2019 Study Summary 17: I Am the Good Shepherd
“I Am the Good Shepherd”
Who is the Light of Your Life?
The great “I Am” is the “Light.” Every bit of light is a reflection of Him. That light is all around us. The teachings and traditions of light may be ways of better recognizing Him. “Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space . . .” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:7-12)
When is the first biblical Festival of Lights?
A biblical holiday connected with lights is Sukkoth. Along with Passover, it is one of the holy (and happy) times that the Children of Israel were given to remind them of being delivered from bondage. Remembering that one of the names of the “Deliverer” is “Light,” it becomes apparent that most often the term “light” is a repetitive symbol of the Lord. Sukkoth with its lights is also the time to remember Solomon’s dedication of the temple, the Lord’s house. The temple became the symbol that set the people apart from others. They and their temple were to be an “ensign” to the nations.
What was the signal to begin Festivals of Light?
It was the practice to light fires on mountain tops at every Sukkoth holiday. Once seen by a distant village, they would light fires on their mountain tops, and in that way the lights spread throughout the diaspora of Jewish communities, mountain to mountain. “Hanukkah came to be called the “Festival of Lights.” Interestingly, the rededication of the Temple and the re-celebration of Sukkot paralleled the consecration of Solomon’s Temple, which was also an eight-day dedication ceremony held on the festival of Sukkot.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
When were light diminished?
When the temple was destroyed, a mourning holiday, Tish’ah Be-av, was instituted and on that holiday lights are diminished. “Tish’a Be-av, (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, usually falling within the first week of August) is the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. “This tragic day has therefore been set aside as a time of sadness for all Jews, who are required to fast the whole day and observe most of the mourning rites which apply in the case of a death in the family, such as not wearing shoes or sandals made of leather. At the evening service in the synagogue, all decorations are removed from the ark, the lights are dimmed, a few candles are lit, and the whole congregation sits on low benches or on the floor listening in hushed silence to the mournful notes of Eikhah, the Book of Lamentations written by the prophet Jeremiah, an eyewitness to the destruction of the first Temple.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What are capital offenses in the Law of Moses?
Desecrating the temple was a capital crime with the penalty of death. Capital crimes included adultery, murder, blasphemy, and rebellion of children against their parents. “Children may not abuse their parents. According to the Bible, if a son is extremely rebellious and incorrigible and refuses to mend his ways (ben sorer u-moreh), his parents may agree to bring him to the town elders for judgment and punishment, which could be death by stoning. However, there is no record of such punishment ever having been carried out.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What is the biblical procedure of stoning?
One of the methods of execution was stoning. A truer understanding of the process of stoning would give added insight to the New Testament account of a woman brought to Jesus. The procedure included causing death by precipitating the convicted person over a cliff (an abandoned stone quarry could be an execution site). That part included the participation of one of the witnesses. The second witness threw or placed the “first stone” on the body in a process of burying the convicted, without a grave marker or memorial.
What legal procedure was Jesus referring to in saying “Cast the first stone?”
Now, consider the story of the woman brought to Jesus. Wisely and compassionately, the Judge of Israel, our Advocate with the Father, the Atoner for our sins reminded the Pharisees that they had a legal system. In effect, was He saying, “Where are your witnesses? What would cause you to come to me when you have a procedure for the witnesses to do their legal duty?” Yet, at the same time, He had them examine their own lives (and lusts?). “Where is the witness – without sin, let him cast the first stone?” When they all left, Jesus, the ultimate Judge and Advocate, said, “Neither do I accuse thee, go thy way and sin no more.” Hopelessness and darkness were turned to lighted hope. She was saved. “And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:9-12)
Who is, “I Am?”
Jehovah is His name. Salvation is what He provides. Jehovah means “I Am” – and “I Am” is so sacred that it is not repeated; even modern Hebrew does not have a first person conjugation of “I am.” The shortened version of Jehovah is “Jeho” and connected to the abbreviation of “salvation” it is pronounced Jeho-Shua. By the time Jeho-shua was transliterated into Greek and then into Latin, it became pronounced “Je-sus,” and in English, Jesus. He is the “I AM” who “saves.”
How did the Lord teach that he was “sent?”
The Hebrew word for “sent” is “shiloach.” Water emanating from the Gihon spring filled a pool of water was called the “Pool of Sent,” or “Pool of Shiloach.” The “living” (spring) water was sent through Hezekiah’s tunnel to be collected and stored for the people’s use. The name of the collection pool has been transliterated into the “Pool of Shiloam.” The Apostle John gives us beautiful poetry and insight as he relates the significant way Jesus healed the blind man. Jesus sent a blind man to the “Pool of Sent” to receive sight by washing his eyes in living water. The “Fountain of Living Waters,” giving sight to the blind man, was sent from God to give us all sight.
What can I learn from “Leading the Sheep,” today
On the Hills by the Sea of Galilee is a farm house is with more than a hundred sheep. A boy shepherd leads them out every morning and returns in the late afternoon. Leading sheep is typical in this country. Usually there are about a dozen lead sheep, older ones from last year’s flock. The shepherd usually has them marked with bells around their necks. It is common to hear the boy talk to his sheep. He calls them when it’s time to move on, and that’s when the lead sheep immediately respond, ringing their bells as they run toward their shepherd. The ringing noise alerts the other sheep, and then like a wave they begin to follow the others.
How can we recognize the right voice?
“How are we to know the voice of the Good Shepherd from the voice of a stranger? . . . When an individual, filled with the Spirit of God, declares the truth of heaven, the sheep hear that, the Spirit of the Lord pierces their inmost souls and sinks deep into their hearts; by the testimony of the Holy Ghost light springs up within them, and they see and understand for themselves. This is the way the Gospel should be preached by every Elder in Israel . . .” (Discourses of Brigham Young, Pg.431)
What is the difference of shepherd and a sheep-herder?
While visiting Israel, one of my guests, Lorin Moench, a sheep rancher, pointed out the significant difference between shepherds and sheepherders. Sheep herding is driving the flock. In Israel, he noticed, the shepherds lead the flock.