As we continue to work through the Names of God from the Bible study manual, “Lord I want to know You“, we come to the Name, Jehovah-raah, the Lord is my Shepherd. If asked which is my favorite lesson from this course, I would reply, “the one I am currently studying” because they are all so powerful and relevant to daily life on planet earth. I love the way that all the Names tie together to show us just how dependent upon God we really are and since He created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, He can guide us through the struggles of day to day living.
- Elohim (Creator)
- El Elyon (All Powerful )
- El Roi (All Seeing)
- Adonai (Lord/Master)
- El Shaddai (Savior)
- Jehovah-jireh (Provider)
- Jehovah-rapha (Healer)
- Jehovah-nissi (Victory)
- Jehovah-mecodishkem (Sanctifier)
- Jehovah-shalom (Peace)
- Jehovah-sabaoth (Helper)
In the book of Proverbs, we find the following verse;
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower ; The righteous runs into it and is safe. (18:10)
When we know God by Name, who He is, what He can do, and the benefits that He offers to us, then we are more likely to run to Him for refuge in every situation, both good and bad. Once I know that He created me for His glory and that He is all powerful, seeing all things that happen, even what goes on in my mind then I run to Him and bow down to His Lordship. When I do that, He enters my life in a personal way and saves me from my sins. As my Savior, He also becomes my Provider for daily living. He heals me from the inside out and gives me victory over the greatest enemy I will every face, myself, my own sinful nature. As He gives me daily victory over my sin nature, He sets me apart from the rest of the world, a dying, decaying world that is overcome by sin. As I walk in victory, being sanctified day by day, I have the peace of the Lord that surpasses all understanding on this earth. I have peace because I know the Author of peace, who is my daily Helper through the difficulties of life. Do you know God like this, personally? I would suggest that few of us who are part of churches actually know God this personally. I went to church for almost 18 years without really having a clue who God was/is. He was just some Old Man in the sky who would listen to my prayers when He felt like it and really did not do anything for me. He was not really real to me, just a being far off who was very vague. My eyes were opened to who God is as I walked through the study of the Names/Characteristics of God in “Lord I want to know You”. That is why I teach this course everywhere I go. It really is eye-opening and life-changing.
The next Name is Jehovah-raah, the Lord is my Shepherd. This is a very eye-opening lesson because we gain some insight into who we are and why we need a Good Shepherd. You are not as great as you think you are and I am not as great as I think I am. In fact, we are pretty much all the same, especially in our incompetence. I know that sounds harsh but it is true. That is the bad news. The good news is that there is a Shepherd who loves us just as we are and is ready to lead us to greatness, if we will allow Him.
I. We the sheep
What do you know about sheep? The more you learn, the more that you will agree with the statement, “we the sheep”. God refers to us a sheep many, many times throughout the Bible. In Isaiah we find the following statement, a quote which Peter uses in one of his epistles.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way ; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6)
We are compared to sheep because we have all gone astray because of our sin. Sin means missing the mark, straying away from God’s standards. All of us have sinned at one time or another in our lives. The clearest manifestation of our sin is the fact that we go our own way. We believe that we know what is best for us and how to live our lives. Sheep need a leader and if left on their own will go astray, leading to disastrous results for the herd and for the individual. When a sheep is on his own, he is in trouble. In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, Jesus teaches us that on our own, apart from Him, we can do nothing good. Why is that you ask? It is because of what Paul teaches us about ourselves in Romans 7:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh ; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not
Because of my sin nature, there really is nothing good in me, even if the desire to do good is there, the ability is not because apart from Christ, I am a slave, sold into bondage, sin being my master. In fact this news reveals something crucial to us, we are followers at heart. We were created by God to be followers so that we could follow God. If we do not follow God then we will follow something or someone else, ultimately, our sin nature which is terribly destructive.
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; (John 10)
God created us to follow. The only way that you can truly be satisfied in this life is to follow Christ. That is the good news. The bad news is, because of sin, we are separated from God and have gone astray. We need to be retrieved. There is hope because of what Ezekiel teaches us:
11 For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. (Ezekiel 34)
God knows out situation and wants to seek us out. He comes to us instead of waiting for us to come to Him. When He finds us, He cares for us because we need it, according to John 21:17.
II. Christ the Good Shepherd
In order to follow the Good Shepherd, we must learn to recognize Him and follow Him. John 10 has much to teach us about Christ, our Good Shepherd. Jesus is the only way into the fold. If you want to follow the Good Shepherd, you must recognize Jesus for who He is and enter His fold. Jesus knows if you are His or not. He is looking for sheep who have gone astray and when He finds you, He invites you to join His fold so that He can provide for you. He knows you and you know Him once you have entered the fold. Jesus is a Good Shepherd because He lays down His life for His sheep. He cares for the good of His sheep and will do anything to protect Him. When you enter His fold and follow Him, He cares for you, ultimately providing eternal life. He holds the sheep in His hand and protects them until He carries them into eternity. Do you know the Good Shepherd? Have you entered His fold? Do you follow Him, allowing Him to provide for your needs? What are you waiting for?
III. Our needs and God’s provision
In order for sheep to be content, they have a few basic needs that must be met. The good news is that we have a Good Shepherd who has already promised to meet all of these basic needs.
- Sheep are always in need of food and they are not good at finding it for themselves. Also, they will eat anything that is in their path. The shepherd has to lead them to food and make sure that the food is safe. God knows that we need daily spiritual food and has provided for us. He also knows that we need to avoid the bad stuff. When we are babes in the faith, the Good Shepherd provides milk so that we can grow to maturity. As we grow toward maturity, the Good Shepherd provides solid food to keep us on the track of maturity. In II Timothy 3:16-17, we see how the Good Shepherd leads us to maturity through His Word.
- He teaches us through the Word, showing us what is right and what is wrong so that we are able to reject what is wrong and embrace what is right.
- He rebukes us through the Word, showing us where we are wrong so that we can make the right moves to get right.
- He corrects us through the Word, placing us on the right path once He has showed us where we were wrong.
- He trains us in righteousness through His Word, keeping us on the right path once He has placed us there. The question is, are you in the Word so that God can refine your life, leading you to maturity?
- Absence of fear
- Sheep are timid, jumpy animals and they do not do well when afraid. They make bad choices because of fear. The Good Shepherd knows this and He has provided relief from our fear. His love is the secret to overcoming fear. When we are afraid, we focus on Him and not on the things around us that cause us to fear. In fact, when we enter the Good Shepherd’s fold, He gives us His Holy Spirit which casts out our fear. In fact, if we want to overcome our fear, we must look to the Good Shepherd and trust that He has our best intentions in mind.
- Absence of conflict
- Sheep do not do well when in conflict. The problem is, if they are left alone and cared for, they begin to fight with each other over petty things. The Good Shepherd knows about this and teaches us how to deal with conflict. The first thing that we have to do is to be ready to forgive others because God has already forgiven us of so much. Many times conflict arises and festers because we just do not want to forgive. The second thing is that we must take initiative in resolving conflict. Do not pretend that all is well between you and God when there is obvious conflict with a brother or sister in Christ. Deal with the conflict first, according to God’s Word. The third piece of advice is to have the right attitude about yourself and about others. Do not be selfish and self-centered. Instead, look to meet the needs of others in humility. Follow the example of the Good Shepherd.
- Absence of pests
- Pests are a problem for sheep. If they are not dealt with, the sheep will literally go crazy, even harming themselves because of the pests. The pests usually enter the sheep’s nostrils, lay eggs, and these eggs end up driving the sheep crazy. They can do nothing else but focus on the pests. A good shepherd has to rub soothing oil in the nostrils of the sheep so that the pests just slide down and fall away, leaving the sheep comfortable and happy. This is seen spiritually in our minds. The pests are thoughts that can drive us crazy. The Good Shepherd has provided a solution for these thoughts. II Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches us how to deal with the thoughts that can drive us crazy. First you must take action and not believe anything that goes in direct contradiction to the Word of God. Things raised up against God are just speculations and are empty efforts. Do not let them take root. If they have taken root, rip them up and throw them out. Next, take every thought that comes into your mind captive and decide whether it is from God or not. If it is from God and of God, let it stay. If it goes against God then kick it to the curb. How can you tell if the thoughts are of God or not? Philippians 4:6-9 teaches us how to distinguish between the two things. God wants to protect your mind with His Word. If His Word occupies your mind, especially your thought, then the pests will not be able to take root and steal your peace.
Do you realize your need for the Good Shepherd? Have you entered His fold through Jesus Christ? Do you know all that He has to offer? Are you living in His grace, allowing Him to provide for you and care for you so that you can be the best He created you to be? What keeps you from following Him? May the Lord help us choose to follow Him over our slavery to our sin nature, for our own good and the good of the fold.