Wimps and Bullies Versus Godly Shepherds

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1 Timothy 3:3, Violent. This passage (vv. 3–7) lists the qualifications of an elder or leader of a congregation. One of the of character traits that he is not to posses is that of being a brawler (KJV),violent (NKJV) or pugnacious (NAS). What do the words brawler, violent or pugnacious mean here? It is the Greek word amachos meaning one who is by nature “a fighter, brawler, contentious, quarrelsome, one who causes strife, or one who is combative.” In modern terms, he’s a bully. Perhaps you remember the neighborhood bully from your years as a school child. An elder, overseer or shepherd of a congregation is not to be such a person. This is what Paul had in mind when he gave these instructions concerning the qualifications of an elder.

So let’s now explore this issue a little further. Is there ever a time when spiritual leaders may need to resort to forceful words or even to forceful actions to protect YHVH’s spiritual sheep? What, for example, did David mean when he asks the following question in Psalm 94:16?

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

What did Yeshua mean when describing a good shepherd versus an evil hireling shepherd when he said that unlike the evil shepherd, a good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep and protects them from those who come to kill, steal and destroy the sheep? He says that the good shepherd defends the sheep, while the evil shepherd runs away (John 10:7–15). Another example of an evil shepherd is found in Ezekiel 34 where such a shepherd fails to protect the sheep from the beasts of the field (Ezek 34:7–10). How does a shepherd protect his sheep from the wolves who want to kill them? With nice words and platitudes, while singing Kumbaya, holding a candlelight vigil and then begging the wolf to leave and go elsewhere “pretty please, with cream and sugar on top”? Hardly! The twenty-third psalm, for example, speaks of a shepherd who is armed with a rod and staff—and such brings comfort to the sheep (Ps 23:4) who know that the good shepherd has their best interests in mind. The staff was for leading and guiding the sheep, while the rod was for protecting the sheep against predators. On the sheep farm I was raised on, we used a rifle, a pitchfork or a baseball bat (whatever was most handy at the time) instead of a rod to protect our sheep. It’s interesting how the Bible prophesies that Yeshua, our Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 2:25; 5:4), will rule the world with a rod of iron in the Millennium (Rev 20:7–10).

Here are some more questions to consider. Was Phinehas, the son of Aaron the high priest, a brawler and therefore disqualified from being an leader or overseer in Israel when he rose up boldly and thrust a spear through the Israelites leader who were fornicating with the Midianite princess thus bringing a plague on Israel (Num 25:5–9)? Evidently not, for YHVH commended him for his zeal in putting evil out of the camp of Israel and rewarded him with an everlasting priesthood (v. 13).

Was Nehemiah, the governor of Jerusalem disqualified from being an elder or overseer in Israel when he stood up against the Jews who were buying and selling on the Sabbath and intermarrying with the surrounding heathens? How did he deal with these sinners? This is what the Bible record declares that this righteous man did,

And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by Elohim, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. (Neh 13:25)

Sadly, such a man as Nehemiah, if he were a pastor in most of our modern churches, would have been run out of town on a rail by his congregates!

What about John the Baptist? How about Yeshua? Were they whimpy kind of men when dealing with the spiritual wolves of their day? Actually, John lost his head because he confronted King Herod calling him to account for his sin. He called the religious leaders of his day “vipers” (Matt 3:7) as did Yeshua (Matt 12:34; Luke 3:7). On numerous occasions, Yeshua called the Jewish leaders hypocrites, and he even pronounced woe on them—a from of rebuke and denunciation (e.g., Matt 6:2, 5, 16; Matt 23;13, 15, 23, 2 5, 27, etc.). He also called them fools (e.g., Matt 23:17,19), spiritual adulterers (Matt 12:39; 16:4), and whitewashed tombs (Matt 23:27). He called his disciples “faithless and perverse” (Matt 17:17; Luke 9:41)

Not only that, Yeshua called the Jews, “children of the devil” (John 8:44).

To add insult to injury, at least in the mind of some, Yeshua even got physically violent when he overturned the moneychangers’ tables and cast them out of the temple area with a rope whip (Matt 21:12). The word cast in this verse in the Greek means “drive out, to send out with a notion of violence.” Was Yeshua a violent man in the sense of being a brawler, and therefore, disqualified from being the Chief Shepherd over Israel? Or was he passionate for truth, and as the Spirit of Elohim led, he forcefully stood up against evil-doers like David declares in Psalm 94:16, and as Phinehas and Nehemiah did?

What about the apostolic writers? How did they deal with evil doers? The Scriptures record that they were men of potent words and spicy speech. Paul, on one instance, described some false teachers as “dogs” (Phil 3:2). He even called the inhabitants of the island of Crete “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons”(Tit 1:12). Were Paul to say such a thing today, he would be labeled racist and intolerant! Jude pronounced woe (a rebuke and denunciation) upon false teachers (Jude 1:4, 11), and when addressing caranally-minded believers, James refers to them as “you adulterers and adulteresses” and “enemies of Elohim” (Jas 4:4).

Did the apostles, like arrows, merely shoot off powerful sounding words, or were these words followed with actions against the grievous wolves who had come to destroy their spiritual flocks? Of such individuals, Paul instructs us not only note or beware of them, but to avoid them (Rom 16:17), not to even eat with such people (1 Cor 5:11), to turn away from such people (2 Tim 3:5); to withdraw from them (2 Thess 3:5) and to reject them (Tit 3:10).

Did the apostolic writers ever name the names of grievous wolves who were attempting to divide YHVH’s spiritual flock? In fact they did, and put them into letters that became public information (2 Tim 2:16–17; 4:14; 3 John 9–11; Acts 8:20–23). Why did they resort to these extraordinary measures? It was to protect the spiritual flock from those who were out to destroy YHVH’s sheep. What they were doing in identifying these troublemakers was in line with what Yeshua instructed in Matthew 18:17. There, Yeshua is instructing his disciples on how to deal with strife and contention within the congregation.

Hopefully, from this brief study, it should be evident that being by nature a brawler or a pugnacious sort of an individual is one thing—something which rightly should disqualify one from being an elder. However, being a righteous and godly shepherd who protects and who will defend YHVH’s sheep with his life is another thing. In so doing, a leader must follow biblical guidelines and the examples of righteous men as recorded in the Scriptures especially when using forceful words and physical force, when, on the rare occasion it is necessary.


2 thoughts on “Wimps and Bullies Versus Godly Shepherds

  1. This one is a huge “rubber hits the road in our lives one.” So important to understand the correct biblical definition of a godly shepherd. I’m thinking of the verse where Yeshua says my sheep “hear my voice & they follow me.” We have to hear his voice : he is the good shepherd. ( so in our congregations,assemblies today are those who we would define as having a “pastors heart ” ..called to be “under shepherds”…..of the true shepherd. ..[ .but each individual believer is responsible for hearing the true shepherds voice for themselves & seeking the father thru Yehoshua in an intimate personal relationship way. ?? Thru the RUACH. That is how I understand these verses. No man should stand in the way of the sheep hearing the masters ( Good Shepherds voice for themselves. ….a godly leader “under shepherd ” should encourage & lead the sheep to the master…not to himself or herself in some cases.

    The Parable that Yehoshua spoke to them: ( SHEEPFOLD BEING AN IMPORTANT WORD and DOOR. )
    ( John chapter 10 : verses 1 – 10 ) …..So in all the years of really searching & praying these verses really stand out to me. It starts with verse 1. Yehoshua starts by saying Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbes up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

    Verse 2. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
    Verse 3. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, & leads them out.
    Verse 4. When he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them,and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
    Verse 5. And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers,.

    ** Important verse 6. This parable spoke Yeshua to them but they did not understand.

    Verse 7. He had to say it again ; Verily, verily ,I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.verse 8. all that ever came before him were thieves & robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

    Verse 9. He says I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved., & shall go in & out & find pasture.
    VERSE 10 The thief comes not, but for to steal, & to kill, & to destroy: but that Yeshua came that we may have life. & that we may have it more abundantly. V.11 ..He is the good shepherd, gives his life for the sheep.

    Verse 12: is re the hireling, and not the shepherd. Who’s own the sheep are not..correct me if I am wrong but a hireling had to be paid ( that is more important than the sheep. ) dictionary description working only for payment; mercenary. Rest of verse..sees the wolf coming, & leaves the sheep, and flees and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep.
    Verse 13: the hireling flees because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep.
    Verse 16 : And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also he said I must bring. & they shall hear his voice: & there shall be 1 fold & 1 shepherd. Verse 17 ,18 etc.. This commandment he received from the father.

    Verse 19 there was a division therefore among the Jews for these sayings.
    Verse 22. And it was @ Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
    Verse 23. And Yeshua walked in the temple in SOLOMONS porch. …down to verse 27.

    Natan.I / we have enjoyed your blog and get so much out of reading your teachings, videos etc …and the way you lead. Keep up the good work You know the master & you help lead others to hear his voice for themselves. You lead by example.

    A group of us met yesterday in a beautiful country area of Melbourne Australia..for Shabbat / sabbath to spend time hearing our masters voice & growing closer to him & the truth of his word.We watched the short trailer “The Way ” on the screen and video 2 sticks become one 1 .
    ” The Way ” trailer really resounded our own walk , we are a small group; (20 or more) but it is growing …and men in the group had not seen your blog before so I showed them..that was a pleasure and sometimes we feel like we r swimming upstream against the tide : lovely to know there are other likeminded believers in another part of the world.
    Shalom from Melbourne Australia …at the junction.

    • Thank you for you excellent comments and encouraging remarks. It means a lot to know how we’re touching lives for the kingdom’s sake here and there around the world.
      May YHVH keep and protect the internet so that those voices crying in the wilderness with the message of repentance in preparation our coming bridegroom can continue to speak forth.
      May YHVH bless and protect our brethren, the regathering lost sheep tribes of Israel, in Melbourne!

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