The Good Shepherd

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, who cares for His sheep.

Christians are familiar with The Shepherd Psalm; that is, Psalm 23. Christians are much less familiar with “the shepherd chapter;“ that is, Ezekiel chapter 34, the text for this lesson. In this passage of scripture, Ezekiel identified the spiritual leaders of Israel (priests, prophets, kings, and other rulers) as: “shepherds of Israel,” who had not only failed to care for the well-being of the people, but have done them much harm. In contrast to their sinful behavior, God assured the captive Jews in Babylon, that He would be to them a good shepherd, caring for all their needs. Like Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34 is an encouraging word from the Lord to all who trust in him.


A. God’s People Neglected

Eze 34:1  And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Eze 34:2  Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

……. God identified the religious and civil leaders of the Jews as “the shepherds of Israel”; meaning that God expected them to be spiritual leaders of the people, who would care for the people. But instead of being caring leaders, they neglected and mistreated the people, enriching themselves at the expense of the people.

Eze 34:3  Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.

…….In comparison to a sheep herder, the spiritual shepherds duties are to care for the sick and weak. In Ezekiel’s time, the shepherds were only concerned with making the healthy and wealthy, healthier and wealthier.

Eze 34:4  The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

…….A shepherd with this track record is only concerned about immediate gain and gratuity. Those who focus on and surround themselves with only the strong are not concerned with building the community. These shepherds had no thought of unity, only thoughts of self gain.

Eze 34:5  And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.

Eze 34:6  My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.

……After the united Kingdom of Israel had been ruled for 120 years by the kings Saul, David, and Solomon, about 930 BC it split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. All of the 19 kings of Israel, and most of the 19 kings of Judah, were evil, cruel, worshipers of false gods. Many of the priests, prophets, and civil leaders were corrupt. The wickedness of these leaders influenced the people to forsake God and do evil. This was the major cause of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah being destroyed, and their citizens being taken into captivity or exiled to other nations.

B. God Rebukes Uncaring Leaders

Eze 34:7  (This is a warning to the spiritual leaders) Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;

Eze 34:8  As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

hear the word of the LORD;

Eze 34:9  Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord;

Eze 34:10  (Here is God’s judgement on the spiritual leaders) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

…….Because the priests and prophets focused not on the damaged flock, but cared for only their personal well being (vs. 8), the Lord removed them from their duties. By removing them, they would never be able to depend on the blessings and benefits of leadership. A good shepherd will never have to worry about where his next meal or paycheck will come from. Just as the flock are required to pay tithe for the sustaining of the congregation, the shepherds duty is to be a bridge of leadership, always directing towards the Lord. Both the shepherd and the flock benefit from doing right.


A. God Sees Evildoers

Eze 34:17  And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats.

…….Not only does God judge the leaders, but also the followers. If our relationship is right with the Lord, we will not be deceived by corrupt leaders. When we get to the judgement seat of God, we will be judged according to everything we have done. His judgement will be either that of the good, or that of the bad. 2Co 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad……. we as followers of Christ, can not blame others for our lack of servitude to the Lord.

Eze 34:18  Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?

…….He told the elitist, you’ve eaten and drank all of the good, and trampled over the left overs. The people of God were so divided that they wouldn’t even leave the remnants tangible for the lesser.

Eze 34:19  And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.

…….He said, “as for my flock”. The next time you feel left out or done wrong, just remember, the Lord has never taken His eyes off of you! There may be times when we think we are getting some dirty, torn up, hand me down left overs, but those are the kind that the Lord takes and does His real work with!

B. God Judges and Saves

Eze 34:20  Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle.

…….He said He would judge between those who are beyond healthy and those who are poor.

Eze 34:21  Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad;

…….There were those of Israel that were taking advantage of the weak within their own countrymen for their own personal advantage.

Eze 34:22  Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

…….The Lord said He would judge between the ones who have put themselves before those with the most need. When we are in the presence of those who are in need, how does it make us feel? How long has it been since we have helped someone that truly needed help?


A. God Gathers and Nourishes

Eze 34:11  For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

Eze 34:12  As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

…….The Lord said He would search for His lost and battered sheep tirelessly, and bring deliverance.

Eze 34:13  And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

Eze 34:14  I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.

Eze 34:15  I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.

Eze 34:16  I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

…….This was a comforting prophecy for those who lived in repentance during a time of judgement. For those who had learned to prosper while living in sin are not mentioned for deliverance. The Lord said He would bring His people to a land specifically that flourished, the places near rivers of continuous flowing water, and places where the rain waters flow and produce crops. There are times that may come that the entire country seems to be in judgement, but this is the time we must draw closer to God and not withdraw!

B. The Messiah Shepherd

Eze 34:23  And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

Eze 34:24  And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.

……. because it had been prophesied that the Messiah would be a descendent and heir of King David (2 Samuel 7:16-17; Isaiah 11: 1-5), symbolically, the name David was applied to the Messiah. Thus, when Ezekiel prophesied of an ideal king who would shepherd God’s people, calling him my servant David, he was foretelling the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the descendent of King David through his mother, Mary (Luke 3: 23-38), and also through his supposed father, Joseph (Matthew 1:1-16).

Eze 34:25  And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.

Eze 34:26  And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

Eze 34:27  And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

Eze 34:28  And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid.

Eze 34:29  And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more.

Eze 34:30  Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD.

Eze 34:31  And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.

……. while the Jews in captivity probably thought the Messiah would come in association with their restoration to the land of the Israel, it did not turn out that way immediately. The Messiah, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, did not come until more than five centuries after the captivity ended. But now, through God‘s servant David, Jesus, the Messiah shepherd, there is salvation for all who will trust in him.

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