Counting Sheep

This blog posts regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

imageKen and I often spoke to third-sixth graders at a camp in Montana. The camp was nestled between two mountains (actually Rocky Mountain foothills) and along the Boulder River – to get there, you drove an hour out of town. To get out, you retraced your steps. The camp is isolated.

We would usually be there in late June – the beginning of warm weather in the Rockies (well, except for the time it snowed.)  After a few days at camp, we would begin to hear snippets of news – “The sheep are coming!”

And then one glorious day, they would be there – a couple thousand sheep walking down the road behind their shepherd heading from the ranches  in the valley up to the mountain meadows. One man, two border collies and a cacophony of baaing. At the end of the line was a pickup truck, making sure there were no stragglers providing rides to any sheep with a lame foot.  Everything at camp stopped as we all (counselors and kids  … and chapel speakers) crowded against the fence watching.

DSC_0354Throughout the Bible, we (people) are called sheep. In a later post I will talk about similarities between people and sheep (much of it, I learned first hand watching those sheep at camp).

But have you ever thought about this? After saying Christ is the shepherd and we are the sheep, the Bible makes a 180 degree turn and calls the Lord Jesus Christ the Lamb.

Probably John 1:29 is the verse with which kids are most familiar. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

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A lady easily manipulates a 160 pound sheep (though shearing is difficult)

Another place we find this turn-around is in Isaiah 53. First, we (the people) are called sheep, then we read a description of Christ as the One who is like a sheep being sheared.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.

DSC_0387I knew those verses, even memorized them, but it wasn’t until I watched a sheep shearer that I thought, really thought about those words. A sheep might fight when a shepherd brings him into the shearer pen, but once that sheep is flipped so he can be sheared, he is quiet and docile, willing to let the shearer do what he wants with him. Watching the change is rather amazing.

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In the Old Testament, the people had to sacrifice lambs (and other animals) to cover their sins. The sacrifice was a picture/foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice in the New Testament.

Isaiah 53 is a description of what is to come – Christ was to be sacrificed and, as a sheep is quiet and docile before his shearers, so Christ was willing to be our sacrifice. To do so, He became a man. As Spurgeon writes: It is wonderful how complete was the interchange of positions between Christ and His people, so that what they were He became, in order that what He is they may become.

Spring is a time for sheep-shearing and lots of places are having shearing demonstrations right now. Before watching a sheep shearer at work, read Isaiah 53 to your children. Explain that Isaiah was a prophet, predicting what would happen in the future. This was written approximately 700 years before these events actually happened. A confirmation of the truth of God’s Word and a fact that can be explained to kids.

If you do not have any sheep-shearing opportunities around you or you are teaching a class rather than personal kids – Youtube is always an option!

So enjoy a spring day … and teach your kids while you’re doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

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