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We Like Sheep

27th January 2011, weg

 

1) All We Like Sheep have gone Astray

The first article, in what we hope will be an ongoing contribution, from a youthful voice.

Sheep are usually fairly helpless animals – without a shepherd they would wander aimlessly around the countryside, lost and unable to defend themselves or to find food and water. We all act like sheep from time to time.


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.(Isaiah 53:6)


Without God's protection, care and guidance, we'd all be like the sheep in this quotation because we'd have no firm purpose and direction. He is the leader, provider and protector of His flock of believers. He knows each person by name and highly values each and every one. If each sheep chose its own direction the flock would become separated and might be in danger of attack from predators or thieves. In Judges 17:6 when Israel had no king, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” and the nation of Israel's leaders encouraged the people in idol worship and corrupt worship of God. Earthly shepherds of God's people must recognise that he is the Supreme Shepherd and that all His ways are ultimately right for the flock


Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD ponders the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)


Are we following the right shepherd? If we are faithful sheep in God's flock we follow Christ who is the Good Shepherd; he sacrificed his earthly life every day to care for the sheep.


I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling (a hired hand), and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flee: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep. (John 10: 11-13)


We care for God's family when we “lay down our lives for each other” every day by showing a Christ-like attitude serving selflessly and speaking of God's love to everyone we meet.


We find fresh pasture to graze when we reach out to help our local communities and those in need.

We find safe places to drink when we meet together in love. We find refuge in the sheepfold when we bear each other's burdens and walk together towards the Kingdom.


Paul warns the Corinthians:

Be not deceived: evil communications (or, bad company RSV) corrupt good manners (or, morals RSV). (1 Corinthians 15:33)


Peer pressure can be a negative consequence of belonging to a 'flock'. Other people will have different views and values which may challenge and test your beliefs. It's important to test all ideas in the context of the Bible. However, we can use the 'sheep mentality' or in human terms peer pressure to our advantage. When one sheep strays off the path the rest of the sheep usually follow. When the lead sheep stays on the path the following sheep will also. The same is true for setting a good example for our fellow sheep. Paul tells Titus that he should encourage the young men.


In all things show thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness (or, integrity), gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part (or, opposes you) may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (Titus 2:7-8)


By setting a good example in words and actions we can encourage others to do the same. Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, encouraged each other in keeping true to God's commands. They didn't eat the rich food and wine of the Babylonians and requested vegetables and water instead. They resisted pressure from the king and other leaders and relied on God to carry out His plans in their lives. These men continued to set an example of faith when they refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar's statue. They did not compromise when serving their God but trusted in Him to carry out His purpose even in sending them into the fiery furnace.


Sheep are helpless without a dedicated shepherd but with the right guidance and protection they are a blessing to their owner. In traditional Israelite shepherding, sheep provided:

, Wool and skins for clothing, bags, tents and many other items

, 'Clean meat, milk and cheese for daily meals

, Lambs to commemorate the Passover meal

, Sacrifices for burnt offerings, sin, guilt and peace offerings.


In the same way if we are following the right shepherd, we are a blessing to God. We will grow His fruits of the spirit and show these to others.


Ezekiel 34 promises that God will regather His flock of Jews.


The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel... Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat, and you clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock.
The diseased have you not strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. ...

Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
For thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock ...so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. (Ezekiel 34:1-13)


John, referring to true worship states that there will be one flock that will worship God in spirit and in truth.

But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. (John 4:23)


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