The Good Shepherd

by Sarah Edwards

Day 18 of Advent

Today's Reading

Ezekiel 34:21-31

Israel had no shepherd. They were neglected entirely by those who were in charge of them, and God told Ezekiel to prophesy against them. The so-called "shepherds" who were supposed to be caring for the people of Israel weren't feeding or protecting them but left them to scatter and wander with no one to search for them, letting them become prey (Ezek. 34:3-8). Meanwhile, the shepherds were profiting off of the benefits they were withholding from their people, leaving the flock to suffer. Despising this, the Lord willed to rescue His flock and give them one shepherd through His servant, David (Ezek. 34:23). 

Along with His promise of one shepherd, the Lord promises to Israel a covenant of peace, in which He would banish wild beasts from the land so they could dwell securely (Ezek. 34:25). He promises showers of blessing (Ezek. 34:26), fruitful land, security in their land, and that He will "break the bars of their yoke, and rescue them from the hand of those who enslaved them" (Ezek. 34:27). The Lord goes on to promise that "they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them" (Ezek. 34:30). God with us. The Creator of the universe with His lowly creation.

In the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of God's promise for one shepherd in David: Jesus (John 10:16). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for His sheep (Jn. 10:11). This Good Shepherd came so that we may "have life and have it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10), rescuing us from the wrath of God in our sin, and giving us life and His perfect righteousness that we might dwell eternally with the Father. How wonderful! We no longer have to be scattered or shoved as the Israelites were. Our Good Shepherd has come to defend us and ensure that His sheep will graze peacefully in His presence.

The Lord loved His sheep and His flock, so He promised Israel a shepherd in Ezekiel 34. Then, God fulfilled His promise by sending Jesus to be our Good Shepherd for eternity. He came down from Heaven to dwell with us, ransom us, then rise again to glory so His Holy Spirit could dwell in us forever. One day He shall return, and we will dwell with Him for all eternity!

The Good Shepherd didn't leave his flock to suffer or scatter, but He restored His flock to salvation. He says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand" (Jn. 10:28-29). No one. A good shepherd will not let the wolf take His sheep (Jn. 10:12). Good sheep know their shepherd's voice and listen only to His (Jn. 10:5). "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (Jn. 10:27). By His Spirit dwelling in us, we are able to follow our Shepherd where He leads us. His Spirit leads us ever closer to Him, until one day He will return and take us home to be with Him forever.

"Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them." If we know this, what is to stand in the way of us getting closer to God? He dwells in us forever, but we must choose to dwell in His presence daily. Cling close to the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us so that we can glorify and enjoy Him all the days of our lives.