Ezekiel 34:23-24 (ESV) And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.
Ezekiel 34 is a rebuke of the shepherds of Israel.
“Shepherd” refers to the multitude of folks who had some manner of responsibility over the people from the prophets to the princes to the priests to the military commanders to the kings. Anyone who had a role in the people of God and did not perform their duty to the glory of God and the good of the people is addressed in Ezekiel 34.
These folks served themselves to the neglect of the whole of God’s people. They were theologically all over the proverbial map with their knowledge of God. They had little concern for the good of the whole people. Because of their lack of knowing God and their lack of concern for good, they were taken captive.
Poor instruction from God’s word and the practical lapse in obedience to God’s word from both neglect and false teaching led to dire conditions for God’s people.
It’s not as though the Lord didn’t warn in his word that when we take from the knowledge of the enemy and abandon God’s instruction, we get the consequences of death.
The day we eat from that tree there will be death. This is what God told our parents in the Garden of Eden.
From the day of rebellion in the garden all the way to today, leaders of all kinds in the Bible fail people for just about every reason under the sun. Leaders in the Bible also serve to point us to the work of the Son of God. They do this either through dead-end leaders or bridge leaders. Dead-end leaders take the people to a dead end that does them no good, so they are a negative example of Jesus. Bridge leaders put on display something of the glory of the Son of God. Saul is a dead-end leader. David is a bridge leader (and he’s a dead-end leader also). You can hopefully see the difference. In either case, God has prepared the world to see Jesus through the leaders he has allowed to rule over his people.
But God, being rich in mercy and with sovereign design, ordained that the TRUE David, the BETTER David, the CHIEF Shepherd, The GOOD Shepherd would be sent on mission to speak God’s word, cause his people to hear his voice, bring them into his safe pasture and oversee them rightly and with powerful effect.
This is exactly what Jesus tells us in John 10.
John 10:11 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Jesus has come. He is Good and Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), and Jesus is coming again.
Just like they longed for the Good Shepherd way back then, at Advent we celebrate that he has already come and established his rule and we live in the security of his established pasture and care.
We also celebrate his going to the Father and giving us a mission in his name to go after, and we long for him to return to complete the conquering of darkness and to be physically present with us.
Grace to you and peace on this second day of December in the Advent season.