20 Dec. Ezekiel prophesies a new shepherd will lead Israel
“It was on the fifth day of the tenth month of the twelfth year [587BC]. A person who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘Jerusalem has been captured…’”
“Then the LORD spoke his word to me, saying: ‘Human, people who live in the ruins in the land of Israel are saying, “Abraham was only one person, yet he was given the land as his own. Surely the land has been given to us, who are many, as our very own.”’”
“’So say to them: “This is what the Lord GOD says: you eat meat with the blood still in it, you ask your idols for help and you murder people. Should you then have the land as your very own? You depend on your sword and do terrible things which I hate. Each of you has sexual relations with his neighbour’s wife. So should you have the land?”…’”
“The LORD spoke his word to me, saying, ‘Human, prophesy against the leaders of Israel, who are like shepherds. Prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Lord GOD says: how terrible it will be for the shepherds of Israel who feed only themselves! Why don’t the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the milk curds, and you clothe yourselves with the wool. You kill the fat sheep, but you do not feed the flock.”…’”
“’”The sheep were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for every wild animal. My flock wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered all over the face of the earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”…’”
“’”This is what the Lord GOD says: I, myself, will search for my sheep and take care of them. As a shepherd takes care of his scattered flock when it is found, I will take care of my sheep. I will save them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries… They will lie down on good ground where they eat grass, and they will eat in rich grassland on the mountains of Israel.”…’”
“’”So I will save my flock; they will not be hurt any more. I will judge between one sheep and another. Then I will put over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and tend them and be their shepherd. Then I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a ruler among them. I, the LORD, have spoken”’”
At the beginning of today’s passage, a messenger brought news of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 587BC. He told Ezekiel, “Jerusalem has been captured” (Ezekiel 33:21).
The LORD then spoke to Ezekiel, and told him that this disaster was due to Israel’s sin: “So say to them… you eat meat with the blood still in it, you ask your idols for help and you murder people… You depend on your sword and do terrible things which I hate. Each of you has sexual relations with his neighbour’s wife.” (Ezekiel 33:25-26)
Ezekiel was then told to tell the Israelites that those hiding in the countryside or living in the ruined cities of Judah would be killed by wild animals or disease; and the land of Judah would become a desolate waste (see Ezekiel 33:27-29).
Ezekiel then told the leaders of Judah that they had failed to lead their people well – like uncaring shepherds. But the LORD, himself, promised to take care of his people in the future – he would gather them back from where they had been scattered and would care for them like a good shepherd (see Psalm 23): “Then I will put over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and tend them and be their shepherd. Then I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a ruler among them.” (Ezekiel 34:23-24)
In the New Testament, Jesus, a descendant of King David, said that he, himself, was the good shepherd promised in the scriptures: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. The worker who is paid to keep the sheep is different from the shepherd who owns them… I know my sheep, as the Father knows me. And my sheep know me, as I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11-15)
The photo (by Doron) shows a shepherd in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey.
You can read more from the Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25-32 @ The Bible Journey | Further prophecies & the fall of Jerusalem