264 – SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER
Sheep is the female of the ram. The ram, when young is called lamb. The sheep has nothing to do with the goats and she-goats. A sheep is totally defenseless, for it does not bite or fight with the other sheep. A single wolf can kill all of a flock of sheep (Matt. 10:16; Acts 20:29). The characteristic of the sheep is that they do not gather in groups. The shepherd forms the flock. He has to be watchful, for the sheep is careless, falling easy prey when it wanders away from the flock. The sheep goes grazing away until it gets lost from the flock. This is why Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherds of sheep take trained dogs to help them to care for the flock. The lost sheep of Luke 15:3-7 is not asheep that has been corrupted, but one that is gone far from the shepherd and from the flock. The wolf devours the corrupted sheep. Speaking of sheep, Jesus says: “Most certainly, I tell you, one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But one who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers” (John 10:1-5).
Now, Jehovah calls himself the pastor of Israel (Ezek. 34:12; Amos 3:12). Jehovah calls Israel his flock.“Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, Thou who dost lead Joseph like a flock” (Ps. 80:1). “Thou didst lead Thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Ps. 77:20). But Israel did not listen to the voice of Jehovah, who complained, saying, “Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! (Ps. 81:13). “I have sent also to you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, “Return now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and don’t go after other gods to serve them, and you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but you have not inclined your ear, nor listened to me’” (Jer. 35:15).
The flock of Jehovah, that is, Israel, did not listen to the voice of Jehovah, that is, the shepherd. There are only two ways of explaining the fact. Either the flock, hearing the voice of Jehovah, did not recognize the voice of the shepherd, for he took them to the desert to test them, try them, and cause them to be hungry and thirsty for forty years (Deut. 8:2-3; Ex. 16:1-3; 17:1-3).
Jehovah sent food and water, and while they were eating, Jehovah killed them (Ps. 78:19-31). The people were a flock of sheep, and sheep need to be cared for.
Since Jehovah was touchy, irate, vengeful, and a killer, and after giving water and food, killed the chosen ones of Israel, the flock of sheep did not recognize in him the voice of the Shepherd (John 10:1-5). And Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). On the contrary, Jehovah took away the life of the sheep. They, in turn, began to flee from him, and did not recognize his authority. The second explanation for the situation is that, once Israel was evil and perverse, Jehovah could not do anything else but harden and kill (Is. 48:8). We have here two points to consider: The first one, is that Jesus did not come to save the righteous, but the unrighteous, and in this case it brings the assassin hardness of Jehovah to the light (Matt. 9:12-13). The second point is that Jehovah was responsible for the creating of Israel’s evil. Paul, the apostle, declared, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed ask him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this? Or hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?” (Rom. 9:20-21). Jehovah formed an evil flock for it to die. For this reason the Psalmist said, “O God, why hast Thou rejected us forever? Why does Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? (Ps. 74:1). The Psalmist uncovers Jehovah, saying, “But now you rejected us, and brought us to dishonor, and don’t go out with our armies. You make us turn back from the adversary. Those who hate us take spoil for themselves. You have made us like sheep for food, and have scattered us among the nations. YOU SELL YOUR PEOPLE FOR NOTHING, AND HAVE GAINED NOTHING FROM THEIR SALE” (Psalm 44:9-12). If the Bible is the word of God, as we believe, and it is written in it that Jehovah did not profit anything (Ps. 44:12), he is not included in the project of Jesus, for Paul declares that the fall of the Jews resulted in the salvation of the gentiles (Rom. 11:11-12). Eventually all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:25-26).
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira