Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why does God call us sheep?

Before you jump to the conclusion that I am saying Christian are "brainless" sheep, read this post completely.  If you still aren't sure, read this post: Are Christians brainless?

Why does He call us SHEEP? (The Bible makes reference to sheep no less than 220 times).  A few of the more notable passages that come to mind are the 23rd Psalm, Isa. 53:6 and John 10. 


There are many references to His People being sheep. So why not something more powerful, like a ram or horse? Why not something more graceful and valued, like a prized bird? Well, God chose to use the word sheep to identify His followers, as we are "His sheep." Our shepherd, Jesus, is leading the way, so let's look at the facts about sheep-the nature of  sheep.


 Let's look at the facts about sheep-
*Sheep aren’t intelligent. Sheep are not known to be smart or cunning animals when it comes to safety; rather, they are susceptible and tend to wander away from the protection of the shepherd.   Compared to the wisdom of God, all knowing, all loving, human intelligence doesn't compare.  (1 Corin 3:19).  People tend to wander away from God, from everything that is right and holy. 



• Sheep respond to the shepherd's voice.  The voice of the shepherd brings comfort and security to the sheep. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 ).



Sheep are Directionless - Sheep get lost easily.  Individual sheep easily wander away from the flock while they graze. When even one sheep goes astray, the shepherd goes after it and restores it to the flock. As Isaiah 53:6 indicates, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” . If a sheep wanders off from the rest of the herd, it will have a hard, if not impossible time, finding its way back. They have no sense of direction. So it is with those outside the Lord, there is simply no sense of spiritual direction in their lives. They cannot find their way to the Lord by themselves.

 *Sheep are weak and need a shepherd/people are spiritually weak and need THE Shepherd. . In a human's unsaved, deprived mind, humans are always weak, foolish and ignorant. That is why they always need the shepherd to care for them. Sheep need someone to protect them. Ever seen a “Beware of Sheep” sign posted on someone’s gate?  Have you ever seen a wide-eyed animal fleeing for its life from a bleating lamb?  Never!  Sheep aren’t dangerous they’re virtually defenseless. All they can do is freeze in their tracks, or at best run. Without claws, sharp teeth, speed, or a resounding roar to make predators think twice before pouncing, sheep are easy prey.  They can’t scamper up a tree, camouflage their color, or even swim.  When they sense danger, the poor, timid sheep panic.  Jesus disciples must have shuddered with fear when He told them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”  (Matt.10:16a).  A sheep’s best defense is to stay close to the shepherd and remain with the herd.  The same is true with us, isn’t it?  When we’re out of fellowship with God and isolated from other Christians, we’re most vulnerable.  We need the Shepherd’s wisdom and strength to survive, as well as the comfort and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ.


•  Sheep become restless.  There are two major reasons why sheep become restless: hunger and bugs. Hunger: Sheep can graze peacefully for hours, but they become restless when food is scarce. Spiritual hunger occurs when the word of God is lacking. The Bible tells us that the Good Shepherd, “He  maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2).  * A well fed sheep will not quickly feed at a stranger's hand, but hungry sheep will eat anything. (Stay full on God’s word).  Bugs: There is in the Middle East a bug that torments sheep by landing and nesting on their heads. If the bug remains undetected by the shepherd, it will multiply and eventually blind the sheep. Shepherds in the Middle East routinely rub olive oil on sheeps' heads to prevent the bug from landing on them, thereby eliminating the problem.   In Scripture, the devil is called Beelzebub (the lord of the flies). In the Spirit realm, therefore, bugs are symbolic of demons. The anointing of the Holy Spirit protects us from being harassed by demons.

*
A Sheep is a Personal, a Prized and a Precious Possession - This sheep belonged to the shepherd, he had paid a personal price to own it and wasn't going to stand idly by while it was lost. (Ill. The price Jesus paid for the sheep - Ill. Calvary - 1 Cor. 6:19-20) - This sheep may have been no different from any other ordinary sheep, but it was special to the shepherd. To him, it was a prized possession.  - To this shepherd, there were no big sheep and little sheep. Every sheep he had was precious in his eyes. So it is with the Lord. He loves all His sheep equally.
*Sheep need plenty of water. In the Bible regions, the shepherds had to get their sheep to water very regularly. As Christians, we need the living water of the Holy Spirit continually. We cannot go without it. John 7:38 says: "He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water;  In dry spells they may not go to get water. They will mob round a tree in a dry paddock or an empty water trough until they die of thirst. They need someone to lead them beside still water. People are often helpless, easily intimidated and will head away from help when it is offered. They need a shepherd to guide them.
*Sheep follow the voice of their own Shepherd (no other shepherd). The Bible says the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. They are not without understanding! They follow the One whom they know. You may never have a complete understanding of your circumstances with all the answers to the questions of life, but you will understand the love of God and the importance of following the Lord to the green pastures and living water.  The shepherd is at the front of the sheep and leads the sheep. The sheep know their shepherd, the sound of his voice and follow him. This is also the way that the sheep are separated into separate herds after grazing or sleeping together. The shepherd calls the sheep and they come. They need no markings to distinguish them - all they need is the sound of the shepherd's voice.
*Sheep can not get up on their own.  If they fall down (“cast down”), they must have a shepherd to lift them up or they will die. 'Cast down' sheep. . . .This is an old English shepherd's term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself. A 'cast' sheep is a very pathetic sight. Lying on its back,
its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success.







Look how gross Rocky's fur is... he did that to himself.. no one rolled him in poop and dirt








It took two grown men to catch him. Rocky didn't WANT to be sheared. He didn't understand that he couldn't take the 90+ temps of Georgia Summer's with that coat on.



Cast down (He can't get up/ he will now be able to be sheared). 




Just a little of the weight of the filth can be seen here.






 (He is starting to be freed of his weight)








 (Freed, Rocky and the person doing the shearing are exhausted.) 







 What was left behind...

 And Rocky wanted to keep all of that on??? 

*Sheep must be sheared for its own good. (We don’t like when “bad” things happen to us, but we must trust that it is for our own good). Whenever a shepherd finds that a sheep was cast down because it had too long and heavy a fleece, he soon took swift steps to remedy the situation. In short order he would shear it clean and so forestall the danger of having the ewe lose her life. This was not always a pleasant process. Sheep do not really enjoy being sheared and it represents some hard work for the shepherd, but it must be done. Actually when it is all over both sheep and owner are relieved. There is no longer the threat of being cast down, while for the sheep there is the pleasure of being set free from a hot, heavy coat. Often the fleece is clogged with filthy manure, mud, burrs, sticks and ticks. What a relief to be rid of it all!

*Sheep must be lead to grass/just as the Holy Spirit leads us to what we need/God. If left to themselves they will graze in the same place until all the grass is gone. A good shepherd leads them to the best places to graze to keep them healthy. He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
*Sheep remain dirty until someone cleans them. Sheepskin is full of an oil called lanolin.  Lanolin comes through the skin and coats the wool.  It conditions the wool so that the animal will  stay warm in cold weather, but the oily wool is one of the most effective dirt-catching devices known to man.  Every time a sheep lies down, grass, dirt, burrs, dust, and everything imaginable clings to its coat.  Sheep are huge walking Velcro strips.
Our shepherd-Jesus.
*Shepherds protect: With the whole flock examined and bedded down, finally, the shepherd himself would lie down, stretching his body across the opening. So, the shepherd literally, physically became the door! His body kept the sheep in and the dangers of the night out. No sheep could wander into danger because the shepherd’s body held them in. Wolves and robbers could enter to harm the flock only over the dead body of the shepherd. Some claim that, even in modern times, morning will occasionally find scattered sheep, without a shepherd. Upon investigation, a bleeding, battle-worn shepherd will often be found somewhere nearby—sometimes even a dead one. The shepherd would literally lay "down his life for the sheep."
*A shepherd lives with his sheep/ Jesus left heaven to live with us.  A shepherd, in order to know his sheep and care for them, has to live among them. He has to be close to them. Jesus came from heaven to Earth to be close to His sheep.
*A shepherd will use suffering as a last resort to get the sheep’s obedience in order that the sheep doesn’t loose it’s life.  A woman visiting Switzerland came to a sheepfold on one of her daily walks. Venturing in, she saw the shepherd seated on the ground with his flock around him. Nearby, on a pile of straw lay a single sheep, which seemed to be suffering. Looking closely, the woman saw that its leg was broken. Her sympathy went out to the suffering sheep, and she looked up inquiringly to the shepherd as she asked what happened. "I broke it myself," said the shepherd sadly and then explained. "Of all the sheep in my flock, this was the most wayward. It would not obey my voice and would not follow when I was leading the flock. On more than one occasion, it wandered off to the edge of the cliff and not only was it disobedient; it was leading other sheep astray. Based on my experience with this kind of sheep, I knew I had no choice, so I broke its leg. The next day I tried to bring food, but it tried to bite me. After letting it lie alone for a couple of days, I went back and it not only eagerly took the food, but also licked my hand and showed every sign of submission and affection. And now let me say this. When this sheep is well, it will be a model sheep of my entire flock. No sheep will hear my voice or follow closely. Instead of leading the others away, it will be an example of devotion and obedience. In short a complete change will come into the life of this wayward sheep. It will learn obedience through its suffering."Revelation 3:19 "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.”
*The shepherd’s Motive - Not in anger to punish, but in love to rescue. The shepherd doesn't go after the sheep in an effort to punish it for going astray. His motive is to find the sheep and restore it to its proper place in the fold. So it is with the Lord. He doesn't go after the lost ones so that He can punish them for their sins. He pursues them in order that He might prove His love for them and that they might be restored to a right relationship with the Lord. His motive is to deliver them from punishment not inflict punishment upon them.
*The Shepherd  Intensifies The Search - This verse says that the shepherd searches until he finds the sheep. He doesn't give up after just a few minutes or hours of searching, but he stays on the job until the sheep has been recovered. So it is with the Lord. H never gives up on the lost sheep. He keeps calling and knocking and waiting, hoping that they will come to Him before it is too late. (Ill. I am thankful and grateful that the Lord didn't give up on me! I am glad that He kept knocking and kept calling until I answered - Rev. 3:20 I shouldn't be surprised though, after all, that is His business - Luke 19:10)
*The Shepherd Lifts The Sheep - This shepherd doesn't stop with a mere touch. He reaches down and lifts the sheep out of the place where he finds it. He removes it from the place of danger. (Ill. The Good Shepherd does the same for those He finds wandering the dark hills of sin. He comes alongside them, reaches out to them and when they respond to His touch, He lifts them out of their sin and removes them from the danger they were in. Thank God, when Jesus comes into a heart and life, He delivers us from all danger, Rom. 5:9.)
*The Shepherd wants to find the sheep to1.  use it- As long as it was lost, it was of no benefit to the shepherd. (Ill. The Lord cannot use a wayward life. He demands holy vessels.) 2.rescue it from Danger - Unless the shepherd had intervened this sheep would have remained in serious danger. It could never have defended itself or rescued itself. (Ill. As long as men are apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, they are in serious danger. Hell and judgment are out there in front of them and they need desperately to be delivered. Only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ saved from the penalty of sin.)  3.  Rescue it from Death - If the shepherd had not come looking for the sheep, it would have most certainly died out there in the wilderness. But now, it lives all because the shepherd came looking to save a wayward sheep. (Ill. The Bible tells us that "the wages of sin is death." Rom. 6:23. Without the intervention of the Good Shepherd the lost sinner has no hope and will eventually wind up in Hell. . Only Jesus saves the human soul - Acts 4:12; John 14:6;
*A shepherd uses a rod. A rod was used by shepherds to defend his sheep against wild animal attacks, and the staff was used to gently guide the sheep or to rescue them from danger when they fell. The staff was also used to pull a sheep near to the shepherd to be comforted by him.  Our Good Shepherd has given each of us a Rod too. The Bible teaches us how to defend ourselves from Satan's attacks. And the Holy Spirit, is our Staff to guide us and pull us closer to God. When we face the unknown time of our deaths (only God knows this), the Holy Spirit will be there to lead us and guide us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and into God the Father's presence in Heaven.  The staff was used by the Shepherd to direct the sheep in the way in which they should go, and, in the case of a wandering nosey sheep, to pull it back into line[1]. Again, there is comfort in the fact that God directs us and even discipline from the Lord (pulling us back into line!) can be seen as comforting for it is a sign that He loves us scripture says (Heb 12:6)  The staff is lso used for guiding sheep. . . . The tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal's side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path. In Psalm 23: 3, David goes beyond the shepherd analogy and speaks of how God leads him in the “paths of righteousness for his name's sake”. And though he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, he fears no evil (v4). The reason for this is that His rod and staff are a comfort, so here David is placing his trust in God as sheep do in their shepherd. The sheep don't know what their master's plans are for them, but follow him believing he will look after them. In the same way David had his problems in walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but had faith in the protective ability of God. In particular, the staff and rod, the Armour of the shepherd are a comfort.   "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." The straight path is not always the easiest; round about you may wander in sunny glades, while the straight path is through the defile, a dark and dangerous way. Nevertheless it is the road, and the best road, to the place where you fain would be. To take easier journeys would mean that you
would be overtaken by the night before the sheepfold could be reached. Wherefore the shepherd in his wisdom leads to the threatening valley; but he keeps close to the sheep, with his rod (his weapon of offense) and his staff (his weapon of guidance) ready, so that when darkness comes, the shepherd and his sheep are home. It is a lovely little picture of the God-trusting life, so complete and so true.


Psalm 23   1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

7 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I left a comment earlier, and thought I was on someone else's blog. sorry "( **very embarassed**

    What I said was that this is the best expose on this topic that I have ever encountered. Thank you so much for taking the time to record your thoughts and information! It has encouraged and challenged me :)

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  3. All are welcomed at my blog. Just be respectful of me.. a mom trying to leave the world a kinder place. Please don't post a comment if you aren't being kind. Many thanks!

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  4. Love this! So comforting- just like the Good Shepherd. :) Thanks!

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  5. Love this! So comforting- just like the Good Shepherd! :)

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  6. Thank you so much. This was exactly what I was looking for in my devotional with my daughter. If you don't mind I will accredit your work and borrow much of your material for the glory of the Lord Jesus!
    The Randy Britt Band
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxagBW_0v2-D1xKk71pZhig

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    Replies
    1. I am so glad the Lord spoke to you. It helps me to remember why He likens us to sheep.

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