[a] Just yesterday as we returned from business in Aberdeen, North Scotland, we were remarking on the sheep and all the little lambs in the field beside the road. Our little granddaughter Hope was there, and she went "Ahhhhhh ... kiss, kiss, kiss!"
[b] A short time ago, I was speaking to a farmer who keeps sheep, and he was speaking about the lambing season, and the ins and outs of keeping sheep.
[c] He spoke also about sheep being very susceptible to infection, and how essential it is to have them dipped regularly, as if they aren't, the mites that burrow into their skin, can make them very poorly indeed.
[d] In the encyclopedia, I was reading about the disease that effects sheep, called sheep scab, which is it seems, a "highly contagious disease of sheep, caused by mites that penetrate the animal's skin. Painful irritation, infection, loss of fleece, and death may result."
[e] A repetitive Biblical illustration, is that of humanity being as sheep, and the Lord being our Shepherd.
We found this in our reading from Psalm 23.
[f] Our 'sheep scab' if you like, is sin, and if nothing is done to correct the problem, it will bring death - eternal death.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
[a] In our natural state, not only are we infected, but we are lost!
[b] In the mad hustle and bustle of this world, often people can feel lost
They can feel no-one cares! They can feel vulnerable and frightened.
[c] The prophet Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to our own way."
[d] How often I have driven along a country road, and seen a sheep find it's way through a hole in the fence, only to be followed by another, and another, and another ...... They will follow one another into extreme danger - perhaps even death.
[e] Ask a young person, "Why do you smoke? Why do you drink? Why do you take drugs? Why be sexually promiscuous?"
The answer is so often the same - "My friends are doing it - I don't want to be left out!"
[f] Before they know it, they are bound hand and foot by the chains of sin. They are led where it chooses to take them, like an animal with a ring in it's nose.
[a] In Luke 15, we find the wonderful story of the lost sheep, and it is something that gives an insight into the very mind of God.
[b] The sheep is lost, just as you and I are without Christ - Lost for time, and in danger of it being for eternity!
[c] But we find that the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, is actually seeking for that lost sheep. He spends time and effort on the one that has gone astray - because the Good Shepherd loves His sheep!
[d] When the sheep is found, and brought home, there is great rejoicing, because it has been found! It has been rescued!
[e] The picture is that of the Shepherd going out, and perhaps getting into great danger himself, as he rescues the sheep! Perhaps the sheep has fallen down a hole, or is trapped on a mountain ledge, or is about to be devoured by a wild animal.
[f] David, when he was facing the giant Goliath speaks about his life as a shepherd, and the dangers he faced.
"Your Majesty," David said, "I take care of my father's sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear carries off a lamb, I go after it, attack it, and rescue the lamb. And if the lion or bear turns on me, I grab it by the throat and beat it to death. I have killed lions and bears, and I will do the same to this heathen Philistine, who has defied the army of the living God. The LORD has saved me from lions and bears; he will save me from this Philistine."
[g] The Lord Jesus said, "The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep."
[a] The picture is one of wild untamed countryside, fraught with dangers of every kind. It is one of the sheep being totally dependant on the Shepherd. If they depended on themselves, then, they would quite simply perish.
Excerpt from 'Farm animals':
The life of the shepherd seems to have altered little from the time of Abraham to that of Jesus. The shepherd led his sheep, knew each one, and watched over them night and day (see John 10:1-6). Despite the rough stone enclosures which served as folds, there was constant danger from thieves and wild beasts - lions, leopards and bears (until they became extinct), wolves and hyenas, jackals, snakes and scorpions. The shepherd carried a staff to catch hold of any sheep which fell, and was armed with a wooden club.
[b] The Shepherd puts himself between them and the danger!
This of course would be especially true at night, when the sheep would be placed within the rough stone pen, but without a door - the shepherd himself would literally be the door. He would lie down in the gateway, and if anything or anyone was going to get to the sheep, then it was quite literally going to have to be, through him.
[c] This is why Jesus could say, in John 10, "I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." Or as a modern translation says,
So Jesus said again, "I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever comes in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness.
[d] Does the kind of care that Jesus has for His sheep,
not fill you with confidence? Does it not add a whole new dimension to
the word of Scripture that says, "He careth for you."
[a] Well, are you one of His sheep? If so, then all the promises of Psalm 23 are yours, and many more!
[b] Have you allowed the Good Shepherd to find you? Maybe rescue you would be a better term, because if you are out in the wiles of the world, without the Shepherd of the soul, you are in very great danger.
[c] Or are you still lost and away from the fold? Wandering aimlessly along the worldly pathways, that only lead to Hell and destruction.
Let me say, that the Good Shepherd still seeks the lost sheep - even if you look at yourself as the 'black' sheep!
[d] He loves you! He died for you! He rose again for you! He asks you to come to Him and be saved. He wants you to make Him your Shepherd, and become one of His sheep.
IF YOUR LIFE IS NOT IN HIS CARE - COME TO HIM NOW, AND JUST GIVE YOURSELF TO HIM. LIKE THE EASTERN SHEEP - FOLLOW HIM!
Songs from Salvation Army Song Book