Throughout the Old Testament, God compares His people to sheep.
- Psa.78:52 …He led forth His own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a ﬂock
- Psa. 95:7 …He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
- Is. 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…
God, then is our Shepherd (as we have been reading in John 10 this week…)
- 1Pet. 2:25 …the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
- John 10:14 …the good shepherd…
- Heb. 13:20 …the great Shepherd of the sheep…
- 1Pet. 5:4 ..the Chief Shepherd…
God is the true Shepherd of His people, Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd. Throughout the Bible, God also put “under-shepherds” into place. Their responsibility was to care for the sheep, God’s people, in the way that God would take care of them.
Today we read Ezekiel 34, and we see that this was NOT happening the way it should.
God was telling Ezekiel he needed to confront the shepherds for their failure to lead and serve like He shepherds. These leaders and rulers were selfishly caring for themselves, not God’s sheep.
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
Not only were they not caring for the sheep, but they were taking advantage of them: feeding themselves by eating the fat, clothing themselves with the wool, and slaughtering the fat sheep. They were shepherds only for what they could get out of it. They were actually like wolves destroying the flock, not shepherds protecting the flock!
So, God said HE would step in and gather the scattered sheep and be their Shepherd.
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” Ezekiel 34:11-16