Throughout Scripture, Jesus uses natural wonders to explain supernatural truths. From fruitless figs and buzzing bees to choking weeds and lost sheep, it’s no secret that the Bible is steeped in an agrarian culture.
Now I never used to think about sheep very much. Or shepherds for that matter. But then I met someone who changed all of that. You’ll meet Lynne the Shepherdess in your homework during the online Scouting the Divine Summer Bible Study this week.
Ever since my encounter with Lynne, I’ve read everything I can get my hands on the subject. The Bible contains almost 700 references to sheep, shepherds and flocks. God not only uses these wooly creatures to reveal truths about himself and draw people into a closer relationship with Him.
One of the great mistruths taught in the church is that sheep are dumb. This teaching has almost done more harm to understanding the character of God and who He has created us to be than any other.
Think about that common fallacy: Sheep are dumb.
First, it’s not true. Sheep can be trained much like dogs and other pets using clicker training. Check out this YouTube video.
In addition, scientists are discovering sheep’s cognitive and recognition abilities. Check out this article.
Such studies don’t suggest sheep are at the top of the intelligence spectrum among animals, but they are far from the bottom.
Many of the behaviors of sheep—including being timid, being followers, and being fearful—are linked to the way God made sheep. More than anything, sheep are defenseless.
Unlike other animals, they lack razor teeth, they don’t pounce on sharp hooves, or even make aggressive noises. When was the last time baah scared anyone?
The only defense mechanism that God has given the sheep is to live within a flock under the watchful eye of The Good Shepherd.
Sheep are not dumb, they are defenseless.
Why is that so important?
Because if you believe that sheep are dumb than you will read the more than hundreds of references to sheep and flocks throughout the Scripture and think God is saying, “You are dumb. You are dumb. You are dumb.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
God has called you a holy nation. A royal priesthood. Chosen of God.
You are not dumb. But, yes, you are defenseless.
You and I were created defenseless so that we would know One as our Defender.
That we would turn to God for our protection, for our provision, for our guidance in all things.
You and I were created defenseless so that we would be compassionate toward others who need encouragement, help, and love.
So the next time you hear someone say, “Sheep are dumb,” gently correctly them, “No, sheep are not dumb, they are defenseless created to depend on God in all things.”
What are the areas of your life where you feel defenseless?
Today, the Good Shepherd invites you to come to Him. He wants to scoop you up in His arms, lead you beside still waters and restore your soul.
In the comment section below, write a prayer describing where you feel most defenseless and confess your need of God as Shepherd.
Bonus homework: Read A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Philip Keller.
Want a Spotify playlist to listen to as you read and study this week? Check this one out.