The story unfolds as the people of God are numbered on the plains of Moab, and the law of inheritance is established. Their journey has passed them through Sinai, and they are closer now than ever before to entering into the land promised to them. At the same time–however–as a new day is dawning, an old day is reaching its conclusion. The transition of leadership is imminent, and the preparations are now underway.
It was never about Moses. Moses did not build his kingdom through God’s people. His motivation was never for his fame or for his control. He was simply a mediator between God and God’s chosen people to represent God to the nations. Moses’ understanding was also garnered in his weakness. Previously, Moses had overstepped his authority and presumed upon God, and as a result was disqualified as the leader into the promised land. Nevertheless, his desire was their best, and he interceded once again on their behalf…
“Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”
The picture of shepherd-less sheep may not be something you’ve personally experienced or witnessed, but you can imagine what that would look like notwithstanding. Without a shepherd the sheep are hopeless–they are as good as dead. There would be no one to care for them when they were ill. There would be no one to guide them to healthy grass. There would be no one to protect them from predators. There would be no one to lead them to water. There would be no one to discipline them when they pushed the boundaries. They would be vulnerable. They would be lost. They would hopeless. They would be dead in short order.
And so, Moses interceded. He prayed for a shepherd to come and to lead them.
How does this apply to us today?
- You are replaceable. While Moses was chosen to lead the people out of Egypt and slavery, his service was not extended as their leader into the promised land. Moses was to be replaced.
- You are still called to faithfulness. Despite the fact that Moses knew he wasn’t going to lead the people to the promised land, he remained faithful to their good. Moses finished well.
- God sent His Son as the good shepherd. Jesus Christ entered our world in order to lead us to His world. Without this condescension from a holy God, humanity’s only hope would be subject to a holy God’s justice. And the outcome because of our sin speaks for itself. Therefore, by offering eternal life to a sinful humanity–through Christ–God was both the justifier and justified.
- God has given you a sphere of influence for you to shepherd. Are you a father? Are you a mother? Are you a husband or wife? Do you have a home? Are you a teacher? A student? Are you a friend to someone? Are you involved in ministry to people? Does anyone depend on you for anything. If you even slightly answered yes, then you have a sphere of influence. The reality is everyone has a sphere of influence at some level, and as a result you are called to shepherd that sphere of influence effectively. My advice would be to make a list of all those spheres of influence, determine how you are currently shepherding and prioritizing them, and then make a plan to reprioritize and shepherd them with biblical principles.
- Your example of how to shepherd is Christ. Often we wonder how we should lead or shepherd those in our sphere of influence. And usually we just act out of instinct, which will ultimately ends in chaos. However, the Bible teaches us how Christ was the good Shepherd, and therefore provides principles for us to apply to our everyday lives. He guides. He knows. He protects. He serves. He cares. He lays His life down for His sheep.
Listen to the words of this song, and worship God for sending His Son…
— January 12, 2018