Summary: In our day there has been no end to false prophets. Jonestown clamed 900 victims, Marshall Applewhite with 1000 followers convinced 39 of them to take some sleeping pills and allow him to suffocate them. There was a comet that would be coming through an
“Who’s that Knocking at your Door?”
This passage of scripture is found toward the end of the longest sermon Jesus ever preached. In Matthew 5, 6 and 7 we find the famous sermon on the mount. Jesus has discussed every topic and sin imaginable …adultery, murder, revenge, how to treat our enemies, prayer, fasting, worry, a wide array of topics and as He begins to close his message he moves to the topic of how to recognize a false prophet. Following that he closes the message by telling us the importance of putting all of these things into practice.
Jesus knew there would always be false prophets. There were in his day. A man named Theudas had led the people out and had promised with one word that he could split the waters of Jordan in two. Nothing happened. Another prophet from Egypt said he would lay flat the walls of Jerusalem. They were left standing. Simon Magus promised to go to a mountain and jump off and fly through the air. He’s dead.
In our day there has been no end to false prophets. Jonestown clamed 900 victims, Marshall Applewhite with 1000 followers convinced 39 of them to take some sleeping pills and allow him to suffocate them. There was a comet that would be coming through and he said that the chariot would swing low and come to carry them home. They bought it and they all died in the process. Bizarre. Yet people are pulled into cults every day in America. Because there is deception and people do not see the trap they are walking into.
Jesus said, watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inside they are ferocious wolves. This paints quite a picture for us doesn’t it? This was a common analogy used in scripture. Jeremiah referred to these false prophets as wolves. Paul warned the church in Ephesus of dangers out there and he put it this way: fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Jesus said he was sending out his disciples like sheep in the midst of wolves. That was the job of the shepherd.
The role of the shepherd and the role of the pastor have been compared for centuries. Like the shepherd the pastor of a congregation has a 3 fold responsibility. (1) to feed the flock. Sheep love to eat. The problem is that many times they get so engrossed in eating, moving along that when they finally look up they have gotten so far away from the flock that they are now lost. One of the jobs is to be a teacher and to feed the people with God’s word. (2) to lead the flock. Sheep will follow the shepherd. I am told that you can bring sheep in from one fold and place them with another fold but when the shepherd calls them out they will hear his voice and go to the right place. (3) to protect the flock. Sheep tend to wander. They get themselves into traps and places where they have no business. In fact the shepherd’s staff was always shaped like a (hook) for a reason. The shepherd could often be seen using the crook in the staff to rescue a little lamb and get them out of trouble. The opposite end could be used to strike at a wolf that may be trying to get into the flock.
In Bible days there was what we know as the sheepfold. This was the place where the sheep would sleep at night. Often it was a square wall made from stones. There was one opening to get in and in that opening that is where the shepherd could sleep at night. If an animal/wolf was going to try to get in they would have to come across the shepherd to do so. The shepherd would protect the flock. And I strongly feel that is a part of my job as your pastor, not because you are helpless but because I genuinely care about each of you. So I want to feed, lead and protect this flock God has given me to look after.
Jesus said look out for these false prophets – they will come to you in sheep’s clothing. Now this is a very interesting way to trap someone. This is saying that the trap looks just like the prey. You can’t tell them apart.
Here is how this works. The trap does not really have to be very big. It just has to have big results. Take this mousetrap for instance. We’ve all used them. They look like they’re not really so dangerous because they’re so small. They have cheese on them because the prey, the mouse loves cheese. And when he moves for the bait and just takes a nibble—it doesn’t take much to set it off. (Slam). And then they’re caught. They’re dead. You see the trap looks like something that they will really enjoy but because their eyes are completely focused on the bait, they don’t see the big picture.