Lesson 3 | Part 1 - Jesus Is The Shepherd Ezekiel 34:1-24

Published Date: 2/22/2019

Pastor: Drew Kornreich

DREW: Today we will be looking at Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 1 through 24, Jesus is the Shepherd. Let’s begin with prayer.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ and for how He is the perfect Shepherd, the one from whom we can learn so much about shepherding those you’ve put in our lives and we pray for your wisdom, that you would enable us to learn and grow in our understanding of the kind of lives you would have us to live. In Jesus’s name, amen.

I want to begin with a question: When you think of shepherding in the life of Christians or in the life of the church today, what kind of work comes to your mind or what is the role of a shepherd as you know it and understand it?

NANCY: I think of a shepherd as being someone who takes care of someone or something, someone who watches out. You think of, even shepherds of old, you know, they were always looking at the horizon to make sure that they were keeping their charges, their flock, safe.

DON: So I think when I was -- definitely when I was younger, I thought of the shepherd more as the pastor, head of a church, priest, minister, all those titles, but I’ve learned that we all have the opportunity to be shepherds and I think it really became a prevalent idea in my mind more as a mentor, because I’ve always wanted to mentor someone in building houses. So you come along side them and you gently teach them and lead them, encourage them, and build them up so that they’ll want to learn more and more.

DREW: In this passage, Ezekiel 34, I think what we’re going to see is the concept of shepherding being broadened based on what the shepherd kings in Israel did not do and then what the Lord himself would do with respect to shepherding when He comes. There are three basic areas by way of introduction. I could summarize it like this: The shepherd seeks and finds the sheep and that -- that’s what we would call evangelism today. Remember in Luke chapter 19 in verse 10, Jesus’s interaction with Zacchaeus, the Son of Man -- Jesus was referring to himself -- came to seek and to save that which is lost. So there is that going out and finding people, sharing the good news, befriending them. That’s finding and then there’s also teaching.

In Ezekiel 34, as we will see, there’s a big emphasis on the shepherd feeding the sheep, on teaching the sheep, and that’s the way in which people are edified or built up in the faith. We’re encouraged, we’re admonished , we’re transformed. So you have finding, feeding, and also fortifying, caring, love, and compassion. Helping the weak and the wounded. And what’s interesting there is shepherding embraces all three of those: seeking and finding, teaching, which is feeding and also fortifying, showing love and compassion. All three really under that rubric of shepherding. That’s what a shepherd does. He does evangelism, he does discipleship, teaching, and preaching, and he also cares and nurtures, shows compassion and helps the weak and the downcast. And I think that helps us as we think about the concept of shepherding.

A little bit of the context here, in Ezekiel 34:1-10, especially the first six verses, they address the failure of the shepherds of Israel. Now, the shepherds refers to the kings of Israel prior to the Babylonian exile. That was the immediate context. And Ezekiel, or the Lord through Ezekiel, is communicating how those shepherd kings failed. And we’re going to look at three ways in which they failed. The first is they failed to seek and find or to bring back the lost sheep, God’s people. Verses 4 through 6, “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the inured 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. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered, and they wondered all over the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered all over the face of the earth with none to search or seek for them.” Now, verse 8, “As I lived, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and they have not fed my sheep.” So they failed to seek the lost sheep, to go after the people who were straying and wandering away from the Lord and His ways.

The second way in which they failed is they failed to feed the sheep. They fed themselves instead. Verses 2 to 3, “Son of Man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, thus says the Lord God: 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.” And then verse 8 through 10, “As I live, declares the Lord God, surely my sheep have become a prey and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, they have not fed my sheep. Therefore, you shepherds hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God, behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths that they may not be food for them.” So you see this devastating criticism into these two areas. They’re failing to find, to search for, the lost sheep and then they’re failing to feed them.

One more, they failed to fortify the sheep. That is they failed to strengthen the weak and heal the sick and bind up the injured. Verse 4, “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up.” We’ll stop there and then the last part of 10, “I will rescue my sheep from their mouths.” You can see they’re not only failing to care for them, but in their neglect it’s devouring them that they may not be food for them.

So I want us to get a clear picture of the failure of the shepherds, because this is really going to help us when we look at the ministry of the Lord as shepherd as it’s stated right here in the same passage. Again, they didn’t find the sheep to bring them back, they didn’t feed the sheep, they didn’t fortify those that are weak -- who are weak and poor. Now, let’s look at the Lord God himself who will come as the Shepherd King and He will do all that the shepherds of Israel failed to do. That’s why it was important for us to get those first three points out there to see the failure of the human kings, so we can see the success of the Lord as King of Kings who is the Great Shepherd.

What will He do? First, is He will seek, find, and bring back the lost sheep. Verses 11 through 13, “For thus says the Lord God: 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. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel by the ravines and in all the inhabited places of the country.” And then in verse 16, the first part, “I will seek the lost and I will bring back the strayed.” So right there you see how He’s comparing His ministry of shepherd. He’s going to be an evangelist. He’s going to leave the 99 as we will see and He’s going to search for the one.

Second, he will feed the sheep, verse 13, the second part, “And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel by the ravines and in all the inhabited places of the country.” Verse 14, “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.” He’s going to feed the sheep.

Third, He will fortify the sheep, He will strengthen the weak, and heal the sick. Verse 16, “I will bind up the injured and I will strengthen the weak.” This passage says in verse 11, the Lord says, “I, I myself will search for the sheep,” but if you look at verse 23 and 24, we have another specific reference as to who this shepherd will be who will come and lead the sheep this way. “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.”

So the shepherd to come who Ezekiel is speaking about is His servant David and one of Jesus’s names is the Son of David. The Son of David. It’s going to be this great servant who fulfills the covenant, the Davidic covenant. He’s going to rain and rule as the shepherd king. These kings failed to shepherd, Jesus, the King of Kings is also the Great Shepherd who won’t fail.

Now, we have some questions. What are the essential components of shepherding in this passage? Again, we just went over them, but I want to make this point. It will help us as we go on. Do you remember?

CAMILLE: The shepherd was to seek, he was to save, he was to teach, he was to feed and show love and compassion.

DREW: There you go. You got it. Anyone else want to add to that? That was well said. Exactly right. We could say then in today’s language in part it’s evangelism, it’s teaching, it’s edification, which is, in part, discipleship, and it’s caring -- a ministry of caring.

Whether it’s visitation, prayer, compassion, listening to people who have deep and real concerns, weeping with those who weep. Who failed in this passage?

NANCY: The kings.

DREW: The kings failed miserably, didn’t they?

DON: Yeah.

DREW: Who will succeed in this passage?

DON: David.

DREW: David. That’s right. What do we learn from this about Biblical shepherding? Has it been reduced to one main thing? When we think about shepherding now, what does this passage tell us with respect to the breadth of responsibilities a shepherd has?

NANCY: It’s huge.

PENNY: It is a way of life. I think that teaching actually in most churches dominates. If I were to be, you know, thinking broadly here in most churches, because when you think of church, you go to hear what? The word of God taught. Now, whatever that means for that church there’s a philosophy that goes with that, but I think teaching has dominated so much that evangelism has become second and caring and really going after the one, over even the 99, has been omitted from most churches. In fact, I think it’s less of a hospital and more of a school for education, so that people come, they get their fill, and they leave. And then they come again and then they get their fill and there’s no real understanding of discipleship or a long term relationship with God.

DREW: Great.

MARY: Sometimes when you get to this point you’re thinking missionaries and that they have to be this one person going to this one country doing this one thing, whereas, it’s even people like me who are individuals in a work place being able to reach out to my customers or to my co-workers or anybody. It’s not just in the church, it’s all around and we are called to do this for him.