Isaiah 40:1-5, 10-11
Many years ago the Gaithers wrote beautiful lyrics addressing the need people have of a Shepherd. They perceived a need for strength, provision and guidance that comes from God alone. Like Martin Luther, they recognized there was no other that we can turn to for answers to the problems in our lives today. This Shepherd, they knew from scripture would be gentle.
Isaiah makes an astonishing contrast as he describes God’s power. “See the Sovereign Lord comes with power and His arm rules for Him” (40:10). Then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah also describes God as a Shepherd, One who gathers the lambs in His arms and carried them close to His heart. What a tender picture! This Shepherd also “gently leads” (40:11).
Isaiah chapter 40 is described as one of consolation, reviewing the greatness of God. We do not often equate gentleness with greatness, but here it is. Paul also tells us the fruit of the Holy Spirit living within each believer, produces gentleness, among a host of other qualities derived from the greatness of God’s character. Isaiah begins the chapter with an injunction from God to “comfort My people” (:1), to “speak tenderly to Jerusalem” (:2).
There are hints of salvation as God’s voice calls “prepare the way for the Lord” (:3). Whatever did that mean? Matthew enlightens us in his gospel. John the Baptist, hundreds of year after Isaiah’s prophecy, was identified as the one who came to prepare the way for the Messiah. How did he accomplish this? By preaching repentance (Matthew 3:8).
Jacob was the first person who called God his Shepherd. As he blessed his sons on his deathbed he told them “God has been my Shepherd all my life to this day” (Genesis 48:15). Centuries later King David is famous for saying “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). The Magi, visiting baby Jesus identified Him as the fulfillment of prophecy “who will be the Shepherd of My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).
Jesus confirmed that “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “No one can snatch them out of My hand” (10:28). “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” (10:27). Mark records Jesus’ rebuke when the disciples wanted to shoo little children away, thinking He would be too busy for kids. “He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them”(Mark 10:16) What a sweet picture of my Gentle Shepherd!
Do you need a Shepherd in your life? Why or why not?
“Dear Father, What a comfort it is to be held close to Your heart. Thank You for loving me as only God can love, unconditionally. Thank You for forgiving me for all my failures and wrong choices. I pray that You will strengthen my faith as day by day I learn to lean on You for guidance. Help me to discern Your will for my life, day by day. Thank You for Your Holy Word that nourishes my soul! Thank You for protecting me from evil, as I follow Jesus day by day. May my life be pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for being such a gentle Shepherd”
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