To better understand this theme we are to study the nature of sheep. Jesus often used this animal in his discussions.
There follows some simple facts about sheep. Keep in mind to look for the spiritual significance of these characteristics, as applied to the church and the individual believer.
a. a clean domestic animal known to man from antiquity.
b. Palestinian sheep are different from the Australian variety. They have a very wide tail which is replete with valuable fat.
c. If perfect they were considered suitable for sacrifice after the eighth day.
Lev 22:19-27 (NIV) you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. 23 You may, however, present as a freewill offering an ox or a sheep that is deformed or stunted, but it will not be accepted in fulfilment of a vow. 26 The LORD said to Moses, 27 “When a calf, a lamb or a goat is born, it is to remain with its mother for seven days. From the eighth day on, it will be acceptable as an offering made to the LORD by fire. n.b. 8 is the number of resurrection.
d. Useful and approved for food.
Deu 14:4 (NIV) These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat,
e. The wool and hides used for clothing.
Job 31:20 (NIV) and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,
Heb 11:37 (NIV) They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated
f. Fertility of the flock was a sign of prosperity.
Psa 144:13 (NIV) Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields;
g. They are docile and responsive to affection.
2 Sam 12:3 (NIV) but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
h. Lack initiative and are easily led astray. Become lost easily.
Isa 53:6 (NIV) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Jer 50:6 (NIV) “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.
Mat 10:6 (NIV) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel
1 Pet 2:25 (NIV) For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
i. A helpless creature that needs a shepherd to care for it.
Num 27:17 (NIV) to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
Mat 9:36 (NIV) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
j. Silent when they have their wool taken
Isa 53:7 (NIV) and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
k. Makes no defence when its life is demanded.
Psa 44:22 (NIV) Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Isa 53:7 (NIV) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
Rom 8:36 (NIV) As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
l. Is a symbol of man’s mortality.
Psa 49:14 (NIV) Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave.
m. Symbolic of innocence. False prophets try to look innocent.
Mat 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
n. Like sheep before the wolf.
Mat 10:16-19 (NIV) I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.
o. Sheep beget sheep.
p. Sheep support the shepherd and supply his needs.
John 10:14 (NIV) “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–
q. Sheep follow the shepherd.
Luke 14:27 (NIV) And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
r. Sheep huddle together when attacked. when cold and inclement weather comes.
s. Sheep seek firm ground to walk upon. They hate the mud and miry places. Develop foot rot in wet conditions.
t. Sheep eat grass and avoid the thorns and briars.
Luke 8:14 (NIV) The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
u.The ram’s horn was used as a trumpet and was used as a store for oil.
Josh 6:4 (NIV) Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark.
The skin of the ram dyed red covered the tabernacle of Moses.
Exo 36:19 (NIV) Then they made for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red,
The revelation of the lamb in Christ is revealed to us that we may by His example strive to be like Him.
1 Pet 1:18-21 (NIV) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Christ as the lamb of God was from the beginning in the mind and plan of the Eternal.
(Continued in Study two under this theme)