Talks for Growing Christians
Israel’s False Shepherds and True Shepherd
Lesson Number 34
- The false shepherds were unfaithful and uncaring of Israel.
- The true Shepherd will restore and care for Israel.
- Sing for showers of blessing!
- In chapters 33-39, there are 6 messages that begin with the phrase, “The Word of the Lord came to me saying.” Here in chapter 34 is the second message, and in the first part of the message (vs 1-10), God denounces the shepherds of Israel. Who were these shepherds? How had they failed in their role of shepherds? Who were the victims of their failure?
- What form did God’s judgment take against these false shepherds?
- In the second part of this message, Ezekiel speaks of the true Shepherd. Who is the true Shepherd? List several ways the true shepherd will serve the people.
- In this message, who are the good sheep (“My sheep” or “My flock”)? What and where is the land to which they would be returned?
- Has the prophecy of the return of the people to the land been fulfilled yet? If so, when was the return? If not, when will the return be?
- The shepherds that God denounced (vs 1-10) were the kings, elders and leaders of the nation of Israel. They had failed the people by caring only for themselves (v 2), not feeding the people (v 2), not caring for the sick and helpless (v 4), not bringing back those who had wandered (v 4, 6), and not doing anything to keep the people from being scattered and attacked (v 5). The victims of their failure as shepherds were the people of Israel who in the Lord proclaimed as “My flock” (vs 6, 8, 10).
- God denounced the false shepherds and judged them by declaring that He was against them and by taking away their role and responsibilities as shepherds (vs 8-10).
- The true Shepherd is the Lord Himself, Israel’s Messiah (vs 11, 30, 31). As the true Shepherd, the Lord will search for His sheep and bring them back into the land (vs 11-14); He will feed them and give them rest (vs 14, 15); He will heal and strengthen the injured and sick among them (v 16); and He will discipline the sheep, as well as judge and remove any who are not really part of His flock (vs 16-22).
- In the context of this chapter, the good sheep are clearly the Jewish people, and the land of return is the land of Israel.
- This prophecy of great blessing, the return of the people to the land of Israel, has not yet been fulfilled. It was not fulfilled when the Jewish people returned from their captivity in Babylon, for they did not experience the prophesied rest and security and blessing at that time (vs 25-27). This prophecy will be literally fulfilled in the future when many of the Jewish people will turn to the Lord and be saved, and restored to the literal land of Israel.
- Discuss the importance of interpreting the prophetic blessings of this chapter as a promise to the Jewish people that God will restore their spiritual relationship with Him, and will return them to the land of Israel. What problems of interpretation are encountered if the blessings of this chapter are being spiritualized to the Church today? Consider God’s covenant with Israel in Jeremiah 31:31 in this regard.
- What a great blessing the Lord has promised to the people and to the land of Israel! Are you praying and looking forward to the fulfillment of this great blessing with anticipation? Pray earnestly for the spiritual restoration of the Jewish people to their Lord, their literal return to the land of Israel, and for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).
- “And I will bring [My sheep] out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places in the country.” Ezekiel 34:13