Sheep in the midst of wolves are among those who would rend them, tear them, devour them. Luther used to say Cain will go on killing Abel to the world’s end, if he can, and so he will till that millennial day when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb. The disposition and nature of the wolves cause them to be opposed to the sheep, and it is the nature of the world to hate the children of God. All through history you see the two seeds in contention—if there is Abel, there is Cain who slays him. If there is Noah, you see an ungodly world all round him. If there is an Isaac, so also is there an Ishmael who will mock him. And if there is a Jacob, there is an Esau who seeks to kill him. There cannot be an Israel without Pharaoh, or Amalek, or Edom, or Babylon to oppose. David must be hunted by Saul and the Son of David by Herod. There is an enmity between the seed of the serpent and the Seed of the woman, and that enmity will always remain. The ungodly roar upon the righteous and seek to bring cruel accusations against them, even as against their Lord. No matter how pure the lives of the godly, the wicked will slander them. No matter how kind their actions, they will render evil in return. No matter how plain and honest their behavior, they will suspect them, and no matter how disinterested in their motives, they will be sure to attribute to them the very lowest designs, for the wolf comes to kill and to devour and he will do it to the best of his ability. Ah, how red are his fangs in times of persecution. How the wolf raged and raved over this our country in the days of Mary and Charles the Second, and next as a Puritan, the godly were devoured and he that followed his conscience was made bitterly to suffer. Scotland can tell how the wolf’s fangs were wet with the blood of her covenanting sons and were it not for God’s own strong hand put upon them, the wolves would be tearing the sheep to this day in our own land.
Again, they were to go like sheep among wolves, among a people who would hinder their endeavors, for their business was to seek the lost sheep and the wolves would not help them in that. On the contrary, the wolves themselves desire to seize upon the lost sheep as their prey. You must expect, if you are faithful to Christ and put forth zealous efforts, that there will be others who will put forth their strength and cunning to oppose you. It is often an awful game that we have to play for a man’s soul. Each move we make is met by the devil and, unless God directs us, we shall lose the man. If we draw him to a prayer meeting, another takes him to the theater. If we set before him the truth, another puzzles him with skepticism. If we persuade him, others entice him in the wrong direction. The cunning of our foe is something terrible. We go forth to hunt for precious souls, but there are others who, in another sense, hunt for the precious life. The streets at night tell of those whom Satan hires that he may use them as his decoys, and the vicious literature scattered abroad so plentifully are other forms of the nets of Satan, the great fowler, who catches the sons of men in his snares. If we are not earnest, the devil is. He never sleeps—he lost his eyelids long ago. We may slumber if we dare, but the powers of evil will never suspend their activities. Day and night the deadly work goes on and the wolves howl over their prey. Therefore, go we forth like sheep, not among the images of wolves, but in the midst of real active wolves that are doing all they possibly can to destroy those sheep who are as yet lost, but whom Christ has, nevertheless, purchased with His precious blood.