT BAFFLE THE SHEPHERDING OF GOD.
1. To avenge. The overdone punishment is not lost sight of; it will be duly recompensed. And the sacred character of the exiles will add to the guilt of those who used it as an excuse for their cruelties. God is the Judge of his lost ones even to the end. He commits his authority to no other. He who causes a child of God to go further astray, and delights in his degradation and ruin, will have to account terribly for this to his Father and Saviour.
2. To bring back. God's arm is strong to destroy the detaining influences, and outstretched far enough to reach his wanderers, even to the extremities of transgression and ruin. And he can detect them in every hiding place and covert. He is the good Shepherd. No wilderness too wide, no mountain too high or rocky, for him to traverse. He will bring them back to righteousness and then to happiness and peace. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
WEB: My people have been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray; they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place.