We focus a lot on the lost one that gets found. Heaven rejoices more over the one who repents and turns back to God. But for some reason, we ignore the ninety-nine, not considering the part where they are left in the wilderness… not paying attention to the truth that the ninety-nine actually need to remain righteous and not stray away in the absence of The Good Shepherd.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” — Luke 15:4-7 NLT
I keep thinking about Adam and Eve in Eden’s garden and how listening to the serpent’s voice impaired them to God’s Word and Voice, causing them also to ignore God’s omnipresence. It took them hearing the evening breeze blow to hear the Lord walking in the garden and be called back to His attention; but they’d already taken the bite and eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God had instructed them not to eat. Truth is God never left the Garden or presence of Adam and Eve. In the same vein, He never leaves us. He just wants to be sure we’d remember His instructions and not follow or heed the voice of another.
It’s interestingly loving how God always gives us instructions and their pros and cons first. I believe the best gift in life is the ability to hear the voice of God — in whatever format He decides to speak and enable us hear, be it audibly, or by His Living Word, or intuitively through a knowing His Spirit gives us in our hearts, or through visions, or His creations… — and know it’s Him speaking. Especially when He speaks to us in formats and comes to us in packages we’re unused to. The best gift in life is to know Him know Him. To know Him intimately. To experience Him beyond what we’ve heard or seen. To delve into deep depths and soar to great heights with Him. To explore lands of Him that’s uncharted. The best gift in life is to be enabled to remember what He’s said to us. To remember His Word on a daily basis and meditate on it.
As I think about the fall of man, the one and ninety-nine, it becomes more evident to me that the moment we’re not listening to the voice of our Maker, we fall prey to listening to the voice of another. The moment we stop considering the omnipresence of our Maker, we fall prey to listening to the voice of another. The moment we forget the instruction of His Word — our Shepherd, Who always leaves the ninety-nine for the one —, we fall prey to listening to the voice of another.
Thankfully, Jesus assures us that He is our Good Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture who know His voice and won’t listen to the voice of another. In His assurance, it’s clear that the ninety-nine in the wilderness need to remember His omnipresence and every instruction given. It’s clear that the ninety-nine need to remain connected — on to another and to the Shepherd —, focused and undistracted. Its clear that the ninety-nine can’t throw caution to the wind, need to stay alert and be aware of the enemy’s schemes.
So I ask Holy Spirit that You keep us attuned to the truth that the reason The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the lost one is so that He can bring the one back to the ninety-nine; and ultimately bring us back to a hundred.
“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” — Genesis 3:8-10 NLT
“For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.” — Hebrews 6:4-6 NLT