Are sheep sheepish? Are they stupid?
Top marks if you answered no to both of these questions. Sheep are remarkable creatures – and we human beings are very much like them, as you’ll learn from the Bible.
All in together!
Sheep like to be together. The Bible pictures a shepherd with his flock gathered around him. The sheep know his voice, he knows their names, and he feeds and watches over them. The Lord Jesus drew a parallel with Himself as the Good Shepherd in John chapter 10.
In contrast, what we see in New Zealand are great mobs of sheep being mustered and driven by a farmer and his dogs. There is much whistling by the farmer, barking by dogs, and bleating of confused sheep. That is what it’s like to go with this world’s crowds. People, as well, like to be together, to belong, and the great enemy Satan knows that. He keeps them rounded up, as it were, chasing the latest trend or event, trying to maintain “connectivity” through the social media. But it’s a restless, often lonely togetherness with no certain outcome.
That is not God’s way! Make sure you trust the Good Shepherd and know the contentment and security of being in His flock. He calls, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). You can enjoy the green pastures and still waters of the much-loved Psalm 23.
Follow the leader!
Sheep need a leader, and readily follow one another. It just takes one sheep – any sheep– to go in a direction and the rest will follow. A farmer knows this well. When he needs to load a flock of sheep onto a truck to go to the slaughterhouse, he will get one sheep to take the first steps up the ramp. I was told once that he calls it the “Judas sheep”. (Remember Judas, who betrayed Jesus to be crucified?) It leads the others – to their death. What a lesson! Be careful whom you follow! Beware of Satan’s traitors – “Judas sheep” – who will deceive you, whether through false religion or the occult or other evils. Inevitably, such will drag you down to eternal destruction.
In contrast, listen to the loving call of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28). He will lead you right into Heaven.
A sheep strays so easily. Just a step or two, to get those nice tufts of grass, or to see what’s on the other side of the hedge. Suddenly, the sheep is on its own, in danger from predators, afraid, and with absolutely no instinct for finding its way back. How like the sinner. “All we like sheep have gone astray,” (Isaiah 53:6). Have you found out that you are lost? The Bible teaches that you have sinned against a holy God, and are in danger of His wrath. You can’t find your own way to the salvation you desperately need. There is good news: the Good Shepherd seeks for you. Jesus told of the shepherd who looked for and found the one lost sheep, and carried it joyfully home on his shoulders. Read about it in Luke 15 – it will warm your heart.
Even in a flock, a sheep can meet disaster. I’ve seen a flock in a field seemingly happily grazing. But one of their number is down, or “cast”. This happened because it rolled a little as it sat down, overbalanced, and went right over. And there it is on its back, a pathetic sight, helpless, frantically kicking its legs. The sad thing is that it will perish unless someone finds it and sets it on its feet again. This is a picture of what sin will do to you: leave you cast down, without hope, and alone. Could it be that you are in the grip of an addiction, or a victim of abuse or violence, vainly trying and trying, like the kicking sheep, to get free? There is hope! Call on the Shepherd. His Word promises, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Think of the love of the Lord Jesus. He died on the cross to save you. He says, “I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Why would you persist in your lonely struggle? Let Him lift you up, set you on your feet, bring you into His fold, and never let you go.
L M Thomson
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