The Egyptian Shepherd
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!”
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.