Monday, December 18: Ezekiel Longs for a Good Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:11-12

“‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.’”

Ezekiel 34:22-24

“’I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another.  I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.  I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.’”

John 10:14-16

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

Ezekiel prophesied during a time of great distress for the covenant people.  He was among the first captives to be deported to Babylon after Jehoiachin had been deposed (Ezekiel 1:2), and he was still in exile when Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonians (Ezekiel 33:21).  In chapter 34 God gave him a message against the shepherds, the leaders of Judah.  They were feeding themselves and not the sheep, so the sheep were scattered and became prey for wild beasts (recall that, years before, the northern tribes of Israel had been taken into captivity by Assyria and scattered among the nations).  Had God forgotten his people?

No, he had not.  God told the people through Ezekiel that he himself would search for his people, would rescue them, feed them, bind up their wounds, and strengthen them.  And in place of so many bad shepherds, he would place one good shepherd, his servant David, over them.  God did indeed bring back his people from exile to the promised land.  But even greater, he sent them the good shepherd, the descendant of David, the Messiah.  When Jesus told the Jews that he was the good shepherd, he was “declaring to those discerning Jews that he was the true and righteous Shepherd of whom Ezekiel spoke—the Messiah.  He would lay down his life for the sheep, not exploit them” (Ralph H. Alexander).

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He came to give rest to the weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28-30).  He came not to fleece the sheep but to feed them.  Even more, he came to lay down his life for them, to give them eternal life with him and the Father (John 10:27-30).  Is the Lord your God?  Is Jesus your good shepherd?  If so, praise and worship him!  If not, stop wandering and come to Jesus.  Come to the gate of the sheep, be saved, and find pasture (John 10:7-9).

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end.
By His life He brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.

(Mark E. Hunt)

© 2023 Stephen A. Hoogerhyde.