(Palm 23; John 10)
When we read Psalm twenty-three we see the beautiful love the Shepherd has for His sheep. In the course of the sheep’s life, He makes sure that they are well provided, protected and cared for. He makes sure that the life of His sheep is provided all the way into eternity. This is what a true sheep says about her Shepherd: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack. He is to His sheep their Living Bread, the Manna that came from heaven. Although Israel ate manna in the desert, they died. But the Manna that our Shepherd offers, produces life that is everlasting. YAHSHUA assured Israel that Moses did not give them the Bread from heaven, but it is His Father Who gives the true heavenly Bread; for the Bread of God, said YAHSHUA, is He Who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world; I Am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst anymore (John 6:32-34). That’s the standing promise to the sheep who has accepted YAHSHUA’S invitation.
After a long day of wandering, the Shepherd makes His sheep to rest. He makes sure that they lie down in soft cool grass, from where they receive not only their rest, but also their nourishment. It is a time of reflection, a time of healing, a time to converse with the Shepherd and hear what He has to say. Oftentimes His sheep spend their energy on things that are of no spiritual values. Sometimes they wander away, far from Him and feel lost in the confusion of their mind. The Shepherd calls them to rest and makes them to do so. It can happen through any means He chooses to do: It can come through prolonged disease or any other ways that will cause them to hear His voice and obey Him. After a restful time in His Word, He then leads them beside the quiet waters. We can never appreciate the quiet waters without first laying down at His feet to be nourished with the bread of life. The quiet waters are the ministry of His Holy Spirit. He came to comfort, to teach, to convict, to guide, among many other things. Our soul is restored with His presence. Our Shepherd then leads us in the path of sanctification for the glory of His name. The paths to sanctification include the hard and fearful valley of death. This is a must for every sheep of YAHSHUA to go through with Him. Fear will not be present in the heart because His presence supplies all they need to overcome the dreadfulness of the valley. The Shepherd uses His rod and His staff to defend, protect and to comfort His sheep. His rod is His weapon against danger that rises against them; it is also the means of discipline when a sheep wanders away from Him. The staff conveys concern, compassion and comfort. Phillip Keller, a shepherd himself, defines the difference of the two: he says, “Whereas the rod conveys the concept of authority, power, of discipline and defense, the staff speaks of longsuffering and kindness.” The presence of our Shepherd is key in bringing peace to our heart. When we are near Him we experience His peace and nothing in the world can destroy it. Philip confirms: “In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector put them at east as nothing else could do. Continuous conflict and jealousy within the flock can be a most detrimental thing. The sheep become edgy, tense, discontented, and restless. They lose weight and become irritable. But one point that always interested me very much was that whenever I came into view and my presence attracted their attention, the sheep quickly forgot their foolish rivalries and stopped their fighting. The shepherd’s presence made all the difference in their behavior.” – Philip Keller
The word friend brings warmth to the heart that not even a fireplace in a cold winter could compete with it. It warms the soul of man with assurance and confidence in the person we consider a friend. A true friend overlooks many things for the sake of lasting friendship. But in spite of all that, there is no perfect friendship that will last a lifetime without disappointments and sometimes to the point of breaking the link of friendship chain. I am sure that all of us in one time or other have experienced betrayals in our relationship with a friend. King David testified of that in Psalm 55:12-14: For it is not an enemy who reproaches and taunts me- then I might bear it; not is it one who has hated me who insolently vaunts himself against me- then I might hide from him; but it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend;we had sweet fellowship together and used to walk to the house of God in company; and even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Ps. 41:9) Prophetic of YAHSHUA’S experience at the time of His ordeal fulfilled in John 13: 18 in YAHSUA’S own words: …I know whom I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats My bread with Me has raised up His heel against Me. YAHSHUA suffered the betrayal from one of His disciples, who were considered His friends. Judas, in spite of walking with YAHSHUA as His disciples, experiencing first-hand miracles and the supernatural for three years, had not set his heart to be His friend, because he hadn’t accepted Him as the Son of God. On one occasion, he criticized Mary for anointing YAHSHUA before His death. There was no room for anyone to do that, unless he was of the devil and was performing the deed of his father. As the son of perdition, He was available for Satan to enter him and perform the act of the betrayal of the Son of God. His heart was focused on doing that, even when there was the opportunity for him to repent at YAHSHUA’S warning.
Abraham’s wife was dead at the age of 127 years old. As it was the costume of those days for the parents to find spouses for their children, Abraham trusted his servant, Eliezer of Damascus, who ruled over all he had, to get his son a wife from his own relatives. So, it was that Eliezer by God’s providence found his son a wife, who was Abraham’s brother Nahor’s granddaughter and his grandniece. The Bible relates a beautiful picture of Isaac and Rebekah meeting at her arrival: It was at the time when Isaac went out to meditate and bow down [in prayer]. He looked up and saw that, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah looked up and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel, for she [had] said to the servant, Who is that man walking across the field to meet us? And the servant said, He is my master. So, she took a veil and concealed herself with it. And the servant told Isaac everything that he had done. Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s ten, and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death (Gen. 24:63-67). Isaac was then forty years old. They were married twenty years and without children. Isaac prayed much to the Lord for his wife, because she was unable to bear children; and the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah, his wife, became pregnant (Gen 25:21). God’s timing plays a very important role in the fulfilling of His promise, no matter how long it will take for it to be fulfilled. In the case of Abraham, it was not until twenty-seven years later, when he was then one hundred years old, that the Lord blessed him with the son of the promise. God blessed Rebekah with twin boys- a double blessing she did not expect. However, wanting to know why such a struggled within her, she went to inquire of the Lord. He revealed to her that two nations were in her womb, and the separation of two peoples had begun in her body; the one people shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger (Gen. 25:21-23). There, in His presence, she found the answer for her dilemma. Understanding the problem, her burden was not as heavy on her soul. As Rebekah experienced the lifting up of her burden in the presence of the Lord, we too can enjoy the relief of our troubles in His presence. It is there that we will experience peace, joy and healing. Psalm seventy-three shows the frustration the psalmist struggled with in relationship to the prosperity of the wicked. He said, But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped, for I was envious of the foolish and arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked… But when I considered how to understand this, it was too great an effort for me and too painful, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. A prayer away, is all that will take to understanding and relief from our struggles.
(Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9)
The great tribulation is a period of seven years reserved for the Jewish nation, when God will refine and redeem Israel. Daniel 9: 24-27, Zachariah 12-13). The Bible registers the period of seven years of tribulation in chapter 12 verse 1 of Daniel: And at that time [of the end] Michael shall arise, the great prince who defends and has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of straightness and distress such as never was since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the Book.
One cannot refute neither change the Word of God spoken through His prophets of old, who faithfully warned of disasters coming for this nation. This prophecy against Israel was also uttered by Moses even before they entered the Promised Land. We read in Deuteronomy 4:30 the following: When you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you in the latter days you will turn to the Lord your God and be obedient to His voice. The Prophet Zachariah echoes the words of Moses when he prophesized the tribulation and deliverance of Israel. Zachariah 12 and 13). And in all the land, says the Lord, two-thirds shall be cut off and perish, but one-third shall be left alive; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, It is My people; and they will say, The Lord is my God (Zachariah 13:8-9). And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. And they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one who mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of [city of] Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddo [over beloved King Josiah]. And the land shall mourn, every family apart…(Zachariah 12:10-12a).
The purposes and reason for the great tribulation are found in Daniel 9: 24: Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, (Israel (Judah) and Jerusalem) to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity and to bring in an everlasting righteousness and seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. Seventy weeks have been decreed for Israel, which started from the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until [the coming of] the anointed One, (YAHSHUA) a Prince, shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]; it shall be built again with [city] square and moat, but in troublous times (found in the history of the Jews when they returned from exile in the book of Nehemiah and Esdras). After the sixty-two weeks [of years] shall the Anointed One be cut off or killed and shall have nothing belonging to Him. (YAHSHUA died in the period of the sixty-ninth week [of years] which was the week of years before the final week of years of seventy weeks of years reserved for the Jewish nation) (Daniel 9: 24-26).