************ Sermon on Ezekiel 34:11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 28, 2018
"The Good Shepherd"
Do you boys see any shepherds here tonight? Let me ask the counselors to stand. These counselors are shepherds. Now, I warned Pete I was going to saying this:
Woe to you Cadet Counselors because you only take care of yourselves! Should not Counselors take care of the Cadets? You are lousy shepherds, terrible shepherds, awful shepherds. And you should be ashamed of yourselves.Cadets, is this the way you want me to talk to Pete and the other counselors? I HOPE NOT.
Do you boys see any sheep here tonight? If there are shepherds, there also are sheep. I want to ask all of you boys to stand. You boys are sheep. Now, I warned Pete I was going to say this too:
You boys are lousy sheep, terrible sheep, awful sheep. You shove the smaller and weaker Cadets. In fact, some of you are not sheep; instead, some of you are goats. In the Bible it not a good thing to be called a goat.Pete, is this the way you want me to talk to these boys? I HOPE NOT.
I The Bad Shepherds
A In our Bible reading Ezekiel talks this way to the shepherds of Israel: the king, ruler, magistrate, priest, scribe, and prophet. And, in the verses after our Bible reading he talks this way to the children of Israel.
In the name of the Lord, Ezekiel prophesies against the shepherds of Israel. Simply put, he says the shepherds are bad. They don't care for the sheep at all. They take advantage of the sheep. They mistreat and abuse the sheep. Instead of looking after the flock, they use and abuse the flock of God for their own wicked purposes and aims.
According to Psalm 23, where does the shepherd lead the sheep? He makes them lie down in green pastures and leads them beside quiet waters. But what does God say the shepherds of Israel do?
(Ezek 34:3) You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.They feed themselves instead of feeding the flock. They look after themselves instead of looking after the flock.
This reminds me of what I read in Christianity Today a couple of years ago. They had an exposé on various Christian ministries and their leaders. I was shocked when I read one pastor has his own jet, another has two mansions, a number pull down salaries of close to a million dollars.
The job of the shepherds is to care for sheep that are sick or injured. But what does God say the shepherds of Israel do?
(Ezek 34:4) You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.
The job of the shepherds is to find the lost sheep. But what does God say the shepherds of Israel do?
(Ezek 34:4,6) You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost ... (6) My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
The job of the shepherds is to guard and protect the flock. Think of David. When his flock was attacked by a lion and a bear he defended the sheep under his care, even though he was but a young man (1 Sam 17:34-37). But what does God say happens under the shepherds of Israel?
(Ezek 34:5) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.
Today, more than ever, shepherds are needed to protect the flock and people of God from the enemy. Jesus warned of false prophets who are wolves in sheep's clothing (Mt 7:15). And Paul warned the Ephesian elders,
(Ac 20:29) I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
Do you boys know the sign and symbol of the shepherd's work? It is the shepherd's staff. I have a staff here. How does the shepherd use the staff? For what does the shepherd use the staff?
-the shepherd uses the staff to touch the sheep on the side to keep them in the pack
-the shepherd uses the hook to pull up sheep that have fallen into a hole or down a cliff
-the shepherd uses the staff as a weapon to protect the sheep
B God uses the word "against" in announcing His judgment upon the bad shepherds of Israel: "I am against the shepherds ..." (Ezek 34:10). God is AGAINST those shepherds. AGAINST. The Apostle Paul can write, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31). The answer is NO ONE. If we have God on our side, no one else stands a chance. Through Ezekiel, God turns this expression around: "If God is against us, who can be for us." Again, the answer is NO ONE. Because if God is against us, it makes no difference who is for us. If God is against us, we don't stand a chance.
God is AGAINST the shepherds. So notice what He says He will do:
(Ezek 34:10) This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves ...God announces He will remove the bad shepherds of Israel. He will take away their position as king, ruler, magistrate, priest, scribe, and prophet.
II The Good Shepherd
A With the bad shepherds gone, does this mean God's people are without a shepherd? Does this mean they are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd? Not at all. Listen to the words of our text:
(Ezek 34:11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.Verse 12 spells out what this means:
(Ezek 34:12) As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.Do you hear what God is saying? God announces that He is the Shepherd of Israel. God announces that He will do what the shepherds of Israel do not do: that He will search out His sheep!
B All of you boys have played "Hide-and-Seek." What was your best ever hiding spot? While you think about it, let me tell you where I hide when I play "Hide-and-Seek" with Alexander and Adriana. I hide in the shower. I hide behind the curtains. I hide in the broom closet. I hide under my desk. So what was your best ever hiding spot?
Who is the first person in the Bible to hide? Who is the first person in the Bible to hide? Adam and Eve. They were living in the Garden of Eden. Everything was good and perfect in the Garden. There they walked with God and talked with God. But then they listened to the Devil and fell into sin. And for the first time in their lives they were actually afraid of God; they were afraid of the God Who made them and loved them. So they hid from God.
(Gen 3:8) Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.What kind of hiding spot do you think they found? A hole hidden under the trees? A place with thick branches overhead? Wherever it was, they thought God would never find them.
What happened next? The LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" What was God doing? He was searching. He was looking. He wanted to find Adam and Eve.
(Ezek 34:11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.
Now, what would have been the result if God did not look for Adam and Eve? What if He left them in their sin and misery? What if God decided to do some other things instead -- you know, like make another star or another galaxy or a couple more whales or dinosaurs? But God did look for Adam and Eve. And when He found them He gave them a gracious promise. An enormous promise. Any of you boys know the promise? God promised to straighten out the mess Adam and Eve had made. God promised to send Jesus to defeat sin and Satan.
C When God's people play Hide-and-Seek with God, God will look for them and God will find them. That's the promise God makes through Ezekiel:
(Ezek 34:11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.God found Adam when Adam was hiding among the trees. Of course God found Adam because God knows all things and sees all things. Adam discovered it is no use hiding from God. The same thing happened with Jonah. Jonah tried to hide from God and he also discovered he couldn't get away. Even in the belly of the whale the eye of God was upon him.
When it comes to His people, God is a seeking and a saving God.
(Ezek 34:11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.He seeks out His people. He seeks out His elect when they are in error, when they are in sin, when their hearts become hard and callous. He does not allow any of His sheep to perish.
Boys, there might come a time in your life when you play Hide-and-Seek with God. Your family for some reason might stop attending church. There is no more Bible reading and prayer in your home. When you are a teen you meet a girl who tries to drag you away from church. You might go to a college with professors who laugh at the idea of Creation -- that God created heaven and earth and everything in them in 6 days. Guess what?
(Ezek 34:11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.God is the Good Shepherd. God seeks out His sheep. God cares for His sheep. God is like a father searching, looking, for his lost son (cf Lk 15).
D The message of the New Testament is that God does this in Jesus Christ. The message of the New Testament is that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I want you to open your Bible to John 10. Let's read verses 11-18 ...
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He tells us this twice in John 10 (vs 11, 14). He is the Good Shepherd in contrast to the bad and wicked shepherds of Israel. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who fulfills what God says through Ezekiel.
Jesus points to three things He does as the Good Shepherd Who seeks and saves the lost sheep. First, Jesus says,
(Jn 10:11) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. David, as shepherd, was willing to lay down his life for the sheep when he faced the lion and the bear. For His sheep Jesus lays down His life. For His sheep Jesus goes to the cross and the grave. He is the Good Shepherd Who seeks and saves the sheep.
Second, as the Good Shepherd Who seeks and saves the lost sheep, Jesus knows His sheep. Jesus says,
(Jn 10:14) "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me ...Now, I am going to saying 1,2,3. When I say 3 I want each of you to say your first name out loud. Cadets and Counselors, what is your name? 1,2,3 ...
You don't have to say your name to Jesus. Because He knows His sheep. The shepherd of Palestine knew his sheep. He had a favorite name for each one of them. Likewise, Jesus knows His sheep and calls them by name. As the good shepherd He has a shepherd's concern for each one of His flock. He searches them out when they are lost. He knows who belongs to Him and knows when one of His flock is missing or straying!
Third, as the Good Shepherd Who seeks and saves the lost sheep, Jesus "leads" His sheep (Jn 10:3). The shepherd of Palestine had to guide and lead the sheep to green pastures and quiet waters. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus guides and leads His sheep to life everlasting. He gets them to drink the living water and eat the living bread from the Word of God.
What a glorious promise we have in our text for today! What a beautiful promise.
(Ezek 34:11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. Christ’s elect may run and hide. They run and hide in darkness, in ignorance, in sin of every kind, but God will find every one of them. There is no jungle so thick but Christ will track down His own. There are no rivers of sin so dangerous but Christ will cross them and find every lamb of His flock. If you are backsliding, if you have wandered far from Him, understand that He sees you with that eye which sees in the dark as well us in the light. And He will follow after you and bring you back. I repeat, what a glorious promise!
Cadets, God's promise is to keep His sheep forever in the palm of His hand. No matter how bad your shepherds may be. No matter how much you may sinfully wander from Him. He will hold you and bring you back.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page