August 31 – Today’s Readings – Ezekiel 34-36 and Psalms 61
Ezekiel 34:1-10 reads, “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves.”
Here is the Lord God, holding people accountable for the “flock” of God. His challenge is simple – you are not just supposed to look after yourselves or use your religious position and influence to improve your lot in life – you are supposed to care for others – people who could use your help. You should have compassion on people and treat them with respect. You should also be setting an example for others to follow!
Jesus spent much of His “sermon” time challenging us concerning loving one another – the good Samaritan style of spirituality – showing compassion – not using our “riches” for ourselves but following His example of giving His life for others.
There is a clear Messianic prophecy found in Ezekiel 34:11-16 – a picture of Christ and His ministry as “Shepherd”. This is also a picture of what our lives should look like if we are to be ambassadors of Christ. We are challenged to be “shepherds” of the Lord and your “flock” are those people who come in contact with you – those whom you influence. When we see all the spiritually confused people around us, we have no choice but to help them find the Good Shepherd and to become good shepherds in the flesh.
1. Are you and I shepherds? Are we supposed to look after others?
2. What kind of “heart” is required to become a shepherd like Christ has called us to be?