Note the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in the tenth chapter of John
“I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD: THE GOOD SHEPHERD GIVETH HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP.” “MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, AND I KNOW THEM, AND THEY FOLLOW ME.” “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.” John 10:11, 27 and 16.
In John 10:14, Christ again calls Himself “the Good Shepherd”. In Hebrews 13:20 and 21, Christ is called “the Great Shepherd” of the sheep.
In I Peter 2:25, Christ is called “the Shepherd of your souls”. In I Peter 5:4, Christ is called “the Chief Shepherd”.
We know that while Christ was on earth He was talking to Israel. We know that Hebrews was written to Israel. We know that I Peter was addressed to the dispersed twelve tribes of Israel. I Peter 1:2.
But now this question: “to whom did Christ refer as “the other sheep?” Read carefully the conversation between Christ and the Gentile woman, recorded in Matthew 15:24 and 26: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs.” “Sheep” and “dogs.” Who were the sheep? Israel. Who were the dogs? Gentiles. Did some of these Gentile dogs later on become sheep?,
One of the most interesting studies in the Bible is Peter’s housetop vision, at the time the Lord sent him to preach to .the household of Cornelius. Cornelius worshipped Israel’s God and prayed to Israel’s God. Cornelius was a devout upright man and loved Israel. Acts 10:2 and 22.
But note Peter’s vision. He saw a sheet let down from heaven. “And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things; and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord: for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Acts 10:11 to 14.
Note what was in that sheet. Then note what followed. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18.
Those fourfooted animals and wild beasts were all unclean, according to Israel’s law, and symbolized Gentiles who were unclean in God’s sight. Gentiles were aliens from Israel, alienated from the life of God, no people and a foolish nation. Ephesians 2:11 and 12— Ephesians 4:18 and Romans 10:19. Even the respectable, religious, God-fearing, Jew-loving Cornelius was represented by an unclean fourfooted beast. There were no sheep in that sheet, not even one. A sheep was clean to Israel. Unclean animals typified the Gentiles. God called the Gentiles, “dogs.”
So we see that dogs and unclean beasts spoke of Gentiles. Israelites were sheep. The gods which the Gentiles worshipped were images made like to corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Romans 1:23.
Note God’s statement concerning Israel at the time that people left Egypt. “But made His own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.” Psalms 78:52.
Note also Psalms 79:13 and Psalms 95:7. “So we Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture will give Thee thanks for ever; we will shew forth Thy praise to all generations.” “For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and he sheep of His hand. Today if ye will hear His voice.”
God has much to say about His sheep in, Israel’s Scriptures. “Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away; first the king of Assyria hath devoured Him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.” Jeremiah 50:17.
“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” Jeremiah 50:6.
“Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God.” “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:9 and 11. “I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land; and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.” “And they were scattered, because there was 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.”
The sheep are going back to the land of Israel. Note carefully Ezekiel 37:24, 25 and 26.
“And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever; and My servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”
Now note Hebrews 13:20 and 21. “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.”
The sheep of Israel are divided, in Daniel 9:7, into the two classes, “all Israel, near” and “far off.”
On the day of Pentecost Peter said, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:39. This message concerned “all the house of Israel”. Acts 2:36.
Peter later wrote to the twelve tribes dispersed. I Peter 1:1. Note John 7:34 and 35: “Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?”
Note James 1:1—“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. “
James and Peter went to Israel. Galatians 2:9. The Lord Jesus said to Peter, “feed My sheep and lambs.” John 21:15 to 17.
Note again Galatians 2:9—“And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
After the sheep finally rejected the Shepherd, an Israelite was chosen to go to the Gentiles. He wrote: “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief.” Romans 1:14— Romans 11:13— Romans 11:30.
Note Paul’s words to the lost sheep of Israel: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:46.
Then later on, the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote—“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain One New Man, so making peace.” Ephesians 2:12 to 15.
Note Jeremiah 13:17 and 23:1 to 3. “But if ye will not hear it, My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.” “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed My people; Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. And I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.”
It was about this time that Isaiah wrote—“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6.
The Gentiles were not sheep that strayed from the Shepherd’s flock or fold. They had not been in the fold. They were alienated from the life of God. God had given them up before He even chose Israel, and cut them completely off with the covenant of circumcision. Romans 1:18 to 30 and Genesis 17:8 to 18. Certainly lost Gentiles are not called sheep. Israelites saved or unsaved are called “sheep” in the Bible.
David was a shepherd, and became a king. David was Israel’s shepherd-king. Jesus Christ came to earth to be Israel’s Shepherd-King. He was born in the city of David. This was the message to Israel’s shepherds. Luke 2:6 to 14. Christ was born in the house of David, to take the throne of David and be King of Israel. This was Gabriel’s message. Luke 1:26 to 33.
In Luke is recorded the parable of the lost sheep. “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Luke 15:4. All of the hundred sheep were in the fold. The one sheep here represents the publican. He was a Jew. The only Gentiles who were in the fold were proselytes. This chapter tells of “the lost sheep”, “the lost coin”, “the lost boy”, “the prodigal son”. The older son was the Pharisee; the younger son was the publican. If we say that the publican was an unsaved Gentile, we support the teaching of the Universalists, that all are the sons of God. That prodigal spake of his father’s house when he was with the hogs in sin.
But note again the words of the Lord Jesus, in Matthew 15:24.
“I AM NOT SENT BUT UNTO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.”
Now note His words in Luke 19:9 and 10—“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost. “
Whom did the Good Shepherd come to seek and to save? The lost sons of Abraham.
Note the prophecy of Ezekiel.
“FOR THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; BEHOLD, I, EVEN I, WILL BOTH SEARCH MY SHEEP, AND SEEK THEM OUT.” “I WILL SEEK THAT WHICH WAS LOST.” Ezekiel 34:11 and 16. “My sheep,” “My people”; Israel.
Now read the story in Ezekiel 34:12 to 14—Ezekiel 34:22 to 25 and Ezekiel 34:5 and 6.
“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 river, 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.” “Therefore will I save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them.
The Bible does not refer to unsaved Gentiles as “sheep”. The Shepherd said “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.” There are many Christians who believe that when the Gentiles receive Christ they become sheep—They do become joint-sharers with the saved Jews in the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6. All believing Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ. Galatians 3:28. They are altogether with Christ, one flesh. Ephesians 5:31 and 32. They are altogether “One New Man.” Ephesians 2:15.
Now the question, “Is the one flock of John 10:16 the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15?”
The One New Man of Ephesians 2:15 is called “the Joint-Body” of Ephesians 3:6. Ezekiel did not know anything or say anything concerning that Joint-Body (Colossians 1:24 to 27) (Ephesians 3:3 to 5); but Ezekiel did prophecy concerning the one flock and one shepherd.
Some Christians are dogmatically opposed to calling saved Gentiles “spiritual Israel”; but they are not opposed to calling them “spiritual sheep”, because of Acts 20:28—“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Undoubtedly the Lord Jesus was not speaking of “the Church of the Mystery” when He spoke of the one flock or fold in the tenth chapter of John.