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Phillip Keller writes, "The day I bought my first 30 sheep, my neighbor and I sat on the dusty corral rails that enclosed the sheep pen and admired the choice, strong, well bred sheep that had just become mine. Turning to me, he handed me a large, sharp killing knife and said to me, ’Well, Phillip, they’re yours now, you’ll have to put your own mark on them.’

"I knew exactly what he meant. Each shepherd has his own distinctive earmark, which is cut into one of the ears of the sheep. In a way, even at a distance, it is easy to determine to whom the sheep belong.

"It is not the most pleasant procedure to catch each sheep and lay her ear on a wooden block, then notch it deeply with the razor sharp knife. There was pain for both of us. But from the mutual suffering and indelible mark of ownership was made that could never be erased. And from then on every sheep that came into my possession would bear my mark."

Folks, there is a striking parallel to this in the O.T. When a slave in a Hebrew household decided (on his own free will) to become a member of that family, he subjected himself to a certain ritual. His master would take him over to a door, put his ear lobe against the doorpost and puncture a hole through the slave’s ear. From that time on, that...

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