by Jeannette Haley
If you’re a Western buff like I am, then stored in your memory bank are vivid pictures of rowdy cattle drives. Visions of dusty cowpokes, whirling their lassoes and spurring their excited horses, flash across your mind’s eye. Who can forget the whistling, shouting drivers or the crack of their whips as they drove the thundering herd through sagebrush-dotted landscapes?
Sometimes those old movies featured range wars between the cattlemen and the sheepherders. All-out conflicts would arise over land, water and fences. To many of us those were the “good old days”.
Allow me to compare what is taking place in the Christian world today with the difference between the cattle drive and moving sheep. The difference between the two is simple: cattle must be driven whereas sheep can be led.
In beautiful Psalm 23, verse 2b, it states, “…he leadeth me beside the sill waters.” In verse 3b we read, “…he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” And in John 10:4,5 Jesus said, “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.”
We are living in the time foretold by both the prophets of old and the Lord Jesus Christ. Repeatedly God’s people have been warned to beware of hireling shepherds and wolves among the flock. And yet today, more than at any other time since the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, have there been so many false prophets, hireling shepherds and wolves among God’s sheep.
The result of this onslaught of perversion against the truth is rebellion against the doctrine “once delivered to the saints,” confusion, delusion and destruction. We are living in the time “when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3,4)
One of the telltale signs of a hireling shepherd is that the people begin to lose their “freedom to follow”. Instead, they are subtly “herded” into a conformity mentality under the guise of “unity”. Because critical thinking is belittled and scoffed at, they quickly turn off their brains and run with the herd. Eventually, they are brought into total control under the harsh whip of lies and deception. And, down the line, they find themselves under a heavy yoke that is impossible to bear.
This yoke of bondage can be made up of do’s and don’ts (legalism); fear and guilt, (control) and lust for self-importance in “God’s Kingdom,” (self-righteousness and pride).
Whenever a person comes under the heavy yoke of a false prophet, hireling shepherd, doctrines of demons and/or the falsehood of working one’s way to heaven, then that person has been removed from God’s sheepfold and placed in the herd. Surely life is hard when you are a cow!
If you recognize that you have been chased down, roped, hog-tied, branded and whipped into submission by heretical teachers and/or teachings; if you feel like a cow, and your burden has become too heavy to bear, why not come back to the Shepherd and Lover of your soul? Jesus’ invitation still rings true, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)