Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd. He also referred to the Jews as “God’s Lost Sheep”. Today we discover that is a fulfillment of a prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel! Let’s dig in…
Ezekiel 34 – The Shepherds of Israel
Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. 5 So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. 6 They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.
7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. 9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.
The Good Shepherd
11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them justice!
17 “And as for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to his people: I will judge between one animal of the flock and another, separating the sheep from the goats. 18 Isn’t it enough for you to keep the best of the pastures for yourselves? Must you also trample down the rest? Isn’t it enough for you to drink clear water for yourselves? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Why must my flock eat what you have trampled down and drink water you have fouled?
20 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will surely judge between the fat sheep and the scrawny sheep. 21 For you fat sheep pushed and butted and crowded my sick and hungry flock until you scattered them to distant lands. 22 So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another. 23 And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the Lord, have spoken!
The Lord’s Covenant of Peace
25 “I will make a covenant of peace with my people and drive away the dangerous animals from the land. Then they will be able to camp safely in the wildest places and sleep in the woods without fear. 26 I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing. 27 The orchards and fields of my people will yield bumper crops, and everyone will live in safety. When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the Lord. 28 They will no longer be prey for other nations, and wild animals will no longer devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will frighten them.
29 “And I will make their land famous for its crops, so my people will never again suffer from famines or the insults of foreign nations. 30 In this way, they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them. And they will know that they, the people of Israel, are my people, says the Sovereign Lord. 31 You are my flock, the sheep of my pasture. You are my people, and I am your God. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”Ezekiel 34 NLT
God Hates Bad Shepherds
God considers the Israelites like sheep. Sheep need a shepherd. They cannot survive without one. Here, God first admonishes Israel’s leadership. This includes, bad kings, bad priests, and bad prophets. When you mistreat God’s people, He takes it personally and seriously. (Related: The Truth about Replacement Theology and Antisemitism)
The Good Shepherd
As soon as I read this chapter, I immediately thought of the New Testament Gospel passage where Jesus calls Himself the “Good Shepherd”. Likewise, there are several other places where He refers to the Jews as “lost sheep”. Furthermore, we have Matthew’s “Final Judgment” account where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats.
As we take a look again at these passages (I’ve covered them before), let’s keep in mind now that any of the Jewish “teachers of the law”, the Pharisees, the Saducees, priests and even some common folks, knew this prophecy from Ezekiel. It really sheds a different light on them…
We’re in John Chapter 10. But, let me set the stage first. In John 9, Jesus just healed the blind man and He accused the Pharisees of being “spiritually blind”. Immediately after, He says this…
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”John 10:1-16 NLT
- The “other sheep” are the Gentiles.
- It’s time to put YOUR “shepherd” or pastor, under the microscope.
- Is he (or she) like the “bad shepherds” or bad leaders of Israel who led their flocks to worship false gods?
- Are they teaching the true Gospel or do they water it down?
- Do they twist the Bible to sound positive when it really isn’t?
- False preachers should not be supported.
- In the end, the self-righteous will be weeded from the righteous.
- Jesus is the gate (or door) — You can only get to Heaven THROUGH HIM!
FROM the Gospel of MATTHEW
Keep in mind that Matthew was a Jew writing to first century Jews. In Matthew 10, when Jesus sent out His disciples two-by-two, He told them…
5 “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep.”Matthew 10:5-6 NLT
The sad thing is, the majority of the Jews are still lost. (Related: Who are the 144,000?)
The Sheep and the Goats – the Final Judgment – Matthew 25
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”Matthew 25:31-46 NLT
Many people take this as a calling to help the poor, the homeless, and people in prison. Not that serving the poor is not warranted. Here, “the least of these” are the Jews. Jesus was foreseeing the problem of Antisemitism, and future wars with Israel, which we’ll get to shortly.
From the Gospel of Luke
Parable of the Lost Sheep
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”Luke 15:1-7 NLT
This is the example of a Good Shepherd. God hunts for you. He chases your down. If you are not a born again believer, stop and take a look at your life and note of times in your life where you could see the hand of God at work. Check out my personal story/testimony at the bottom.
There is rejoicing in Heaven every time a person is born again. Yet, if you reject God’s gift of Grace and Salvation — His Good News — you will be spending eternity in hell. (Related: Heaven or Hell — It’s Your Choice)
All We Like Sheep
Pastor Sandy Adams has an interesting comment on the nature of sheep…
Shepherds say it’s impossible to force a sheep to lie down. Sheep recline only when they’re content and at peace. In fact, to lie down a sheep has to be free of four irritations… fear of predators, friction with other sheep, famine (they need plenty of food), and flies… And Jesus frees us from the same irritations: fear, friction, famine, flies… When you know Jesus, stuff don’t bug you as much. Jesus is our Good Shepherd.Sandy Adams
One Shepherd in the End
Pastor Sandy Adams explains…
Realize, this whole passage deals with Israel’s restoration, but that involved more than just regathering scattered sheep. God did bring back the Jews to their land, and Jesus did come as their Good Shepherd – but the rest of Ezekiel describes blessings that have yet to be fulfilled.
The rest of the book is eschatological (last days prophecies). It speaks to the end times when Jesus returns to earth a second time to establish a physical, tangible, political kingdom. And in that day, as we read in verse 23, there will be “one shepherd over them.” In God’s future kingdom His people will be ruled and fed by one shepherd. We’re told that prince or royal ruler, is God’s servant, David. And there are two ways to understand this reference.
First, it could be that in the future Kingdom, King David will rule over the Earth on behalf of King Jesus. But the second way to interpret this is to think of the name “David” as the title for the leader of the Davidic dynasty. Just as the terms “Caesar” and “Pharaoh” were names turned into titles, “David” might also be a dynastic title. It’s interesting, one of the Jewish Targums, which are rabbinical commentaries of the OT, actually interprets the word “David” as “Messiah.” If that’s true, the term “David” would mean “the ideal David” or the son of David, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.Sandy Adams
Are you part of His flock?
You’re either lost or you’re found!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…
Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
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