Today’s devotion from Ezekiel 34 & 35. What was wrong with the shepherds? To be blunt, they were more predator than protector. They were eating the juiciest parts of the sheeps. They were taking advantage of the wool. They were butchering the choice animals. They were doing everything except tending the flock.
Not only does God list their wrong actions, He also points out the areas of neglect. He declares, “You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. 5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. 6 My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them.” (Ezekiel 34:4-6, CSB)
Why is this important to us today? Why should we care what shepherds were doing thousands of years ago? The answer is simple: their actions, both good and bad, revealed their hearts. What do we see when we look at these verses? Selfish consumers bent on personal gratification. No investment into the weak or sick, no care or compassion for pain, and no concern for those that wandered away. Tyranny defines their actions, and death was the outcome.
Shepherds where incredibly important in this time and place. Not only were they a backbone of the agricultural system, but they were often used symbolically to speak of rulers or kings. In the case of Ezekiel 34, the shepherds are used as a metaphor to indict the people for living contrary to God’s design. He expected His people to care for others, not prey upon them.
Believers have to remember this expectation. It’s here in Ezekiel, it’s in Amos, it’s in the Pentateuch, it’s in the gospels, and it’s evident in the New Testament teachings to the early church. God’s people are caring people. For this reason, we cannot be distracted by bipartisan politics to neglect those around us in need of help. Look around you. There are opportunities everywhere to shepherd the flock with compassion and grace.