I, JESUS, AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD: AND BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY
THE words in the title are from John 10:11 and Revelation 22:20. John 10 relates the parable of the Good Shepherd, and Revelation 22:20 at the very end of the Bible, relates to the Second Advent. Jesus himself explains the John 10 parable using the words ‘shepherd’ and ‘sheep’, allegorically representing himself as the Shepherd and the true believers of the gospel of salvation as the sheep. The sheepfold, by definition must represent a safe place. What else but the Kingdom of God?
(1) THE GOOD SHEPHERDS IN SCRIPTURE
In John 10:9 Jesus says:
“I am the door (to the sheepfold) BY ME if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture”.
In verse 14 Jesus says:
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine “.
In verses 26, 27 & 28 He says, speaking at the time to the unbelieving Jews:
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish”.
This tenth chapter of John clearly emphasises the absolute necessity to believe in Jesus the Christ the Son of God and his salvation, and that there is no other way to enter the Kingdom of God. To say, ‘I believe in God,’ is not enough. Without the knowledge and belief in Jesus the Christ the Son of God, all is lost. In verse 30 Jesus also confirms his deity by saying:
“I and my father are one”.
So, our triune God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the three in one, is the blessed Holy Trinity. The allegorical use of the terms shepherd and sheep in the Old Testament is used some sixty times, where the shepherds are often the Israelites' leaders, prophets or priests etc. and the sheep are the Children of Israel. Some references relate to God, as in Psalm 23:1:
“The Lord is my Shepherd”.
In Psalm 80:1 we read:
“Give ear, 0 Shepherd of Israel”.
2 Peter 5:4 states:
“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away”
In Isaiah 63:11 reference is made to Moses as the “shepherd of his (God’s) flock”.
There were of course many good shepherds among the leaders etc. of Israel — Joshua Elijah, David, Daniel, John, Paul to name but a few.
(2) THE FAITHLESS SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL
Sadly, many references to shepherds in scripture are about bad shepherds in Israel. If the term were used today it would refer to churches, education authorities and schools, theological colleges etc. as well as governments and other authorities who control various human activities. Jeremiah states the problem in his day in Chapter 50 verse 6:
“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray...”
Jeremiah’s words are as true today as in his time circa 2600 years ago. But while the actions of many of our governments and other authorities may leave much to be desired, as with any activity that excludes and ignores divine influence or guidance, consideration here is only given to scriptural truths and principles, which are important to us as individuals and as a nation.
The emphasis by Isaiah, Daniel, John, Paul and others in the Bible always follows the religious education and guidance of the people. The prophets were often speaking not only to their own generations, but also to future generations, including ours at this time. Isaiah 9:6 tells us:
“For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and they that are led of them are destroyed”.
Sadly, very true in some cases today. In Isaiah 29:13 we read:
“... and their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men”.
In Jeremiah 23:12 relates a warning from God:
“Woe be unto the pastors (shepherds) that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.”
Ezekiel in part of 34:8-10 tells us:
“....there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock. Therefore, 0 ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; behold, I am against the shepherds: and I will require my flock at their hand...”
Scripture tells us how the tribes of Israel, led by bad shepherds at times, were subjected to deportation and captivity. Not only because of bad shepherding but mainly because of their refusal to obey God’s precepts and statutes. Paul reminds us all in Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death “.
Ever since Adam, the act of sin itself, brings about the death of a man. However, Paul goes on to say in the same verse:
“... but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
Praise be to God!
Thankfully, not all the shepherds of Israel were bad. But it is clear from Scripture, that those shepherds who betrayed their trust and led Israel astray, will be held to account by God. The writer of Hebrews warns us in chapter 10 verse 31:
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.
(3) OUR SHEPHERDS TODAY
There is no doubt that, as in all human activities, there are the good, and the bad. Today, there are many good shepherds trying hard to spread God’s true word by example, by act of support or kindness, by witness, by word of mouth, or by the written word. However, as a cleric told the writer recently, they are finding almost total apathy and indifference plus outright opposition at times. An appalling ignorance exists today concerning God’s truth. People are taught to eat the right food etc. to maintain their bodies and stay alive. But the most important action of feeding the spirit, by learning God’s truth, is largely ignored.
In one way, we are called on to be shepherds when required. As Christians, with God’s help, we are duty bound to love the truth and act righteously and by our deeds and actions give witness and example for God. God has provided redemption for us through Jesus the Christ, but this does not permit us to disobey his laws and precepts. True, we all slip up now and again. The subsequent sense of shame sometimes becomes an overwhelming burden! We let Jesus down too often — we are bad shepherds!
The references in Scripture to the bad shepherds, were applied to those of Israel in the B.C. years, but also apply today. The Israelites — our forefathers — were, we are told, a rebellious people. The Israelites of today — our nation and others — are not any better, if not worse. We have some bad shepherds in our churches and religious authorities at the present time. How can we know the good from the bad? John tells us in I John 4:23:
“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world”.
And in 2 John verse 7:
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
John is referring to the whole gospel of salvation when he says that Jesus is come in the flesh.
A recent survey in England reveals that in one denomination, one third of clergy doubt whether Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, and only about one half believed in the virgin birth! Further, it seems that about a quarter do not accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. No doubt the article will be condemned by religious authorities on various grounds. However, that there is disbelief or doubt concerning various parts of Scripture by some clergy and laity is correct. Probably the larger part of mankind in general are now ignorant concerning the truth of God.
The Apostle John emphasises the revealed truth of the Scripture in his second Epistle. Dr C.I. Scofield D.D. in his introductory note to this Epistle, in his 1917 edition of the Scofield Bible says:
“The Bible, as the only authority for doctrine and life, is the believers’ resource in a time of declension and apostasy“.
Apostasy means the abandonment of religious faith and moral allegiance, particularly in respect of the Gospel of Salvation. Does anyone now doubt that we live in a severely apostatic time?
(4) OUR SHEPHERDS IN THE FUTURE
Next to the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus the Christ, the subject of the Second Advent of Jesus as King is of utmost importance, particularly at this time. Our shepherds must continue to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation to all and sundry, but further, they must also make sure that their respective flocks are taught and acquainted with the Bible’s predictions concerning the most certain return of the Lord Jesus to this world at his Second Advent. Talking about the Children of Israel circa 600 BC Jeremiah in chapter 4:22 says:
“they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge “.
Is not this a description of our country today?
It is generally accepted that the Bible’s reference to the ‘latter days’ often relates to a time of trouble prior to the Second Advent. The current desertion from God and his truth, the predicted apostasy the great tribulation and temptation of Revelation 7:14 and 3:10 (Quotations 6.35 & 6.31 hereafter) are finally with us here and now. The promised return of the Lord Jesus, in view of scriptural evidence and the current turmoil in the world, can no longer be treated as something in the vague future, as has been the case over the centuries. We must act now with urgency and proclaim that this Second Advent is much nearer than this world dreams of!
(5) PAUL'S TEACHING IN II THESSALONIANS 2 CONCERNING THE SECOND ADVENT
Talking about the Second Advent, he tells us in verse 3:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first...”
Dr Scofield tells us in a marginal note that ‘falling away’ refers to ‘the apostasy’. So we can gather that the present apostatic times may well be the the pre-second advent apostasy to which Paul refers. Verse 3 then refers to the man of sin:
“...and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
Both ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’ are two of Satan’s several names. Verse 4 then continues:
“... who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God,, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”.
Here, Paul is saying that Satan’s influence will be so overpowering, that, possibly unconsciously, much of mankind will in effect be worshipping Satan! verses 6 & 7 continue:
“... and now ye know what withholdeth (restraineth) that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work (in Paul’s era): only he who now letteth (hindereth) will let, (hinder) until he be taken out of the way.”
The meaning of these two verses is that Satan has been and is being restrained by God, from using his full evil powers on mankind, (see examples of this in Job 1:12 and 2:6) but that in the latter days this restraint will be removed. All true believers in time and space need not fear, in view of the promises made by Jesus in Matthew 28:20:
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”
See quotation 6:31 hereafter. However, evil doers will have much to fear.
(6) THE SECOND ADVENT OF LORD JESUS THE KING
Jeremiah writing in Lamentations 3:26 says:
“It is a good thing that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord”.
Such salvation will be made manifest by the ‘second birth’ of all Christian believers in Jesus the Christ at his second advent. In John 3:3 Jesus says:
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom, of God”.
Paul, talking about true believers, refers to the same regeneration in I Corinthians 15:51 and part 52:
“... we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Job 19:25 & 26 confirms this:
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
Such salvation is the promise of our faith, the eternal hope of all Christians. Isaiah in his wonderful chapter 40 verse 31 records a small glimpse of our promised new heavenly body:
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”
Most of the following quotations are self explanatory, but numbering and comments have been added in some cases for clarification, The many predicted signs in Scripture relating to the Second Advent are happening today and need to be recognized. One sign that is not given is the time and date. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus states:
(6.1) “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only”. See quotes 6.25 & 6.26.
(6.2).Matthew 24:7. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.
(6.3) Matthew 24:12. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold”.
(6.4) Zechariah 12:3. “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces”. It is interesting to note that all peoples and nations who have governed or occupied Jerusalem have experienced the truth of this prophecy especially over the last hundred years or so.
(6.5) Matthew 24:11. “... many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many”
(6.6) Matthew 24:21. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world”.
(6.7) Matthew 24:14.”... this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; (this has been done) and then shall the end come”.
(6.8) Luke 21:25 and 26. “....there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken”. Quotes 6.2 and 6.8 are being fulfilled now. The reference to the sea and waves roaring’ in 6.8 means nations and peoples being distressed, unsettled and mutinous. The meaning of the word ‘prophet’ in the Bible is applied to exponents as well as seers — Oxford Dictionary.
(6.9) 2 Peter 3:10. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night”. i.e. suddenly and unexpected.
(6.10) Matthew 24:44. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh”.
(6.11) Matthew 24:22. “And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved...” Is it just imagination that the days seem to be going quicker now?
(6.12) Matthew 24:37. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The Son of man in this context is Jesus. The similarity to the flood relates to the unawareness of the people and the sudden nature of the happening.
(6.13) I Thessalonians 5:3. “For when they shall say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them”. The meaning for us today is plain to see, following many attempts to negotiate peace in Northern Ireland, Palestine and India etc. All less than successful.
(6.14) Luke 21:28. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh”
(6.15) 2 Timothy 3:1. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come”. (See verses 2 to 9 also.)
(6.16) Mat. 24:27. “For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (i.e. suddenly)
(6.17) Acts 1:10 & 11. “And while they (the apostles) looked steadfastly toward heaven as he (Jesus) went up, behold two men (angels) stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Quotations 6:16 & 6:17 clearly describe the coming of Jesus which a CHILD would easily understand. In this respect see also quote. 6:27.
(6.18) Hebrews 9:28. “So Christ was once offered (sacrificed) to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation”.
(6.19) 2 Thessalonians 1:7. “... when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels”.
(6.20) Romans 13:11 & 12 “... it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light”.
(6.21) Hebrews 10:37. “For yet a little while, and he (Jesus) that shall come will come, and will not tarry”.
(6.22) Luke 21:36. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Jesus)”.
(6.23) Mark 13:33. “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is”. (i.e. the time of the Second Advent
(6.24) Luke 19:13. “... occupy (work) till I come”. Quotations 6.22,6.23 and 6.24 instruct us NOW to work, watch (for Christ’s coming) and pray. One would be very foolish to forget or ignore this admonition at the present time.
(6.25) Matthew 24:20. “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:”
(6.26) Zechariah 14:8. “... in summer and in winter shall it be”. Further to Matthew 24:36 (quote 6.1) it could be that the Bible has nevertheless given us some information as to the timing of the return of the Lord in glory. Does Matthew in chapter 24:20 (quote 6.25) advise us that such return will not be in winter or on the Sabbath day? which incidentally, is according to the Bible, not Sunday but Saturday. Again in Zechariah 14:1:8 (see quote 6.26) in a summary of events at the return of our Lord, we have the statement at the end of verse 8. as above ‘in summer and in winter shall it be’. Does this mean Autumn? It seems the most likely answer.
(6.27) Mark 10:15. “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein”. This surely cannot mean - unless we receive the kingdom of God, or the gospel of salvation, as a small child, that it is too late after childhood, i.e. as adults. The gospel is available to all at any age. No, this quotation has a deeper meaning. A child, in the early years of life, depends on the mother and usually accepts the mother’s word implicitly. The child is biased in the mother’s favour. Bias today is usually considered to be undesirable prejudice. But bias in a benevolent and true scenario surely cannot be wrong? Bias in favour of truth and honesty etc. can enable and even persuade an individual to take in and accept the gospel of salvation, recognizing truth. Jesus was saying in this last quote that we, believing the gospel, must do so as a small child would believe the mother.
(6.28) Nahum 1:3. “The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and (but) will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind (i.e. the tornado or hurricane) and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet”.
(6.29) Ephesians 6:17. “... and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God”. (See quotes. 6.13 and 6.46)
(6.30) I Samuel 17:47. “And all this assembly (Israelites & Philistines) shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear:”. This was when David fought with Goliath.
(6.31) Revelation 3:10. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”.
(6.32) Psalm 19:13 “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression”.
(6.33) Matthew 24:30. “... and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven”. At present, we do not know what this sign will be. Thus the admonition of quote. 6.14.
(6.34) Jeremiah 30:7. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble, but he shall be saved out of it”.
(6.35) Revelation 7:14.“These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Paul’s prediction (Part 5 above) in 2 Thessalonians about the ‘falling away,’ that is unrestrained sin in the world, just before the Second Advent, is referred to in quotes 6.31, 6.32, 6.34,6.35 and 6.5 as the ‘hour of temptation’, ‘the great transgression’, ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ and ‘the great tribulation’. ‘Presumptuous sins’ in quote 6.32 means being arrogant in desiring or embracing sin without any shame. The fate of such is clearly stated in quotes. 6.42 and 6.43 and 6.44.
(6.36) Amos 5:14 & part 15. “Seek good and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of Hosts, shall be with you ... Hate the evil and love the good”.
(6.37) Acts 2:19:21. “And I will show wonders in the heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”.
(6.38) Isaiah 26:20:21. “Come, my people (Israel), enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be past. For, behold, the Lord cometh to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity:”
(6.39) Ezekiel 39:6. “And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly In the Isles...” There is reason to believe from Scripture that ‘Isles’ here refers to the British Isles, and to the ‘wilderness’ of Revelation 12:6. In the 16th Century when our Authorized Version of the Bible was produced, the meaning of ‘carelessly’ was free from worry, quiet and secure. (see Judges 18:17) Today the meaning has altered to ‘neglectful and thoughtless’. In this context it means having no care or wish to follow God’s truth. The quotation does not appear to make sense with the original meaning of carelessly, but is quite comprehensible with today’s meaning. To commit sin, is to dwell carelessly rejecting the truth.
(6.40) Obadiah verse 15. “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head”.
(6.41) 2 Thessalonians 2:8. “And then shall that wicked one (Satan) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth (God’s Word), and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming”.
(6.42) Isaiah 13:11:12. “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious (rare) than fine gold: even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir”. The golden wedge of Ophir must have been a unique treasure of the time. The analogy here is that the population of the earth will be much reduced following the removal of evil doers!
(6.43) Amos 9:10. “all the sinners of my people (Israelites) shall die by the sword, which say, the evil shall not overtake nor prevent us!”
(6.44) Proverbs 2:22. “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it”.
(6.45) Isaiah 11:4. “... and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
(6.46) Revelation 19:15. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron”.
(6.47) Hosea 11:9. “I am God not man”. It is necessary to clearly understand this last quotation. In quote 6.30. David recognizes this when confronting Goliath by saying ‘the Lord saveth not with sword or spear’. We do tend to presume that the Lord at his Second Advent will act similarly to mankind, which is absolutely incorrect. The words ‘sword’, ‘vengeance’, ‘fury’ ‘anger’ and ‘punish’ etc. used by God in the Bible, in respect of his own proposed actions at his Advent, are used in a strongly rhetorical sense, in order to convey a firm unequivocal meaning in terms understood by and familiar to mankind. The sudden appearing of our Lord in the heavens with his mighty angelic host, will have a most profound effect on everyone in the whole world. For the true believers, great joy and godly fear, which means, reverential trust, piety and a hatred of evil. For evil doers, well, for many, removal from the earth and perhaps for some, a sudden reluctance to do and to continue in evil ways. After all, God has infinite mercy. Mankind hardly knows the meaning of the word in comparison. But, make no mistake, God will remove evil from the earth, justice is paramount and we have been warned over several thousand years to refrain from sin.
(6.48) Mark 8:36. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”.
This quotation expresses SUPREME LOGIC.
(6.49) Revelation 22:20. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”.
Many more references exist in the Bible. With all the evidence above and elsewhere in the Bible related to present day happenings, there can be little doubt that the Lord Jesus is about to return to this ungrateful sin stricken world. We do not know when, be it next week or whenever. But we are instructed to be ready. We have been told that he will return in like manner as he went up into heaven at the end of his First Advent, that is visible and personal. But this time in great glory with millions of angels. He will rescue this otherwise doomed world and eliminate evil. Can anybody possibly object? Man’s inhumanity to man is to stop, once and for all.
Finally let us all remember that the blessed Gospel of Salvation, is not simply a message to be heard, but, with God’s help it is also a deed to be done. A performance, a responsibility, a life to be lived wholesomely. We must strive to be of a pure character, with strong faith, walking in holiness, in prayerfulness and humility. We and our shepherds, need to carry on in spite of the evil round about us. There is our work to be done and without God’s support we are helpless. With his salvation and support, Paul tells us in Romans 8:37:
“We are more than conquerors through him that loved us”
Back To Archive Contents