Getting To Know God
Jehovah Ra`ah - The Door To Mercy & Goodness
The LORD Our Shepherd - The Door - The Mercy Of God - The Goodness Of God's Suffering
The Stone & The Shepherd
One of the coolest testimonies that explains the transcendent goodness of God, is testimony of Joseph, the son of Jacob. His life was miserable, or at least it seemed like it was. The circumstances of his life paralleled the life of Yeshua in many ways, in terms of how he suffered on account of those who rejected and despised him. Yet, the Bible shows that God was leading Joseph in ways that were incredible, so as to produce a miraculous outcome. The prophecy concerning the lineage of Joseph in Genesis 49:22-25 identifies God this way. Joseph is referred to as a “fruitful bough,” that is able to grow continually because it is well watered by “the Shepherd and Stone of Israel,” referring to the Messiah. Joseph’s testimony looked like Yeshua’s as the Messiah, because the Father ordained it that way. His life was filled with trials, but like Yeshua, was used to save many people alive. To communicate God’s identity as “the Shepherd of Israel,” we wanted to show the effects of His work. So, we set out to photograph a fruitful vineyard, but really feature the vibrancy of the grapes. God doesn’t just produce fruit, but good fruit because of the quality of care He provides as the Shepherd of Israel.
Remember When Entering
It’s hard to address God’s identity as the LORD Our Shepherd, without dealing with the reality that He sees us like sheep. When looking at Psalm 100:4-5, and thinking about our identity as the sheep of Israel’s Shepherd, a funny picture came to mind. We thought it would be funny to imagine sheep following the command of Psalm 100:4, “entering into His gates.” We set out to photograph some sheep, but realized very quickly that sheep are very skittish, and not very excited to see people pointing camera lenses at them. To get this photo, we used this situation to our advantage. We found a small animal rescue farm in Solvang, California that had sheep, which also had this little structure that the sheep were drawn to when they were scared. So, we chased them in their and backed off to with a zoom lens to let them poke their heads out of the structure, trying to picture the idea of them entering into the light of the structure. After many failed attempts and tons of unusable photos, we were finally able to get this one. This, we felt, accentuated the goodness of our Shepherd and the protection and provision He gives, by capturing the silly nature of the sheep. We’re the sheep…
The Shepherd Of Israel
This was, by far, the most difficult, high stress photo we have tried to capture, to date! We went through about 5 or 6 different concepts to try and illustrate the principle of Micah 5:4. None of them really fit the message of what the scripture was communicating about the LORD as our Shepherd. Finally, after much frustration, the LORD sort of highlighted the words in the verse that explain how He feeds His sheep. He feeds His flock “in strength” and in “majesty.” Suddenly, the concept of feeding sheep became less literal for us. We realized that the act of feeding wasn’t the focus. The focus is the manner in which the LORD Our Shepherd feeds us – in ways that only He can. When it finally clicked, we realized it was appropriate to capture some food. Our concept here was to have a hand (the Father), presenting a fancy dish (the Messiah). We wanted the food presentation to illustrate the idea of the strength and majesty in which the LORD provides for His sheep. So we came up with this main course: BBQ rack of lamb, signifying Jesus as the Lamb of God given as a burnt offering; creamy mashed potatoes underneath so that the lamb sat on something white, representing the righteousness of the Lamb; all on top of a cherry vinegar BBQ sauce to show the blood that was poured out. Lastly, we were able to find a wood ring to use as a plate, to represent the tree on which our Lamb was crucified. The image represents the Father offering His Son as the spiritual food we consume for eternal life, being offered in strength and majesty as the background is dark, but the light is clearly illuminating the food only.
The Good Shepherd
When Jesus described Himself as “the Good Shepherd,” He was identifying Himself as the Shepherd of Israel, the Stone of Israel, the goodness of God incarnate! However, when Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd, He was sure to explain that He differed from all others that fulfilled the role of a “shepherd” in Israel, because He would give His life for His sheep, referring to the children of God. This is a powerful statement. The LORD taught that, the means by which His sheep are feed, protected, and ushered into His kingdom, is by the Good Shepherd temporarily laying down His staff, in order to become the Lamb of God! We found ourselves a shepherd’s crook, and laid it on a rock to present the symbolism of Him as our rock. We made up some fake blood with one of our homemade corn syrup recipes for effect, and set the scene in some dead grass since Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be like a root that grows out of dry ground. Here, the drama of the light really shows the mood of Good Shepherd laying down His staff in order that He could lay down His life; thereby enabling His sheep to live.
The Overseer Of Our Souls
The drama of this photo was the epitome of the saying, “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” We had an idea to communicate God’s leadership and goodness by capturing the silhouetted of a person being led through desert wasteland by the sun. It seemed easy enough to capture a person walking either, into a sunset or a sunrise. However, finding “desert wasteland” in Southern California in the hot summer months, isn’t the most exciting exercise. We knew we needed to be strategic, quick, and as local as possible to try and deal with the triple digit temperatures. We decided that Red Rock Canyon National Park was our best bet. When we got there, we ended up off-roading for some time looking for a spot, and nearly had our hearts set on one particular spot. Something felt wrong with it though. There was a ton of foliage, the canyon ridges were too high where we were so that you couldn’t see the sun correctly, and it seemed like we were sitting in the middle of snake territory. We decided to regroup at the camp ground office parking lot, which was closed due to the COVID pandemic. Sitting in the lot, we realized that the sun was going to set right in the middle of a crevasse in the red rock mountains, and if we timed it just right, the mountains would perfectly frame the sun and temper the light naturally, to better expose the person walking. When we went to set up the shot, we happened to see the “One Way” sign pointing up towards the sun, and figured it was appropriate to fit in the shot. We set it all up, waited for the sun to get in position, and did a few laps up and down the road walking to capture the image you see here.