by Ray Harmer
I remember reciting Psalm 100 during morning assembly in elementary school. My how things have changed. As a tad, I had a problem understanding verse three, ”Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” I never had a problem with God being God and the fact that He made us, but I wondered how I could be a people and a sheep at the same time. Concrete thinking would not allow my developing mind to grasp it.
The word sheep is used many times in the Bible in reference to God’s people (in some instances of all people). It does not take long for one to realize that sheep are wanderers. An old neighbor used to raise them and he told me they are “dumb as a box of rocks” and difficult to keep inside a fence. He claimed they were always looking for a way out. Possessing abstract thinking now allows me to see the comparisons God makes between us and sheep. I do not care how smart or accomplished any of us are-we too are “dumb as a box of rocks”! How many Christians are looking to the other side of the fence and what it has to offer? It is like our walk as Christians. If we stay within the loving confines (fenced area) of God’s direction and watch- care (His Word and Commandments) we would do well. However, we are born with a bent-that to sin.
In our own lives, how many times have we drifted from our anchor? How many times have we gone beyond the fence? I was told barbed wire was ineffective on sheep, because of the length of their fleece (they do not feel the stickers!). Using abstract thinking can we imagine God’s Word as barbed wire? The Bible points out sin and the Holy Spirit convicts, so one could say it is a protective fence that God has provided for us. Yet, it not always keeps us from “straying,” and the fault lies with us and our sinful nature.
When, not if, we stray, we break through this fence (“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all,” Ps.53:6-italics mine). Sure, like the sheep, we may feel a little stick or poke, but our thick fleece (reasoning and rationalizing our sin) allow us to get through with minimal harm (we think). The more we drift, the thicker our hide. We must stay focused on God, the Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be able to stay within the confines of a devout life. The world is a cruel taskmaster, but we the redeemed (sheep), can claim the Lord is our Shepherd (Ps. 23:1)!
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