Being Sheepish

By Not Known

The Bible talks about sheep and shepherds quite often.

God is described as the shepherd of his people (eg. Ps 23:1; Is 40:11). This title is specifically applied to Jesus in the New Testament (eg. Jn 10:11; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 2:25, 5:4 ). The idea of God being a shepherd speaks of his personal and complete provision for his people. It is a most attractive metaphor for God and encourages our confidence in him.

But what about the other side of this metaphor? What does it mean to talk about God’s people as sheep?

Consider these verses:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:6)

My people have been lost sheep;… They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. (Jer 50:6)

My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. (Ezek34:6)

To talk about God's people as sheep is to talk about human need. Like real sheep, we are apt to wander about and follow the crowd as we surrender to the herd instinct of peer group pressure. Again like real sheep, we are apt to be in positions of danger and not recognise the threats to us. And, we can certainly wander off by ourselves into dangerous places.

Left to ourselves we are as helpless and unwitting as sheep. And that is why we need a shepherd. Thank God that he has provided for us by sending Jesus as the shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep and brings them to a place of safety and abundant provision (Jn

A final thought: one image for church leaders (including elders) is that they are the under-shepherds of God's flock (eg 1 Pet 5:1-4). Indeed, this image links through to the title of 'pastor' and to the office of pastoral staff. Do pray for our elders and pastoral staff – that they will be good shepherds of God's people and not like the false shepherds described in Ezek. 34. Church leaders are meant to echo the character of Jesus who is God's good shepherd to the fullest.