Matthew 18:12-14: Lost Sheep
Posted by adventbiblestudy on April 21, 2012
Matthew 18:12-14 MKJV What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, does he not leave the ninety and nine and go into the mountains and seek the straying one? (13) And if it happens that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety and nine which did not stray. (14) Even so it is not the will of your Father in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Javan counted each sheep as they passed through the gate. “97, 98, 99. I must have missed one.” With evening coming on it took some time to coax the sheep back out of the corral. They are creatures of habit, and leaving the corral in the evening was not their normal routine. “Ninety nine again. We will count them one more time when we herd them back in.” Day light was quickly fading as Javan counted the sheep for the third time. “Ninety nine again. We are missing one.” Elam offered, “do you want me to go with you to help find the sheep? It will be dark soon, and you never know what you may run into in the dark.” Javan hesitated for an moment and replied, “no, you go, spend the evening with your family, and let my wife know I will be back later. I will be all right.”
It had been some time since Javan ventured out in the evening. He went into the barn to grab an old heavy blanket hanging on the wall. He did not want to go into the house because he knew his wife would talk him into waiting until morning. They both knew lions and wolves roamed during the night.
Javan started down the road as the sun was setting behind him. The twilight colors lite up the mountain in front of him with soft hues of pink and orange. As the sun set on the horizon the color it cast gave the appearance of fire on the mountain.
Javan traveled what he thought was a familiar path, but the darkness made the journey more difficult than he had imagined. He never realized how he naturally avoided the obstacles along the path during the day. Walking seemed so natural in the light.
Night had one advantage. It was much quieter. As he walked along the path his ears were tuned to pick up any sound which may help lead him to the lost sheep. As he began to ascend the side of the mountain, his breathing became labored, making it more difficult to listen. Javan occasionally stopped to listen. He heard a rustling to his right, and turned to investigate. The sound seemed to be traveling away from him. He called out to the sheep and waited. After a while Javan figured it was some type of wild animal. He continued up the side of the mountain.
Stopping once again, Javan heard another sound. He called out to his sheep, and listened again. Nothing. He decided to head toward the sound, stopping every few feet to listen. Still nothing. As he traveled up the side of the mountain, he heard the sound again. As he straightened up, Javan saw a figure of a man. He stood and stared at the man for a minute, not knowing if he was a friend or a foe. Finally the man spoke. “You are seeking the sheep that wandered away earlier today?” Javan asked, “how do you know about my sheep? Do you know where he is now?” The figure held out his right arm to point, and answered, “travel south until you come to a ridge. Follow the ridge until you find an opening between the walls. Enter into the open, and there you will find what you are looking for.” Javan looked in the direction the figure was pointing. When he looked back to thank the man, the figure was gone.
Javan followed the ridge as directed. Finding the opening, he passed through the walls on either side. It opened up into a wide clearing. In the dark he could see the pasture was good. He could smell the clover and grasses. He had never seen this before. The narrow passage made the perfect place to quarter a flock for the evening. After viewing what he could through the dim light, Javan called out to his sheep. This time the call was answered by a faint bleating, followed by the sound of movement through the tall grass.
As soon as the figure was distinguishable in the dark, Javan bent down on one knee to receive his old friend into his waiting arms. He could tell the sheep was as happy to see him as he was to find the lost member of his flock. “You missed me didn’t you? How did you get separated? We were not even close to this place today.” This made Javan realize, he didn’t know exactly where he was. Making so many turns in the dark following sounds, he had lost track of the direction he had traveled. He said to the sheep sticking close around his feet, “it is a good thing I took a blanket. We can bed down here for the night and find our way home together in the light. I want to make certain we will be able to return to this place again.”
Javan spread his blanket on the ground, wrapped himself in it, and stared up at the stars. The sheep laid down at his feet. Looking up at the stars he began to pray his wife would not be worried or mad at him. The stars reminded him of the story of Jacob crossing the wilderness, seeing the ladder stretch between the earth and Heaven. The steep sides of the canyon also reminded him of that story. They also reminded him of the time God showed himself to Moses. God had Moses stand between two rocks as He passed by. He wondered if Moses stood in an opening much like the one leading to this place. A smile came to his face as he remembered the first time Moses traveled to God’s mountain and saw His glory in the form of a burning bush. Javan raised his head to look around. He wondered if he would ever see such a splendid sight from God. Returning to his prayers, he thanked God for leading him to his sheep.
As he closed his eyes, Javan remembered how the mountain looked with the light of the setting sun reflecting off the peak. He wondered what the top of the mountain looked like when God filled it with His glory, appearing like a fiery flame when He spoke His law to Israel. So many times God called his people back to the mountain when He had something important to say. As Javan was dozing off, he thought about the prophecy when God will once again call His people to His Holy mountain. So says the LORD: I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of Hosts, the Holy Mountain. (Zechariah 8:3 MKJV)