Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 40:11, “He protects His flock like a shepherd, He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.” (CSB) Have you ever watched a shepherd with his flock of sheep? I have. My husband and I were on vacation in the mountains of Wyoming. Our campsite was on the edge of the forest and went up into a pasture high in the mountains. When we woke up the next morning, we heard what almost sounded like a great crowd of people talking. When we looked out the window of our camper, we saw a whole flock of sheep grazing on the mountainside. The shepherd was sitting and watching over the sheep and his dogs were carefully keeping their charges in line, not allowing them to stray too far.
We went up to talk to the shepherd. He told us about taking care of the sheep, all the while keeping his eyes on the sheep, making sure they were safe and not getting into trouble. He had a cook/camp wagon where he slept and fixed his meals. He stayed with the sheep all the time until it was time to take them back to the ranch. He had raised each one of them, and he ensured that they were safe from predators like coyotes and wolves, which roam freely in the mountains.
Our God is like that shepherd. He watches over us constantly! When we are hurt, He gathers us up in His arms to minister healing and comfort to us. When we get ourselves into sticky situations, He is there to rescue us. He also administers discipline when we get out of line. Like the shepherd my husband and I talked to, God must dole out correction to His sheep. The shepherd’s staff has a crook at the end to reign in the wayward sheep, and much like that shepherd who must guide his sheep back to the fold, God must reign us in and get us back on the right pathway.
Both do correction lovingly, not harshly. Why? Because of their love for the sheep. Like that shepherd, God exhibits His love for us in how He takes care of and watches over us. The sheep of the shepherd we talked to also knew their master’s voice. He would call to them and they would listen. John chapter 10 talks about that also. Jesus is telling the people how the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will respond, but a stranger they will not listen to because they don’t know his voice. Jesus also talks about how the shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep because he loves them. Jesus is our shepherd; He is the Great Shepherd.
In Bible times the shepherd would sleep in the door of the sheep fold to protect the sheep at night. The website, http://www.gotquestions.org describes this: “There were two kinds of sheepfolds or pens. One kind was a public sheepfold found in the cities and villages. It would be large enough to hold several flocks of sheep. This sheep pen would be in the care of a porter or doorkeeper, whose duty it was to guard the door to the sheep pen during the night and to admit the shepherds in the morning. The shepherds would call their sheep, each of which knew its own shepherd’s voice, and would lead them out to pasture.
The second kind of sheep pen was in the countryside, where the shepherds would keep their flocks in good weather. This type of sheep pen was nothing more than a rough circle of rocks piled into a wall with a small open space to enter. Through it the shepherd would drive the sheep at nightfall. Since there was no gate to close—just an opening—the shepherd would keep the sheep in and wild animals out by lying across the opening. He would sleep there, in this case literally becoming the door to the sheep.” Jesus used this illustration in John 10:7 where He says that He is the door. “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’” (NASB)
We are like sheep, wandering anywhere we choose, getting ourselves into all kinds of trouble, not too bright, and in need of a keeper. Sheep are not known to be very smart; they will go into places that will most certainly bring instant death, without the benefit of a keeper. They need guidance and constant watching. A shepherd will go to any lengths to save his sheep from harm, including putting his life on the line.
Jesus loves us to the point of dying for us. He gave up His life so that we could have eternal life. Like those sheep, the only door through which we must go, is the one our Shepherd provides for us. We must go through Him for safety. By accepting Jesus as our Savior, living our lives in a manner that brings Him glory and honor, and being obedient to Him, we can know peace, safety and life!