Monday, August 24, 2015

The Chief Shepherd of the Flock



More Proofs for the Deity of Christ Pt. 3a 
By Sam Shamoun 

In one of our previous discussions, we saw how Yahweh or Jehovah is said to be the Shepherd of his people,

“But his bow stayed strong, and his forearms were nimble, by the hands of the strong one of Jacob, by the name of the shepherd, the rock of Israel, by God, your father, who supports you, by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings from the skies above and blessings from the deep sea below, blessings from breasts and womb.” Genesis 49:24-25 Common English Bible (CEB)


“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” Psalm 80:1

Who not only guides and protects them, but also feeds and nurtures them:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23:1-6

We also saw that Jehovah will come with his reward in order recompense every person for what s/he has earned:

“Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 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.” Isaiah 40:10-11

In relation to this aspect of Jehovah being the Shepherd-King who comes to judge, the Scriptures proclaim that Jehovah personally searches for his scattered flock in order to gather them, as well as to save them from wicked and oppressive leaders who have used and abused God’s flock for their own gain and benefit.

Moreover, God swears to not only bring into judgment all those who have preyed upon his people, but to also raise up a shepherd after his own heart, namely, a Davidic king who will protect and care for his pasture:  

“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. MY sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, MY flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because MY flock became a prey, and MY flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not MY flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require MY flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver MY flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search MY sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out MY sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed MY flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O MY flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for MY flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save MY flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up ONE shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.” Ezekiel 34:1-24

And:

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have ONE shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” Ezekiel 37:24-28

What these passages indicate is that Jehovah is not the only Shepherd that Israel has, but rather is Israel’s chief Shepherd, the Shepherd of all Shepherds, the One before whom all shepherds must bow down and give an account to.

As such, being called a shepherd doesn’t make one divine. It is only when one is described as the chief Shepherd, the Shepherd who rules over all other shepherds, does the title then imply divinity.

In the second part of our discussion, we are going to examine the NT documents to see the sense in which the title shepherd is applied to the risen Lord, i.e., is he simply one shepherd among many, with the Father being the chief Shepherd? Or does the NT identify Christ as the divine Shepherd who rules over all the rest of God’s shepherds?

Turn to the next part for the answer.
 

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