E-34: Template for the Righteous Shepherd
[Part 3 - Template for the Righteous Shepherd]
E-34 Text [34:11-16]
The word of God delivered through the voice and obedience of Ezekiel is the final word to the shepherds of the house of Israel and Judah. NEARLY FIVE CENTURIES of rebellious and unrighteous leadership from all but handful of kings and leaders.
Leading and living by their own standard of what was right - abandoning God's template for righteous leadership of His people.
There is quite a bit here to process. Here are three of the corrective realities they each one faced as Ezekiel delivered God's righteous judgment and the promise of a new path to hope and salvation in Him.
First, it is clear that God was finished with the shepherds who for those nearly five centuries did only what was right in their own eyes - they exchanged the truth for a lie.
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.
22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
The teachable moment for you and I in this can be right here and right now...
If it is not God's righteousness, then it is not the truth, and then in reality - it is only a lie. A lie that we have either believed or have not believed. Please understand that this little reality check is not just a one-time occurrence in life - it is continual, and it is daily. That is why we need the God and righteous shepherd to lead us. If we can accept that then we can hear and know the truth, and we can become free in its righteousness. The righteousness of the good shepherd is enough for us.
Secondly, God was permanently closing down His old covenant operations with Israel (with one exception). Whatever promises they shared in the past were done, and a new covenant would come to them in the future. That new covenant would be established only through the name and bloodline of the house of David - Jesus.
And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the LORD, have spoken!
Finally, as a parting shot, God tells generations of kings, rulers, priests and leaders one last time what a righteous shepherd truly is. Ezekiel reveals God's righteousness toward His people. In fact, He is revealing the righteousness of the shepherd that David the King had confessed as his own...
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Five hundred years earlier David (a true shepherd - after the heart of God) acknowledges God as His true and righteous shepherd. Look at the remarkable connection between God the Shepherd of David, and God the Shepherd of His people in E34. Obviously, there was a huge disconnect after David that led to the E34. I love hearing God speak as a shepherd to His people, because I know He speaks to me as my shepherd as well.
For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
I can verify personally, that the righteousness of God remains and resides in His people. That righteousness is Jesus Christ - the Son of the Living God and the one and only true and good shepherd. When I have listened to His voice and followed His word I have never faltered and failed. My pain and my suffering in this life have been the result of my stubborn and rebellious desire to be right in my own eyes and then insisting I be right in yours.
My own anger, hatred, pride, lust, doubt, fear, anxiousness and selfishness are not the righteousness of God - they are not the heart and hope of the Good Shepherd.
They keep me in hiding, they keep me dividing, they keep me wounding and hurting others, they keep my heart away from the other sheep, they keep me from following in the paths of righteousness, the still waters, the table of the Lord, and dwelling in the house of the Lord.
This is illustrated five-hundred years later in the story of Jesus the Good Shepherd as he encounters and man named Zacchaeus.
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Template for the Righteous Shepherd
One - Search and Rescue
Two - Bring Them Home and Make Them at Home
Three - Feed Well and Rest Well
Four - Treat the Wounded and Train the Weak
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