Ezekiel and the Good Shepherd
When we lived in Lancashire, England in the 1970’s, Timothy once had the opportunity to help a farmer-friend dip sheep. It’s necessary to dip sheep in a bath of a disinfectant-type solution every year in order to kill germs and bacteria that may be harbored in the thick wool of the animal. But the sheep hate it! On this particular occasion, it was Timothy’s job to grasp the sheep’s wool and basically drag him into the bath. Another person forced the head down so that the total body was submerged. Not a fun or easy experience for either the sheep or the shepherd—nevertheless, a necessary one!
This morning we considered the shepherds of Israel that Ezekiel talks about in chapter 34. These included the prophets, priests, and kings that had misguided the people of God for many years. They cared primarily for themselves and had little time or interest for their flock—for the weak and injured or for the strays. Ezekiel quotes God as saying:
- “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” (Ezekiel 34:6 NIV).
So God intervened. He removed the prophets, priests, and kings from power and instead established himself as their shepherd. Here is a beautiful passage to consider:
- “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.” (Ezek 34:15-16 NIV)
- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NIV).
Jesus exemplifies all the qualities of the good shepherd: he cares, he protects, he guides, and he sustains. We, as the sheep of his pasture, need only rest in the knowledge that he is with us always and cares more for us than for himself. Sometimes it may be necessary that we be dunked in disinfectant to protect us from unknown evils, but we are not to fear for the Good Shepherd is in control.