Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Sheep and the Goats

But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me…’

Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me…’
~Matthew 25:31-43

This is one of the many popular parables of Christ; of which the majority of them start with; “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” I decided a month or so ago to do a study on why are we compared to sheep and goats. So I wanted to first look at the natural behaviors and characteristics of these animals and then parallel them with scripture. What I found out was astonishing…

First, let’s talk about the sheep.

The first thing we think when we hear the word “sheep” is that they’re dumb! However, I have found this to be quite the contrary. The first thing that struck me in my studies is that sheep are dependant. They have to depend on the shepherd to protect and guide them to where food and water is. They learn very early on, the voice of the shepherd, and store it in memory as a voice matched with safety and provision. Sheep also have excellent hearing and vision which is greatly needed since they are classified as prey and are technically defenseless.

Christ is called “The Good Shepherd” and says that his sheep know his voice (~John 10:11, 27). In order to know the shepherd, you have to not only be looking for him, but listening for him as well. Sheep have excellent hearing and vision not so they can wonder off, but so they can hear and see the shepherd and therefore follow him. As Christians, we should make it a priority early in our walk to know the voice of God. In my ministry, I have come across so many leaders who have been in ministry half of my life (and I’m 31), and yet ask me; “How do you here God’s voice?” In Psalms 46:10, the Lord stated; “Be still and know that I AM God!” Even Elijah, when he went into the wilderness at Mount Horeb, realized that God was not in the whirlwind, nor an earthquake, or the fire, but in a still, small voice (I Kings 19:11-12). Well in order to hear God’s still small voice, you’ve got to have good (spiritual) hearing and you have to be looking for him.

Some other characteristics of sheep is that they are peaceful and social creatures. They tend to graze in sets of four or five, and will actually become agitated if they are separated from the flock. They will ban tightly together whenever a predator is near. This is done to possibly confuse the predator by it not being able to single one out. And if a sheep’s surrounding is disturbed, or if they sense that danger is near, it’s their instinct to move uphill, especially if it is a well-lit area.

All throughout the bible we see relationships; this is because YHWH-God is about relationship. However, the funny thing with us “Christians” is that the majority of us are either trying to fix everything by ourselves (because we don’t want nobody in our business…including God), or we’re associating ourselves with people that we have no business being with. And when I say relationship or association, I’m covering all grounds; friends, partners, church-buddies, homeboys/girls, associates, boy/girlfriends, and your family members!

So who or what is the right relationship? Well, let’s look at what Jesus said.

In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus’ family came to one of his gatherings and wanted to speak with him. Someone interrupted Jesus to tell him that his mother and brothers were outside waiting for him. Jesus’ response was; “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?” And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said; “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

God wants us to be social creatures (just like sheep), but we need to truly have Godly relationships and/or group ourselves with Godly individuals. Hebrews 10:25 states; “And let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of HIS return is drawing near.” The simple fact is; there is power in numbers! Even the Devil knows this (Matthew 12:43-45). Jesus said; “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or more gather together in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20). So we need to assemble ourselves, and build relationships with sheep that are following The Good Shepherd; those who can hear the voice of the Lord and see in the spirit; those who are sober enough to discern when the devil is approaching. For it is with these sheep that you will begin to move uphill to safety, and where the light of the Lord dwells (He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ~Psalms 91:1)

So if the way of the sheep will lead us to the Good Shepherd, and with Him, we won’t want of any good thing (Psalms 23:1); I would say that sheep are smarter than what they get credit for. What do you think?

To Be Continued…

I pray this fed your spirit

~Mena Lee