The number of times in Scripture that the people of God are compared to or called sheep is absolutely staggering. From Genesis to Revelation and so many places in between, the relationship between God and those He calls His own is described in the terms of a shepherd and his sheep.
- In Genesis 48:15 Jacob, near death, blessed Joseph by invoking the name of “The God before whom [his] fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who [had] been [his] shepherd all [the days of his life].”
- In Numbers 27:17 Moses asked God for a successor, so that Israel would not be like sheep which have no shepherd.
- In 2 Samuel 5:2 David was being made king over all Israel and the people said, “Previously when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.’”
- In Psalm 23:1 it is the LORD, YHWH, who is our Shepherd.
- In Psalm 28:9 David cries out, “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.”
- Ezekiel was writing and prophesying after David’s death. He was looking toward Christ when he wrote 37:24: “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.”
- There are myriad more Old Testament verses I could quote. What about the New Testament, though? Matthew 2:6 is a quotation of Micah 5:2 in reference to Christ. He is the One “who will shepherd My people Israel.”
- In Matthew 9:36, Jesus has compassion on the crowds because they are distressed and disspirited, like sheep without a shepherd.
- In Hebrews 13:20 it is the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant.
- Earlier in 1 Peter 2:25, it is Jesus who is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
- And in Revelation 7:17, with regard to the great multitude which no one can number singing praise to God, it is said that “the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” What a glorious day that shall be.
These verses merely scratch the surface of how much God has used the Shepherd-sheep analogy to describe the relationship He has to His people.
If it were used one time it would be a powerful analogy, but because it is used so often, by so many different biblical authors, employing so many different literary styles, in times of writing which spanned at least 1500 years… Beloved, we would do well to take heed tonight to the relationship between a shepherd and a flock of sheep, especially given that this evening we arrive at the fifth and final chapter of 1 Peter. And this is what the word of God says in 1 Peter 5:1-5:
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your bfellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as alording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be bexamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.