Commenting on today’s reading, the Africa Study Bible points out: “We can often see if preaching about blessing is false or true by looking at its focus. False teachings about blessings are about meeting our needs, finding our success, and building our strength. Biblical teachings about blessing are about God’s work, God being pleased, and God being glorified.”
As we’ve delved into sheep and shepherd imagery in Scripture this month, we’ve found several significant themes: God is our Shepherd, leading the flock toward shalom. The Son of God is also our Shepherd. He sought us out and we belong to Him. Church leaders are essentially under-shepherds, leading and feeding the sheep on a disciples’ pilgrimage. We’re all sheep, foolish and weak on our own yet beloved by the Shepherd. He sacrificed His very life for us as the Passover Lamb whose blood gives us life.
Hebrews 13:20–21 is an appropriate word of blessing as we conclude this study. The blessing can come only from the “God of peace,” who as part of an “eternal covenant” is accomplishing peace and redemption through the blood of His Son, whom He resurrected from the dead. Christ, the “great Shepherd of the sheep,” laid down His life willingly and sacrificially for us (John 10:11). The writer of
Hebrews asked that God would “equip you with everything good for doing his will” and that He would “work in us what is pleasing to him.” An obedient heart is assumed. That’s different from most of our prayers, in which we’re focused on what would please us. It’s all here in two verses—what Jesus did for us, how much God loves us, what we as sheep should be doing if we know what’s good for us, and the power and glory of our great Shepherd’s redemption in conquering sin and death.
>> A benediction is also a prayer, as well as a word of blessing. We encourage you to pray these verses throughout the day, and perhaps even at dinner or family devotions.