A beautiful portion of Bach’s Cantata No. 208 is titled “Sheep May Safely Graze.” Sheep and shepherd imagery is used to explain how people benefit when they have good leaders: “Sheep may safely graze and pasture/In a watchful shepherd’s sight. /Those who rule, with wisdom guiding,/Bring to hearts a peace abiding,/Bless a land with joy made bright.”
During the future Millennial Kingdom, with the perfect King on the throne, perfect shalom will reign (vv. 6–8). Shalom means peace, in the larger sense of holistic well-being. All will be well. No enemies will threaten. There will be no poverty, no sickness, no fear, no death. There will instead be freedom and safety and abundance. The “natural order” of our fallen and sinful world will be no more (Rom. 8:20–21). The wolf will dwell with the lamb and the leopard with the goat. Children will play with cobras.
The Ruler of this perfect kingdom will be Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Branch and Root of the tree (family line) of David (vv. 1–5). He is wise, understanding, and powerful. He possesses knowledge, insight, and compassion. He acts with righteousness, justice, and faithful love. He is obedient to His Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. How will this kingdom be possible? “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (v. 9; see Hab. 2:14). This is the ultimate and perfect fulfillment of the Bible’s sheep and shepherd imagery (see especially Ezek. 34:25–29). The Lord will be our Shepherd, the journey will be over, and we will lack nothing. Jesus our Good Shepherd will have brought His flock safely home.
>> As we near the end of this topical study, take some time to review and reflect. Jot down some thoughts and prayers in your notebook or journal. Ask the Lord what He wants you to do in response to truths that have become more real to you this month.