An Extract by William J. House on Shepherds

“Now I would like to divide up the service of God in a few ways in detail.

There is one way in which we can serve – that is, as in the character of shepherds. That is one form of service.

If you were to read through from Abel onward, you would find that nearly all the great servants of God began there. They began their service as shepherds. Abel is the first. It says Abel was a keeper of sheep, and so it is right through. Amos says, “I was no prophet; God took me from following the sheep.” They all began there. David began there. Moses began there. Abraham began there. “Thy servants,” they say, “are shepherds, both we and our fathers.” One would like to commend that service to us all, but it can never be taken up unless it is taken up under the influence of the Chief Shepherd – the Chief Shepherd, the Shepherd that is right in the front, the Shepherd that leads all other shepherds. That is how Peter speaks. Peter says, “When the Chief Shepherd shall appear.” Ah! Peter’s heart was moved. These things in Scripture, dear brethren, are not simply dry statements of fact; behind them is the heart of Peter. Peter, speaking about shepherds, says, “When the Chief Shepherd.” What remembrances that would bring up in the heart of Peter. How he would think of the Lord Jesus here on earth as that Good Shepherd. How he would think of His activities of a shepherd character, how he would think of Him taking the lambs in His bosom. His mind would go back, and he would think how the Lord folded the lambs gently in His bosom. How he would think, too, of the occasion when they came out to take the Lord, and in a true shepherd character He stood in front of the sheep, and He said, “If ye seek Me let these go their way.” How he would think before that of a multitude of sheep that were gathered together – five thousand, besides women and children – and the Lord, with a shepherd’s heart, had compassion on the sheep not having a shepherd, and He says in effect – “I will be their Shepherd.” Micah prophesies, “He shall stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah,” and the Lord Jesus stood there and fed them. All this Peter has in his heart.

Then he would think of how after the Lord Jesus came up from the dead He sent that message, “Go tell My disciples and Peter.” Ah! Peter’s heart was moved. “Go tell My disciples and Peter.” Peter was a sheep that was going astray. He says, “We were as sheep going astray, but are returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.” How the Lord came after Peter again. He said, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.” How Peter would think of that interview when the Lord showed him what a true shepherd was. Then He said to Peter, “Now, Peter, you be a shepherd; you feed My lambs. Peter; feed My sheep, shepherd My sheep.”

All Peter’s shepherd activities sprang from his knowledge and appreciation of the Chief Shepherd; and so it is, dear friends, today. Whatever shepherd work is undertaken that is of any value, is undertaken under the influence of the Chief Shepherd, and it is a most important service – never more important than today.

In the prophet Micah, after he had spoken of the Lord as a Shepherd that feeds His flock in the majesty of the Lord, we are told that, “When the Assyrian shall come into our land” (that mighty scattering power that would break up the people of God) “we will raise up against him seven shepherds and eight principal men.” The prophet says when these mighty hordes of Assyrians, with their horses and chariots, come down to our land we will meet them with seven shepherds. That is not man’s way, is it? That is God’s way. That is what we need, dear brethren, with the scattering influences of evil coming into our land. If, in our local gatherings, there is working the influence of the wolf that would scatter the sheep, let each heart say, “We will raise up against him seven shepherds.” That will meet it. The power of the wolf is met by the shepherd spirit, and so one would just like to leave that point there, with the Lord Jesus as the Chief Shepherd at the head of all shepherds, giving character to their service.”

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