The Great Shepherd: Moving Among the Mounts, Ministering Among the Multitudes

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the fifteenth chapter of this New Testament book. WHEN JESUS ASCENDS THE MOUNTAIN! THE JESUS WHO SITS ON THE MOUNTAIN! JESUS DELIVERED THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT ON A MOUNTAIN! GOD APPEARED UNTO MOSES ON THE BACKSIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN! GOD COMES DOWN ATOP THE MOUNTAIN TO DELIVER THE LAW! GOD APPEARS UNTO ELIJAH ON THE MOUNTAIN! GOD COMES DOWN ATOP THE MOUNTAIN AND JESUS ASCENDS THE MOUNTAINS! GOD COMES DOWN ATOP THE MOUNTAIN TO GIVE THE LAW WHILE JESUS ASCENDS THE MOUNTAIN TO TEACH THE KINGDOM! JESUS ASCENDS THE MOUNTAIN TO TEACH AND TO HEAL! JESUS ONCE MORE ASCENDS THE MOUNTAIN! ON THE MOUNTAINS AND WITH THE CROWDS! EZEKIEL’S PROPHECY OF THE MOUNTAIN! EZEKIEL’S PROPHECY OF THE SHEEP! JESUS HEALS, JESUS TEACHES, JESUS FEEDS! EZEKIEL 34! EZEKIEL 36! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find Jesus having just healed the Syrophonecian’s daughter from the evil spirit which possessed and tormented her. As you come and approach this passage of Scripture you will not only find Jesus having just cast out the unclean spirit from the daughter of the Syro-phonecian woman, but you will also find Him doing something which was characteristic and almost standard within and during His ministry. Upon reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that Jesus departed from that place where He had just declared that the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman would be healed and now coming unto the Sea of Galilee. It would be there by the Sea of Galilee Jesus would go up into a mountain and would sit down. What we find taking place here is something which was standard within and throughout the narrative of the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ—namely, great multitudes gathering themselves unto Him. THE MULTITUDES AND THE MOUNTAINS! MULTITUDES AND MOUNTAINS!

            I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found within these passages and I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly captivated—not only by the language of the mountain, but also with and by the language of the multitudes. If and as you read the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will not only find Jesus continually surrounded by great multitudes and crowds which gathered themselves around and unto Him, but you will also find Jesus upon the mountains which were present in the midst of the land of Judaea and Galilee. It is actually quite remarkable and intriguing to read and consider this particular narrative, for within and throughout the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus ministering and moving among the multitudes, as well as going up upon and sitting down upon the mountains which were present in the land of Israel during that time. This is actually truly astonishing and remarkable when you think about it, for in the opening verses of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find him writing how the Word was in the beginning, how the Word was in the beginning with God, and how the Word was God. What’s more, is that later on within this same chapter the apostle John wrote concerning Jesus that He was the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. Within and throughout the public ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find Him emphatically declaring that if anyone saw Him they had indeed and truly seen the Father. Essentially that which Jesus declared unto His disciples and followers was that if they had looked upon and beheld Him they had indeed seen the Father who was in heaven. This bear witness and lines up directly with the words which the New Testament authors wrote concerning Jesus and how He was the express image of the invisible God, and how He was the visible image of that which was not and that which could not be seen.

            I sit here this morning thinking about and considering this reality and concept of Jesus continually and repeatedly going up into the mountains and sitting down, and I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous truth of how Jesus went up into the mountains and sat down to minister among the people and how His heavenly Father in the days of Moses and the children of Israel came down from heaven upon the mountain of God in the wilderness. If and as you read the words which are written and recorded in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find how the LORD spoke unto Moses and instructed him to make ready and prepare the children of Israel against the third day, for it would be on the third day He would come down among them in their midst. It would be on the third day the living and eternal God would come down upon the mountain in the sight of the entire congregation and host of Israel. It’s interesting and worth noting that the LORD did not speak to, nor did He reveal unto Moses that for which He would come down upon the mountain, however, we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the living and eternal God would indeed and would in fact come down from His place in heaven and would come upon the mountain which stood before the children of Israel there in the wilderness. In fact, from the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus through the end of the book we find the narrative of the living God coming down upon the mountain of God there in the midst of the wilderness in the sight of the entire host and congregation of Israel. It would be there in the midst of the wilderness and there before that great mountain which stood before the children of Israel that the children of Israel not only heard the voice of the living God speaking unto Moses—that which sounded like great peels of thunder—but they would also see the consuming fire which was upon the mountain, they would see the thick darkness, they would see the clouds, and they would see the flashes of lightning. When the living and eternal God came down among them and settled upon the mountain He would indeed and would in fact come down among them in the midst of the wilderness atop the mountain. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded—not only in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus, but also the words which are written in the twentieth chapter of the same book:

            “And the LORD said unto Moses, GO unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: For the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up unto the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered Him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount: and Moses went up. And the LORD said unto Moses, GO down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest He break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them” (Exodus 19:10-25).

            “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thous halt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold Him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be ong upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:1-17).

            “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be fefore your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon” (Exodus 20:18-26).

It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for when the living and eternal God brought forth the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt He brought them unto the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness-that mountain where He had appeared unto Moses while he was tending the sheep and flock of Jethro his father-in-law. It would be there at and there upon the mountain the living and eternal God would come down before and among the children of Israel as they would witness and behold the tremendous manifestation of the glory of the living God upon the mountain. The LORD would speak unto Moses and would instruct him to make ready and prepare the people of Israel for and against the third day, for on the third day He would come down among them. Moses would do as the LORD had commanded, and on the third day the LORD came down upon and atop the mountain in the sight of the entire congregation of Israel. On the third day there were thunderings, there were lightnings, and the whole mountain quaked violently before and in the sight of the congregation of Israel. Moreover—when the LORD came down upon the mountain of God in the wilderness the entire mountain would be consumed with the fire of the presence of the living God, and the whole mountain would be covered with smoke as of the smoke of a furnace. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for what we read and find within them is a powerful picture of the living God coming down upon the mountain of God there in the wilderness in the sight of all the children and congregation of Israel that He might make Himself known and reveal Himself unto the entire congregation of the children of Israel. It would be there upon and there atop the mountain the living and eternal God would come down in the sight of all the congregation of Israel and would come in the midst of thick clouds, great thunderings and lightnings, a consuming fire, and great smoke. Essentially that which we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful image known as a “theophany”—essentially a direct manifestation of the glory and presence of the living God during the days of the Old Testament and during the days of the Old Covenant.

What makes this truth and reality all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the tremendous truth that when the LORD came down upon the mountain in the sight and presence of the entire congregation of Israel, He would not only come down to reveal and make Himself known, but He would also come down to teach and instruct them. As you read the words which are found in this Old Testament book—from the nineteenth chapter through to the final chapter of the book—you will find that when the LORD descended upon the mountain there in the midst of the wilderness He did so in the sight of all the people and congregation that He might not only give unto them the Law, but also that He might give unto them the pattern of the Tabernacle. It would be through the giving of the Law the living and eternal God would teach and instruct His people how to obey Him, and how to walk in all manner of obedience and pleasing in His sight in the midst of the earth. It would be through the giving of the pattern of the Tabernacle the LORD would instruct His people how to worship and approach Him. When the living and eternal God came down upon the mountain—not only was He manifesting and revealing Himself unto them, but He was also teaching them how to worship and approach Him, as well as to obey Him and walk in His statutes. When the children and congregation of Israel departed from the mountain and journeyed through the wilderness, and then the children of Israel actually came into the land which was sworn on oath to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob they would not only know how to worship and approach the living God through the sacrifices and offerings they would bring to the Tabernacle and offer upon the altar, but they would also know how to walk in obedience before and unto the living God. It would be through the Law which was given unto Moses the children of Israel would indeed know that which the LORD required, and would therefore know and understand what was required of them to walk in obedience before and in the sight of the living God, and to live lives that were holy and righteous in His sight and in His presence. It would be through the giving of the Law and through the giving of the pattern of the Tabernacle the children of Israel would not only know how to walk in obedience and pleasing before the LORD, but also how to worship and approach Him.

I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within these passages of Scripture and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when the living and eternal God came down upon and came down atop the mountain of God which was there in the wilderness—not only did He come down to instruct the congregation of Israel concerning how they were to worship and approach Him, but He also taught and instructed them concerning how to walk in obedience before and unto Him in the midst of the earth. HOW TO OBEY GOD & HOW TO APPROACH GOD! HOW TO APPROACH GOD & HOW TO OBEY GOD! We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words found within these passages of Scripture, for the words we find within these passages of Scripture are a powerful picture of how the living and eternal God came down among the congregation of the children of Israel there in the wilderness that He might teach them how to obey Him according to that which He had commanded them within His law. What we find within these passages of Scripture is the living and eternal God coming down upon and coming down atop the mountain there in the midst of the wilderness that He might teach and show the congregation of the children of Israel how to worship and approach Him. It is necessary that we recognize and pay close and careful attention to this tremendous reality, for it helps shine a great deal of light on to the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. If and as you read and study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded in the gospel narratives you will find that while in the Old Testament the living and eternal God came down upon and came down atop the mountain of God in the wilderness—and even as the living God would appear and reveal Himself unto Elijah atop the mountain of God in the wilderness—Jesus would actually ascend and go up into and upon the mountains that He might teach the multitudes and crowds which gathered themselves unto Him. If and as you read and study the gospel narratives you will find a strong and powerful picture of Jesus—the Word which was in the beginning with God, the Word which in the beginning was God, and the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us—going up into the mountains that He might teach and speak unto the great multitudes and crowds which gathered themselves unto Him.

Perhaps one of the most astonishing truths I find within the gospel narratives written concerning the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is what is written concerning Jesus being continually and repeatedly surrounded and immersed by great multitudes which gathered themselves unto Him. What’s more, is I am absolutely and completely captivated by the fact that there were several times when Jesus would go up into and unto the mountains there in the land of Judaea, and there in the land of Galilee that He might minister unto and among the people. It is as early as the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus beginning to be surrounded by great multitudes which would gather themselves unto Him, and how Jesus would heal them all of various sicknesses, various diseases, and various illnesses. In fact, when you come to the end of the fourth chapter—not only will you find Jesus teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and healing all manner of sickness, but you will also find Jesus being surrounded by great multitudes which gathered themselves unto Him. It would be in the context of the multitudes, as well as in the context of healing all manner of sickness and disease which was brought unto Jesus we find the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative beginning and opening up. It is in the fifth chapter where we first find Jesus and the mountains which were present in the land of Judaea, as well as in the region of Galilee. It is when you come to the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative you are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that Jesus would continually and regularly be surrounded by multitudes of people which gathered themselves before and unto Him, and how He would go up into the mountains of Israel that He might teach and speak unto them.

I find it absolutely and incredibly unique and interesting to read the words which are found within the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew, for the words which we find within the gospel written by Matthew not only paint a powerful picture of Jesus among the multitudes which gathered themselves unto Him, but also a powerful picture of Jesus upon the mountains of Israel which were present there in the land. In fact, I would dare say that you cannot read the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter and come face to face with this tremendous link and connection between the multitudes and the mountains. If you want to truly understand the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the earth during the days and times in which He walked among men you must needs understand and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus ministered in the midst of the multitudes and ministered upon the mountains which were in Judaea and Galilee. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truly is, for when Jesus would go up into and go up upon a mountain He would do so that He might teach and instruct the multitudes concerning the kingdom of heaven, as well as to heal them of their sicknesses, their diseases and their infirmities. We cannot and must not quickly ignore and lose sight of this, for there is strong and powerful language found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel which calls and draws our attention to the reality of the LORD who is the ultimate Shepherd of His people. What’s more, is that not only do we find within the prophetic book of Ezekiel a strong and powerful picture of the living God who is the true Shepherd of the people of Israel, as well as the wonderful and powerful truth concerning the mountains of Israel upon which the living God would minister and speak unto His people. In fact, the more I read the words which are found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth concerning the mountains and the multitudes, for if we want to truly understand the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs understand it in terms of the multitudes and the mountains.

As you read the words which are found within gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that when the multitudes came and gathered themselves unto the LORD Jesus the Christ He would not only heal the multitudes, but He would also teach them. In the final verses of the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew we find Jesus healing the multitudes which gathered themselves unto Him—multitudes which came from Judaea, which came from Galilee, which came from Syria, which came from the Decapolis, and which came from Jerusalem. What’s more, is that it is within this context of the multitude gathering themselves before and unto Jesus we find the fifth chapter of this gospel beginning and opening. It is when you come to the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative you find the first instance and the first occurrence of Jesus going up into a mountain that He might teach the people—and not only teach the people, but teach the people concerning the kingdom of heaven. If there is one thing I absolutely love about that which is written and recorded in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew it’s that within these chapters we find Jesus going up onto a mountain that He might teach the multitudes how to approach the living God in a new and living way, as well as how to walk in obedience before Him in the midst of the earth. It would be in the wilderness of Sinai and as the living God came down atop the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness we find Him teaching and instructing the people how to worship and approach, and how to obey and please Him. Now, what we have within the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us teaching and instructing us how to worship and approach God in a new and living way—and not only how to worship and approach Him, but also how to access and enter into His kingdom, and how to walk in a manner that pleases Him.

The more I read and consider the language that is found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face—not only with Jesus among the multitudes, but also Jesus on the mountains. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found within this gospel narrative and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that as you study the life and ministry of Jesus you will find Him moving and ministering among the multitudes, as well as moving upon the mountains of Galilee and Judaea. We cannot, we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to how Jesus essentially ministered and moved the way the LORD did in the wilderness when He came down upon and came down atop the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness. There in the wilderness of Sinai we find the living and eternal God coming down upon the mountain of God in the wilderness, and it would be there upon the mountain the LORD would speak directly unto Moses face to face as a man would speak unto a friend, but would also speak in such a way that the people could most assuredly know that He was speaking. Although the congregation of the children of Israel most likely did not hear the words which the LORD spoke unto Moses and would have to hear those words directly from the mouth of Moses—they would nonetheless encounter the tremendous manifestation of the glory and presence of the living God upon and atop the mountain. It is absolutely astonishing and remarkable when you think about this, for what we find within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is Jesus who is and who was the Word became flesh and dwelling among us, and who not only ministered among the multitudes teaching them, but also ministering unto and ministering among the multitudes healing them. As you read the words which are found within this gospel narrative you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that it would be there atop and there upon the mountain where the living God would teach and instruct His people how to walk in obedience before Him in the earth—and not only how to walk in obedience before Him in the earth, but also how to worship and approach Him.

As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider the prophetic words which Ezekiel had spoken unto the captives and remnant of the house of Israel which were in captivity in the midst of Babylon. If and as you read the words which are found in both the thirty-fourth and thirty-sixth chapters you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the living God not only had a quarrel with the shepherds of His people, but would also Himself be a Shepherd for and unto His people. What’s more, is that within the prophetic book of Ezekiel, and through His servant Ezekiel He would also prophesy concerning the mountains of Israel upon which He would visit. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close and careful attention to these words, for these words call and draw our attention to that which the living God desired to do—not only within and upon the mountains of Israel within the land, but also that which the living God would indeed and would in fact do for them as He would be a Shepherd unto them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful these words truly are, for there is not a doubt in my mind that what we find within the public ministry of Jesus Christ is a wonderful and powerful fulfillment of that which is found in the prophetic book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel not only saw the controversy the LORD had with the shepherds of His people who neglected, injured and disrespected His sheep and His flock, but Ezekiel also saw a wonderful and powerful picture of the LORD ministering and moving upon the mountains of Israel within the land. The prophet Ezekiel saw a time which would come when the LORD Himself would be Shepherd to His people, and when the LORD would move mightily upon the mountains within the land. It is with this in mind I now invite you to consider the words which are found within these two chapters in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel:

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty ye have ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (Ezekiel 34:1-6).

Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the LORD God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock: Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:7-10).

For thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and ina  fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the LORD God. I will seek tht which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must read down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet” (Ezekiel 34:11-19).

Therefore thus saith the LORD God unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause th evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the LORD God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD God” (Ezekiel 34:20-31).

Each of these passages found within the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel speaks of the great abuse, neglect, and injury the flock and sheep of the living God experienced, and how the LORD God was not only going to be a shepherd unto them, but would also raise up for them a shepherd—even David His servant—who would feed them, and would cause them to lie down in green pastures. What makes this even more intriguing and captivating is when you think about and consider the words found in the thirty-fourth chapter and the words which were written and recorded in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms. It is worth noting and pointing out how the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms was written by David and spoke of the LORD as being his shepherd, and here in the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the LORD declaring how He would raise up unto and among His people a shepherd who would not only feed them, but would also tend for, look after, and care for them. With this in mind—and before we get into the words which are found in the thirty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel—I invite you to consider the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:1-6).

How absolutely remarkable and powerful these words truly are—particularly and especially when you consider them in light of the words which are found within the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel. What’s more, is that the words which are found in this particular psalm written by David have a tremendous and intrinsic link between the words which we find in the ninth and eleventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is when you come to each of these chapters which are found within this gospel you will encounter this fulfillment being manifested within the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you read the words which are found within the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, as well as the words which are found within the twenty-third chapter of the poetic book of the Psalms you will find a wonderful and powerful picture of that which Jesus came to offer and that which Jesus came to provide during those three and a half years He walked upon the earth. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close attention to these words which are found in the ninth and eleventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for they call and draw our attention even more to the reality of the LORD not only being a shepherd for His people, but also raising up a Shepherd—one who would look after, care for, and tend to His flock. In fact, it is when you read the words which are found in the ninth chapter that you will also find the language concerning of the shepherd and the language of the sheep in direct connection and relationship to the crowds and multitudes which were present during those three and a half years He moved and walked among us as the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. It is with this in mind that I now invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found within each of these chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

…And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The words and language which is found in this particular passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that not only was Jesus a shepherd among us, but He was a shepherd who had compassion on the flock. Not only this, but we must needs realize that Jesus saw the sheep as being scattered not having a shepherd, and saw them as those who were fainting. Moreover, we find Jesus giving a strong and powerful invitation unto those who laboured and were heavy laden and promised them rest—not only rest for their physical bodies, but rest for their minds, rest for their hearts, rest for their souls, rest for their spirits. Furthermore, Jesus also invited and instructed His disciples and followers to take His yoke upon them and learn of Him, and then went on to declare unto them that He was meek and lowly of heart. Jesus would go further declare that upon doing so they would find rest unto their souls, for His yoke was easy, and His burden was light. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible these words truly are, for they also directly link together with the words we find in this particular passage of Scripture which is before us today. Before I present you with the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Ezekiel prophesied concerning the mountains of Israel I feel compelled to draw and call your attention to the words which are found in this passage—not only concerning Jesus once more going up unto the mountains, but also Jesus’ ministry among those who were tired, those who were weary, those who were weak, and those who were hungry. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that Jesus was never willing to allow the crowds to leave His presence fasting and fainting, and instead offered to feed and fill them. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves when men and women leave our presence, and/or when men and women leave our congregations and services is whether or not they are leaving fasting and fainting, or whether they are leaving fed and filled. Oh there is a vast difference and dichotomy between the two, and it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this. With that in mind I invite you to take a look at the words which are found within this particular portion of Scripture:

And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:29-31).

Then Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And His disciples say unto Him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith not them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to His dsiciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. And He sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala” (Matthew 15:32-39).

It is as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you not only find Jesus going up into a mountain, but also there from His place upon the mountain sitting down before the great crowd and multitude which was before Him. There upon the mountain Jesus would heal all those who were lame, all those who were blind, all those who were dumb, all those who were maimed, and many others. Not only this, but we also find many being cast down at the feet of Jesus, and Him healing all of them. So marvelous and so wonderful was the work of Jesus healing all those who came unto Him that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see. In the first portion of this text we find Jesus healing the multitude and the crowd which came unto Him, while in the second portion we find Jesus not only having compassion on the multitude, but also acknowledging their present state. Jesus acknowledge to His disciples that the crowd and multitude had continued with him three days, and had nothing to eat. Moreover, we find Jesus emphatically declaring that he would not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close attention to these words, for these words call and draw our attention to the truly awesome and powerful truth that what we find within this passage of Scripture is not only Jesus upon the mountains of Israel—a place which was common for Him within and during His ministry—but Jesus among the multitudes which were present during those days. In order for us to understand the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs recognize and understand that Jesus continually and repeatedly ministered and moved among the multitudes of those who gathered themselves unto Him, and would regularly move upon the mountains of Israel. Time and time again we find Jesus going up into a mountain and sitting down there upon the mountain that He might teach the crowd and multitude which was before Him. This reality was seen as early as the fifth chapter when great multitudes of people gathered themselves before and unto Jesus. The apostle Matthew reveals how after Jesus sat down He called the disciples unto Himself and began teaching the people—a reality that would regularly and routinely be seen within and throughout the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew.

The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous declaration the prophet Ezekiel made concerning the mountains of Israel. Already in the thirty-fourth chapter we found the LORD emphatically declaring unto His people through the prophet Ezekiel that He would feed His people upon the mountains of Israel, and while we can indeed and can in fact take that literally—we can also take it in a spiritual sense. We must needs realize and understand that when Jesus moved among us—even when Jesus moved and sat down upon the mountains—not only did He feed the multitudes and crowds in the literal, physical and natural sense, but Jesus also fed them in the spiritual sense. When we read the gospel narratives we must recognize and understand that Jesus did of course feed with loaves of bread and fish—and did so on two separate occasions—however, we must also realize that Jesus referred to Himself as being the Bread of life. As the Bread of life Jesus would in turn feed the crowds and the multitudes of Himself—and not only of Himself, but also of the Father who was in heaven. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth that Jesus moved upon the mountains of Israel feeding the multitudes and the crowds of Himself as the Bread of life, and with literal and physical loaves of bread. How absolutely remarkable it is to consider that in the wilderness the Father gave the children of Israel manna for forty years, and when Jesus came to the earth in the form of human flesh, He came as the Bread of life which came down from heaven. There was the literal and physical bread which was given in the wilderness, however, within and through the person of Jesus we find the Father feeding the multitudes with the Bread of life which came down from heaven itself. What’s more, is that as we read the words which are found in the gospel narratives we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that there were times when Jesus did indeed and did in fact feed the multitudes with actual loaves of bread and fish. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out that Jesus came unto this earth as the Bread of life from the Father, and even as the Bread of life He still fed the crowd and multitude with physical loaves of bread. Not only this, but we find Jesus feeding the multitude with literal loaves of bread on two separate occasions—the first time feeding five thousand men which didn’t include women and children, and the second time feeding four thousand men which also didn’t include women and children.

I feel it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the prophetic word which Ezekiel prophesied concerning the mountains of Israel, for if you read and study the gospel narratives—particularly and especially the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew—you will find Jesus moving among and moving upon the mountains of Israel. What’s more, is that within this gospel we find Jesus moving upon the mountains healing all manner of sickness and disease, teaching the crowds and multitudes concerning the kingdom, and feeding them with loaves of bread and fish. There were distinct times within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew when we find Jesus not only connected to the mountains, but also connected to the multitudes. Now with that being said—please note that when I speak of Jesus’ connection to the mountains of Israel, I am attempting to present a powerful picture that the prophetic word which the LORD had spoken through His servant Ezekiel generations earlier would indeed be fulfilled (at least in part) by Jesus Christ Himself. It would be Jesus who would come to the earth as the Bread of life and the Bread which came down heaven who would feed the multitudes—not only with Himself, but also with physical loaves of bread. It is truly something worth noting and considering that the words which were spoken in generations past by the LORD through His servant Ezekiel would be fulfilled in part by Jesus Christ Himself. It is something worth noting and pointing out that Jesus would fulfill a powerful sense of this prophetic word that was spoken by the ancient prophet Ezekiel, and that through Jesus the people would indeed be filled—both physical and spiritually. With this being said, I invite you to consider the following words which were written and spoken by the prophet Ezekiel:

Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the LORD God; Because the nemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession: Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers and are in infamy of the people: Therefore, ye mountains of Israe, hear the word of the LORD God; Thus saith the LORD God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which become a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about; Therefore thus saith the LORD God; Surely in the fire of my jealousy I have spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey. Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen: Therefore thus saith the LORD God; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame” (Ezekiel 36:1-7).

But ye, O mountains of Israel. Ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD> Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel: and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men. Thus saith the LORD God; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations; therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave nations, saith the LORD God. Neither will I case men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause they nations to fall any more, saith the LORD God” (Ezekiel 36:8-15).

It is truly remarkable and astounding when you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage we find a powerful description of the mountains of Israel, and how the LORD was going to bring redemption and restoration upon the mountains. While it is true that these words come directly in front of the declaration of the LORD reunifying His people as one people in the midst of the land after restoring them from their captivity, and while it is true that this does indeed come in light of Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, we must needs understand that the words the LORD speaks here are absolutely powerful in terms of the mountains of Israel in the midst of the land. I read these words and I can’t help but see Jesus Christ moving upon the mountains of Judaea and Galilee teaching the multitudes as He went. I can’t help but see Jesus the Christ moving to and fro among the mountains of Israel healing all manner of sickness, disease and illness, and driving out unclean spirits. I can’t help but even see the Lord Jesus Christ moving upon the mountains and feeding two large crowds—the first crowd which numbered five thousand men which didn’t include women and children, and the second crowd which numbered four thousand men which also didn’t include women and children. Not only this, but we also find within this passage of Scripture an incredibly strong and powerful picture of Jesus moving upon the mountains as a shepherd who would tend for, care after, and lead His flock. What’s more, is that I can’t help but see Jesus the Christ leading men and women unto the mountains of Judaea and Galilee that He might feed them with the bread of life, as well as the Bread from heaven.

Moses initially led the flock of his father-in-law Jethro to the mountain of God in the wilderness, and he would later lead the children of Israel unto the same mountain. It would be this initial encounter when Moses would encounter the LORD in the midst of the burning bush, and it would be the second encounter when Moses and the children of Israel would encounter the LORD in the manifestation of His glory upon and atop the mountain. The living and eternal God would lead the children of Israel through Moses unto the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness, and it would be there in the midst of the wilderness HE would teach, speak and reveal Himself unto them. When we examine the four gospel narratives—and specifically the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew—we are brought face to face with a Jesus who not only seemed to move upon the mountains, but would also lead men and women to the mountains that He might teach them, that He might feed them, and that he might heal them. What I so love about what is found earlier on in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is that when the first crowd and multitude which numbered five thousand appeared before Jesus—He had them all sit in the grass there before the mountain. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this, for when we come to the second encounter between Jesus and the multitude He would feed, we find Him causing the crowd to sit down and rest. It would be there before the mountain Jesus would invite the multitude to rest—essentially making them to lie down in green pastures—and it would be there in that place Jesus would feed them. Having already healed all their sicknesses, diseases and infirmities, and having already ministered unto and among them the power of God through healing and deliverance, Jesus would now minister unto and among them by physically feeding them. On both instances Jesus would feed the crowds and multitudes with that which was offered unto Him by that one who was present among then. In the instance of the feeding of the five thousand we find Jesus being given five loaves of bread and two fish, and it would be from that offering where Jesus would not only feed and fill the multitude, but would also create twelve baskets full of leftovers. Oh pause for a moment and consider how when those loaves of bread and fish were in the boy’s hands they were nothing extraordinary, and they were just five loaves and two fish. When, however, they were in the hands of Jesus the Christ, they were not only enough to feed five thousand men which didn’t include women and children, but they were also enough to provide leftovers.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely and incredibly necessary to call and draw your attention to the awesome and incredible truth that when we read and study the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ we are brought face to face with the truth that His ministry was one that moved among and upon the mountains of Israel. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus move among and upon the mountains of Israel, but He also fed the multitudes there on the mountains, He healed upon the mountains, He delivered and set free upon the mountains, He taught from upon the mountains, and He gave of Himself there on the mountain. What we must also realize and recognize when considering is that there would come a point in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew when Jesus would be transfigured atop a mountain in the presence and company of Peter, James and John. It would be there upon and there atop the mountain Jesus would indeed reveal and manifest His glory—at least in part—in the company and presence of these men as He appeared talking and speaking with Moses and Elijah. What’s more, is that we must needs understand that the same Jesus who ministered upon and moved among the mountains would eventually set His sights for the ultimate mountain which was the city of Jerusalem. There would eventually come a point in time when Jesus would set His face like flint to go toward Jerusalem and unto Moriah where Abraham would have sacrificed his son Isaac were it not for the intervention of the angel of the LORD, and where David offered a burnt offering at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

I conclude this writing with the emphatic and powerful declaration that Jesus the Christ moved among the mountains within Galilee and within Judaea healing the multitudes as He went. Jesus taught concerning the kingdom from and upon the mountains within the land of Israel during that time, and spoke of the kingdom as that which was among them at that time, and was something they needed to seek first along with the righteousness of God. Moreover, Jesus ministered and moved among the mountains as He even fed what most likely amounted to more than nine thousand men—this not even including women and children. With this being said, we must needs recognize and understand that this same Jesus who ministered and moved among the mountains within the land of Israel was the same Jesus who would eventually find the mountains led Him to that mountain upon which He would ultimately give His life. Jesus would heal the sick from the mountains; Jesus would feed the hungry from the mountains; Jesus would teach from the mountains; and Jesus would ultimately lay down His life upon a mountain and hill called Calvary and Golgotha. Oh when we read the narratives concerning Jesus moving among the mountains of Israel during those three and a half years we must needs realize and understand how that movement would eventually and ultimately lead Him to the mountain where Abraham had placed Isaac upon the altar, as well as the mountain where David had offered the burnt offering at the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. Oh that we would realize that the ministry and movement of Jesus among and upon the mountains which were present in the land of Israel would ultimately lead Him to that single mountain upon which He would willingly lay down and offer His life as a sacrifice for the redemption of mankind and not only for an atonement for sin—but the atonement for sin. Oh that we would realize and understand just how incredibly powerful it is to consider this same Jesus who ministered and moved among the mountains of Israel would ultimately make His way to that mountain where He would willingly sacrifice and offer His life as the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world.

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