20th November 2017

They Know My Voice 

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and his sheep hear his voice and come to him.”
John 10:3 (NLT)

Have you ever watched the sheepdog trials on TV? All four nations of the UK compete, and the shepherds with their beautiful and very clever dogs endeavour to compete against the clock in a series of tasks with a small flock of sheep. It’s clear from the outset that sheep have a mind of their own—a Frank Sinatra mindset, “I’ll do it my way!” No wonder they are prone to wander off and get lost from time to time. Anyway, these shepherds, as you know, use a series of whistles to command their dogs as they round up the sheep and drive them through gates, around obstacles and finally into a small pen where the test ends. But throughout the day it’s very tense—a ‘will they or wont they’ situation.

It’s obvious from the opening lines of the 23rd Psalm that God is looked upon as a Shepherd—I’m sure you remember it: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”—reflecting the great care that a shepherd bestows on his flock, his gentleness and concern for these small unpredictable creatures in his care.

Middle Eastern shepherds in order to attract the attention of their flock would sing a little song or play a simple tune on a flute and on hearing this, his sheep would stop grazing and follow him as he led them to water or new pasture, or perhaps a sheltered spot away from the noon day heat. Notice, he always leads his sheep, never drives them—just like the God Shepherd!

There’s a story about a little shepherd boy in Israel just after World War 2. The British army was in control there because of numerous terrorist attacks, and martial law had been declared. In one area, all the animals had been rounded up and placed in a large compound for some reason. One morning this shepherd boy approached the sergeant in charge of the compound, asking to have his five goats returned because he and his mother needed them in order to sell the milk and cheese they produced. The sergeant replied, “How could we find your goats in such a large group of animals, its not possible!” The boy asked for the gate to be opened, took out his shepherd’s pipe and played a simple tune and his five goats came out one behind the other and followed him down the road!

Sheep are attentive to the voice or the whistle of their shepherd and get to know in some “sheepish” way that this individual feeds, cares for, protects and guides them. How much more the God Shepherd? Listen for his whistle—He’s calling you!

Open our ears, Lord, in order that we might hear your call and follow you.

Study by Cliff Neill


About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Farley Hill

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Harry Sullivan
Phone: 01908-582222
Email: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

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