Shepherding the Sheep - Mark Sweetnam and Walter Boyd
John Scarsbrook, Killamarsh, England
248 pages. Paperback.
Published by Scripture Teaching Library, Northern Ireland. Available from Ards Evangelical Bookshop, Newtownards.
The sub-title of this book from STL is ‘Tracing the theme of shepherds and shepherding through scripture’, and it does exactly what it says on the cover. The writers will be well known to many throughout the UK and some much further afield, where they have served on the mission field for a good number of years.
We have often heard it said in conferences, that the great need among the Lord’s people is for those with a shepherd heart. This book addresses that need in a substantial way by following the analogy of sheep and shepherds right through the scriptures. Lessons are drawn in relation to the nation of Israel, the church and local assembly witness, as well as practical matters pertaining to individuals.
The nature and character of sheep can be seen as a rich source of instruction for the people of God, bringing out the best, and, on occasion, the worst in those who undertake the work of shepherds.
Old Testament shepherds such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David, together with others, are touched upon, perhaps a little too briefly, while more time is given to the subject as developed in the Psalms and in the major prophetic chapter, Ezekiel 34. The Lord Jesus is clearly seen as the pattern Shepherd in the writings of Isaiah, Micah and Zechariah.
Moving into the New Testament, the Shepherd to the nation of Israel is revealed in Matthew’s Gospel, while the heart of the Shepherd is in evidence in Mark and Luke. The Apostle John’s portrayal of the Good Shepherd in chapter 10, is dealt with in some detail, together with the Lord’s conversation with Peter in chapter 21.
The practical ministry of shepherd care illustrated in the Acts and the Epistles, particularly in relation to the responsibilities of overseers, is clearly explained. The book then closes with a comprehensive exposition of the subject in the book of Revelation, with emphasis on chapter 7.
The themes throughout of leading, feeding, watching, tending and keeping are repeated in their varying contexts. But repetition enhances and underlines the importance of these subjects in our present day.