Home > Bible Study, C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, Old Testament, S. Lewis Johnson > Hebrews 13: The Great Shepherd of the Eternal Covenant

Hebrews 13: The Great Shepherd of the Eternal Covenant


From the depths of scripture passages, comes this interesting insight regarding Hebrews 13 and a reference to Isaiah 63.  Hebrews 13:20 contains this phrase in the benediction:   the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant.

S. Lewis Johnson observes here a reference to Isaiah 63:11 (“​​​​​​​Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people.  Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit”):

Now, who is the shepherd?  Well, the shepherd is Moses.  And what is the flock?  Well, the flock is the people of Israel.  They have been brought out of the land of Egypt; they have been brought through the Red Sea, they have been brought out into the land.  And this, as you know, was the great deliverance to which the prophets and others pointed Israel, to remind Israel of their beginnings and how God had performed that mighty miracle of the exodus, bringing them out of from bondage to the Egyptians, bringing them through in a miraculous way through the sea, out onto dry land.

Spurgeon also noted this in reference to Isaiah 63.  SLJ read portions from this text, of which we can read the full sermon online here.

Turn to Isaiah 63:11—“Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? Where is He that put His Holy Spirit within them? That led them by the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make for Himself an everlasting name?”

See how this making to Himself an everlasting name tallies with the last clause—“To whom be glory forever and ever”? But let us proceed—“Who led them through the deep as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble.” Truly, those do not stumble in whom the Lord works “that which is well-pleasing in His sight.” “As a beast goes down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest”—there is the God of Peace—“so You lead Your people, to make Yourself a glorious name”—there again is the doxology, “To whom be glory forever and ever.” The historical event to which he alludes is the deliverance from Egypt and the coming up from the Red Sea!

Having saved His people by the blood of the Covenant which was smeared upon their doorposts, He led them to the Red Sea, their foes pursuing them. Into the Red Sea they descended—not to its banks, alone, did they go, but into its very depths they passed and there were they buried—the sea was as the place of death to them. Between its liquid walls and beneath the cloudy pillar which hung over the passage, they were baptized unto Moses and buried in Baptism as in a liquid tomb! But lo, they come up out of it again, led safely up from what became the grave of Pharaoh, with songs and shouts and rejoicing!

The parallel is this—“That Great Shepherd,” who is far greater than Moses and Aaron, must go down into the place of death on behalf of His people. He must, as the Representative of His flock, descend into the sepulcher. This He did, for He bowed His head and died. But lo, the Lord led Him up, again, from the deeps and He arose to life and glory—and all His people with Him! On that day the song might have been jubilant as that of Miriam when she chanted, “Sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously. Your right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power.” But now, in this greater deliverance by “the blood of the Everlasting Covenant” the Psalm is not to the Lord who is a man of war, but to “the God of Peace.” The honor is ascribed to the same Lord, but under a gentler name and to Him be glory forever and ever.

S. Lewis Johnson continues with Hebrews 13, observing that the writer of Hebrews is using the same words in the Septuagint, “Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.” The writer of Hebrews was thinking of the same analogy noted by Spurgeon and S. Lewis Johnson:

In other words, just as Moses led the children of Israel out, then led them down through the sea that had been parted by the Lord God, and led them through so, our Lord Jesus, by going to Calvary’s cross, by giving up his life, by entering into the grave and coming up in resurrection, has delivered his people, his flock, and he’s delivered them as their representative.  So brought again from the dead.

It’s also interesting to note that the term resurrection is only mentioned once in all of the book of Hebrews: only here in the benediction.  Hebrews focuses on Christ’s exaltation, which assumes the resurrection.  But only here in Hebrews 13 is the resurrection actually mentioned.

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