Ezekiel 34-36 I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them

From Ezekiel 34-36

26 Ezekiel Scroll fed thumb Ezekiel directed a good amount of his criticism at the leaders of Israel. They bore the greatest amount of responsibility for the state of the nation. Kings were meant to lead the people. The LORD says I will rescue my sheep from their mouths.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

In today’s passage Ezekiel likens Israel to sheep, and their leaders as shepherds.

26 sheep flock34 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds,

Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.

4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. (Eze 34.1-6)

The shepherds have been feeding themselves. Ezekiel lists a number of functions of shepherds;

  • strengthen the weak
  • heal the sick and injured, and
  • seek the lost.

What other functions do shepherds have over their flock? Is this a good list?

Instead they have ruled over the people harshly and with force and the people were scattered. Who would want leaders over them like this?

7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:

8 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,

9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves.

I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. (Eze 34.7-10)

The LORD issues a judgment on the selfish shepherds for neglecting their duty to care for their flocks. They have been feeding off the people, devouring their resources. The LORD promises to put a stop to them. Their rule will end.

When the LORD comes he will rescue the sheep from the shepherds and take care of his sheep himself.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Israel’s kings are its shepherds, they have failed in their leadership, and they are to be dismissed (34:1–10). In the Middle East kings were regularly pictured as shepherds of their people. In a traditional society it is not a romantic image. Shepherding is a familiar, everyday, straightforward, tough, stressful occupation like engineering, farming, or mining. Its demands and dangers are implicit in the description of what the shepherds have failed to do: for example, wandering over miles of hostile desert terrain looking for sheep, or protecting them from the attacks of wolves or lions. Its temptations are also implicit in this description: for example, sheep stealing or failing to care for ailing sheep. … In the Old Testament it applies more directly to leadership in society. 

Like any job, shepherding combined service with reward. Ezekiel’s problem is that these have become out of balance. Israel’s shepherds consider only what they get out of the job, not doing the job for the sake of the people.” (p655, Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible)

Story of Jesus

The LORD does come and rescue his people from the self serving leaders of Israel’s society. He comes in the person of Jesus.

Lexham Press, 2009. Logos Bible Software Infographics, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Lexham Press, 2009. Logos Bible Software Infographics, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (Jn 10.7-16)

Jesus announces his coming as the good shepherd. In light of the Ezekiel promise his announcement carries with it the strong implication Jesus is God.

Jesus also anticipates his life giving rescue which he will effect on the cross. Jesus died to save his sheep. He is indeed the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

Jesus is the true king and shepherd who will rescue his people and take care of them as his love demands.

Is Jesus your shepherd? How has he cared for you?

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.