Tuesday, December 12, 2023


Our Father , Our Shepherd - Looking at God as our Shepherd through the eyes of  Ezekiel,  David and Jesus

I love how God never says anything just once. David proclaims in Psalm 62:11 “God has spoken once, twice I have heard this…..”
And Hebrews 6:17 is speaks of God confirming His word with an ‘oath’ so that by “two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation.” Meaning that everything God says He will confirm or say more than once.

A Shepherd.  How beloved and familiar is  Psalm 23, and we speak often of Jesus as our Shepherd.  
But maybe we have not followed the theme or thread throughout the Bible showing us again how God does not change.  He truly is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  And in speaking of Himself as a Shepherd there is more to be gleaned than just the familiar, warm analogy! 

The theme of Shepherd and sheep is found throughout our Bibles .  The first reference is found in Gen. 49:24  …. By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel). This is Jacob’s prophecy over Joseph.  It is noteworthy because Joseph is a type of Jesus, and we know the ‘Rock’ of Israel was pointing to Jesus, and here it first refers to Him as the Shepherd.

The second reference is in Num. 27:17 “….that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” 

Also in I Chron. 11:2 Samuel quotes God having said to Saul…” You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over My people Israel. "



My lesson today focuses on three passages, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23 and John 10 and  how we will see that both David and Jesus’ drew from the words of this Ezekiel chapter.  



David was obviously familiar with the words of the scroll of Ezekiel and sitting alone in a field watching his sheep it must have run through his mind and he penned the beloved words of Psalm 23 as his heart-response to Ezekiel 34. 


I paralleled Ezekiel’s words to David’s response.  


Ezekiel 34:11  “Thus says the Lord God, Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep….I will deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day…”
                                       Psalm 23:1  “The Lord is my Shepherd , I shall not want …. “

Ezekiel 11:14,15 -  “I will feed them in good pasture … there they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pastures….  I will make them lie down. 
                                   Psalm 23:2… He makes me to lie down in [b]green pastures;

Ezekiel 34:18 ..”to have drunk of clear waters … “
                             Psalm 23:4 He leadeth me beside the still waters

Ezekiel 34:16, I will bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick .. 
Psalm 23: 3 He restores my soul

Ezekiel 34:23, And I will establish one shepherd over and the shall feed them .. and be their Shepherd.    
               Psalm 23: 3, He leads me in the paths of righteousness  for His name’s sake.                                                       

Ezekiel 34:28 “And they shall no longer be a prey… nor shall beasts of the land devour them, but they shall dwell safely and no one shall make them afraid. “ 
                       Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
                                                        I will fear no evil;

Ezekiel 34:30 “Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God am with them …” 

                                     Psalm 23:4 for You are with me ..


Ezekiel 34:17,18  As for you O My flock, thus says the Lord God, Behold I shall judge between sheep and sheep , between rams and goats… …Behold I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep..”

                          Psalm 23:4 Your rod and your staff they comfort me.


Ezekiel 34: 26 And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing and I will cause showers to come down in their season , there shall be showers of blessing..

             Psalm 23:4,5,6  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
                           You anoint my head with oil;   M cup runs over.
                        Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;


Ezekiel 34:30, 31 They , the house of Israel are My people says the Lord God, You are my flock and I am your God …
Psalm 23:6 And I will  dwell in the house of the Lord forever !


Comparing Jesus words in John 10 we also see parallels to Ezekiel 34.

Jesus uses an  illustration in John 10.   In His illustration He uses several ‘pieces’ that fit together in the analogy He is teaching. .

To understand an illustration or parable that is speaking of one thing but meaning another, we need to rightly assign the meaning intended to each piece of the parable.

In Jesus’ illustration we have …

The sheep --  you and me  - “God’s own”
The door – by which the good Shepherd enters
The good shepherd, who loves his sheep  -   Jesus
The wolf – Satan
The hireling shepherd - leaders of God’s people who are false shepherds and do not love the sheep.

 Who kills, steals and Destroys?

There is a phrase in this passage that is often taken out of context  -  “who comes to kill, steal and destroy”  and these words are  applied to Satan.  But that cannot be the intended meaning  because the ‘hireling’  who ‘kills, steals and destroys’ flees from the ‘wolf’ .   The wolf cannot flee from himself, therefore the ‘hireling’ that ‘steals, kills and destroys’ cannot be the wolf - or Satan.

The ‘kill, steal, destroy’ is a strong condemnation directed to ‘false teachers/leaders/shepherds” As I noted above, we cannot establish truth from just one scripture.  We must have confirmation. In this example we need to find confirming scripture that gives the same message as we have defined it here – that the ‘hireling’ is false teachers/leaders’.  

Confirmation in Ezekiel 34

And we find that confirmation in Ezekiel 34.  Here God calls the leaders of His people “false Shepherds” (or hirelings) and He condemns them accusing them,  

1.       of ‘stealing’ -  Ez. 33:1,2 says that instead of feeding the flocks, they ‘steal’ the food to consume on themselves.

2.       of ‘destroying’ the flock in verse 4 when He says that they have not strengthen the weak or healed the sick nor bound up the broken, nor sought that which was lost, but ruled with force and cruelty.

3.       Of ‘killing’ -  the sheep  ‘become prey, and are killed by the beast of the field’   because of the false shepherds

So in both Ezekiel 34 and John 10 it is the ‘false leaders/shepherds’ that are the ones accused of ‘stealing, killing and destroying’.  Just like in the Old Testament we have God’s words condemning the leaders who did not Shepherd His people, but destroyed them in leading them into worshipping false gods.

Jesus  first condemns the ‘hirelings’ or false Shepherds,  and then compares Himself to a Good Shepherd.  

Just like David, Jesus repeats ore rephrases  the thoughts in Ezekiel 34 about what a good shepherd is and does  and applies it to Himself.

1.       He says He is  the ONLY Good Shepherd.  ( John 10: 14, Ezekiel 34:23)

2.        He speaks of being the very ‘door’ of the sheepfold – He keeps them safe.  (John 10:9,  Ezekiel 34:25, 27,28)

3.       He will not flee like the ‘hireling’.  (John 10: 13, 14  Ezekiel 34:30)

4.       He will care for His sheep.  He gives His very life to them, and they know Him and trust Him and hear His voice. (John 10:9, 15 , Ezekiel 34:13, 14, 15, 26, 29)

5.       He gives them a secure home -  ‘eternal life’. (John 10:28,   Ezekiel 34:22, 30, 31)

Why is it so important to see God/Jesus as our Shepherd? 

God created ‘sheep’ so that we could clearly understand the relationship God wants to have with His people – the Sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3 “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture”)  

What does the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep teach us ?

1.       A sheep is the most dependant of all animals.  It cannot care for itself.  It cannot even clean itself, the Shepherd has to do it.  So we also  – only our Shepherd can cleanse us of our sins.

2.       The sheep needs the shepherd to lead it to water, to the lush pastures, it doesn’t know the way by itself.   And so we too,  need our Shepherd to lead us and guide us and “direct our paths”.

3.       We tend to want to be independent – do things our own way.  We so quickly hear the insistent words of a toddler .. “Me do it!!”   Occasionally a sheep will wander from the shepherd,  and fall over.  If he does he cannot get up by himself, he needs the Shepherd to help him. 
So with us --  when we wander from the Lord, do we not ‘fall’ into diverse sins and situations and can’t get up on our own?   
Or the sheep gets caught in the bramble bushes …  so like us going our own way get ‘caught’ in habits, relationships and consequences of our actions and can’t free ourselves.

4.       A sheep will quickly get himself lost on his own and can’t find his way back. The shepherd has to go find him and bring him home.   Does our Shepherd not continually ‘find us’ even as he went out to look for Adam and Eve, or Elijah saying, “What are you doing here”   And He lovingly invites us to come back to the safety of His fold.

5.       A sheep wandering away from the Shepherd is vulnerable and easy prey for the enemy. 
As are we. Our enemy is ever on the watch to see if he can catch us in a weak moment and tempt us to ‘sin’ in whatever way he can… in our deeds, our words, or our choices or decisions. 

Isn’t it amazing how God has made it so clear and simple in His word, confirming His truth over and over so  that we need never fear or wonder who He is.  We can rest in the assurance of who He is as our Good and Faithful Shepherd!

I was wondering ….  Do you think that much of our ‘trouble’ comes into our life because we want to do things our way?  We try to solve our own problems, find our own answers and then when things go sideways, we  wonder how we got there ! We even ask, “where are you God?”  All along, He has followed us, calling for us ,  to bring us back to the ‘good pastures’ and the safety in His presence.

Should we not  ‘surrender’ our self-will, our desire to self-rule and just completely trust our needs and cares and , yes,  our very life into the hands of our Good Shepherd who is the PERFECT Shepherd?   There is a saying that many believe is in the Bible – of course it isn’t – but the saying goes… “God helps those who help themselves.”   That is not how a Shepherd relates to His sheep.   If we ‘insist’ on helping ourselves, God LETS US.  He is watching to help those who totally trust in Him !!! It is not weakness to implore the Lord for help BEFORE we try our own way, it is a strength.   Even Jesus said that He said nothing He did not first hear the Father say, did nothing He did not see the Father do !” Jesus  did nothing in His own authority. (John 8:28, John 5:19)  He set the example, we as the ‘sheep of His pasture’ need to follow !!