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Calling on the Name of the Lord: The Great Shepherd

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God's name is very important. His name is holy, pure, and represents His character and love towards us. Yet I often hear prayers end in "amen" without mentioning even the phrase "in His name I pray", or "in name of Jesus I pray", or something similar. The Scripture is full of examples of men calling on the name of God in their prayers. Here are a few examples:
May God bless you all!
Abraham called on the
name
of the Lord (Genesis 12:8; 13:4).
The Lord proclaimed His own
name
before Moses (Exodus 33:19; 34:5).
Isreal was warned against profaning the
name
of the Lord
The
name
of the Lord was not to be taken in vain (Exodus 20:7;
The priests of Isreal were to minister in the
name
of the Lord
The
name
of God is called "wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6.
To call on the
name
of the Lord was to worship Him as God
(Leviticus 18:21; 22:2, 32).
Deuteronomy 5:11).
(Deuteronomy 18:5; 21:5).
(Genesis 21:33; 26:25).
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Until He returns:
So - what is His Name?
In this series of articles, I want to explore the various names of the Lord. When we pray and call upon His name, it is good to know on whom we are calling. Does that mean that there are many gods? NO! It does mean that He has many names, and that each has been given to us so that we can pray more specifically and use one of the many characteristics that is embodied in our God. Let's turn to the New Testament this month:
"The Great Shepherd"
As we continue looking over the New Testament and a few titles and names given to Jesus Christ by the New Testament authors which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, I'd like to examine the "shepherd" titles. Let's see where these names come from:
Psalm 23:1b&c (bold and emphasis added):
The LORD
is
my shepherd
;
I shall not want.
Psalm 80:1b&c (bold and emphasis added):
Give ear,
O Shepherd of Isreal
,
thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest
between
the cherubims,
shine forth.
John 10:1-15 (bold and emphasis added):
I am
the good shepherd
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he
that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my
sheep
, and am known of
mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Hebrews 13:18-21 (bold and emphasis added):
Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech
you
the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the
sooner. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd
of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom
be
glory for ever and ever.
Amen.
We all know what a shepherd is and what he does. We also know that there is a distinction between a shepherd who owns the sheep and one who is a hireling; an insight provided by Jesus when he discussed the Good Shepherd versus the hireling in John 10. There is also a great history in Isreal of shepherding that goes all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who gained great wealth as nomad shepherds for sheep, cattle, goats, camels, and donkeys. King David as a boy was a shepherd, and we learn that he killed both a lion and a bear at different times while protecting his father's flocks.
Jesus is the "Lord my Shepherd", He is also the "Shepherd of Isreal", the "Good Shepherd", and finally the "Great Shepherd." I'd like to expand on the importance of these four titles starting with the Great Shepherd and working backwards.
Hebrews 13:20
calls Christ both the "God of Peace" and the "Great Shepherd." This
is because Christ gives us His peace (
shalom
no more strife between ourselves and
God), and because he shepherds us once we are saved. We get saved, of course, through the sacrificial work He did on the cross and the shedding of His blood on our behalf. That blood established between us an everlasting covenant. Everlasting is a long time, indeed, eternal! The Great Shepherd has established between us a sacred relationship that is eternal - not temporary or conditional - but eternal. His goal for us in this relationship is to make us perfect (compete, finished, mature) in all that He calls us to do for Him as we carry out His will. As those things are worked out in our lives, we meet another important goal: that of making Him well pleased with our lives and efforts. He loves us with an everlasting love and that won't change, but we also need to understand that He desires to work in us in such as way that all that we do is right and holy and well pleasing to Him. By the guidance and instruction of the Great Shepherd, we can!
John 10:11-15
reminds us that Jesus is also the Good Shepherd who does not run and
leave us alone to fend for ourselves when the wolves, lions, and thieves come to rob and destroy us. He laid down His life for us, something the hireling will not do. He also reminds us that the Good Shepherd knows His sheep. This is more than just He knows that certain sheep are His while others are not His, but that He is intimate with the sheep. He knows their bent, their fears, and their needs, the places that are good and bad for them. He will never leave us or forsake us. Finally, He works with us until not only does He know us, but that we know Him. He wants a relationship of fellowship with us, wants us to listen for and hear His voice, and wants us to be comforted by Him.
Putting
Psalm 80
and
Psalm 23
together, we get a great picture of what our Shepherd
does for us.
A Psalm of David. The LORD
is
my shepherd; I shall not want [
he meets my needs
].
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures [
lots of food, safely meditating after we
are fed
]: he leadeth me beside the still waters [
plenty to drink, no danger of
drowning, still waters are often deep, clear, and clean waters
].
He restoreth my soul [
when we are exhausted, weary, overwhelmed, He comes and
renews our spirits, encourages us, strengthens us
]: he leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for his name's sake [
this is important: He does not take us through
paths that are designed by the world to destroy us. He always picks places He knows we can handle with His help and never leaves us alone
].
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [
we will all face death
one day and He will be there for us. We may all face life-threatening situations, illnesses, injuries, but again, He will be with us
], I will fear no evil [
He doesn't give
us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind!
]: for thou
art
with me
AMEN!
(
); thy rod and thy staff they comfort me [
the rod isn't much fun is it? But
correction that guides us and keeps us from greater dangers will always be seen as a comfort later in our lives as is His staff which is used to pull us out of trouble
].
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies [
note, not just
plenty for us to eat, but in the very presence of those who would destroy us and starve us
]: thou anointest my head with oil [
a very pleasant ministry to the traveler
back then after a hot and dusty journey. Jesus provides those kinds of comforts that give pleasure and relief from our labors
]; my cup runneth over [
can't take all
the goodness He will pour out to us. It can be overwhelming at times
].
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life [
yes they will
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever [
and yes, you will if you are a
believer in Christ!
].
Feeling a little lost in this world? Call on the Great Shepherd of our souls!
]:
- Psalm 23