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Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24 (NIV)
11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
20 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.”
Only these verses are listed in the Revised Common Lectionary for “Christ the King” tomorrow however it is essential that we know what preceded them. The Lord was scathing of the “shepherds of Israel” whose responsibility it had been to care for his people. Verse 10 attests, “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. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.”
The Lord’s plan for his people was superior. He removed the corrupt and worthless shepherds and instead, with his own shepherding, guaranteed the care for and protection of his flock. Count how many times the “Sovereign Lord” used “I” in verses 11-16! I find that hugely encouraging. The Lord did not merely meet the most basic of needs, he promised “good pasture”, “good grazing land” and “a rich pasture”. Perhaps best of all was the Lord’s promise of “justice”.
Verses 23-24 inform as to how the Lord’s promises were to be fulfilled. He promised “one shepherd, my servant David” (verse 23) who was to be “prince among them”. Prophesied four centuries after the reign of King David, this promise could only mean “one like David” or “one in David’s line”. We know this “prince” to be the “prince of peace” (Isaiah 9: 6), Jesus the Messiah. We are to be greatly encouraged by the promise (verse 31), “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.”