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Chapter 34

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Shepherds And Sheep (ch. 34:1 - 31)        


The Word of the Lord that Ezekiel is to prophesy as seen in verse 1 is directed to the "shepherds of Israel".  These are the leaders of Israel, those who were to care for God's people.  Note the word "against" in verse 1.  This is not a pleasant prophecy. 


Verse 2 says, "wow to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves".  I'm sure you can remember Jesus saying pretty much the same thing to the Jewish leaders of His day when He was on earth.  Those who God has put in charge of His people are to be His servants and they are to serve His people. Taking care of one's self and becoming rich at being a shepherd is not thought well of by God.  I see too much of the same thing in the church today.  Christian pastors are to serve God's people.  They aren't pastors in order to maintain a wealthy life style 


You can see the duties of a shepherd of God by reading what these shepherds haven't done.  In verse 3 the leaders eat good food and wear fine clothes while the people are poor.  I know of poor people in churches today that can't be looked after properly because of high salaries of pastors and building expenses.  I don't believe this is right.  A shepherd, a pastor, is to give to his flock, even if he has to take from himself to give.


In verse 4 the shepherds haven't taken care of the weak, injured, and sick. That tells us that taking care of such people is the duties of the shepherds.  Also in verse 4 we see that shepherds are to seek out the lost sheep.  In most churches today, the lost sheep go forgotten.  These shepherds treated their people brutally.  Jesus said the Gentile leaders lord it over their people.  It appears that these Jewish leaders were doing the same.  Jesus also said that this should not be the case in the Kingdom of God.  The motivating factor of anything that is done in the local assembly of God's people should be love.  That's it.


Verse 5 tells us what happens to God's people when God's shepherds fail to do their jobs.  The sheep get scattered here there and everywhere.  And really, this verse is prophetic.  Jesus said that He came for the lost sheep of Israel.  The problem is that the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day on earth were the same kind of shepherds that are mentioned here.  When Jesus was on earth the sheep of Israel were spiritually lost.  After 70 A. D. and the invasion of Jerusalem by the Roman army, they were literally lost throughout the nations of the world. 


Verse 6 paints a sad picture.  God's sheep are scattered all over the place and absolutely no one went looking for them.  Those who were called to look for them were too busy with their own lives and profiting from their place in leadership.  The Jewish leaders in the days when Jesus was on earth made a very good living at being leaders.  They were the most wealthiest Jews in Jewish society. 


As a parallel in the church today, I think it is very important to pray for, seek out, and speak to, those Christians who have backslidden away from the Lord.   It is the very nature of Jesus to do such a thing.  


Verse 7 and following tells us how God responds to these bad shepherds. Verse 10 states that God is "against" these shepherds.  He is not on their side.  He will appose them on all fronts.  That's what "against" means.  God also says that He will hold these shepherds "accountable".  They will be judged for their failure to care for the sheep, resulting in the destruction of the sheep. 


Also in verse 10 God says that He will remove them from being shepherds. He has often done this throughout Jewish history.  I believe God has, is, and will, do the same in the Christian church.  Even today, as many churches decrease in numbers due to the failure to obey the Bible mandates, leaders lose their jobs because the church loses its people.


Verse 10 closes with God saying "I will rescue" my flock.  I tend to see this taking place at the end of this age when Jesus returns, and He alone will gather the lost sheep of Israel, and He alone will be their shepherd.  John 10 clearly states that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd.  He is the Shepherd over all other shepherds.   



Verses 11 to 16 state that God will search for the lost sheep of Israel.  He will bring them out of every nation they have been scattered to.  He will bring them back to their land, and He Himself will care for them, giving them all they need and more.  Clearly, this is the state of Israel when Jesus returns to earth.  This has not yet ever taken place in Israel's history.  It is yet to come.


You might remember Jesus saying that He has other sheep.  I believe these are Gentile sheep  As Jesus gathers the lost sheep of Israel together, He will do the same with the lost Gentile sheep.  In verses 17 through 19 God turns from speaking to the shepherds of Israel to the sheep themselves.  He says that He will judge between one sheep and another.  The picture that God paints in this passage is that not all the sheep of Israel are good sheep.  Some don't treat their fellow sheep with loving care.  These bad sheep will be judged accordingly.  So there will be a separating of the sheep from the goats in Israel. 


Verses 20 to 25 speak of two types of sheep.  There are the fat sheep and the thin sheep.  The fat sheep are like the shepherds in the beginning of this chapter.  They have taken care of themselves at the neglect of the poor people among them.  God is far from happy with this.  He will judge the fat sheep accordingly.  With the Christian church today, it's not only our mandate to preach the gospel, but also to feed the poor.


Note verse 23.  God says that eventually He will place one shepherd over Israel.  He is God's "servant David".  Some people believe this is literally David.  I don't.  I believe the David spoken of here is Jesus.  Jesus is often linked to the lineage of David throughout the Bible.  At the end of this age, Israel will have one shepherd, and He will be Jesus.  As Joshua was symbolic of Jesus, so is David.   Verse 24 declares David, or, Jesus to be "prince among them".  This simply means that Jesus will be Lord among and over Israel.


Verse 25 states that God will make a covenant of peace with these sheep and He will rid the land of the wild beasts that have been destroying the flock.  This tells us that when Jesus returns to rule from Jerusalem , He will make a covenant of peace with Israel, and this covenant of peace will take and will last.  This covenant of peace is in direct opposition to the covenant of peace that the anti-christ will make with Israel but will be broken.


Ridding the land of the wild beasts means that God will destroy the enemies of Israel that are presently in their land causing them all sorts of problems.  This is truly the fate of Israel at the end of this age.  This is also relevant to today's Israel.  If we are close to the end of this age as I type these words in 2011, which I think we are, then Israel's enemies who are presently in the land are groups such as Hamas, and other Palestinian extremists.  


You see the blessings of God towards Israel in verse 26 and 27.  The land will flourish, producing good fruit.  They will "be secure in the land' something they aren't now.  They're always on the watch for their enemies.  And, most of all, in that day, Israel will know their God.  How great that will be.  The same is stated in verse 28.  "They will no longer be plundered by the nations  Israel has and is constantly in fear of this plundering.  As I speak, they are in fear of Iran, and now here in early 2011, all the nations surrounding Israel are causing Israel to fear.  That being said, the Bible says that all the nations of the world will sooner or later oppose Israel.  God will fight against them on behalf of His people.


The rest of this chapter continues to state the good things the Lord God will do for Israel.  In the end, Israel will know their God.  He will be their God and they will be His people.  It is my opinion, that even on the new earth, after the thousand year rule of Christ, there will still be a distinction between Israel and the nations.  If you read the last two chapters of the book of Revelation you will see that there are still nations in the world.  We're not all one big happy nation.  There will still be nations, and there will still be Israel.

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