The Shepherds and God’s Flock

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Ezekiel 34:1-31, Ezekiel 35:1-15, Psalm 23:1-4, John 10:11-14

I’m a bona fide shepherdess. My little midwestern farm often has sheep grazing in the pasture. When I hear sermons about how dumb sheep are, my eyes automatically want to roll. (Sorry, pastor.) Those fluffy white creatures aren’t dumb (at least not any more so than the next barnyard animal), but they are vulnerable. Because rain and wolves, disease and disaster are always nearby, all sheep need a shepherd—a good one. 

Here in Ezekiel 34, after pages and pages of prophetic warnings, the word of the Lord appeared to Ezekiel again, this time to pronounce judgment on “the shepherds of Israel” (Ezekiel 34:1). As I read these verses through the lens of my farm, they seem less of a rant against shepherds and more of a manifesto about God’s love. Consider:

“You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered.” —Ezekiel 34:4–5

While this could fit as a bad performance review for literal shepherds, if we keep reading, we find hyperbole. 

“My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them.” —Ezekiel 34:6 

God was speaking to Ezekiel about more than barnyard animals. This flock was made up of His children. God’s people were, in fact, scattered. Many were in captivity at the time of Ezekiel’s vision. Others were made homeless by the destruction of invading nations. Still, there’s a deeper truth. There is no human shepherd who can truly keep us safe from the dangers of sin. Our spiritual leaders are broken, too. Our good deeds aren’t a safe pen. Our hearts sing siren songs toward unsafe territories. Though we aren’t stupid, we are vulnerable. 

But hallelujah, we have a good Shepherd! In John 10, Jesus declared Himself as the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. 

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” –John 10:11 

Yes, we’re prone to wander toward all manner of dangers. We do have an enemy who prowls around looking for an opportunity to devour us (1Peter 5:8). Still, Ezekiel’s prophecy points out that Christ’s great love for us motivates Him to pay attention to our needs. Our Good Shepherd is ever on guard! 

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53 thoughts on "The Shepherds and God’s Flock"

  1. Traci Gendron says:

    I am so grateful for a God that seeks out His sheep. He will not leave us. Please dear Lord help me keep my eyes looking up!

    Please pray for a dental procedure that was moved to tomorrow. I’m a bit of a chicken. Although I know that God will comfort me through it. Thank you ladies.

  2. Allison Sherwood says:

    I can almost hear the words of Ezekiel like an angry, protective father who gave his children to protectors who ended up getting them hurt and lost. There is so much love in His words and His desire to have us live abundantly in His presence!

  3. Donna Wolcott says:

    This lamb is grateful to her Lord and Savior!

  4. Siobhan Martindale says:

    Love this devotional today. We are vulnerable and susceptible to so much sin and turmoil but thanks be to GOD that we have the most wonderfully good shepherd in JESUS.

  5. Mari V says:

    Our God pays attention to our needs! I have what I need. Prayers are appreciated right now. I didn’t post yesterday as time got away from me. My son is on a solo trip in celebration of his 21st birthday. He is a great son! Please pray for his safety. He is staying at campsites and I know that some of them there’s no reception and I haven’t heard from him since yesterday morning. But I could see his location yesterday early afternoon but after that nothing.

  6. Kathy A says:

    Praying for you Dorothy, for your sister and Finley and her son. May God comfort you, give you strength and wisdom. Praying he lets you lie down in a rich pasture today, and give you rest.
    Also praying for you Alexandra. As hard as it is, (and we have all been there, it’s excruciating!!), time away might be helpful, seek opinions from trusted people who love and know you (I pray you really hear what they say). Rest assured God has a plan, even if it doesn’t look like you thought it would, it is always better than the plans we think we want. Praying for strength and peace!

  7. Ashleigh H says:

    I accidentally hit the enter button too soon. I am grateful for today’s reading and devotional. I’m even more grateful for a God who will not leave his sheep scattered, lost, abused, and mistreated. He will find them. He even sent his only Son to save all and Scripture affirms this through Jesus. Our Good Shepherd will leave the herd to seek the one who got lost. Thank you, God.

  8. Ashleigh H says:

    I am grateful for today’s devotional which felt like a respite in the harder readings of Ezekiel.