“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
I know nothing more about sheep than what I have read from others who have actually been shepherds. Therefore, I admit up front that I am not a shepherd and never have been, but I do know a little about them from those who have been in that occupation.
The Bible, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, identifies God's children with sheep. Now this is interesting, especially when you learn something about them.
Briefly, and in no particular order, sheep; are dumb, get lost easily, scare easily, are helpless, are defenseless, may eat the wrong food and be poisoned, recognize their shepherd's voice, need constant care, produce wool which can drown them if they fall into deep water, don't smell the best, and are gentle. I'm sure there are others I have unwittingly omitted. So let's take a look at the sheep (Christians).
Sheep Are Dumb:
Could this be why God commands us to study His Word? The bleating God hears from some of us sheep can leave no doubt. We all start out pretty dumb at our spiritual birth, just as we do at our physical birth. We have to be taught many things to effectively function in life. A new adult Christian may mistakenly think that since they are an adult, they don’t have to be taught anything. Their opinion is as good as the next person’s. However, proper Biblical training is essential. This is also true of some Christians who have been saved for several years, but have never grown spiritually. They too are just dumb sheep. Actually, that is true of us all. We are all just dumb sheep who need to keep learning under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. Some sheep are just “dumber” than others.
Sheep Get Lost Easily:
If we do not follow the Shepherd, we wander around in our spiritual lives like lost sheep. Many of us think we know how we should live our lives and often stray off the trail that God has provided in His Word. Sheep are prone to stray, and as we stray away from the Word of God, we lose our way among the mean streets of the world’s influence. We must stay close to the Shepherd to assure our not getting lost. The second we take our eyes off Him, we court disaster.
Sheep Scare Easily:
I often witness Christians who are scared at life's curve balls. I'm no exception. I've been there too. Peace is found in staying close to the Shepherd. Every Christian goes through this, but the presence of the Shepherd always brings comfort. I recall as a child being afraid of thunder and lightning storms. One night a terrible storm broke loose, so I ran downstairs from my bedroom. Arriving at the landing, I saw my Mother looking out the window of the living room, enjoying the storm. I realized that she wasn’t afraid of the storm, so there was no need for me to be afraid either. I have enjoyed those storms ever since.
Sheep Are Helpless:
The Lord has told us that we can do nothing on our own. Only through Him and His strength (omnipotence) can we make it in this world. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1) Often we are like young children who think they can cross the road all by themselves; or toddlers who think they are ready to walk, but can barely crawl. We are helpless and don’t even know it. Pride is our enemy. It will cause us to place our dependence upon our own ability, instead of the ability of the Shepherd. The best thing to do with independence is to give it up, and be totally dependent upon Him.
Sheep Are Defenseless:
We are as defenseless as a new born baby when we try to go it alone. The Lord tells us how to dress for the spiritual battle that we are in. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness: and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10-18) Without His protective presence, we are targets for disaster. Most Christians don’t even realize the spiritual battle that we are in. Peter warns us by saying, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8)
Sheep May Eat The Wrong Food And Be Poisoned:
How often have we seen this in those who feed upon the poisonous words of false prophets. I have seen so much of this it sickens me. Weak Christians will often eat anything put before them, never questioning the source or the content. I am constantly amazed at the gullibility of so many people. The origination of the phrase is dubious, but the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute”, certainly fits many of the Shepherd’s scrawny sheep. “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive;” (Ephesians 4:14)
Sheep Recognize Their Shepherd’s Voice:
The longer a Christian is in close proximity to the Shepherd, the better they recognize the voice of Truth that comes from God, as opposed to the gobble-de-gook that comes from the mouths of charlatans. In other words, the best way to spot a counterfeit is to intimately know the original. The more acquainted one is with the original, the easier it will be to spot the counterfeit. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:27
Sheep Need Constant Care:
Many Christians are weak and get in trouble, because they wander away from the constant care that is required from the Shepherd. Most think they can just get a little dose of God now and then, and everything will be alright. If we do not remain under the constant care of the Shepherd, we will jeopardize our safety and well-being. “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” (Psalms 73:28) “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Sheep Produce Wool That Can Drown Them If They Fall Into Deep Water:
The shepherd would dam up an area of water, so that the sheep would not be drinking around running water that could pull them in and drown them. They would drown because the heavy coat of wool would pull them under the water. The heavy baggage we carry around with us will soon spell our doom, if we do not drink from the still waters that the Shepherd provides. Thank the Lord for shearing time too. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22)
Sheep Don’t Smell The Best:
Only the Shepherd can wash away the foul smell of the world that clings to us. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:16-18) I suppose it is a good thing that we do not have a spiritual nose. Can you imagine the stink that would come from us all? The Shepherd can smell us though, and tells us to wash ourselves clean is His Word.
Sheep Are Gentle:
Christian people are generally trusting and gentle people, at least they should be, which makes them vulnerable to the snares of Satan. “Go your ways; behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:3) “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29) We are as lambs among wolves. “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8) Therefore, we must stay close to the Shepherd for safety.
It would be easy to write very lengthy dissertations on each of these eleven attributes I have mentioned about sheep, but that is not the goal of this article. For now, let us take the time to weigh our absolute need, as Christians (sheep), for our Shepherd. David said, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1) That pretty much sums everything up. With the Lord Jesus Christ as the Shepherd of our life, we will never lack for what we need, and will receive so much more than what we deserve.