Thirteen times. That’s how many times the LORD God refers to His people as “My sheep” in Ezekiel 34. And it kind of grabbed my attention.
Ezekiel is called to prophecy against the shepherds of Israel. He is given words to indict those who should have had concern for the people of God. Those who were called to care for the flock of God. Those who should have tended to “My sheep.”
But they didn’t. My sheep are scattered, says the LORD. My sheep have become prey. My sheep have not been searched for. My sheep have not been fed.
And so, says the LORD, I will rescue My sheep. I will deliver them. I will save them. And I will give them a shepherd.
And I will set up over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.
(Ezekiel 34:23-24 ESV)
Certainly not all who bore the banner of Israel were of God’s flock. He says that He would separate His sheep from the fake sheep, that He would “judge between sheep and sheep” (34:20-22). But for those who were His own, for those who He had called to be His people, He said He would rescue them and that He would provide for them a shepherd in the line of David and like David. What David had been to some degree, this promised prince would be to the fullest extent. A man after God’s own heart. A king. A shepherd.
One who would feed God’s sheep. One who would search for them when they strayed. One who would protect them from being preyed upon by the “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” One who would keep them safely together and lead them to green pasture. My sheep, says the LORD, will be shepherded by My servant.
And then my reading plan took me to John 10 and Jesus speaks.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 ESV)
That Ezekiel’s prophecy looks beyond Israel’s immediate rescue from captivity is clear. That the prophet’s assurance of deliverance is intended not just for the fleshly seed of Abraham but for all who are Abraham’s children because of faith is foreshadowed. That the prophetic promise of a Prince after the line of David coming to gather God’s chosen people and caring for them to the end should be fulfilled in Jesus was testified to by the Son of God Himself. “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14).
And that He is my Shepherd is again this morning my comfort. I hear His voice, He knows my lot. By grace I seek to follow and He promises to lead. I love Him because He has first loved me.
“My sheep.” How God loves His sheep. What glorious provision has been made through His Servant, the greater David. What promise has been assured because of the finished work of the cross. What pasture there awaits when faith gives way to sight and we are forever with the Lord.
Safe in the arms of a shepherd. The good Shepherd. Our great Shepherd.
All by His grace. All for His glory.