Behold, I send you forth as “sheep in the midst of wolves”: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Behold, I send you forth as “lambs among wolves”.
Ever feel like a lamb amongst wolves? Many times in this world, a Christian will feel like the whole world is against him. Have you ever felt like that? You may have even speculated that God has completely forgotten you. Many times I have overheard a fellow Christian say that they felt totally alone, or that God has left them. It can be a very devastating feeling to think that God has completely abandoned you and left you to the wolves.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane? Contemplating his imminent mission upon the cross, Jesus was overburdened with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and was emotionally sorrowful even unto death. As Matthew 26:39 expresses the awful toll that Jesus felt on that occasion, it states: “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:”
And again while nailed upon the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, why has thou forsaken me?”
So, Jesus too had an occasion or two when he felt alone and abandoned also. So it should come as no big surprise that we as Christians also might feel oppressed and downhearted from time to time.
Imagine, Jesus pleading with his Father to permit him to avoid the cross, and then while hanging on that wretched tree, wondering aloud for all to hear, why his Father had abandoned him at such a traumatic time. Surely Jesus had plenty of reason to feel like he had been literally thrown to the wolves. But his prayer to his Father in the Garden reveals something that Jesus acknowledged with a higher priority. He prayed,” if it be possible”, let this cup pass from me.
But as God knew and as Jesus acknowledged, it simply was not possible to accomplish the remission of human sin without him being subjected to the wolves.
Thus it was foreordained, even before the foundation of the world that Christ would bear the sins of many, and be led as a lamb to the slaughter. Thus Jesus consented with the Father that he should be that Lamb. (Mathew 26:39 “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.) (Luke 22:42 “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.) (John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.)
1 Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
So then, Jesus had come into this ravenous beastly world as a Lamb. Jesus knew beforehand that, even like wolves ripping at the carcass of a lamb, the natural world would seek to devour him. Suffice it to say, that if you are a follower of the Lamb, then you will often find the wolves of this evil world on your trail also. Consider the following scripture:
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
You will notice the word “sober” and “vigilant” in Peter's advice for living the Christian life. These words mean to watch out, to be alert, and to be spiritually sensitive to your status as an object of prey in this world. Yes, that's right…we as Christians often appear like easy prey for the wolves while we are in this world. Therefore we need to be alert to the hidden snares, deceptive tricks, wily schemes, and spiritual ambushes that the roaring lion has devised for our demise. To be a “prey,” is to be a creature hunted, stalked or entrapped for quarry, or to become entangled as a victim simply for the satisfaction of the predatory instincts of the stalker. Without being equipped with the spiritual weapons for survival in this world as mentioned in the Dying for Jesus article, we can easily be singled out as “easy prey” by the predator-beasts in this world. I would note that the Devil (Lucifer) was depicted as a subtle beast. (Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.) Subtle means to be cunning and crafty, even to be so sly as to become the embodiment of the trait of being artfully malicious. Thus when we consider the fact that we as Christians have such a devious predatory beast seeking to devour us, we ought to readily see that we need to exercise spiritual sobriety and vigilance as we walk through the jungles of the world. And so it is that out of a quiver full of malicious and artful schemes the serpent has devised, one of his slyest and favorite tricks of his trade is to attack the mind of Christians. As he did with Eve, he will plant a “seed of doubt,” or instigate an “emotional feeling of abandonment” in the recesses of our thought processes. His clever and subtle approach with Eve was to call into question God's word. He queried Eve, “Hath God really said thus?” The Devil is subtle, and one of most significantly opportunistic places that he targets in a believer, is deep within the mindset of each Christian.
Really, we should expect him to attack us there, because in reality, he can never have our heart, and certainly not our soul. That is one of the vantage points through which he so often plots to fashion enough bate to begin to ensnare or defeat you. Afterall, what could feel more hopeless than to feel that God has forgotten you, or abandoned you, or that he is unfaithful to his word. This brings me back to the heart of Jesus specific admonitions to the Apostles as he sent them forth into the world to preach the Gospel of the Lamb. The Apostles went forth first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but Jesus followers today go forth unto all the world, even unto the Gentile nations. (prophetic note: the Gentile powers of the world are depicted in Bible prophecy as beasts)
Just as Jesus came into this world as a lamb, so likewise he has sent all that would be his followers out into that world with the simple message of the lamb slain for the sins of the whole world. His instruction to the Apostles was: “Go Like Lambs Among Wolves. And since our citizenship is in Heaven, we quite literally are like lambs amidst wolves. This world is not our home. We may even be viewed as agents of insurrection to the wolves of this world. And therefore we are highly prioritized targets for spiritual assassination by the subtle, conniving, sly serpent. But Jesus didn't give the instruction to go Like Lambs Among Wolves without also giving us a few words of advice. He stated that we should also be “wise as serpents”, and yet be as harmless as doves.
I've always had a difficult time understanding how a serpent might be described as being wise, especially when the Devil is portrayed throughout the Bible as a serpent. But, remember that it was the subtlety, and cunning of the serpent that Eve had to match wits with. She couldn't see through the serpent's sly, artful craftiness. Perhaps the Lord realized that we needed a spiritual wisdom in this beastly world to be able to detect the wily ways of the serpent in order to contend with him while in this world. Surely the Devil is confounded whenever he is confronted with a Christian that is wise to his tricks. We need to be wise as a serpent or else we may end up bitten by him. (James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.) As we go like lambs among wolves, we can be empowered by wisdom from the Holy Spirit to assist us to be able to detect the pitfalls placed in our pathway by the adversary. Jesus further instructs that as we take the Gospel of the Lamb, we must be harmless as doves, while at the same time being as clever as the serpent. The Lamb of God came not into this world to browbeat anybody, or to force himself upon anyone. He stands at the door and knocks. He came bearing a free gift, the gift of himself, and therefore we must go in like manner as he came to be consistent with the Lamb's message.
So, if you sometimes begin to feel like you are a little lost lamb surrounded by wolves, don't despair. Remember that the Lord has sent us out into the world Like Lambs amongst Wolves. And while trying to follow the Lamb in this world, don't allow the Devil to subtly get you down with thoughts that you are all alone in this world. Take comfort in his word, and in his promises.
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo,
I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
Author: Darrell G. Young