SHEEP AND THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Suggested Reading: Jeremiah 50
Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).
GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.
Key Verses: Jeremiah 50:6
My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill;
They have forgotten their resting place.
Chapters 50 (today) and 51 (tomorrow) are the longest pronouncements of judgement against a people. The Chaldeans with their capital city of Babylon (located about 80 km south of modern Bagdad, Iraq) were defeated by the Persians (Iran) and much of the city was destroyed. Sadam Hussein, former President of Iraq, was in the process of beginning to rebuild Babylon when he was removed from power. The rebuilding stopped. The prophecy of Jeremiah remains true to this day (50:39b)…”It shall be inhabited no more forever, nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.”
Three times in today’s reading the Babylonians are referred to as “proud.” The images of their god, Bel Merodac (or Marduk, creator and sun god), were “broken in pieces” as verse 2 says. “Pride” can be traced to its source; Lucifer, the Archangel, was lifted up in “pride,” sought to be worshipped, and as a result was exiled from Heaven and banished to the earth. He has, by inspiring idolatry, sought to receive the worship that he was denied in Heaven. When Jesus came to us through the gateway of the Virgin’s womb, he modelled the opposite to this pride. For a New Testament reading, consider Philippians 2:5-11.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, Your Word tells me, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). Also, You tell me that “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). I pray for Your grace so that I may humble myself before You. As I’ve just read in Philippians, Jesus is my Example of humility, and I pray this in His Name. Amen!!!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
I’ve just been looking at the sheep in Reynold’s photograph. I identify with the one near the back of the flock that has its head up looking at the familiar paths. I can see those paths on the right. They are worn into the hillside by generations of sheep ascending and descending the slope. Perhaps the sheep with the raised head wants to head back home to the safety of the cave where the shepherd personally stands guard between the sheep and any approaching enemy. I’ve just read, as I’ve done hundreds of times before, John 10:1-18. I have total confidence in Jesus, the One Who said, “I am the Good Shepherd.” In contrast to our “Shepherd,” the people of God in Jeremiah’s prophecy had become as “lost sheep” because of shepherds who had led them astray. I’m singing just now Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” Here’s the song I’ve found online by Keith Green, my son Ron’s musical hero when he was a teenager (click here).
Yours because the “Good Shepherd” takes “Good” care of His own sheep,
P.S. When we travel with our friends in Israel (as we’ll do, God willing, again this November), I often have a little fun by taking the microphone on the bus and pointing out the worn paths on the hillsides, as in today’s picture, I’ll say that the forces of evolution over thousands of years have caused the legs of the sheep and goats to be shorter on one side than the other because they are always on a hillside. I pause to let that sink in, and then I say, with a grin on my face, this gives the sheep trouble when they turn around and start for home (laugh here). This is an example of a warped sense of humour. With all the doom and gloom in our readings, it occurred to me that we could use a laugh. If you don’t find my story funny, please forgive me like Norma-Jean does several times a day!