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The
Good Shepherd


Ezekiel 34.11-16, 20-24


Good News Translation (GNT)


"I myself will look for my sheep"


11 "I, the Sovereign Lord,
    tell you that I myself
    will look for my sheep
    and take care of them
12 in the same way as
   shepherds take care of their sheep
   that were scattered
   and are brought together again.
   I will bring them back
   from all the places
   where they were scattered
   on that dark,
   disastrous day.
13 I will take them out of
   foreign countries,
   gather them together,
   and bring them back
   to their own land.
   I will lead them back to
   the mountains
   and the streams of
   Israel and will feed them
   in pleasant pastures.
14 I will let them graze
   in safety in the mountain meadows
   and the valleys
   and in all the green pastures
   of the land of Israel.
15 I myself
   will be the shepherd
   of my sheep,
   and I will find them
   a place to rest.
   I, the Sovereign Lord,
   have spoken.

16 "I will look for those
    that are lost,
    bring back those that wander off,
    bandage those that are hurt,
    and heal those that are sick;
    but those that are fat
    and strong I will destroy,
    because
    I am a shepherd
    who does what is right.
20 "So now, I,
    the Sovereign Lord,
    tell you that I will judge
    between you strong sheep
    and the weak sheep.
21 You pushed the sick ones
    aside and butted them
    away from the flock.
22 But I will rescue
   my sheep and not let them
   be mistreated any more.
   I will judge each
   of my sheep
   and separate the good from the bad.
23 I will give them
   a king
   like my servant David
   to be their one shepherd,
   and he will take care of them.
24 I, the Lord,
   will be their God,
   and a king like
   my servant David
   will be their ruler.
   I have spoken.



Taken from the 'word-on-the-web'
 supplied by Scripture Union


The people are in exile


'Shepherds with sheep'
is used as a frequent
image for the king
and his people
in the Old Testament
and on into the New.

It's not unusual
in the Old Testament
or in other ancient
Near Eastern writings
for rulers to be
described as shepherds.

The people are in exile,
scattered like sheep
a long way from home
and broken in spirit.

Exile is a continuing
theme throughout the Bible.
It is the punishment
that a just and holy God
uses to show people
that they are not worthy
to be in God's presence.

It is not a punishment
that God uses lightly.
God does not simply
abandon people to exile,
however.

The leaders in Israel
had missed what was
essential about being
a shepherd -
the care of the sheep.

God promises that he himself
will come and care for
the sheep.
He will strengthen the weak,
heal the sick,
bind up the crippled
and seek the lost (v 16).

Ezekiel's detail
is particularly profound
in its relation
to the messianic
ministry of Jesus,
the Good Shepherd.

Restoration of his remnant
in the land would lead
to restoration of the
exercise of true kingship -
by God directly:
'I myself,'
he declares.

And he will gather
sheep from many nations
into his one flock.

This is underlined
by the large number
of 'I will' actions
in this chapter.

What is striking
is the way in which
God rolls up his sleeves
and himself gets stuck in
as the shepherd of his flock.

His commitment is to
finding the strays,
rescuing the lost,
feeding and looking after
the whole flock and
giving special attention
to those that are
struggling or sick.

The tenderness
and love that runs
through these verses
is remarkable.

He then addresses
his sheep directly,
chastising some of them
for having made it difficult
for others in the flock
with too much pushing,
head butting and
muddying of the waters
(vs 18-21).

I will judge between
one sheep and another.
Some have grown fat
at the expense of others.

I will separate
the good from the bad.
The flock will no longer
be plundered.

Ezekiel 34 is the main
chapter in the
Hebrew Scriptures
devoted to the
image of the shepherd.

God will raise up a
shepherd who is
identified with
David who will care
for the people's needs.
(vs 23,24).

Thankfully,
he is God
and our Shepherd too.



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