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sheep following shepherd

Pastor Your Flock, Ezekiel 34

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Idea for the Bible teacher or discussion leader: Most people have some position where they are pastors or caregivers, even if that means they are only caregivers over their family or animals. What does it take to be a good pastor or caregiver? [Take answers from your group] In today's Bible study the leaders of Israel are not good pastors (called shepherds) and they are replaced. Find out what they did and how we can avoid it and be a better pastor or caregiver.


The prophecies of Ezekiel 33-48 provide hope for Israel. The year was 585 B.C.. Months after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the exiles receive word that their beloved city has fallen to the Babylonians. This was the lowest point in Jewish history so they needed hope. In our last lesson God gave Israel a glimmer of hope, though repentance was still necessary. God is a God of mercy and grace for those who will repent. Those who delude themselves into thinking their own righteousness is enough will perish.

In this chapter God continues to provide hope for Israel. Read Ezekiel 34 and summarize how he will do this.

Answer 1


A logical question you may have in your mind after reading Ezekiel 34 is, "who are the shepherds of Israel?" It is not explained in this chapter, but fortunately we can discover who they are from other Old Testament Scriptures. Look these up to discover who they are: Psalms 78:70-72; Isaiah 44:28; 63:11; Jeremiah 23:1-4; 25:34-38.

Answer 2


Though Ezekiel 34:1-3 seems to address shepherds in the present tense, verse 4 points out what they had not done (past tense), therefore the shepherds may not have been the leaders in exile, except for deposed King Jehoiachin. What is it that they did and did not do and what were the results? Ezekiel 34:1-6

Answer 3


In verses 7-10, God addresses the shepherds of Israel in the present tense and tells them to give attention to the word of the LORD. Obviously dead, deposed kings cannot listen, so it seems like he may be addressing exiled leaders of Israel, teaching them and all the exiles a lesson. How does God feel about these shepherds? What happened to the shepherds (kings of Israel and Judah) because they cared only for themselves and did not care for their flock (their people)?

Answer 4


According to Ezekiel 34:11-16 who is it that will rescue the flock and care for it? What will he do?

Answer 5


After the judgment upon the shepherds, who else will be judged? Ezekiel 34:17-22. To whom does this refer and to what event? Jesus himself gives us insight into the answer (see Matthew 25:31-46. Note: the word for nations in Matthew 25:32 means gentiles or non-Jewish nations)

Answer 6


Instead of giving aid and comfort to God's people, the Jews, what will the ram and goats have done? What will God do because of it? Ezekiel 34:17-22 and Matthew 25:41-46

Answer 7


Whom will God use to tend the flock of Israel after the judgment of the gentile nations who try to destroy Israel? Ezekiel 34:23-24

Answer 8


What will God do for his people after he saves them and appoints a shepherd over them? Ezekiel 34:25-31

Answer 9



Lessons to Live by: (ask for members' input first)

Today's Bible memory verse:

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (NIV)

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A1: God is going to replace the worthless, greedy shepherds of Israel by shepherding them himself through David. God will gather the scattered sheep and bring them back to a good, safe pasture in their own land, never to be molested or maligned by anyone again.

A2: The shepherds are leaders of Israel, which is probably a reference to the previous kings of Israel and Judah, including the exiled King Jehoiachin.

A3: Because the shepherds (leaders or kings) cared only for themselves, taking the best of everything and not caring anything for the flock (their people), and because they ruled over them harshly and brutally, their flocks were scattered all over the known world (probably a reference to results of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions) and were vulnerable to attack by wild beasts (perhaps a reference to bellicose nomadic tribes in the Middle East or literal wild beasts in the desert).

How do we minister to those under our care? Ministers, are you on the wrong page as to what it means to pastor your flock under your care? Are you more concerned about buildings, numbers and popularity than your own flock? Are you feeding them with the Word of God, caring for them, and protecting them from errors and false doctrine? (Acts 20:28-30; 1Peter 2:5). Do you go out and look for the lost strays to bring them back to the fold, or do you use your people and abuse them for your own profits? (Luke 15:3-7; James 5:19-20). If you genuinely care for your people and sheep that are not of your fold, you will soon find that people will come to you and stay.

The principles from this passage could also apply to government and community leaders, employers and even parents. How do we handle those under our responsibility?

A4: God is still offended by the behavior of these past kings. They were deposed so that they would no longer abuse their people, and God will replace them.

Pastors and other leaders, God can also remove us from our positions if we prove unfaithful. You may be a light in your church or community now. You don't want God to remove it (Revelation 2:5). Be faithful to your trust.

A5: God will do what the shepherds of Israel failed to do. The Sovereign LORD will be the shepherd of his scattered flocks, which were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness (a reference to the Assyrian and Babylonian attacks). God will tend his sheep and bring them to a good pasture in the land of Israel, and he will protect them and make them to lie down in peace. This was only partially fulfilled when King Cyrus ordered a decree to allow them to return to the land under Persian protection. They returned to the land but not to a rich pastureland. It was war torn, and the cities were destroyed and left with little but rubble. It is in the Millennial Kingdom at the end of the age when things will be as God prophecies through Ezekiel (Micah 2:12-13; Zephaniah 2:6-7)

A6: The rams and goats are gentile nations who will be judged when Jesus comes back to earth to rule and reign just before the Millennium. This event is also referred to as the sheep and goat judgment.

A7: Apparently, the gentile nations during the Great Tribulation (at the end of the age before the second coming of Christ) will trample all over the land and waters of Israel and plunder her. They will also try to force Israel out of the land. Israel will be weak and defenseless until God comes to save her. Then God will send the wicked gentile nations into eternal punishment (the lake of fire or hell). But, as in the days of the Jewish Holocaust of the 1940s, those who try to help the Jews will be saved because they demonstrate their faith in the God of Israel.

A8: The shepherd will be God's servant David. This probably does not refer to Jesus Christ because in other passages David is said to offer sacrifices for his own sins (Ezekiel 45:22; 46:4). Instead, it is more likely that King David will be resurrected from the dead and appointed prince during the Millennium.

A9: The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T. gives us a good answer to this question.

God's care and protection will result in peace for His people. I will make a covenant of peace with them. The peace that Israel has always longed for will be experienced. The uncertainties associated with desolate places, wild animals, other nations, and unpredictable weather will be alleviated. The land will enjoy peace and prosperity. Trees will bear fruit and the ground will yield its crops, and the people will be secure in their land, living in safety.

God's "covenant of peace" looks forward to the blessings Israel will experience in the Millennium. This covenant will establish Israel in her land permanently with David as her shepherd. Later Ezekiel stated that the covenant of peace will also involve the rebuilding of God's temple as a visible reminder of His presence (3726-28): God will restore Israel because of her unique relationship to Him. You My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are My people, and I am your God (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1295)

Are you one of God's sheep? Jesus said "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me," (John 10:27, NIV). Do you know Israel's God? Do you follow Him? He offers you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life through his Son Jesus Christ (more...).

Lessons to Live by:

  • God is angry with worthless shepherds and may replace them. Pastor your flock or your family or organization with attentive care.
  • Those who are unkind and abusive to God's people will be punished.
  • God is merciful to those who are kind to the Jews.
  • God is personal. He comes to save those who trust in him (more...)

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