Read: Ezekiel 34:11-15 NRSV
For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God.
Does this passage sound familiar? All of the main points echo the 23rd Psalm that we read earlier this week: “The Lord is my shepherd…” = “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep…” “He makes my lie down in green pastures…” = “And I will make them lie down…” and so on.
The repeated image of a shepherd gathering up the lost sheep and bringing them to a place of safety and rest gives us an idea of what God wants for His people. He longs to gather all of us together and bring us to a place where we can eat, drink, and rest in the refuge of his presence. Whenever a theme is repeated throughout scripture, we ought to pay particular attention to it.
God’s idea of paradise is one of dependence on Him. The Shepherd must seek out the sheep himself because they are too helpless to find their own way back to the fold. There is too much danger awaiting them. God makes them drink water and feed in the pasture. He makes them lie down.
When we remember God as the shepherd we must also remember that we are the helpless sheep. We require the grace and mercy of God to ever find the rest we need. We cannot find a paradise separate from the shepherd. And the divine peace that is described in this passage about God the Shepherd is repeated in Psalm 23, and in the parables of Jesus. The Bible has a clear picture of unity with God, and it requires our full submission to Him to fulfill our needs.