Unless you’re a farmer, you probably don’t have much experience with sheep. But in Bible times, sheep were a primary source of livelihood for many and provided a relevant way to illustrate important truths we can still learn from today. Take a look at these 4 lessons the Bible teaches about sheep - you might learn a little about yourself and God in the process!
Sheep are helpless.
They aren’t the smartest creatures and have no natural defense mechanism. They rely on their shepherd to keep them out of harm’s way and rescue them if they get into trouble. I saw a video recently of a shepherd pulling a sheep from a hole in the ground by his hind legs because he couldn’t get himself out - I wonder how many times God has done that for me! Matthew 9:36 says, “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Sheep go astray.
Sheep have strength in numbers; when one wanders off and is separated from the flock it becomes an easy target for predators. In the same way, we think we know better and wind up in all kinds of situations God never intended for us! Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” God tells us there is safety in staying close to Him, and Jesus came to bring us back into the fold.
Sheep trust their Shepherd.
In John 10, Jesus illustrates the sheep/shepherd relationship in a powerful way - the sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice and will run away from a stranger. He calls them each by name, and they follow Him because they trust Him. He is the good shepherd who sacrificed His own life to save His sheep. He knows us intimately and we can trust that He always has our best interests in mind.
The Shepherd cares deeply for the sheep.
Psalm 23 reminds us in a beautifully poetic way that the Lord is our kind, loving, and gentle Shepherd who gives us rest and protection from our enemies, who leads us, comforts us, and guides us along the right path.
Despite our helplessness and tendency to do things our own way, God will go to great lengths to restore us back to Him. “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!” Matt. 18:12-13
Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.”