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Summary: AN IMAGE THAT IS FREQUENTLY USED TO DESCRIBE CHRIST'S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS CHURCH IS THAT OF THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP.

THE CHURCH: THE FLOCK OF GOD

ACTS 20:25-32

FEBRUARY 10, 2019

AN IMAGE IN THE BIBLE THAT DESCRIBES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JESUS AND HIS PEOPLE THAT BRINGS COMFORT TO SO MANY PEOPLE IS THAT OF BEING THE GOOD SHEPHERD. MANY CHURCHS WITH STAINED LASS WINDOWS WILL OFTEN HAVE AT LEAST ONE PICTURING JESUS HOLDING A LAMB. COUNTLESS PEOPLE HAVE RECEIVED COMFORT AT THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE THROUGH THE READING OF THE 23RD PSALM, WHICH IS KNOWN AS “THE SHEPHERD’S PSALM.”

ISAIAH SPOKE OF THE COMING MESSIAH WITH THESE WORDS:

ISAIAH 40:11: HE TENDS HIS FLOCK LIKE A SHEPHERD: HE GATHERS THE LAMBS IN HIS ARMS AND CARRIES THEM CLOSE TO HIS HEART;

HE GENTLY LEADS THOSE THAT HAVE YOUNG.

SHEEP, PARTICULARLY LAMBS, ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. WE OFTEN SEE LITTLE CHILDREN WITH TOYS IN THE SHAPE OF LAMBS. AFTER THEY ARE SHEARED THEIR SKIN IS NICE AND WHITE, AND THEY ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT.

SHEEP THOUGH ARE NOT THE MOST INTELLIGENT OF ANIMALS. THERE IS A TYPE OF SHEEP THAT IF IT GETS ON IT’S BACK, DOES NOT YOU COULDN’T EVEN COME UP WITH A GOOD CHEER FOR THEMKNOW HOW TO GET BACK TO ITS FEET. IT COULD LITERALLY DIE IN THAT POSITION.

THEY CANNOT DEFEND THEMSELVES. OUR CAT SOPHIE CAN DEFEND HERSELF, AND ATTACK SOMETHING, IN A WAY MORE FIERCE THAN ANY SHEEP. THEY DO NOT EXUDE FEAR AT ALL. THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MOMENT. IN SPORTS WE HAVE THE DETROIT LIONS, THE CINCINATTI BENGALS, THE DENVER BRONCOS, ALL OF WHICH HAVE AN ELEMENT OF FEAR. HOW MUCH FEAR WILL YOUR OPPONANT HAVE IF THEY KNOW THEY ARE GOING INTO THE HOME OF THE CAMPBELLTON LAMBS. LISTEN TO THIS:

WE ARE THE SHEEP

WE DON’T MAKE A PEEP

VICTORY IS YOURS TO KEEP

BUT COUNT ON US IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP.

DOESN’T THAT JUST MAKE YOU SHIVER IN YOUR SHOES IN FEAR.

WHY THEN WOULD GOD USE A POOR DEFENCELESS, DUMB, ANIMAL LIKE A SHEEP? GOD USES IT FOR WHAT OR RATHER WHO IT REPRESENTS.

ANIMAL ARE USED IN THE BIBLE TO DESCRIBE THE CHARACTER OF MANY INDIVIDUALS AND THINGS.

SATAN IS DESCRIBED AS A SERPENT IN GENESIS FOR HIS EVIL CUNNING. HE IS ALSO DESCRIBED AS A LION IN 1 PETER TO DESCRIBE HIS VISCIOUS INTENT.

HORSES ARE SEEN AS ANIMALS OF WAR.

DONKEYS ARE ANIMALS OF PEACE.

SO WHERE DO SHEEP FIT IN AND WHO DO THEY REPRESENT? IN OUR WORLD THERE IS ONLY ONE ANIMAL EQUALLY AS DUMB AND DEFENCELESS WHEN IT COMES TO SPIRITUAL LIFE AND THAT IS US. THE SHEEP REPRESENT US.

PERHAPS, YOU MAY ADMIT THAT IN SOME WAYS WE ARE DEFENCELESS, BUT YOU WOULD NEVER ADMIT TO BEING AS DUMB AS SHEEP. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY TO PROVE YOU WRONG.

I HEARD ABOUT A MAN WHO HATED HIS WIFE’S CAT. HE WANTED TO GET RID OF IT BUT SHE WOULDN’T LET HIM. FINALLY, HE DECIDED HE HAD ENOUGH! HE PUT THE CAT IN HIS CAR AND DROVE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN, THE CAT OUT AND DROVE HOME. AS HE PULLED INTO THE DRIVEWAY, THE CAT WAS WALKING UP THE DRIVEWAY. HE SAID “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS.”

THE NEXT DAY HE PUT THE CAT IN THE CAR AND DROVE TEN MILES AWAY. HE LET THE CAT OUT AND SPED BACK TO THE HOUSE AS FAST AS HE COULD. AS HE DROVE INTO THE DRIVEWAY THERE WAS THE CAT YAWNING AND WALKING INTO THE HOUSE.

HE WAS FURIOUS. THE NEXT DAY HE PUT THE CAT IN THE CAR AND DROVE WAY OUT INTO THE COUNTRY. HE DROVE 20 MILES, OVER A COUPLE OF BRIDGES, ON SOME DIRT SIDE ROADS AND INTO SOME DEEP WOODS WHERE HE FINALLY LET THE CAT OUT.

A FEW HOURS LATER HE CALLED HOME AND ASKED HIS WIFE, “HONEY IS THE CAT THERE?” SHE ANSWERED, “YES, WHY DO YOU ASK?” THE MAN SAID “PUT HER ON THE PHONE, I’M LOST AND I NEED DIRECTIONS”

ARE WE AS DUMB AS SHEEP. NO WE ARE NOT. IN SOME WAYS SHEEP ARE SMARTER THAN US. YOU SEE A SHEEP WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW IT’S SHEPHERD, BUT THERE ARE MANY TIMES THAT WE WILL NOT.

CONTEXT OF THE PASSAGE:

PAUL IS SPEAKING TO THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS. HE KNOWS IT’S MOST LIKELY THE LAST TIME THAT HE WILL SEE THEM. HE KNOWS HE WILL SOON BE ARRESTED AND EVENTUALLY BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE ROMAN EMPEROR WHICH WOULD LEAD TO HIS EXECUTION.

HE ALSO KNOWS THE TYPE OF CITY EPHESUS IS. IDOLATRY WAS RAMPANT AND BEING A TRADE CENTER MANY DIFFERENT BELIEFS WOULD BE PRESENT THERE.

HE ALSO KNOWS THAT HIS PREACHING HAD STIRRED UP PERSECUTION FOR THE CHURCH THERE. MANY PEOPLE TURNED TO THE LORD FOR SALVATION, AND AS A RESULT LOCAL MERCHANTS LOST INCOME AS PEOPLE WOULD NO LONGER BUY IDOLS FOR WORSHIP.

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