Monday, June 1, 2009
All of the the posts this week come from some talks I gave at Education Week about pastoral imagery in the scriptures. This information has helped me so much in my understanding of Christ in his role of good shepherd. I hope it blesses you also.
There are many paths in Israel and also in life. It is difficult and bewildering to choose the path of peace and safety without guidance.
An authoress from the 1800's, who grew up in the Holy Land, shows how this principle was exemplified in the lives the shepherds. She writes:
"When I was a child we spent our summer months in the country districts, and that is how I became imbued with the life of the shepherds in Palestine. Often, in company with my brother, we used to go out with the shepherds or shepherdesses over the hills, and we wanted to take their place. And, speaking the Arabic language, we could imitate their voices and calls.
But the sheep were never taken in by our voices, and occasionally a great big long-horned he-goat would resent the imposition by a few well-directed butts, which would soon scatter us. At the head of the flock is this great long-horned he-goat. First came the shepherd, then the he-goat, then the flock. It seemed as if the whole flock had unanimously elected this long-horned he-goat to lead them... If they saw the he-goat shaking his head, a frightened look would pass over them. If the he-goat started butting a pretender, the majority of the flock would butt him, too.
If you turn to Proverbs 30:31, you will find him mentioned as one of the four things that are beautiful in going before the Lord; and still more prominently so in Jeremiah 50:8, where the prophet breaks forth and says: 'Remove out of the midst of Babylon and go forth out the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he-goats before the flocks.'
Now, why does the prophet draw the picture of this noble animal? Because there have been instances known where the shepherd has fallen down some precipice and been killed. Then it has become the duty of the he-goat to gather the flock together and bring them back in safety...Be as the he-goats before the flocks (Mountford 41-45)."
Our priesthood "he-goats" have a weighty responsibility to lead in love and to model the care of the Good Shepherd. The rewards for their faithful service will surely be great.