Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Story of God

How would you tell the story of scripture in 20 segments? In Bible College I had to tell the story of scripture in 1200 words which was a beautiful challenge which helped lay the foundation for this in depth seminary study. I hope you're encouraged. If you have the time, watching the Bible Projects' explanation for each of the Bible books listed in my "Key Scriptures," would be fruitful. 

Title 1: Everything We See (and beyond!)

Key Scriptures: Genesis 1 & 2.

Main Characters: God. Adam & Eve.

Themes: Creation. Life. Relationships. Purpose.

Overview: God, the main character of Scripture is introduced who creates more and more complex creatures for the purpose of relationship. He creates humans in the masculine and feminine image of God as sub-creators tasked with subduing and cultivating the wild world outside the garden. We learn that loneliness is the first ‘not-good’ thing to exist as humanity was created for both vertical and horizontal relationships. Creation climaxes in Sabbath, God’s ultimate intention for his image bearers.

Why it Matters: We may not know the ‘when’ question of when creation happened exactly, but we know the ‘why’. Creation exists to glorify God. Humanity is given its mission and purpose. We learn that matter matters to God as he declares that all he has made is good.

Title 2: Broken Relationships

Key Scriptures: Genesis 3.

Main Characters: God. Adam, Eve & a crafty serpent.

Themes: Rejection. Autonomy. Death. Future Hope.

Overview: A crafty serpent appears and presents Creator God as withholding good things from his image bearers. Eve buys into this lie with willful commission. Adam is culpable with complacent omission. Sin brought shame, blame, broken relationships, spiritual death and loss of freedom. Things look bleak, but help is on the way.

Why it Matters: Humanity buys into the distortion that they would be like God, when they already were. Humans will now continually try to earn an identity which is already given to them in Christ. Broken relationship with the source of all life leads to death. Atonement through the sacrificial system is foreshadowed with the death of an animal to cover their nakedness and sin. The proto-eunangelion introduced of a future ‘offspring’ that will redeem humanity by crushing the crafty serpent’s head. The divine rescue mission is launched. 

Title 3: Flushed Away

Key Scriptures: Genesis 6-8.

Main Characters: God. Wicked ‘Man’. Noah & his Family.

Themes: God Sees. God Saves. God Judges.

Overview: Wicked humanity heads further and further east from the Garden. Humanity’s numbers increase, filling the earth; but they desire to do life on their own terms. Humanity becomes increasingly violent. Gods heart breaks. He selects a remnant to start over with. Noah is trusted to build an ark which he faithfully does despite opposition. God draws his good creation into the boat and sends a cleansing rain. 

Why it Matters: We see the seriousness of sin and God’s response to human choices. We see God’s heart break in response to his creation pursuing created things over himself as creator. Despite humanity’s increasingly broken relationship with their Creator, his heart still pursues and desires to redeem them. He rebuilds with a remnant. 

Title 4: A New Family

Key Scriptures: Genesis 12:1-4; 15:1-6; 17:1-14; 21:1-7; 22; 27:18-30. 

Main Characters: God. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Themes: Patriarchs. Nations. Divine Mission. Covenant. Faith. Family. Dysfunction.

Overview: God calls Abraham west, out of the land of his father and back towards Eden. God promises him a great family and from it comes some painful dysfunction. The story moves forward through his son and shady grandson.  

Why it Matters: God again focuses on a singular family to bless the nations. We see the faithful trust in YHWH in every element of Abraham’s life. The sacrificial system of substitutionary atonement is foreshadowed through Isaac, which would be ultimately fulfilled by the ‘crusher of the serpents head’ in Jesus. We see that human brokenness and failure revealed in Jacob’s life won’t thwart God’s rescue plans.

Title 5: Off to Egypt

Key Scriptures: Genesis 37, 39, 41, 46:1-7, 47:1-6, 50:19-21.

Main Characters: God. Jacob, Joseph and his brothers. Potiphar, Prisoners and Pharaoh. 

Themes: Dreams. Pride. Prison. Famine. Salvation. Impending Slavery. 

Overview: Smooth Jacob favors one son across his four marriages. Gifted and prideful Joseph is rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt where he rises to power after an unfortunate series of events. What his brothers intended for evil, God used for good to spare Joseph’s family and beyond.

Why it Matters: We begin to see God’s covenant to Abraham (blessed to be a blessing) fulfilled as Joseph saves the surrounding nations from starvation at the cost of all their money and land. We see how God’s covenant family arrived to Egypt and the reasons leading up to their enslavement.

Title 6: Time to Leave

Key Scriptures: Exodus 1:1-8; 2; 3; 4; 12.

Main Characters: God. Pharaoh. Israel. Moses. Aaron.

Themes: Fruitful Israel. Slavery. God Remembers. God will be Known. Passover. Salvation through a Mediator.

Overview: God’s promises of descendants to Abraham leads to the fear-filled enslavement of Israel by a ruler who didn’t remember Joseph. God remembers his people and spares a child from death at the hand of an Egyptian princess. This child receives the best education and upbringing before discovering who he is and fleeing to the desert. He gets married, starts a family and spends 40 years in the desert before God gives him the call and equipping of a lifetime. He will lead Israel back to Sinai for the purpose of worship at the Eden like mountain, but Pharaoh’s heart is hardened. The plurality of gods Pharaoh serves come under judgement of the one living God. It takes the death of his son and future heir to throne to let God’s people go.

Why it Matters: Despite slavery, God is still blessing his people. In opposition to Pharaoh, he remembers his people and promise, guiding them to freedom. He is the supreme leader of the universe and will be feared as such. God, through his actions in concrete time and space will be known. Pharaoh, the most wicked character in the Bible to this point, was raised up to be publicly crushed.  The Levitical system and “Kingdom of Priests,” is foreshadowed by the Passover event where members of each family become a ‘priest for a day’. The Passover lamb points to a greater Lamb that would make atonement once and for all.

Title 7: The God Who Split the Sea

Key Scriptures: Exodus 14.

Main Characters: God. Moses. Israel. Pharaoh. 

Themes: Fear. Power. Deliverance. Belief.

Overview: After experiencing the deliverance of the Lord from Egypt, the Israelites stand terrifyingly trapped next to the Red Sea. Israel longs to head back to the familiar captivity of Egypt. Moses assures the people that they will never see the approaching army again. Israel is spared and Pharaoh’s destruction is complete. Israel experienced the great power of God and put their trust in Him, and his mediator, Moses.

Why it Matters: The event witnessed by all Israel is a catalyzing and faith-building moment. God delivers a divine crushing of the chaos sea monster symbolized by Pharaoh. Passing through the waters of death to new life foreshadows the rite of baptism as the believer passes from death to life.

Title 8: The God Who Desires to Be Known

Key Scriptures: Exodus 19 & 20.

Main Characters: God. Moses.

Themes: Law. Divine Community. Relational Expectations.

Overview: The God who rescued and redeemed Israel provides a clear way for his chosen people to respond. God gives Moses the 10 Words. Moses is the Mediator of God’s Law. The first three laws are about Israel’s vertical relationship with God. The next seven are about Israel’s horizontal relationship with each other. Following these 10 Commandments will lead to blessing and life. The people will need to choose life. 

Why it Matters: Before God gave Israel the Law through Moses, he rescued them. Their response to this rescuing should be one of profound thankfulness expressed through the keeping of these relational expectations. It’s not our works that save us, but God’s saving requires a response. The people learn how to correctly approach God in the way he desires. 

Title 9: Land Ho!

Key Scriptures: Numbers 13; 14:20-25. Joshua 3.

Main Characters: God. Moses. Joshua. Israel.

Themes: Land. Gift Rejected. Fear. Rebellion. Judgement. Vindication.

Overview: 12 spies are sent to scope out the Promised Land, but succumb to circumstance-based fear. The nation rebels and is forced to die outside the Promised Land. After 40 years, Joshua leads the people into the land their forefathers rejected by fear. 

Why it Matters: God promised land to Abraham for his descendants to be able to freely worship him. They were blessed to be a blessing and were to be a visible example of what it meant to live under YHWH.

Title 10: Who’s in Charge Around Here?

Key Scriptures: Judges 1 & 2; 21:25.

Main Characters: God. “The People of Israel.” Joshua (in retrospect). The Judges. 

Themes: Judges. Failure. Faithlessness. Momentary Respite. Disobedience. Death.

Overview: The Israelites failed to take all the land God had promised to them and they suffered the consequences. Joshua, for all his faithful love of God, failed to train his replacement as Moses had done for him and left Israel without a clear shepherd. God would raise up a Judge, Israel would briefly follow God, the Judge would die, and Israel would fall away in repeated cycles.

Why it Matters: Without clear leadership, people will do whatever seems right to them. These moments set the stage for the age of kings in Israel.

Title 11: Thus, Sayeth the Lord: Rise of the Prophets

Key Scriptures: 1st Samuel 3; 8; 16.

Main Characters: God. Eli. Samuel. Saul. David.

Themes: Last Judge, first Prophet. King Maker. Kings. 

Overview: The Lord calls Samuel while under the tutelage of Eli who no longer heard the voice of the Lord. Little did the priest know that he was preparing a prophet. Prophets rose in direct response to the demand from the people of Israel to have a king like their neighbors. The prophet was tasked with reminding the King (as well as Israel) of her history and need for covenant loyalty, as well as speaking direct words from the Lord. Saul was chosen as the first king, but was subsequently rejected in favor of the faithful shepherd David.

Why it Matters: Prophets would play a tremendous role in the shaping of Israel’s conscious response to God. They would call kings out for both hidden and overt sin while reminding Israel of God’s relational expectations in the covenants and coming judgement if they failed to do so. 

Title 12: The Impact of the Kings

Key Scriptures: 2nd Samuel 7. 1st Kings 3; 1st Kings 16:25-33; 1st Kings 19. Psalm 2. Proverbs 3

Main Characters: God. David, Nathan, Solomon, Omri, Ahab, Jezebel, Elijah and Elisha.

Themes: Covenant. Kings. Faithfulness. Wisdom. Apostasy. God’s Response.  

Overview: King David desires to build a house for the Lord, but God wants to build him an eternal house. David’s son asks the Lord for wisdom to rule to the benefit of God’s people and construction of God’s Temple. Because of Solomon’s marriage alliances, idolatry of all kinds is introduced into Israel and the kingdom splits in two. In contrast to David and Solomon, Omri and Ahab fully embrace rampant idolatry to the expense of the covenant. God raises the most powerful prophets in Israel: Elijah and Elisha. In a symbolic way, these two represented the Temple-like presence of God to the Northern Kingdom, who were physically separated from the Temple at this point. 

Why it Matters: God has covenanted with David to have a king seated on his throne forever. A good king ensured the health and vitality of Israel. Jesus is that good king who rules with a greater wisdom than Solomon ever possessed on David’s throne. Despite Israel’s gross unfaithfulness, God is faithful to himself and his promises.

Title 13: The Point of No Return

Key Scriptures: 2nd Kings 17; 25.

Main Characters: Hoshea. Shalmaneser. Zedekiah. Nebuchadnezzar.

Themes: Prophets Ignored. Rampant Idolatry. Northern Exile. Southern Exile.

Overview: The long-threatened removal of Israel from God’s land by the prophets comes to pass. We see the Old Testament ABC’s in succession with Assyria (721 BC), Babylon (586 BC) and Cyrus (538 BC). Israel’s king, Hoshea, did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. Israel rejected the covenants and statutes of YHWH by consistently pursuing perverse idolatry. Judah fared slightly better but was exiled shortly after the northern kingdom as well. The book ends on a hopeful note with Jewish King Jehoiachin being freed from prison and given a seat at Evil-Merodach’s table. 

Why it Matters: With the destruction of the Temple, had God abandoned his covenant promises to Abraham, Moses and David? Had he left Israel forever, never to return? 586 BC is the single most devastating year in Israel’s existence. 

Title 14: Out of Exile

Key Scriptures: Ezra 1; 3. Nehemiah 6.

Main Characters: Cyrus. Ezra. Zerubbabel. Jeshua. Nehemiah. Sanballat. Geshem.

Themes: Return from Exile. Rebuilding. Covenant Renewed. 

Overview: Cyrus frees the exiles in 538 BC to return to their homes and provides for them financially to rebuild their temple. The Temple was completed in 516 (70 years after its destruction to allow the land to rest) and sacrifices recommenced under Ezra’s leadership. The young rejoice at the completion of the temple, but the elders mourn, remembering the former glory of the dwelling place. God was no longer there. Despite adversity, Nehemiah completes the wall around Jerusalem in approximately 444 BC. 

Why it Matters: God hadn’t abandoned his people or covenant, but things had changed in second Temple Judaism. His presence and glory no longer occupied the Temple anticipating a coming restoration. What would become of Israel? The silence of God’s revelation foreshadowed a coming day when Messiah would enter Israel’s story…

Title 15: Return of the King

Key Scriptures: Matthew 1-2. 

Main Characters: God. God the Son, Mary, Joseph, Wise Men and Herod. 

Themes: Lineage. Gentile Inclusion. Royal Birth.

Overview: Matthew presents Jesus as the long promised eternal King in the line of David (2nd Samuel 7) and son of Abraham. Like David, the true anointed King was born in Bethlehem while the opposing king reigned from Jerusalem (Saul and Herod). The Gentiles in the line of Jesus showed that this savior was one for all nations, fulfilling the promises made to Abraham in Genesis. The treasures taken from the temple were being symbolically (perhaps literally?) returned to baby Jesus by wise foreign kings. Like King David, the ruling king of Jesus’ day, Herod, attempted to crush his opposition by violence, but was soon dead. 

Why it Matters: Israel’s long-awaited King and Savior is Born. God’s glory had entered once more into Jerusalem. The culmination of the promises made to God’s people across all time was now living and breathing in Palestine. 

Title 16: The King’s Life: Jesus the Greater Everything

Key Scriptures: Luke 2:52; 4; 5:1-11. 

Main Characters: God. God the Son. The satan. Simon and the Disciples. 

Themes: Growth. Wilderness. Fulfillment. Authority. Mission and Ministry. 

Overview: As Jesus grew, so did his favor both vertically and horizontally. He was the greater Israelite, Moses, prophet, priest and beyond who resisted temptation in the wilderness. Jesus is the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:10) who proclaims the Lord’s favor. Jesus came to proclaim good news, set the captives free from disease and spiritual alienation. Jesus is the long anticipated, but rejected, messiah fulfilling the words of Isaiah. He lived and moved with total authority calling a new Israel to himself by gathering disciples.  

Why it Matters: Jesus fulfills and restores Israel to her original mission in continuity with all of God’s promises to his people. He did what Israel could not do on her own. He is the greater priest, prophet and King.

Title 17: The Kings Death: A Glorious New Beginning

Key Scriptures: Mark 15. John 20. Luke 24.

Main Characters: God. Pilate. God the Son. Mary Magdalene and Mary Jesus’ mother. Joseph of Arimathea.  ‘The Disciples’ and Thomas.

Themes: Crucifixion. Death. Burial. Resurrection. Mission. Commission. Ascension.

Overview: The innocent Jesus is handed over to Pilate out of envy by the religious leaders of his day. The sinless savior dies and is laid in a tomb for three days. He raises on the first day of the week where he is mistaken as a gardener. He appears to his students on the road to Emmaus and unpacks all the scriptures, showing how Israel’s savior had to suffer and rise again as he did. The divine gardener is cultivating the creation he spoke into being and commissions his students to follow him to ends of the earth. He did more signs and wonders than any book could contain, and they were recorded so that we would choose life. His earthly ministry being completed, he returns back to God the Father.

Why it Matters: If Easter didn’t occur, Christmas wouldn’t matter. Jesus fulfills all the promises made to a wayward people as the climax of God’s redemptive rescue plan inaugurated in Genesis 3. The kingdom is now, but not yet. A second week of creation has been started so to speak, where Jesus’ students are commissioned to be a blessing to the nations by proclaiming that the crucified and risen Christ is the true King of the Universe. They’re to live as their teacher did.

Title 18: Birth of the Church

Key Scriptures: Acts 2

Main Characters: God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. Peter and the 11 Disciples. Israel.

Themes: Empowered for Mission. New Community. 

Overview: God the Holy Spirit comes and fills his people, connecting them to the ascended Christ to fulfill the mission of God the Father. Peter boldly preaches and 3,000 people are saved. The fledgling group of Jesus followers can’t get enough of this message. Having their deepest spiritual needs met, they freely share their physical possessions.

Why it Matters: The Holy Spirit enables God’s people to live out God’s mission in community with one another. 

Title 19: Persecutor to Promoter

Key Scriptures: Acts 9. Romans 1:1-16

Main Characters: Saul/Paul. Ananias.

Themes: Persecution. Spiritual Blindness. Transformation.

Overview: Saul has a radical encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. After being healed by a fearful Ananias, he’s integrated into the New Israel as an Apostle. He unashamedly professes Christ to the ends of the earth.

Why it Matters: Saul/Paul shapes the fledgling Church through persecution and terror. After his conversion he becomes the missionary par excellence and a prolific writer, encouraging, instructing and rebuking individuals and groups. 

Title 20: The Death of Death: All things Made New

Key Scriptures: Revelation 19:6-9; 21.

Main Characters: God. John. The Bride. The Lamb.

Themes: Divine Wedding. Divine Feast. Eschatological Shalom. Eternal 7th day Sabbath.

Overview: Heaven merges with earth and all mourning, crying and pain is eliminated. There’s no more need for a sun or temple, as God will be its light and salvation. God’s dwelling will be among humanity, comforting his people. 

Why it Matters: In the beginning humanity shared a snack with the crafty serpent. Now, the serpent and its followers are judged and the faithful share a feast with King Jesus. The righteous are vindicated and everything is healed, whole and made complete. The telos of creation has reached its climax and is restored.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

April to May

 A tremendous amount of life has taken place in the last 30 days. Too much to write about so this one will be a photo blog...

April 24th Performed a wedding for a childhood friend of 24 years in Boise while Lauren sang.

Breakfast (then church the next day) with the Hulen's who recently moved from Sequim in Boise

Anne Frank Memorial, Boise

Boise Rose Garden (w/o roses haha)

Flew to Tampa April 25th for a funeral and to visit family.

Sun City Center sunset from what my niece calls "dumb-beach" as it doesn't have any seashells :)

Florida is amazing. We played like children at Adventure Island Water Park.

The April 30th funeral was in Cocoa Beach, a special place for the family. Here's Ron Jon's Surf Shop

Cocoa Beach sunrise with my amazing wife May 2nd

Went to a gator reserve later that night... you couldn't have paid me a $1000 to walk into that field

"Oh hai thurr friendly bald man!"

"Jump on in the waters fine... I'm not actually 12 feet long"

This stranger really cracked me up landing at Seatac May 3rd. I declined, but not before sending a screenshot to Lauren :)

First day back home. Oregon waterfall near the house May 4th with Thomas Winfield. Had a series of crazy interactions that just fell into place. Prayed for and began planning a trip to Guatemala

Don't look down

May 6th getting ready for Cohort at McMenamins Edgefield with a few classmates from out of state

My first 'in-person' Cohort class at Western ever on May 7th. A year in the making. Truly a joyous day

Peninsula Bible Fellowship 'Boats and Bonfires' May 14th event at Island Lake Camp w/ Donn's 

Lucy's 1st Bday Party on May 15th

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Biblical Theology of Shepherding


Shepherding. Shepherding is a key word throughout the Old Testament scriptures Jesus used and the full 66 book Protestant canon we have today. In this assignment, I will survey the usage of ‘shepherding’ within this Protestant canon, tracing the words development chronologically across the covenants which culminate in Jesus, the ultimate shepherd. 91 of the 167 times shepherding occurs in the Old Testament it appears as רעה (‘ra’ah’) so I will focus on this word. 17 of the 23 shepherding occurrences in the New Testament appear as ποιμήν (‘poimen’) and four times as ποιμαίνω (‘poimano’). We will also explore ποιμαίνω which shows up in 1st Pet., Jude and Rev. taking us to the end of the Biblical account. As a pastor, the development of these Greek and Hebrew words are of special interest to me.

Adamic to Noahic Covenant

Gen. 4:1-12 contains the first references of shepherding in the story of Scripture. Adam and Eve had just been exiled from the Garden and their family was expanding. Abel was a keeper of literal sheep who ended up being killed by his older brother Cain out of jealousy. Here we see a good shepherd of sheep who offered YHWH a good sacrifice, being killed out of jealousy by his brother. The blood of righteous Abel (Matt. 23:35) cried out from the ground. In verse 9 Cain asks the Lord if he was his ‘brothers keeper’ as a kind of metaphorical anti-shepherd who didn’t watch over his family flock. 

How it Comes Together

In this section we see a further foreshadowing of the Levitical sacrificial system (the first potentially being Gen. 3:21 with animal garments being made) as well as the first (righteous) shepherd in scripture who was killed out of religious jealousy. This downward spiral from humanity is what ultimately led to the flood in the days of Noah (Gen. 7) anticipating better shepherds.  

Abrahamic to Mosaic Covenant

In Gen. 13 Abram, who was blessed to be a blessing was a wealthy shepherd and overseer of herdsman (Gen. 13:7) who sought the flourishing of his animals and people. Although the word shepherd isn’t explicitly mentioned here, it’s foundational to this coming section.

Gen. 29:1-10 Abraham’s grandson and shepherd Jacob helps provide water for Laban’s sheep who were being watched over by the shepherdess Rachel. A good shepherd watches over and provides for their sheep. In this case, the sheep received life giving water in a dry desert. Gen. 31:38-40 highlights the attributes of a good shepherd who watches over his flock. Jacob stood with his sheep in the heat, cold, sunshine and rain. He guarded them against predators and looked out for their wellbeing. A good shepherd could be seen as a person putting the needs of their flock above their own.

In Gen. 48:15 a somewhat startling development takes place. YHWH is described as “my shepherd all my life long to this day.” Here we see a dying Jacob, who was a good shepherd (not the most moral person or good parent) bless Joseph and refer to himself as a metaphorical sheep in the fold of YHWH. God was his good shepherd and guide. God provided for his every need and watched over him night and day like he had done for his physical sheep. This very statement deepens our understanding of God who provides for the needs of his flock. In Gen. 49:24 God is further associated as a mighty Shepherd and ‘Stone of Israel’. 

Exod. 2:16-3:1 presents Jethro’s daughters as shepherdess’s, providing for and watering their flock. Bad shepherds had interfered with and hindered their work until Moses entered the frame. He rescued the women and sheep from potential danger, assisting them in their acquisition of water. The shepherd Moses saved (2:17) the flock by driving the wicked away at the risk of his life like Jacob had. While on Horeb tending sheep (3:1), God gives him the mission of a lifetime as an 80-year-old. God is said to have led his people out of Egypt like a Shepherd in Ps. 78:52. A shepherd leads and guides.

Num. 32:16 presents shepherds who build sheepfolds for their creatures to safely dwell in. This is in contrast to a ‘free range’ method where livestock could experience greater danger out in the open. These sheep were protected by good shepherds who gave them boundaries to live their lives from.

How it Comes Together

From these scriptures we see the development of ‘shepherd’ in terms of sacrifice, provision, protection and even personal experience in Jacob’s case. Like a type of good shepherd who is willing to lay down their comfort and safety for their sheep, God is the Shepherd of Jacob. As a metaphorical sheep, Jacob (Israel) is guided and led by the one who protects and loves him. We see the concept of shepherding develop beyond physical sheep but to individual people in the folds of God. God himself is Israel’s shepherd, watching over his people.  

Davidic Covenant to the Foretold New Covenant

2 Sam. 5:2 presents the anointed King David as a metaphorical shepherd and prince over the nation Israel. Having been a literal shepherd of sheep from his youth, David learned what it meant to oppose ferocious wild animals (and a giant) to protect himself and his flock. Young David embodied the good shepherding Jacob had performed with greater moral excellence (to this point) included as well as the crossover leadership experience from physical sheep to metaphorical ones like Moses had. King David would be guided and shepherded by God who would in turn do the same for the nation of Israel. In Ps. 23 King David refers to YHWH as his shepherd who provides him with water, protection and food. When a physical sheep has received food, water and protection it can lay down and rest. All its needs are provided for and it feels the great safety the shepherd gives. David as YHWH’s sheep knows this full well, resting in his savior’s arms. He will dwell in the folds of YHWH forever.   

Downward Spiral

After years of increasingly horrific shepherd-kings, Israel’s outlook is bleak. At a very low point in Israel’s history, the prophet Isaiah presents God as a conquering king, loving provider, and a gentle shepherd in Isa. 40:11. YHWH himself will gather the exiles into his very arms! This would have been a shot of hope to those caught up in Babylonian captivity, knowing that despite their sin, they hadn’t been abandoned. In a provocative turn of events, the gentile King Cyrus is classified as a shepherd used by God to fulfill his purposes to set Israel free. Israel will rebuild the temple under the blessing of God’s chosen servant who will serve YHWH’s purposes for his scattered sheep. Cyrus stands as an indictment to the corrupt shepherds of Israel in 56:11 who are blind, greedy and without wisdom, knowledge or understanding. God’s good purposes to shepherd his people won’t be thwarted just because the elect are obstinate. His will, will be achieved. In contrast to Isaiah’s broken ‘servant leaders’, Jeremiah foresees the day in 3:15 that Godly shepherds after Gods heart will feed the people with wisdom and knowledge. This will lead to their flourishing and the ‘sheep-like gathering’ of the nations to Jerusalem. That day hadn’t dawned yet. In Jer. 23:1, “woe,” is pronounced on these shepherds who continually scatter and destroy what God desires to love and protect. He saw the coming day in 31:10 when the God who scattered his people would gather them again all by himself. In a particularly devastating indictment, God through the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 34 blasted these shepherds of Israel who preyed on the sheep they were to lovingly provide for. The weak weren’t protected. The sick weren’t healed. The injured remained unbound and the strayed sheep were not sought after. Without a good shepherd they were lost (Zech. 10:2). God declared in Zech. 13:7 that his very hand was against these pseudo-shepherds. What would become of God’s sad sheep?  

How it Comes Together

The understanding of shepherding in this section moves from God as the shepherd of his people to selecting a representative king to fill this role. God is becoming increasingly intimate and personal with his people. God would shepherd the king while the king would shepherd the people. Israel’s success and failure was largely tethered to the character and integrity of the civic leaders over them. We see that God isn’t limited to the proverbial sheep of his fold and can in fact use whomever he chooses to guide his people (Cyrus). After the sustained shortcomings of Israel’s shepherds, God declares that he will rescue his people himself for the sake of his glory and those chosen sheep in his fold.  

The New Testament (Covenant)

Hundreds of years after the oracles of God’s prophets and the closing of the Old Testament, the thematic climax of ‘shepherd’ across scriptures reaches its pinnacle; Immanuel enters the scene. Jesus came to do what no civic leader or king fully could; perfectly shepherd his people with total wisdom and complete love. Harkening back to the laments of the prophets, Jesus was moved with compassion for the crowds of people, who in Mark 9:36 “were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd.” He fulfilled the words of Mic. 5:4 that the messiah would shepherd the flock of Israel. Jesus himself locates good shepherding within his very person and work. John 10:1-18 presents Jesus as shepherd in the most explicit terms. He is the good shepherd who doesn’t prey on the sheep but lays down his life for them (10:11). He is the shepherd who protects and controls the gate into the sheepfold, knowing and calling the names of each individual sheep. In Matt. 26:31 he foresaw (based on Zech. 13:7) that as a shepherd he would be struck down and his sheep  (disciples) would be scattered, but this would be for their future benefit. 

How it Comes Together: The Gospel 

In Jesus, God himself would fulfill the role of good shepherd by protecting and providing for the flock. He would be the better sacrifice than Abel could give, who’s bloody death would perfectly atone for his people’s sins once and for all. This is tremendously good news! Like Jacob, he would tarry night and day recognizing that the Father God was with him even on the darkest of nights in the garden. Like Abraham, he would stand as the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) above all other under-shepherds asking them to participate in his sufferings. Like Moses, despite opposition his sheep would receive life giving water in a dry and weary place where survival held together by a mere thread. Jesus was the better ruler and wiser representative shepherd-king over Israel like David attempted to be and Solomon failed at. Jesus was the long-promised provision the prophets foresaw for God’s people. He was God’s answer to our repeated failures. What a sheep couldn’t provide for itself, God would do through the completed work of the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20) who himself was sacrificed on behalf of, and in the place of we, his sheep.    

The Church

The mission of Jesus would now continue on through his Church. Paul exhorts the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20:28 who were empowered by the Holy Spirit to shepherd, to pay attention to right teaching for themselves and their flock. In Eph. 4:11 Paul unpacks how the new Israel and recently Spirit-powered leaders were to work together for the building up of the body. These Spirit filled shepherds were commissioned to do their part in the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. Unlike the wicked shepherds in Ezek. 34, these shepherds were to follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, doing all that he did and teaching others to do likewise. This wasn’t to be a privileged position within the body, but one that sought to actively lay down their lives for the sheep. The high calling and qualifications for overseer’s (synonymous in the NT for elder, pastor and shepherd) are explicitly spelled out by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:1-7 to help safeguard the sheep in Christs’ fold from exploitation. These men must be above reproach in every avenue of life, filled with the mind of Christ for his church body. Like Jesus, these shepherds must point each straying sheep to the ultimate Shepherd and Overseer of their souls (1 Pet. 2:25). They would not be Ezek. 34 shepherds that fed themselves, but rather the Lord’s sheep (Jude 6:12). 

How it Comes Together

Finally, and most triumphantly the Bible comes to a near close with glorious shepherding imagery. In Rev. 7:17 Jesus is presented as a Lamb who is also a shepherd. A Lamb who will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his fellow sheep. We close with a most intimate and loving picture of God for his flock that is largely beyond comprehension. God has always been moving towards his people and we look forward to this day with great hope. This is a climactic moment within the theme of shepherding. 


While knowing that the theme of shepherding went from cover to cover in the pages of the Bible, I never fully understood it’s development and expansion between the heroes of the faith. Because the Bible is a unified story inspired by one chief author, we can truly pursue a Biblical theology of shepherding as it unfolded to God’s people. I was deeply encouraged by the gentle love of my God and the rescuing of my perfect savior. He is our ultimate guide when all other guides had failed. God is the one who leads us on paths of righteousness for his namesake. In him we’re safe and secure. In him, we find our rest. As a pastor, I’m called to sacrificially love and care for those he’s entrusted me with, just like my great shepherd Jesus did. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Wheelchairs for Guatemala

Hey Friend,

I want to invite you into a story that involves transforming the lives of disabled Guatemalans through mobility. It doesn’t require your money. My friend Thomas Winfield and I are looking for used wheelchairs, walkers and canes that are collecting dust in the garages of people you know– approximately 100 of each. You might have heard about DCC’s mobility drive in the paper and by God’s grace a 10x12x24 foot storage unit is filled with mobility devices ( The problem is we need to fill another one of these storage units in the next two weeks. We’re halfway there. Would you join us? 

For me, this mobility drive is personal. I feel like I have unfinished-Jesus-business with this central American country. My heart has been in Guatemala since 2007 when God transformed it. Serving alongside missionaries Chris and Donna Mooney with their family for three months changed my entire life ( It had always been a dream of mine to return to Chimaltenango with a team of students. The opportunity didn’t present itself until 2019 when God miraculously made a way for a team of 14 DCC adults and students to be sent by the church for a wheelchair distribution, house build and VBS ( Momentum surged, funds came out of nowhere and flights were booked. Then 2020 hit. We had to scrap the trip but were able to donate the funds we had raised to support Guatemalans in their time of need. After I stepped down from youth ministry to attend seminary the church planned another trip to Guatemala in August of 2021, but this was canceled as well. Things remained too volatile to send a team of students. 

Today our dream is to locally gather the remaining mobility devices by May 21st and then personally distribute them in Guatemala with a small team of adults this Summer. We need your help. Devices can be directly dropped off during office hours at Dungeness Community Church 45 Eberle Lane in Sequim (contact 360-683-7333 or with delivery questions). When both storage units are filled, they will then be shipped to Guatemala in a freight travel process that takes 6 weeks. Please note that we will continue accepting mobility devices after May 21st, but they might end up on a future trip. Thank you for taking the time to read this and share it.


David Piper & Thomas Winfield  

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Cinco de Mayo or Revenge of the Fifth?

How about both...

The last two weeks have been profound. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a span of six days, these have been some of the most emotionally condensed and diverse days possible. From a joyous wedding of a childhood friend in Idaho to mourning with a grieving family in Florida. Like this conflicted celebratory/sad day in May, the trip was both... other than the sadness wasn't a Hollywood fiction but a deadly reality.

While in Florida I saw a man tearing down the street on a motorcycle like a bat out of hell. What made this occurrence perplexing to me was that he was wearing a protective surgical mask with no helmet. 2021 kinda feels like this scene to me. We're protecting our bodies but not our minds. Mental health is at staggering all time low according to a recent Gallup poll; the virus isn't the only killer. Processing through two close suicides in six months is a record for me... one I hope is never touched again. If I expand this count to friends of friends I never actually knew, the suicide tally doubles. People really need hope during this perplexing time. People need the hope of Jesus. Pauls words in 2nd Corinthians 1 ring true:

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

We were created for community. Right relationship with God leads to right relationship with people. You are loved and you are known by the relationally intimate and holy Creator of the universe. You are loved, not because of what you can or can't do but because of who God says you ultimately are: the adopted child of a King through Christ's life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Peace with God leads to peace with ourselves, leads to peace with others. John 3 says this:

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Find freedom and fullness of peace in your forgiven identity today by accepting God's free gift of salvation from your sins (sins are anything that break relationship with people and God like lying cheating or stealing) through Christ who took our deserved punishment as our substitute. Confess your sins to God and then ask him for forgiveness... then use your freedom to fully love others. Accept your truest identity as a forgiven child of God and then freely live out of it. You aren't just saved from sin, you're saved to God's glorious plan for the universe. This means participating with him in the restoration of this broken world - chiefly the hurting people in it. Your life matters because God's mission matters. You are loved and you are known. If you're hurting, tell someone - if no one is there, tell God then find a church community you can be in relationship with. You are loved and you are known!