The God Who Promised To Be A Shepherd

In Ezekiel 34, the prophet Ezekiel records God condemning the shepherds of Israel for their unfaithfulness and greed. This points to both the civil and spiritual leaders. Their failure was not simply a matter of neglecting the sheep but of benefiting themselves at the cost of the flock.

So God was angry. We read God accusing the shepherds of their treachery.

“…you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them….My flock was scattered….and no one was seeking or searching for them.”

Ezekiel 3:3-6

What God says next is remarkable. He promises that He Himself would come and intervene to do the work the unfaithful shepherds failed to do!

‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. “

Ezekiel 34:11-12

Note the phrase” Indeed I Myself:
“The construction is emphatical in the Hebrew and well expressed here; I, the Owner, the Lover, the Maker, the great Shepherd, even I.” (Poole)

God was going to do it Himself! Not through a prophet or angel. How was He going to accomplish this? When will God Himself come and fulfill this?

Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10).

There is a subtle but clear testimony here to the deity of Jesus Christ. Without doubt, Ezekiel 34 presents Yahweh as the good and perfect shepherd of Israel. Without ambiguity, Jesus took that title to Himself (most clearly in John 10:1-18), demonstrating that He is God. (David Guzik)

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11).
This is what Jesus meant when he said that he had come for the lost sheep of Israel. He was claiming to be God! The same One who spoke in Ezekiel 34:11, “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.

That is why Jesus had to come to Israel, not China or Arabia or India or anywhere else in the world! He had a promise to keep, dating back to the 6th century BC (Ezekiel’s era) when He said it!

When He came, He undid the damage inflicted by the failed shepherds. They scattered the sheep. They left the sheep hungry and lost and alone, weak, sick and broken.

I will feed My flock… I will seek… bring back… bind up the broken… strengthen…

Ezekiel 34:14-16

This is precisely what Jesus did. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, strengthened the weak, forgave the sinners, restored the lost.

“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. ” Matthew 11:5

In Ezekiel 34:15, God said, “I MYSELF will be the shepherd of my sheep.”
Jesus fulfilled the promise when He declared, “I AM the good shepherd.” (John 10:11)

One final thought. The phrase “My sheep” spoken by God, occurs about a dozen times in just 15 verses of Ezekiel 34, signifying that the sheep belong to God alone. Not to any man, prophet, priest or king. It’s God’s sheep.

Yet, Jesus repeatedly said, “My sheep”.
” I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14

“..but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:26-28

He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads the nursing ewes.
Isaiah 40:11

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:25

Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
(Isiah 34:4b-6)