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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 34

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

Eze 34:1-2. Shepherd is from baah, which Strong defines as follows: "A primitive root; to tend a flock, l.e. pasture it; intransitively to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension to associate with (as a friend).” The word has such a wide range of meaning that it will apply to the kings and prophets and priests in Israel because of their post- iton of leadership among the people. In such a relationship they could and should have guided them aright, and have instructed them in the right ways of the world by feeding them on the proper spiritual food. But Instead, they looked to their personal interests and made use of the advantages that were intended for all the congregation and thus "fed themselves instead of the flock."

Verse 3

Eze 34:3. The items in this verse are literal in their nature and in the use that is generally made of them just as the statement shows it. But the passage is used figuratively to illustrate the selfishness of the shepherds in their treatment of the flock that was depending upon them for guidance.

Verse 4

Eze 34:4. A good shepherd would look after the sheep and administer whatever services their condition might require. But fnstead of thus guarding and assisting them, these leaders bad been harsh and overbearing. It was because of this genera! corrupt life led by these leaders that even the things they did that would otherwise have been acceptable were rejected by the Lord. On this subject the reader should see the long note quoted at Isa 1:10 in volume 3 of this Commentary.

Verse 5

Eze 34:5. It is a duty of a shepherd to protect his flock against wolves and other wild beasts. These selfish shepherds of Israel neglected their obligation and allowed the people to be exposed to the beasts (idolatrous nations) around them.

Verse 6

Eze 34:6. Some of the terms in this verse are used witb a mixture of the literal and figurative senses. A flock that is neglected will literally be scattered among the hills and it was thus figuratively with Israel. And since the real iniquity in the country was idolatry which was often practiced on the hills, that phase of the subject is literal and pertained to such "high places” in the worship of the false gods.

Verse 7

Eze 34:7. The Lord Is directing the present message especially to these shepherds, and they are called upon to hear His word by the mouth of the prophet

Verse 8

Eze 34:8. As I live is a phrase that occurs numerous times in the Bible, and means that the thing about to be stated is as sure and true as the existence of God. It is a form of oath along the line of Heb 6:13. Under such an oath the Lord charged the selfish shepherds of Israel with partaking of the food intended for the flock.

Verse 9

Eze 34:9. This verse takes the same comments as Eze 34:7.

Verse 10

Eze 34:10. I am against the shepherds denotes the Lord's disfavor for the conduct of the shepherds, not that He is to he regarded as their personal enemy. Require my flock at their hand means they will be held responsible for the sad state of the flock because of their part in causing the situation. Cease from feeding the flock refers in the first place to the removal of those shepherds from the position of Importance that they have been occupying, In the second place, the Lord is approaching a prediction that will reach far beyond the days of these shepherds over fleshly Israel, Such a subject will be introduced in the latter half of this chapter. We have observed it to be a practice of God through the inspired prophets to pass directly from ancient to modern Israel. That is due partly to the fact that many of the experiences, both favorable and unfavorable, of both Israels are similar. A favorable experience of fleshly Israel will be predicted first and then we shall read of a most wonderful favor that will concern spiritual Israel.

Verse 11

Eze 34:11. From this verse through 16 (Eze 34:11-16) the passage is a prediction of the return from the Babylonian captivity. The several verses will be commented upon in their order. Search . , . seek them. out. The Babylonian Empire was composed of various countries, and in course of the 70-year period the Jews became scattered among many of them.

Verse 12

Eze 34:12. The Lord promises to gather his flock out of these different countries as a good shepherd would do for his sheep that had been scattered. Cloudy and dark day refers to the gloomy period of the captivity.

Verse 13

Eze 34:13. The terms of this verse are literal, the people and countries being those mentioned in the preceding verse. Own land means Palestine from which they had been exiled all the years of the great captivity. The geographical terms, mountains, rivers and inhabited places were parts of Palestine, and the Jews were to be restored to them that they might again enjoy them.

Verse 14

Eze 34:14. This verse combines the literal with the figurative sense in predicting the future of fleshly Israel. She will actually enjoy the land of Palestine for temporal purposes, and at the same time will be treated justly in spiritual matters.

Verse 15

Verse 15. God will not depend upon selfish shepherds to care for the nation but will take close supervision over it. Cause them to lie down. A sheep will not lie down as long as he is unsatisfied with nourishment, therefore the act of lying down indicates a gratified appetite in the midst of plenty. {See Psa 23:1-3.)

Verse 16

Eze 34:16, The gist of this verse is a promise to help those who need and deserve help. Destroy the fat and strong means the Lord will judge the selfish shepherds who had been feasting at the expense of the weaker sheep of the flock.

Verse 17

Eze 34:17. The rulers and other outstanding men were not the only members who took advantage of the weaker ones. Among the "common people” or unofficial members of the flock there were some who were selfish and defrauded the others hence the Lord declares He will make a distinction between different members of the flock. The cattle refers to the weaker members of the flock and the he goats the stronger.

Verse 18

Eze 34:18. The imagery for purposes of illustration is still that of a pasture and the creatures living therein. These selfish ones among the Israelite nation are compared to the strong he goats that eat the best of the pasture regardless of the needs of others. But they did not stop at that In their cruel selfishness. After satisfying their own greedy appetite with the best of the field, they trampled the remaining part with their feet. And after satisfying their thirst with the deep or pure water, they wade into the other watering places In order to defile them.

Verse 19

Eze 34:19. Hunger will drive one to eat that which would otherwise be regarded as extremely repulsive. (See Job 6:7.) Hence the weaker members of (he Lord’s flock had to eat and drink of the food and water that had been made foul by the wicked and selfish members of the group, which caused God to decree a distinction between the two classes in the flock.

Verse 20

Eze 34:20. Beginning with this verse and running through Eze 3431 will be given the prediction mentioned in the comments on verse 10. Christ and his church under the New Testament rule is the subject of the passage as will become evident in our study of the verses. However, the imagery of shepherds and all that pertains to that occupation will still be referred to for illustrations. The injustices of unworthy characters among the Lord's professed servants are carried over for consideration, and He is going to see that such evils will be guarded against in the great institution to come.

Verse 21

Eze 34:21, An overbearing animal will push with its side, shoulders and horns in order to crowd out a weaker one. Thus the “he goats” had behaved in fleshly Israel, but the Lord was determined that such irregularities would not be permitted in the new service under the son of David. (See Matthew 23:812; 20:25-28.)

Verse 22

Eze 34:22. Shall no more be a prey has a twofold bearing. It promises that Israel shall not be taken away into heathen captivity again; also that the Lord's sheep will be cared for and prepared against the captivity of sin. (See 1 Corinthians 30: 13.)

Verse 23

Eze 34:23. David, according to the flesh, had been dead four centuries when Ezekiel w'rote this prophecy, hence he would not be intended as the shepherd to be set over the Lord’s people. The apostle Peter makes the same point in Acts 2; 25-34, explaining to his audience that such reference to David with regard to I lie kingdom always means Christ. This is because of the high position occupied by the great king and patriarch of the former ages. David was the first man of the tribe of Judah to sit as king in Jerusalem: and the one who was to reign over spiritual Israel beginning at Jerusalem bad been foreordained of God to come from the same tribe and a descendant of David. Because of this, it became the practice of the prophets and other inspired men to speak of Christ directly as David, and to refer to His throne as the throne of his illustrious ancestor (Isa 9:6-7; Psa 132:11; Luk 1:32; Act 13:23; Rev 3:7). This verse makes it very clear, therefore, that the prophet is. predicting the setting np of the kingdom of Christ, which great event started at Jerusalem and is recorded in Acts second chapter.

Verse 24

Eze 34:24. The comments in the preceding verse on David apply here. Will be their God has special significance as a contrast with the false gods that ancient Israel worshiped. The new kingdom that will be established under the son of David will have the recognition of God in its divine origin and reign. God has always offered to be the supreme One for any individual who would serve him.

Verse 25

Eze 34:25. Covenant of peace is the one that Paul writes about in Heb 8:8-12, which he cited from Jer 31:31. Evil beasts is figurative and refers to the spiritual protection that the Lord will provide for the citizens of the new kingdom. Sleep in the woods (or forest) is a figure to indicate the safety that was to be enjoyed by the people of tlie kingdom of Christ.

Verse 26

Eze 34:26. Rainfall at the proper time was very important in Palestine and the fact is referred to figuratively. The promise is, not only that a shower will come down, but it will come in his season or just when It is needed. There shall be showers of blessing. This stalement has been made a part of a familiar church song, but it is 19 centuries out of date. It is a part of the prediction of the New Testament Institution and hence has been fulfilled many hundreds of years ago. It is unscriptural to speak of something that "shall be," when the scriptures teach that it has already been fulfilled and that the Lord has carried out his promise.

Verse 27

Eze 34:27. This verse was literally fulfilled when the Israelite nation was released from Babylonian captivity. But Its more important fulfillment came when the kingdom of Christ, of which the present group of verses is a prediction, was established with Him as its king. The figures of speech refer to the spiritual benefits that were promised for the citizens of that kingdom.

Verse 28

Eze 34:28. This verse is more along the same line as the preceding ones. It does not promise that Christians will never have any troubles, but that they will feel secure in spite of all their persecutions.

Verse 29

Eze 34:29. I shall offer some critical definitions in this verse before making the comments. Plant is from MATTA which Strong defines, "Something planted, i.e. the place (a garden or vineyard), or the thing (a plant, figuratively of men); by implication the act, planting.” Renown is from skum which Strong defines, “An appelation [name], as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character.'’ Prom these defi-nitions we may conclude the common translation is correct. It will be well to note the language of Jesus in Mat 15:13 where the word “plant” is also properly rendered. The entire illustration means the church or kingdom of Christ which is compared to a plant, and that the Lord was the one who would plant it, It further means that every plant (church or kingdom) that God did not. plant or start shall be destroyed by Him.

Verse 30

Eze 34:30, The benefits that will come to the faithful members of Christ’s kingdom will be such that no human source could supply. Hence they will know that I the Lord their God am with them and that the institution is of divine origin.

Verse 31

Eze 34:31. The flock is to be in the Lord's pasture and therefore they will be men and not literal cattle. For that reason they may expect to obtain benefits in that field that mere man could not provide; they would have to come from the Lord.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 34". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/ezekiel-34.html. 1952.
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