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According to Us

One Husband, One Wife, Five Children and Everything in Between

Jesse Tree Day 16

You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
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. Isaiah 40:9-11

This passage is most known for the verses that close it:

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I am the kind of person that likes to look ahead in a book. Not because I want to know what happens, but…okay maybe I do. I can admit that it’s not the right thing to do. At the beginning of the year I read The Book Thief. The temptation to look ahead was taken, because the narrator of the story (the angel of death) tells you from the beginning that Leisel’s best friend Rudy dies.  It was my kind of story.

There are so many great gems in the entire chapter 40 of Isaiah. It opens with a strong command from God.

Comfort! Comfort my people! Speak tenderly to them for they have paid for their sins.

Then we have the familiar passage that points to Jesus’ cousin John the baptizer. The one who calls from the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.

Isaiah is commanded to cry out again. He is to remind us of how temporary we are. This is something this year I have really began to grasp. Think of one of the greatest people to have lived. No matter what they strived for in life, how wonderful they lived, what great things they did or said, they cannot live forever. As a kid, 80 years seems so long and so old. As I sit on the eve of my 40th birthday, it’s definitely not looking old at all. And then when I think of my kids in 10 years and where they will be in life…it all passes like fading flowers.

Jesse Tree day 16

Then we have the prophecy of Jesus. Here in this passage of comfort we see Jesus as the gentle shepherd. He tends to their needs, gathers them close to his care, carries them in his arms so they know is heart beat, and gently leads the young. They are verses to contrast with the devastation that was around them. The Shepherd is strong, powerful, and ruling in authority. The sheep don’t fear death, because the Shepherd is there to care for them.

In the book of John, Jesus says this about himself,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

This summer Alan and I had the privilege to visit some good friends living abroad and tour ancient Turkey. Late in the afternoon, as we were getting refreshments, our friends pointed out to a nearby field where a shepherd was sitting with his sheep. I grabbed my camera with my friend and we started to capture the beautiful sight.

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My camera battery died before I was able to capture very many pictures. I noticed that as my friend and I would move closer to the sheep, they would move away from us. They would move closer to the shepherd. Even though he was there with them, they didn’t trust us. But in him, they put their full trust in. They didn’t even look up to us. They just knew that we were strangers and wanted nothing to do with us.

What a better Shepherd could we ask for than in Jesus. He laid down his life for us to save us from our sin. And if that wasn’t enough, he sent the Holy Spirit to live in us as a helper.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

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