10/02/S – The Good and Great Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:1-31; Hebrews 13:17-25; Psalms 113:1-9; Proverbs 24:15-16

OT: ““Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says to the shepherds: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed their flock? You eat the fat, wear the wool, and butcher the fattened animals, but you do not tend the flock. You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them. “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. As I live — this is the declaration of the Lord God  — because my flock, lacking a shepherd, has become prey and food for every wild animal, and because my shepherds do not search for my flock, and because the shepherds feed themselves rather than my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! “‘This is what the Lord God says: Look, I am against the shepherds. I will demand my flock from them and prevent them from shepherding the flock. The shepherds will no longer feed themselves, for I will rescue my flock from their mouths so that they will not be food for them… I will save my flock. They will no longer be prey, and I will judge between one sheep and another. I will establish over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will shepherd them. He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd. I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among them. I, the Lord, have spoken.” (‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34:2-10, 22-24‬ ‭CSB)

The shepherds of Israel that Ezekiel spoke to were not the literal shepherds in the land, but were the kings and leaders of Israel. The flock that Ezekiel referred to was Israel. The Lord God had charges against the leaders of Israel and He used Ezekiel to address them. The responsibility of shepherds is to care for, protect, lead and feed the flock they oversee. The leaders of Israel had completely failed in their responsibility. Instead of caring for their flock, they were abusing and exploiting it. They were, in a figurative sense, milking the sheep for food and drink, fleecing the sheep for wool clothing, and butchering the sheep for meat, but were doing noting to care for and protect the sheep. Where good shepherds lead their flock to green pastures and still waters, the leaders of Israel led their flock away from the life-giving sustenance of trust in the Lord and led them to worship lifeless idols. Where good shepherds are to tend to the sick and mend the wounds of the injured, the leaders of Israel butted the weak and needy out of the flock and left them for dead. Because of their complete lack of leadership, the flock of Israel was scattered throughout the nations of the world without any shepherd to guide them back to safety.

In response to the leaders’ abuse, exploitation, and complete dereliction of duties, the Lord said the He was against the shepherds – and that He Himself would rescue His flock and establish a Good Shepherd over them. In John 10:11-17, Jesus, the Son of David, declared that He was the Good Shepherd. He cares for the sheep and laid His life down for their sakes. Not only is He the Good Shepherd of the flock of Israel, He said that He also had other sheep (Gentile believers) from another pen that He would bring together into one flock under His Lordship and the Godship of the Father. Christ has laid down His life for the sheep and has saved them from the hand of the enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He has provided, through His death and resurrection, a way to life in abundance. Now, in this age, The Good Shepherd is gathering His flock and calling to all who will hear and listen to His voice and heed His call.

NT: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus — the great Shepherd of the sheep  — through the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with everything good to do his will, working in us what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:17, 20-21‬ ‭CSB)

While there are plenty of examples of bad leaders in the world, and unfortunately, in the church, there are also plenty of good leaders who (like Jesus) lay their lives down for their flock. Christ is, as the Lord spoke through Ezekiel, the One Shepherd of His flock. However, He has appointed under-shepherds to provide the leadership, care and feeding of His flock here on earth. Before Jesus ascended into heaven to rule with the Father, He charged Peter to shepherd and feed His flock (John 21:15-17). In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul explained that Christ has appointed some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints and build up the body of Christ. There are good leaders in the church who are submitted to the One Great Shepherd as they lead under His authority. We are charged to submit to them (just as we submit to Christ) so that they are able to care for us on behalf of Christ. And Christ Himself holds them directly accountable for how they handle their positions of leadership and authority. As we come under and submit to Christ’s structure of care and leadership, ultimately coming under and submitting to Him, we position ourselves to be equipped with everything we need to do His will and work in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Psalms: “Hallelujah! Give praise, servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be blessed both now and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, let the name of the Lord be praised.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭113:1-3‬ ‭CSB)

Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord!! Our God and our Lord Jesus Christ are worthy of our praise and honor. For all that He has done for us and the goodness that He constantly shows us, may we praise His name at sunup, sundown, and every time in between – now and forever. Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord!!

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are my Good and Great Shepherd. I thank You that You see to it that I am cared for, protected, fed and lead. I thank You for the godly leaders that You have placed me under, that have done much to grow me into a mature disciple. I thank You, that if I inadvertently come under bad leadership, You will still lead, protect, feed and care for me. At whatever level You call me to shepherd others, help me to shepherd them as You shepherd me. And help me, as I submit to You in faith, to also submit to those You have placed over me as we are all equipped to do Your will and see Your kingdom come. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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