The Desert Shepherd
In most western cultures where sheep are raised, the normal way to get the flock from point A to point B is by driving them from behind, usually by using highly trained dogs. By contrast, in the cultures of the Middle East, the shepherd walks ahead of the flock. The sheep know and trust the shepherd's voice. The shepherd goes before the flock, and the sheep follow.
In the Book of Exodus we are told how the entire nation of Israel was led out of Egypt where they had been slaves for four hundred years. We are told that the Israelites were led out of bondage by the Presence of God (described as a “pillar of cloud”) and by God's servant, Moses. The people were “shepherded” through the desert wilderness this way for forty years until they finally reached the promised “pasture”.
The forty year wilderness experience was not easy. In Exodus Chapter 17, we are told how the despairing Israelites rebelled against Moses. They were tired. They were discouraged and hopeless. They were, in fact, so distraught that they actually wanted to return to Egyptian bondage rather than continue to wander through the desert. And in a region identified as the “Desert of Zin”... [in the Hebrew “tsin” means “crag-like” and “thorny”]...their anger and frustration boiled over. The thirsty embittered flock rebelled against their shepherd.
Scripture tells us that there in the Desert of Zin, at a spot called “Meribah” ....[a Hebrew word meaning “provocation”, “strife”, “quarreling”]...the Lord (through his servant Moses) miraculously provided water by the striking of a rock.
This episode of Jewish history was recalled more than 20 centuries later when the Psalmist wrote:
“He says, 'I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. (Psalm 81: 6,7)
“Does Meribah Consume Us?”
(Will We Leave the Desert Zin?)
Are we driven by emotion
Dogged by scars of yesterday?
Do the dried up streams behind us
Still impede and damn our way?
Do we drink the bitter waters
In the Wilderness of Zin...
And does Meribah consume us
With the things that “should have been”?
Do we dwell in unforgiveness?
Are we haunted by the past?
Are we lost in crag-like mem'ries
And the shadows that they cast?
Or is there Another calling...
A proposal heard ahead.
“Follow me!” the Shepherd whispers.
“Don't remain among the dead.”
Do we long for that tomorrow
When we'll see the Bridegroom's face?
Have we answered His proposal
And experienced His Grace?
Turn around!...Tomorrow beckons.
He proposes.....We decide.
Will we die here in the desert
Or believe Him as His bride?
Turn around! Embrace the future!
Leave the hopeless past behind.
Hear the Promise of the Shepherd....
Listen..... “Seek and you will find.”
Leave behind the provocation...
Know the Hope tomorrow brings!
Turn around!.... Behold the Mountain
Where the Living Water springs!
“The absence of future hope has an amazing capacity to reach into the present and eat away at the structure of life, as termites would a giant foundation. Hope is that indispensable element that makes the present so important” ---Ravi Zacharias
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6: 19,20)