READING: Ezekiel 32-34
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: I remember the first time I heard the image that God is our shepherd. The sermon went like this: “We’re a bunch of dumb sheep, but God is our shepherd. He’ll still provide for us and protect us.” We are indeed wayward sheep, and God is indeed our shepherd who provides for us and protects us.
I think, though, that I missed the depth of the significance of God’s being our shepherd. In Ezekiel 34, God is announcing judgment on the “shepherds” (the leaders) of Israel who were failing to lead the people and were instead exploiting their flock for their own gain. In contrast, God Himself would be their shepherd:
Ezek. 34:11-16 For this is what the Lord God says: See, I Myself will search for My flock and look for them. As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day. I will bring them out from the peoples, gather them from the countries, and bring them into their own land. I will shepherd them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will tend them with good pasture, and their grazing place will be on Israel’s lofty mountains. There they will lie down in a good grazing place; they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will tend My flock and let them lie down.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.
Thus, God the shepherd would:
- seek after His wayward flock and lead them back to the land
- meet their needs
- heal the hurting, bring back the straying, and strengthen the weak
- judge them righteously
God really is a good shepherd. He knows where we are, finds us, draws us to Himself, cares for our every need, seeks the straying, and holds us accountable to right living.
Maybe you’re one of the hurting, straying, or weak; if so, know that the Shepherd wants to minister to you. Perhaps you’re a shepherd — a leader — among God’s people; if so, you know how God wants you to lead. As a leader in His church, I want to shepherd like He does. On this Lord’s day, would you pray that I would lead His people well?
Would you pray the same for your church’s shepherds?
PRAYER: “Father, thank You for the shepherds You give us. I pray for them today that they will model their shepherding after the way You shepherd. ”
TOMORROW¹S READING: Ezekiel 35-37