God is a gathering shepherd by nature. The deep desire of His heart is to have His people together with Him. He created Adam and Eve in His image (Gen. 1:26-27) and walked with them daily in the garden. And the moment they disobeyed, Him and ate the forbidden fruit—God set in motion His plan to redeem all who would believe—so that we could be together with Him again. (Gen. 3:15)
He called Abraham to follow Him by faith and from him created a nation called Israel. When Israel found herself in slavery—God sent His deliverer Moses and through Him did mighty deeds—breaking the will of Pharaoh and liberating His people from bondage. He brought them through the Red Sea, right to the foot of Mt. Sinai—where He made His covenant with them, saying, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” (Ex. 6:7)
And so God was with His people, but they weren’t always interested in being with Him. As generations passed Israel was hot and cold in their devotion to God. They were often times swayed from God by the pleasures of the world. When they lost their way, God sent His prophets: Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and many others to cry out, “Repent and return to God so that you are not destroyed.” Sometimes they did repent. Other times they did not—and thus experienced the harsh consequences of choices.
As time continued—what was clear to God from the beginning—became glaringly obvious to everyone--people aren’t capable of living up to God’s righteous standards. So the Good Shepherd began to speak of a new covenant… a new way of being made right with God and walking with Him.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek. 36:26-27)
No longer would God stand at a distance. He would move into our hearts and by His Spirit lead us and shepherd us. And so God sovereignly crafted the chapters of His-story right down to the perfect time to send us His Son—to initiate the new plan!
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son…” (Gal. 4:4)
Jesus came as Emmanuel, “God with us”. He lived among us, loved us, healed many and fulfilled every messianic prophecy of the Old Testament (over 300 of them!). And then, as the ultimate-once-for-all-time-sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus laid His life down for us on the cross. (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 7:27 & 9:28)
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29, NASB)
Why? Why all this trouble and sacrifice? Because God is crazy about you. He wants all of us to be with Him. And since our sin makes that impossible, He took it upon Himself (literally) and paid for our unrighteousness with His own blood—so that we could be part of His family and call Him “Daddy”
“…to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." (Jn. 1:12, Gal. 4:6)
Someday, when the trump of God sounds, Christ will split the skies and return for all who have trusted Him as Savior. (1 Thess. 4:16) The old heavens and earth will be swept away and replaced with the new creation - unmared by sin's curse.
At that time these words will be fulfilled, “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-4)
Oh what a day that will be! Finally, The Good Shepherd will have all of us, once again, together—with Him in paradise—the way He always intended it to be!
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