Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Psalm 95:6-7
“Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!” Psalm 80:1
“As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.” Ezekiel 34:31
The above verses are a beautiful depiction of God’s relationship towards His people, then and now. It speaks of safety, provision, and caring leadership. It speaks of sacrifice, patience, and faithfulness. Perfect words to describe the God of heaven and earth.
The Old Testament speaks of many people who were shepherds. The first was Abel who brought the best portions of the firstborn of his flock. (Genesis 4:4.) God was pleased with this offering. I’m sure He was thinking of His firstborn Son; the perfect Lamb that He was to send into the world.
Then there was Abraham and Jacob, and the prophet Moses. David, was the most famous shepherd of them all. He learned valuable lessons as a young lad tending his family’s sheep. He learned how to be a fierce defender of the flock and later became a fierce defender of the people Israel, even killing a giant with a sling shot and a single stone. God the Shepherd taught David the shepherd leadership skills that proved to be invaluable while he served as the King of Israel. These lessons developed a mindset within David of faith and dependence which propelled Him to conquer nations and kings. David drew from his years as a shepherd to write the beloved Twenty-Third Psalm.
Then there were sheep. Lots of sheep. Job had 14,000 sheep (Job 42:12) and King Solomon sacrificed 120,000 sheep at the Temple’s dedication. (1Kings 8:63) The Bible makes reference to sheep more than 500 times.
Why so many sheep? During ancient biblical times, God set up a system of animal sacrifice for atonement of sin. Sacrifices were presented to God as payment for their sins and to thwart the anger their sin generated. It was a system in which the people received forgiveness of sin and thereby were reconciled to the God of Israel. It served as a continuous reminder to the Israelites of their sinful nature and consequently their disobedience of the laws of God.
One primary aspect of the sacrificial law was that the animal sacrifice had to be free of blemish. It needed to be the best of the best. This standard reflected the coming Lamb of God, who was born in the flesh, without the inheritance of original sin. Conceived by the Holy Spirit of God, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life.
The Jewish people were continually slaughtering lambs, goats and bulls as described, for instance, in Second Chronicles 29:21. They were to offer to Yahweh the best of their flocks and herds in order to atone for their sins. They understood that their sins were forgiven by the shedding of blood.
Leviticus 17:11 helps us understand the importance of this ancient ritual. God, speaking to Moses said: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
“I have sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16
How would Jesus bring these other sheep?
Answer: By laying down the glory He shared with His Father, and submitting to His Father’s will. God, the Shepherd and His Son, the Lamb, that was slain from before the foundation of the world. We were ransomed…
.. “With the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:19)
You see, sinful man can not stand in the presence of Almighty, Holy God and all people by birth inherited the sin nature of Adam.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…(Romans 1:18)
God, in His love and grace sent His first born Son to this planet to walk in the midst of a perverted generation to show us the Way to be saved from our sin and the wrath of God. Jesus received the assignment given to Him by the Father. To lay down His life for the sheep and take upon Himself our sin and in the process of all this, shed His blood, thereby atoning for our sin. He was the perfect Lamb of God who opened not His mouth in defense of His sinless life. Jesus showed us the Way; His Way to be declared righteous to stand before God without being destroyed by sin and fear.
It is a fearful thing for an unrepentant sinner to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31
Jesus said: “…Repent, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
What we were helpless to do, Christ did for us. Romans 5:6
Our part is merely to respond to the call of God. It’s an irresistable, grace filled, supernatural drawing of the Holy Spirit; inviting a repentant sinner to joyfully receive the precious Lamb of God. It is a gift unmatched by any other. It is a gift that will never tarnish or fade away. It yields peace, joy, truth and eternal life. The recipient of this life altering gift is now on a new course with a new goal. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the child of God begins to look upward towards their calling in Christ Jesus rather than inward, focusing on themselves and the temporal things of the world. We have been set free from serving sin to serving the God of creation. And this, all provided by God the Shepherd, Jesus the Lamb and the Holy Spirit.