Friday, March 13, 2009
Shepherd and Sheep Series-Sheep Refine Their Food during the First Chewing
As we study the eating patterns of sheep we learn many principles that apply of our own "grazing" in the Word. Often while grazing, sheep will swallow sticks and stones along with the grass and plants. These larger objects go into the first compartment of the stomach, the rumen. These indigestible items are not allowed to pass through the digestive system but are brought up again during rumination so that they can be expelled. The digestive system of many animals is activated as soon as they swallow food. This is not true of sheep. Sheep will eat and swallow a sufficient portion of food. Most of this food collects in the first of its four stomach compartments called the rumen or paunch, which is designed to hold larger pieces of food. This compartment does not contain any digestive juices. In our studies of Scripture it is easy to add human presuppositions and inaccurate connotations to what God’s Word is really saying. The truth is there are issues of which we have faulty understanding. Wrong teaching or incomplete teaching, can lead to wrong thinking. Therefore, the vital first step in meditation is to bring each thought that we have under the scrutiny of the principles of Scripture and to throw out those ideas which are not consistent with it. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Once the indigestible food is removed from the rumen, the remaining food is passed into the second stomach compartment, called the reticulum. Here, the food is turned into soft clumps which are called cuds. Just as sheep take in large amounts of food before they digest it, so Christians should read and memorize large sections of Scripture. By doing this, we will establish an inward resource upon which to meditate, and as we meditate, we will see each verse from its larger perspective. This practice will decrease the danger of misinterpreting a single verse or a Scriptural idea. It will also allow the Holy Spirit to reveal basic principles and their practical applications so that we can rightly divide the Word of truth (see II Timothy 2:15). The application is obvious; after we take in large portions of Scripture, our minds and hearts must be cleansed of evil or wrong presuppositions that defile us. Then we are ready to begin meditating on God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will bring to our conscious minds those things that offend God, and defile our hearts and minds; as we ask Him to do so. After a time of cleansing we will be able to properly “chew on the Scriptures.” Meditation is building your day and night around Scripture. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.