So they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds;

and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock!”

Exodus 1:19

 

If pressed, I might well identify John 5:39 as my life verse: “You search the (Old Testament) Scriptures, because in them you think you possess eternal life. But these very writings testify of Me!” No, I never tire of meandering through the OT, looking for, and finding, the Person and Work of Christ at every turn!

So it is with today’s text. Moses, recently escaped from Egypt, has made his way to the deserts of Midian, where he rescues the seven daughters of Reuel, the priest of Midian, from some decidedly unchivalrous shepherds who are trying to drive the girls and their flocks from the village well. The shepherds should have thought twice about that! More importantly, we ourselves should think twice about what happened, for here we learn some precious truths about Moses’ anti-type: the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, he is a strong deliverer. You don’t scatter a gang of rough shepherds unless you are built for it. In film versions of the Exodus, I have seen Moses portrayed both by Ben Kingsley and Charlton Heston. Today’s text tells me Charlton filled the role far better than Ben! Despite appearances to the contrary, the Lord Jesus Christ—through whom are all things, for whom are all things, and by whom all things are held together and make their way to the Consummation—is way strong! The seven daughters of Reuel need always to believe and take comfort in that fact; and fake shepherds everywhere would be wise to discover it before it’s too late.

Secondly, he delivers from false shepherds. Now I rejoice in the many good shepherds who serve under Christ around the world; indeed, I suspect that the vast majority of them are godly men, trying to do their best for the Lord and his flock. But I’ve also lived long enough to know there are plenty of fake shepherds out there, and that part of the long, winding course of our sanctification is that we should come upon them from time to time, and perhaps even be taken in and wounded by them. Nevertheless, sooner or later all of God’s daughters, and all of God’s flock, will come to their senses and will behold the falseness in the false shepherds. Moreover, when they do, they will be united as never before with the one Great Shepherd of the sheep. Henceforth, they will appreciate and submit to good under-shepherds whenever they find them; but they will adore and cling to only one. And in this, all true under-shepherds will rejoice.

Thirdly, he draws water for the flock. When you read this phrase, can you not hear the Lord saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water”? Think of it: Christ himself, the very well of God, drawing from himself to give of himself (and the Father and the Holy Spirit) to us! Are we spending meaningful time every day beside this well, drinking in the truth, life, and love of Christ? I certainly hope so, for the deserts of Midian are terribly dry, and it is terribly easy to perish therein.

Finally, and most intriguingly of all, Christ is to his people, if only for a brief season, an Egyptian Shepherd. But how so? Well, it is certainly not because he really is an Egyptian—a mere man, a man of the flesh and a man of the world at heart. No, it is simply because we, like the seven daughters of Reuel, do not really know or recognize him. Yes, at our new birth we caught a glimpse of him as he truly is. But being Egyptians from our old birth, and dealing with Egyptians all day every day, we tend to see our Lord through Egyptian eyes. We do not readily see that he—like all Hebrews—is a shepherd at heart; that he is the Promised and Chosen Shepherd of the Israel of God, whose heart so burned with divine purpose and love that he was willing to enter the deserted hell-hole of this fallen world system in order to live for, die for, rise for, find, rescue, and eternally water his perfect, seven-fold Bride and her flock.

And this, beloveds, is why we must keep on reading the OT, and all of Scripture. We do so because we hope and trust that our gracious heavenly Father, by his Spirit and in his mercy, will be pleased to open our eyes more and more, to see more and more of his Christ; to see him, not as a mere Egyptian, but as the Hebrew of all Hebrews—as that strong, brave, loving, and divine Shepherd who infallibly rescues his Bride and her flock from every false shepherd, and grants that they should rest and drink with him at the eternal well of God.

In opposition to (the Roman Catholic view), our forefathers not only maintained that a man is justified by faith, but that he ought to know that he is justified, and that such knowledge is the great root of a holy life. It started a man upon a happy life, because it relieved him from the burden of doubt and the gloom of uncertainty. It made his religion bright and tranquil, because it sprang so sweetly from the certainty of his reconciliation to God. It delivered him from the cruel suspense and undefined fears which the lack of assurance always carries with it.

Moreover, it rescued him from every temptation to pride, presumption, and self-righteousness, because it did not arise from any good thing in himself, but drew him away from himself to Christ–from what he was doing, to what Christ had done. Thus did it make Christ, not self, the basis and center of his new being. It made him more and more dissatisfied with self and all that self contained, but more and more satisfied with Jesus and his fullness. It taught him to rest his confidence toward God, not on his satisfaction with self, or on the development of his own holiness, or on the amount of his graces and prayers and doings, but simply on the completed work of Him with whom God is well pleased. – Horatius Bonar

Note: To read the article from which this excellent quote is taken, click here.

“And he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. And he had a dream.”

Genesis 28:11-12

 

At this stage in his life, Jacob was not only a restless man, but a godless one. Though he valued spiritual things–the birthright of the family, and the blessing of his father–he used wicked means to attain a good end. He had not yet met his God, or received promises from him, or called upon his name. He had been a man run by lies and cunning; now he was a man on the run, pursued to the death by his murder-minded brother, Esau.

But here at Bethel–hungry, exhausted, and scared–Jacob lay his head down. The Hebrew says, “And he put a rock at his head place.” What a picture this is, and what a comfort, not only to Jacob, but to all his seed!

For the rock is Christ. And the great promise of our text is that for those who put him at their head place and rest their head upon him, they will dream. They will see God.

But how, exactly, does one rest his head upon Christ?

My answer is three-fold.

First, he rests completely upon the finished work of Christ–his righteous life and atoning death–for his justification and salvation, putting no trust whatsoever in his own works.

Secondly, he rests upon the Word of God, and especially the New Testament, saturating himself with its promises and commandments, so that he might every-increasingly live according to them.

Finally, he rests upon the Spirit of God, who brings the Word to life, enabling him not only to live by it, but even more importantly, to behold and delight in the One who is the great Ladder joining heaven and earth, the divine Head of all the angels, the very House of God, and the Gateway to our Father in heaven.

Yes, saints who know to rest their heads upon Christ will become what they so deeply desire to be, and what God created them to be: Dreamers, seers, and worshipers; men and women who know that, of a truth, God is in this place.

 Do not lay hands on anyone too quickly,

and so participate in the sins of other men; keep yourself pure.

 – 1 Tim. 4:22

 

American evangelicals are in a quandary. No, they’re in a crisis. They are eager to vote for an electable presidential candidate who embraces biblical values, but in 2016 it appears they cannot. For reasons that are painfully obvious—and that have been rehearsed ad nauseum—they realize that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is worthy of their enthusiastic support. How, then, should they vote? Should they vote for “the lesser of two evils”? Should they vote for a third party candidate? Or should they vote Christian and conservative down the ticket, but not vote for president at all? Trust me when I say I have given this matter LOTS of prayer and thought. In the present essay I offer both my reflections conclusions. I hope they will help you vote, both now and in the years to come.

In mulling this matter, I have isolated four biblically based lenses through which I believe we can successfully evaluate any candidate for office. They are character, conviction, competence, and calling. Let’s think together about these for a moment, and then apply them to our present situation.

Character

First comes character. And first it is, for character always precedes policy, and determines policy. As our Lord said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad cannot bear good.” We must, then, pay the closest possible attention to a candidate’s character.

But how, exactly, do we evaluate a man’s character? For the Christian, the benchmark of all true character is the character of Jesus Christ. In evaluating a candidate, we examine him (or her) for the presence of those spiritual attributes that made the Lord Jesus the ideal man, the “firstborn” over a whole new race of godly human beings. These attributes include piety, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, honesty, love, kindness, courage, self-sacrifice, and more. And among sinners who truly know their Savior, these attributes also include one important trait not found in their sinless Master: the ability humbly to admit one’s mistakes and misdeeds, and to apologize for them.

No biblically informed Christian expects a candidate to display a flawless character; as it is written, all have sinned and fall short of the glorious character of Christ and God. Nevertheless, in a world where darkness and light always commingle, some among us, by God’s grace, do indeed display many of the character traits of Christ, and in noticeable measure. Christians should only vote for candidates who do.

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She bent forward to look, then gave a startled little cry and drew back. There was indeed a seed lying in the palm of his hand, but it was shaped exactly like a long, sharply-pointed thorn… “The seed looks very sharp,” she said shrinkingly. “Won’t it hurt if you put it into my heart?”

He answered gently, “It is so sharp that it slips in very quickly. But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that Love and Pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know Love, you must know pain too.”

Much-Afraid looked at the thorn and shrank from it. Then she looked at the Shepherd’s face and repeated his words to herself. “When the seed of Love in your heart is ready to bloom, you will be loved in return,” and a strange new courage entered her. She suddenly stepped forward, bared her heart, and said, “Please plant the seed here in my heart.”

His face lit up with a glad smile and he said with a note of joy in his voice, “Now you will be able to go with me to the High Places and be a citizen in the Kingdom of my Father.”

Then he pressed the thorn into her heart. It was true, just as he had said, it did cause a piercing pain, but it slipped in quickly and then, suddenly, a sweetness she had never felt or imagined before tingled through her. It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger. She thought of the Shepherd’s words, “It is so happy to love,” and her pale, sallow cheeks suddenly glowed pink and her eyes shown. For a moment Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.
Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places