A New Shepherd for
√ A new
In our last study Ezekiel was called once again to be a watchman for
To warn the people against wrong attitudes and thoughts toward God…
…let they harden their hearts and miss out on all the
blessings that God had planned for
In chapter 34 God lays the groundwork for the future blessings that He has in store for His people…
…and it begins with a change of leadership!
His plan is to replace the evil shepherds of
The reason for this change was that the civil and religious
The Good Shepherd revealed in this chapter is the Messiah whom we know to be our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ap. Good lesson for church leadership
We get to hear God’s heart about how He wants us, pastors and leaders, to care for His people the Church.
Sober warning because He is very serious about His sheep!
So, let’s learn how we can be good “under” shepherds over God’s flock.
The Evil Shepherds (vs. 1-10)
Ez. 34:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Ez. 34:2 “Son of
man, prophesy against the shepherds
Ez. 34:3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.
Ez. 34:4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.
Ez. 34:5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered.
Ez. 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
Ez. 34:7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
Ez. 34:8 “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”
Ez. 34:9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD!
Ez. 34:10 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”
√ The evil shepherds
Civil leaders ~ the king, princes, elders and judges
Religious leaders ~ the priests and the prophets
Their job was to protect the people of God and to care for their needs.
But, the leadership of
…they sought only to serve themselves.
So, God tells us that evil shepherds are those who…
Fleece the flock
Scatter the sheep
Let’s look briefly at their sin.
1) They fleeced the flock
In verses 1-3 God tells us that these false shepherds used their place of authority to prosper themselves at the expense of the flock.
They fed themselves at the expense of the people.
The clothed themselves at the expense of the people.
The symbolic picture is that these were shepherds who ate sheep, rather than feed them, shorn sheep, rather than caring for them.
The king, the priests, and the prophets, placed heavy financial burdens on the people so that they could live in luxury.
They viewed God’s people as a source of wealth…
…rather than a trust to be protected.
They forgot that these were not their sheep, they were God’s!
2) They scattered the flock
As a result of their mismanagement and abuse the people were scattered.
Pictured here are the 3 invasions of
With each invasion more and more of God’s people were displaced or killed.
At the time of Ezekiel’s writing the Jewish people were
The point is that the leadership in
Had they heeded the word of God and done as He commanded then they would have been strengthened to stand against their enemies.
But their continual sin weakened them, God removed His blessing, and ultimately brought judgment upon them scattering God’s people.
Ap. Evil shepherds in the Church
It’s an unfortunate truth that the Church also has it’s share of evil shepherds masquerading as pastors and leaders.
That’s not a new phenomena, rather, they’ve been with us since the Church began!
For example, we find the apostle Paul warning the leaders in
Acts 20:28 Therefore
take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has
made you overseers, to shepherd the
Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts 20:30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Paul description of these men he calls “wolves” echo’s God’s description of the evil shepherds in Ezekiel’s day…
Rather than feeding the flock, they eat the sheep.
Rather than protecting the flock, they scatter them by false teaching.
These men were those who wanted to lead the flock for their own benefit with no regard for the well being of God’s people.
Ex. They’re still with us today!
Just as in the 1st Century Church there are pastors and leaders today who use their positions of authority in the Church to…
Fleece God’s people of their money
Scatter God’s people by their false doctrines and misuse of authority.
Think about it, who benefits by the teaching of false doctrines such as the so-called “prosperity teaching”?
Who suffers as a result of believing the false teaching?
The end result is that today thousands of God’s people are scattered, lost and hopeless because they trusted a pastor who sold them a lie.
You can be sure that if God judged the evil shepherds in Ezekiel’s day that He will call the false shepherds today to account for their behavior.
So, if you believe you’re called to a place of leadership among God’s people…
…never forget that the sheep belong to Him and it’s your privilege to feed them good food and care for them with His love.
The Good Shepherd (vs.11-16)
Ez. 34:11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
Ez. 34:12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.
Ez. 34:13 And I
will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and
will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of
Ez. 34:14 I will feed them in good pasture,
and their fold shall be on the high mountains of
Ez. 34:15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD.
Ez. 34:16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”
√ The Good Shepherd
Finally ~ we start getting into the good stuff!
Beginning with vs. 11 God begins to lay out His plans for the Jewish people.
Plans of restoration and renewal for the nation and the individual Jewish people.
Note that God begins by saying…
“For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.”
God identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd!
That is, in the future God will not delegate the duty of Shepherding His flock to a man…
…rather He will take the responsibility for feeding and caring for His people upon Himself!
This of course is speaking of the future time of blessing
√ Seeks for the lost sheep
The Good Shepherd is characterized by His concern for the lost sheep of
Seek the scattered sheep and bring them back into the fold.
Feed them with the best of food.
Protect them from evil shepherds and wild animals.
He will give them a peaceful place to rest.
That ought to sound very familiar to us because that’s the way in which David described his Good Shepherd…
…the same Lord God who promises here to do for all of
Ap. The Good Shepherd
Did you notice who it is in these verses that is described as the Good Shepherd?
“The Lord, GOD” ~ vs. 11
“The Lord, GOD” ~ vs. 15
The Hebrew words here are…
“Lord” = adonay
“GOD” = YHWH (the personal name of God)
That’s significant because the word translated “GOD” is used always of the Father.
So, here in verses 11-17 we find God the Father describing Himself as the Good Shepherd.
The same title and duty that Jesus, the Son of God, claimed for Himself!
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” ~ John 10:11
In fact, read the whole chapter and you’ll find that Jesus describes Himself and His conduct without apology as the fulfillment of this prophecy in Ezekiel 34!
The point is that Jesus is clearly identifying Himself not just as the “Good Shepherd”…
…but also as God, the One who made the promise back in Ezekiel!
Jesus is God and He came to this earth to seek and to save the lost.
The lost sheep of Israel ~ John 10:11
The lost sheep of all the rest of the world ~ John 10:16
He brings them into the fold by faith in Him.
When He returns to the earth to establish His Kingdom then all His sheep, Jew and Gentile…
…will enjoy the personal care of the Good Shepherd.
Separating the Sheep (vs.17-24)
Ez. 34:17 “And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.
Ez. 34:18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet?
Ez. 34:19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”
Ez. 34:20 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them: ‘Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.
Ez. 34:21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad,
Ez. 34:22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
Ez. 34:23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.
Ez. 34:24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.
√ Separating the sheep
After rescuing the lost sheep and bringing them home to their pasture the next duty of the Good Shepherd will be to separate the flock.
Dividing the good sheep from the wicked sheep.
Jesus spoke of this future time as recorded in Matthew 25:31-46, it’s the time when He will separate the righteous from the unrighteous.
The time in focus is the end of the Great Tribulation after Jesus has defeated the Antichrist and his followers.
All the people will be gathered together and judged by Jesus.
The righteous will enter into the Kingdom and the unrighteous will be sent away.
We understand from the parable of Jesus that the righteous are those who have trusted in Him…
…and the unrighteous are those who have not.
The interesting bit of information that we pick up here in this passage is how it is that the sheep will be distinguished one from another.
The bad sheep act just like their “shepherds” the evil leaders of Israel, they…
Eat up the food of the good sheep ~ vs. 18
Dirty the water so the others can’t drink ~ vs. 18
Scatter the good sheep by pushing them away ~ vs. 21
That is, by their behavior the Lord is able to judge that they are not His sheep because they don’t reflect His character!
√ One Shepherd
God identifies the shepherd in the Kingdom Age as David…
Ez. 34:23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.
At first pass most would presume that this is a reference to Jesus because He is…
The Good Shepherd
By human lineage a descendant of David
So it makes sense to interpret this passage as a reference to Christ.
However, it may be better to interpret this passage as a reference to the resurrected king David who will return in glory with Jesus at the end of the Tribulation.
√ Evidence for David
Firstly the text here names the prince-shepherd as “David”…
So why force it to mean “Jesus”?
Second, there are many scriptures that speak of the literal David as a ruler in the future Kingdom age…
Jer. 30:9 But they shall serve the LORD their God,
And David their king,
Whom I will raise up for them.
Hos. 3:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.
And in Ezekiel we find that David the “prince” will over sacrifice for “his sin” as a memorial in the Millennial Temple…
Ezek. 45:22 And on that day the prince shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.
Clearly that can’t be Jesus because He is sinless!
So, it seems best to interpret the David named here as the literal king David the giant killer!
Think of it this way, Jesus is the “King of kings”, David is one of the kings over whom Jesus will rule in the Millennial Kingdom.
One Flock (vs. 25-31)
Ez. 34:25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.
Ez. 34:26 I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.
Ez. 34:27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
Ez. 34:28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid.
Ez. 34:29 I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore.
Ez. 34:30 Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord GOD.’ ”
Ez. 34:31 “You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord GOD.
√ One flock
In this closing section the Lord describes what it will be like to live in Israel under the care and protection of God the Good Shepherd.
They will live in peace and prosperity.
They will no longer fear wild animals or any man.
The sky will give rain in season.
The ground will produce grain and fruit.
The peace that Israel had always desired but not experienced since the time of Solomon would finally and perfectly be theirs during the Millennial Kingdom.
Ap. Relationship brings blessing
While Israel and the Jewish people are in view in these chapters the blessings described are available to anyone who puts their trust in God.
Through faith in Jesus Christ people of every tribe, tongue and people can become sheep in the Good Shepherd’s flock.
Jesus hints at that truth John 10:16 where He tells His disciples…
:And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
The promises of the future Kingdom of God on earth belong to all of us who have put our faith in Jesus.
√ A new shepherd for Israel
God has promised so many awesome blessings to us, some we will experience here…
…others we’ll not experience fully until we’re living in the Kingdom of God.
Everyone’s welcome to enjoy the future blessings of the Kingdom.
But like the Jewish people that Ezekiel was speaking to we have make sure that we don’t harden our hearts to His voice and thereby miss out on His promises.
Our hearts can be hardened through disappointments, hard times, and wrong choices.
Guard your attitude and let the Holy Spirit help you to see life’s struggles through His perspective so that you don’t harden your heart toward the Lord.