Jesus is our Good Shepherd
Jesus revealed His mission as Shepherd and God revealed Him as King.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd
Jesus. addressing the Pharisees, who professed to be the guides or shepherds of the people, gave them this parable regarding shepherds.
I’m the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired worker, who isn’t the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, deserts the sheep, and runs away. So the wolf snatches them and scatters them, because he’s a hired worker, and the sheep don’t matter to him.
I’m the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that don’t belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they’ll listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it back again. No one is taking it from me; I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This is what my Father has commanded me. John 10:11-18 ISV (See Psalm 23:1-6; Ezekiel 34:11-24)
God declared Jesus His Son is king
But to the Son He says:
Your throne, O God, is forever, and you rule your kingdom with a scepter of righteousness.
You have loved right and hated wrong
That is why God, Your God, has put You above your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy. Hebrews 1:8-9 AAT (See Psalm 45:6-7)
God transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 NASB
Jesus is the promised Messiah
Soon after the twelve returned from their first mission, John the Baptizer was in prison for telling Herod it wasn’t right for Him to have Herodias, his brother’s wife. For their sake, John sent his disciples to ask the Messiah, “are your the one?” John knew the answer (Mt 11:2-6), for he went before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah (Lk 1:17, Jn 1:6-8, Mt 3:1-3, Is 40:3. Mal 3:1).
Jesus answered John’s disciples by telling of His miracles, which the prophets of old proclaimed: “‘Then I said, ‘Here I am! I have come! In the scroll of the book it is written about me’” (Ps 40:7 ISV). There was no doubt Jesus was the promised Messiah.
When John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus spoke to the crowds about him. What He spoke was to convince the people and especially the scribes and Pharisees of their inconsistency in accepting John the Baptist as prophet and at the same time rejecting Himself as the promised Messiah (Mt 11:7-10).
What did you go out into the wilderness to see—a reed shaken by the wind? What, then did you go out to see—a man dressed in soft robes? Those who wear soft robes you’ll find in the palaces of kings. What, then, did you go out for—to see a prophet? Let Me assure you, he’s even more than a prophet. This is the one of whom it is written: ‘I will send My messenger ahead of You to prepare Your way before You.’ Matthew 11:7-10
Shaken reeds go the way the wind blows. Such leaders say what is popular (see 2 Tim 4:1-5).
John the baptist was the prophesied messenger (Mal 3:1). Still, the least in the kingdom is greater.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11
Following our Shepherd
A typical translation of Matthew 11:12 is: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” From the Hebraic perspective, Avram Yehoshua translates it: “And from the days of Yochanan the Immerser until now, the Kingdom of the Heavens is being breached and the breachers are possessing it.”
Explaining his translation of Mt 11:12, Avram Yehoshua states: “Yeshua was alluding to the prophetic passage in Micah about the Messiah being the Shepherd who would breach or tear open a section of the fence or wall of the Sheepfold (the earthly existence) for the Remnant of Israel. The Sheep (believers; breachers), would then continue to break down and break through the fence of the sheep-pen into greener pastures (the heavenly Kingdom), as they follow their Shepherd.”
The Hebraic Perspective from Avram Yehoshua
When we translate the Greek text back to what Yeshua would have said in Hebrew we realize at once what the Lord was alluding to. The Hebrew word for, ‘is forcibly entered’ (the Greek βιαζεται by’aides’zeh’tie) is poretzet and comes from the Hebrew verb paratz. The primary meaning of the verb paratz is, ‘to break or tear down…e.g. a wall…to break asunder, to break forth, as a child from the womb, Gen. 38:29; of water, to burst forth…a torrent bursts forth…also to break out, act with violence, Hos. 4:2.
The son that was given to Judah and Tamar, of whom the Messiah would come through, is Perez (Peretz in Hebrew פֶּרֶץ from the verb paratz). The name means, ‘one who breaks out.’ One of the titles of Messiah is the ‘Son of Peretz,’ the One who would break out, or ‘The Breaker.’ The noun peretz also conveys the meaning of, ‘a breach of a wall…a breaking forth, Gen. 38:29; of water, a bursting forth…overthrow, calamity.’ Here we see the concept of ‘violence’ naturally following a wall that is breached (e.g. in a war).
The Hebrew verb and noun carry the connotation of violence, but primarily of ‘force’ or ‘action’ in the sense of tearing down or breaking out or of rushing water. Once we place the primary meaning into the sentence we will understand what Yeshua was presenting to His hearers that day. First, though, the Hebrew noun used for ‘violent men’ is וֹרְצִים (port’zim; from paratz) and is just the plural of the one who tears down. These, too, would be breakers or breachers (of the wall or fence).
The Hebrew word for ‘seize it’ would be אוֹחֲזִים (ohah’zim) and means, ‘to seize…to take, catch, in hunting, to take or have possession.’ The verb also means, ‘to take possession (of the land’ i.e. Israel, Josh. 22:9), and it also speaks of an ‘eternal possession’ (Gen. 17:8; 48:4; Lev. 25:34).’ This parallels the possessing of the Kingdom of the Heavens in terms of inheritance instead of ‘seizing it.’
With these three words we can translate Mt. 11:12 like this: ‘And from the days of Yochanan the Immerser until now, the Kingdom of the Heavens is being breached and the breachers are possessing it.’
Yeshua was alluding to the prophetic passage in Micah about the Messiah being the Shepherd who would breach or tear open a section of the fence or wall of the Sheepfold (the earthly existence) for the Remnant of Israel. The Sheep (believers; breachers), would then continue to break down and break through the fence of the sheep-pen into greener pastures (the heavenly Kingdom), as they follow their Shepherd.
In Micah 2:12-13 we read the prophecy about the Shepherd-Messiah: ‘I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob. I will surely gather the Remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in the fold’ (Bozrah); ‘like a flock in the midst of its pasture. They shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.’
‘The Breaker (Poraytz פֹּרֵץ from the same verb ‘to tear down,’ to breach) goes up before them. They break out, pass through the gate and go out by it. So their King goes on before them and Yahveh is at their head.’
This is what Yeshua pointed to that day in Mt. 11:12. The Kingdom of the Heavens was presenting itself, first with John’s proclamation and then with Yeshua Himself. Not to disparage the Law and the Prophets (Luke 16:17), but on the contrary, to hold up what they spoke of as future, was now unfolding as a present reality. Yeshua was declaring that He was the Shepherd (the Breaker; the Breacher) who would break down the Fence, make a breach in the Fence, so that His Sheep (the breakers) could follow Him into their inheritance, the heavenly realm. A literal translation of Micah 2:13 reads, ‘And the One breaking open will go up before them and they will break open and they will go through the Gate and they will go out through Him and their King will pass through before them (with) Yahveh at their head.’
It’s not that the Kingdom is suffering violence, but that the Shepherd is tearing open, making a hole in the heavenly Fence that separates Man from God. He does this by His Death and Resurrection. The ones that are His, follow Him. They hear His Voice calling to them and escape from the Fold by running to and through the opening in the Fence that He made for them. It becomes widened much the same way that cattle, stampeding through a break in a fence, will trample it down and tear out more and more of it as they go through it.
Such is the ‘violence’ that Yeshua was presenting that day. Unfortunately, when Matthew was translated into Greek ‘there was something lost in the translation.’ The translators tell us that the Kingdom of Heaven ‘suffers violence.’ As we have seen, the idea of force is inherent in the Hebrew word, but the Greek lacks the Hebraic scriptural link to Micah that fleshes out what Yeshua said that day and what He meant. Micah then opens up a scriptural chain for us that reveals both the Salvation of Yahveh and the Resurrection of Yeshua, inherent in what Yeshua said that day.
In ancient Israel the shepherd would take his sheep and box them into a place for the night that would be safe from bear, wolf and lion. If possible, a little box canyon was ideal. The canyon walls would afford protection on three sides with its high cliffs, and the shepherd would build a fence of rocks and branches across the opening so the no wild animal could come in, and no sheep could wander off. ISBE states that the sheepfold or fold was, ‘a wall or hedge made of stones which might be used for a defense of a fold,’ and that,
‘Sheepfolds were of various types. At times they were located in or near a cave (e.g., 1st Sam. 24:3). Some were permanent enclosures with a roof and stone walls, while others were temporary, consisting simply of an open pen with thornbush sides.’
When daybreak came the shepherd would make a small opening in the fence for himself. This passageway would be known as a ‘door’ or a ‘gate.’ (Notice the ‘gate’ in Micah where the sheep go through). Once on the other side he would call to his sheep by name and they would begin to break through to the other side, enlarging the hole as more and more sheep followed the others and, moving ‘shoulder to shoulder,’ they would naturally take out more and more of the fence so that the hole or breach would be further enlarged.
The Breaker or the ‘One breaking open’ in the passage is Messiah Yeshua, the Good Shepherd (John 10). His Sheep hear His Voice: ‘the sheep hear His Voice: and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out. When He puts forth all His own, He goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow Him because they know His Voice’ (Jn. 10:3-4).
Yeshua is saying that He will lead us out of this world of darkness into His Kingdom. This parallels Micah’s Shepherd as ‘He goes ahead of them.’ The sheep will follow when they hear His Voice. The shepherd spent much of his day ‘talking to his sheep until they all recognized his voice.’ ‘So close is the connection between shepherd and sheep that to this day Middle Eastern shepherds can divide flocks that have mingled at a well or during the night simply by calling their sheep, who follow their shepherd’s voice.’
In Hebrew, the word for gate or door and opening are conceptually interchangeable. The concept is of an opening or hole in something (a wall, a fence, etc.). The Hebrew word for gate is shah’are שָׁעַר and means, ‘to cleave, divide…an aperture, and then a gate.’ It also means, “break, break off, through…gap, opening…tear in two, dissolve…split, divide, tear down…gate.” “The root idea is ‘to split open’ and ‘to break through.'”
Yeshua The Breaker
Yeshua is both the Breaker and the Gate or Door through which the Sheep pass (Jn. 10:7, 9). The Sheep (also breakers) go through the Gate (the heavenly Fence or Wall). Ryken states that, ‘Jesus used the imagery of a gate for entrance either into life or into destruction (Mt. 7:13-14).’ He further writes that, “Jesus elaborates the image of the gate (‘door’ in some older translations), in his Good Shepherd Discourse (Jn. 10:1-17). The good shepherd ‘enters by the gate’ and leads his sheep out through the gate of the sheepfold, an image of safety. In an extension of the metaphor, Jesus calls himself the gate: ‘I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved’ (Jn. 10:9 NRSV).'”
Ryken further states, ‘In the context this certainly refers to being a door for the sheep and hence the gate or entry-way to salvation.’
Avram Yehoshua kindly gave me permission to share from his insight. You can find his entire scholarly presentation at: http://seedofabraham.net/Kingdom-Violence.pdf
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