GOD LOVES SHEEP—THAT MEANS YOU!
“And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were sore afraid. And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you are born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 8-11).
Today’s thoughts are not from me, but from my sister, Kate. Kate and I are both familiar with sheep. Our father, Ivan Bowen who passed away a couple of years ago, designed the way shearing is done across the world and he was the fastest shearer in the world in his prime. Kate also shepherded a flock of sheep when she lived up in the Caribou of Canada. She has a special love for sheep. I know you will be blessed by her thoughts.
God Chooses the Poor and Despised!
The Palestinian shepherds in Bible days were despised by society. They were not allowed to give testimony in a court of law as they were considered unreliable. Doesn’t it astonish you that God chose the despised members of society, those with unreliable testimony, to be witnesses of the most important message of all time? He entrusted them with a message that was foretold by prophets hundreds of years before and would change the course of history. If it was me, I would make sure this message was given to the most influential, reliable men of the nation to ensure it was accurately broadcast world-wide. Yet, how God is this! His ways are greater than our ways (Isaiah 55:8).
I believe these ancient shepherds were good shepherds. I was a shepherdess in Northern British Columbia, Canada for a time, and as I worked with the flock, I experienced something of the heart of the shepherd. The sheep pulled at my heartstrings. I believe these shepherds would have had tender hearts.
They would also have been physically tough as they braved the elements. They were watchmen, always on the lookout for predators, or the enemy that would attack the flock. Remember how David contended with the lion and the bear? In fact, a shepherd never rests until the entire flock is safe in the fold, especially at night. “There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, but one was out on the hills away, far from the gates of the fold…” This old hymn speaks of the shepherd going out to look for the one astray. I had to do this many times in my shepherding days.
These ancient shepherds were courageous, too, willing to lay down their lives for the sheep. And, ultimately, they were a living illustration of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. God saw beyond what society perceived these shepherds to be, and saw their tender, courageous hearts.
God Chooses the Sheep!
Not only were the shepherds there when the angels appeared, but who else? The sheep! The shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night. As we fast forward two thousand years later, we peer back into this divine hallowed moment in history and see ourselves represented through the sheep. Again, how God is this! He does not make mistakes. What does God liken us to in the Bible? Sheep! It is one of the recurring themes throughout Scripture--the shepherd and his sheep. On looking through one of my daughter’s Bible story books, this same passage was illustrated with bright lights beaming on the shepherds. But, I was fascinated to see that the illustrator had perceptively drawn the cute little sheep with their heads looking up at this glorious light also!
All we like sheep! They go astray, wandering off unaware of the dangers from under the shepherd’s care. They get dirty. They’re stubborn, often stupid--although not dumb as is the popular belief. They’re vulnerable and need constant attention. In fact, the flock cannot survive without the shepherd. Sound familiar! In spite of this, the sheep are entirely loveable.
Today, as 21st century sheep of His flock, we are witnesses to and of this amazing proclamation that the savior of the world is born and has come. In the business of this season, let us remind ourselves that we carry this great proclamation wherever we go–in our homes, into the city streets, into the stores, on the road, as we go out and come in. Whatever we are doing, this proclamation is with us. And remember, it is backed by a multitudinous heavenly choir! It is the message of hope in these troubled times.
Truly He is the king, worthy of proclamation!
KATE MARCHINIAK, NANCY’S SISTER.