Tuesday 28 February 2017

Bible Book:

“I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” (v. 23)

Ezekiel 34:17-24 Tuesday 28 February 2017

Psalm: Psalm 117


Having begun the chapter by prophesying againstthe oppressive leaders of Judah, Ezekiel now turns his attention tothe people.

It's natural, when we see injustice and oppression, to feelrighteous indignation towards the perpetrators - to feel that'somebody ought to do something'. It's much harder to acknowledgeour own complicity. It can be difficult to recognise our privilegewithin systems which oppress others. And it is even harder to takea stand, when greater equality would cost us our privilegedposition.

It is perhaps this contentment to allow the status quo, and toprofit from the suffering of others, which Ezekiel has in mind whenhe says, "Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, butyou must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture?" (v.18).

Having judged between the sheep, God will gather up the flockand care for them. Verses 23-24 promise the shepherding care ofDavid. This may seem odd, given that David's reign was around fourcenturies earlier. But by Ezekiel's time, his rule was regarded asa high point in the history of God's people. All Israel was unitedunder one king, who was chosen and anointed by God. King David wasa faithful servant of God; a great military leader, who expandedIsrael's territory; a godly leader, who ruled in the best interestsof his subjects. How far this matches the truth was perhaps notimportant. He had become a legendary model of the kingly ideal. Andhe was born a shepherd.

Ezekiel was expressing an emerging hope. This was one of thelowest episodes in the life of God's people. The kingdom wasdivided and the northern part (Israel) completely wiped out. Thesouthern kingdom (Judah) was occupied and many of her people inexile. The exiles were dreaming of the past and the future. Couldthis glorious era, when David was king, be recreated?

Hope started to emerge of another king, in the line of David,who would restore Israel's greatness. He too would be an anointedone, which in Hebrew is 'Messiah'.

To Ponder

  • In what ways do you, or we as western society, "feed on thegood pasture, but … tread down with your feet the rest of thepasture" or "drink of clear water" but "foul the rest" (v. 18)? Arewe guilty of enjoying our privilege but making it harder for othersto share in it?
  • Do you find this passage comforting or challenging, or both?Why?
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