Scripture reading – Ezekiel 34

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Ezekiel 33 reminded the prophet Ezekiel of the essential role of spiritual watchmen as they minister to the people and the nation. The LORD first came to him when he was a young man and called him to serve as a prophet to the captives of Israel living in Babylon (Ezekiel 1-3). Declaring Ezekiel was His “watchman unto the house of Israel,” the LORD put His Word in the prophet’s mouth. He commanded him, “Give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3:17). The backdrop for today’s Bible study is the role and culpability of spiritual watchmen (Ezekiel 33:3-6).


Ezekiel 34


In Ezekiel 34, the LORD commanded Jeremiah to confront the “shepherds of Israel” and prophesy against them (Ezekiel 34:2). Prior studies have stated that the shepherds of Israel were not only the spiritual leaders (i.e., priests and prophets) but also the political leaders (the kings and their administrators). Therefore, when Ezekiel was commanded to “prophesy against the shepherds of Israel” (Ezekiel 34:2), it was a discourse directed at the nation’s spiritual and political leaders. Ezekiel was commanded to indict the “shepherds” for their failure.

The Failures of Unfaithful Leaders

The Failures of Unfaithful Leaders (i.e., shepherds, Ezekiel 34:1-10)

We read, “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:2) The duty of leaders was to serve and be a blessing to those entrusted to their charge. Israel’s leaders, however, were the epitome of self-centeredness, and they placed their interests before that of the people. They enjoyed the best of everything, while the “flock” (i.e., the people) went wanting (Ezekiel 34:3). They neglected the weak among them (the diseased, sick, and broken) and were cruel and ruled by force (Ezekiel 34:4).

Focusing on themselves and neglecting the people, the wicked shepherds of Israel left the people to wander. They became prey for predators (i.e., evil men and nations, Ezekiel 34:5). With a broken heart, the LORD observed: “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (Ezekiel 34:6).

Acting as Prosecutor (Ezekiel 34:7-9) and Judge, the LORD declared, “Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:10)


The LORD’s Promise of Unfailing Love (Ezekiel 34:11-16)

Reminiscent of Christ’s revelation that He is the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:7-18), the LORD declared, “Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day” (Ezekiel 34:11-12).

The LORD promised that He would “gather [Israel] from the countries” with the promise to restore them “to their own land” (Ezekiel 34:13). Though the people had been neglected and wandered without shepherds, the LORD promised He would “feed them in a good pasture…they shall lie in a good fold” (Ezekiel 34:13-14). He promised to “feed” His flock and “seek that which was lost” (Ezekiel 34:16a). He would “bind up that which was broken” and “strengthen that which was sick” (Ezekiel 34:16b).


The LORD’s Promise of Justice (Ezekiel 34:17-22) 

While the LORD promised to show love and compassion for the victims of neglectful shepherds, He warned the failed shepherds that He would “judge between cattle and cattle” (Ezekiel 34:17). Israel and Judah’s wicked leaders had taken the best for themselves (i.e., “eaten up the good pasture,” Ezekiel 34:18) and left the people with what was spoiled and destroyed (Ezekiel 34:18-19).

Therefore, the LORD promised to “judge” those evil shepherds and remember the sins they committed against His people (Ezekiel 34:20-21). He would save His people, “and they shall no more be a prey” (Ezekiel 34:22).

The LORD’s Promise of a Shepherd Like None Other

The LORD’s Promise of a Shepherd Like None Other (Ezekiel 34:23-31)

Despite the dire state of the children of Israel, the LORD comforted Ezekiel. He assured the prophet that He would send a loving shepherd whom He identified as “my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezekiel 34:23-24).

Who was this loving shepherd-king identified as “my servant David a prince”? (Ezekiel 34:24) He is the LORD Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God (John 10:11-18; 1 Peter 2:24-25).


Closing thoughts  

What comfort might Ezekiel have taken from the LORD’s promises? After all, Jerusalem was destroyed, and Judah was a desolate land. The people of the captivity not only refused to repent and turn to the LORD, they persecuted His prophet.

Yet, though his people rejected him, Ezekiel was assured the time would come, and “lo, it will come,” when the people would know and remember, “a prophet hath been among them” (Ezekiel 33:33). 

May we all aspire to be faithful men and women who speak God’s Truth!

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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