Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
The Stubborn Sheep
It was sheer delight to be in Scotland, in Blair Athol, for the international sheep-dog trials. The wildness of the mountains, surrounding us in all their grandeur, seemed to be reﬂected in the behaviour of the sheep — sheep used to fighting the elements for their very existence.
I soon saw that handling the strong, black-faced sheep proved to be quite a test of the personality of the dogs, and it also tested more rigorously their understanding and their obedience to the commands of their masters. The sheep immediately sensed any weakness in a dog, and took full advantage of it, especially towards the end of the long, hard course.
In the major competition for the championship, there were relatively few dogs that succeeded in penning the sheep, in spite of getting them to the door of the fold, which was waiting, wide open before them.
The shepherd did his best to coax them into the fold, though his freedom to do so was only the length of the rope fastened to the post of the fold, and his reach the length of his crook. The dog, too, under the insistent command of his master, did everything he could to persuade the sheep to give in and go through the door — this was one of the highlights of the course to which everyone looked forward.
For the most part, the stupid, stubborn sheep ran past the open door of the fold. They ignored it completely, as though it were not there. They had no interest whatsoever in the invitation to enter. Having refused to recognize the open door, and having passed it by several times, they would begin to push and huddle among themselves, one hindering the other, all heads and tails in the entrance.
Instead of making their way calmly through the opening, they were keeping a wary eye on the dog, looking for a chance to escape. A sudden, nervous leap, and off the sheep would go again, after so nearly being penned! You could hear the united groans of the crowd, in sympathy for master and dog, while away went the poor dog to make another effort to gather them back to the fold.
But, more often than not, I could see that, having begun to refuse, some obstinate hardness had possessed the sheep, which made them defy the shepherd and the dog. It was enough to make the onlookers feel that they might as well give up the struggle, even before the ringing of the bell, which signified that the time was up.
But it is not only Scottish sheep that can be obstinate. It is surely true that there is a hardness that can possess the human heart that persistently rejects God’s offer of forgiveness through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
But once you have found yourself in the fold, though you have been shut in, joy will come from feeling and knowing that you are in the right place, a partaker of the freedom that comes from being in Christ and being a child of God. Although the fold is narrow, it is exceedingly deep.
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise vas some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Mari Jones, When Swallows Return