Summary: Jesus sent out His disciples, comparing them as sheep sent in the midst of wolves. So, the flock of God to this day lives in the midst of wolves as they fulfil the will of the Master.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” [1]

It was late in the afternoon of the last day of October. I was in the bush, hunting elk on the final day of the season. About forty centimeters of snow already covered the ground. The sun was blotted out by glowering clouds, the temperature was dropping rapidly and snow had begun to blow sideways. I was sheltered in a copse of trees when I saw a cow moose tentatively step out of the bush into an opening about one hundred twenty metres in front of me.

The cow stood looking in my general direction. I knew she shouldn’t be aware of my presence as I had entered the trees from a direction that would not have allowed her to see me. Moreover, the wind was blowing hard, carrying my scent well away from her. However, she continued to look intently in my general direction. Then, she began to trot, moving very deliberately while angling across and to my left. She began to trot faster before breaking into a run, which was unusual behaviour unless she was alarmed. As she paralleled the shelter where I was secreted, I saw a large, back dog suddenly appear, dancing around the panicked moose. I caught only a brief glimpse of the scene before the moose and her pursuer were out of my view.

I wondered why such a large dog would be this far away from human habitation. Then, the realisation dawned that I was watching a wolf attack on the unfortunate cow moose. I hurried out of my hide, running through the deep snow in order to witness what was happening and perhaps allowing a shot at the wolf; the pelt would be a welcome prize. Arriving at the edge of the trees among which I had been secreted I was just in time to see the cow disappear into the trees about one hundred yards to the north, the wolf at her heels. That was when I heard the full-throated attack by the remainder of the pack. The unfortunate cow moose was in wolf country.

Those who have witnessed a wolf attack will agree that it can be a brutal spectacle. The execution of the attack seems almost to have been designed by an evil genius. The hapless creature to which the pack focuses its attention appears doomed; there seems to be no recourse save surrender to the inevitable. And yet, successful attacks by the wolves is not absolute—they do not kill prey as often as some might be led to imagine. One study showed that wolf attacks against moose were successful between forty-five and sixty-four percent of the time. [2] Nevertheless, wolves are excellent hunters, capable of devastating prey herds in relatively short time. No wonder the Master spoke of those who would threaten His people as “wolves.”

Those who know me, know that I love black preaching. One preacher that I have come to appreciate is Reverend Jerry Black. One sermon delivered by Pastor Black stands out in my estimate; that message is entitled “Wolf Country.” [3] I shamelessly appropriated the title for this message today. I encourage you to listen to Pastor Black’s sermon, it is a masterful challenge to God’s people as they walk through this life. Nevertheless, the effort today is mine alone.

For months, I have mulled over this message, weighing what I must say and how to say it. I have sometimes wished I was back among the black churches in the south so I would have the freedom to preach with the enthusiasm for which our brothers and sisters in the southern states are known. However, I am where God has placed me; and I shall deliver the message so as to receive a hearing from my fellow Canadians. My overriding concern is to encourage the people of God who are now living in wolf country.

WOLVES! “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Jesus’ words in our text have been described as an ordination sermon for His disciples. For three years, these men had been with Jesus. They had witnessed Him in His service throughout Galilee and Judea. They saw Him set men free when they were bound with cruel chains of demonic power. They saw Him speak one word and give sight to blinded eyes. They had seen Him exercise power over nature, transforming events in a manner that can only be said to be awesome. They had often witnessed His power—power such as few people throughout history have ever witnessed.

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