Watering the Sheep
Genesis 29:1-14
Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

A scene in Mesopotamia, beautifully pastoral. A well of water of great value in that region. The fields around about it white with three flocks of sheep lying down waiting for the watering. I hear their bleating coming on the bright air, and the laughter of young men and maidens indulging in rustic repartee. I look off, and I see other flocks of sheep coming, Meanwhile, Jacob, a stranger, on the interesting errand of looking for a wife, comes to the well. A beautiful shepherdess comes to the same well. I see her approaching, followed by her father's flock of sheep. Jacob accosts the shepherds and asks them why they postpone the slaking of the thirst of these sheep, and why they did not immediately proceed to water them? The shepherds reply to the effect: "We are all good neighbours, and as a matter of courtesy we wait until all the sheep of the neighbourhood come up. Besides that, this stone on the well's mouth is somewhat heavy, and several of us take hold of it and push it aside, and then the buckets and the troughs are filled, and the sheep are satisfied. We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep." Now a great flock of sheep to-day gather around this Gospel well. There are a great many thirsty souls. I wonder why the flocks of all nations do not gather — why so many stay thirsty; and while I am wondering about if, my text breaks forth in the explanation, saying: " We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep." This well of the Gospel is deep enough to put out the burning thirst of the twelve hundred million of the race. Do not let the Church by a spirit of exclusiveness keep the world out. Let down all the bars, swing open all the gates, scatter all the invitations: "Whosoever will let him come."

I. You notice that this well of Mesopotamia had a stone on it, which must be removed before the sheep could be watered; and I find on the well of salvation to-day IMPEDIMENTS AND OBSTACLES, which must be removed in order that you may obtain the refreshment and life of this Gospel.

1. In your case the impediment is pride of heart. You cannot bear to come to so democratic a fountain; you do not want to come with so many others. You will have to remove the obstacle of pride, or never find your way to the well. You will have to come as we came, willing to take the water of eternal life in any way, and at any hand, and in any kind of picture, crying out: "O Lord Jesus, I am dying of thirst. Give me the water of eternal life, whether in trough or goblet; give me the water of life; I care not in what it comes to me." Away with all your hindrances of pride from the well's mouth.

2. Here is another man who is kept back from this water of life by the stone of an obdurate heart, which lies over the mouth of the well. You have no more feeling upon this subject than if God had vet to do you the first kindness, or you had to do God the first wrong. Seated on His lap all these years, His everlasting arms sheltering you, where is your gratitude? Where is your morning and evening prayer? Where are your consecrated lives? O man, what dost thou with that hard heart? Canst thou not feel one throb of gratitude towards the God who made you, and the Christ who came to redeem you, and the Holy Ghost who has all these years been importuning you?

II. Jacob with a good deal of tug and push took the stone from the well's mouth, so that the flocks might be watered. And I would that this morning my word, blessed of God, might remove the hindrances to your getting up to the Gospel well. Yea, I take it for granted that the work is done, and now like Oriental shepherds, I PROCEED TO WATER THE SHEEP.

1. Come, all ye thirsty! You have an undefined longing in your souls. You tried money-making; that did not satisfy you. You tried office under government; that did not satisfy you. You tried pictures and sculptures, but works of art did not satisfy you. You are as much discontented with this life as the celebrated French author who felt that he could not any longer endure the misfortunes of the world, and who said: "At four o'clock this afternoon I shall put an end to my own existence. Meanwhile, I must toil on up to that time for the sustenance of my family." And he wrote on his book until the clock struck four, when he folded up his manuscript and, by his own hand, concluded his earthly life. There are men in this house who are perfectly discontented. Unhappy in the past, unhappy to-day, to be unhappy for ever, unless you come to this Gospel-well. This satisfies the soul with a high, deep, all-absorbing, and eternal satisfaction.

2. Come, also, to this Gospel-well, all ye troubled. I do not suppose you have escaped. Compare your view of this life at fifteen years of age with what your view of it is at forty, sixty, or seventy. What a great contrast of opinion! Were you right, then, or are you right now? Two cups placed in your hands, the one a sweet cup, the other a sour cup. A cup of joy and a cup of grief. Which has been the nearest to being full, and out of which have you the more frequently partaken? Oh, you have had trouble, trouble, trouble. God only knows how much you have had. It is a wonder you have been able to live through it. It is a wonder your nervous system has not been shattered, and your brain has not reeled. Trouble, trouble, If I could gather all the griefs, of all sorts, from this great audience, and could put them in one scroll, neither man nor angel could endure the recitation. Well what do you want? Would you like to have your property back again? "No," you say, as a Christian man: "I was becoming arrogant, and I think that is why the Lord took it away. I don't want to have my property back." Well, would you have your departed friends back again? "No," you say: "I couldn't take the responsibility of bringing them from a tearless realm to one of tears. I couldn't do it." Well, then, what do you want? A thousand voices in the audience cry out: "Comfort, give us comfort." For that reason I have rolled away the stone from the well's mouth. Come, all ye wounded of the flock, pursued of the wolves, come to the fountain where the Lord's sick and bereft ones have come. I gather all the promises to-day in a group, and I ask the shepherds to drive their flocks of lambs and sheep up to the sparkling supply. "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.", "Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion." "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Oh, what a great flock of sheep God will gather around the celestial well. No stone on the well's mouth, while the Shepherd waters the sheep.

(Dr. Talmage.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

WEB: Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the children of the east.

The Meeting of Jacob with Rachel and Laban
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