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From Eternity Past

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    We Have a Faithful Shepherd

    The shepherd's life of care-taking and compassion for the helpless creatures illustrates some precious truths of the gospel. Christ is compared to a shepherd. He saw His sheep doomed to perish in the dark ways of sin. To save these wandering ones He left the honors and glories of His Father's house. He says, “I Will seek that 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.” I will “save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey.” “Neither shall the beast of the land devour them.” Ezekiel 34:16, 22, 28. His voice is heard calling them to His fold, “a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” Isaiah 4:6. He strengthens the weak, relieves the suffering, gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them in His bosom. His sheep love Him. “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers.” See John 10:1-15.EP 124.3

    The church of Christ has been purchased with His blood, and every shepherd imbued with the spirit of Christ will imitate His self-denying example, constantly laboring for the welfare of his charge, and the flock will prosper under his care. “When the chief Shepherd shall appear,” says the apostle, “ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:4.EP 125.1

    Jacob, growing weary of Laban's service, proposed to return to Canaan. He said to his father-in-law, “Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.” But Laban urged him to remain, declaring, “I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.”EP 125.2

    Said Jacob, “It was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude.” But as time passed, Laban became envious of the greater prosperity of Jacob, who “increased exceedingly.” Laban's sons shared their father's jealousy, and their malicious speeches came to Laban's ears. He “hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory. And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.”EP 125.3

    Jacob would have left his crafty kinsman long before but for the fear of encountering Esau. Now he felt that he was in danger from the sons of Laban, who, looking upon his wealth as their own, might endeavor to secure it by violence. He was in great perplexity and distress. But mindful of the gracious Bethel promise, he carried his case to God. In a dream his prayer was answered: “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.”EP 125.4

    The flocks and herds were speedily gathered and sent forward, and with his wives, children, and servants, Jacob crossed the Euphrates, urging his way toward Gilead, on the borders of Canaan. After three days, Laban set forth in pursuit, overtaking the company on the seventh day of their journey. He was hot with anger, and bent on forcing them to return. The fugitives were indeed in great peril.EP 125.5

    God himself interposed for the protection of His servant. “It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt,” said Laban, “but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” That is, he should not force him to return, or urge him by flattering inducements.EP 126.1

    Laban had withheld the marriage dowry of his daughters and treated Jacob with craft and harshness, but he now reproached him for his secret departure which had given the father no opportunity to make a feast or even bid farewell to his daughters and their children.EP 126.2

    In reply, Jacob plainly set forth Laban's selfish and grasping policy and appealed to him as a witness to his own faithfulness and honesty. “Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me,” said Jacob, “surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.”EP 126.3

    Laban could not deny the facts and now proposed a covenant of peace. Jacob consented, and a pile of stones was erected as a token of the compact. To this pillar Laban gave the name Mizpah, “Watchtower,” saying, “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another... . The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us. And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.”EP 126.4

    To confirm the treaty, the parties held a feast. The night was spent in friendly communing, and at dawn Laban and his company departed. With this separation ceased all connection between the children of Abraham and the dwellers in Mesopotamia.EP 126.5

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