The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. - John 10:2-3 NIV
The winter sheepfolds were located in the barren, rocky Judean hills. Each one was used by several shepherds who kept their flocks in the fold during the night for safety. The fold would have had high stone walls accessed by one strong, wooden door. It had no roof. One of the shepherds would act as the watchman at the door, staying inside the fold with the sheep all night, guarding against thieves, wild animals, and anything else that might harm the sheep. In the morning, the authentic shepherds of the sheep would come to the door and identify themselves. The watchman would open the door, then each shepherd would call out his own sheep by name. One by one, his particular sheep would separate from all the others in the fold and follow him out to graze the Judean hills for the day.
You and I, as God’s “sheep,” can determine the authenticity of the shepherds by their approach to us. The criterion for the authentic shepherd is that he or she always approaches through the door of God’s Word.