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Now in chapter 34, God speaks out against those faithless shepherds of Israel. Those men that were the spiritual leaders, those men to whom the people looked for spiritual guidance, who had left the real concept of the ministry. The Lord said to His disciples, "The heathen or the Gentiles do love to exercise lordship over each other, but it shall not be so among you. For whosoever would be chief among you, let him become the servant of all" ( Mark 10:42-44 ). You remember how when Jesus took a towel and washed His disciples' feet and then He said unto them, "You see what I have done. Now if I being your Lord am a servant, then you also should be servants." And Christ taught the servanthood of the ministry, and that's actually what the word minister means-a servant. And God intends that those who are the ministers are really the servants to the body of Christ, not lords over the body of Christ. But the servants to the body of Christ. But it is easy to get an attitude of lordship or superiority and start abusing your position and seek to exercise lordship over the people rather than to continue in that attitude of servant. Now whenever you do turn and get this lording attitude, and you begin to look at the... you begin to get greedy, really, for gain, for fancy homes and cars, and things of this nature. Then you begin to misuse that position that God has placed you in.
So the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel ( Ezekiel 34:1-2 )
Now whenever God says, "Woe," look out, because you're in trouble.
Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should they not be feeding the flock of God? ( Ezekiel 34:2 )
Men who are using the ministry for their own gain, rather than using the place of a minister to bring gain to the people. It is sad, but it is true that there are many men in the ministry today who are only fulfilling a psychological need in their own lives. They're not really called of God, and do not really have the true aspect of the ministry at heart. Woe unto those shepherds who use the ministry as a means of just feeding themselves, enriching themselves. "Should you not be feeding the flock?"
You eat the fat, you clothe yourself with wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock ( Ezekiel 34:3 ).
Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My flock" ( John 21:15 ). Peter later writing to the elders in the church said, "Feed the flock of God which is among you" ( 1 Peter 5:2 ). The most important need in the church today is that the people be fed. "Feed the flock of God"-the commission of Jesus unto Peter.
Now the shepherds are further indicted by God because they...
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty you've ruled over them ( Ezekiel 34:4 ).
They were lording over the flock of God. They weren't caring for those that were weak or sick or broken or lost. But they had misused the position, and as the result,
[The sheep have been] scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became a prey to all of the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 34:5-8 ),
And, again, when God begins to speak like this, you know that it's powerful. "As I live," more or less swearing by Himself because He can swear no higher. "As I live, saith the Lord God,"
surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them ( Ezekiel 34:8-10 ).
The whole religious system, the priesthood and all, was to be abolished. It's interesting, it has been abolished. And abolished because they were feeding themselves rather than the flock of God. Of course, in their history we find how it happened the sons of Eli, you remember, these evil boys. How that when people would bring their offering to the Lord, they'd take their meat hooks in and grab the best part of the meat. Anybody would object, they'd beat them up. Causing people to resent their worship of God by the greedy attitude of these men who were supposed to be God's representatives. Priests standing before God for the people, and yet, so misrepresenting God when they were standing before the people for God. And so God speaks about putting away this whole corrupted system. "They're not gonna feed off My flock anymore. My flock won't be meat to them any longer."
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and I will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all of the places that they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day ( Ezekiel 34:11-12 ).
Here God says, "I will take up the job of the shepherd. I will seek out these sheep that are lost and scattered." Aren't you glad that the Lord is our shepherd? And that He has sought us out, scattered and bruised He found us, and He drew us into His fold, and He put His arms around us and said, "Hey, I love you. You're My sheep; you're My people." Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. I lay down My life for the sheep" ( John 10:11 ). The sheep know the shepherd's voice and they do follow him. And you who have heard the call of the Lord, you're part of His flock. You're following Jesus Christ. It's beautiful.
And I will bring them out from the people, I will gather them from the countries, I will bring them into their own land ( Ezekiel 34:13 ),
And, of course, this is a prophecy concerning the nation Israel, but it does have also personal application, as far as that relationship of God to His people, Christ to His church. But this basically is a prophecy of Israel, the prophecy of the scattering of Israel. The scattering of Israel was precipitated by their crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which was the result of the conspiracy of the spiritual leaders of that day. Those spiritual leaders had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and they had conspired to put Him to death, because all of the common people were hearing Him gladly. And they said, "What are we going to do? If all of the people turn to Him then we're going to lose our jobs. We're going to lose all of this loot that we've been making off the people. The Romans may even come and take away our position. We've got to put Him to death." And the high priest said, "Don't you realize it's expedient that one man should die for the whole nation?" How little did he know what he was saying.
Now, because of these shepherds, false shepherds, who were guilty of greed, who scattered the flock, Jesus speaks of His gathering together that flock. And this we get into, of course, the prophecy and we see it being fulfilled today as God is drawing the Jews back into the land and is preparing to do a work among them there.
I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, I will bring them into their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all of the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: and there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture and they shall feed upon the mountains of Israel. And I will feed my flock ( Ezekiel 34:13-15 ),
Remember that beautiful prophecy concerning Jesus, "He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He shall gather the young in His arms," and so forth, "and carry them in His bosom. And gently lead those that are with young" ( Isaiah 40:11 ). Beautiful prophecy. "I will feed my flock."
I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and I will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; and I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O my flock, saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but you have to foul up the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which you have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with the side and with the shoulder, and you've pushed all the diseased with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad ( Ezekiel 34:15-21 );
The way that the rich oppressed the poor. Of course, the religious leaders had become the wealthy and they pushed and scattered the flock.
But I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it ( Ezekiel 34:23-24 ).
Now this, of course, is not a reference to king David being resurrected and becoming king again, but even as Jesus promised to David that there should never cease one from him ruling over the people, that prophecy to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So it is a reference to that righteous branch that shall come out of David, even Jesus. And in Jeremiah 23:0 you have Jeremiah giving the same prophecy in Jerusalem to the inhabitants there and he speaks about how the righteous branch out of David shall come and reign as king over them. As he indicts the false shepherds there and speaks of the glorious true Shepherd that shall come.
In Isaiah we read, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. And of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it in righteousness and in judgment from henceforth even forever. For the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this" ( Isaiah 9:6-7 ). So Christ, as Paul said in Romans 1 , "Of the seed of David according to the flesh, but declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit," will come and sit upon the throne of David, and as David again shepherding over the people, or ruling over the people with a shepherd's heart.
Now people wonder, how could God say, "Well, David was a man after My own heart"? When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and David was a very violent man in many situations, and he had Uriah put to death. And yet, God says that David was a man after My own heart. How can that be? And that was because David had the heart of a shepherd. And when David ruled the people, he ruled them with a shepherd's heart. And that's what God desires. That those who rule have the heart of a shepherd where their concern and their care is for the sheep, not for themselves. But they are thinking of the sheep. And David had the shepherd's heart, and he ruled with the heart of a shepherd. Saul was lifted up in pride when God put him upon the throne, and that's why Saul was brought down and his family did not follow in the throne. But David, a man after God's own heart.
And so the prophecy concerning Christ and His coming and shepherding.
And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land ( Ezekiel 34:25 ):
The Kingdom Age, the beasts will be tame. The lion will lie down with the lamb, and a little child will lead them. I've always thought what a tremendous pet a lion could make. Wouldn't that be exciting for a kid to have a lion for a pet? Man, to jump on its back, grab hold of the mane and just take off. The Kingdom Age when God restores, then there will be peace, the covenant of peace among the animal kingdom, among men. Beautiful Kingdom Age, the evil beasts will cease out of the land.
and they will dwell safely in the wilderness, and they'll sleep in the woods ( Ezekiel 34:25 ).
There will be no fear.
And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; and there shall be showers of blessing ( Ezekiel 34:26 ).
Now we sing that in the church, but actually we're only borrowing from what God is declaring is going to happen when Israel is restored.
And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and they shall know that I am the LORD when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that serve themselves of them ( Ezekiel 34:27 ).
And so as God brings His people back again they will know that He is the Lord, when He establishes His reign.
And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen ( Ezekiel 34:28 ),
Look at how the Jews have been persecuted among the nations, wherever they have gone. They've been a persecuted people. They've been a curse and a byword. Anti-Semitism, and it is rising again throughout the world. You read of bombings of Jewish synagogues in Europe. There's again rising in Germany strong sentiment against the Jews, and even here in the United States we're beginning to see more and more anti-Semitism. The unfortunate things that are happening up in the Hollywood area even against the Jewish community. But, "They'll be no more a prey to the heathen."
neither shall the beast of the land devour them ( Ezekiel 34:28 );
The animals will be all docile.
but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown ( Ezekiel 34:28-29 ),
That plant of renown, of course, is none other than Jesus Christ.
and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more ( Ezekiel 34:29 ).
They won't be cursed or bear that shame among the heathen.
We were talking with our Jewish guide who grew up in Argentina. And we were seeking to witness to him about Christianity, and he said, "Do you want to know what my first impression of Christians were?" And we said, "Sure." He said, "Well, every day going home from school I would have to run as fast as I could or else those boys who said they were Christians would beat me up and call me a Jesus killer." And he said, "They would throw rocks at me and they would beat me up every chance they got, calling me a Jesus killer." And he said, "That was my first impression of Christians." And no wonder it's hard to witness to them if that's what has been represented by Christianity to them. And it is indeed sad and tragic that much of the anti-Semitism has had its origins in the church. But we as Christians owe a great debt to Israel, to the Jews. After all, they gave us our Messiah.
Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD. And ye are my flock, the flock of my pasture, and you are men, [ye the flock the flock of my pasture are men] and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 34:30-31 ). "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 34". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany