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October 2014

THE GREAT SHEPHERD

By Beverley Carter         

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalm 23:1 and 6.
 
Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved of all chapters in the Bible.  It paints God not as some far off deity, but rather as a Shepherd who lovingly cares for His flock.
 
One of the many things that distress me about our present world is the way the world has tried to demote the Name of God.  To cover its rebellion, our planet has tried to bring God down to its own level.  Many atheists, such as Dr. Hawkings and Dr. Dawkins, even deny that God exists, claiming that the Universe had neither a designer nor a creator.
 
As much as they try, however, men can never get rid of God.  For a few minutes, let us look at two of God’s precious names. 
 
In Psalm 23, David refers to God by proclaiming, “the Lord is my Shepherd.”  In the Old Testament, the word “shepherd” is mentioned many times, mainly in reference to the false shepherds of Israel.  The following are several such verses:
 
My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. – Jeremiah 50:6
 
The word of the Lord came to me; “ Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them; this is what the Sovereign Lord says; Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?”…This is what the Sovereign Lord says;  “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock.” – Ezekiel 34:1,2,10 
 
Now we come to the New Testament, where we discover a new Shepherd who is faithful and true.
 
“But out of you, Bethlehem, will come a ruler who will be the Shepherd of my people Israel.” 
– Matthew 2:6          
 
In Luke chapter 2, we are told that angels came and gave the message.  To whom did they give it? They gave it to shepherds watching their flock by night.  Insignificant?  I don’t think so.
 
The shepherd theme continues in Matthew 9:36 –  “When He (the great Shepherd) saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed, like sheep without a shepherd.”
 
Let us look at some more texts about the great Shepherd: “Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.  Awaken Your might; come and save us.” – Psalm 80:1 
 
“He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” – Isaiah 40:11.  What a beautiful depiction of the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
Let us return to the New Testament, to John 1:29, where we hear John the Baptist proclaiming that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Then in chapter 10, verses 11, 27, and 28, Jesus confirms what John has said; “I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”    
 
In Acts 8:32, Paul quotes a Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 53:7 – “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a Lamb before the shearer is silent, so He did not open His mouth.”
 
Let us read Hebrews 13:20 – “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” 
 
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” – 1 Peter 5:4 
 
And now we come to the crowning verses in the very last book of the Bible:
 
“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne…saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor, and glory and praise for ever and ever!” – Revelation 5:11,12
 
Our last verse is Revelation 7:17 – “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water.”   
 
Just meditate on that final verse for a moment.  Jesus is for us both Lamb and Shepherd.  Only a great Creator and loving God could conceive of such a solution to the sin problem here on planet earth.
 
Blessings to all.
 

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