The Shepherd of My People
As move on to the new year I thought it would be appropriate to review our last few years. 2020 was a year lost to Covid-19, the shutdown year. This past year, 2021, was a year of understanding how to live with Covid-19. A year in which we struggled to develop an understanding of how to cope with Covid-19. This new year, 2022, I hope and pray is the year that we figure out how to live with Covid-19.
Because Covid-19, sadly, is here to stay, for a while at least. We, as a people, as a society, as a culture need to figure out how we are going to control Covid-19, as opposed to allowing Covid-19 to control us. The problem is that some of us are empowered by the Covid-19 virus, and those who are empowered are reluctant to let go of that empowerment.
We are going to have this struggle for control over the next few years. I am just letting you know, so that you can prepare yourselves for this important time. While some of you may think that I am going to now give you a political message, you’re wrong. I am going to instead, give you the message sent to us through God's prophets, as we head into the year of struggle for 2022. The message in a word is this: Jesus. This is Jesus' time. It is harvest time. The time for Jesus is always Today, with a capital T. Now is the time for Jesus.
This year has been ordained by God. For centuries, from as far back as the time of King David, this message that I am going to share with you today has been ordained. 2 Samuel contains a promise, given via the prophet Nathan to King David. This promise is being made 900 or so years before the birth of Christ. 2 Samuel 7:11b-16,
“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”
This promise of God to David establishes David’s throne forever. In Jesus Christ this promise comes to ultimate fulfillment.
How easy it is for us to be distracted by fear of a virus so that we forget totally the promise of God. As a people, those of us who believe in Christ, our community (throughout the centuries) has survived and even thrived in times of conflict and struggle. Why should today be any different. We survived because we believe in the promise of God. We believe in the fulfillment of that promise in Jesus Christ. A great revival is taking place right now in China, the point of origin for this virus. This is not a coincidence. If you run a Christian bookstore in China, and you are discovered, your sentence is 7 years in prison, and your store and inventory are destroyed. If you are a pastor in China, you are jailed indefinitely, your church destroyed, your family made homeless, and your household destroyed. Despite this terror, the Spirit of God is moving in China. Pray for the people of China. The Communist regime is the tool of Satan, not the people of China. Join me in praying for these people. This year we face this same enemy as the people of China. But our adversary is familiar, one we know, and should recognize. Please don't demonize your neighbor. It’s not your neighbor, who is unvaccinated. It’s not your neighbor who is unemployed or homeless. It's not your neighbor who is misled and confused and angry. Our enemy is not even the people who stand against us. No, our enemy is Satan, the Father of Lies, and this year, his lies are beginning to bear fruit. But it will be fruit for the harvest of the King of kings instead. Next, I would like for us to listen to another promise from God, this time spoken through the prophet Micah, around 200 years later than Nathan’s promise to King David. Micah’s promise is the same promise as Nathan’s, only to a different generation. The kings during Micah’s lifetime were Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. Micah, being the small town prophet, Isaiah, the big city prophet in Jerusalem. Isaiah prophesied to the Pharisees and the the leaders of Israel. Micah spoke to the common people of Israel. Both of their messages were of great importance then, and for us today. Micah 5:2-5, But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from days of eternity (ancient times). Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. Have we forgotten what it is like to be in a struggle? I believe we have. We have become comfortable, blessed and favored beyond compare to previous generations. We have become soft. Not just physically so, but also emotionally, and more importantly, we have become soft spiritually. On top of all that, many of us are distracted and have lost our focus on God. You know this to be true. These promises are not just for the generations living beside Nathan and Micah, these promises are for us, truth passed down through generations, truthful promises to build up our faith. To inspire us for the very work of the harvest.
Now is not the time for us to doubt and become weak-kneed. Now is the time for us to unite and press home the work of the harvest. It is our calling to share the Good News of this eternal shepherd. It is time to get off our sofas, stop being afraid, and go into the field and to do our share of the work. Our last scripture for today is from Matthew 2, beginning with verses 1-3, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” King Herod is like many of our rulers today, in our country and around the world. They want to hang on to power no matter the cost, both parties are guilty of this. Herod, we know, had the babies in Bethlehem killed. We, since the 1970s, have killed babies here in the U.S., millions and millions of babies. Herod was ruthless, killing his wife and her family, his three sons, and many others to solidify his power. Today we are beginning to turn on one another, because of vaccination status, belief status, or just lack of status. We are being divided up, pitted against one another, all so that our current Herods can remain in power. Do not take the bait. Matthew 2:4-6, “When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” We have a choice to make. We have a promise to share. I am not here to persecute my neighbors. I am here to share the promise of hope in Jesus Christ to my neighbors. I am here to work for the harvest. I ask you to focus your efforts on the work of the harvest in 2022. Reacquaint yourself to the promise that we have from God in his son Jesus Christ. Most of all, like the saints who have gone before us, do not fear, but remain committed to the promise itself. This promise of a baby born in Bethlehem growing into the shepherd of our people is why we are here today. May the Holy Spirit of God inspire and direct us all for his glory. I wish you all a Happy New Year. Remember, it is a happy new year, because of this promise in spite of what the world may say.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. Blessings, Thad Brown Opportunity House and Harmony UMC