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Posts Tagged ‘false and true shepherds’


Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and the Prophets – A Reprise

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Félix-Saturnin Brissot de Warville: On the Way Home

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we listen to the words of the prophets cajole, warn and call to us.

The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah, Zechariah join Ezekiel in describing the two-edged shepherd: the true good shepherd who guides and protects versus the false, oppressive shepherd who abuses and steals.

Isaiah 40: 9-11 shows us that the good shepherd tends to those on the margins of society.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead the mother sheep.

Jeremiah 23:1 reminds us that God sees the deceit of the false shepherd.

“Oh no! The shepherds are destroying and scattering the sheep in my pasture!” says Adonai.

Amos 3:12 tells us that the good shepherd struggles to recover even the remnants of his flock.

Julien Dupré: A Shepherdess Watching Over her Flock

In the same way that a shepherd
    trying to save a lamb from a lion
Manages to recover
    just a pair of legs or the scrap of an ear,
So will little be saved of the Israelites
    who live in Samaria—
A couple of old chairs at most,
    the broken leg of a table.

Micah 5:2-5 reminds us that the good shepherd relies on God’s strength and God’s compassion.

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Finally, in describing a world that looks remarkably like Jesus’ world in which a shepherd deceives his sheep for 30 pieces of silver, the prophet Zechariah 11:4-17 describes what happens to evil shepherds.

The Lord says, “That worthless shepherd is doomed! He has abandoned his flock. War will totally destroy his power. His arm will wither, and his right eye will go blind.”

These prophets join Ezekiel as they teach us how to look for both deceitful and genuine shepherds. These prophets predict that although we suffer we will also rejoice. These prophets bring us the confidence we need when we find ourselves in circumstances that offer us no hope.

When we explore these prophecies further, we find the reward joy through sorrow. 

Tomorrow, shepherding in the New Testament . . .

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Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and the Old Testament – A Reprise

Friday, January 12, 2018

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we re-visit our experiences with shepherds both true and false. 

Today’s reading is a familiar allegory that we read in scripture. It is a metaphor we hear read out to us when we participate in liturgies of The Word.

In Genesis 48, Jacob/Israel reminds his sons that God has been his shepherd.

In Numbers 27, Moses tells Yahweh that he ought not to leave his sheep without a shepherd.

In 2 Samuel 5 (and 1 Chronicles 11 and 17), David becomes shepherd of a nation.

In 1 Kings 22 (and 2 Chronicles 18), the prophet Micah predicts that the false shepherd kings of Israel will lead the flock astray.

Through this early Old Testament history, we see the image of the watchful shepherd, guiding and guarding his flocks; but another shepherd steals sheep from the owner. Shepherds wander great distances with their flocks in search of grazing and water to sustain them, and by the nature of their work, there are out of touch with the master and with society.  False and true shepherds come and go with their herds; they roam hillsides and rest by watering holes. However, these shepherds are not all to be trusted. The false shepherd leads his sheep astray – with no one knowing where they were, or what is happening to them. The good shepherd always thinks of his sheep before self; he struggles to gather his sheep in, to tend to their wounds, to save them from harm or danger. The outcast shepherd lives on the margins of society, and does not feel community or solidarity with anyone. Out of touch with society in general, shepherds are free to deceive us or to protect us. We need to acquire the skill of discernment. Today, Ezekiel juxtaposes the good and the false shepherds, the sustainers versus the ravagers. And we do well to pay close attention to his words.

When we use varying translations to explore Ezekiel’s words, we develop new eyes better able to discern the difference between true and false shepherds.

Tomorrow, shepherds in Wisdom . . .

To learn about shepherds today, click on the image or visit: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-there-still-shepherds-today 

 

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Ezekiel 34: Parable of the Shepherds – Part VI

Saturday, September 23, 2017

In a world that too often gives us reason to fear, we turn to a Shepherd who both guides and protects. In societies that bring us exclusion rather than inclusion, we remain in the Shepherd who brings us hope. In work places that foster denial rather than encouragement, we learn to be faithful to the Shepherd who loves. In families that control us rather than nurture, we enact our own parable of shepherding.

And so we pray.

Oh Master Shepherd,

Gather us up,

Gather us in. 

Cornelis van Leemputten: Shepherdess with her Flock

We wander in barren and hostile lands. 

We hear your voice,

We see your face,

We know your touch.

Gather us up.

Gather us in. 

 

We wander in search of something we have lost.

We hear your voice,

We see your face,

We know your love.

Gather us up,

Gather us in.

We wander seeking your nurturing shoulders, your strong arms.

We know your voice,

We know your face,

We know your embrace.

Gather us up,

Gather us in.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 20, 2008.

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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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Ezekiel 34: Parable of the Shepherds – Part III

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

(c) Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

We know the importance of the parables in our lives. These stories point the way when we are lost, and they bring clarity in simple terms when the complexities of life throw too many obstacles in our way.

The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah, Zechariah join Ezekiel in describing the two-edged shepherd: the true good shepherd who guides and protects versus the false, oppressive shepherd who abuses and steals.

Isaiah 40:11: He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering his lambs with his arm,
carrying them against his chest,
gently leading the mother sheep. (CJB)

Isaiah 56:11: Greedy dogs, never satisfied —
such are the shepherds, unable to understand;
they all turn to their own way,
each one intent on his own gain.

Jeremiah 3:15: I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (NRSV)

Jeremiah 23:1: Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the Lord. (NRSV)

The faithful shepherd Amos (1) leaves his flocks and sycamore trees to serve the LORD as a voice calling out for conversion and transformation. These are the words of Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa . . . Amos said, “The Lord roars from Mount Zion; his voice thunders from Jerusalem. The pastures dry up, and the grass on Mount Carmel turns brown.” (GNT) But many ignore the warning.

Micah (5:7) tells us that the remnant will have to abandon false shepherds rulers to rely on God alone. The people of Israel who survive will be like refreshing dew sent by the Lord for many nations, like showers on growing plants. They will depend on God, not people. (GNT)

Zechariah (11:4-5) describes evil shepherds and the fate that awaits them. The Lord my God said to me, “Act the part of the shepherd of a flock of sheep that are going to be butchered. Their owners kill them and go unpunished. They sell the meat and say, ‘Praise the Lord! We are rich!’ Even their own shepherds have no pity on them.” (GNT) That worthless shepherd is doomed! He has abandoned his flock. War will totally destroy his power. His arm will wither, and his right eye will go blind.” (11:17)

After so many warnings, why do we ignore the message? After so many admonitions, why do we continue to hide? After so many cautions, why do we blind our eyes to the parables of these shepherds?

Tomorrow, shepherds in the New Testament.  

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 20, 2008.

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