Today: [Ezekiel 34] Finding the One Shepherd: What is the quality of the pastoral leadership you are experiencing today? The promise of Ezekiel 34 is that God will set over us “one shepherd” who will feed and nurture us with the spirit of Christ. In Ezekiel’s day, the priest class was largely corrupted and very abusive toward the people. Ezekiel’s words give comfort to the struggling masses of God’s people who are scattered as without a shepherd, that help is on the way.
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[Eze 34:1-31 KJV] 1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up [that which was] broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because [there is] no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek [after them]. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because [there was] no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, [even] I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep [that are] scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and [in] a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up [that which was] broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
In this chapter Ezekiel is directed by the Father to speak against corruption in the leadership of the people. When we think of a shepherd with think of pastors and church leaders. In Ezekiel’s day, this would have applied to the priest class. The leaders of the community of Ezekiel’s time was made up of the king, the priesthood, and the prophets. The king of course was empowered through his lineage, having descended from the line of David. The prophets were raised up from time to time without any particular pedigree. The priesthood was made up of those who sprang from the tribe of Levi, appointed generation by generation to attend the temple and perform the sacrificial rites in behalf of the people. Many of the priesthood and the family of the High Priest were good and godly leaders. Those who did not follow that example were often very public in the idolatrous and sinful ways. To the Ezekiel speaks against as abusers of the people and defilers of the Holy Temple. Because of this the people (v. 5) are scattered because there is no shepherd. This verse 5 is reference in the life of Jesus as He looked upon the multitudes of people that followed Him:
[Mat 9:36-37 KJV] 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly [is] plenteous, but the labourers [are] few;
Notice that Jesus didn’t look at these people and say “good enough for them!” It is a reality that among these multitudes of people are those who in just a few short years will cry “crucify, crucify him!” but the compassion of Jesus now reaches out to them regardless. It is important to note that Jesus defines these people – the scattered people of God as the harvest field that we are called to pray that laborers might be sent unto them. The word in v. 5 for the sheep being scattered means to be “broken into pieces”. This is descriptive of Christian culture today. The World Christian Encyclopedia states that there are 300 different major ecclesiastical traditions and at the current time 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. Regardless of the justifications for these divisions, the make-up of modern Christianity defines us as a scattered people, as a sheep without a shepherd. We can bemoan the denominational system as be corrupt as the priesthood was in Ezekiel’s day, but the answer is not reform. The answer is simple, we need as v. 14 says, pastors who will feed us in good pastures, in a good fold, that we might lie down in safety, who will seek that which was lost and bring that which was driven away.
How many Christians today are opting out of the church altogether. After years of searching and disappointment they simply practice their faith outside the organized church. What is the answer? Pastors after God’s own heart. Pastors that will bind up the broken, strengthen those who are sick and bring that which was driven away. The answer isn’t new programs. The answer is not some kind of enticement or manipulation. The answers to the greatest challenges in Christianity today are simple. Men and women after God’s own heart who understand the simplicity of their mission and give themselves over to it with abandon.
17 And [as for] you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18 [Seemeth it] a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And [as for] my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, [even] I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21 Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, [even] my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24 And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken [it]. 25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. 28 And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make [them] afraid. 29 And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. 30 Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God [am] with them, and [that] they, [even] the house of Israel, [are] my people, saith the Lord GOD. 31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, [are] men, [and] I [am] your God, saith the Lord GOD.
In verse 17 the Father addresses the flock. Notice He isn’t speaking to a singular sheep. Every one of us should have a flock that we are a part of in order to place ourselves in the number to which these statements apply. You are a sheep of God’s pasture and it is against the nature of a sheep to live a solitary existence like a goat in the rocks and crags. The passage goes on to speak against the goats in the midst and the elder rams who made it difficult for the ewes and the lambs to find refreshing in the deeps of God. Sometimes the greatest source of difficulty in the church are those that have been there the longest. These elder rams and goats are held accountable for the suffering of the ewes and lambs and God Himself says when this happens He will judge between “cattle and cattle” to bring relief to His little ones.
What is the answer to all of this downturn and systemic corruption in the flock? Verse 23 promises the Father will bring us “one shepherd”, “even my servant David…” Prophetically this is speaking of the coming of Jesus to overturn the tables of the money changers and the establishment of the first century church as His one, true flock. In that regard we can look to our connection (or lack of connection) to the culture of the first century church as the basis of our authenticity as a flock or a community of redeemed believers. There is a church that Jesus told Peter He would build. It is not a solitary person claiming to be a part of an invisible, perfect, mystical church. It is a flesh and blood community who are in one another’s lives, worshipping God, testifying of Christ and walking out corporate relationship to one another in the midst of a sinful and corrupt world. God’s promise is that through leadership, pastors who have the character of that one shepherd, He will feed us and give us peace.
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