Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Shepherd's Voice

During the time when I lived in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, I saw many flocks of sheep in the desert area where we were building a 175-mile pipeline. On several occasions, I had to fly to our field office in the interior of the Omani desert in the small Cessna airplane that we had. One time, as we were coming into to land, there was a young shepherdess girl with about 25 or 30 sheep just at the end of the landing strip. The noise of the airplane and the sudden appearance of it from the sky scared the sheep, and they scattered in every direction. Later, we saw that she had called them, and they were all back together again. They had recognized her calming voice, and obviously they had listened to it. More than likely, she was the only human being with whom the sheep were familiar, and quite possibly, she was the only person who could bring them back together again. A shepherd cares for his or her sheep.

It is a known fact that the raising of sheep was and still is a very important business in the Middle East. It was so in Bible times, and the Bible is full of stories about sheep, with literally hundreds of references to sheep and the keeping of sheep. As a matter of fact, according to Sheep101:

Sheep are mentioned in the Bible more than 500 times, more than any other animal. The prominence of sheep in the Bible grows out of two realities. Sheep were important to the nomads and agricultural life of the Hebrews and similar peoples. Secondly, sheep are used throughout the Bible to symbolically refer to God's people.

Many sheep are still being raised in the Middle East. We were in Jordan some years ago, and along the way from Petra to Amman, we saw many flocks of sheep looking for food in the desert, all accompanied by a shepherd.

In John chapter 10, Jesus makes several references to Himself being the Good Shepherd. The people could understand and relate to these sayings of Jesus, because keeping sheep was big business at that time. But these were the verses which really caught my eye:

John 10:27-28: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (NKJV)

These words of Scripture tell us that Jesus is -- or can be -- our Shepherd, if only we let Him. When people have wandered away, when we are scattered by the events around us, when we are distraught about one thing or another, let us just relax and listen to the Shepherd's voice.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray for all people who have wandered away from the faith, and who are seeking for peace in their hearts. We pray that they will listen to the Shepherd's voice. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Joel Jongkind Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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