Why is a Shepherd so important to the sheep? Why are we called sheep in the Bible? Why aren’t we called something more powerful, like a ram or horse? Well, God chose to use the word sheep for a reason and our shepherd, Jesus, is leading the way. Let’s look briefly the characteristics of sheep which shows us how much we need a shepherd.
- Sheep aren’t intelligent. Sheep are not known to be smart or cunning animals when it comes to safety; rather, they are susceptible and tend to wander away from the protection of the shepherd. People tend to wander away from God and from everything that is right and holy.
- Sheep respond to the shepherd’s voice. The voice of the shepherd brings comfort and security to the sheep. Jesus said in John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
- Sheep get lost easily. Individual sheep easily wander away from the flock while they graze. If a sheep wanders off from the rest of the herd, it will have a hard, if not impossible time, finding its way back. They have no sense of direction.
- Sheep are weak and need a shepherd. People are spiritually weak and need a Shepherd. Have you ever seen an animal fleeing for its life from a lamb? No! Sheep aren’t dangerous and they’re virtually defenseless. A sheep’s best defense is to stay close to the shepherd and remain with the herd. The same is true with us, isn’t it? When we’re out of fellowship with God and isolated from other Christians, we’re the most vulnerable. We need the Shepherd’s wisdom and strength to survive, as well as the comfort and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Sheep follow the voice of their own Shepherd but not another shepherd. The Bible says the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. They are not without understanding. They follow the One whom they know. The shepherd is at the front of the sheep and leads the sheep. The sheep know their shepherd, the sound of his voice and follow him. This is also the way that the sheep are separated into separate herds after grazing or sleeping together. The shepherd calls the sheep and they come. They need no markings to distinguish them – all they need is the sound of the shepherd’s voice.
In our story, Moses was about to die and God knew the people would be helpless without a Shepherd. Num. 27:15 Then Moses said to the Lord, 16 “O Lord, you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Please appoint a new man as leader for the community. 17 Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” 18 The Lord replied, “Take Joshua son of Nun, who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him.
As people we like to think that we are vastly superior to sheep, but we share many of the same characteristics. The older I become, the more I realize how fragile people are and how much we need a Shepherd. We may not be fragile physically, but we are all fragile emotionally. Broken relationships and health difficulties can bring even the toughest person to their knees. How about you? Our Lord Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He is always there for us and we can pray to Him any time and He is never too busy. When we get off the trail, our Good Shepherd comes after us and calls us back. When we fall into a pit, the Lord is there with us.
When life goes off the rails it is always good to think about and call on our wonderful Shepherd Jesus Christ. Psalm 121:5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. 6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. 7 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. 
To hear more of Moses and his story, listen here: https://podpoint.com/light-of-christ-church-podcast/series/the-footsteps-of-moses/passing-the-mantle