We might think the idea of the Good Shepherd is original to the Gospels. Not so. He is here in Ezekiel. Amidst the messages against the nations Ezekiel has a message for Israel’s shepherds, who use the wool of the flock and eat the meat but do not provide pasture for the sheep, nor do they search for the lost, or care for the sick. They not only commit evil themselves but spoil the water and pollute the land.
Ezekiel warns that judgment is coming, a judgment that will divide the sheep and the goats (see Matt 25:31-46). The wicked and righteous may have gone down together. However, as Ezek 33 has affirmed, it is not so in the judgment to come. The one who heeds the warning will save his life.
The good shepherd is coming. Yahweh himself will search out the lost sheep. The true son of David will shepherd the people and bring them peace and prosperity. The true Messiah is coming and will be the shepherd over all the people. The old division between north and south will be forever gone.
There is one true Shepherd. May the day come when there is one true fold. And to those of us like myself who are under-shepherds over the flock, how solemn is our responsibility. May we not muddy the waters or spoil the land. May we show grace to others as we have received it. May we truly love the sheep.
Avondale College, Australia