Ezekiel 34:2b–6, 11–16, 22–24 comment (0)
July 3, 2014
By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: Ezekiel 34:2b–6, 11–16, 22–24
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Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
HOPE OF NEW FREEDOM
Ezekiel 34:2b–6, 11–16, 22–24
Eleven score and eighteen years ago “our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty” (Gettysburg Address). Religious liberty and freedom from political and economic tyranny were the goal of colonists. Some simply wanted to be left alone so they could worship God according to their understanding of Scripture. Others were men who would rather die at the hands of the world’s most powerful military than surrender their freedoms to a distant and out-of-touch monarch. All of them desired to be free. Their perceptions of freedom were sometimes vastly different.
Our study passage this week is the first in a new unit concentrating on hope in Christ. We have confident assurance in our freedom in Christ. We have the hope of new life in Christ, as we walk with Him every day. We have hope in new worship, as we learn to worship Him in spirit and in truth. The reason for our hope is that Jesus is our Ransom, our Remedy, our Redeemer and our Rescuer.
Why is Rescue Required? (2b–6)
Sheep are helpless alone against predators; they need a shepherd. They have no claws, no fangs and no defensive coverings. Throughout Scripture, the people of God are referred to metaphorically as sheep. “Shepherds” here is a term denoting priests and prophets who are entrusted with the spiritual watch care over God’s sheep.
Our prophet declares the divine message: Judah’s shepherds have failed at their task. Rather than feeding the flock, they have gorged themselves. Like a hireling using the sheep simply for his own benefit, these spiritual leaders have neglected to care for their charges. God’s people are sick, broken and helpless due to the apathy of the shepherds.
What Does Rescue Involve? (11–16)
Yahweh intends to find His flock, gather His flock, tend His flock and protect them. In the darkness of their sin, God’s people have been scattered among the nations. He will bring His people back to the Promised Land. Peace and rest will be theirs as He leads them. The injured will be cared for, the lost will be found, the weak will be strengthened and the abusive will be judged.
God’s righteous judgment will rest upon shepherds, but it also will separate the strong from the weak. Yahweh speaks of rescuing the helpless lambs from the butting of the rams, elders who have abused their status for personal gain. Rescue includes liberty for the oppressed and limits for the oppressors.
Who Provides Rescue? (22–24)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, laying down His life, taking it up again and calling His sheep by name (John 10:1–30). He is the prophesied “servant David” of this passage (34:23), heir to the Davidic throne (Matt. 1:1–17) and the promised King of the everlasting kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 9:6–7). The Messiah invites the broken to come to Him for healing and deliverance (Matt. 11:28; Luke 4:18–19).
Jesus is the Great Shepherd, fulfilling the role David describes in Psalm 23. As the Bread of Life, He feeds us. As the source of living water, He quenches our thirst. As the One who invites us to Himself, He offers us rest. As the Way, He is our righteous path. Jesus is the Great Shepherd.
Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, according to the apostle Peter (1 Pet. 5:4). Unlike the under-shepherds who lead our local congregations, the Chief Shepherd never fails to lead, feed and nurture His flock. He fulfills the Father’s will completely, and He entrusts and enables others to care for His people.
Who provides rescue? His servant David rescues the flock. Jesus is the promised David — our Good Shepherd, our Great Shepherd and our Chief Shepherd.