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sheep in the Bible

9 Shocking Reasons Why God Compares us to Sheep in the Bible

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Do you ever wonder why God compares us to sheep in the Bible? Is it that we are cute and cuddly like them, or is there more to the comparison? There has to be a reason why Jesus would refer to Himself as the Good Shepard and us, His sheep.

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sheep in the Bible

 

After much research, I found out why we are like sheep. Some of these reasons are funny and heartwarming. And some are just downright shocking that we are so alike.

In fact, they may make you think twice about your life. Read this, and you will see what I mean.

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Why God Compares Us to Sheep to in the Bible

You may wonder what is the character of sheep and why God chose to use sheep and goats as symbols for how we act. These ten characteristics of sheep in the Bible are so close to our lives it’s uncanny. In fact, you might even see yourself.

1. Sheep have no sense of direction

Many people say sheep are stupid. Let’s just say they have no sense of direction- at all. In fact, they will follow whoever is leading them. Even if it leads them off a cliff.  Remember the question, “If your friend jumps off a cliff, would you do it, too?” Well, they would…

This is a real news story I found online. In Eastern Turkey, about 1500 unattended sheep fell off a cliff while the shepherds were eating breakfast far away from the flock.

The first 400 fell to their death in a ravine, but the remaining 1100 were saved because the first 400 broke the fall. The first 400 sheep were a big, fluffy cushion for the other sheep. It sounds like a good commercial for toilet paper.

Apparently, this is what happened: The sheep in the back couldn’t see past the sheep in front, so they were unaware of what was ahead. The sheep in front couldn’t stop because the sheep in the back were pushing them forward. 

Kinda remind you of your teen years, huh?

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 I read another funny story about sheep:

One farmer said that if you have a bunch of sheep in a barn, stretch a rope across the door before you let them out.

When the sheep come out of the barn, the first few will jump over the rope. If you cut the rope, the remaining sheep will still jump over the “invisible rope” because it’s what the rest of the flock did.

I’m really trying not to laugh. I mean, that is pretty stupid. But, oh my goodness, I can see why God compares us to sheep.

How many times do we follow someone who is leading us in the wrong direction or acts foolishly? We see our friends fall off the cliff, and we go right along with them into the ravine.

Or we imitate them because we think it is cool when they are really just doing something stupid. And now, we are too

Can you see why God compares us to sheep in the Bible?

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

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2. Sheep are defenseless

Sheep can not defend themselves very well.

Ever seen sheep growl or show their teeth? Or maybe bark, bite, run fast, shoot quills or pull out their claws? Perhaps they could spray you with their…uh, fur.

They do have two things in their arsenal:

  1. Sheep run away together (hopefully in the right direction). When sheep are frightened by noise, such as running water, they will run away as a group. (They are fearful of drowning.)

2. Sheep kick. An ewe is especially prone to kicking if she is protecting her young.

Other than these two defense mechanisms, sheep are a Snicker’s bar just waiting to be eaten by a wolf, if they don’t stick together.

We are much the same way. We can kick a little and run, but, mostly, we are defenseless. God compares us to sheep in the Bible because we need His protection. We need to stick together as fellow Christians.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

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3. Sheep can’t get up without help

Again, trying not to laugh Sometimes sheep will turn over on their back (like a cockroach or turtle) with their legs in the air flailing. There is an old English shepherd’s term for this. It is called “cast down.”

A “cast” sheep is actually a pitiful sight. If the shepherd does not lift up the sheep and put it back on its feet, it will die. It is completely helpless to the prey around it when in this position. It could get left behind when the flock moves on.

How many times have we been “cast down” and flailing on our backs?

I can think of a few times when I would have been in serious trouble without intervention from the Good Shepherd.

Thank goodness He loves us enough to help us get right-sided. I know God compares us to sheep in the Bible for good reason. We are a mess without Him.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isaiah 40:11).

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4. Sheep are emotional and recognize the Shepherd’s voice

This is where stupidity ends for sheep. They have a remarkable instinct for knowing the voice of their shepherd. Because they are emotional animals, they can recognize others. Amazingly, they will fear a stranger’s voice and flee.

Since they are emotional, they have the ability to build friendships and stick up for each other when in a fight. They can also get anxious or distressed. And they feel sad when their sheep friends are gone (dead).

We can learn a lot from these animals. What they lack in direction, they make up for in loyalty, friendship, and voice recognition for the shepherd. 

I think there is a breakdown here when God compares us to sheep in the Bible. We aren’t so loyal, we don’t stick up for friends always, and we struggle to recognize the Shepherd’s voice.

Perhaps we don’t know His voice because we aren’t communing with Him all day and all night like sheep. We do have the ability to hear the Shepherd’s voice if we will stop and listen. But that is hard for some sheep (us), I think.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 ).

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5. Sheep are not meant to carry burdens

You will never see a sheep carrying a pack on its back. Other animals are good for carrying things. But not sheep. They were not meant to carry a heavy load. They would be crushed under such a weighty burden.

This is why God compares us to sheep in the Bible. We were not meant to carry our burdens. We are to give Him our heavy load so He can carry it for us.

Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

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6. Sheep will settle for less

When sheep are thirsty, they will stop at a dirty puddle right in front of them. They are not aware when there are clean, still waters nearby. Sheep are content with filth, so long as it satisfies at the moment.

They will stink and never even know it. They have no discernment for what is best.

I find we are not much different. Many times we see a dirty puddle in front of us and go straight for it because we think that is all there is in life. We think we are satiated, but we stink instead.

Perhaps it even looks enticing at the time because, after all, it is “water.”  Many times we KNOW it will harm us, yet we still do it because we are stubborn or blinded from the truth.

God compares us to sheep in the Bible because we don’t always know what is good for us.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I want for nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters (Psalms 23:1-2).

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7. Sheep are valuable.

Sheep were treated as a prized possession in Jesus’ day. You were counted a wealthy man if you owned large flocks because they provided meat and milk.  And they produced offspring and wool.

Shepherds made many sacrifices to make sure their flocks were protected. They knew it was their livelihood at stake.

How much more precious are we than smelly sheep? God made the ultimate sacrifice for us because he loved us so much. He died on a cross so we would live with Him forever.

God compares us to sheep in the Bible because He views us as priceless.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he shouted, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

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8. Sheep can not care for themselves when wounded

When a sheep gets a wound or bite, it can’t care for itself. Other animals lick a wound until it heals, but not sheep. They need a shepherd to tend to their injuries.

Many times there would be a salve that needed to be put on a sheep’s leg and binding of the wounds. A good shepherd would look after the wound constantly until it was healed completely.

Oh, how he wants to look after our wounds and treat it with salve and bind it up. Often we are brokenhearted and need His healing, but we won’t let Him touch us. This is why God compares us to sheep in the Bible.

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalms 147:3).

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10. Sheep are innocent

In the Bible, sheep represent purity and innocence. It was the lamb that was sacrificed at Passover because it represented the Lamb of God- flawless, pure, and holy. It wasn’t a goat or any other animal.

Interestingly, goats are known for being independent, opinionated, and curious at best—or vulgar, dangerous and destructive at worst. If you know anything about Satanism, you know they use a goat for their symbol as it is the opposite of a lamb.

We are to be innocent as lambs. Pure and righteous. Not goats who are independent, strong-willed, and destructive.

And He’ll “separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32).

God compares us to sheep in the Bible because we need Him as our Good Shepherd.

Just like sheep, we have no direction without Him. We lack protection on every side, and we were never meant to carry a heavy load. We can not make it alone without help.

On the other hand, I find it heartwarming that as senseless as sheep are, God made them valuable. You would never think they had any redeeming qualities because they are such wanderers. But they do.

Oh, that we would take a lesson from sheep and run to the Good Shepherd who will lead us to the spring of living waters and take care of us forever.

“For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).

Do you have stories that show how God compares us to sheep in the Bible?

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55 thoughts on “9 Shocking Reasons Why God Compares us to Sheep in the Bible”

  1. This article has blessed my heart. It has given me a deep appreciation for our relationship with God and how desperately we need Him every day. He is our loving Shepherd and Savior.

    1. Linda, thank you so much for this sweet comment. I am glad it blessed you. It is amazing how much we are like sheep. We definitely need a Savior to save us from ourselves. Many blessings to you!

  2. Wow, how true is this?! Especially – sheep will settle for less. We see this concept played out in Scripture over and over again. Every time Israel turned to idol worship (shockingly often) they were settling for less. Every time I read of Israel I recognize my own (and humanity’s) condition. Thanks for this post!

    1. Carrie, I know. Right? I can’t tell you how many times I go for the wrong things when I know it won’t satisfy me. It is amazing how much we are like sheep. Thanks for your comment

  3. I recall a sermon several years ago when our minister talked about ourselves as sheep. Far from being cute and fluffy, we (metaphorically!) are mucky, messed up, long-haired, unkempt, tick-bitten and smelly. Our Good Shepherd loves us anyway and encourages us into the sheep-dip (baptism) to clean us up and identify ourselves as His own. Some sheep are very hard to love!

    1. Wendy, sheep are definitely a mess just as we are. God loves us no matter how big of a mess we are. I love the fact that even though they are smelly, they are highly valuable. This is probably why God compares us to sheep.

  4. What amazing comparisons between sheep and people. I have to say, I have never considered why God would compare us to sheep, but it certainly fits! Without Jesus, we would be just like sheep, and sometimes we still are. God bless you!

    1. Janene, yes, I think this is why God compares us to sheep so much in the Bible. We are similar in so many ways. They are stinky but loved. I love that some of the traits are kind of funny. God must be humored by some of the same kind of stupid things we do too.

  5. What you’ve shared confirms that we can’t make it without the Lord. It is so comforting to know that we are the Lord’s sheep and our Shepherd will go to any length to care for us and defend us.

  6. I was a bit surprised at the beginning too but as my Christian faith deepened, I gained better understanding about the comparison.

  7. Oh poor sheep 🙁 They are such sweet and docile animals, but perhaps not the smartest 🙂 I definitely can see your comparisons to people when they do not have a guiding light to follow. It’s so important to have something you believe in and something you stand for.

    1. Dani,
      That is so sweet of you to say this. I love sheep, too. They are so cute. They remind me of our dog, Buddy. They have a real sense of others but can be so stupid sometimes. I hate to say how closely we act to sheep.

  8. I love this article Julie! I have to admit, I knew some of these things about sheep, but had never considered the many ways we are like them. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    1. Denisha, I kinda crack up every time I think about them jumping over an invisible rope because everyone else did. We do some of the same silly things. We just do what everyone else does at times!

  9. I really liked this post a lot. I agree with point 2 that Christians need to stick together. I also loved 5 and 6. There are days it’s hard for me to cast my burden to God because I still want to be in control. Then moving to point 6, it reminds me He is in control and He’s got this. He knows my life better than I know my own and He knows His way is best for me. Thanks for the encouragement. God definitely needed me to read this today.

    1. Jessica, I am so glad this was an encouragement to you today. I think about this a lot. It reminds me we of how much I need direction. And that I don’t need to stupidly follow the crowd.

    1. Thanks, Jelena. I think this is a fun word picture to help us see our weaknesses and our strengths. God is working on us and he uses nature to show us how much he loves us and cares about us.

  10. I love your points and what an incredible story about the 400 sheep that died but saved the rest…crazy. I think the most favorite one I have that you pointed out is that sheep are not meant to carry burden… And of course, that they are valuable. Very insightful

    1. Thanks for your comments. I love that story, too. It’s hard not to laugh at the story although it is tragic. I love that even though they are kinda stupid, sheep are very valuable, too.

  11. This is pretty cool. And actually no. 6, settling for less…while it made me laugh, it is 100% true when talking about humans. We will settle for what is right in front of us all the time!

    1. Well, you are right on. There are parables in the Bible and lots of metaphors. There are also some real truths that can be taken. I am glad you don’t have to be religious to see the similarities. And to have a good laugh.

  12. Interesting post, I like how you added scripture to all the reason’s God may compare us to sheep. I agree that we don’t always know what is good for us, we also don’t really know what God has in store for us.

    1. I definitely didn’t mean for this to be upsetting. I hope you see that we are not idiots. We are just aimless without God. We need a Shepherd to guide us in the right direction. Glad you saw it through and read the whole thing. Kudos to you.

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