Acts 20:29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock."
In the symbolism of the Scriptures, wolves are worldly people that attack God's sheep. Many of them are worldly people attack the church from the outside. These are the ones that Jesus refers to when He told His disciples "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves." This kind of wolf is all around us, and they are blatantly obvious in their attacks on us.
Other wolves, though, are more subtle in their approach. Matthew 7:15 tells us that some wolves like to dress up in sheep clothes and infiltrate our flocks. These are the ones that Paul warns us about in Acts 20:29; they are wolves among us.
I go into great detail explaining these wolves in another post. I wanted to write this post to expose one particular breed of wolf - one that every parent and spiritual leader should be aware of. To get our first glimpse of this creature, let's look at Genesis 49.
Jacob was nearing the end of his life. Before he died, he gathered his twelve sons around him and prophesied over them about things to come. As he spoke about each young man, he pinpointed events in their future and the future of the tribes that would come from them. For example, Jacob declared that "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes..." This was a prophecy concerning the kings that would come from his son Judah, eventually leading to THE King Himself!
However, when he turned his attention to Benjamin, Jacob's words were less majestic...less promising. Look at what Genesis 49:27 says, "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil." Yikes! Jacob was prophesying of a time when Benjamin would lie in wait for his prey like a wolf. Do we see such a time in Scripture?
Fast forward to the last chapter of the book of Judges.
Judges chapter 21 is the ending of a tragic story; a story that results in the death of all but 500 men from the entire tribe of Benjamin! Because of their wickedness, all other men, women and children were wiped out. To make matters worse, the rest of Israel angrily vowed to keep their daughters from marrying anyone in the tribe of Benjamin. This vow would've made those five hundred men the last of the entire tribe. When they died out, so would one-twelfth of the nation of Israel.
The other Israelites realized extinction wasn't the best option. In spite of the tribe of Benjamin's sin - it was decided that they should still survive. However, there was no way around the vow they made. No Israelite father was allowed to let their daughter marry an Benjamite - and for a Benjamite to get a wife that wasn't an Israelite was strictly forbidden by God. What could they do? Finally, someone came up with a shrewd way around this oath.
Here was the plan: There was going to be a holy festival at the Tabernacle of God in Shiloh. One of the festivities was a dance procession for all the young, unmarried ladies, where they would leave the city in a large dance of celebration. The elders of Israel told the Benjamites, "Go, lie in wait in the vineyards, and
watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their
dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for
himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin." If any father objected to this kidnapping, the elders would calm them down. This way the tribe of Benjamin would survive, even though no father willingly gave their daughters away in marriage.
Notice three words from what the elders said: "lie in wait". These Benjamites hid in the celebration at God's house, waiting to pounce on the innocent girls there. Tell me, what does this sound like to you? A "wolf in sheep's clothing" perhaps
Among the different types of spiritual wolves, I believe there is one in particular that follow the Benjamite pattern. These men (yes, this is almost always a man who preys on a young woman) work to infiltrate the house of God. They learn the right words. They play the part of godly men. But inwardly, they're panting after our girls. These guys are smooth when they speak to their prey, leading them away and isolating them. And when the time is right they pounce - either taking what they want from them and leaving, or leading these girls away from the flock to follow after themselves.
The end result is destruction. Some girls are hurt when they give part of themselves to someone who seemed to be a righteous man, but who simply ended up using them. Other girls are pulled out of the church and end up following these men into a life that's far less than what God wanted for them.
So how do we stop these spiritual predators? Is there a way to prevent, rather than repair, the damage these wolves cause?
First, to these young sheep: Get to know the voice of your Shepherd. In John 10:4-5, Jesus tells us this,
"And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." You see, once a sheep learns to recognize the voice of her Shepherd, she won't be so vulnerable to the sweet, silky-smooth voices of these strangers. So, it's crucial for you to learn what Jesus sounds like when He speaks to you. Get in the Word! Spend time in prayer. Get close to Him and follow Him only.
Second, to the shepherds: Guard your flock! Listen to the words of Paul to the Ephesian elders.
Acts 20:28-31 "Therefore take heed to
yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made
you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch... "
Paul laid the responsibility of guarding the flock on the leaders. Sheep don't fight off wolves...shepherds do. Let me tell you one thing I've learned about these wolves: In every case I've seen, the leaders in the girl's life (either her pastor, her father, or both) usually suspect something's wrong ahead of time. Every time, the leaders are left scratching their head wondering, "I knew something was wrong! Why didn't I do something?" Leaders, pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit! Don't wait to clean up the pieces - take action before the attack!
When we read Paul's words of warning, we can see a few things we can do to protect our sheep:
#1 - Take heed. In other words, pay attention to your flock. Keep your spiritual sense of discernment sharp and listen to what the Chief Shepherd is telling you.
#2 - Feed your sheep. Jeremiah 3:15 tells us that God appoints shepherds to feed the sheep with knowledge and understanding. Acts 20:30 tells us that the wolf's main weapon is twisted words. Put these together and you can see that a shepherd is responsible to feed their sheep the Truth - and that Truth will counteract any lies wolves may tell.
#3 - Watch. This term carries more meaning than simply "pay attention". This term implies "watching to defend." According to John 10:11-13, a good shepherd is one that is willing to confront a wolf to protect the flock if necessary. Hirelings (that is, those who care for the flock without ever really caring about them)won't bother to confront the wolf, being afraid for his own "reputation" and well-being. But listen to me, leader - this can't be us! When we (as fathers or as pastors) see a man leading one of our sheep away, separating her from the flock and isolating her, then we must confront him!
Jesus trusted us with part of His flock. Let's not take this responsibility lightly. Now that this breed of spiritual predator has been exposed, don't close your eyes to the threat!