Untended, sheep will drink from the muddiest and filthiest, “urine and parasite polluted ” waters. They will eat poisonous plants or starve, instead of moving on to greener pastures when their own field is stripped of foliage. The Shepherd stays close to his sheep, watching over and protecting them as he guides his flock in the right direction to keep them safely out of harms way, to the cleanest sources of pure, sparkling water, and a place to rest.
Manure, mud, leaves, and twigs mat a sheep’s fleece causing it to become top heavy and “cast down” (rolling onto it’s back). Unable to regain balance and totally helpless, if not “righted” by their shepherd, sheep face a certain death.
Flies lay eggs in sheep nostrils, burrowing in deep and causing severe inflammation and irritation. Left untreated, the sheep may harm or even kill themselves as they butt into trees and rocks, in an effort to ease the pain. A mixture of linseed oil poured over the sheep’s head brings instant relief from the annoying flies.
Timid and fearful, sheep are quick to panic. When one begins to run others immediately follow, without knowing what the danger is. In eastern Turkey in 2006, four hundred sheep plunged to their death after following one of the sheep that tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine.
Straying from the flock, into an area that looks inviting, sheep are vulnerable to attack. The enemy always looks for a lonely sheep that has strayed. Isolated and helplessly lost a lone sheep faces hunger, frustration, being hurt, scared and lonely.
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
WHAT THE SHEPHERD DOES FOR HIS SHEEP
A shepherd ‘s life revolves around the care of his sheep, providing for the sheep’s every need for survival – food, shelter and protection from enemies. Shepherds lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers in order to protect the sheep and willing to sacrifice his own life to save one.
King David, the best known shepherd of Bible history, describes the Good Shepherd, who watches over his flock, provides for every need and would literally sacrifice himself in order to protect and save his sheep.
John 10:10-11 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Circumstances of life may make us feel like a lost sheep; isolated and all alone; timid and fearful without any support.
It’s no coincidence that God likens us to sheep. We humans act like sheep: The weatherman mentions the possibility of snow, and in a panic we rush to the grocery store; cleaning the shelves of soup, bread, milk and toilet paper.
Just as sheep are unable to survive on their own, it is true for humans. Like sheep we easily wander to what may at first appear inviting but is, in reality, dangerous and leads to destruction. No matter how powerful, clever, sophisticated, and/or self-sufficient one may feel, there comes a time when one is faced with frailty of life and learn that our abilities are simply not adequate. When faced with the unknown and unexplainable, our first reaction is fear as we think we are in so deep that there is no way out. We feel helpless and hopeless and maybe realize how much we need a shepherd. No matter how far we have strayed from Him, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who was always been there quietly awaiting our request for His help hears our plea and comes quickly to provide His guidance, protection and comfort.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6
JESUS WANTS TO HELP US
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Once we make the choice to “look unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), He will guide us safely home, as our Shepherd, never leaving us or forsaking us.
NO MATTER HOW FILTHY AND ASHAMED WE FEEL THE BIBLE TELLS US:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NIV)
Just as sheep instantly recognize the voice of their shepherd and will follow him, Jesus is the Great Shepherd and his sheep (his true followers) recognize his voice and follow Him. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 In the same way, Christ’s presence “dispels the fear, the panic, the terror of the unknown”. When troubled and need peace, His sheep can draw strength from Him and experience His peace, because He is the source.
In the Old Testament, wool represented pride and selfishness. We may not even realize we are carrying and being dragged down by “burdens ” of materialism, arrogance and self-reliance. Just as sheep are sheared of hot, heavy, matted wool* to get rid of the heavy burden they have been carrying around God can clean all the manure and other nasty, stinking filth that we have been carrying around from our lives. “He restores my soul”.
Like sheep we may be agitated and tense, highly stressed, refusing to lay down and rest. A shepherd’s presence calms his flock by reassuring and relaxes them. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2.
We are incapable to make it on our own to heaven yet through the strength of Jesus, we can overcome anything in life, including death. Through Jesus, we even overcome death. He bequeaths the gift of Eternal Life to those who follow Him, according to His teachings.
The first verse in Psalm 91, says, “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” In order to be under the shadow of something, we need to stay close to it. John 10 (NIV) When we stay close to the Good Shepherd, daily seeking Him and faithfully following Him He can provide a safe place to turn for wisdom and help; protecting us from being preyed on by the enemy. Only Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd can fill the empty space in our hearts and give us both hope and peace as we face things that are too hard to handle alone.
Misunderstandings, unforgiveness, hurt feelings, and the ordinary irritations and frustrations of daily life are like the “flies” that torment sheep. Just as a mixture of linseed oil poured over a sheep’s head brings instant relief from the irritation and annoyance….to humans oil represents the power of the Holy Spirit. Since the beginning of Christianity it has been customary for Christians to be anointed with fragrant oil for healing from serious or life-threatening illnesses, and at baptisms, confirmation and ordinations. During difficult times God graciously pours out the gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, infusing us with wisdom, perseverance, peace and generosity, to transform our penchant for intolerance, envy and insecurity.
In the Bible, sheep are used as metaphors as the followers of Christ, (gentle, quiet, innocent animals that do not give their shepherds a lot of problems). 31 “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. –Matthew 25: 31-33
Lord, Please help me to realize that I am helpless and cannot do everything on my own. Thank you for helping me to remember that what makes me strong is the understanding of my need for You and that leaning on Your strength is not weakness at all, but power beyond measure. I ask that you help me surrender total control of my life to you, allowing You to lead me and be the Shepherd of my life. I thank you for protecting, providing and guiding me in everything I do and for always being with me. Thank you, Lord that by Your wisdom I am saved. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray.
“The Lord is my shepherd!