Day 10

A Priest Shepherds His People

Numbers 18:1-7, Malachi 2:7, Luke 2:22-35, Hebrews 4:14-16

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Text: Numbers 18:1-7, Malachi 2:7, Luke 2:22-35, Hebrews 4:14-16

A priest cares for the spiritual lives of the people. The job of a priest in the Old Testament was to read the spiritual posture of God’s people and attend to their fears and sorrows. Priests called the people to see themselves as they really were—needy but loved, frail but protected, prone to wander but kept. They served God’s people by reminding them that they were made for worship.

I confess: I used to silently pass judgment on parents who used those kid-leashes on their children. And then I had twin boys.

I remember buying a set of two such contraptions at the parents-of-multiples consignment sale when our boy babies were becoming toddlers. It was our one-stop shop for all the twin things, and it made me feel deeply understood simply to wander among the aisles of coordinating onesies and matching highchairs. By this point, of course, I’d met my boys and discovered just how, um, “lively” they were. They’d be on the move soon, and judging from the number of times they’d already overturned the toy shelf in their room, it was time to prepare our hearts and our home.

We didn’t know we’d come to envy the parents we once judged. At least their kids could be contained by such desperate measures. Our boys, on the other hand, were so rambunctious, they’d physically injure themselves (or us) when tethered via a puppy dog backpack.

The truth was I’d underestimated how difficult it would be to simply keep my boys near me—to keep them in the fold, so to speak. We opted for fenced-in playgrounds in their younger years to avoid the likely probability that they’d run toward the street in opposite directions and I’d have to choose which one to rescue first. I felt like a lifeguard, always on duty, always scanning the room or yard or park for those two little blonde heads, constantly fighting fear that I’d lose one or leave one behind.

Bless caregivers of little ones everywhere. I’m exhausted just writing this.

God’s priests in the Old Testament knew well the work of keeping their sheep within the fold. Shepherding was part of their job—not sheep, of course, but hearts. The hearts of God’s people—ever wandering, ever forgetful—needed the watchful eye of the priest to keep them close, to read their spiritual posture and anticipate their spiritual needs. In the same way that priests reminded God’s people who they were and Who they were made to worship, they also reminded them how to walk in light of those truths.

God’s people were needy, but loved. They were frail, but protected. They were prone to wander, but kept. The priesthood was a gift from God for both the people and the temple. The priests watched over the people for the sake of the temple, and watched over the temple for the sake of the people. It was heavy, holy work.

As God’s people today, we are just as needy, frail, and prone to wander as our Old Testament brothers and sisters. We, too, benefit greatly from the gift of shepherds who lead the people of the Church in the ways of God. But there is one crucial distinction: you and I no longer rely on any priest or guide to keep us in the fold. We have a Savior who does that.

There would come a perfect Priest into the world who would not just make it improbable but impossible for us to be separated from God’s covenant love. He would be the Shepherd of shepherds, the Messiah, and He was coming to be our forever priest.


Post Comments (91)

91 thoughts on "A Priest Shepherds His People"

  1. Becca Bailey says:

    How wonderful it is to know that it is impossible to be separated from my Savior. Without Him, separation would come all too easily – my heart IS so prone to wander. I could never have been righteous enough on my own. But He is the one who does the keeping, and He has promised that nothing can snatch me out of the Father’s hand. So thankful.

  2. steph says:

    God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you for coming to this world. Thank you for setting up your Kingdom come now! and for receiving us back and drawing us back to you! We are so love sick! Let me bless you today Jesus!

  3. EJR says:

    So great!!! Thanks so much for this devotional today! I have just come home from a Christmas concert where I (and a number of other teachers) had to “herd the flock” so to speak. These are important words and blessings to those who work in the church and in positions of leadership as well! We need constant herding!!! :)

  4. Sara says:

    The condescension of God to even WANT to shepherd our wandering, weak, fearful, frail hearts! What a mercy. I am blown away by the truth that He would go to such great lengths to care for my spiritual posture and shepherd me into His loving protection. I am acutely aware of my weakness and fear today and so thankful that God cares about me in this state to shepherd me! O the deep, deep love of Jesus.

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