Archive for September 22nd, 2017

Ezekiel 34: Parable of the Shepherds – Part V

Friday, September 22, 2017

There is a reference to God as shepherd in the letter to the Hebrews (Chapter 13) and in Peter’s first letter (Chapter 5). In Revelation 7 we see Jesus the Lamb as the ultimate shepherd amid the great multitude in white robes. All of this is not a coincidence.  All of this is a sign to us, a complete and complex image.  In today’s reading from Ezekiel we are reminded that false shepherds abound.  They are subtle yet abusive.  Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!  They prey on the weak and lord it over the flock.  They eat the very sheep they are called to protect.  There is also the one, true and constant shepherd who will gather the scattered, who will rid the countryside of ravenous beasts, who will send rain in due season so that the trees might bear fruit.

God asks us these questions through Ezekiel in verse 18: Was it not enough for you to graze on the best pasture, that you had to trample the rest of the pastures with your feet?  Was it not enough for you to drink the clearest water, that you had to fowl the remainder with your feet?  God tells us that he will judge the lean and the fat.  God, the Ultimate Shepherd, knows each sheep by name.  God, the Good Shepherd, carries the ewes and the lambs in hopeful arms.  God, the Protecting Shepherd, defends the sheep from the wolf.  God, the Healing Shepherd, will seek out the lost and the weary.  God, the Abiding Shepherd, will gather us home with all of the faithful flock.

God as Faithful Creator, Hope-bearing Savior and Abiding In-Dweller is the First and the Last of the Good Shepherds . . . and if we are made in this image, we know what we must do.  We who may be tempted to push with side and shoulder, and butt all the weak sheep with . . . horns until they [are] . . . driven out . . .  must instead follow the voice of the Master Shepherd who guides, heals, unites, brings home, restores, and rejoices with the arrival of each straying sheep.  We are called to follow God’s example and as we grow in our skills of shepherding, we become a guiding light to others as we find our way into the One True Fold.

Tomorrow, a prayer for shepherds.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 20, 2008.

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