Thursday, July 30, 2009


Here's a thought from one of this week's messages:

In biblical Israel, being a shepherd was a mundane job, but it was an important one. Everyone knew that the sheep you were watching were possible future sacrifices. It wasn't just the wool and meat the sheep provided that was important - shepherding was a religious job as well.

The shepherds were most often not the owners of the flock. Even David wasn't looking after his own sheep; they belonged to his father. The shepherds were the servants of the master, and they watched out for his interests by caring for the sheep.

If by chance a sheep wandered off, a shepherd was responsible to go find it. Remember the parable Jesus told about the lost sheep? Have you ever caught that phrase "...if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the WILDERNESS, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?"

Why does the shepherd leave the other sheep to the mercy of wolves, lions, bad weather, and other possible dangers and go after one sheep? Why? Ever wondered?

He has quite a situation on his hands. One sheep - wandered off somewhere, perhaps dead. Ninety-nine sheep - in the flock, under his eye. "Ugh, that stupid sheep! I can't leave all these ones alone! It's probably dead anyway - why go find it? A long hike, a fruitless search... I'll just leave it to whatever befalls it."

Very tempting way to think, huh?

But - and this is what I didn't know until this week - in Israel, a shepherd was required to go after that missing sheep...and prove that he had done so. Not so much that he needed to find a single, solitary lamb - though it was valuable livestock - but to show his master that he, the servant, was caring for the master's interests. To show that he wasn't slacking off on his job.

Even if it was a dead sheep that he found at the end of his search, he was to search. And he had to bring back something - a limb, a bloody skin, a piece of bone...or a living lamb. He could not return empty handed. To do so would leave him with no way of proving that he didn't just say "Oh, let the sheep rot - I'm certainly not going after it." He would have no way of proving that he cared.

Wow, did that hit home.

I've been commanded to search for lost sheep - to tell them of the Master. I am supposed to love them, but my primary purpose in witnessing is for the glory of God. I am to proclaim Him, and leave the results up to Him. Even if those results are that no one responds favorably. Even if no one repents. I still must go out. I must prove that I am obeying my Master, and I must prove that I care.

What will you bring back to your Master? We hope to bring back many living lambs, but even if your message is rejected, proclaim it anyway. Prove that you care. We can't return with bloody skins or mangled limbs, but God records our obedience. He'll know if we went out.

He will know.

Don't come back empty handed.


Leah said...

That is really good Amber, thank you for sharing.
It is so true that our "primary purpose in witnessing is for the glory of God"
I will be meditation on this.

Barbara said...

This is wonderful, I sing a song called "I'm The Lamb that the Shepherd left the flock for" It touches my heart so very deeply, and so did this devotional here, thank you and God bless you.

Ruth Ann said...

hmm, those are very good thoughts! thank you for sharing Amber...and maybe you have more jewels to share with all of us???