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On the Gospel of John, Part 26: The Purpose of the Shepherd
The Bible is not two different books. The most radical, and correct, meaning of the word catholic is “down whole”, and the earliest Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian had used it to describe the reception of the whole of the faith, meaning the reception of both New and Old Testaments, as opposed to the rejection of one or the other by the Jews or by sects such as the Marcionites. One cannot properly understand the Gospel of Christ without first understanding the will of God which was expressed in the words of His prophets.
Neglecting the pericope of the woman caught in adultery, which clearly was not a part of John’s original gospel, it is evident that on the last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Yahshua Christ was teaching in the temple, as John begins to describe the events of that day in chapter 7 (7:37). Then, upon His having been confronted by His adversaries, we see Christ reveal their true nature in the lengthy exchange which He had with them, as it is recorded in John chapter 8. So upon departing from them, He is found outside of the temple where He then healed a man who was blind from birth.
This act led to another confrontation with those who were opposed to Him, in which He declared: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” They which “see not” are the lost sheep of the house of Israel for whom He had come, and “they which see” are the Judaeans who witnessed His acts and had heard Him speaking, but who nevertheless had rejected Him. This statement, from John 9:39, reveals the true significance of this event, where on this day He chose to heal such a man, as He had said earlier in that same chapter, when He was asked by His Own disciples why the man was born blind, that “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
So it should be evident that the man’s very life stood as a parable in order to provide a lesson to the children of Israel: that the purpose of Christ on the day wherein John’s gospel records that He revealed the true nature and character of His enemies was to heal the children of Israel from their own collective blindness, as it is they who are identified in the Word of God which is in the prophets as being blind, “they which see not” for whom Christ had come so that they “might see”.
Standing in the assembly hall in Nazareth at the beginning of His ministry, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 4, Christ had read from Isaiah in relation to Himself, and announced that “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Once one learns that His sheep are the children of Israel exclusively, and that His enemies are all children of the devil, that is how the blind can see.
The wonderful acts which He had done, such as this healing of the man blind from birth, provided witnesses to His being that had in turn had facilitated the spread of His Word in the gospel, and ensured that it would indeed reach the lost sheep for whom He had come. So within just a few centuries, they had nearly all become Christian, and the world would never be the same, as Christ had also predicted. The inevitable truth of His words, such as where He said that “I have come to spread fire on the earth”, and “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world”, along with many other statements that He made which came true after He Himself had departed, should alone prove that He is God.
This was fulfilled as the people who became known as Jews, those who hated Him, did everything they could for over 300 years to prevent the spread of Christianity, and they could not stop it. So they sought to infiltrate and corrupt it from within, an endeavor at which they have been employed ever since Rome first relented and accepted the new creed. The official version of so-called “Christianity” which developed in Rome and in Constantinople was never free of these infiltrators, it was founded on false doctrines which came from the Judaizers, such as replacement theology, and it was never truly apostolic Christianity. There is no replacement theology in the prophets of God, or in the epistles of Paul. Now, here in John chapter 10, Christ also explains the reasons for that phenomenon.
If the children of Israel ever read and accepted the Gospel of Christ, they would indeed be healed from their blindness. This is the purpose of the spread of the gospel as it was described by Paul of Tarsus, where he said that Christ had told him, in part, in Acts chapter 26 that “For this have I appeared to you, for you to be a chosen assistant and witness both of the things you have seen by Me and of the things I shall reveal to you, 17 taking you out from among the people and from the nations to whom I send you, 18 to open their eyes, for which to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of the Adversary to God, for them to receive a remission of sins and a portion with those being sanctified by the faith which is in Me.’” The true nature of that Adversary was described by Christ earlier this same day, as it is recorded in in John chapter 8. Here in John chapter 10, Christ will describe the sheep for whom He came, and they must be properly identified if they are to be cured of their blindness.
Reading the prophets and the gospel, “those being sanctified” are only the “lost sheep” of the children of Israel, and they were the captives as they were sent off in punishment from the presence of Yahweh. Those nations to which Paul had been sent were the nations of the Israelites who were scattered in ancient times, as Paul himself had explained in his epistles, for example in Romans chapter 4, or in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, or in Galatians chapter 4. This promise of sanctification for Israel is seen in Isaiah chapter 45, where it says “25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” But it is explicitly promised and connected to a new covenant in Ezekiel chapter 37: “26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the [nations] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” There are no promises in the words of the prophets indicating that Yahweh intends to sanctify anyone but the children of Israel.
But in the Bible, only the children of Israel are referred to as the sheep of Yahweh’s pasture, as we read in the 79th Psalm, “13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.” That Psalm was written by Asaph, who was a prophet of the captivity. The same Asaph had written in the 74th Psalm: “1 O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? 2 Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt. 3 Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. 4 Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.” Because today’s pastors have also failed, as they had in the past, the enemies of Christ once again roar in the midst of His congregations. Here in John chapter 10, Christ Himself explains why.
The Shepherd King metaphor may be as old as writing itself, and it is found as early as the third millennium before Christ. In Scripture it first appears in Genesis chapter 49. It pervades the Scripture from the time of David, who had employed it often. Statues of a shepherd bearing a sheep seem to have been common in Greece in the Hellenistic period. David had evidently written the 95th Psalm, as Paul indicates where he cited it in his epistle to the Hebrews, and it says in part “6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand….” It is likely that David also wrote the 100th Psalm, which says: “3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” So we read in Jeremiah chapter 23, which was written perhaps around four hundred years after the time of David:
Jeremiah 23: 1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
The word for pastor means shepherd, as the leader of a flock in a pasture, and it was the rulers and priests of ancient Israel who had led the people astray, or who had driven them off by going astray themselves. Jeremiah continues:
Jeremiah 23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
So the children of Israel are promised better shepherds in the future, and to fear no more, as wolves eat sheep when the shepherds are not effective at guarding the flock. Goats compete with sheep, but goats are unworthy as they were not called by God. Many of the ancient sheep of Israel were eaten when the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered Israel and Judah and took the survivors off into captivity. Now as Jeremiah continues, we see that this is a Messianic prophecy:
Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Of course this is a two-fold prophecy, since Christ will not reign as King until He returns to destroy His enemies. So Jeremiah continues in that aspect:
Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
This is the purpose of the Shepherd, and it is the only purpose which He Himself had stated. In the end, the wolves and the goats will all be permanently separated from the sheep, and cast into the Lake of Fire. This we await to this very day. Here we also see that the children of Israel were scattered in the north, relative to where Jeremiah was writing in Jerusalem, and it was to the north and to the places where those Israelites were scattered that the apostles had brought the Gospel of Christ over six hundred years after these words were written. Moreover, these words only apply to Israel and Judah, and it is an unjust folly when the denominational churches attempt to apply them to anyone else.
Not quite a century later, Yahweh described the punishment of Israel on these same terms through the prophet Zechariah, in chapter 11 where He said: “3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled. 4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.” A little later in that same chapter He announced the breaking of the Old Covenant, followed by a Messianic prophecy relating to the New Covenant.
So in Matthew chapter 15, Christ had explicitly pronounced His objectives where He said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then in light of these Old Testament passages indicating the identity of those sheep, it becomes apparent that this can only refer to those same ancient Israelites who had been scattered as it is described in Jeremiah, and also in Ezekiel chapter 34. So we read in Micah chapter 2 a promise of gathering, and the Word of Yahweh says “12 I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.” When the sheep were scattered, the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their seed would become many nations were fulfilled, yet they were promised to once again be gathered. That gathering is in Christ, as Jeremiah had also explained. The beginning of that fulfillment is when Europe became known as Christendom.
So after the profession of His purpose that “they which see not might see”, and the answer of His adversaries, Yahshua Christ declares in a parable that He is the true Shepherd, and that He has come only for His own sheep, for people who must have been His sheep in the first place but who had been entrusted to others, to hirelings, and for that reason they were being eaten by wolves:
X “1 Truly, truly I say to you, he not entering through the door into the pen of the sheep, but going up from another place, that man is a thief and a robber.
Christ came through the door of the sheep, having been born of the seed of Abraham, and He was also heir to the throne of David, so He says:
2 But he entering [P75 has ‘coming’] through the door is [D and W have ‘the door, he is’] the shepherd of the sheep.
As David wrote in the 23rd Psalm: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” But this indicates that there were men holding authority over the children of Israel who had not come through the door of the sheep: they were not of the seed of Israel, and therefore they were not legitimate rulers.
After having rejected his sacrifice, Yahweh had challenged Cain by saying, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 4: “7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Christ has said that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor a bad tree good fruit. So were Adam and Eve a bad tree? Or was Cain not Adam’s son? Cain could not be good, so he was from a corrupt tree. Where Yahweh said that if Cain did evil it was because “sin lieth at the door”, if Cain did not do well it was because his very entry into the world was itself a sin. Adam was not Cain’s true father, but as the apostle John had said, Cain “was of that wicked one”, so immediately after being challenged, he went and killed his brother, and his behavior was inevitable because he himself was a bastard.
Likewise, earlier this same day, Christ had told His adversaries, whom he had explained were of the children of Cain, that “If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” Cain’s sin was congenital and he could not keep himself from it, and likewise the sin of the enemies of Christ is congenital. It was the devil who sowed the tares, as Christ had also informed His disciples. They are not of Israel, so they did not enter through the door of the sheep, but had gotten in by another way. When they came in among the sheep, they could not help but to act as thieves and robbers. So the high priests, as we have also explained, had been conducting their office as a criminal enterprise.
The apostle Jude informs us of the nature of the robbers, where he wrote in his short epistle: “4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Men who had “crept in unawares” and who were ordained to condemnation in ancient times were certainly not Israelites.
Only an Israelite could properly be a shepherd of Israel, and Christ was an Israelite, born of the house of David and being the proper heir to the throne of David according to the law. The high priests of His time were wolves, Edomites who usurped the office under appointment of the scions of the Edomite Herod. They were not true children of Abraham, but they were bastards, children of fornication, and therefore they wanted to kill Him who was the legitimate ruler.
Of course, this was all foreseen in the Word of God. For example, Christ said in the parable of the husbandmen, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 21: “33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?”
Centuries before that, in a Messianic prophecy in Zechariah chapter 13 which was later cited by the apostles in reference to Christ: “6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. 7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”
Christ continues the analogy in reference to Himself:
3 For him the doorman opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out.
The temple in Jerusalem had Levites who were assigned to be doormen at the outside doors, and at the entrance into the holy of holies, the inner sanctum where the ark of the covenant was originally kept. It is written in the 84th Psalm: “10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Ostensibly, the doormen would prohibit anyone who did not belong from entering, so that thieves and robbers would not be able to get into the sheepfold through the door. In the case of Christ, the doorman must have been John the Baptist, who proclaimed for Him to be the Messiah. The analogy continues:
4 When all of his own [א wants ‘all’; A and the MT have ‘When his own sheep’; the text follows P66, P75, B, D and W] go out, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. 5 Yet they shall not follow another [or ‘a stranger’, ἀλλότριος], but flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers [or ‘others’, ἀλλότριος].”
A livestock website at the University of Illinois explains that sheep naturally move towards and follow other sheep, or a human that they are accustomed to who is perceived to be a friend, while they naturally move away, or even run, from other animals or unrecognized humans. Often, dogs are used by shepherds to control the sheep, but the sheep naturally see the dogs as enemies. So the dogs would not go into the fold with the sheep, dogs are only used in the pasture when they are trained to help control them. Now from that, another analogy may be drawn comparing the people of God to the dogs which encompass them today. Now John concludes:
6 Yahshua spoke this parable to them, but they did not know what these things were which [P66 wants “these things were which”] He spoke to them.
They could not know what He was saying to them, as He tells them later, because they were not His sheep. Only a small percentage of the people in Judaea were actually His sheep, as we have already explained that many of them were Edomites and Canaanites who had been forcibly converted to and ultimately had accepted Judaism over the 160 or so years before the time of the ministry of Christ.
There is a lengthy prophecy concerning the so-called “lost sheep” in Ezekiel chapter 34, and Ezekiel was writing at a time not long before the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians:
Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
Men who are shepherds often care more for feeding themselves rather than feeding the flocks, as Paul also professed in Philippians chapter 3: “18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” As we shall see citing Isaiah chapter 56 in comparison with our present day when we discuss the later parts of this chapter, even shepherds professing Christ act as His enemies, feeding their own bellies rather than caring for His sheep.
Ezekiel 34:3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
The sins of the rulers of ancient Israel are recounted frequently throughout the books of the prophets, and are not possible to recount here, so Ezekiel’s brief description must suffice. Many of them acted just as wickedly as these first century Edomites were acting under the family of Herod and the Romans. So the result was the scattering of the sheep:
Ezekiel 34:5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
The scattering of the children of Israel actually began before the Exodus. A Greek historian who wrote almost a hundred years before the ministry of Christ, Diodorus Siculus was citing an even earlier historian, Hecataeus of Abdera, who was a Greek historian and skeptic philosopher of the 4th century BC, where he gave a strange account of the Exodus from an ostensibly Egyptian viewpoint, and he said that “the aliens were driven from the country, and the most outstanding and active among them banded together and, as some say, were cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions; their leaders were notable men, chief among them being Danaus and Cadmus. But the greater number were driven into what is now called Judaea ... The colony was headed by a man called Moses, outstanding both for his wisdom and for his courage” (Library of History, 40.3.1-3).
Further historic evidence may be cited that many of the Israelites had departed for other places in and beyond Europe throughout the seven or eight centuries from the conquest of Canaan to the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. In those migrations they settled much of Anatolia, the coasts of Southern Europe, the Danube river valley, the coasts of the Black Sea, the river valleys of Iberia and France, the British Isles, and the coasts of Scandinavia. They are called Proto-Kelts and Phoenicians, among other names. Ezekiel must have known about these migrations. For that reason, while the men of war among the children of Israel numbered 600,000 in the days of Moses, only eight generations from the time when Jacob had gone down to Egypt, over 400 years after Moses, in the time of David, they were little more than twice that number, which is apparent in 2 Samuel chapter 24.
But Ezekiel himself was a prophet of the Assyrian captivity, having opened his book with the words “as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar”, and he himself had observed what was becoming of the many tens of thousands of Israelites who were taken into that captivity. Of these, Flavius Josephus had later written, in Antiquities Book 11, that “there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.” From these, the Germanic tribes had emerged. Of course, of all those still practicing the religion of the ancient Israelites, only the people descended from the remnant of those who returned from Babylon, who were principally of Judah and Benjamin, had returned to become known as Judaeans. Evidently Josephus was not counting Levi, a tribe scattered among all the others. Josephus did not consider all of the earlier migrations of Israelites into Europe, and not being a student of the Classics, as Paul was, he may well have been ignorant of them.
The Word of Yahweh in Ezekiel continues:
Ezekiel 34:7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
The Levitical priesthood, who were the shepherds of old, had its end in Christ, and for most of the children of Israel, even long before that time. As we read in Hosea chapter 3: “4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim.” The sacrificial ritual and the ephod and belonged to the priests, so they would not have a priest. Then there is a Messianic prophecy, “5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” So their only resolution is Christ, the prophetic fulfillment of “David their King”. The heirs of Jeconiah who were rightful rulers of Judah were also cut off in the Babylonian captivity, as they were told that they would no longer sit as kings. Now, in a Messianic prophecy, as Ezekiel continues we see the purpose of the Christ, the purpose of the Shepherd:
Ezekiel 34:11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
So if Yahshua Christ had professed that “I come but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, and if it was the purpose of Yahweh that announcing a Messiah, that He would search out His Own sheep that were scattered, to gather them and nobody else, then how could anyone other than the children of Israel ever be counted as Christians? That is absolutely contrary to His will, it is blasphemy, and it causes the sheep to be scattered. It is a doctrine of devils. The “mountains of Israel” are not in Palestine, but instead, since Abraham was to inherit the nations, they are the mountains wherever the Israelites happen to be, as it is also expressed in the Word of Yahweh, in Isaiah chapter 27, that “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” The prophecy of Samuel in 2 Samuel 7:10, that Israel would be settled in a new place, was also fulfilled in this process, so the mountains of Israel were no longer in Palestine. Now as Ezekiel continues, there is a promise that the sheep will be separated from the goats:
17 And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats.
Then, evidently addressing both the rams, the fat who are the powerful of the sheep, as well as the goats:
18 Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21 Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24 And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.
This is the entire purpose of the Gospel of Christ, to reconcile the “lost sheep” of the children of Israel to Yahweh, and Paul often referred to his own ministry as the ministry of that same reconciliation, so he brought his gospel to those people and places where he knew that the “lost sheep” were at his time: to the Dorian and Macedonian Greeks, the Romans and the Germanic Galatae. He also hoped to bring it to Iberia and points beyond, but he did not live long enough to do that so others did it for him.
This is the purpose of the Shepherd. So Paul wrote in Romans chapter 8: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If His purpose was not accurately described in His prophets, then He has no purpose. But He being God, the purpose described in the prophets has not changed, because He has also said in Malachi “6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. [This is the calling of the ‘lost sheep’] But ye said, Wherein shall we return?” Yet they shall return in Christ, as He had also promised.
So Paul continued in Romans and said “29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” And in Amos chapter 3 we read: “1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Yahweh knew only Israel, and in Christ all Israel shall agree.
Then Paul continues in Romans and says: “30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” So in Isaiah chapter 45 we read: “25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Those promises are made to no one else but Israel, and they shall only be fulfilled in Israel, in the same Israel that was scattered in ancient times, and that is the express purpose of the Shepherd. So Paul wrote in Ephesians speaking of Christ: “11 In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being preordained according to the purpose of He who accomplishes all things in accordance with the design of His will.” The design of His will is in the words of His prophets, and therefore the entire purpose of the Shepherd is found in Ezekiel chapter 34.
Matthew Henry, in his commentary on John chapter 10, cited Ezekiel chapter 34 several times, but never in its full context. To his credit, Henry said: “The church of God in the world is a sheepfold, into which the children of God that were scattered abroad are gathered together…” although he did not identify who he counted for the children of God, or when they were scattered. He does that in his commentary on John 11:52, which he cites where he discusses John chapter 10, and where he says in relation to all people everywhere, no matter their origins, “Now Christ died to incorporate these in one great society, to be denominated from him and governed by him.” And that is a lie. Christ died for the sins of the children of Israel in order to reconcile them to the God from whom they had been alienated, and as Yahweh Himself said in Amos, He only knew the children of Israel. That is how God Himself accounts His children, and Christ said that He came “but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came for sheep that were already lost, which are those who are described in Ezekiel chapter 34.
Contrary to Matthew Henry’s universalist interpretation, which was made in the 17th century, here in Ezekiel we see that the scattered sheep are the ancient children of Israel, and nobody else, and it is only they whom Yahweh intends to gather in Christ. There is nothing of gathering anyone but the scattered children of Israel, and nothing of David their King ruling over anyone but them alone. He shall rule all nations, but all the nations that He shall rule shall come from them, as Israel is to fill the face of the world with fruit, as Yahweh had said in Isaiah chapter 27, which we have already cited.
One cannot understand the ministry of Christ as it is described in John chapter 10 without also understanding the purpose of that ministry as it is described in Ezekiel chapter 34, and one cannot properly understand Ezekiel chapter 34 without understanding the identity of the scattered sheep, which is the entire purpose of our Christian Identity profession. It was also the purpose of the ministry of Paul of Tarsus. In the end, all of the sheep shall be saved, but all of the goats shall go into the Lake of Fire, although that is not described until Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, and in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats related by Christ Himself in Matthew chapter 25.
Now Christ resumes His declaration:
7 Therefore [P66 and א want “Therefore”] Yahshua spoke again [P45, P66 and W have “Yahshua said to them”; א, A, D and the MT have “Yahshua spoke to them again”; the text follows P6, P75 and B]: “Truly, truly I say to you that [P75 and B want ‘that’; the text follows P66, א, A, D, W and the MT] I am the door [P75 has ‘Shepherd’, but ‘door’ in verse 9] of the sheep!
Not only did Yahshua enter in through the door, but He is the door. Yahshua Christ, being Yahweh God incarnate, is indeed the door of the sheep, and He is a door for only the sheep. Of all peoples, the Adamic race is the only race which Yahweh took credit for creating, and of these, He spoke explicitly of the people of Israel, in Isaiah chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
Yahshua Christ is that Redeemer. So Christ had said in John chapter 3 that “… unless a man should be born from above, he is not able to see the Kingdom of Yahweh.” Of all the Adamic nations which He created, Yahweh made a new creation in Israel and gave them alone the law and the covenants. So speaking of that creation of the children of Israel, in relation to the events of Sinai and the giving of the law, Solomon in his Wisdom, in chapter 19, wrote much like Isaiah had and said: “6 For the whole creation in his proper kind was fashioned again from above, serving the peculiar commandments that were given unto them, that thy children might be kept without hurt”, the children of Israel being those children, the sheep of His pasture, and He is their door. It is only the children of Israel whom Yahweh ever admitted as His children throughout the Old Testament. Later, Paul, comparing Christ to the ancient high priests of Israel, said for that same reason, in Hebrews chapter 10, that “19… having liberty into the entrance of the holy places in the blood of Yahshua 20 by a new and living way through the veil which He has consecrated for us, that is, of His flesh…” That is how Yahshua Christ is the door of the sheep: His sacrifice gave them reconciliation with God, and He Himself is God so He also gave them life in the first place. The sheep came onto the pasture through that door, and they shall return to the sheepfold through that door. For those same reasons, the City of God described in Revelation chapter 12 has inscribed on its gates the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, and ostensibly, one does not enter in unless he is of one of those tribes. Now Christ continues:
8 All [D wants ‘All’] as many as have come before Me [P45, P75 and א want ‘before Me’; the text follows P66, A, B, D and W] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
Perhaps if we interpret this in the most general sense possible, all men leading a flock have by necessity also needed to live off the flock, so in essence all leaders are thieves and robbers when compared to God. Because Yahweh created all things, all things are His, and only He can lead the flock without depriving it. Historically, the sheep have gone astray from every man who ever tried to lead them, even from Godly men such as Joshua and David, although some had managed to keep their flocks longer than others.
But here Christ is referring to thieves and robbers who did not come in by the door, but who had come another way. This cannot describe the children of Israel, and the ancient rulers and Levites among them who were appointed by God, and therefore the sense may be more immediate. It may refer to His own lifetime and to those who were ruling Judaea up to the time of His ministry, and maybe even to those who had claimed to be saviors in Israel up to that time, as there were many who thought to attempt to free Judaea from the Romans, to act as messiahs.
If the sense is more immediate, as I believe it is, then it relates to the fact that at the time, there were many disaffected people in Judaea, who had no political power. Josephus describes the sect of the Essenes, which must have been numerous, but which was disaffected politically. As I have explained elsewhere in other contexts, where there was no synagogue, the people of Israel were accustomed to gathering by the rivers to pray on the Sabbaths. This custom is evident in Ezekiel chapter 1, and it is evident in Acts chapter 16, where there was no synagogue in Philippi at the time, and Luke wrote that “on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side”. So ostensibly, at the time of Christ the sheep in Judaea, at least many of the people who were truly Israelites, were disaffected so as not to attend the synagogues, and instead they gathered at the rivers on the Sabbaths. For that same reason, the baptism of John was successful, as he had encountered many Israelites who had neglected the synagogues and were accustomed to gathering by the river. So Judaea was ruled by thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. Those Israelites who had joined themselves to the robbers should be likened to Ezekiel’s rams, who were in league with the goats who sought to fleece the sheep. Christ continues:
9 I am the door [P75 has ‘door’, but ‘Shepherd’ in verse 7]! If one should enter by Me he shall be preserved and shall enter in and shall go out and he shall find pasture.
The most significant lesson in history is that only God can rule over man, and Christ is God. Wherever men rule over men, in the end there will be only injustice and tyranny. The children of Israel had sinned when they demanded an earthly ruler, as it is recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 8. Samuel was the judge of the people, as Yahweh God had ordained, but his sons were corrupt, and evidently the people did not trust God to ensure they would have righteous judges, so we read: “4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” Ultimately the people were led astray by their kings, and upon their being taken into captivity for their punishment, Yahweh announced in Isaiah: “I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.” So ultimately, in Christ, Yahweh shall once again be King.
Where it says “I am the door!”, all things were made through Christ, as Paul of Tarsus also said in Hebrews chapter 1 of the Son: “whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom He also made the ages.” Yahshua Christ, being the Word made flesh, is indeed Yahweh incarnate, the Word which had said in the beginning “Let there be...”, and whatever He had said had come to be. So “If one should enter by Me”, that one is an element of His Creation. But as Paul also wrote in Hebrews chapter 12, one is either a son or a bastard. The creation was corrupted at an early time, and therefore the Law of Yahweh states that “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD”, ostensibly because a bastard could not have entered into existence by Him. He did not create bastards. His enemies, being of the corrupted seed of Esau as He explained to them in John chapter 8, were bastards who could not enter by Him.
10 The thief does not come except that he may steal and slaughter [or ‘sacrifice’, θύω] and destroy [or ‘drive off’, ἀπόλλυμι, often ‘lost’ when speaking of sheep and scattered Israelites]. I have come in order that they would have life and they would have [P45 and P75 add ‘greater’] abundance [P66 and D wants the last clause, ‘and they would have abundance’]!
Here we have translated a word, περισσός, as abundance, which is technically an adjective, which should be abundantly. My rendering is not extraordinary, as Liddell & Scott in their Intermediate Lexicon give an example from the writings of Xenophon, that the phrase περιττὸν ἔχειν was used to mean “to have a surplus” (περιττός is the Attic Greek spelling of περισσός). There are other contexts where the word appears that are cited by the large 9th edition of Liddell & Scott where the word is translated as a noun. Christ is clearly speaking of an abundance of life, and not of material goods. But if I knew at the time how certain proponents of the so-called “prosperity gospel” could abuse this clause, perhaps I would have rendered it differently.
It is apparent in the ancient history of Israel, that men who ruled as kings very often did so for their own power and glory. But here, Christ is speaking of men who did not come in by the door, and therefore they were not of the kings or rulers ordained by God. They were impostors who were not Israelites. The family of Herod who ruled Judaea from about 40 BC to its end were Edomites, and not Israelites, and they appointed their own, usually from among the Sadducees which was the party of the wealthy, to fill the positions of high priest and other offices in the temple. As we have also already discussed, they were all thieves and robbers.
“11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down [P45, א and D have “The Good Shepherd gives”] His life [or ‘soul’, ψυχή, as opposed to ‘spirit’, or πνεῦμα] on behalf of the sheep!
The denominational churches love to quote from the first epistle of John, ignoring its context, where it says of Christ “2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” But only the children of Israel were given the law, as David wrote in the 147th Psalm, speaking of Yahweh, that: “19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.” David praised God that only Israel had the law, and Paul later said, in his epistle to the Romans, that “until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” So the only valid conclusion could be that only those same children of Israel could be held liable for sin.
Paul, writing to the Galatians, who were also descended from the ancient Israelites, said in Galatians chapter 3: “24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” So if one was not under the law, as the ancient Israelites had been, then one did not have a schoolmaster, and could not come to Christ. So Paul continued in Galatians chapter 4: “4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” These are the sheep for whom He laid down His life. In Romans chapter 9, Paul had prayed for his kinsman in Judaea, for those who were truly Israelites, describing them as “my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” This passage in Romans helps to understand Paul’s meaning in Galatians, the adoption is for Israel, his kinsmen according to the flesh. Here Paul continues to acknowledge that all of these things were still only for the children of Israel, over 24 years after Christ had died and was resurrected.
But the Scriptures cannot be reconciled until the world which Christ came to save is properly understood and distinguished from the world which is corrupted, as John also wrote in that same epistle “19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” That world, James tells Christians that they must despise: “4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
How can Christians hate a world which Christ had come to save? Because the world they are expected to hate is a different world from the world He had come to save. The world which Christ came to save is described in the Wisdom of Solomon, where he wrote concerning the garment of the high priest and the breastplate adorned with the stones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel and he said: “24 For in the long garment was the whole world, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven, and thy Majesty upon the diadem of his head.” Those same stones represent the population of the City of God as it is described in the closing chapters of the Revelation, and that is the purpose of the Shepherd, to regather His people in order to populate that city, as they were the sheep for whom He had laid down His life.
Paul of Tarsus, in Romans chapter 7, described why Christ had to die for the sheep:
1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
The children of Israel, having sinned, were sheep scattered by Yahweh their God as punishment for their sin. Their sin was worthy of death, but He chose to die in their place in order to free them of the law of the husband, so that He could redeem them from death. So we read in Hosea a promise of reconciliation, where it speaks to the children of Israel: “19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.” Thus Paul described the remedy which Yahweh had for Israel, and how He could retain His people while also keeping His own law.
The survival of the children of Israel and the fulfillment of the promises to their fathers is the only purpose of the Shepherd, as Yahweh had said when He first promised a new covenant, as it is recorded in Jeremiah chapter 31: “31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is these people only for whom Yahshua had laid down His life: they alone are His sheep. A few verses later in that chapter of Jeremiah there is a promise that Israel will always be a nation, that so long as there is a sun and stars, Israel will be a nation. Not a church, but a nation, a group of people with a common origin and history, which is a race.
They being the only people whom God has known, in reality there are no other people worth considering, as a good shepherd is truly only concerned with his own sheep, and all other beasts are viewed as possible threats to those sheep.