While men notoriously get blamed for not asking directions, I believe we all want to have a go at finding our own way. Our direction is right! We know it! In this insistence, we people have the tendency to behave like sheep. We wander off in myriad directions, blithely ignoring sign posts, advice from those who know us well, and warning signs that we sense ourselves, but choose to mute.
Little wonder the Bible compares people to sheep. Actually, sheep ‘graze’ all over the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament sheep are fattened, slaughtered, and sacrificed to the Lord. In the New Testament, people deceive others by appearing “as sheep” or “in sheep’s clothing.”
More often, however, the Lord sees sheep as lost, foolish, and helpless. While they need direction, they fight following the shepherd. Why? Trustworthiness? Indecision? Obstinance?
Since Eden’s debacle, our DNA has been programmed to follow foolishness. Those who know something of the Bible readily see this willful wandering from the Shepherd as sin. That is absolutely true, and Jesus served as the Perfect Unblemished Lamb, the only one who could atone for man’s sin.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 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.”
Here, in Isaiah 53, people go in our own direction and God chooses to inflict our punishment on the only person who ever followed Yahweh perfectly — Jesus Christ. Only a perfect sacrifice could fulfill the demand of the law.
However, those God calls don’t instantly join a happy flock and never face any problems. The men who received three years of direct mentoring from Christ fell away like sheep when guards arrested Christ. (Mark 14:27)
Following in one direction means choosing not to proceed in another. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” is a poetic statement about this. So for today, in what ways well I, as a sheep, be led astray by following my own direction in issues large and small? Will I choose to follow my own way by ignoring another’s need, making a hurtful comment, or sneaking a handful of dark chocolate later tonight? Lots to ponder for this little sheep.