“As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so I shall seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they are scattered in a day of cloud and thick darkness.” Yehezqel 34:12 ISR
Seek out – Watch out! God is after you! The Great Hunter is the Good Shepherd. He will never let up until you are within the fold.
Do you ever have those days when you feel like God must have decided you are no longer welcome, no longer needed, too much a mess to do anything with? Have you ever felt like your living in the thirteen years of silence that Abraham experienced? Do you need some reassurance that God hasn’t gone off to take care of someone else? Let the words of the Lord to Ezekiel comfort you. God will never give up on you! You might close the door for good, but it won’t be because He stepped away. As long as you have breath, God pursues.
Yeshua uses these words from Yehezqel when He speaks of Himself and the Good Shepherd. No one hearing His comparison could have missed the point. Yeshua was claiming to take the role that the prophet declared belonged to YHWH. If we want to really understand the imagery as it would have been understood by Yeshua’s first audience, we need to know what YHWH said through Ezekiel.
Ezekiel’s prophecy is first an indictment of the current religious leaders of Israel. They have taken care of themselves but failed to care for the flock. Specifically, they have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, fetched the strays, sought the lost. Now God is going to remove them from their role and replace them with Himself. He will do what they should have done. God will rescue the people, bring them back from their scattering and care for them in His land. “I myself will tend my flock, and I myself will let them lie down” (verse 15). It couldn’t be clearer. The Good Shepherd is God. Do you think that anyone who heard Yeshua on that day didn’t draw the same conclusion that we draw now? Yeshua claims to be the One true God of Israel, the One who will bring back the scattered and lost.
Ah, but wait just a minute. Who is He (YHWH or Yeshua) bringing back? Who is He rescuing from the hand of the religious rulers? The children of Israel, that’s who! There is nothing in this imagery that allows us to think that either Ezekiel or Yeshua were talking about pagans, the Gentiles or those outside the tribes of Israel. The ones He is gathering are not the ones who raised a hand at a crusade or went forward for an altar call. He is bringing Israel back. The failure is not Israel’s failure. The failure belongs to the leaders of Israel. Israel as a people is going to experience the shepherding of God Himself. Israel is the center of this picture. The Gentiles are nowhere in sight. The Good Shepherd is the good shepherd of Israel, not of everyone, and if you want to experience the gathering you will have to be part of Israel.
Topical Index: Israel, shepherd, seek, John 10:14, Ezekiel 34:12