Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16- God's Good Shepherd

November 16, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Ezekiel 33:1-34:31; Hebrews 13:1-25;
Psalm 115:1-18; Proverbs 27:21-22

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  
He makes me lie down in green pastures: 
he leads me beside still waters.  
~Psalm 23:1-2

Ezekiel 33:1-34:31

From the beginning of the book of Ezekiel until this point, Ezekiel has been called and commissioned by God to be a watchman to Israel of the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  He has been faithful in his work. God warned that He would make Ezekiel accountable for those who would be judged if he did not do the job of warning of God's coming judgment, but Ezekiel was a reliable watchman.  Our reading today includes the fulfillment of the prophecy that Jerusalem will fall. Now God is recommissioning Ezekiel to be a watchman once again.  This time Ezekiel is to warn the people who have been taken into captivity to look to a future day and live in expectancy for the future of Israel.  The people of Israel are to look to the Millennial Kingdom that will be theirs on earth in the future.

Chapter 33 includes Ezekiel's recommissioning and responsibilities as a watchman. It is only Ezekiel's responsibility to warn and give forth truth. God is responsible for the reactions of Ezekiel's listeners.  You and I, as believers, are also responsible to warn and speak truth. We are not responsible for whether or not people actually come to Christ as a result of what we share. We are only responsible to warn and speak truth. God calls us to this.

Ezekiel is told by God that God's judgments are just, whether or not people on earth understand that they are just. Often the judgment that comes upon the wicked will affect the righteous with physical death.  God declares that He is just in how He handles His judgments. This is an important concept for you and me to understand.  Perhaps a war or an earthquake is a judgment from God. We see that both the wicked and the righteous suffer in that war or earthquake. These passages in Ezekiel tell us that God's perspective is that He is just in what He does and ultimately, every person is judged individually, in order to determine their eternal state.  Physical death is natural. Eternal death is punishment.

Chapter 34 describes for the Israelites that God is going to provide for them a Good Shepherd, who is unlike the evil shepherds who have led them down the path of judgment.  God contrasts how these evil shepherds have only been concerned with money and have allowed the people to be attacked by wild animals (idols and false prophets).  The evil shepherds are going to be held responsible for this. God is going to become the Good Shepherd of Israel, who will not let one sheep be lost. Notice, if you will, how many times God says "I will." This is important.  God is the only one who can accomplish the salvation of Israel and the salvation of you and me. Here are some of the "I wills":
  • I will hold the evil shepherds responsible.
  • I will take away their right to feed the flock.
  • I will rescue my flock.
  • I will search and find my sheep.
  • I will rescue my sheep from all the places to which they were scattered.
  • I will bring them back home to the land of Israel from among the peoples and the nations.
  • I will feed them on the mountains of Israel.
  • I will give them good pasture lands.
  • I will search for the lost and bring them back and bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.
  • I will destroy the fat and powerful.
  • I will feed them justice.
  • I will judge between one sheep and another.
  • I will separate the sheep from the goats.
  • I will judge between the fat and scrawny sheep.
  • I will be their God and send David as a prince among them in the new kingdom.
  • I will make a covenant of peace with them with no wild animals in the land.
  • I will send showers of blessings.
  • I will give them a land famous for crops and there will be no hunger.
  • I will cause people to know Me and my people Israel.
Wow.  God is in control and God will accomplish this. This is what Ezekiel was told to warn the people of Israel to expect. Ezekiel is held accountable by God to tell this truth. The millennial reign of Christ will be a wonderful time of blessing for the nation of Israel.  God's many promises to them will be literally fulfilled. He will accomplish this Himself.  This is His plan.  Do you believe this?

Jesus uses these same words as he comes to the nation of Israel the first time. In John 10:11-14, we see Jesus declaring that he is the Good Shepherd. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus declares that he will separate the sheep from the goats at the end of time.  In this talk, Jesus conforms to Ezekiel's message when he states that helping those in need within the body of believers will be one determinant factor in who is a sheep and who is a goat.  Reflecting God's mercy is a sign of belief in the Messiah. The promise of Israel becoming a lush and abundant land filled with peace, so much so that even the lion can lay down with the lamb, is what the Israelites are to expect in the future. The Garden of Eden restored is a promise for which mankind longs. Ezekiel is told to promise this very thing to the nation of Israel. You and I know that these promises have not yet been literally fulfilled. But just as Jerusalem really did fall to Babylon, these promises really will be literally fulfilled.

What do you think of this?  Are you a sheep or a goat?  Do you believe there will be a thousand year reign of Christ on this earth?

Hebrews 13:1-25

We see that true sheep of God's flock behave in certain ways.  They love one another. They show hospitality to strangers. They help prisoners and those in need. True sheep honor the institution of marriage and are not immoral. Please note, this does not mean that you can never make a mistake. It means that immorality is not a lifestyle for you. Here is another signpost...true sheep do not spend their lives in love with money and material possessions. God is their helper, rather than the almighty dollar.

The Hebrews are encouraged to stay faithful to Christ and not be drawn away by fancy new ideas. Jesus died outside of the city gates, just as the animals who were sacrificed in the Old Testament were carried outside the city after their blood was drained to take into the Temple. True sheep will also bare the disgrace that Christ bore in His body. Our sacrifice to God will now be our continual praise to Him each day. Do you give a sacrifice of thankfulness and praise each day to God?

Paul reminds the Hebrews that Jesus is the great Shepherd over the sheep by an everlasting covenant signed in His blood. It is Christ who must receive our glory. 

Paul's letter closes with the statement that Timothy has gotten out of jail. Amazing. Do you love the message of God enough to go to jail for it?

Psalm 115:1-18

This says it all, "Not to us, O Lord, but to you goes all glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness."

Proverbs 27:21-22

Have you ever thought that receiving a bunch of praise about yourself is a real test?  This proverb is quite correct. Can you remain humble and keep perspective in the face of popularity and adulation?

What are you learning?  We are pretty far along, people.  You are going to meet your goal of reading the whole Bible!!!!


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

No comments:

Post a Comment