The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
– Psalm 29:3-9
The voice of the Lord certainly impressed this Old Testament writer. But what about the voice of the Lord in the New Testament? What did they have to say?
The voice of the Lord…
… is worth listening to (Luke 10:39)
… blesses the hearers (Luke 11:38)
… cleanses (John 15:3)
… casts out demons (Matthew 8:16)
… heals the sick (Matthew 8:13)
… raises the dead (John 11:43-44)
… calms the sea (Mark 4:39)
… withers the fig tree (Matthew 21:19)
… astonishes with power (Luke 4:32)
… changes fear to faith (Mark 5:36, John 8:30)
… forgives sins (Mark 2:5)
… gives life (Luke 4:4, John 6:63,68)
… intercedes for us (John 17)
… does not pass away (Matthew 24:35)
Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
– Psalm 100:3 (WEB)
Through out the Bible, God’s people are referred to as sheep. But why sheep? Why not some other animal like horses, oxen or donkeys?
We think about the nature of sheep, how wayward they are. They tend to get into trouble and need the constant care of a shepherd to protect or rescue them. Of course, other animals can get into trouble, too. Personally, I think the stubborness of a donkey would make it a good human representative. But there is another trait that I think explains why we’re called sheep.
Oxen and donkeys are working animals, used to plow fields, grind grain, and carry loads. Sheep are not working animals. You won’t find sheep under a yoke pulling a plow, or grinding grain. People don’t ride sheep. They can do nothing to earn favor with their owners. They grow wool, but that takes no effort on their part. When you think about it, wool is more a product of the good care that the shepherd provides. The shepherd works to lead the sheep to water and good pasture. All the sheep do is follow the shepherd and eat grass.
How does this help your understanding of being called a sheep?
Update: I noticed that another analogy of God’s people is similar in this regard. A vine is also not used for work (Ezekiel 15:1-8).
Lately I’ve thought about the first half of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and how the development of Paul’s argument seems to parallel the progress of our walk with Jesus. Paul begins with describing the dire state of the unbeliever (chapters 1-3), then moves on to salvation (chapters 3-5), then to sanctification (chapters 6-8). Paul’s intention is that each one of us progress in life through to chapter 8; that we don’t get stuck in some earlier chapter (i.e. be satisfied with just being saved, or even be satisfied without salvation).
If you’re like most Christians, you probably find living a righteous, God-honoring life to be a difficult, if not impossible, task. You may be in the habit of condemning yourself for your lack of victory over sin. You may even have given up trying. If so, my latest writing, Victory Over Sin, was written to help you understand that, just as salvation is not by works, neither is sanctification by works. God does the work.
As you can see, I’ve changed the website again. The main URL is still the same, but now I’m running under WordPress rather than my half-baked home-brew kludge. This will allow me to easily organize and maintain the site and concentrate more on posting.
Virtually all of the old material (over 1.3 megabytes) has been transfered to the new site and is listed on the right side of this page. Most of the HTML has been cleaned up, but some pages still need work (notably the Discipleship Class notes). There are also some broken links to outside sites that need fixing. If you notice any glitches, just let me know.
I am also in the final stages of self-publishing my book, Seeing Jesus – A Disciple’s Perspective. I’m just waiting for the final proofreader’s inputs, then I’ll publish it through Amazon’s CreateSpace website.