How often have we passed over a word in our scripture readings and never realized the significance of, or history of that particular person, place or thing. This week let’s take a look at the word sheep as used in scripture. Sheep are used symbolically to represent God’s people Matthew 25:32…
25 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
This is a very powerful metaphor that somehow does morph with the power of God’s word and biblical credence into a lovely fact of reassuring hope and faith. The first mention of sheep in the Bible can be found in Genesis 4:4, and although there is no direct reference that Abel’s sacrifice was fat portions from a sheep, the scripture translates from his flock to mean that. Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated. Throughout the Bible references to sheep are to be found. Sheep were a major source of income for people but shepherding was a lowly occupation. A wealthy landowner would hire that job out to boys or men who really couldn’t do anything else and in many families the task of shepherding fell to the youngest boy. David’s father never saw him as a king of anything but the prophet Samuel sought him out to anoint him the next king of Israel. 1Samuel 16:11-13
11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
Consider this… John 10:14
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…
It has been written that this humble status of the Shepard was one reason why Jesus ascribed that title to himself…
13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Sheep are known to follow a leader and like sheep we have been foolish keepers of the faith. We have been known to esteem those of exceptional charismatic personality and to grasp at their promises and shiny new ideas. We have heard of herd immunity during this covid crisis but scripture gives us examples of this trait that sheep are known for, from a human perspective. This is but one example that had a bad conclusion. Acts 13:50
50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.
Acting as sheep produced another but better known example at an even greater cost. Mark 15:11
11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.
Another thing about sheep is that they are prone to wander away. Isaiah 53:6…
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
We like sheep tend to be distracted by worldly things and wander
from the safety of the flock…we leave the fellowship of believers
leaving ourselves open to the evils of this world…forgetting the
precepts of our faith…1 Peter5:8
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
The Silence of the Sheep what does that mean? We have established through scripture that we are the sheep and our shepherd is Jesus Christ… Isaiah 40:11
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
As a nation and a people we should be lifting our voices to God and praising our Good Shepherd…
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them… I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15)
Forgive us our sins, we lift up to you our nation, our people and our leaders…All I hear is a deafening silence from the sheep.
Life is Good