Tag Archives: Sheep

Who were the Shepherds Tending their Flocks?

When I was a child I couldn’t wait to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. The best part is when Linus declared that he can tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about and then wrapped his blanket about his head and stepped out onto the stage to speak these words:

Luke 2:8-12 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The scene is heartwarming and certainly the focus is on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but today I want to look at the reason the angel came to the shepherds in the first place. I have no doubt that you have heard many sermons on how the shepherds were the lowest of the low during this period of history. That God goes to those that are downtrodden, etc, which is true– shepherds at this time were the poorest class of people. They were so poor that many had long ago sold their lands just to get by and paid to graze their sheep, but that only scratches the surface of what the scripture is telling us.

Christ is the chief shepherd and will be returning with a rod of iron. Before leaving, He said to Peter in the 21st chapter of John, “Feed my Sheep,” documenting to us that God not only uses shepherds as an analogy for those that look over the people, but that He has shepherds to this day. This is much like when David left the flock with a caregiver, when his father sent him to see about his brothers, and he found them all cowering on a hill as Goliath defied the armies of the Living God.

This isn’t only New Testament stuff:

Numbers 27:15-20 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, (16) Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, (17) Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd. (18) And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; (19) And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. (20) And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

The job of the shepherd is to keep the children from falling into sin. Alas, we know that, by in large, they did not do their job.

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.

God isn’t happy with shepherds that don’t do their job. It is why judgment begins at the pulpit.

Zechariah 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

But the angel came not to idol shepherds; he came to those few shepherds that were tending to their flocks. Symbolically this is the remnant. Which were not at the temple in Jerusalem, but out in the fields working, much like John the Baptist would be doing in just a few short years.

Romans 11:1-5 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (2) God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, (3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. (4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. (5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Now comes the question: why at night? Is it because we can see stars at night? Sure, but really it is because, before Christ came, the world was in darkness and they were still standing in the shadow of the law.

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Christ came to those that were waiting for Him, even when they couldn’t see everything. and even if they didn’t understand everything. The same will be true on His second advent, for He will come like a thief in the night.

Matthew 25:31-34 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Remember that Christ is inside of us, and while He is away, it is our job to be the light of the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Those shepherds, to whom the angel came, didn’t have the light of the world yet, but you do, so shine that light. Shine that light, and not just during this holiday season, but everyday. For, this world is a dark place, but putting the light of Christ out for all to see will not only warm your heart, it will help others to find the way.

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Study to Show Yourself Approved

(2Ti 2:15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

What does this mean?

You might say to yourself, “Why do I need to study in order to be approved by God? Once I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, doesn’t that mean I am saved and guaranteed eternal life?”

And you would be correct, those who truly accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are saved, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Salvation means that you will not suffer the second death by being thrown into the Lake of Fire. However, there is a long period that precedes the Great White Throne Judgment and the possible sentence of the Lake of Fire. This time is the 1000-year period we call the Millennium.

Now, if we truly accept Jesus Christ and love Him, would we not want to spend as much time with Him as we possibly can? Sure we would, and this is why we study the Bible–it is the Word of God. And do you not know that Jesus is the Word, the Living Word?

(Joh 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

(Joh 1:2) The same was in the beginning with God.

(Joh 1:3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

(Joh 1:4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

(Joh 1:5) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

(Joh 1:6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

(Joh 1:7) The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

(Joh 1:8) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

(Joh 1:9) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

(Joh 1:10) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

(Joh 1:11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

(Joh 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

(Joh 1:13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

(Joh 1:14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

We are told here that Jesus is the Word of God in the Flesh. And the Word is God, and always has been. So if we truly love Jesus, He expects us to spend time to get to know Him, and we do this by studying the Bible.

In the above verse from 2 Timothy 2, the word ‘study’ is translated from the Greek word ‘spoudazo’ which means to give and honest effort or to be diligent. This is what we are being told to do in reading God’s Word. If we do not put this honest effort into studying and knowing God’s Word, then we are allowing ourselves to be deceived by satan and his flood of lies because we won’t know any better. Thus, if we do not have a love for studying God’s Word, then God will send us strong delusion so that we would believe a lie–as we see below:

(2Th 2:9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

(2Th 2:10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

(2Th 2:11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

(2Th 2:12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Now, this is not a final condemnation; it is for a specific purpose. When someone is allowed to believe the lies of satan while he is here as antichrist, they will believe he is Jesus, and they will then worship him and receive the mark of the beast. These people who have gone astray from Jesus by following antichrist will have the Millennium to be taught right from wrong and to be disciplined. The shame and humiliation of having been duped by satan so seriously, and being told by Jesus to get away because He never knew them, when He returns, will jolt them awake and will suddenly sober them up to the fact that they need to take the Millennium very seriously…if they care what He thinks. This will cause them, because they truly love Jesus, to do what they need to do to be prepared to withstand the last deception of satan, which is at the end of the Millennium.

Another reason that it is necessary for us to study is that many things in God’s Word are given as deeper truths that are only able to be understood by those who have been given such understanding from God–and this is not a sign of intelligence, but rather a sign of who God feels He can trust with this understanding. With this gift of understanding comes much responsibility. This is the very reason that Jesus taught in parables.

(Mat 13:10) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

(Mat 13:11) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

(Mat 13:12) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

(Mat 13:13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

(Mat 13:14) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

(Mat 13:15) For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

(Mat 13:16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

(Mat 13:17) For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
(Luk 12:47) And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

(Luk 12:48) But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Now there were certain people who have been selected before birth, based on what God knows of their worthiness because of how they had proven themselves already. These are the 7000 predestinated elect of the last generation and the remnant whom God placed throughout the ages. Aside from these who are predestinated, understanding may be given by God to those whom God sees have proven themselves to His standards and whom He knows will be able to handle the responsibility of having this understanding. Those who are not given this understanding have not proven themselves yet, and therefore are blinded, meaning they have no eyes to see spiritually. And, again, this is for a reason, that they will learn the proper lesson that they need to be prepared at the end of the Millennium.

(Rom 11:4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

(Rom 11:5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

(Rom 11:6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

(Rom 11:7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

(Rom 11:8) (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

(Rom 11:9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

(Rom 11:10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

(Rom 11:11) I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

(Rom 11:12) Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

This understanding therefore, can be given to a person, any person, Israelite, or gentile, whomever is part of the Olive Tree of Israel (described in the later verses of Romans 11), if they diligently and humbly seek this understanding from God. Through this understanding, those who are blinded will be motivated to see the error of their ways and correct their path during the Millennium.

Now that we have covered the commandment we, as Christians, are given to know Jesus through the Word, we will look at the forms that the knowledge of God takes.

We saw above how Jesus taught deeper lessons to those who are able to receive them, such as to His apostles, but there is more to it than that. Below, we will look at the various levels that God’s Word is conveyed simultaneously. For this you will need to engage your eyes to see, and your ears to hear.

(Joh 21:15) So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

(Joh 21:16) He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

(Joh 21:17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

To the naked eye, this will look like Jesus saying the same thing three times over, but upon closer inspection, you will see this is not the case.

In the first verse, you can see that Jesus is telling Peter to feed His lambs, which are baby sheep, but in the two following He says sheep. Moreover, the first time, in which Jesus says to feed His lambs, the Greek term ‘boskow’ is used, and this word means to graze or to put out to pasture. This is a passive action of feeding. This is referring to those baby sheep, or babes in Christ, who can only handle the most basic understanding of God’s Word. This does not take a lot of effort to teach or learn these ideas.

In the second verse, the first in which Jesus says to feed His sheep, the Greek term ‘poimainow’ is used, and this word means to tend to as a shepherd–it is an active term for feeding. These sheep are those who are maturing in understanding and can now begin to handle some meat of God’s Word, just as a baby who moves on from a bottle to solid food. This takes the most effort to teach because these sheep, or young adults in Christ, are not yet self sufficient and still need plenty of guidance (we always need guidance from God by the Holy Spirit, but I mean guidance by a teacher), such as by Peter in this case.

Finally, in the third verse, Jesus says sheep, but uses the Greek term ‘boskow’ once again, which is to put out to graze. This third group of sheep are the elders in Christ. These are the sheep who have the deepest level of understanding. These sheep can work directly with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit only, to gain the deepest understanding. This means the shepherd can put the food (the lesson in God’s Word) out there and these sheep know just what to do with it and are able to fully digest it.

One thing that we need to understand is that the beauty of God’s Word is that every verse of the Bible teaches on all these levels simultaneously. One thing can be said, and people on each of these three levels will be able to learn something new from it every time.

Below are a couple sets of verses written by Paul, one of the best teachers of these principles in the Bible.

(1Co 3:1) And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

(1Co 3:2) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
(Heb 5:11) Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

(Heb 5:12) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

(Heb 5:13) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

(Heb 5:14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Here we see why Paul is so good at teaching this lesson. This is what Jesus said to one of Paul’s companions the day Paul was stopped by Jesus on the road to Damascus:

(Act 9:15) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

These three categories illustrate the three levels of teaching Paul was charged to do–the gentiles, the kings, and the children of Israel. These would equate to those of the most basic level–the gentiles (non-Christians in this case), the second level–the kings of the ethnos (those gentile Christians who will eventually be given full understanding when they are ready) and this is on the same level as young adults in Christ who do not have that deeper understanding yet, and the deepest level–the children of Israel (who are those Israelites who have been predestinated as God’s elect) and this would include any kings of the ethnos who have graduated to the toughest meat in God’s Word.

To further illustrate this point, here are some verses about Paul’s teaching on all three levels. The building in which Paul was teaching had three levels and these obviously represent the three levels of God’s teaching, and we will see what happens when one of the students falls asleep which represent a spirit of slumber just as we are told about in Romans 11.

(Act 20:7) And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

(Act 20:8) And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

(Act 20:9) And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

(Act 20:10) And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

Paul is teaching literally to all three levels at the same time, but one young man (emphasizing that he was not an elder in the Word, but rather one of those on the second level) and he could not handle the length and the depth of Paul’s teaching so he fell asleep and dropped right from that third level and was feared to be dead (this is referring to the state of being spiritually dead that those who do not have the deepest understanding, the understanding of the spiritual truths, are in until the spiritually wake up). Paul went down to the young man and was relieved to find out Eutychus had not been killed, so he would still have a chance to mature further into the Word.

So what does this all mean? We are told to study God’s Word diligently to show ourselves approved to receive this deepest understanding of God, the mysteries of God. Only those who can handle the truth will receive it from God, but if you truly want it and prove to God you can handle it, He will give it to you. The first step is to actually pick up the Bible and read it, and to know there is more than meets the eye. Do you care enough to read this letter that God wrote to us?

Take the initiative, and God bless

(Hos 4:6) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

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