Shepherding With Our Grand Creator
“Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing. My soul he refreshes. He leads me in the tracks of righteousness for his name’s sake.”—PSALM 23:1, 3.
1. What loving refreshment does Jehovah provide?
THE 23rd Psalm, “a melody of David,” has brought refreshment to many tired souls. It has encouraged them to have the confidence expressed in Ps 23 verse 6: “Surely goodness and loving-kindness themselves will pursue me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of Jehovah to the length of days.” Is that your desire, to dwell for all time in Jehovah’s house of worship, united with his people who are now being gathered out of all nations of earth? “The shepherd and overseer of your souls,” our Grand Creator, Jehovah God, will help you to achieve that goal.—1 Peter 2:25.
2, 3. (a) How does Jehovah lovingly shepherd his people? (b) How has Jehovah’s “drove” dramatically increased?
2 The Creator of “new heavens and a new earth” is also the Organizer and Supreme Overseer of the Christian congregation, “God’s household.” (2 Peter 3:13; 1 Timothy 3:15) He is deeply interested in shepherding his people, as Isaiah 40:10, 11 clearly states: “Look! The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself will come even as a strong one, and his arm will be ruling for him. Look! His reward is with him, and the wage he pays is before him. Like a shepherd he will shepherd his own drove. With his arm he will collect together the lambs; and in his bosom he will carry them. Those giving suck he will conduct with care.”
3 In an extended sense, this “drove” includes those who have long walked in Christian truth and “lambs” who have been gathered in very recent times—such as the great numbers now being baptized in Africa and Eastern Europe. Jehovah’s strong, protective arm gathers them to his bosom. Though they had been like stray sheep, they have now come into an intimate relationship with their beloved God and Shepherd.
Jehovah’s Associate Shepherd
4, 5. (a) Who is “the fine shepherd,” and how did prophecy point to him? (b) What separating work is Jesus overseeing, with what outstanding result?
4 Serving at the right hand of his Father in heaven, “the fine shepherd,” Jesus Christ, also gives compassionate attention to the “sheep.” He surrendered his life to benefit first the “little flock” of anointed ones and then, today, the great crowd of his “other sheep.” (Luke 12:32; John 10:14, 16) The Great Shepherd, Jehovah God, addresses all these sheep, saying: “Here I am, I myself, and I shall certainly judge . . . between a sheep and a sheep. And I will raise up over them one shepherd, and he must feed them, even my servant David. He himself will feed them, and he himself will become their shepherd. And I myself, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain in the midst of them. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”—Ezekiel 34:20-24.
5 The designation “my servant David” points prophetically to Christ Jesus, the “seed” who inherits David’s throne. (Psalm 89:35, 36) In this day of judgment of the nations, Jehovah’s associate Shepherd and King, Christ Jesus, the Son of David, continues to separate the “sheep” of mankind from those who may claim to be “sheep” but are actually “goats.” (Matthew 25:31-33) This “one shepherd” is raised up also to feed the sheep. What a glorious fulfillment of this prophecy we see today! While politicians talk of uniting mankind through a new world order, the one Shepherd is actually uniting the sheep of all nations through a multilanguage witnessing campaign such as only God’s organization on earth could ever begin to undertake.
6, 7. How has “the faithful and discreet slave” seen to it that “food at the proper time” is made available to the sheep?
6 As the Kingdom message constantly spreads into new territories, “the faithful and discreet slave” of anointed Christians, as commissioned by the one Shepherd, sees to it that every provision is made to send forth “food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45) Many of the 33 printing branches of the Watch Tower Society throughout the earth are stepping up production to meet the accelerating demand for more and better Bible textbooks and magazines.
7 The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is sparing no effort to improve the quality of translation in some 200 languages and to initiate translation in additional languages as needed to cover the entire world field. This is in support of the commission that Jesus gave his disciples at Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” Moreover, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, already printed in whole or in part in 14 languages, is now being translated into 16 other languages of Europe, Africa, and the Orient.
Enjoying “the Peace of God”
8. How have the sheep been richly blessed by the covenant of peace that Jehovah has concluded with them?
8 Through his one Shepherd, Christ Jesus, Jehovah concludes with His well-fed sheep a “covenant of peace.” (Isaiah 54:10) Exercising faith in Jesus’ shed blood, the sheep are enabled to walk in the light. (1 John 1:7) They enjoy ‘the peace of God that excels all thought and that guards their hearts and mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:7) As Ezekiel 34:25-28 goes on to describe, Jehovah shepherds his sheep into a spiritual paradise, a delightful condition of security, refreshing prosperity, and fruitfulness. This loving Shepherd says of his sheep: “They will have to know that I am Jehovah when I break the bars of their yoke and I have delivered them out of the hand of those who had been using them as slaves. And they will no longer become something to plunder for the nations; . . . and they will actually dwell in security, with no one to make them tremble.”
9. What opportunities have been opened to God’s people by the ‘breaking of the bars’?
9 Already, in recent years, Jehovah’s Witnesses in many countries have experienced the breaking of “the bars of their yoke.” They are free to preach as never before. And may all of us, in every land, make good use of the security that Jehovah provides as we press on to get the work accomplished. What reassurance Jehovah gives as we approach the time of the greatest tribulation mankind will ever see!—Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21, 22.
10. Whom has Jehovah provided to assist the Fine Shepherd, Christ Jesus, and how were some of these addressed by the apostle Paul?
10 In preparation for that day of his vengeance against the wicked, Jehovah has provided undershepherds to assist the Fine Shepherd, Christ Jesus, in caring for the flock. These are described at Revelation 1:16 as a complete number of “seven stars” in Jesus’ right hand. In the first century, the apostle Paul addressed a representative body of these undershepherds, saying: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28) Today, there are tens of thousands of undershepherds serving in the 69,558 congregations throughout the earth.
Undershepherds to the Fore!
11. How have some shepherds successfully taken the lead in territories that are frequently covered?
11 In many places these shepherds must take the lead in territories that have been repeatedly covered during these last days. How can they keep the enthusiasm of the flock at a high level? The shepherds have been doing most commendably, and one of the ways in which they have been successful is by stimulating the auxiliary and regular pioneer work. Many shepherds themselves have shared in this service, and even those publishers unable to do so have displayed the pioneer spirit, serving with a joy that helps in overcoming apathy in the territory. (Psalm 100:2; 104:33, 34; Philippians 4:4, 5) Thus, as wickedness and near anarchy engulf the world, many sheeplike people are being awakened to the Kingdom hope.—Matthew 12:18, 21; Romans 15:12.
12. What serious problem exists in rapidly growing fields, and how is this sometimes handled?
12 Another problem is that often there are not enough qualified shepherds to care for the flock. Where there is rapid growth, as in Eastern Europe, there are many new congregations with no appointed elders at all. Willing sheep are shouldering the burden, but they are very inexperienced, and help is needed to train the sheep that are flocking into the congregations. In lands such as Brazil, Mexico, and Zaire, where growth is very rapid, comparatively young Witnesses have to be used in organizing the service and training other new ones. Pioneers are giving splendid help, and here is a field in which sisters can train new sisters. Jehovah by his spirit blesses the results. The increase keeps on coming.—Isaiah 54:2, 3.
13. (a) Since the harvest is so great, for what should all Witnesses pray? (b) How were the prayers of God’s people answered before and during the second world war?
13 In lands where the preaching work is well established, in lands where restrictions have recently been lifted, and in newly opened territories, Jesus’ words at Matthew 9:37, 38 still apply: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” We need to pray, also, that Jehovah will raise up more shepherds. He has demonstrated that he can do this. Before and during World War II, cruel Assyrianlike dictators tried to stamp out Jehovah’s Witnesses. But in answer to their prayers, Jehovah refined their organization, making it truly theocratic, and provided the needed “shepherds.”a This was in line with the prophecy: “As for the Assyrian, when he comes into our land and when he treads upon our dwelling towers, we shall also have to raise up against him seven shepherds, yes, eight dukes of mankind”—even more than a sufficiency of dedicated elders to take the lead.—Micah 5:5.
14. What outstanding need exists in the organization, and what encouragement is given to brothers?
14 There is an outstanding need for all baptized male Witnesses to reach out for further privileges. (1 Timothy 3:1) The situation is urgent. The end of this system approaches fast. Habakkuk 2:3 states: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. . . . It will without fail come true. It will not be late.” Brothers, can you reach out in order to qualify for further privileges in this shepherding work—before the end comes?—Titus 1:6-9.
15. In what way are Jehovah’s people a theocracy?
15 In order to share fully in the expansion of Jehovah’s organization, his people need to be theocratic in their outlook. How can they accomplish this? Well, what is meant by the term “theocratic”? Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines “theocracy” as “the rule of a state by God.” It is in this sense that the “holy nation” of Jehovah’s people is a theocracy. (1 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 33:22) As members or associates of that theocratic nation, true Christians must live and serve in obedience to God’s Word and its principles.
16. How, basically, can we show ourselves to be theocratic?
16 The apostle Paul clearly explains how Christians should be theocratic. First, he says that they “should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” The Christian’s personality must be molded according to God’s righteous principles set forth in his Word. He must be loyal to Jehovah and to His laws. After illustrating how this may be done, Paul urges: “Become imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 4:24–5:1) Like obedient children, we must imitate God. That is true theocracy in action, showing that we are really governed by God!—See also Colossians 3:10, 12-14.
17, 18. (a) What outstanding quality of God do theocratic Christians imitate? (b) In his words to Moses, how did Jehovah stress His primary quality, but what caution did He add?
17 What is the principal quality of God that we should imitate? The apostle John answers at 1 John 4:8 when he says: “God is love.” Eight verses later, in verse 16, he repeats this vital principle: “God is love, and he that remains in love remains in union with God and God remains in union with him.” The Great Shepherd, Jehovah, is the personification of love. Theocratic shepherds imitate him by showing deep love for Jehovah’s sheep.—Compare 1 John 3:16, 18; 4:7-11.
18 The Great Theocrat revealed himself to Moses as “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons and upon grandsons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6, 7) Jehovah thus emphasizes various facets of his outstanding theocratic quality, love, while firmly cautioning that he will punish for error when deserved.
19. In contrast with the Pharisees, how should Christian shepherds act in a theocratic way?
19 For those who have positions of responsibility in the organization, what does it mean to be theocratic? Jesus said of the scribes and the Pharisees of his day: “They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4) How oppressive and unloving! True theocracy, or God-rule, calls for shepherding the flock by applying the Bible’s loving principles, not by burdening the sheep with endless man-made rules. (Compare Matthew 15:1-9.) At the same time, theocratic shepherds must imitate God by adding to their love a firmness for maintaining the purity of the congregation.—Compare Romans 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17.
20. What organizational arrangements do theocratic shepherds recognize?
20 True shepherds recognize that during these last days, Jesus has appointed his faithful and discreet slave over all his belongings and that holy spirit has directed this slave in appointing elders for the shepherding of the sheep. (Matthew 24:3, 47; Acts 20:28) Hence, being theocratic involves having a deep respect for this slave, for the organizational arrangements that the slave has instituted, and for the elder arrangement within the congregation.—Hebrews 13:7, 17.
21. What fine example did Jesus set for undershepherds?
21 Jesus himself set a fine example, looking constantly to Jehovah and His Word for guidance. He said: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30) Undershepherds of the Lord Jesus Christ should cultivate a like humble attitude. If an elder always appeals to God’s Word for direction, as Jesus did, then he is truly theocratic.—Matthew 4:1-11; John 6:38.
22. (a) In what way should all strive to be theocratic? (b) What kindly invitation does Jesus give to the sheep?
22 Baptized males, reach out to qualify for privileges in the congregation! All you dear sheep, aim to be theocratic, imitating God and Christ in showing love! May shepherds and flock alike rejoice because they have answered Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”—Matthew 11:28-30.
a See the Watchtower articles entitled “Organization,” in the issues of June 1 and 15, 1938.
Can You Explain?
◻ What is Jehovah’s “drove,” and whom does it include?
◻ How did Jesus act as “the fine shepherd” in the first century, and today?
◻ What key role do undershepherds play in caring for the flock?
◻ What is the underlying meaning of the word “theocracy”?
◻ How should a Christian—particularly an undershepherd—act in order to be theocratic?
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Like a devoted shepherd, Jehovah cares for his flock
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Imitating Jehovah God’s quality of love is theocracy in action