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God as the Seeking Shepherd

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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The LORD God proclaims: I myself will search for my flock and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out the flock when some in the flock have been scattered, so will I seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered during the time of clouds and thick darkness. (CEB)

Ezekiel 34:11

In the first part of Ezekiel 34, God rebukes the "shepherds" of Israel for pursuing their own interests rather than those of the people they were to serve. Their selfishness and injustice led to ruin for the nation, including the scattering of the people of God throughout the earth. The Lord "fired" the shepherds of Israel because of their failure to be faithful in tending their "flock."

Verse 11 changes the tone of the chapter in a striking way. The Lord turns his attention away from the failed shepherds to the flock that was scattered. He says something astounding: "I myself will search for my flock and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out the flock when some in the flock have been scattered, so will I seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered during the time of clouds and thick darkness" (34:11-12). This is one of the first words of hope in the book of Ezekiel, a collection of prophecies dominated by gloom and judgment. Not only does the Lord promise to bring his people back to their home, but he even appoints himself as their chief shepherd.

When we read this passage, we are reminded of Jesus' parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7). There, he tells the story of a shepherd who, having lost one of his flock, leaves the other behind in order to find the one that was lost. When he finds that sheep, he throws a giant party to celebrate. Clearly, Jesus' picture of the good shepherd has been inspired, in part, by Ezekiel 34. He accentuates God's passion for the lost, showing that he is committed to finding even one lost soul...even you.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How might your relationship with God be transformed if you were to read Ezekiel 34 and Jesus' elaboration in Luke 15 as a story about your relationship with God? How would your life be different if you knew that God was searching for you, to restore you to wholeness, to know you more intimately, to delight in your worship, to use you for his purposes in this world?

PRAYER: Thank you, gracious Lord, for being the shepherd of your people, the good shepherd who seeks and finds those who are lost. Thank you for seeking and finding me. Thank you for finding me in a life changing way when, by your grace, I first put my faith in you. Thank you for finding me again and again when I wander away from you.

O Lord, give me your heart for those who are lost. Give me compassion. Reach out to the lost through me. May I be a channel of your grace and mercy, a communicator of the good news of your love through Christ. Amen.

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