In the Word of God animal terms are often used to describe individuals as well as groups of people and even nations. From the four great beasts of Daniel, to the creatures of instincts in 2nd Peter, to the sheep of His pasture in Psalms, man is not like the animals, yet close proximity to their actions can be revealed in us. The greatest analogy of all of these incidents is of course the Good Shepherd, the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nowhere in Scriptures can a more beautiful example of love be found than this, a pure, innocent, sinless Savior who, “Like a sheep silent before her shearers” (Isa. 53:7), went to the cross for sinners, for those He loved. Among all the creatures of God’s creation, a newborn lamb is probably one of the most gentle, harmless one of all. No needle-like claws, no sharp teeth, no tendency for mistrust, soft and trusting. It is no wonder that the great Shepherd would choose then the analogy of His true followers as sheep, for without Him we are completely vulnerable, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them.” (John 10:27)
I actually know folks who have sheep, and although I have not seen them up close as they have, there is no reason not to trust what they have told me about them. As a general rule, sheep are not known as an extremely intelligent animal, though I am sure there are smart sheep and not-so-smart sheep. For instance, like lemmings are reported to do, if one sheep is walking along and accidently falls in to hole, the sheep behind it will follow it right into the hole as well. There are times they will look up and notice that they are no longer part of the sheepfold for they have simply put their head down and followed their nose, they have gone astray, are all alone and lost. The analogies are amazing, for when we decide to seek our own will instead of the Fathers, we to are “All like sheep who have gone astray.” (Isa. 53:6)
There are other parallels worth noting, such as that of the ‘brute beast’, those who order their lives as if there were no God, seeking only the lust of the flesh and the fulfilled desires of this present world and what it has to offer, pride of self being the main driving force of their ambitions. These “are made to be taken and destroyed; and will receive the reward of unrighteousness.” ( 2nd Peter 2: 12-15) Then there are those called dogs, not in the terminology of our beloved pets as it is today, but a word that meant despised, useless, and disregarded, having no value, beneath and not worthy, as it were, of those that were speaking of them. These individuals, as were all, are the ones our Lord gave His life for also, and recall Matthew 15:27 where the woman said, “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters table”, where faith in the sovereignty of God who is rich in mercy for all was found.
Of course, there is that old serpent, Satan, the dragon is who is continually deriding the children of God, our adversary. His name is always associated with magnificent, extraordinary beast with incredible power, and over which without the Rock of our salvation, we would be utterly consumed. He is a roaring lion, (1st Pet. 5:8) and he is always searching, never resting. The armor of God, (Eph. 6:10-17) is not just a euphemism, ladies and gentlemen, it is a requirement, and they are the only defense we have against the wiles of the devil, and the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) is our only offensive weapon.
There are of course many other references concerning the use of animal terminology in the Word of God in relation to man, and I would encourage you to take the time to do perhaps a small study of your own in this area. But here is one, that if I may, I would like to address that is not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures, though I believe a case can be made for it. The sheepdog.
There are many wolves mentioned in the Bible, and their one main purpose is to kill or otherwise harm the sheep. They are always hungry, always hunting, never satisfied, and the momentary delight they receive when they have accomplished their task is eclipsed only by the next hunt, the next victim, the next child of God that can be deceived, prodded to disobey, led off of the path if only for a moment or so, just long enough for the name of God to be dishonored. The sheepdogs are the ones that stand in the gap, (Eze. 22:30-31) the prayer-warriors, whose fervent prayers accomplish much. (James 5:16). These are the ones that God has called out of the sheepfold to go a little further, they see sin and do something about it, not shirking away from the possible consequences, but tightening the belt of salvation, placing the shield in front of them and drawing the sword from its sheath. They have diligently studied the Word of God in times of rest and are now prepared for the battle at hand.
Sheepdogs do not only run towards the sheep to protect them, but towards the wolf, the bear, the lion, and as our Lord did for us, they are prepared and have been prepared to lay down their lives for their friends. (John 15:13) This one is ready to stand in the gap. This one is always ready when called. The sheepdog is always awake and ever alert, the hatred that abides in God’s heart for sin rests in his also, not only against the children of God brought on by themselves, but by the world which rests comfortably in it. This one is first to come to the believer and in great love, help them to overcome the terrible burden of un-repented sin, helping them to regain the abiding love of our Savior who is quick to forgive if we confess our sins. (1st John 1:9) Yet, when a sin or injustice comes from the world upon any of those who confess Christ as Lord, the ‘warrior of God’, the sheepdog, will defend these children, these sheep, at all cost, never seeking his own but always the Glory of God.
There is only one Shepherd over the flock, the Lord Jesus Christ, there are many sheep, but alas I am afraid, there are few sheepdogs., for the cost can be O so high. Yet the payment will not be for these “Hello, welcome to heaven”, but “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
Do not just sing the old beloved song, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus”;
Stand up for Jesus.