After the devastating siege that resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple, Ezekiel announced a remnant of the people would one day return. Despite the season of captivity, Ezekiel emphasized God would keep the promises He had made to Abraham and to David. What might seem to be impossible at that time, was still in the hands of the Great I Am.
The scattering of the people was significant. It extended for almost 2000 years. During that time it is feasible to assume many Jews questioned their future prospects. Were they like the Jews held in concentration camps and constantly declaring, ‘Next year in Jerusalem?”
Ezekiel described those who were believers as watchmen. They were alert stationed on high walls watching for the enemy. They blew the trumpets to warn of danger. Some would respond others not. It was up to each one to respond according to their choices. (I remember visiting a kibbutz in Israel where school children were at the walls each afternoon, watching for trouble).
Ezekiel wrote: “As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among the sheep that are separated, so will I seek out My sheep; and I will deliver them out of all the places whither they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick darkness.” (Ezekiel chapter 34, verse 12)
The teachers also refer to Micah. “I will surely gather all of you. Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.” (Micah chapter 2, verse 12)
Rabbis point to these verses to discuss the significant return of Jacob’s sheep to Israel. It has been 2000 years and 11 flights to bring 119 sheep from Canada.
According to Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz (Israel Breaking News): “This remarkable story began when Gil and Jenna Lewinsky, a couple that met in Israel and moved to Canada, first set eyes on the unique sheep three years ago. Despite never having farmed, something about the sheep spoke to their souls. They bought a herd of 70 and began a not-for-profit farm. In their hearts, they knew the sheep were destined for greater things than producing wool and milk. Though the breed has its genetic roots in the Holy Land, there are no Jacob’s Sheep in the Middle East today. The Lewinskys changed all that when they decided to bring Jacob’s flock home.” (Jacob’s Biblical Sheep Arrive in the Promised Land, Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, breakingisraelnews.com)
Gil Lewinsky connected the return of the sheep to biblical promises. “For 2000 years we (the Jewish People) have been yearning to go home, and then when we look at the history of the Jacob Sheep, we found another piece of the puzzle. In Jeremiah 31, it talks not only about the return of man to a renewed State of Israel but the return of animals, shepherds and their flocks.” (Messianic Jewish Bible)
The arrival of the sheep was headlined throughout Israel. “It is the first time that the breed, called Jacob’s sheep, has been represented in Israel since biblical times,” reported Melanie Lidman ( Times of Israel)
“The first sheep arrived on the Jewish Calendar the day that Noah came out of the art, the 28th of Heshvan,” enthused Jenna Lewinsky.
The breed received the name “Jacob sheep” based on Genesis Chapter 30, where Jacob talks about leaving his father-in-law Laban’s home and taking part of the flock as his payment for years of service. “I will pass through all thy flock today, removing from thence every speckled and spotted one, and every dark one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and of such shall be my hire.” (Genesis chapter 30, verse 32).
‘The sheep are for the Jews what the buffalo were for the Native Americans, but we forget this. Not only do we use their milk and meat for food, but their skin is used for Torah scrolls, their horns make shofars (horns blown for ritual purposes), and their wool is used to make tzitzit (the fringes found on the corners of the prayer shawl). When the Torah tells us to bring sheep for the sacrifice in the Temple, these are the very animals it is speaking about,” Gil Lewinsky told Israel Breaking News.
We may have seasons in life when we feel like the scattered. Like Jacob Sheep our homes may be a long way from feeling ‘at home.’
Ezekiel, the Prophet of Hope not only spoke about sheep he also featured The Divine Shepherd. This so-called ‘Shepherd of the flock’ is always alert.
Ezekiel points out specific activities of this shepherd. (1) He seeks out his sheep. I know at times when I wandered he nudged me many times.
(2) He brings the sheep out of dark places. I love listening to testimonies that highlight his stubborn faithfulness to us. (3) He restores his sheep. The born again experience, means just that! (4) Through the Shepherd, sheep find good and rich pasture (Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 11-14).
(5) The divine Shepherd leads his sheep to rest, ie peace. (All this and more in Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 11-22)
It is thrilling new Jacob Sheep lambs will be born in Israel again. It is even more exciting, the Word of God continues to be fulfilled to the minutest detail.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html