Sheep without a shepherd

I will say this. Back in the day, many moons ago, when I attempted to go full-throttle through the Old Testament, I didn’t have as good a grasp on the New Testament as I have now. Which makes this latest attempt on a portion of the Old Testament so much more fulfilling, because so often, what I am reading brings to mind things from the New Testament. Here is another example:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

I am the good shepherd. (John 10:14)

These words of Jesus frame what I read today in Numbers 27:

Moses said to the LORD, “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep which have no shepherd.” Numbers 27:15-17

This is being said when it becomes apparent that Moses is about to die, and that a successor needs to be named. Joshua (aka, Jesus) is the immediate successor to Moses, the new shepherd. But there is a much deeper meaning to this passage in Numbers, that Jesus alludes to. For despite a shepherd being provided, the people in Israel still ended up as sheep without a shepherd. Jesus (aka Joshua) is that shepherd. In saying this, Jesus is claiming to be the New Moses, the shepherd who will lead his sheep to deliverance.

Deuteronomy makes a similar claim when it states these two things:

I will raise up for them a prophet like [Moses] from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deut 18:18)

And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face… (Deut 34:10)

A prophet was promised. And Joshua was given. But the expectation of Someone greater remained, who, like Moses, would know the Lord face to face.  A New Moses.


~ by Rob on March 27, 2008.

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