15I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the LORD, they shall no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. 17At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will. 18In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your ancestors for a heritage.
Biblical prophecies are a bit tricky. The trickiness has to do with several factors, including understanding what the prophecy means and how the prophecy is fulfilled. The fulfillment of a prophecy can happen in a singular historic event, like the birth of the Messiah, or it can happen more than once, like the restoration of Israel [OT Israel] or the restoration of "Israel" [NT People of God]. One looks for clues in the passage to see how to interpret these passages.
One clue in the above passage is "all nations" in verse 17. This tells us that this prophecy includes the way future, when all nations will be gathered before the Lord. We know historically that all nations did not come to Jerusalem and that the presence of the Lord was not fully manifested in Jerusalem. Therefore this passage's fulfillment, at least in some significant way, must include the future. We can say this prophecy in Jeremiah is only fully fulfilled in Revelation 21, with the appearance of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21 itself being a prophetic-visionary picture of the future).
But I want to draw your attention to another part of this passage and that is the part underlined and in bold in verse 15.
It is the promise of YHWH to provide for the People of God "shepherds after my own heart." This phrasing should immediately remind us of David who was indeed a shepherd after God's own heart. The special characteristic of these shepherds is this: that they will feed the people with knowledge and understanding.
There is nothing more foundational to what we do and how we ought to live than knowledge and understanding of God and who we are. John Calvin's Institutes begins with these words:
Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.
The heart of true wisdom and knowledge is the knowledge of the nature of God and who we are.
Power, presence, manifestation, healing, deliverance, visitations, heavenly experiences, angelic encounters, prophetic utterances, inner healing, etc. -- all these wonderful things -- are all grounded in the nature of God and how God wants to relate to us. And it's just not experiential; the knowledge of God feeds us theologically or perspectivally, meaning how we think about our lives and how we see our futures are also rooted in God's nature and actions for us.
The person in our circle of influence who's had the most impact in this regard is our friend Bob Hartley. The Message of Hope he's been carrying for these many years is grounded in the nature of God. Bob has taught and prophesied many times over that God is raising up Teachers of Hope who will feed people on the knowledge of God.
Without knowledge, there's no stability; without knowledge, there's no clarity; without knowledge, there's nothing that lasts.
Let's pray for Bob and for us that we all grow in the knowledge and understanding of God and ourselves.
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you that you do not leave us in a state of confusion or ignorance or even in a state of our best thinking. Through your Word and through Jesus Christ, you give us knowledge and understanding of you and your ways and your purposes. We confess, O God, that without the true knowledge of you, we are at best guesstimators, doing our best to approach some type of knowledge. But because of your revelation through the Scriptures, we get to know you truly in Christ. We thank you, Father, for such an awesome gift. We also pray for our friend and hero, Bob Hartley. Be with him and his family during this season of heart-healing and hope-renewal. Bless the Hartleys as a family and may the healing that comes from heart-to-heart connections be theirs during this season. Bless us too with fellowship that heals. In Jesus' Name, Amen.