Week Fifteen, Day Five
For at least part of their history, the Hebrews were a nomadic people who wandered from place to place seeking pasture for their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle. To sustain their livelihood, it was vital for shepherds to keep their animals from straying, protect them from thieves and wild animals, and provide them with plentiful pastures. In the ancient Near East and in Israel itself, "shepherd" eventually became a metaphor for kings. The Hebrew Scriptures speak of God as the Shepherd of his people and apply this image to religious leaders as well. The New Testament presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who protects the lives of his sheep by forfeiting his own life. When you pray to the Lord your Shepherd, you are praying to the One who watches over you day and night, feeding you and leading you safely on the path of righteousness.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:1-3)
PROMISES ASSOCIATED WITH GOD'S NAME
When a herd grows to a hundred or more sheep in the Middle East, its owner can often afford to hire a shepherd to watch over them. God himself had appointed shepherds to guide his people, but many of them acted like hirelings, abandoning the sheep at the first sign of danger or even leading them astray for their own selfish motives. The same is true today whenever church leaders abandon the gospel in favor of money, power, or the pursuit of pleasure. Not only does God promise to judge such false and faithless shepherds, but he promises to shepherd his people himself. That promise is fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus, the one who is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.
Promises in Scripture
I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. (Ezekiel 34:15-16)
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:14-18)
Continued Prayer and Praise
Pray that God will bring back the lost. (Ezekiel 34)
Remember that Jesus is the gate for the sheep. (John 10:7-10)
Praise Jesus, the shepherd who will wipe away every tear from our eyes. (Revelation 7:15-17)
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.