If you’ve ever read Psalm 23 “The Lord is my Shepherd,” this passage in Ezekiel should feel very familiar. In some ways this passage displays the mind and heart of God prior to the reflection David offers about his Shepherd God. The imagery of God going on a seeking mission to find his scattered sheep is reassuring. God seeks and rescues His sheep during dark times. Furthermore God offers to sustain his sheep with provision of food and safety.
“I will feed them with good pasture… they shall lie down in good grazing land… I myself will make them lie down.”(v.14-15) I feel like rest for the weary is one of the most neglected benefits of being a child of God in western Christianity. While it seems we have no problem partaking in excesses, we have trouble with rest. It’s easy to develop and buy into patterns of long hours = successful labor = optimum output. We work excessively so we can spend excessively with the hope that people will notice excessively, how hard we have worked.
Let me ask you something: if God supernaturally blessed you with the ability to get your work done in the quarter of the time it normally takes you, what would you do with that time? Would you spend it on more opportunity to work? I think this question is more important than we realize. Is it that we don’t have time? Or is it that if we had time, we wouldn’t know how to rightly spend it anyway?
This is how God spent his time as a shepherd: Seeking (the lost) bringing back (the strayed), binding up (the injured), and strengthening (the weak). To be faithful to the context of the scripture it goes on to say destroying (the fat and strong) by feeding them justice. I wish so badly that those in the Kingdom of God including myself would reject with all our being when “strength” is used to exploit others and when excess is hoarded and idolized instead of excellent stewardship.
We do not serve a God who is into exploitation. We serve a God who is bold enough with his finances to pay a laborer a day’s wage who works for 1 hour. (Matthew 20:13-15) I’d critique that financial decision too, if God didn’t have everything God needed. We serve a generous God. We serve a God who likewise expects generosity.
We also serve a conscientious God, a God who is watching how sheep treat sheep. In verses 18-20 God asks powerful questions if we are willing to stay with the metaphor. “Is it not enough for you to feed on good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?”
Yo, look around, you’re not the only one looking to drink, looking to eat. I forget that. I forget that we are all sheep in the same flock. I forget that the kingdom is built on patience, not on pushing others out-of-the-way, that our place in the kingdom is elevated based on serving not stepping on.
This is why we need Jesus as Shepherd and Savior. He saves us from our competition and determination to be saved on our own and he leads us in away that gives us security in knowing we are cared for. Jesus the Good Shepherd, where did he go? Wherever there are lost sheep, that’s where He goes.
“And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God,” declares the Lord.