Protecting the Flock

We have a resident herd of white tail deer, as do the majority of the folks who live in the area, and that means you have to put up a big fence around your garden, and cages around all the young trees, flowers and bushes. It also means that if you have any fruit trees, they all be “pruned” up to a certain height–the height that deer can reach on their hind legs!  They create a lot of extra work and frustration, but also provide lots of entertainment, especially in June when they parade their new fawns by to show them off, or, as on a number of occasions, drop them off for you to watch, while they rest or graze!  One of our does just brought newborn twins for us to see last week. It was so fun to see them jump around and play. We have also observed how protective the mother does are. They normally hide their fawns in our hayfield (now about four feet high, while they rest or feed. They also keep very close watch on our neighbor dogs to make sure they don’t came anywhere near their fawns. One day last week a doe brought her fawn into our little fruit orchard and they were accompanied by seven other does and little bucks who were really checking out this fawn, but mom made sure they were “nice” to it! 

     I am reminded of how the shepherds we read of in Scripture had the task of protecting their sheep from predators, from severe weather, and from disease. As we read in Psalm 23, for example, we see how the shepherd would “prepare a table” for them “in the presence of the enemies,” probably a reference to going up to the mountain tablelands to make sure there was food and water and to look for possible dangers from predators.  The shepherds livelihood, of course, was dependent upon the condition of the sheep, but he also became very fond of his flock and usually had names for each of them. A good shepherd, in contrast to a “hireling” who didn’t really have an investment in the sheep (cf Jn. 10:12), would do all in his power to protect his sheep and to keep them healthy.
     You are probably familiar with the conversation that took place between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection and shortly before Jesus’ returned to heaven. He asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” to which Peter responded, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You,” and then Jesus replied, “Tend My lambs…Shepherd My sheep…Tend My sheep” (Jn. 21:15-17).  Jesus would be ascending back to heaven and leaving the apostles responsible for the church that would be established shortly on Pentecost, when, in response to Peter’s sermon, some 3,000 Jews would come to Christ, and then many were added daily after that. The new believers would need someone to care for them, to shepherd them, i.e., to guide and to graze and to guard them. On several occasions, Jesus had warned His disciples about “false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mt. 7:15 cf 10:16: Lk. 10:3).  The Apostle Paul, in his final visit with the Elders from the church at Ephesus that he helped found and pastor, warned: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert…” (Acts 20:29-31a). 
     As the Apostle Peter wrote to the Jews who had been scattered because of persecution, he wrote: “Therefore, I exhort the elders (shepherds) among you, as your fellow elder (shepherd) and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you…” (I Pet. 5:1,2).  Sheep, especially lambs, are helpless creatures, and need lots of guidance, care, and protection. It is no surprise that we are referred to as “sheep” in Scripture. The Psalmist, very familiar with the life of the shepherd and his sheep, wrote: “Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psa. 100:3).
     We happen to be experiencing first hand in Northwest Montana the results of the introduction of wolves into the Yellowstone Park area. They have multiplied rapidly and spread widely and are wreaking havoc among our wildlife and livestock. They are savage, relentless killers–which is part of why our deer populations in the residential areas have increased so much as they try to escape the onslaught of the wolves. Unfortunately, that also eventually brings the wolves in to get them–and that has already been happening.
     Sadly, it is going on in the churches too, as false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, have infiltrated and are spreading false doctrines, leading many astray. Paul, in writing to Timothy, predicted this would happen: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons… Preach the word…for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away from the truth, and will turn aside to myths (I Tim. 4:1; II Tim. 4:2-4).
     If a deer will be so protective of its young and a shepherd his sheep, should we not be as protective of “the flock” of believers?  And by the way, sheep that stray from the flock are very susceptible to predators. Don’t stray from the flock. Stay plugged in to a good Bible teaching church and even there, check out everything taught against Scripture. Beware of ravenous wolves who may come in dressed up like a sheep!
 
                                                                                                            Forever His,
                                                                                                                   Pastor Dave
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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