WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007

#1 - THE SHEPHERD

Throughout the Bible God gives us many pictures of himself. Over the next few months we will be looking at some of these images to learn what kind of being this God is, whom the Bible affirms is the one, true God (Isaiah 45:5).

The strong, compassionate care of God is seen in the image of the Shepherd.

In Isaiah 40:11 we read: 'He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.'

Think for a moment about this picture. In your mind see the shepherd carrying a number of weak, new-born lambs in his arms, close to his heart, protected from the cold by the strong shelter of his arms and his cloak. See him patiently, gently, leading the pregnant ewes, taking them on the easy paths, the smoothest tracks.

Gentle, patient, caring, protecting - this is what the one true God is towards all who belong to him.

David wrote of this in Psalm 23, expressing his confidence in the Lord as his 'shepherd' in the good times and the bad - both beside the still waters when everything is fine, and in the dark valleys when death threatens and or enemies surround us. Jesus taught about it in the story of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7), where the shepherd goes out of his way to rescue his sheep and rejoices when he has found it.

Jesus Christ claimed  this title 'Shepherd' for himself. He, the Son of God, is, like God the Father, the Shepherd:

'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ... I know my sheep and my sheep know me ... and I lay down my life for the sheep. ... My sheep  listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. ' (John 10:11,14,27,28)

In the coming of Christ, the good shepherd, the prophecy of Ezekiel is fulfilled:

'For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: "I myself will search for my sheep and llook after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep ... I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down ... I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. ... I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd".' (Ezekiel 34:11,12,15,16,23)

This is our God - this Shepherd: revealed in the Old Testament. This God, this divine, eternal Shepherd, became flesh and walked among us, in the person of Jesus, the good Shepherd. He sought the lost. He gently cared for the broken and the weak. He laid down his life for us, his sheep.

Such a God is worthy of our trust. With such a God we can live with absolute assurance of his love and acceptance.