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Ezekiel 34 – Pastor/Elder Tony Minell

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As we get ready to celebrate the event for which the entire year seems to have been preparing, it is paramount that you get your book reading material ready for the turning of the calendar. No matter the books that become the brick and mortar of that stack, let the Bible have the keystone position. Daily, before you read anything else, first pickup your Bible – take up and read. You may think you’ve mastered it – but, I’ll wager my life, you have not mastered it. All eternity will be insufficient to master The Word. Indeed, the “mastering” goes in the other direction. Though some may think they know more about the Word, there is really only one category of people. Parishioner, pastor, priest, parson, elder, deacon, clergy, bishop, layman, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister – we are all, at best, students of The Word.

There is one passage that makes this point very clearly. Take your Bible off that stack of books and open to Ezekiel 34. The chapter opens with the Lord commanding Ezekiel to “prophesy against the shepherds of Israel” (34:2)! Apparently, Israel’s “shepherds” (the religious leaders of Israel), who had been called to care for God’s people, had been eating the sheep rather than feeding the sheep. God said to those religious leaders, “You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep” (34:3). In other words, the shepherds have believed that the sheep exist for their life rather than the shepherd for the lives of the sheep.

So fed up with those human shepherds, God turns and states, “No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths” (34:10). He goes on, “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God” (34:11,15). God will be the Shepherd.

That word “seek” in verse 11 (also in verse 12) is a very interesting word. This Hebrew word is primarily used to describe what a shepherd or Priest would have done of an animal prior to an animal’s sacrifice. The word is literally “examine.” It is the process by which the Priest determines if the sheep are worthy to be sacrificed (searching for blemishes etc.). The shepherd would examine the sheep to determine which sheep were part of His sheepfold. In other words, the Shepherd (who is God almighty) will search out and examine His sheep. He gets into our lives – into our darkest corners and examines us.

Those who know their Bible history know that the shepherd that God speaks of here in Ezekiel is Jesus Christ. He is God’s words fulfilled as God Himself walks this earth and seeks out and examines His sheep. Countless times in the gospels Jesus’ actions are a direct fulfillment of Ezekiel’s words. Take a look for yourself. Jesus’ life is a fulfillment of this shepherding role. Indeed, He is the good shepherd (a direct admission that He is the shepherd of which Ezekiel spoke). This is not hard to see.

The part that we tend to have trouble seeing (and remembering) is the part that this time of year should shout. Not only is Jesus the Good Shepherd. He is also the only sheep found worthy to be called The Lamb of God. And despite this backdrop of reality, we have this tendency to believe that when God examines us – we will somehow be found acceptable – but the only Lamb who was examined and found acceptable to God was (and still is) Jesus Christ – that child born in an animal stall. Moreover, the one whose birth the shepherds (who actually kept their watch) came to search out – to see and examine this one Lamb! If we are to be found among the sheepfold of the Almighty – we must be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ – otherwise, we will be simply named among the goats (see Ezekiel 34:17ff). To be clothed in Christ means that we are covered by the spotless Lamb. Just as Adam and Eve were clothed by God in the garden, the Lord has provided another Lamb for our covering.

To all who read this article, please know that there is only one Shepherd. To put it another way, we must all confess that Jesus is Lord. And just as there is only one Shepherd, there is only one Lamb in whom we can live.

Let yourself be clothed and led by the Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. He is the beginning and end of our salvation.

May the merriment of Christ continually fill each of our homes as we remember how great a salvation was given to us by the great shepherd of the sheep – the Lamb of God.

Your fellow sheep – led by and covered in Christ, tony minell


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