“For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.”
— Ezekiel 34:11 (NRSV)
Having opened the chapter with a scathing attack on Israel’s false shepherds, those who have led the flock astray, Ezekiel prophesies about the True Shepherd.
Oh, how it is that we are pursued by the love of God from that day, and beforehand, until this one, and in all chronological directions, eternally.
God, the True Shepherd, seeks out his sheep. And we may proudly declare we are not sheep; that we are more worthy than sheep. But in truth, we are more sheeplike, and God more our Divine Shepherd, than we could ever vindicate in the reality of our thoughts.
The nature of God’s shepherding work is comprehensive as it is perfect.
The Character of the Shepherd
Sheep are easily scattered, and so it is for the Shepherd to draw back all his sheep into the flock.
While it is our character to scatter away from the Lord, to leave Divine Presence, it is just the same character of the Shepherd to draw us back, close to him. This occurs via the circumstances of our lives. We may wonder about loss, hardship, pain, and every sense of cursing—these are designed, if nothing else, as a barb to cause us to return. Danger is the prod back to God.
God is drawing us away from danger from wolves as we return to the flock—the church. We are given our own lands, the church, having been drawn. The moral safety of church is the Divine destination—despite many attacks from the wolves both from within and from without the church.
In church we are fed in good pasture; the mountain heights of Israel. God’s preaching from the pulpit, caring fellowship-of-the-flock within small groups, ministry within the needs of love by the Shepherd’s crook; by all these and more we are fed, nourished, and cared for as we care in the name of the Lord.
The True Shepherd makes his sheep lie down and rest, having grazed the pasture.
Our Divine Shepherd seeks the lost, brings back the strays, binds up the injured, strengthens the weak, but also condemns the fat and the strong, which are fed Divine justice!
The True Shepherd covenants a bridle of promises that protect the flock in every way from danger. It is a covenant of peace, beyond threat of wild animals that would otherwise freely devour parts of the flock. The True Shepherd is a Divine Protector.
The True Shepherd discerns between the fat sheep and the lean sheep; he sorts out the true sheep from the sheep dressed up from a wolves’ origin.
God has promised to save his flock, the true sheep of his pasture, from the wolves of a dangerous life. We shall no longer be ravaged as God judges the wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing; the False Shepherds of Israel.
The Shepherd of Israel is seeking us, today, eternally, drawing us back into his Divine sheep fold. The True Shepherd of Israel is our Gatherer, our Protector, our Provider, our Rest, our Healer, our Very Present Help in time of need, and our Saviour.© 2013 S. J. Wickham.