Cover to Cover
1 Peter 2
How should we conduct ourselves in a world where we don’t belong? Peter addresses the fact that when we are born again, we become part of a kingdom this is not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom, an invisible kingdom. We will often be rejected in this world by the unsaved, as well as those who are saved, but deceived by the enemy. As part of God’s kingdom, God wants us to represent Him well. Why? He wants to win more people to Himself.
Therefore, Peter writes about growing up spiritually. We need to know who we are and what we are a part of. Then we need to represent ourselves with maturity and meekness among and before the unsaved. In chapter 2 we see we are to have the right attitude toward government and employers. We are in this world, but we are not of this world. We are to show Christ in this world by loving one another, showing respect for leaders, and working well together. In John 15 our Lord said the world we will know we are His disciples because they see how we love and respect one another. If we want to learn honor for government and the workplace, it should first be seen in the church and among Christians.
Pastors are compared to shepherds because shepherding is a profession where a person takes on the care of a group, caring not only for the whole, but taking responsibility for each member. Another illustration of a pastor is that of a father, caring for the whole family, but taking responsibility for each member. Ezekiel 34 is a picture of what happens when that spiritual father is self-indulgent, manipulative, or even abusive. If you have been the victim of spiritual abuse and want to read more, see my article “Signs of Unhealthy Leadership” on growchurches.com. You can find it under Resources/Faith/Bible Teaching.
Pastors are spiritual leaders that are supposed to represent God. When a shepherd that is trusted to care for the sheep instead kills and devours the sheep, we get a picture of spiritual abuse and manipulation. When a father that should be trusted to care for children instead abuses or neglects those children, we get an illustration of a pastor that uses people for selfish reasons or harms people because of a wicked heart. What makes this even more devastating to the victims is that the spiritual leader represents God, giving a false and perverted image of who their true Father is, their true Shepherd. Spiritual abuse goes to the core of who a person is, their heart, their identity, their purpose. Usually spiritual abuse opens the door to demonic oppression and control.
Ezekiel 34 is a chapter that describes such a leader. God takes this personally, promising to remove the abuser and care for the victims Himself. God expresses His deep compassion for the people He has made and called to be by His side. This chapter is can be seen as prophetic for Israel before Christ, going into captivity and then coming back to their land. It is also prophetic of a the scattering and regathering of the Jewish people, scattered in 70 AD and regathered in end times. It is also prophetic of Christ (verse 23), the Messiah who will come to save, not only in spiritual redemption for a spiritual kingdom, but a government restoration for an earthy kingdom that lasts one thousand years.
A garden of renown, as seen in Ezekiel 34:29, was used prophetically to speak of a return to the Garden of Eden, or Paradise, referring to the Millennium. Other prophetic writing on the Millennium describe a paradise (Isaiah 35:1-10; 65:17-25).
Spiritual authority is a kingdom principle, the way God operates because of who God is. To misuse human authority as a spiritual father is not a small matter. For a spiritual child to try to control God’s pastor is also no small matter. For another minister to steal or take away from a pastor is no small matter. The weightiness of submission and authority exists because it is a spiritual function. When we learn to operate as God operates, we embrace humility and meekness, whether we lead or whether we follow.
Chapter 35 is a judgment against Edom. Edom is modern day Jordan, which borders Israel today. Notice again the use of the phrase, “you shall know that I am the Lord.” God wants to be known for who He is.