The Scriptorium

Leaders, Judges, Shepherds

Here is a structure for a healthy body. Deuteronomy 1.9-18

From Egypt to Moab: Deuteronomy 1, 2 (2)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 106.1-3, 48.
Praise the LORD!
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD?
Who can declare all His praise?
Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 106.1-3, 48
(Trust in Jesus: ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus)
Praise the Lord!  Give thanks and praise Him!  He is good, His love endures!
More His works than can be spoken; let His praise be ever sure!
Refrain v. 48
Blessèd be our God and Savior, evermore His praise proclaim!
Let all those who know Your favor praise Your holy, glorious Name!

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 1.9-18

Preparation

1. Why did Moses appoint judges and leaders for Israel?

2. What did these judges and leaders do?

Mediation
Exodus 18 gives us the longer account of what Moses summarizes in these verses. The leaders who were appointed as judges were to make sure that everyone in Israel was living within the blessings of God’s Law and covenant. Every person was accounted for; every family and all its members had shepherding oversight from these judges.

Moses selected “wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men” from every tribe (v. 15). He taught them the Law of God and showed them how to use it in overseeing and caring for the people in their charge. They were to teach the people and deal with any issues related to the Law that came up between them. Difficult cases could be referred upwards to Moses.

This manner of shepherding the people was so effective that God would command the people to implement a similar structure once they settled in the land (Deut. 16.18-20). The Law of God was given to guide the people in how to love God and their neighbors. The shepherds of Israel – the leaders and judges – were established to make sure that sound instruction and right understanding and application of God’s Law were realized household by household, village by village, and tribe by tribe.

This is the model which churches in the New Testament followed, as they set elders as shepherds over every congregation (1 Pet. 5.1-4). Churches that did not have such shepherds (elders, overseers) were considered to be not in order (Tit. 1.5). Paul provided qualifications for serving in the role of elder (1 Tim. 3.1-7; Tit. 1.6-9), and he counseled elders to take seriously their role as shepherds of the Lord’s flock (Acts 20.17-35). For love to flourish – for God and others – we need shepherds who will watch over us according to the Word of God.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In the film, Fiddler on the Roof, a husband asks his wife in song, “Do you love me?” She doesn’t answer with a direct “Yes,” but lists all the ways she has shown him love through the years. But he still wants to hear her say, “Yes, I love you.” The song closes with the lines, “Then you love me?” “I suppose I do.” “And I suppose I love you, too.” Then they sing together, “It doesn’t change a thing, but even so, after twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.” Jesus asked Peter, as He asks today’s shepherds, and all of us as well, “Do you love Me?” “Tend My sheep” (Jn. 21.15-17). Words and actions. Trusting and obeying. Tending, caring, feeding, loving. This is the love that speaks to Jesus. This is the love we must show others. God loves us; we love and obey Him. “It’s nice to know.”

Reflection
1. Why did Moses appoint judges (shepherds) over the people of Israel? What were they supposed to do?

2. How should this model of shepherding carry over into the New Testament?

3. We are called to shepherd one another. How can we fulfill this calling to love one another?

Wherefore let all those who are called to any public office, sustain themselves by this doctrine, that they are doing God's work, who is well able to keep them safe from the violence as well as the craftiness of the whole world. Yet, at the same time we are taught by these words that all posts of command are sacred to God, so that whosoever are called to them should reverently and diligently serve God, and ever reflect that His is the dominion whereof they are the ministers. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 1.16

Thank You, Lord, for those who shepherd us in Your church. Let me encourage our shepherds by…

Closing Prayer: Pray Psalm 106.44-48.

Pray for your church’s leaders and shepherds. Pray that they will look to the Lord for wisdom and guidance, and will be diligent in leading the people of God into the green pastures and beside the still waters of the Word of God.

Psalm 106.44-48
(Trust in Jesus: Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus)
Look upon us, Lord, with favor, see us in our sore distress!
Hear our cries, with love surround us – turn again to heal and bless!
Refrain v. 48
Blessèd be our God and Savior, evermore His praise proclaim!
Let all those who know Your favor praise Your holy, glorious Name!

Save us, Lord, from every nation; gather us from all our ways.
And we to Your Name will offer glorious thanks and endless praise!
Refrain

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore