New Shepherd, New Exodus
Loving Lord, I stand in awe before You. The majesty of the earth, the mystery of Your grace, continue to astound me.
Consider: Think of the ways God has worked to bring you into his fold and keep you there. Thank him for the final ingathering of his flock.
Judah will be scattered among the nations. The people were to be blamed, but the shepherds (kings, priests, prophets) were also responsible. If they had done their ministry faithfully and guided the flock effectively, the humiliating exile would not be necessary. God expresses his disappointment with the shepherds and promises to shepherd the flock himself ("I myself," 3). He would bring back the scattered remnant to his holy land and establish peace and security.
The prophecy is given that David's "righteous Branch" will arise to be the wise King who will shepherd God's people (5). He will be called "the Lord our righteous Savior" (6)--a divine name. Subsequent history and Scripture tell us that this refers to Jesus Christ (e.g. Rom. 3:21,22; 1 Cor. 1:30). The promise of the triune God, that he would personally shepherd his people, was fulfilled when Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Here we learn many things: the divinity of Jesus, the faithfulness of God in keeping his promises and his personal care of his sheep.
There are rudimentary details about the future; when Christ came things would become clearer. The exiles of Judah did return from their Babylonian captivity in the sixth century, but this event would pale in comparison to the great ingathering under Christ--not only of Judah but of all those who by faith in him would constitute the true Israel--from every nation and generation (Matt. 24:31). Whatever our current circumstances, we can take comfort in the unchanging and sure promises of God. The Exodus from Egypt was a preview, the return of the exiles was a rehearsal. Pentecost (with its gathered Jews) was part one, and the ingathering at the end of history would be the grand finale. Hallelujah!
In this difficult chapter of Israel's history, hope was still shining. How does hope shine for you?
Father God, my Shepherd and my Lord, I thank You that You give me the gift of hope when all seems dark around me.