Who Is Our Shepherd?
Speaker: Pastor Katie Lewis
July 27, 2017
Today was the third week on our sermon series called Stand Out, where we are looking at the lives and prophecies of several of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. A stand out is someone who is conspicuous in an area because of their refusal to conform with the opinions and desires of the majority. The prophets of the Hebrew Bible knew what it was like to stand out because how they lived and what they preached was counter to the rest of society. We can learn a lot about our own faith walks from the lives and stories of the prophets.
This week we looked at the the prophet Ezekiel. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel prophesied around the 6th century BCE in the southern kingdom of Judah. He prophesied before and during the Babylonian exile, which is when many of the Judeans were forcibly removed from their homeland. Ezekiel is known for having unique and sometimes bizarre visions and prophecies. Some of his prophecies were spoken, while others were acted out. Some of his most well-known prophecies include the chariots of fire prophecy and the valley of the dry bones. This week we studied the prophecy of the good shepherd in Ezekiel 34.
Ezekiel uses the metaphor of shepherd and sheep to relate the kings and leaders to the people of Judah. The kings had become corrupt and focused more on their own desires than on the welfare of the people. The kings failed to seek out the lost and scattered sheep and the didn’t care for the sick or injured. The trouble we see in this passage is that the Judeans needed a shepherd, but the kings were not sufficient to meet that need.
We too are in need of a shepherd. Sometimes we think we can be our own shepherds and that we can make all the decisions on our own. But when faced with big life decisions and even daily life decisions, perhaps we are made aware of our inability to be our own shepherd. We need the help of another. Sometimes we seek out human shepherds to guide us- like pastors, spouses, mentors, and friends. It can be helpful to have people come alongside us to guide us in the faith. However, ultimately, human shepherds are human- they make mistakes and sin just like we do. Sometimes they can even lead us down the wrong path and exploit us, like the kings of Judah did to the people of Judah. We need a shepherd, but neither ourselves or other people are sufficient shepherds.
God realizes that the people of Judah need a shepherd, so God asserts in Ezekiel 34:15, “I myself will be their shepherd.” God is the shepherd who cares for the sheep, seeks out the lost, binds up the wounded, and gives them a secure place to rest. God is a shepherd to all, especially to the least, the last, and the lost. The good news is that we have a shepherd in God. God seeks us out when we have wandered from the path and are lost. God leads us to the luscious green grass to give us food and a secure place to rest. God is the shepherd we can turn to for guidance in the daily and big decisions in life. We invite you to consider, who is your shepherd? Are you idolizing a human shepherd to lead you? Are you trying to be your own shepherd? Or is God the shepherd of your life?
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
- As sheep, what kind of care do you need from the shepherd? What wounds do you need healing from?
- Who is your shepherd?
Monday- Ezekiel 2:1-3:10
Tuesday- Ezekiel 34:1-10
Wednesday- Ezekiel 34:11-16
Thursday- Ezekiel 34:17-31
Friday- Ezekiel 37:1-14