Shepherds were first ordained by God when Moses and Aaron were placed in charge of leading the Hebrews from Egypt. The first shepherd named was Abel while the first shepherdess so named was Rachel. Sheep were essential for worship and sustenance to the people of Israel then and also to many both spiritually and materially in the 21st century. Many images of shepherds were also given in scripture. The most compelling is of God as Jehovah Rohi in the 23rd Psalm. Ezekiel ( Chapter 34) likewise warns shepherds of their responsibility to their flocks. False prophets deceive and bring damnation on themselves. They rob those entrusted to them of spiritual counsel and wise leadership. This in turn, prevents their sheep from growing into strong mature people of God.
The plan of salvation through Christ – the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd, assured believers of a heavenly reward. That reward doesn’t come without a cost for the believer. It came with the supreme cost for Jesus the Christ. He willingly gave His life that we might live. There are conditions, however, that the Christian fulfills, to become one whose name is written in the book of life.
I Peter 5 gives the conditions that the elders and shepherds of the church must follow. They receive a special “crown of glory” for their labor. It comes from being the example of Christ. These leaders are not looking for filthy lucre, willing to listen to God and be led of Him, and willing to humble themselves to God’s command. Most of all, these servants are always vigilant – mindful and wary because the “wiles of the devil” work 24/7 against the man and woman of God.
The America of the 21st century is symbolic of the picture of sheep who have gone astray. Shepherds who are leading the flocks are not setting Godly examples. Shepherds aren’t teaching the Word of God. People are confused by double standards and lack of nourishment provided by following and knowing God’s laws, statues, and ordinances. God has both blessings and curses in His covenant with His people. We, especially in Chicago, are living with the lack of spiritual fervor, prayer, and action needed to turn around our youth. We aren’t actively working with those youth who are unchurched. More work is needed with the youth in our churches to help them understand what faith, prayers, belief and action accomplish. “Faith without works is dead” James 2:26. Where is our faith? Where is our courage? With GOD nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Shepherds are needed to lead the people of GOD in such a time as this. “Rise up Shepherds’ and follow GOD with all your heart, mind, soul and understanding.