“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days…
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.”
This is possibly my favorite Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah’s coming. It gives such a beautiful description of our Savior and His impact on the lives of His people.
Jesus, our Messiah, is pictured as standing to shepherd us. He is actively involved and interested in our well-being. He stands for us, helping and strengthening us, watching over us and leading us to green pastures. He cares so deeply for His flock that He will leave 99 in the open country to go find the one sheep who has wandered off. As I reflect on Him standing on our behalf, I am reminded of the account in Acts 7 of Stephen’s death. “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-55).
What a powerful thing to see in your most desperate moment. We don’t read in the account of all the emotions Stephen was feeling at the time, but we do see his actions and hear his final words. He doesn’t panic. He doesn’t run. He doesn’t condemn their actions or react with arrogance. He humbly, willingly gives his life for his Lord. His last words are those of forgiveness, a plea that this sin not be held against his offenders.
Jesus was standing on behalf of Stephen. A precious member of His flock. He strengthened him, as He strengthens us for each moment. The death of this one man did not escape His notice—neither will anything that we go through. Our Lord is here with us, right in the middle of whatever we face. He protects us, guides us, and He intentionally keeps us firmly in the grasp of His steadfast love and faithfulness.
Another detail that I love is that all of this is done “in the majesty of the name of the Lord.” In majesty. Let us not forget who our Savior is. He is God Most High. Immanuel, God with us. He reigns in glory. We dwell secure because the One who stands and shepherds us is the Ruler of the heavens and the earth. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:1-2).
Jesus stands and shepherds His flock in strength and majesty. We dwell secure, for our Lord is great to the ends of the earth and He shall be our peace.
“Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty…
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.”
Psalm 29:1-4, 10