Sheep and Wolves

Sheep - Big one - wolf-in-sheeps-clothing

Jesus’ Allusion Concerning Sheep & Wolves
Jesus, in speaking about these false prophets used the allusion (an indirect reference to something or somebody by using symbolism) of them coming to the people as “wolves in sheep’s clothing(see #1) in order to take advantage of them.

We understand that Jesus used the allusion of sheep in describing people, which we should look at first in gaining greater understanding of what Jesus was communicating.

First, we should examine Jesus’ allusion regarding sheep in describing God’s people (Israel) and Believers (the church), and goats symbolizing unbelievers.

Sheep have no natural defenses within their environment, yet quite often they seem to be unaware of this; in the same way that believers have no natural defense against sin, the devil, or the world; without the protection of their shepherd, or the indwelling of His Spirit, yet many times they seem to forget this fact.

Sheep 1

Sheep have a tendency to wander off (Luke 15:6) without ever thinking about it, most the time when they’re in danger, they have no idea of how dangerous it really is, with their focus stuck in what is right in front of them, having no concerns about the greater picture. They are self-centered, yet are unaware of it. They are not very surefooted, subject to falling off the side of cliffs; they display very little discernment, very similar to many within the church.

Other animals display traits that humans can more easily identify with; such as the intelligence, ingenuity, and comic behavior of monkeys, the cunning and wilfulness of cats, the friendliness of dolphins, or the loyalty of dogs.

Yet sheep are not animals that humans would like to more readily identify with. They are stupid, obnoxious, and noisy. Certain civilizations, such as the Old Egyptian Empire consider sheep to be unclean, defiled, or polluted in the same way that the world considers believers to be unnatural or polluted.

Sheep will over eat, gorge themselves and destroy the fields with no thought of tomorrow living only in the day.

sheep_and_wolf_1920x12002

Sheep are prone to flocking behavior, which is behavior where during a time of danger the strongest animals fight their way to the center of the flock, which offers the greater protection from the predators, yet this type of self-centeredness ultimately leads to the destruction of the whole flock as the weakest are on the perimeter, and the strongest are where they could do the least good.

How often have we heard it said that the army of God is the only army that kills their wounded while befriending the enemy; therefore making themselves vulnerable at the institutional level which would ultimately lead to their destruction, if it was not for God.

The discernment / judgment of both sheep and believers is terrible; they will easily follow a goat that makes a lot of noise, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing because of their refusal to utilize proper Biblical judgment (Matthew 7:16, 20), as if discernment was somehow ungodly or unloving; all of which is completely unBiblical and at the expense of a vibrant living Church that grows in quality as well as quantity.

However, they also have the capability of learning the voice of their master (John 10:27), the one who takes care of them.

When shepherds in the Middle East would go to watering holes, there might be two or three different flocks drinking at the same time.

As a Shepherd determines to leave, he would start walking away from the watering hole singing, and the older sheep, who had come to know their master’s voice would follow him, and the little ones, as well as those that weren’t so discerning would follow the group.

Good Shepherds
We in America have a hard time understanding Jesus’ analogy concerning sheep as an object lesson, because many times we raise sheep for their meat as compared to the shepherds of Judea which raise sheep mainly for their wool.

We have a tendency to use dogs that drive sheep from behind, biting at their limbs, using force and intimidation; yet this is unlike the shepherds in Israel, who walk in front of their sheep, leading them, setting the example before them to follow concerning where to go, constantly speaking to them.

With the sheep following the shepherd because of his care and concern for them, which facilitates their faith and trust in him.

It was common for the Shepherd to sing as they led their sheep so that the sheep became accustomed to their voice, it was also common for the shepherds to sing the Psalms of Israel.

These shepherds would protect their sheep with their very own lives. At night they would cut a large hole in the middle of a briar bush for the sheep to enter into, with the shepherd sleeping in the entrance (with the shepherd becoming the door ~ John 10:7), in order to protect them.

This is the information we need to understand whenever Jesus speaks about Himself being the Good shepherd, and His people being the sheep, because it is a relationship of trust and faith, as opposed to domination and fear.

The Difference Between Sheep & Wolves
Getting back to Jesus’ object lesson concerning wolves. Wolves have very few common traits with sheep, though they both have four legs and a tail.

The tails on sheep serve very little purpose except in covering their anal and sexual organs.

They can’t hold their tail’s up, except to attempt to keep fecal matter off; they have no ability to actually raise their tail.

In America, we normally cut off (dock) their tails because without bone, only having ligament and cartilage, it is common for them to not raise their tails enough and therefore collect fecal matter which draws parasites, which will bring infection and eventually death.

What is interesting about the Lord speaking of false teachers as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) is one of the obvious characteristics of wolves is that they declare their pecking order, their power; by how they hold up their tail.

The leader will hold his tail almost straight up, with his lieutenants, sergeants, and corporals progressively holding their tails lower.

The tail standing straight up displays complete dominance, power, authority and supremacy.

The wolves’ leadership is according to this type of violent dominance, where intimidation and power establish their authority.

With the height of holding their tails as a means of identification of their authority, this is somewhat analogous to the stripes or bars on a soldier’s sleeve or collar which indemnify his rank or authority. Dogs determine who they will fight in order to establish their dominance according to where the tail is held, this is how they survive in their “dog eat dog world.”

Also, the display of submission is seen when they lower their tail and even wrap it under your belly, with the final act of submission being when a dog lies on its back, exposing its jugular and belly to a more dominant dog.

The reason this is the ultimate sign of submission is that if a dog is bitten, creating a tear in its belly, when it stands up its intestines fall out, as compared to being bitten on his back which might eventually heal, with other dogs licking it and cleaning it, unlike the wound of the belly.

Sheep - lost sheep

Jesus’ Guidelines for Leaders
As the good Shepherd, Jesus loves His sheep; in fact Jesus is personification of love, wherein it has been said that 1 Corinthians 13 in addressing love, illustrates Christ especially when it states:

Love has patience, is kind; love is not envious; love is not vain, is not puffed up; does not behave indecently, does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. Love quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

And when it comes to spiritual leadership, the week before Jesus was crucified, Matthew 20:25, records:

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [servant]; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant

Jesus washing feet

The point that Jesus was making was that church leadership would not be as it is in the world, centered upon displays of dominance, power, authority and supremacy, but according to sacrificially serving the followers, which is completely antithetical to how the world leads, which is also analogous with how wolves lead their pack.

Therefore, if you ever look across a valley to a Hill where sheep are grazing, and you see a sheep with his tail sticking straight up, displaying his dominance, power, authority and supremacy; watch closely because you are witnessing a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Sheep - Big 1 - wolf-in-sheeps-clothing

The point is false teachers and prophets will lead by dominance, power, authority and supremacy. False teachers and prophets may use Biblical words, may exhibit false humility, may speak with lofty expressions concerning love and self-sacrifice; yet it is their dominance and power which will be seen in their pride and arrogance that will indemnify them every time.

Please do not misunderstand, each one of us deals with pride on a daily basis, many godly ministers and teachers have issues concerning control or pride.

An awful lot of us who aspire to the title of leader, minister, or pastor; constantly address the pride of life (1 John 2:16), yet, this is not to be confused with the type of manipulation that occurs with false prophets and teachers that must be in total control in order to maintain their income levels and their future profits at the expense of their followers.

The acid test is the pride that is exhibited when they are questioned, or threatened concerning an inability to use God’s Word to validate their assertion, how do they stand up according to God’s Word.

Or do they twist God’s Word taking scriptures out of context in order to make their OWN point, demanding that they are anointed of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, if anyone that would dare question them.

Regarding teachers: Do they seek to shackle their follower’s hands, or to wash their feet?

Conclusion
One last thought.

Having raised sheep I understand why so many ranchers hate them, they smell, their noisy, their ignorant, and they need a lot of maintenance.

Yet what is amazing to me in considering the similarities between people in sheep, is that the great Shepherd, became a sheep to save sheep.

Jesus became a man to die for the sins of other men who would place their faith in him as the Savior of the world, hence John’s expression when he saw him:

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  (John 1:29)

Sheep - the Lamb of God

It has been said that the nails that were driven in His hands did not hold Him to that tree, it was His love for His followers; for you and for me.

calvary-jesus_hands_nailed

1. Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  Also see: Matthew 10:16; Luke 10:3; Acts 20:29.   Also see 2 Peter 2:1-22 for a more in-depth description [see our essay on 2 Peter 2]  

Brent

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’
is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

Reprinted and expanded from “Faith ~ Part 2,” at: www.FaithBibleMinistries.com

 

10 comments

  1. lovesthelight · ·

    Hi BB, great pup there. Really nice name. My shepherd mix (lab and wolf), is named Dusty Girl. She is Banner’s pup (He was half wolf, half shepherd), and I lost him last winter at 12 yrs. old. I miss him, but the gap that would have been there for protection out where I live from Coyote picking off little pets, has been taken up with the alpha Dusty, teamed up with ever loyal and brave, Lady Bug, my medium (kinda small) dalmation. They fought bad several times and it took me really alpha training Dusty (I’m the alpha), to keep that from being a bad end. Dusty weighs 70 lb.s and is well trained in battle I found out. Ok, on to the post!

    Awesome post! I never heard of the wolf in sheep’s clothing having their tail up! Oh yes, they definately do that. I wish I could post this on bc, but those who need to hear it have been completely blinded. Or are just accepting false leaders because they’re wishy washy. It’s like ping pong watching some run fdrom one tail raised to another…sickening. It continual, and I’m leaving there. I’ve been there a long time, and God has released me from that ministry. I’m glad.

    Thanks again for the great lesson, and I didn’t give this post of yours it’s just commenting, of the points I loved. But I’m rambling tonight, and just enjoying the flow of the conversation that I’m leaving for you to read. I really enjoyed this, and glad to have found it. Be blessed, Robin Btw, I used to have goats, and they followed me down the road, and watched me closely, staying with me. They’d run forward nervous and then back to me, or wait for me. They never got more than a few feet from me on the road. It was not a pasture, and they were cautious. I thought about how it was a picture of the wise sheep who have learned to stay near their Lord.

    SO how can I add a pic to my posts? Haven’t tried that yet. Blessings, Robin

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  2. Yep Brent I can think of so many ways in which I’m a sheep, my leg kinda hurts now that I think about it too. But seriously I do like the point that a wolf’s tendency to raise it’s tail up high to establish it’s dominance is a great rule of thumb for our ability to identify them, regards bro.

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  3. Robin,
    I now understand that God made everything in creation as “Object Lessons” for our learning (Romans 15:4) – This is one of those internal proofs whereas Christ uses examples as found in “GOD’S WORD” which lead to this conclusion, wherein our faith is meant to increase as a result (Romans 10:17) – it is amazing.

    Goats are a good example – though american domesticated goats are far removed from those bred in Israel – who were not dependent upon shepherds, but were bred to seek grass and water. If the shepherd had to temporally leave the sheep (as seen in David’s case), a goat would be left with a bell around their neck – the sheep, who were followers by nature would follow the sound of the bell when the shepherd was gone. This would insure that the sheep stayed together, and be around grass and water.

    Also, I just updated the “How to Blog” with: “& More,” which gives easy to follow instructions on how to insert pictures (with pictures as examples) which should explain – if I make any mistakes or you have any ideas, email me. brent@FaithBibleMinistries.com. Thanks, bb

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  4. Why do you think I literally walk with such a strong limp (1), and yes I must continually turn my own head to check my tail status (2). bb

    1. Jacob, the “heel catcher” was caught and subdued before he could be blessed (see Gen. 32:24-32).
    2.Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2Co 13:5)

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  5. lovesthelight · ·

    Hi Brent, I just saw this, so must have forgot to click “notify me…” I didn’t know that about the goats being used like that. Or forgot, ha. Yes everything is used to build our faith, and we must be in tune to that going on all the time, I believe. And thanks for the “More”, will read that. I love photography, and try to catch things that move me. It’s a challenge, cause just as a writer can almost never say all of what they want, of what they are experiencing, it’s impossible to capture all of what we see in a frame. Blessings

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  6. Excellent post, sorry I was so far behind in reading so I am trying to play catch up now. I have met a few wolves, perhaps at times I have even been a wolf. I suppose that is a terrible thing to say, but God know who I am, that my heart changes as I ask forgiveness. He has shown me the difference and I am more than willing to be lead as one of His sheep. Praise God that He gives us a second chance. There have been times when we have all done or said things to our brothers and sisters that we shouldn’t have. He has broken my leg a few times also….yet picked me up and gently carried me, I cannot thank you enough for this post. You (your posts) constantly remind me that I have a loving God when I am hard on myself, unforgiving of myself, I know He still loves me. All I need do is lay it all at His feet. Blessings Brent…Non

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  7. PS….I love you dog….Tiberius, I noticed his tail is rather low as he plays with “Boy Squirrel”…..what a dog! BTW…hes a beaut!

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  8. […] Jesus describes them as sheep in wolves clothing – For more on this subject please see the article entitled: “Sheep and Wolves” – Link      […]

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  9. Plse give me scripture in the bible where the good shepard breaks the sheeps leg to get the sheep to obey and get to know him.what happens if there were 10 disobedient sheep

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  10. Gail,
    I thank you very much for your questions.

    First, it has been many years since I originally ran across the story – there are no biblical references because it is not written in the Bible; nor did I say it was.

    But after your question and now having the Internet at my disposal (which I did not then) which I did not have when I first repeated this teaching, I’ve spent some time doing some research. The original story was written by sheepherder turned Christian writer Philip Keller.

    Unfortunately, it appears that I took his example as a normal Eastern practice concerning the behavior of shepherds and sheep – This is my fault for making this assumption (I believe I first came across this in 1988, and now don’t follow the same lack of tenacity and research concerning what I teach as I did back then – for this I deeply apologize).

    It appears that I cannot substantiate that this was truly a practice.

    Upon further reference, Moody’s church media ministry has propagated the story for many years, citing the biblical reference and comments: “David said in Psalm 119, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy Word” (v 67). Four verses later he added, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes” (v 71).

    Also, quoted as indications of the principle behind this practice are the comments of Dr. G. Campbell Morgan who writes in his commentary on the great chapters of the Bible:

    “In the first 3 verses of this psalm, David tells us twice that his Shepherd leads him.

    We read: ‘He leads me beside the still waters,’ and then we read: ‘He leads me into the paths of righteousness.” Dr. Morgan then goes on to state “that David does not use the same Hebrew word twice when he tells us twice that his Shepherd leads him.

    When David tells us the second time that his Shepherd leads him, he uses a word that means his Shepherd drives him into the paths of righteousness that restores his soul.”

    The point that Dr. Morgan is making is that in the first instance where God is doing the word “lead,” is where the sheep are following, following to a place where the sheep are refreshed by the waters.

    In the 2nd instance the Shepherd, for some unseen reason, the Shepard is driving the sheep; indicating that God chooses to lead us where we do not voluntarily follow His will.

    The grammar indicates that in this 2nd instance there is something distinctly different than the first instance of use of the word “lead.”

    What is indicated is that when we do not voluntarily follow Him, He loves us enough to drive us into forsaking our unrighteousness, and in walking in the “paths of righteousness.”

    Upon further evaluation, I agree that Dr. Morgan correctly interpreted the use of these Hebrew words. This explains the reason why Moody would take Philip Keller’s remarks at face value.

    Dr. Morgan indicated that God would choose to use us voluntarily following His will (Hebrew: nahal, means “to run with a sparkle” – to run in joy. Grammar is Stem: Piel). If NOT, we find He will drive (Hebrew: nackhaw, means “to exile,” “to put,” as in to push. Grammar – Stem: Hiphil), and this word is a negative connotation based upon the grammar.

    Therefore, based upon my Internet research I have changed my mind and come to the conclusion that this analogy is incorrect though the principle is correct. And I will therefore take this reference out of my teachings concerning the broken legs of sheep.

    Yet because the analogy is hearsay and therefore not proven, and I believe not to be factual; this does not take from the validity of the principle it attempts to present.

    Gal, what we must understand is that God is not like our earthly fathers, wherein anger and unrighteousness dwells, and chastisement can be coupled with these sinful attributes of a fallen creature, such as man.

    God loves us enough to correct us, to use correction if necessary, yet He does not do it with animosity, or anger, He does it with love in order to correct the negative behavior.

    Please consider the following Scriptures:

    “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold” 1Pe_1:7

    “… count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations…” Jas_1:2-4

    “…the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold…” 1Pe_1:7

    “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…” 1Pe_4:12

    “… giving all diligence, add to your faith…” 2Pe_1:5-7

    “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope…” 1Pe_3:15

    Reasons for Trials in the Light of the Believer
    To glorify God The most important for us (Dan_3:16-18, Dan_3:24-28)
    To build faith. The most important to us (1Pe_1:6-7; Jas_1:2-4)
    To cause growth (Rom_5:3-5)
    To prove the reality of Christ in us (2Co_4:7-11)
    To testify to Angels (Job_1:8;Eph_3:8-11; 1Pe_1:12)
    To equip us to comfort others (2Co_1:3-4)
    To prevent us from falling into sin (1Pe_4:1-2)
    To keep us from pride. Paul’s thorn (2Co_12:7)
    To teach obedience & discipline (Act_9:15-16; Php_4:11-13)
    10. To Discipline for known sin (Heb_12:5-11; Jas_4:17; Rom_14:23; 1Jn_1:9)

    The Process of Faith
    Faith only grows when it is stretched by tribulations (problems, hard times, difficulties, calamities, trials, and testing; they’re all synonymous concerning the “trying of our faith”). Faith can only grow incrementally, as more and more is demanded of it. This is because trust is a process contingent upon experience, as someone proves they are trustworthy situation after situation, we trust them more and more. In this way faith is analogous to a muscle which must be torn before growth can occur. Therefore, we must always realize and therefore understand that testing is not done simply as a process whereby God attempts to validate the existence of our faith, or its degree, which might appear cruel on the surface; but that these trials are necessary for faith to grow, and that without these trials, it is impossible for faith to mature ~ James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:12.

    Two possible errors concerning trials (synonymous with temptation and tribulation):
    1) Not anticipating trials
    2) Holding a morbid fear of trials

    We Need a Divine Perspective
    Remember Job, & his 3 friends
    Remember Paul, and his “Thorn in the flesh”
    & how he measured “success” (2Co_4:7-18; 2Co_11:21-28)

    Rom_8:35 suggest “7 Difficulties” for the believer (all Paul experienced – 2Co_11:23-28)

    1. Tribulation (thipsis): “pressure or distress” (Paul used frequently in 2 Cor)
    2. Distress (stenochoria): “narrowness,” as in being “pressed in,” “Hemmed in,” “crowded.”
    3. Persecution (diogmos): “chased or pursued” (10x in NT, always about Gospel)
    4. Famine (limos) (12x in NT, the God of Elijah looks after His own)
    5. Nakedness (gunnotes) 1Co_4:11
    6. Peril (kindunos): “in jeopardy or danger” (8x in one verse = 2Co_11:26) (1x 1Co_15:30)
    7. Sword The world hates the Saints, and this is the easiest way to eradicate them.

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