The Good Shepherd

The Old Testament and the New Covenant   Part 19

“He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.  So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands” (Psalm 78:70-72).

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).

Shepherd David was taken from the sheepfolds to be a shepherd to God’s people.  As King David, this is exactly what he did.  Psalm 78 recounts that King David shepherded Israel with integrity and skill.

The shepherd theme comes up often in the Psalms that David wrote.  The most famous of which is Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”  Shepherd David was a prototype for a greater good shepherd to come.

John chapter 10 is a tender message from Jesus identifying Himself as the good shepherd.  In verses 1 to 11, the shepherd themes that emerge are: the shepherd enters by the door, the sheep hear My voice, I call My sheep by name, I lead them out, they follow because they know My voice, I guard the door to the sheep, I give abundant life to My sheep.  And finally, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

The ultimate love of Jesus, the good shepherd, for His sheep was on display when He gave up His life for His sheep.  If you have believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, you are one of His sheep.  And He will lead you to the safety and provision that you long for.

Jesus was present in the sheep fields of Israel, because Jesus was there from the beginning!

The Kinsman-Redeemer

The Old Testament and the New Covenant   Part 18

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her.  And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.  Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel’ “ (Ruth 4:13-14).

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

The story of Ruth begins with Elimelech and his wife Naomi and two sons moving from Bethlehem to the land of Moab.  Then Elimelech dies.  His two sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.  Then the sons each die.  So Naomi plans to return to Bethlehem but asks her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to stay with their Moabite people.  Orpah finally agrees to stay, but Ruth declares her loyalty to Naomi, and goes to Bethlehem with her.

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem with no resources; no money, no husbands, no land.  Naomi announces to her Bethlehem friends, “Do not call me Naomi [Pleasant]; call me Mara [Bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).  It is a dark place for the two women.

But God provides a redeemer for Naomi and Ruth.  As Ruth is gleaning, gathering the leftovers from the harvest, she finds herself in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi, so also now a relative of Ruth.  Boaz learns who Ruth is and after some back and forth, chooses to redeem Ruth.  Boaz takes on the role of kinsman-redeemer, a legal transaction in which someone enters into an obligation to redeem a relative facing extreme hardship.  And Boaz does this for Ruth.

Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer.  Jesus was born a Jew (“born under the Law”) to redeem the Jews.  Jesus came to His own, His kinsmen, and they received Him not.  And His redemption has now been offered to the whole world.  We, like Naomi and Ruth, had no resources to save ourselves.  We have thrown ourselves totally upon the mercy of our redeemer Jesus Christ.  And based on our faith in Him, Jesus has come to our rescue.  Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer!

Jesus was present in the fields of Boaz, because Jesus was there from the beginning!

Captain of the Lord’s Army

The Old Testament and the New Covenant   Part 17

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’  He said, ‘No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.’  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’  The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’  And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (II Corinthians 2:14).

On the eve of the battle of Jericho, Joshua found himself face to face with a stranger.  The man stood opposite Joshua with a sword drawn in his hand.  The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.”  Do those words sound familiar?

Let’s look back to an encounter that Moses, Joshua’s predecessor, had with a burning bush.  “So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’  When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’  And he said, ‘Here I am.’  Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’ “ (Exodus 3:3-5).

In both instances, the servant of the Lord was instructed to take off their sandals; they were standing on holy ground.  This phrase suggests that the captain of the Lord’s army whom Joshua met was indeed a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.  We don’t know all that the Lord may have had for Joshua, but I believe it had something to do with preparing Joshua for the battle of Jericho which immediately follows in the text.  Maybe Jesus was reassuring Joshua that the battle belonged to the Lord.

Our battle also belongs to the Lord and just as in Joshua’s day, the promise to us is victory.  “ ‘O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:55-57).

Jesus was present at the battle of Jericho, because Jesus was there from the beginning!

The Scapegoat

The Old Testament and the New Covenant   Part 16

“Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.  The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:21-22).

“For by a one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.’  Then He adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:14-18).

On the Day of Atonement, the second of the sacrificial goats was not killed.  The High Priest laid his hands on the live goat and announced the sins of the people to be placed upon the goat.  The goat was then sent away to the wilderness to symbolize their sins being taken away.

“Taken away” are such beautiful words.  And they are words that describe what Christ has done for us as our scapegoat.  “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

Our sins were “taken away”, having been nailed to the cross, because Christ bore our sins in His own body.  “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (I Peter 2:24).  Jesus is our scapegoat!

Jesus is the scapegoat, because Jesus was there from the beginning!

The Sin Offering

The Old Testament and the New Covenant   Part 15

“Then Aaron shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.  He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins” (Leviticus 16:15-16).

“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:11-12).

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the tabernacle with two goats as part of the atonement ritual.  The first goat was sacrificed as an offering for sin.  The remaining live goat had the sins of Israel ceremoniously laid upon it and was sent into the wilderness symbolizing their sins being taken way.  This goat was known as the scapegoat and we will talk about it next time.

For now, let’s return to the first goat, the sin offering.  This goat is a clear symbol of Jesus being our sin offering, the One who “sanctified us through His own blood.”  Jesus is our sin offering, a truth laid out for us primarily in the books of Romans and Hebrews.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:2-3).  Jesus’ sin offering for us set us free from the condemnation of the Law, sin, and death.  If you have believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, Jesus is your sin offering!

Jesus is the sin offering, because Jesus was there from the beginning!