For some people just the mention or anticipation of a job/performance review brings angst. Usually it is the people that believe (correctly or incorrectly) that they have fallen short of the job expectations that get a knot in their stomach.
The shepherds of Israel SHOULD have had a knot in their stomach. This particular year (it appears to be around the 12th year of exile), the shepherds of Israel (a metaphor for the rulers of the community) received their job review. The prophesy of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 24:1-6) to the shepherds reveals:
- Israel’s shepherds were self-serving (vs. 2-3) Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.
- Israel’s shepherds failed miserably at every point on their job description (vs 4): The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
- The shepherds actions (or inactions) had far reaching consequences (vs. 5-6): So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered;they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
God refused to leave His sheep without a shepherd to care for them (Ezekiel 34:11-16)
- God sought His sheep (vs. 11-12). Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
- God rescued His sheep (vs. 12-13) I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.
- God fed His sheep (vs. 13-14) And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.
- God cared for His sheep (vs.15-16) I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”
This prophesy declared by Ezekiel during the exile was fully fulfilled in Jesus Christ – the Good Shepherd.
- Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:11-15
- Jesus gathers the sheep. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24-25
- Jesus feeds the sheep. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. John 6:57
- Jesus strengthens the weak. …according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being… Ephesians 3:16
- Jesus clothes the sheep. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. Revelation 3:5
- Jesus is a gentle teacher. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
This list could go on and on. The more I write the more I am falling deeper in love with MY Good Shepherd. Perhaps you would consider doing a little research of your own. May I encourage you to read Ezekiel 34 and then study ways that Jesus is the very opposite of Israel’s shepherds.
We are in the hands of a gentle, loving, caring, giving, Good Shepherd Who never leaves us to wander alone.
Be encouraged. Bow your head or lift your hands and thank Jesus today for being YOUR Good Shepherd.
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think About This: “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. ” ―