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Lesson Two
God
YHWH
(Hebrew name of God, usually spelled out LORD, but sometimes pronounced Jehovah or Yahweh)

ΚΥΡΙΟΣ ‘Ο ΤΗΕΟΣ
(Greek name of God, usually translated the LORD God)

“I am the LORD your God … You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:1-3

1. Who is God and what does the Bible tell us about Him?

Isaiah 42:8: I am the LORD, that is My name.

Jeremiah 10:10: But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and an everlasting King.

Psalm 90:1-2: Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

The true God is the LORD God — or Jehovah God — of the Bible. He is the living and eternal God who always was, who is, and who always will be.

2. How many true Gods are there? How many Persons are true God?

Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God. The Lord is one!

1 Corinthians 8:4: There is no other God but one.

Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …

2 Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Isaiah 48:16-17: Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there I am. And now the LORD GOD has sent me and His Spirit. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Numbers 6:22-27: The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is how you will bless the children of Israel, saying to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the LORD lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace. They will put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

1 John 5:7: There are three who testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and the three are one.

There is only one true God, but the one true God is three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one God, for God is one. This teaching of the Three/One or Triune God is taught throughout the Bible, beginning in the very first chapter of Genesis and continuing through the last chapter of Revelation.

3. What else does God tell us of Himself in the Bible?

John 4:24: God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.

Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I do not change.

Psalm 102:27: You are the same, and Your years shall have no end.

Genesis 17:1: I am Almighty God.

Luke 1:37: For with God nothing will be impossible.

Matthew 19:26: With God all things are possible.

Psalm 139:1-4: O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up; You understand my thought from far off. You search my path and my lying down and are aware of all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it fully.

John 21:17: Lord, You know everything.

Jeremiah 23:24: Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I do not see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD.

Proverbs 15:3: The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Leviticus 19:2: I the LORD your God am holy.

Isaiah 6:3: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.

Deuteronomy 32:4: He is the Rock; His work is perfect; for all His ways are just. He is a God of faithfulness and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.

2 Timothy 2:13: He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Psalm 145:8-9: The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and great in mercy. The LORD is good to all, and His compassion is over all His works.

Exodus 34:6-7: The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.

1 John 4:8: God is love.

The Bible teaches us much about the true God. We call some of these qualities and characteristics of God the attributes of God. God, Himself, tells us in His Word that He is eternal, unchangeable, all-powerful, all-knowing, present everywhere, holy, just, impartial and fair, faithful, good, merciful, kind, gracious and loving.

4. Can one worship or serve the true God if he denies the trinity or unity of God or if he does not trust in Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God and the Savior of mankind from sin and its consequences?

John 3:18,36: He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. … He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 5:23: All men should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

John 8:23-24: [Jesus said:] You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

John 8:42: Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and proceeded into the world. I did not come of My own authority, but He sent Me.”

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 17:3: This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.

1 John 2:23: No one who denies the Son has the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father.

1 John 5:11-12: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

One cannot reject the three persons of the Godhead — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — nor can one reject the unity of the Godhead — that God is one — and worship or serve the true God who has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures. And apart from knowing and trusting in Jesus Christ as God the Son in the flesh and mankind’s only Savior, one cannot know or serve the true God. Therefore, we condemn as idolatry the religions of those who reject the Triune God of the Bible or seek to worship and serve Him apart from faith in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God who came into this world a true man to redeem fallen mankind. And, it is for this reason that Christians do not take part in syncretistic prayers or worship or join together with lodges and other organizations which include prayers or duties toward a god other than the Triune God of the Bible or apart from faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the only way to worship and serve the true God.

SUMMARY
We believe that there is only one true God (Isaiah 44:6; I Corinthians 8:4). This God (called the LORD or JEHOVAH) is one divine Being or Essence, but three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (thus the name, Triune or Three/One God), each being eternal and equal in power and majesty because each Person is the LORD God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Isaiah 48:16-17; John 1:1; Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 4:14). We believe that no one can worship or serve the Triune God except he believes that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and the Savior of mankind from sin and its consequences (John 3:18,36; 5:23; 14:6; 1 John 2:23; 5:11-12). Hence, all who deny the Trinity of God (that God is three Persons) or the Unity of God (that God is one divine Being), or who do not trust in Jesus Christ, the Son, for salvation, do not worship and serve the true God.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“In a little while you will not see Me. And then after a little while you will see Me, because I am going to the Father.” Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this He is telling us: ‘In a little while you will not see Me; and then after a little while you will see Me,’ and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” Then they said, “What is this He is telling us: ‘In a little while’? We do not know what He is saying.” Then Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him. So He said to them, “Do you inquire among yourselves concerning what I said: ‘In a little while you will not see Me; and then after a little while you will see Me’? Truly, truly I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has pain, because her hour has come. But as soon as she delivers the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a child is born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow. But I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:16-22

On the night when Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples these words in John 16:16: “In a little while you will not see Me. And then after a little while you will see Me, because I am going to the Father.”

Even though Jesus had often explained that He would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and scribes, be condemned to death, handed over to the Gentiles, mocked, scourged, crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day (Matt. 20:18-19), His disciples did not understand what He meant when He said, “In a little while you will not see Me. And then after a little while you will see Me, because I am going to the Father.” (v. 16; cf. v. 17-19).

Jesus explained briefly in verses 20-22: “Truly, truly I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has pain, because her hour has come. But as soon as she delivers the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a child is born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow. But I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

What Jesus meant became clear to them only after it came to pass, when Jesus appeared to them on that first Easter evening and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

That “little while” began on that very night when Jesus was betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. It continued as Jesus was tried, condemned, crucified and laid in the tomb. Jesus had been taken from His disciples and crucified. He was dead and enclosed in a tomb! All appeared to be hopeless and their faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior was crushed.

And they had great sorrow because Jesus, in whom they had trusted and whom they had followed for three years was now dead. And they, His own disciples, had betrayed Him, denied Him and fled from Him in fear for their own lives! And now Jesus was taken from them and gone — their faith and hopes were dashed!

As Jesus said, “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.” The disciples of Jesus sorrowed but the world rejoiced at the death of Jesus.

No longer would the enemies of Jesus have to hear Him pointing out their sinfulness, their hypocrisy, and their need to repent and to look to God for mercy and forgiveness. No longer would they have to hear Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God and their Messiah and Savior and the only way of salvation!

But the disciples’ sorrow and the world’s rejoicing were short-lived! The disciples’ sorrow was turned into joy when they saw Jesus alive from the dead on the third day? And their rejoicing grew, even more, when Jesus opened up their hearts and minds to understand the Scriptures and they came to understand what Jesus had accomplished through His death and resurrection — that He had made full atonement for the sins of all and was risen again in victory, that all who repent and look to Jesus for pardon and forgiveness could have God’s pardon and peace and the certain hope of being raised up again unto everlasting life (cf. Luke 24:44ff.; Rom. 4:23ff.; 1 John 2:1f.; 1 Cor.15:20ff; 1 Pet. 1:3ff.).

Like a woman in pain as she gives birth forgets that pain and rejoices when her child is born, so the pain and anguish — the sorrow — suffered by Jesus’ disciples was nothing in comparison to their joy when He appeared to them alive again, having won salvation for all!

But, imagine the shock when the chief priests and elders of the Jews heard the soldiers’ report of an angel, the stone rolled back, and an empty tomb (cf. Matt. 28:2-4,11-15)! Their rejoicing was turned into fear because Jesus had risen from the dead as He said, proving He truly is the Son of God and that His words and teaching are true!

These words of Jesus about the “little while” have yet another application that applies to all of us. On the 40th day after Easter, Jesus ascended into heaven and was exalted to His position of power and glory at the right hand of God the Father.

We cannot see Him now but He is present with us and rules over all that He might establish His everlasting kingdom (cf. Matt. 28:16-20; Eph. 1:18-23). He sends His ministers to call people to repent and believe the Gospel of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting through faith in the crucified and risen Savior! He sends out His Holy Spirit, who works through the Word to convict people of their sins and to give and assure to them the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting Jesus won for them on the cross, by simply trusting in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for their salvation (cf. Eph. 1:3ff.; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).

But, as we live out the remainder of our lives here in this world, our lives are full of sorrow and pain. Not only are we ridiculed by the world for our faith in Christ Jesus, but some are also persecuted and suffer for their faith. Large numbers are still killed today because of their testimony regarding Jesus and His teaching — especially in Islamic countries.

Sometimes we may lose sight of Jesus and all He accomplished for us. We may forget that He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20), and will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).

But our sorrows and all our suffering will be turned to joy when we see Jesus coming again in the clouds of glory. The world will weep and lament, but we will lift up our heads in joy (cf. Rev. 1:7; Luke 21:28).

St. Paul assures us in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.”

Now, we may weep and sorrow as we suffer in this world and are under constant attack by the devil and his evil angels, by the unbelieving world and even from our old sinful flesh which causes us to doubt and despair and which seeks to lure us back into sin.

That is why the Scriptures warn us in 1 Peter 2:11: “Dearly beloved, I implore you as aliens and refugees, abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.”

And the world (all who remain impenitent and without faith in Christ Jesus for mercy) rejoices. The world rejoices to see the true church diminish in numbers and influence. The world rejoices when the true message of the Bible is silenced or contradicted because, then, people don’t have to hear of their sinfulness and of their need to repent and look to Jesus for salvation. People rejoice because they can continue on in their sinful ways without being reminded of their guilt and the coming judgment of God upon them.

To paraphrase the words of John 3:19, people love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil and they do not wish to have their sinful ways exposed by the light of God’s Word.

Though the world rejoices now as Christianity and the true preaching of God’s Word appears to wane in the face of constant attack, this rejoicing will be shortlived because, in “a little while,” Jesus will return in judgment. In the words of Revelation 1:7, “He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”

But, though we, like Peter after He denied Jesus, may weep and sorrow in this world because of our own sins and failures, though we may be troubled because of the world’s hatred and persecution, though we may sorrow as our loved ones die and we too face temporal death, our sorrow will be turned to joy when Christ Jesus returns to receive us into His everlasting kingdom of glory.

The Bible assures us this in the words of Revelation 21:3-4: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, ‘Look! The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them. They shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.” Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away.’”

Or, in the words of Revelation 7:13-17: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘Who are these clothed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ He said to me, ‘These are those who came out of great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. “They shall neither hunger any more, nor shall they thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them,” nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and “He will lead them to springs of living water.” “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”’”

For a little while, we may grieve and sorrow — though we still have hope because we know Jesus rose from the dead and will return to raise us up and give us the everlasting joys of heaven. But, in a little while, when Jesus comes again, we shall rejoice with joy inexpressible!

As the psalmist writes in Psalm 16:11: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

We thank You, dear Lord Jesus, for the comfort of knowing that our sorrows are only for a little while, that in a little while You will appear again in the clouds of glory to receive us and all who have trusted in Your name to the everlasting joys of heaven. Grant us Your Holy Spirit and the faith to believe and take hold of the Gospel promises of forgiveness and life eternal for the sake of your blood, shed upon the cross for the sins of the world. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the LORD thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:1-2

What right did God have to give these commandments to the people of Israel? Why should they listen to God’s commandments and obey him? God tells us the answer.

He says, “I am the LORD thy God.” He is JEHOVAH God, the Creator of all things. He is the Triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the only true God! He also redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt. In fulfillment of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God brought the people out of Egypt and was leading them to the land of Canaan, where He would fulfill His promise to send the Seed of Abraham — the promised Messiah and Savior — through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed (cf. Genesis 22:18).

This is why God had the right to give these commandments to His people. He is the LORD God, their Maker and their Redeemer! And this is why God’s people should have listened to God’s commandments and gladly and willingly obeyed them.

God has every right to demand that we, too, obey His commandments; for He is the LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer — we belong to Him! He created and formed each one of us in our mother’s womb (Cf. Psalm 139:13-16). He made us for Himself — to live for Him and to serve Him.

But instead of loving Him and serving Him, we love and serve ourselves. As fallen sinners, we do not and cannot keep God’s commandments as He requires.

Because of His gracious love and mercy, the LORD God also redeemed us and won salvation for us by sending His only begotten Son into the world to suffer and to die upon the cross for our sins and then rise again on the third day!

We are the LORD’s — and doubly so! He made us, and even though we have come far short of keeping His commandments, He paid the just penalty for our sins, redeemed us and made us His own again by bringing us to know and trust in Christ Jesus for pardon and eternal salvation! He delivered us from our bondage under sin and is leading us to the promised land of heaven, which is ours entirely as His gracious gift!

Therefore, the LORD God has every right to give us His holy commandments and to expect obedience! And, as His redeemed children — having through faith and for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, His pardon and forgiveness for all our sins and failures — we have every reason to gladly and willingly obey Him!

O LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer, we give You thanks that You have both made us and, by Christ’s shed blood, redeemed us. Help us to gladly and willingly obey Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21), Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]

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“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Matthew 18:6-7

Sad to say, offenses — those things, whether it be false doctrine or a sinful life, which cause people to fall into sin and unbelief — come! People, as a result of their own rebellious and sinful natures, cause others to join with them in their unbelief and sin and often bring about their eternal ruin.

That is why Jesus has such strong words for those who cause others to sin and to turn away from Christ and His Word. And this is especially so when it comes to harming the faith of children and new believers.

Jesus said: “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Thus, we must say with Jesus that it is a most serious matter when parents do not teach their children to know the LORD and His ways or when they deny them baptism and keep them from their Savior. And it is a grievous offense when one causes another who has come to believe on Christ and to hear His Word to turn away. As Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” It would be better to be drowned in the sea than to stand before the LORD God on judgment day responsible for the eternal ruin of souls. “Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

This is also why it is so important that, when we have erred or fallen into some public sin which could be a cause of stumbling for others, we give God the glory and acknowledge our own sin and wickedness and turn to Him with a penitent heart, seeking His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. The way to remove an offense is not by hiding it or covering it up. It’s not by justifying or excusing our own sinfulness. It is by taking our sins to the foot of the cross in faith and having them washed away and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb who suffered and died for the sins of the whole world.

Offenses will come, Jesus said. We can expect, as long as we are in this sinful world, that there will be those who cause others to sin and who lead weak believers away from Christ and His Church with their lies. There will always be those who fight against Christ and the Gospel of forgiveness and life in His name. And we must say, Woe to those who cause offense and destroy souls redeemed by Christ’s holy and precious blood!

And lest we offend, let us also continually examine our own faith and life, agreeing with God’s Word, confessing and acknowledging our sins and errors, and looking in faith to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for mercy and forgiveness (cf. 1 John 1:7 — 2:2). And let us then follow Christ and heed His Word. He alone is our hope and salvation, and His Word is our only true light!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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The Work of the Good Shepherd podcast

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and we consider the ongoing gracious work of Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for us, His sheep, and is now risen again. And, the Scriptures speak of Christ’s work as a shepherd in many places.

In Ezekiel 34:1-6, 15-16, we read: “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourself with the wool; you kill those who are fed without feeding the flock. The diseased you have not strengthened, nor have you healed that which was sick, nor have you bound up that which was broken, nor have you brought back that which was driven away, nor have you sought that which was lost. But with force and with cruelty you have subjugated them. They were scattered because there was no shepherd. And they became meat to all the beasts of the field and were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains and upon every high hill. Indeed, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and no one searched or sought after them. … I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which was driven away and bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick. But I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will feed them with judgment” (cf. all of Ezekiel 34).

God lays much of the blame for the fact that His people of Israel had turned away and came under His judgments upon the shepherds who should have been feeding and nourishing God’s sheep with His Word.

Had they been preaching and teaching God’s Word, admonishing and bringing back those who were erring and wandering from the fold and comforting those who were overwhelmed with guilt and the problems of life, God’s flock would not have been scattered and carried away by their enemies. Instead, those who should have been shepherds to God’s people were busy feeding themselves and taking advantage of the sheep under their care.

The same, of course, is true today in regard to the pastors who have been given a charge to shepherd God’s flock over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers (cf. Act 20:28). Instead of shepherding the flock and using God’s Word and His Sacraments to feed and nourish the souls entrusted to their care, pastors take advantage of the sheep and seek worldly gain at the cost of those they should be nourishing. Instead of watching over the flock and protecting it from false doctrine, pastors are often the ones advancing false doctrine and erring views that destroy faith (cf. Rom. 16:17-18). Instead of admonishing the erring and giving God’s comfort to the penitent and suffering, pastors say nothing against the sinful lifestyles of our day and offer false comfort to the impenitent and erring.

What does God say He will do? “I will save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey. And I will judge between one sheep and another. I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David. He shall feed them himself and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and My servant David shall be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken” (Ezek. 34:22-24).

God promised to send His only-begotten Son into the world, born a descendant of David, of the Virgin Mary. He would be the Good Shepherd who would gather God’s sheep from all the nations where they had been driven. He would give His life for the sheep to redeem them and restore them to God’s flock. He would feed His sheep with His Word and Sacraments and protect them from the assaults of those who seek to destroy and devour God’s flock, and He would judge the shepherds who took advantage of God’s flock and failed to be true shepherds to them.

In Isaiah 40:10-11, we read: “See, the Lord GOD will come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; see, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

In Jeremiah 23:1-4, we read: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds that feed My people: You have scattered My flock and driven them away and have not visited them. I am about to punish you for the evil of your deeds, says the LORD. I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries wherever I have driven them and bring them again to their folds, and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will also set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor will they be missing, says the LORD.”

And we heard Jesus’ words today in John 10:11-16: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But he who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and runs away. So the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. ‘I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and am known by My own. Even as the Father knows Me, so I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also bring them, and they will hear My voice. There will be one flock and one shepherd.’”

What does this Word of God say to us today? To pastors, it is a stern warning to shepherd God’s sheep with God’s Word. It is a warning not to abuse or neglect God’s flock but to preach the whole truth revealed in the Bible and to faithfully apply God’s Word to recover the straying, to admonish the indifferent, to comfort and bind up the weak and injured and to gather the lambs to their Savior. Those who don’t fulfill their duties will be held responsible for their failures to shepherd God’s sheep, but those who do the work entrusted to them will receive a reward (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1-2).

Peter writes (1 Peter 5:2-4): “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, take care of them, not by constraint, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. Do not lord over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of glory that will not fade away.”

And to the sheep, it is a reminder that the Good Shepherd continues to watch over our souls. He feeds and nourishes us with His Word and Sacraments. His Word reveals to us our sinfulness and comforts us with the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

And, indeed, He gave His life His sheep! Isaiah 53:6 tells us: “All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus gave His life for us and with His Word, He admonishes us when we go astray, He comforts us when we repent and look to Him for pardon and peace, He encourages and comforts us when we are weighed down with guilt and overwhelmed by the troubles of this life.

His Word tells us in 1 John 1:7 — 2:2: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

When His called ministers are faithfully doing their duty, God commands us in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. Let them do this with joy and not complaining, for that would not be profitable to you.”

And, of course, the ultimate goal is that we, God’s sheep, dwell with the Lord Jesus forever. The goal is that expressed in Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever when, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments, we are preserved in the true faith and trust in Christ and His cross alone for pardon and for life everlasting!

“Savior, like a shepherd, lead us; much we need Your tender care. In Your pleasant pastures feed us, for our use your fold prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours.” Amen. (Lutheran Service Book, Hymn No. 711, Verse 1.)

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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