Passages that stuck out to me in today’s reading of Ezekiel 34 in The One Year Chronological Bible (NIV).
The title of this section is Israel is God’s Flock, and it is God speaking through Ezekiel to tell the religious leaders in Israel that He is upset with the way they have abused their positions and power for their own gain while ignoring the cries of His people and their needs. This passage is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ words identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd and His parable of the Lost Sheep, which told of the shepherd leaving the 99 to search for the one sheep that was lost. This passage specifically speaks about the children of Israel, but when looking at it through the lens of Jesus as the Good Shepherd for all people, we clearly see God’s heart for all His lost children and how seriously He is offended by the “religious” who only look out for themselves and do not reach out to help bring the lost back at all costs.
Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. (v. 2b-7)
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for My flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. 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. (v. 10-12)
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. (v. 15-16)
I will place over them one Shepherd, my servant David, and He will tend them; He will tend them and be their Shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and My servant David will be Prince among them. I the LORD have spoken. (v. 23-24)
You My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD. (v. 31)