The question "Why Wool?" is a common title on blogs and cloth diapering websites about all the attributes of wool and why it's perfect for babies' bottoms.
Have you every wondered, "Why Sheep?" Why is it that this animal in particular that is so carefully clad in such an amazing coat? I know there are other woolly animals, but not all animals are clothed with a fiber that keeps them warm in the winter, cool in the summer, dry all year round, clean of bacteria, unlikely to catch on fire, and on top of that excreting an oily substance that coats these fibers that is also water resistant with antibacterial properties providing even more protection!
I don't believe it is a coincidence that we find sheep, of all animals, clothed in this almost magical fiber! As I began to learn about how wool works more in depth, I exclaimed to my husband, "Wow! God must have really wanted to protect his sheep!" At that moment I was thinking of actual sheep and nothing more, but as soon as the words escaped my mouth, the depth of what I had just said struck both of us.
The Bible often refers to us as sheep, and God as our shepherd. In the new testament and old, in prophesies, songs, stories, and teachings the theme of sheep and shepherd is referred to over and over and over. Isaiah talks about what happened to Jesus and what it meant for us, hundreds of years before it came to pass. Here are just a few lines of it:
" 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth...."(Isaiah 53, NLT).
Jesus speaks of God's heart in a story of a shepherd being willing to leave the 99 sheep to find one who was lost, and bringing him back with joy and celebration (Luke 15), so that we would understand that even if just one of us were lost and separated from God, He still would have given everything and endured everything described in the verses above, for even one. His heart is always longing and pursuing those who "like sheep have strayed away."
He also speaks of how a sheep knows his shepherd's voice and obeys him, teaching us that our relationship with Him goes beyond just being rescued and brought safely into His fold, but that we can have a relationship with Him...one of intimacy and trust. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) To know Him is to trust Him and know that His desire for us is for our ultimate good.
I've learned from those who've looked intently into the lives of sheep that sheep have been known to follow one another head to tail right into a ditch, piling on top of one another until the ditch was full. That has totally been me at times in my life...following people and ideas only to end up in a "ditch." Each time, my Shepherd has intervened, pulled me out and set me on the path of peace once again. It sounds like foolishness, but for my part I have found it to be true.
The occupation of a shepherd was regarded as the lowest of the low. It was a job for nobodies, and the least of the least, and so the foolishness increases. In likening Himself to a Shepherd, God is making Himself the least and the lowest. "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Cor. 1:27 NIV)
And he didn't stop there, when led to the cross, "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth...."(Isaiah 53, NLT). And so Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb of God, because He gave Himself willingly as a sacrifice, so that we could live.
"The Lord is my Shepherd. I will lack nothing." (Ps. 23:1)