September 7 (Daily reading: Ezekiel 34-36) After receiving God’s words of judgment, how Ezekiel’s heart must have rejoiced when he heard Ezekiel 34:11-31. This chapter began with negative words against the unfaithful shepherds in Israel, but then God spoke of His relationship to Israel as the One True Shepherd! God had entrusted the leadership of Israel to kings and prophets, but they for the most part had failed. As a result, “(the sheep) were scattered for lack of a shepherd … My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them” (34:5-6).
Some in the church have a Spirit-given gift of shepherding the flock. But all of us should accept our responsibility of caring for one another: praying for, encouraging, looking after one another. If we are faithful shepherds in this sense, the entire flock (God’s children) will benefit!
After God’s bad news (the flock was scattered), He gave His good news: “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock, so I will look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered” (34:11-12, NIV). Then came the best news ever: “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God” (34:23-24). This is a reference to the Messiah. When He came in the person of Jesus, He said, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11). He had compassion on the crowds of people who were like “sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).
God’s promise to His people in Ezekiel’s day is our promise today: “I will put My Spirit within you…so you will be My people, and I will be your God” (36:27-28).
– Al Gary