The Significance of Shepherds and Sheep within the Bible

Margaret FeinbergBy Margaret Feinberg

Earlier than my in-depth research, shepherds and sheep have been merely token characters in a handful of biblical tales—a part of the panorama, the approach to life. Just like the animal collectible figurines in my household’s Christmas crèche, they could possibly be pushed to the again to make room for extra central characters. However as I dug deeper, I started to comprehend that sheep are integral to the tales of God. The early church even embraced the shepherd as one in every of its major photographs.

Sheep graze all through the pages of the Bible, starting in Genesis. Although sheep should not particularly talked about within the account of creation, God made these animals a invaluable supply of meals and clothes. Due to their price, rivalry quickly got here. The unique bloody battle between brothers Cain and Abel is over an providing; Abel’s acceptable present from the flock versus Cain’s rejected present from the sector. The cut up between Lot and Abram can also be sheep-related, because the duo discovers the land can’t maintain each of their flocks.

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Sheep have been additionally used to garner goodwill. When Pharaoh desires to win favor with Abram, he offers him sheep, amongst different items. Sheep weren’t solely used to reconcile human relationships, but additionally our relationship with God. Keep in mind that heart-stopping second when God asks Abraham to boost his knife on his personal son, Isaac, as a sacrifice? In Canaanite tradition, the fertility god of the day may demand a portion of the bounty of the land in sacrifice—together with animals, grain, and even human life. So the request from God was surprising to Abraham, however not almost as flabbergasting as it might be to us at this time. Abraham is clearly distraught by the request, and, as he begins to obey, is relieved when an angel instructions him to cease. Moments later, Abraham discovers a ram trapped in a close-by thicket. The ram turns into a substitute providing, a symbolic foretelling of the Messiah who’s to come back. Abraham memorializes the place as “The Lord Will Provide.”

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Sheep proceed their prominence when the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt, many generations after Joseph’s time. After the story of the exodus begins, Moses goes on the run as a result of he killed an Egyptian in anger. Settling within the land of Midian, he sees one other injustice: the daughters of the native priest struggling to water their flocks due to pushy shepherds. Moses helps them and is taken in by the household—marrying one of many daughters and changing into the very factor the Egyptians who raised him despised: a shepherd. But whereas pasturing a flock, God seems to Moses in flames of fireside within the midst of a bush and calls him to set the Israelites free. When Moses protests that the individuals gained’t imagine him, God instructs Moses to make use of the employees in his hand to persuade them, an indication that Moses would change into a shepherd over God’s individuals.

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Via a wild collection of miracles, Pharaoh grants Moses’ demand. God’s individuals are let out however should not permitted to take their flocks or herds. Although the Egyptians detest the shepherds, they clearly know the worth of their sheep. Moses refuses to go away with out the sheep, and when the Israelites enter the Promised Land, their flocks are with them.

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Why is that so necessary? As a result of on their manner out of slavery, the Israelites are commanded to eat for the primary time what would change into a strong establishment for God’s individuals: the Passover, which included taking a one-year- previous male lamb with out defect, draining its blood, and putting the blood on the doorposts of the house; then roasting the meat and consuming it with bitter herbs and bread made with out yeast.

The inhabitants of these homes marked by the blood are spared from loss of life and loss on that fateful night when God passes by. The meal is supposed to remind God’s individuals for generations to come back of his love for them—even for individuals who didn’t straight take part within the exodus from Egypt—in addition to to create a strong foretelling of the Lamb of God who would in the future die for the sins of the world.

Lots of the prophets, together with Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Nahum, and Zechariah, use shepherd imagery. Even Amos, one of the crucial offbeat guys within the Bible, is a shepherd-turned-prophet. Ready for the Messiah, the individuals eagerly anticipated the one who would “shepherd” Israel. This Promised One is Jesus, the Son of God, the Good Shepherd. Given the significance of sheep and shepherds like Moses and David within the Previous Testomony, it must be no surprise that shepherds are an integral a part of the account of Jesus’ beginning and life. Upon seeing his cousin, John the Baptist declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” All through his educating, Jesus refers to shepherds and sheep often in methods the individuals perceive. Of their writings, Paul and Peter communicate of those animals and the tender care of them. Imprisoned on the island of Patmos, John frequently mentions the Lamb he retains seeing in his apocalyptic visions.

From Genesis to Revelation, the woolly theme blankets Scripture.

Scouting the DivineTaken from Scouting the Divine: Trying to find God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg. Click on right here to be taught extra about this title.

Beloved Bible instructor Margaret Feinberg invitations you on a exceptional non secular journey to dwell extra brave and free.

The Bible is filled with intelligent plots and compelling tales, laced with historic insights and literary magnificence. However regardless of its richness and depth, many people wrestle to shut the hole between the traditional world and our personal. What does it imply to know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd when the one place you’ve encountered sheep is at a petting zoo? How will you perceive the promise of a land overflowing with honey if you purchase yours in a bear-shaped bottle? Are you able to grasp the urgency of Jesus’ invitation to abide within the vine if you store for grapes at a neighborhood grocery retailer?

Margaret invitations you to accompany her on the journey of a lifetime — throughout the nation to herd sheep in Oregon, harvest fields with a Nebraska farmer, prune vines in California, and discover hives with a veteran beekeeper in Colorado. Alongside the way in which, you’ll discover how historic livelihoods illuminate significant truths that apply to life at this time.

“I asked one question to each person, ‘How do you read the Scriptures in light of what you do every day?’” she writes. “Their answers changed the way I read the Bible forever.”

Along with her trademark humor and vulnerability, you’ll be taught the key of the best way to dwell like you’ve gotten a shepherd, unlock the sweetest guarantees of God, and uncover the present of divine timing. You’ll transfer from merely studying Scripture to getting into tales that may be touched and tasted, smelled and savored. Scouting the Divine will revolutionize the way in which you perceive the Bible — and go away you wonderstruck by the magnificence of God.

Margaret Feinberg, one in every of America’s most beloved Bible academics, speaks at church buildings and main conferences together with Catalyst, Thrive, and Ladies of Pleasure. Her books, together with Wonderstruck, Battle Again With Pleasure, and Scouting the Divine and their corresponding Bible research, have bought a couple of million copies and acquired vital acclaim and nationwide media protection from CNN, Related Press, USA At present, Los Angeles Instances, Washington Submit, and extra. She was named one in every of fifty girls most shaping tradition and the church at this time by Christianity At present. Her newest ebook, Style and See, is a scrumptious learn that features dozens of recipes for individuals who, like Margaret, imagine a few of life’s richest moments are spent savoring a meal with these you like. Margaret savors life with Leif, a pastor in Park Metropolis, Utah, and their superpup, Hershey. Study extra at

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The Significance of Shepherds and Sheep within the Bible