P3: Shepherds & Sheep

P3:  Psalms, Proverbs, and Prophets

EZ sheep

Why can’t we be known as a pack of wolves? 

Why sheep?  I’ve read that sheep, although EXTREMELY useful for their wool, milk, and meat, are {basically} “dumb, directionless, and defenseless”.  But they were also known to be a personal and prized possession.  {Ever been to a State Fair?}

“Sheep” and “flocks” are mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, using twelve different Hebrew words and four Greek words. They are the most prominent animal mentioned in Scripture. {“Sheep and Shepherds” from http://www.bibleplaces.com}

Together, sheep need someone to guide them to the places that provide food and water and safety.  That’s where a shepherd is so important in the life of a sheep.  Sheep are also known to become restless and can stray.  If a sheep becomes “cast down” {or has fallen down, onto its back–feet straight up in the air}, they cannot get up on their own.  A shepherd is needed to turn the sheep right-side up to save its life.

Sheep need daily water and grass and they need to be led to the best places to drink and graze in order for them to be healthy.  A shepherd also is there to shear the sheep of its heavy wool.  ~This is for the good of the sheep.  If it is not shorn, the wool will become a burden of weight, filth, and potential harm for causing them to lose balance.

As the sheep are led, they follow the very distinct voice of their shepherd.  They know their shepherd’s voice because they trust him and he has become a very personal part of their daily lives.  A shepherd leads them–even plunging into a stream before his flock does.  Shepherds live with their sheep and know their sheep and rescue their sheep when they wander away from the flock.

Look at these verses in Ezekiel 34.

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so I will look after my sheep.  I will rescue them from all the places they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness….I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land.  There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…”   Ezekiel 34:11-12, 14-16

So, yah…I’m okay with being a sheep.

We are sheep.  We are SO like sheep.  And this passage in Ezekiel is just one of many passages in Scripture that paints a beautiful picture of the loving and intimate relationship between a shepherd and his flock.  How he lovingly takes care of them and leads them where they need to be in rich pastures.  How he “binds up the injured” and “strengthens the weak” sheep.  Don’t we want that?  To be led by someone who knows us and cares for us and counts us in His fold?  {He LOOKS FOR US!}  To know that He knows when to remove the weight of our lives like a sheep has its wool removed?  And to remember that a shepherd protects his sheep and, if necessary will break the leg of the sheep {as a last resort} to require it’s obedience; not in anger to punish but in love to rescue.

But it takes trust.  It takes faith.  It takes knowing daily the voice of our Shepherd.  And knowing the what and the why of our Christian faith and Who we are to follow.

May this summer be a time of listening for the one Voice every day.  Being led and nurtured and cared for by our Savior and Shepherd.  Who gave his life as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb for our sins.

 cropped-his-sheep.jpg

~Kim Smith

{Authentic Grace Blog Administrator}

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