October 24, 2010

Like Sheep – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The Bible often refers to man metaphorically as sheep. This is because sheep go astray and are need of a shepherd. I don’t know what is about sheep that causes sheep to wander off, but they do. However, I do know why man wanders off. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13-15 )

When Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah he wrote, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 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 53:4-6)

I’m sure you’ve all heard the Little Bo Peep nursery rhyme that goes:

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
And doesn’t know where to find them,
But leave them alone and they’ll come home
Wagging their tails behind them.

Aren’t you glad that our God is not like Little Bo Peep?

 Little Bo Peep had lost her sheep, and didn’t know where to find them. While we like sheep have all gone astray, God knows exactly where to find us. When Adam and Eve had gone astray, he knew where to find them in the garden. When Cain slew Abel, the LORD asked him, “Where is Abel thy brother?” (Genesis 4:9) It was a rhetorical question because the LORD knew exactly what had happened and that Abel was dead. He said to Cain, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) 

Leave them alone. God never has left his lost sheep alone. The Psalmist wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalms 139:7-10) Likewise Paul said to the Athenians, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; …” (Acts 17:26-28)

God knew that if he left his lost sheep alone, they would remain lost. From the foundation of the world he had a plan in place to save his people. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-18) Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10).

And they’ll come home. God knew that left to themselves, his lost sheep would not come home. That is why he sent his son—to redeem his lost sheep and to be that perfect sacrifice through which man could be reconciled unto him. But man didn’t listen. Israel failed to listen to the prophets that God sent to them and they were carried away by the Assyrians. Later Judah didn’t listen and was held captive by the Babylonians for seventy years. When the greatest prophet of them all came to call them to repent and return unto God, they didn’t listen. Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37 ) They crucified him. But he overcame death and rose from the dead to sit on the right hand of God.

He will come again and this time he will be the righteous judge. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:” (Matthew 25:31-33)

Wagging their tails behind them. When man does come home to God, he does so rejoicing. It was so with the Ethiopian baptized by Philip and so it is with us who have obeyed God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 
Where in ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Let us, as sheep who have returned to the fold, rejoice. “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” (Psalms 5:11)—Amen.

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