Thursday, April 21, 2016

God the Good Shepherd (Bad News for Corrupt Religious Leaders) Ezekiel 34:11-16

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather then from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land… I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice
(Ezekiel 34:11-13, 15-16, NIV).

It’s always hurtful when religious leaders let us down. It happens all the time – it’s nothing new. The Bible is full of religious leaders who didn’t take care of their flocks (the people), from Eli and his sons to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. Above, the prophet Ezekiel offered up a special message to religious pretenders – and to the people who have been hurt by them.

Israel’s shepherd had failed them. The priests had not only didn’t kept them from troubles, they had spurred them toward it. Some corrupted their worship with idolatry. Others served only for money, and looked for opportunities to cheat the people.

Only in the text quoted above, God already said “I will” ten times. There are more. God promised to destroy “the fat and the strong” (34:16, NKJV) – to feed them with justice. But the other side of that promise was a promise to the sheep who had been left to fend for themselves. God promised to be the Good Shepherd: He would seek out those who had been scattered for want of a shepherd’s care.

Ultimately, God is our Shepherd, not our human leaders. Our hope is that our leaders will serve us well, but whether they do or they don’t, God is our Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. Remember what the Lord Jesus said when He declared: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 14-15). He is indeed the Good Shepherd. Amen!


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