Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The White Coat

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
.” – Psalms 23:1-4

There is something so peaceful and soothing to the soul about this passage in Psalms 23.  I dare say that not one of God’s children can read this and not feel the tranquility that comes from having God as your Father.  These verses describe the many facets of God’s character, Who He truly is. 

When you meet a new friend, you have to spend time with them and get to know them.  After time has passed and the friendship has been tested by various trials, you subconsciously make a decision as to whether they are a good friend and can be trusted or not.  Those that can be trusted become “best friends”, and you create tight bonds of friendship, and know each other intimately.

When we are converted, we’re given a new friend in God, but yet, one we don’t fully know.  How can we say we love God if we don’t know His character?  How can we know His character if we don’t spend time with Him?  How can we spend time with an invisible God?  We read His love letter to us – His Holy Word.  It’s in passages like this one found in Psalms 23 that we begin to see God for who He is and not just a powerful mass who lives in unseen Heaven above.  When we begin to know Him for who He is, we can learn to trust Him.  And we must learn to trust Him!  For this is where the peace and tranquility of our new friendship finds it’s great worth.  Trust God – fear nothing.

When I was a little girl, just a small child, I was afraid of anyone who wore a white coat or jacket.  In those days, doctors wore a white coat when treating patients, and far too many times when I would see that white coat I felt bad and ended up with a shot or blood drawn.  A white coat meant pain and sickness, and I feared them.  I placed that same fear on anyone who had a white jacket.  In my childish mind, all people who wore white coats were out to harm me. 

Sometimes we feel that way about God too.  We reflect on those that are or were in positions of power and authority over us.  We transfer our fear to God because of past relationships.  Perhaps there was a parent who was forceful, angry, and abusive – and in power over us.  Perhaps there was a teacher who ridiculed us publicly, caused us to feel “less”, and in power over us.  Or maybe there was another friend who loved to make us feel like an underling, pointing out our flaws and making fun of us, exercising power over us.  But friends, this is not the character of our Father God who is now in power over us!

What kind of God is our God?  Read about the Good Shepherd, and see.

The Lord is my shepherd” – Jehovah Raah, my caretaker.  He watches over me daily.

“I shall not want.” – Jehovah Jirah, my provider. He meets my needs, and my wants.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures” – Sheep will not lie down and rest until they are full.  He fills me with His Spirit so that I will no longer hunger for what’s missing, and can rest in Him.

He leads me beside the still waters.” – Jehovah Shalom, my peace.  He provides rest from the storms and waves of life’s stress, leading us to places of stillness.

“He restores my soul” – My redeemer, restoring my soul to full fellowship with Him.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake.” – Jehovah Mekoddishkem, my sanctifier, leading me away from the dangers of sin to glorify Him.  He has given us His name, we are His children, and He wants us to live up to His name, giving Him glory.  Isaiah 43:7 says that He created us for His glory.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me” – Jehovah Sabaoth, my protector, the Lord of Hosts.  We all go through trials that test our faith in God, trials where we are faced with the enemy as sheep are faced with dangerous animals when in a valley.  But while we may be surrounded by enemies on every side, we have no fear of what they can do to us because we realize that God is all powerful, over good and evil.  Nothing and no one separates us from His love for us (Romans 8:37-39), not even death.

“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” – The tools of a Shepherd are the rod, which is a short club, and the staff, which is a long wooden hook.  Oh, I thank God for the rod and the staff! 

When danger comes near the sheep, the rod can be thrown to protect the sheep from a predator.  Or if the sheep wanders too far away from the Shepherd and the rest of the herd, the Shepherd can throw it near the sheep to scare it back to the herd.  A rod is used for discipline and training.  Proverbs 3:12 says For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” 

The staff can be stretched out behind the sheep to move them all together, where there is comfort in the fellowship of others like them.  The hook of the staff can also be used to pull away the thorns and briars a sheep will sometimes wander into.  The shepherd can also lean on the staff, providing comfort to Himself. 

In Zachariah 11, we are given the prophecy of two staffs.  One was named Beauty, and the second was called Bonds.  Verse 10 say, I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples.” God broke the old covenant of the law to give us a better covenant, His grace through Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 7:22 says “by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

The shepherd carrying the two staffs receives His wages, thirty pieces of silver.  God then instructs him to throw it to the potter.  Verses 13-14 says, “So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.  Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.Matthew 27:6-10 talks of the use of the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus. It was used to buy a potter’s field to bury strangers.  The verses retell a similar prophecy given by Jeremiah, saying they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Those who live under the staff of Beauty, the new covenant of grace, live in the comfort of knowing God as their Father, the Good Shepherd. We don't fear death because we will not experience death.  We have eternal life.  But those who live under the staff of Bonds live apart from Him, and die and will be buried as strangers to God, given the potter’s field.  We live experiencing either the beauty of a relationship with God, or the bonds of sin keeping us from that relationship.

We often sell God short to those who are looking for a Savior.  He’s not just a ticket to Heaven, a way to bypass Hell.  He is our loving Father, our Good Shepherd.  The reasons for accepting Him are as much for this life as for eternal life.  There is peace and tranquility in having His friendship.  There is nothing to fear about His almighty power over us for in all His ways, even in discipline, He shows us His love.  There is nothing to fear in His white, white coat.

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