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“A Word for this Week” - Pastor Bill Mugnolo

Week of 11-27—12-3-2017: “We Are His Sheep” … Ezekiel 34:11-13.

Were you ever asked, as a child, “If you could be any animal, which one would pick?” You probably said, “a dog” or “a cat”. Or you might have wanted to be a roaring lion or a soaring eagle. But, most likely, you didn’t say that you wanted to be a sheep.

But had you grown up in Ancient Israel, there would have been a good chance that you would have answered, “a sheep”. Sheep were ever present out in their flocks and even as pets. God’s people in Israel were even spoken of in a positive way as they were compared to sheep. The long-standing song of the Church, The Venite—which is taken from Psalms 95 and 100, proclaims, “We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.”

The image of the sheep speaks as to both positive and negative qualities that we have as those who would be the people of God. On the minus side, sheep are easy prey for predators such as wolves and lions. As sinners, we have fallen prey to that roaring lion who is Satan (1 Peter 5:8). Sheep are also known to be quite stupid and would follow one another off a cliff—just as we are prone to follow other lost sinners over the edge of disaster.

But just as sheep are also endearing and lovable, our God saw fit to love us—despite all the trouble we have gotten ourselves into. Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “We all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way …” But Jesus, as the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29), became the one final and lasting sacrifice for our sins. That same verse in Isaiah also proclaims, “and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.”

Then, just as sheep need to be guided by shepherds, we, as God’s sheep, are led and guided that same Lamb of God who is also our Good Shepherd. Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

Someday, the Lord will come again to claim us as His own forever. We shall be not His dogs nor cats, not His lions nor eagles, but the sheep who will be on His right (Matthew 25:33). As the prophet long has foretold, Our Lord will seek us out as His sheep and gather us all together on that day (Ezekiel 34:11-13). On that day, we will proclaim, in the words that conclude the famed Shepherd Psalm, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

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