Thursday, September 6, 2012

Weekly Devotion: The Shepherd

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25

Just as wayward sheep need to return to the flock and to the Shepherd, so it behooves wayward people to return to their Shepherd and Bishop (overseer)! There are over 150 different names and titles for God / Jesus in the Bible, but perhaps none are more comforting than to know Jesus as our shepherd! Although King David had been a shepherd, the LORD was his shepherd, and God’s rod and staff comforted him (Psalm 23). Not surprisingly, the word “shepherd” is a compound word, derived from two words, “sheep” and “herder”, but it also has a direct connection with the word “pastor*”.

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock… And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds… And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them…” Jeremiah 23:1-4

One of the main duties of a shepherd / pastor is to feed their sheep, which leads us to the origin of these words, i.e. to put to “pasture”. So, the role of a pastor is the spiritual parallel to the duties of a physical shepherd, to feed, guide, oversee, lead, gather, tend, keep, and protect, as can be seen in Isaiah 40:11, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry [them] in his bosom, [and] shall gently lead those that are with young.” Our enemy knows these things and strives to scatter the sheep by hindering the shepherd from fulfilling his role, as had happened in 2 Kings 22:17, “And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd…” Ultimately, our enemy wants to smite / kill all shepherds and their shepherd, as was prophesied in Zechariah 13:7 and fulfilled at Christ’s first coming.

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Matthew 26:31

From the first mention of the word “shepherd”, we can see that the world is at enmity with shepherds, “And the men [are] shepherdsevery shepherd [is] an abomination...” (Gen. 46:32-34). So, the devil and his people hate shepherds and will one day counterfeit him and raise up his own anti-shepherd, “…a foolish shepherd… the idol shepherd…” (Zech. 11:15-17). This imitation shepherd will be the anti-Christ and will tempt sheep to follow him falsely, presenting people with the choice that each of us must make, i.e. “Who will we follow”? It was not by accident that the night that Jesus was born, he appeared first to “shepherds”, who, when they had seen him, “…they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard [it] wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:17, 18). These shepherds did the same thing that shepherds have done through the ages and should be doing today, spreading abroad things concerning this child. People have also done the same thing through the ages that these first audiences did, they wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Friend, what will you do with the words about this child who became the good shepherd and gave his life for the sheep / you (John 10:11, 14)?

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,” Hebrews 13:20


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