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But it is good for me to draw near to God… Psalm 73:28a

Proverbs of Sheep and Goats

author Posted by: Mike on date May 21st, 2006 | filed Filed under: Bible Study

Years of prayer were answered recently when God moved me and my family. We have had a long-standing desire to live in the country and God finally made it possible. He did it in a way that totally surprised us and in a way that has blessed us beyond measure. This article is not about answered prayer, but about some interesting things we have learned on our farm.

It has always interested me how God uses sheep and goats to describe people. I thought it would be fun to take my family’s observations of our three lambs and four goats.

The following verses are probably the best known about sheep and goats.

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.Matthew 25:32-33 (KJV)

In this passage, the sheep represent the believers in Christ and the goats represent the lost who do not know Jesus. As you can see from the following proverbs, sheep and goats are very different. They are not hard to separate.

  • Goats have to climb to the highest point.
  • Goats and sheep are selfish, but goats are more so.
  • Goats are pushy.
  • Goats always want their own way and are quick to figure out how to get it.
  • Sheep horns are curled while goat horns are straighter.
  • Goats can wag their tails faster than sheep can.
  • Goats carry their tails up while sheep carry theirs down.
  • Most goats are bony and most sheep are fleshy.
  • Goats can be very stubborn.

The tenth chapter of John records for us, Jesus teaching about sheep. To understand this, you have to know something about the sheepfold. Recently, I read a short story, Why the Wolf Can’t Enter the Fold, from the book Tales of Persia, Missionary Stories form Islamic Iran, by William McElwee Miller, published by P & R Publishing, ©1979, 2005. In the story, he describes the sheepfold:

However, a little distance from the village I saw a mound that was, like everything else, covered with snow. When I reached it, I found that earth had been piled up to make kind of a wall, and this wall was round. Inside the wall the earth had been hollowed out, so that it looked like a big bowl. Then on top of the wall of earth had been piled a lot of dry thorn bushes, the sort that grew in the desert in Iran. I walked around the circular mound till I came to an entrance. There was no door, so I walked down inside the big bowl and looked around me, wondering what this place was used for. (p 71)

A man then comes by and tells the author about the sheep fold. He tells how the thorns on top keep out a wolf. The author then asks another question and the following dialog ensues.

“But I don’t see how those thorns could keep out a wolf,” I replied. “A wolf is big and strong enough to knock down the pile of thorns, then jump into the fold and kill the sheep.”

“Oh no,” responded the man. “When the wolf strikes the thorns with his paw, they make a crackling noise. That noise wakes up the shepherd, and he rushes with his big stick to the place where the wolf is and drives him away.”

“But, really,” I said, “the wolf doesn’t need to jump over the wall. Here is the entrance, and it has no door. Why doesn’t the wolf just walk in through the entrance and attack the sheep?”

“No, no,” replied the man. “That is where the shepherd sleeps. He lies down in the entrance so that nobody can get into the fold. The shepherd is the door; he keeps the wolf and the robbers out of the fold of the sheep.” (p 72)

Now read John Chapter 10, verses 1 – 30, while thinking about what you now know about the sheepfold. Suddenly, what Jesus says makes sense!

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.John 10:1 (KJV)

Can you imagine someone trying to sneak into the fold and setting off the thorny alarm?

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.John 10:4-5 (KJV)

Yes, true Christians know the Lord’s voice and follow him instead of false teachers.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.John 10:27-28 (KJV)

Here are some more sheep and goat proverbs from our farm:

  • Goats have to climb to the highest point.
  • Sheep just like to be by their shepherd; goats just don’t want to be left out.
  • Sheep are very trusting of their shepherd.
  • Sheep are very good at making their needs known – vocally.
  • Goats are harder to contain than sheep, by far!
  • Sheep get along better with other animals than goats do.
  • Goats are worriers. Sheep are more content.
  • Sheep know their shepherd’s voice and when it’s feeding time.

Jesus warns us of false prophets. They appear as sheep, but in reality they are wolves!

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.Matthew 7:15 (KJV)

Why is this important to know? I have seen sheep follow sheep. One takes off and the rest follow that one sheep. Who knows what that one sheep is following. It could be the shepherd or it could be someone else!

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?Matthew 7:16 (KJV)

I can tell you that goats like thorns and thistles. Be certain that you are following the true Shepherd.

  • Both goats and sheep like someone (or something) to follow.
  • Sheep are much more flighty than goats.
  • Goats learn faster than sheep.
  • Goats can’t stand wet and cold weather, but sheep don’t mind it.
  • Goats are nosy and want to know everything you are doing.
  • Goats taste everything.
  • Goats are playful while sheep are more serious (though not completely).
  • Goats are very picky eaters.
  • Goats can be very friendly and sweet.
  • Goats are conniving but sheep don’t think that far.
  • Goats can be mean to get what they want, starting at a very young age.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.Hebrews 13:20-21 (KJV)

God bless, Mike

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