We are living in a time of growing hints of the return of our Messiah. One such awe inspiring event is soon to be upon us.
A recent news article titled “Biblical Nomads Will Return to the Holy Land” caught my eye. It described the Jacob sheep, a “speckled and spotted’ variety first identified in Genesis as those that Jacob set apart for himself as he negotiated his leave from his father-in-law Laban. These sheep followed the journey of the Israelites from the Middle East into the Diaspora. A fascinating summary of their wanderings is on the preservation society’s website: http://www.friendsofthejacobsheep.com/about.html. Despite these migrations and that the vast majority of these sheep have been crossbred over the last several thousand years, a small number of heirloom Jacob sheep, i.e., still as they were in Biblical times, ended up in Canadian zoos 120 years ago, and more recently in preservation farms.
As I learn about these sheep, it is impossible to ignore God’s guiding of the purpose in our lives. Two Jews, Jenna and Gil Lewinsky, an Israeli Foreign Ministry employee and a Canadian journalist, (not farmers by any means!) meet in Israel and get married. In 2014 they “randomly” meet a Canadian Jacob sheep heritage farmer that per the article, “sparked something akin to divine inspiration. Once the couple discovered that the sheep were long extinct in Israel, they took it upon themselves to learn how to raise the animals in order to bring them back.” After receiving a crash course in animal husbandry and hours of negotiations between the Israeli and Canadian governments, they are optimistic that these wandering Jewish sheep will soon be returning to their homeland.
Amazingly, thousands of years later, HaShem saved a tiny remnant of these original sheep, not unlike our Messianic Jewish movement, for greater purposes. And like us, though their number is small, their impact is great. Once in Israel, the sheep will be on display and will be used as they were in ancient times, for holy garments, the horns for shofars, even as some believe for sacrifice eventually in the rebuilt Temple as in ancient days. Even if you don’t believe in the literal rebuilding of the Temple, the symbolic importance of these returning sheep is not lost on us.
The foundation’s website quotes Joel 2:1, “Sound a shofar in Zion and sound an alarm in My holy mountain; all the inhabitants of the land shall quake, for the day of the Lord has come, for it is near.” Recognizing the coming together of Jews and Christians on the coming of the Messiah, this Orthodox Jewish couple solicits contributions from both Jews and Christians alike for this holy cause.
The stage is being set, literally as in the return of the Jacob sheep, as well as figuratively, for the return of our Messiah. This tangible evidence reminds us of the reality of what we are seeing: people of differing beliefs, Orthodox Jews and Christians, coming together for a greater truth, that the Messiah is coming. These are the days of preparation, the time to prioritize Him. A time when we are to be attuned to hear Him and what He wants of us. A time focused on building His kingdom by living lives for Him.
In Matthew 9:36 Yeshua feels compassion for the sheep without a shepherd. Just as the Jacob sheep are returning to the Holy Land, so too many are finding our Shepherd and returning to Him. Sheep to Israel, Jews to more observant Judaism, Jews to know Messiah, all eventually to know Yeshua. These are the days of return, eyes are being opened. We are blessed to know Him as our Shepherd as we and our fellow sheep are being drawn, knowingly or unknowingly, ever closer to Him.