A Gentle and Caring Shepherd

Genesis 33:14, “Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.”

In Genesis chapter 33 we find Jacob returning to Canaan. Jacob had prayed and communed with the Lord in the end of chapter 32 and the Lord blessed him abundantly when he came home and faced Esau. Genesis chapter 33 is a display of God’s power and sovereignty. The Lord is God and there is none like Him. Proverbs 21:1 declares “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will.” Esau, who was not an elect child of grace, is a scriptural example of this truth. Jacob was afraid, because of the threats of Esau against his life when he departed from Canaan, but the Lord’s mighty hand of providence interceded and helped one of His little lambs by turning Esau’s anger.

In verse 12 of this chapter, it is Esau who desires for them to hurry along. Esau was not a man who possessed a God given spiritual nature (not born again, he was not an elect), and this is manifested in this chapter when he doesn’t think about others but only himself and getting back home quickly. It was in our study verse where we read the words of a precious and caring shepherd. through his many years of experience, Jacob learned that it was not healthy to push the tender flocks, herds and children beyond what they were able. He tells Esau to go on ahead and “I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure,…” What an amazing lesson and example for us today. The verse is one that every pastor should hide in his heart and memorize. The verse is one that every child of grace would do well to meditate on regularly. Don’t push the tender lambs more than they are able to endure.

In the Bible, we read many exhortations of Godliness and obedience to God’s commands. It is very important that these exhortations be preached and received with humble hearts. When the Bible calls on us to repent and put forth every effort to please God, we should take heed. I would ask the reader to please understand that I am not, at any point, referring to the commands of God concerning this effort. But there are many times when we address the children of God that we must consider their individual spiritual maturity when leading them in this temporal world. If I’ve learned anything this past year, with all the issues we’ve faced, it is we must gently lead and not drive the sheep. And this is a principal that can be applied to many contexts of life, Pastoring, parenting, business ownership, and even personal discipleship. Challenging ourselves and others to do better is always a good thing, but pushing too hard can, and often will, hurt future opportunities. So as we go forward from here (in everything we do) while placing the Lord’s glory first, let us consider our brother’s and sister’s health and well being before ourselves; Romans 15:2, “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” Jacob, a caring shepherd in Israel, gave us all a precious example to follow and the Holy Spirit has preserved these words for our learning. Amen!

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