The 2018 “My Shepherd” ornament was inspired by a sobering condition touched upon in the Old Testament story of Joseph that unfolds in Genesis 37-50.
“for all shepherds are detestable* to the Egyptians.” (Genesis 46:34b, NIV)
‘Detestable’ was a prejudicial view of the livelihood of Joseph’s family that Pharaoh used to justify settling them in Goshen, distant from Egyptian society. Such practices are still prevalent, “Pharaohs” brandishing prejudicial views and influence to restrain or shut out those they find unsuitable.
Two thousand years ago, an unlikely player pushed into this fray. Not another Pharaoh but one who embraced the role of shepherd, “My Shepherd,” taking on detestability to find and redeem all who become lost under Pharaoh’s various schemes. Said Jesus,
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10: 27-18, ESV)
Oddly, this story hit me as I found myself in a kind of Goshen. Read on. I hope this ornament and its message blesses you.
Glenn Trevisan (Christmas 2018)
Detestable shepherds in Goshen…
Joseph’s story is found in Genesis 37-50. Second youngest son of Jacob, Joseph ‘lorded’ his most favored son status over his older brothers until their resentment of him erupted when they sold him to traveling desert traders then lied to their father that he died from an animal attack. (Genesis 37:12-36)
Landing in Egypt, Joseph initially earned favor with his master until he was falsely accused for sexual misconduct and imprisoned. Distinguishing himself as a model inmate, his ability to interpret dreams brought him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream who pardoned than appointed him to guide Egypt through the famine foreseen in the dream. When his brothers journeyed to Egypt for famine relief, Joseph tested them with a series of trials before reconciling with them.
Encouraging them to resettle in Egypt to ride out the famine, Joseph scheduled his brothers for an interview with Pharaoh. Preparing them for their meeting, he counseled them to tell him they are shepherds so Pharaoh will settle them in Goshen “for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”’ (Genesis 46:34b).
Why Goshen? Probably because Goshen was away from Egyptian society in the eastern Delta of the Nile in northern Egypt. Despite that they were not allowed to settle among the Egyptians, they flourished in Goshen, literally becoming the nation of Israel until their “Exodus” many generations later, opening another chapter in God’s grand plan for all humanity.
This story tugged at me all year as I settled into Goshens of my own due to being found unsuitable by certain Pharaohs. Estranged from longstanding havens of familiarity and strength, I made some “adjustments” to move on with my life.
Drawing from the Lord’s assurances in Scripture, learning to swallow my pride and to submit to being lead, like a sheep, has not come easily. Neither has accepting that what is going on with me is not observable or knowable by me or anyone but “My Shepherd,” the Lord.
Recall the history leading up to Joseph’s story; how God formed a people (Israel) who were nomadic shepherds (Genesis 12:1-3 and 13:2), an identity considered ‘detestable’ by societies of those times but that God and Christ readily attribute to themselves, thus the ornament’s anchor verses, Psalm 23:1 and John 10:11, arguably the Bible’s best known shepherd metaphors.
Regarding God the Father, the psalmist David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1, NKJV)
Said Jesus about himself, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NIV)
Shepherds also have the distinction of being the first witnesses and heralds of the newborn Savior in the Christmas story as told in Luke 2:8-18 – Christmas Shepherds!
Whatever the causes, including self-inflicted, for the ground caving in beneath us, leaving us displaced in various “Goshens” to find new footholds each day, all who trust in Christ have his solid assurance of rescue and restoration, no matter how dim the view seems to us or others. (See John 6: 38-40 and Matthew 18: 12-14, NIV)
This is the message of Christmas – that Jesus came to rescue and restore all who receive him as Lord and to erase every stain of detestability, no matter its source or cause. The Lord is My Shepherd, your shepherd, the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, me and you - because we matter so much to him.
The word translated “detestable” in the NIV is translated abominable or loathsome in other modern translations.
COMMENTS: Are WELCOME and ENCOURAGED here about how the ornament and/or message struck you ESPECIALLY from ornament recipients. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE a 2018 “My Shepherd” ornament, simply request one at RoadReportJournal@gmail.com. My "extras" supply is limited but if I can get one to you, I will - Free unless shipping is required in which case I may ask you to cover those costs.
Helpers - Thanks to our daughter, Laura Trevisan Mosher for painting assistance and to my wive, Cindy for allowing me many uninterrupted hours in my ornament workshop and for patiently editing versions of the ornament copy.
Wood figure - Little People Dad 2-3/8 x 7/8 inch from Woodworks, Ltd. at Craftparts.com
Sheep - Bulk 50 Sheep Silver Tone Charms from LorettaBeads on Etsy
Bead for hand - Brown 6x5mm Rondellle Wood Bead from SleepingSpirit on Etsy
Staff - Covered wire #5188412 from Hobby Lobby in Novi, MI
Hooks, spray paint for hooks, tiny drills bit, sheep hanger brads, etc purchased at Alexander True Value Hardware in Farmington, MI
Paint for figures is Grumbacher, Academy Acrylic from Michaels Crafts in Novi, MI - Raw Sienna (outer cloak), Warm Gray (inner robe), Unbleached Titanium White (Skin) and Mars Black (Hair and beard)
The Making of "My Shepherd"
Kind of like the featurettes on DVDs about "how this movie was made, " I offer this pictorial featurette on the making of the "My Shepherd" ornament for those of you who like that kind of thing.....