Zechariah 10: 3-12
“My anger is hot against the shepherds and I will punish the leaders for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them and they shall be as though I have not rejected them; for I am the Lord for God and I will answer them. I will signal for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them and they shall be as many as of old. I will make them strong in the Lord and they shall glory in his name” says the Lord.
Often, the image of Jesus the good Shepherd is one of cosy sentimentality and we miss the true significance of the title; particularly living as we do in a society so very different from that out of which that title sprang.
In the Middle East today, shepherds and their flocks are still very much an integral part of society and the point of our Lord’s title can in that setting be forcibly brought home.
The Shepherd rises at dawn, sometimes having slept on comfortably out in the cold night air. He leads or drives his flat to the nearest water hole, and then to some scrubby pasture. In the blistering heat of the day he keeps the perpetual watch for predators. He rounds up and searches for the thirsty and lost stragglers in the evening. It is emphatically not a job for the weak, but one for the strong.
The image of the Shepherd is that of a strong ruler, who cares for his people and is concerned for their protection and safety even at risk to himself. It is no surprise therefore that in the old Testament God’s care for his people is expressed many times in terms of a shepherd’s care for his flock. “The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore shall I lack nothing” is the most familiar example of all. God cares for his people with the same care that the Shepherd has for his flock and with the same costly devotion.
And yet, with all the gifts we have from our planet Earth, we continue to squander them, make waste that changes the climate, affecting us now as well as all future generations.
Go outside and take a slow, ponderous, in-focus look at any part of nature. The result of evolution is truly wondrous.
In much the same way as the planets circle the Sun in our solar system, atomic particles circle the nucleus of atoms – the awesome building blocks of matter. The difference is simply a matter of scale. Consider where you fit in terms of scale in relation to God.
Verses from Psalm 80
Here are the Shepherd of Israel, so that lead is Joseph like a sheep.
Show thyself also thou that sittest upon the cherubim.
Before Ephraim Benjamin, and Manassas.
Stir up the strength and come and help us.
A Perspective from Mary:
Why I wonder does God continue to love his people? Certainly he has earmarked them and set them aside whilst giving choice to the whole of mankind. Since our descent from Adam and Eve, man continues to choose badly, to make the wrong choices, not through ignorance of the correct path but through the ignoring of the Divine Will.
If the shepherds lead gods people along the path of the wicked for their own corrupt ends, is judgement not likely to be swift and sure?
Is my son to be the one good Shepherd?
Let us take steps always to make choices that are right. Let us ponder God’s creation; nature itself, considering the microscopic atomic level and its relationship to the macroscopic level of the solar system and what is beyond. Such steps start in our daily lives as we make everyday choices about how we live our lives and a focussed choice about our belief.