Tag Archives: sheep

The Last Lamb

The Last Lamb

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 round about them: and they were sore afraid.  Luke 2:8-9

When it came time for the birth announcement of Jesus to be given, the Lord told shepherds first.  These lowly and modest outdoors men were the first people God gave the “good news” to.  It is only fitting that they were the first ones to hear about Baby Jesus.  I hope to tell you “why” in just a moment.  For now consider sheep:

Sheep are used for several important things in history:

  1. Sheep cheese. The milk of Sheep is better for making cheese that Cows or goats’ milk.   According to Wiki: “sheep milk gives a much higher cheese yield than the milk from cows or goats. …Sheep milk is rarely drank as fluid milk.”
  2. Sheep wool. The wool of sheep is used for clothing even today.  It is a terrific natural product for fabricating warm, durable clothes.
  3. Sheep sacrifices. The Lord accepted the life of the sheep.

Sheep play a central role in the story of the Bible. For example:

  • I believe the first sacrifice was when God killed an animal to make clothing for Adam and Eve following their sin. It was probably a sheep.
  • Abel comes next and offers a lamb to God while Cain offered vegetables. God accepted the sheep sacrifice in Genesis 4:2.
  • Abraham, Isaac, Jacob all gave lambs to God.
  • Moses formalized the sacrifice of lambs in the Law.
  • The Lamb must be young with no blemish. This requirement is demonstrated at the first Passover in Exodus 12.
  • The sacrificial lamb at the tabernacle and later the temple were to be offered daily. Once in morning and another one in evening according to Exodus 29:38-43.  In addition there were several other offerings where a sheep was sacrificed, and killed on behalf of the people for their sin.

By the time Baby Jesus arrives on earth, the shepherds, particularly in Bethlehem, had been working diligently, since the days of Solomon, to produce the best, and most perfect lambs.  The priest in the Temple looked to the shepherds in Bethlehem to supply the sacrificial lambs to be used in the Temple worship.

When the “Last Lamb” was born, it is only fitting and quite poetic that God tells the shepherds about His arrival first!  Jesus is the “sacrifice once for all” according to Hebrews 10:10 and like John the Baptist said in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Jesus is the Last Lamb.  He paid the final sacrifice with His very own life’s blood.  While religion says: “do” Jesus says: “Done.”  When dying on the cross, being sacrificed for our sins, Jesus said: “It is finished.”  Jesus completed the redemption plan and for you and I to be forgiven of our sin and to be saved, all we do is believe.  WE believe the Gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lamb, Jesus.  Have you expressed faith in Jesus to God?  Have you prayed the “sinners’ prayer” confessing you sin, acknowledging Jesus and the Gospel and asked God to save you?  If not, why not take a moment to pray and do so now?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sheep of Bethlehem

The Sheep of Bethlehem

He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  Psalm 78:70-71

As the family inheritance was passed down from Boaz to Obed, Jesse and eventually David, we find Bethlehem (the House of Bread) with all the Barley fields of Boaz become a sheep herding location.  The first time we meet David, he is out in the fields, “keeping the sheep” of his father Jesse.

When it comes time for King David to make sacrifice and bring home the Ark of the Covenant to the “City of David”- that is Jerusalem, it is fitting that he would have found the sheep for sacrifice in his hometown.  Following the lead of the Shepherd/King David – his son, Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple sought after many sheep for sacrifice.  From the time of Solomon and David it is clear that the Lambs used for Temple worship and Sacrifice in Jerusalem, were raised 6 miles south in a place called….. Bethlehem.

The shepherds of Bethlehem were partially careful to take care of the sheep.  They would stay with the pregnant ewes and help with deliver.  The stables the shepherds used were the many caves in the hillside of Bethlehem.  These caves offered a safe, warm, and dry place for delivery of the lambs. And best of all: When the lambs were born the shepherds wrapped the lambs in “swaddling clothes!”

It is into this “sheep producing” town that the Lord sent His Son Jesus.  Jesus was born in the “Stable” or shepherds cave just a short distance away from the Inn his parents were turned away from.  It is to this area of the world, renowned for terrific “sheep stock” that the Lord sent the Last Lamb that would ever be needed for sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:10 teaches: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Yes, the sheep of Bethlehem paved the way, and painted a picture of the final sheep that would be required of God.  Jesus is the final sacrifice, making the only way for a person to be saved and forgiven of their sins.  Have you accepted the gift of eternal life?  Have you believed in the “Lamb of God” which taketh away the sins of the world?  Why not believe in Jesus today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encourage Your Pastor

Encourage Your Pastor

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  1 Timothy 5:17

Bishop, Elder, Pastor.  Which one is the leader of your church?  How about all three?  Recently, as Dr Jeff Amsbaugh was preaching to our regional pastor fellowship in upstate New York, hosted by WBC, he pointed out the 3 synonymous terms in the Bible that refer to the “pastor” of the local church.  As Baptist we prefer to use the term pastor, because of it’s connotation – I will share soon, but these other terms are good Bible terms that can give tremendous insight to the responsibilities and calling of the pastor.

Bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1 says, This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  The word “Bishop” means “inspection or superintendent.”  While the pastor does not do all the work of any given church and ministry, he is to oversee or be the superintendent over all the ministry.  With many others coming together to serve the Lord, the pastor gives the general direction and offers organizational helps to guide the church administratively.  God is a God of order and Paul told the Corinthian church members in 1 Corinthians 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.

Elder. 1 Peter 5:1 declares, The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed…  Elders means “older” or “senior.”  It refers to the maturity of the individual leader.  Church leaders are to be mature in the faith.  While this does not mean the “he knows everything” it does mean that the foundational principles of Christianity are not new territory for him.  That is why Peter exhorted the elders to continue in their wait for Jesus to come back for them.  Keep going despite persecution or problems.

Pastor.  Ephesians 4:11-13 elaborates, And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… In fact the verse goes on to describe the gift the pastor is to the local church and the end result of his shepherding ministry.  That is what a shepherd is.  He feeds and leads his people like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

  • Shepherds are concerned about spiritual growth in his sheep.
  • Shepherds are cautious for wolves among the sheep.
  • Shepherds are caring for the pain endured by the sheep.
  • Shepherds cease any nipping and bickering among the sheep.
  • Shepherds who are following the Great Shepherd (Jesus) attempt to get the sheep to keep their eyes on Him.

Baptist churches, like ours, prefer this term “pastor” because of the quality of care and the level of closeness a shepherd has with his sheep and the sheep for their shepherd. The model of the pastor being the “under shepherd” pointing people to the “Great Shepherd” is a good one to follow.  Show extra honor to those who faithfully are serving you.  The Lord will bless you, and him for it.

I commend the pastors (Bishops/Elders) that are faithfully serving the Lord and His people in the church.  Like Paul, I commend the teaching/preaching pastor’s especially.  Those who deliver Bible messages week in and week out and do not merely give lip-service to the Bible, but live it out as well, are to be encouraged and celebrated.  Their unending work causes much personal tiredness and at the same time joy.  Serving spiritual food to sheep can be a difficult thing sometimes.  Pastors cannot make changes in the life of his people.  The sheep must want to receive the Word for themselves.  They must make application on their own.  But the pastor keeps leading and feeding the flock.

Encourage your pastor today. Pray for him. Drop him a note.  Leave a gift on his door. Text or email and encouraging word or two.  Choose to know him as a person and choose to follow his lead.  Show respect.  Sheep who care for their shepherd in material things are sure to be prepared emotional, relationally, and spiritually to receive the spiritual teaching their pastor gives.

 

 

 

Tending to the Flock

Tending to the Flock

And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:4

Several years ago as my bus was quickly traveling down a mountain road in Israel, I noticed just a few miles from Jerusalem several wide open places and sheep walking around, un-fenced, and on their own.  But they were not on their own.  There were men, shepherds, and their sheep dogs, guiding the sheep and leading them, from grassy fields to clean refreshing water.

The Lord promised to Jeremiah and the people of Judah to send pastors (shepherds) who would feed and protect the people.  In the context of Jeremiah 23, the Lord is speaking of governmental leaders; the people who were given responsibility and a charge to take care of the “flock” of God.”  This is a good passage to learn about the responsibility the government has – to care for its people in restoring peace for prosperity and protection from harm.  The promise even includes that people would not go missing (due to crime) because of the good leadership of the governmental leaders.

Interestingly enough, the word for “pastor” and the word for “which shall feed them” is the same Hebrew word.  It means “To provide pasture.”  In other words, one of the responsibilities of the government is to provide the means to conduct prosperous business ventures.  It does not mean “to spoon feed;” but to provide a place for growth and sustenance. The government is called to provide a field in which industrious people can safely work, toil, and grow in business.  Like sheep freely roaming a field.

The government is also to provide basic safety.  Not only is there the possibility of wolves harming the sheep, like predators from foreign places that are not part of the field, but sometimes there are already wolves in the field.  We all were probably taught to “Not talk to strangers.”

Jeremiah 23 goes on to describe the return of Jesus and how once He comes back to earth, He will set up His Millennial Kingdom and will rule with splendor and majesty.

In contrast, check out how the previous leaders of Israel had failed in Jeremiah 10:21.  “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”  Because of a lack of godly leadership the nation of Israel and Judah suffered terrible.  “Brutish” is a Hebrew term which means to “kindle a flame or to consume with fire.”  Instead of looking out for the best of the people – the leadership was looking out for… itself.  Everything they touched, like a fire, they tried to consume.  Taxes, regulations, tolls, and more could be examples today.  Have you noticed much the same pattern in modern politics.  Many governmental leaders are successful at accumulating large amounts of money for themselves or for their pet projects.  I guess, some have even become rich by being full time politicians.

But one day.  One day, following the rapture, the 7 years of tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon, King Jesus will return.  He is the Perfect Shepherd this world desperately needs.  In the mean-time, praise the Lord for Jesus, the Great Shepherd Who is daily watching after His own sheep.  In this church age we are living in, the sheep are not confined to Israel, but to all those who are born again by faith in Jesus.  Take a moment to read Psalm 23 for more shepherding insight.  Be encouraged in Jesus today.