The Truth About Sheep
December 29, 2019
Anyone know what San Angelo is famous for?
We have a river that runs south to north, pretty rare, we are the biggest city in Texas without an intestate.
But we are world known for something that is pretty interesting. We are the #1 wool and mohair exporter in the U.S. we literally ship wool all over the globe. Its why if you have noticed we have those sheep statues all over the city. Its why Angelo State is the Rams. We are known for sheep here.
Not the coolest thing to be known for huh? Sheep get a pretty bad wrap.
They are dumb, they smell bad, usually not known as the cleanest animals. It is said that a sheep when it needs to be sheared is like a walking peatry dish. Full of filth and germs. Its like a giant Velcro ball. Everything sticks to it. Dirt, grime, horrible stuff.
Did you know that the bible mentions sheep over 220 times throughout the pages of scripture? And we are referred to as sheep multiple times throughout.
Sheep when you study them are actually super interesting. They are pretty fun to look into. If you have ever dealt with them fun isn’t what you would describe them as, but to research them is pretty cool.
Did you know that a group of sheep is sometimes referred to as a mob.
Sheep have a field of vision of around 300 degrees, allowing them to see behind themselves without having to turn their head. CREEPY!
Sheep actually have a split lip, similar to a giraffe and for the same reason, so they can choose the best blades of grass off the plant while they are eating. Think about it like fingers attached to your lip.
The bible refers to you and I as sheep?
Why are we referred to as sheep? If sheep are known as gross, and dumb why would we be referred to as that? Does God think we are dumb and gross?
We are like sheep in several ways.
1. Sheep follow a leader, even if it hurts them.
Was talking to someone the other day about this subject who has over 600 sheep on his ranch, deals with them all the time, and he said all he has to do to get them into a pin is get one sheep to go in, the other 599 will follow the one. He said if one of those sheep starts jumping in the pin, maybe it sees something on the ground that startles it, then the other 599 will jump as well, even if they don’t know what they are jumping over. I suppose if one jumped off a cliff the rest would too.
How many times do we follow after someone in life that isn’t going anywhere good just because everyone else is?
2. Sheep carry unnecessary weight.
Did you know a sheep’s hair or wool constantly grows? It never stops. I heard a story about a sheep that for 5 years avoided being sheared or getting a haircut and when they finally caught up to him, they cut off 89 lbs. of wool.
Shepherds have to shear sheep 2 times a year to keep them healthy and happy. If they don’t do it the sheep will actually be weighed down by the wool that is on their back. It can get so bad that the sheep will just lay down and not move. Sometimes they will roll over on their back and get stuck. Can you imagine that? Just flopping around on your back, or looking out across a herd of sheep and seeing all little puffs of cotton then just some feet up in the air. You would know instantly there was a problem.
There’s a term for when they get weighed down so much that they can’t do anything. It’s called being “cast down.”
David (pretty famous biblical character) before he was a king was a shepherd. He wrote a lot of the psalms in the book of psalms. Wrote the most famous one psalm 23 which is all about being a shepherd.
But in another psalm he says something that I think we can all relate to and we don’t even know it.
Why, my soul, are
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Down cast…. Cast down…..
David is saying that he has so much weighing him down that he can’t do anything for himself. Sounds a lot like depression and anxiety to me, what about you?
You ever feel cast down? Carrying too much weight? Laying around not able to get up, unmotivated to do the stuff that needs to get done. Its post-Christmas, depression and anxiety are heightened during this time, the excitement of the holidays is over and now what, you feel let down, you feel down cast.
Have you guys ever seen someone sheer sheep?
It’s pretty crazy, the sheep look like they are doing everything in their power to avoid the process. Literally the shepherd or sheep shearer has to hold the sheep down on its back, grab its legs, hold them between his or her legs and go to work. It’s exhausting, physical, hard work.
The sheep don’t want to let him take the weight off of their back. But then when he is done, they stand up, shake off the leftovers and go about jumping around and having a great time.
They look like they feel free after the weight comes off.
Sometimes God gives our lives a haircut. Cuts some things out that don’t need to be there. And just like Sheep we try to avoid the process. We hide from God, run from him, tell him we got it, run into sin, chase after the wrong things, don’t let him do the work, and before long we are cast down on our backs unable to move.
3. Sheep need a good shepherd.
You know what Sheep have figured out? And we need to also?
They need a shepherd, the most important way we are similar to sheep is in their dependence on someone else.
You and I like sheep are completely helpless and defenseless. We need someone to protect us and help us.
Did you know that sheep don’t even know where to find food or water in an unfamiliar place? Like most animals if they are alone in the wilderness will find something to eat and drink to stay alive, but sheep will just die. They will wander around in a panic and die. In fact, when food is scarce they will eat just about anything, plastic, wood, things that will hurt them.
Liken that to our life, God designed us to need food, physically and spiritually, just like sheep though when we are starving, we get anxious. Start to eat anything that we can even if it’s dangerous. Porn to fill the empty stomach spiritually, drugs to avoid the shearing process, relationships to feel protected that really are hurting us.
We are searching for a shepherd, because here is the deal, we will follow someone or something. The question is are you following a good shepherd?
When we understand that we are sheep then we can understand that we need a good shepherd.
4. Sheep are prone to Stress.
Anyone ever seen a shepherd’s pole? Or hook? This is the coolest thing I think I learned about sheep that applies to our lives.
The pointed end was used as a weapon. When a wolf or bear or lion would come attack the flock they would run at that thing and smack it with the pole until it ran away or was dead. And the hook end was used to protect sheep from themselves. When they were walking along a narrow path with drop offs on the side the shepherd would use the hook to pull that sheep back from the edge. And actually, in times of stress for the animal a shepherd would use the hook to pull the sheep close to themselves. Standing right by them, so they could feel the shepherd. If that didn’t calm the sheep down, Sometimes they would pull the sheep in pick it up and hold it close to the shepherds chest so that they sheep could hear the shepherds heart beat and know that everything was going to be ok. I do this with my kids all the time, put their head on my chest so they can hear my heart.
He tends his flock
like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
Who is our good shepherd? Jesus.
There are lots of sheep in the room this morning.
Some of us are headed for a cliff and don’t even know it, following after something that could never be a good leader because it isn’t the good shepherd. We are bound for destruction.
Some of us are naïve that we even need a shepherd. Wandering through life hoping we will make it through. Finding spots of grass by accident, unfulfilled, unhappy. Doing the next right thing with no idea why we are here.
Some of us have a shepherd but we just need to allow him to shear off the weight we have been carrying, we are cast down. Laying in a field with our feet in the air helpless.
But all of us need to be closer to the good shepherd’s heart. We are anxious, depressed, stressed, and we need to hear his heartbeat so we can know we are going to be ok.
Sheep have no ability to calm themselves. They need a shepherd to do that.
And So, do we.
Would you pray with me?
End with worship, get close to Jesus’s heart today. Search him out, let his staff bring you close and listen for his heartbeat. You would be surprised how much peace it can bring.
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