Sunday, August 31, 2008

God's Standards of Judgement

This is another citation from Ezekiel, and this time God's talking about how He judges His people. I think this example can be considered as a foreshadowing of the precious gift of God that was to be worked in Christ.
And you, son of man, say to your people,

The righteousness of the righteous
shall not deliver him when he transgresses,

and as for

the wickedness of the wicked,
he shall not fall by it
when he turns from his wickedness,

and the

righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness
 when he sins.

Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live,
yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice,
none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered,
but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.

Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’
yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right,

if the wicked restores the pledge,
gives back what he has taken by robbery, and
walks in the statutes of life,
not doing injustice,
he shall surely live;
he shall not die.

None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him.
He has done what is just and right;
he shall surely live.

Ezekiel 33:12-15

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Eze 33:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

God Decides Between His Sheep

Having declared how He would seek out and care for the sheep His faithless shepherds had neglected, if not outright persecuted and abused, God now declares what He'll do with the sheep within His flock:
“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God:

Behold, I judge
between sheep and sheep,
between rams and male goats.

Is it not enough for you
to feed on the good pasture,
that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and

to drink of clear water,
that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?

And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet,
and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them:


I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.

Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey.

And I will judge between sheep and sheep.

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.

And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them.

I am the
I have spoken.

Ezekiel 34:17-24
Being a member of God's flock doesn't mean that one gets a "free pass" to behave however one sees fit - those sheep who mistreat their fellow sheep would face judgment, while God would rescue those who've been scattered across the lands as a result of their mistreatment.

Finally, the statement "I have spoken" has an air of finality and certainty about it, that there will be no further discussion or argument, and that He would do what He had declared. The notion that "there will be no arguing" is present elsewhere in Scripture, particularly when it comes to times of judgment.

But that's material for another post...

All citations The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

God Tends His Own Flock

Since the shepherds who were supposed to take care of the sheep of God's flock failed to faithfully discharge their duty, and instead used it as a way to fatten themselves, God takes more direct action to care for His sheep.

I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

“For thus says the Lord God:


I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.

As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and

I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

And 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 ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and
I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord
I will seek the lost, and
I will bring back the strayed, and
I will bind up the injured, and
I will strengthen the weak, and
the fat and the strong I will destroy.

I will feed them in justice.

Ezekiel 34:10-16
Repeating something was an Old Testament way to denote emphasis or certainty. When God states that He "will do" something, it has the absolute certainty of the sun rising tomorrow that it would take place. So, in this passage, when God says He "will" do something fourteen times in a single passage, one can can be absolutely assured that what He said would come to pass actually would.

This citation also hints at what's to come when He says "the fat and the strong I will destroy."

More on that with the next installment.

All citations from The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Monday, August 18, 2008

God addresses the Faithless Shepherds

Having identified the problems with the faithless shepherds, and the consequences of the shepherds looking after their own interests rather than the sheeps', God pronounces judgment on them:

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because

because my sheep have become a prey, and
my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts,
since there was no shepherd, and
because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep,
but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,

therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:

Thus says the Lord God, Behold,
I am against the shepherds, and
I will require my sheep at their hand and
put a stop to their feeding the sheep.

No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves.

Ezekiel 34:7-10

The Holy Bible : English standard version.
2001 (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Faithless Shepherds in the Old Testament

This is a complaint God had against so-called "shepherds" in the Old Testament who weren't doing what they were supposed to do, and the dire implications it had for God's sheep:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds,

Thus says the Lord

Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves!
Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
You eat the fat,
you clothe yourselves with the wool,
you slaughter the fat ones,
but you do not feed the sheep.

The weak you have not strengthened,
the sick you have not healed,
the injured you have not bound up,
the strayed you have not brought back,
the lost you have not sought, and
with force and harshness you have ruled them.

So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts.

My sheep were scattered;
they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.

My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth,
with none to search or seek for them.

Ezekiel 34:1-6

All quotes from The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.