“For thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down in good grazing ground, and they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick;…As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,’ declares the Lord GOD.” ~ Ezekiel 34:11-16a, 31
I love this chapter! What a beautiful picture God painted for His children, the sons of Israel. They had been warned (and warned, and warned) to repent and return to the One True God, and because of their continued disobedience, they had suffered greatly at the hands of the Assyrians (the Northern Kingdom) and the Babylonians (Judah). Yet God promised them restoration. He promised that, like a good shepherd, He would continue to care for them, always.
We know from history that they were indeed gathered and brought back to their own land, beginning with the decree issued by Cyrus, king of Persia, in 538 B.C., allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Slowly but surely, many journeyed back and rebuilt the Temple, as well as the city. After it was all destroyed again by Rome in 70 A.D., the sons of Israel were once again scattered. But miraculously, God brought about the modern day restoration of the nation in 1948.
These verses in Ezekiel don’t just apply to the people of Israel. We are told that once we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, we become the sons and daughters of God. We are His children, His sheep! He seeks the lost, brings back the scattered, binds up the broken, and strengthens the sick.
Jesus called Himself our shepherd:
” ‘I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ ” ~ John 10:11, 14-15, 27-30
Be encouraged today, dear brothers and sisters. Jesus is our good shepherd! He lay down His life for us, gave us eternal life, and keeps us safe and secure in His hand. Always.