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Jeremiah compares the people of Babylon to lost sheep

Columbia Biblical Studies: Thursday, February 6
Columbia Biblical Studies: Thursday, February 6
George Hodan

Today’s bible study is Jeremiah 50:6: My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains; from mountain to hill they have gone, they have forgotten their fold.

In this passage, Jeremiah is comparing the people of Babylon to lost sheep. Preceding this verse, he states that ‘Her images have been put to shame, her idols are dismayed.’ It surely sounds as if Babylon were a troubled city at the time. Jeremiah levied judgment on Kedar and Hazor, then judgment on Elam, and he is not laying judgment upon Babylon. And not worshiped the one true God and have let their people stray from the faith like lost sheep.

Let’s think about sheep for a moment. Sheep tend to walk around almost constantly, grazing peacefully. The young lambs gambol and frolic while the older sheep watch contentedly. It is not at all unusual for a sheep to wander way from the fold, perhaps seeking greener pastures, higher ground, or simply wandering aimlessly. Sheep are peaceful creatures, but not the most easily trained nor the most intelligent. They are easily led astray, easily frightened and easily lost.

Now, how are we like sheep? Jeremiah says, ‘My people have been lost sheep.’ Have we also been lost sheep? Have we wandered away from the fold? On occasion, even the most spiritual of us probably has. We have let our concerns about our jobs, family, health, money and pleasure take precedence. We have wandered into the valley of the almighty dollar and onto the plateau of worry and fear. We have ambled away from the flock into the land of pride and jealousy and have, like the sheep from the mountain, gone to the hills of doubt.

In the bible, the lost sheep are all rescued safely and returned to their flock. The shepherds never forsake their sheep, just as God, who is our Almighty shepherd, never forsakes us. If we wander away from the fold, we may not even realize it for a while. We may be stuck for some time in a far and distant place. But God will always find us and bring us back into the fold. His eyes are ever watchful and his arms ever open to those who have strayed.

Unlike the book of Jeremiah, no judgment will be levied upon us. If we seek the kingdom of God through His son Jesus Christ, we will not only be forgiven for our straying but we will also be welcomed and enfolded in the arms of loving kindness. This is a very comforting thought. Wherever we roam, whenever ewe stray, whenever we get lost, our sure protector will always be with us, watching over us and waiting for us to return.

May we, like the sheep, always return safely to the loving goodness of God and may we try never to stray too far from the path of the Holy Spirit. May our hearts be ever filled with gratitude that we have a shepherd who will always find us, tend us and never forsake us. We live in the sure and present knowledge that we may become lost, but will always be found. In Jesus name we pray.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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