Nothing could have been more unimaginable in Old Testament times than a shepherd who did not care for his flock. Shepherds were to watch, care for, protect, feed, water, and seek after their sheep. This is why the metaphor that Ezekiel uses to describe the leaders of Israel, who like bad shepherds, had allowed the people to be destroyed. Ezekiel says that they were selfish, negligent, and uncaring with the result that God’s people were scattered and became “food for every beast of the field.” (vs. 4) They wandered without leadership and the nation became prey for other nations who destroyed it.
But the Lord promises two things to his people. He promises to restore His sheep (His people) and to judge the wicked leaders. Ezekiel reveals that the Lord intends to shepherd His people by doing a number of things. He would “seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick….” (v.16) The great news, however, was that he would “set over them one shepherd, My servant David….” (v.23) The One Shepherd is Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem, viewed first by shepherds, and later referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd. (John 10:11)
We are like sheep scattered by our sins, circumstances, and events in this world. We live in the chaos of constant change, corruption and crises. It is hard to understand what is happening around us and how we should think and react to everything we face. It is a comfort to know that our God cares for us personally. He sent His Son to live among us, to share our humanity, to share our experiences and to redeem us from the curse of what can destroy us. He seeks us, heals us, calls us, cares for us and delivers us from our dangers.
As we light the Advent candle tonight read Ezekiel 34:11-24 and think of Christ each time the good shepherd is mentioned. Thank the Lord for His care for you and yours.