Jean Stepnoski (21 Oct 2011)
"Entering His Sheepfold"


 
Dear Doves,
 
      The Gospel of John Chapter 7 goes from the beginning of Tabernacles, to the middle, then to the ending. Then in Chapters 8 and 9 the events happen towards Winter. Then  Chapter 10 goes to The Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah), then approaching First Passover/ Unleavened Bread in Chapter 11. What time of year did that span from Chapters 7-11? It was between the Feast of Tabernacles to First Passover, 6-7 months later. This included the Season of the Sheepfold. There were various kinds of sheepfolds. A temporary one could be made with bramble bushes. John, Chapter 10 seems to refer to a permanent one. One description is from http://www.seedofabraham.net/nltr12.html as follows. "In ancient Israel, as the winter night fell, all the sheep of a town were driven into a sheepfold. The sheepfold was square in shape and made of four stone walls with no roof. The walls were about nine feet high and four feet across. On the top of the walls lay thorn bushes and branches all the way around to keep out the wild animals. There was only one entrance in and out of the sheepfold where a gate or door was bolted from the inside at night. The guardian (or keeper) would sleep on the inside near the door. This way, both thieves and wild animals were stopped from stealing and killing the sheep. The sheep were protected and secure in the sheepfold during the cold darkness of the night." Why were the walls so high? Thieves would try to climb over the walls, slit the throats of the sheep, and then throw their bodies over the walls to other thieves outside the sheepfold. Nine feet is high and a ledge of four feet made thievery more difficult. Such height and thorn bushes also helped to keep out packs of wolves, jackals (wild dogs), and other predators.
      What were some of the dangers, the perils, from which The Good Shepherd, no hireling was he, wanted to spare his flock? >From November to March the nocturnal temperatures were at the lowest of the year. The sheep, so close together, clustered and guarded against hypothermia and freezing. There were cold winds and icy rains. Again, there was safety and greater warmth in clustering the sheep so closely together. The predator animals or robbers had more difficult access to the sheep. At http://www.bible-history.com is another description of a permanent sheepfold. It states the walls were four to six feet high with sharp thorn bushes put on the tops of the walls. The Master called Himself the Good Shepherd, the Gate, and the Gatekeeper. This is like the 3 in 1! When was the first Autumnal departure into the permanent and secure sheepfold for protection at night? The cold rains would begin after the Feast of Tabernacles with the onset of the rainy season. The temperatures would go lower at night from late October through February. Here are some monthly averages for modern Israel from http://www.intellicast.com/Local/History.aspx to give an idea of temperatures. These are averages for Jerusalem, Israel. for lows and highs. For October are 57-77, November 49-66, December 42-57, January 39-53, February 40-56, and March 43-61. Hanukkah is late in the month of Kislev, in November or December. The sheepfold would be in use by then. The drenching and cold rains would increase. Here are some averages for rain for modern Jerusalem, Israel: November 2.7", December 4.3", January 5.6", February 4.5", and March 3.9" for the vitally important rainy season.
      The Sheepfold Season was the Season of Provision and Safety in Seclusion. Could the Sheepfold begin to be used after Tabernacles to protect from predators, storms or high winds even if the temperatures were not too cold and the rains too icy? That is a distinct possibility. There were many reasons the Good Shepherd would begin to use the secure sheepfold in Autumn, after Tabernacles, as well as in Winter. Might Messiah/Christ, The Good Shepherd, and The Finest Shepherd of All, soon return on The Day of The Blessed Hope to call His sheep by name to lead them into His Eternally Secure Sheepfold? Might His Season of The Secure Sheepfold begin any day now in Autumn? The Season can extend for 6-7 months of Autumn and Winter. The period of the 70th Week of Daniel is a 6-7, a shavua. Simchat Torah is the conclusion of the living in the sukkahs and the conclusion of The Feast of Tabernacles. Will The Good Shepherd call us soon to Him and lead us Home? We shall see. Come quickly, The GATE of Everlasting LIFE!
 
With Love and Shalom,
Jean