Close to the Shepherd's Heart

Do you have go-to Bible Verses? You know what I mean - verses or passages or stories that you often find yourself reading if you are looking for comfort or encouragement.

I gravitate towards Isaiah 40 at such times.

There is something grand and majestic, yet deeply personal in this chapter. There are the early declarations of the coming of the Lord when his glory will be revealed, and all will see it (v 5). Then in the middle of the chapter, we face the greatness of who He is as we are reminded that the nations are like dust on scales in His hands (v 15) and how only He, the Lord, could stretch out the heavens as easily as drawing a pair of curtains (v 22).

He has all knowledge and all understanding; His Word stands forever, and he sits enthroned above His creation. The chapter is like a giant tapestry of God’s magnificence.

Yet, interwoven in the embroidery, like small details stitched in with pains-taking care, we find breath-taking glimpses of the Lord’s love and care – ‘those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength’ (v 31) or ‘speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed’ (v 2).

In one such section of the canvas, a messenger of good news is instructed to shout at the top of his voice and proclaim that the sovereign Lord is coming with authority and power (v 9 – 10), but look at how the Lord is described in verse 11. He is like a shepherd, and an interesting detail is woven into the narrative - His lambs are not herded in droves or assembled on carts to follow at a distance, they are gathered in the shepherd’s arms.

In fact, He himself picks them up and holds them next to His chest and close to His heart, and, for those who must stay close to their mothers, ‘he gently leads those who have young’.

If this is not a prophetic image of Jesus, I don’t know what is!

But let’s stay with Isaiah for a moment. The sovereign Lord who rules the universe holds his own close enough to hear his heartbeat and feel His breath.

In Ancient times, the shepherd would carry the lamb struggling to walk and he would hold the one who needs special guarding or care. The lamb who is exhausted or weary will find his strength returning in the warm embrace of the shepherd’s strong arms.

Do you want to be close to the Shepherd’s heart? Maybe it’s time to stop running around and let Him pick you up and hold you for a while.

Because that’s His desire too.

The best is Yet to Come. God bless – Terry

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