March 18, 2010

The Shepherd From Bethlehem

Micah 5:1-4

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord …
Micah 5:4


Micah lived during a very tumultuous time. Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah in Micah’s lifetime (see Micah 1:1), which means he lived seven centuries before Jesus was born. In Micah’s day the northern kingdom of Israel was on the brink of collapse and was eventually destroyed by the invading Assyrians in 722 B.C. Micah warned the people of the southern kingdom (Judah) that they would meet the same fate if they did not turn back to God.

Arebellious kingdom was like sheep without a shepherd. Through Micah, God promised that he would be that shepherd. “I will surely gather all of you, Jacob [Israel],” says the Lord in Micah 2:12. God promises to bring his people together “like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture.”

Jesus is the shepherd who accomplishes what God promised. Today’s passage is usually associated more with Advent—in the weeks leading up to Christ’s birth. But there is also something fitting about reflecting on these verses as we prepare to remember Jesus’ death.

The King whose birth is celebrated at Christmas is also the good shepherd who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He is the Lamb who is also our shepherd and who leads us “to springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17; see Psalm 23:1-3; John 4:9-13; 7:37-39).

Thank you, Lord for being both the Lamb who is sacrificed and the good shepherd who leads us. Use us to gather sheep into your flock so they too can know your love. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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