ABEL – The deeper SHEEP shadows of things to come (Lesson 7)

The Word of God powerfully expresses the Things of God in both literal interpretations as well as in its typological expression. This typological approach means that the LORD God reveals things to mankind in ever enlarging ideas that first begins with shadows of things to come. The “Faith of Abel” represents one of these many shadows that unfold from the beginning into the saving Grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Genesis 4:1–2 (KJV 1900)
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. (Genesis 4:1-2)

The keeper of sheep is given the responsibility to ensure that the livestock is protected. Abel was the first keeper of sheep. Note how Abel is described as simply being born as a brother to Cain, while Cain’s birth was announced dramatically as the parent’s receipt of a man from God.

The status of lesser presence is symbolically represented once again as the young lad David tends to his father’s sheep as the rest of his brothers march off to war. in fact, David arranges for another keeper for his father’s sheep before he goes into battle and confronts Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:20 (KJV 1900)
20 And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. (1 Samuel 17:20)

Later on, David was taken from the “sheepcote” by the LORD God, and made a great man and ruler to Israel.

1 Chronicles 17:7–8 (KJV 1900)
7 Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel: 8 And I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and have cut off all thine enemies from before thee, and have made thee a name like the name of the great men that are in the earth. (1 Chronicles 17:7-8)

Guilty David identifies the people of Israel that he rules as “sheep” to the LORD God, unawares of the sin he perpetrated as a result of taking census of His flock.

1 Chronicles 21:17 (KJV 1900)
17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued. (1 Chronicles 21:17)

Rachel, another noted keeper of sheep, was identified by Jacob when sighting her at the well giving drink to her charges.

Genesis 29:10 (KJV 1900)
10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. (Genesis 29:10)

A Psalmist extols the LORD God’s keeping of His people as sheep during the time of wandering in the desert.

Psalm 78:50
“He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.” (Psalm 78:50-53)

In the same manner, He protects protecting His sheep from evil and preserves their souls.

Psalm 121

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (Psalm 121)

In fact, throughout the Psalms, the people of the LORD God are identified many times as being “sheep,” protected by Him in His pasture as Creator of His flock.

Psalm 100:3
“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)

Dramatic prophesy from the LORD God includes the promise of retribution to the shepherds of Israel who abuse their position, as He declares His love for His scattered sheep that He will one day bring together as His flock once again.

Ezekiel 34:1-16
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.”

“ Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.” (Ezekiel 34:1-16)

Then the Shepherd of the Sheep that changed the way man could approach God comes to the lost sheep, as the Lord Jesus Christ leads His people to follow Him. It is Jesus who defends breaking the law of Sabbath to preserve and heal the life of one lost sheep.

Matthew 12:12
“How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” (Matthew 12:12).

The Lord Jesus Christ first came for the lost sheep of Israel; yet, His glory fell upon even the Gentiles.

Matthew 15:24
“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

The Messiah taught how important each of His sheep were important to Him, and how even the littlest of the flock who strays would be rejoiced when he comes back to the fold.

Matthew 18:13-14
“And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:13, 14)

And on that great Judgment Day, the Lord Jesus Christ will separate the righteous from the wicked, as the sheep from the goats; the sheep will be sorted to his right hand, and the goats to His left. It will be the sheep that inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning.

Matthew 25:32-34
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Matthew 25:32-34)

The love of Christ shines through his compassion as he sees people without a shepherd, and begins teaching many things to lead them as well.

Mark 6:34
“And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34)

What better understanding can a Christian receive of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and them, than through the revealing Word that speaks of the relationship between the Shepherd and His sheep?

John 10:1-18
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:1-18)

It is the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ that his sheep recognize and follow after, and He keeps them to eternal life!

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27, 28)

The LORD God gave the Lord Jesus Christ to the sheep to keep them.

John 10:29
“My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)
And in the same way that David gave another keeper his father’s sheep before he went to battle in a shadow of things to come, the Lord Jesus Christ chose Simon Peter to feed his sheep while He was gone.

John 21:15-17
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

Abel, keeper of sheep, was the shadow of our Shepherd Jesus Christ that would one day come to guide the people of God toward Him once again. From the beginning, the Faith of Abel, allowed him to represent the things of God that would unfold much later. Abel did not know of the coming revelations, yet, Abel walked intimately with His LORD God. He was not focused upon the harsh rule of God, but rather, upon the Creator whose Creations were worthy of the highest praise and worship, and fit for an offering to the LORD God. It was the perfect “Faith of Abel” that prepared the path for our Shepherd to come and gather His People and bring them to the Kingdom of God.

Thanks be to God!