A Good Shepherd Strengthens the Flock.
The weak you have not strengthened
Verse 4 has a number of clauses that define the actions of the evil shepherds.
The Good Shepherd is described in the New Testament as fulfilling each of the activities God addresses when He rebukes the evil shepherds.
I loved seeing this – how that the Good Shepherd supplies the very needs of the sheep as opposed to those who simply abuse the flock for self-gratification.
Ezekiel 34 :4
The weak you have not strengthened,
the sick you have not healed,
the injured you have not bound up,
the strayed you have not brought back,
the lost you have not sought,
and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
Strengthening Shepherds are Gentle
Remember that the principle complaint against the shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel’s day was that they did not feed the sheep. The following clauses show how their utter disregard for the sheep, (typified by their not feeding the sheep) was expressed in other ways. The issue in this post is that the shepherds were not strengthening the sheep.
Matt 12 :17-2117 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;20 a bruised reed he will not break,and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
The Good Shepherd will be gentle with the flock, seeking to encourage some, as one would encourage a smoking flax to reignite, and refusing to damage a bruised reed.
This truth has been very refreshing to me, teaching me that the Lord’s attitude toward a weak child is not that of sneering at them, or despising them or ridiculing them. He will strengthen them, even at the point of their greatest weakness.
A bruised reed has no structural strength. It is literally useless. So often, I consider those that are damaged to be useless, but this seems so anti-Christlike. His attitude is to strengthen the flock, and the verse above exhibits His attitude towards the weakest and most hopeless condition. Ever try to get smoking flax to reignite?
Strengthening Shepherds Supply Strength to Others
Luke 22 :32
32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
The true Shepherd strengthens His people, sometimes through very unexpected methods. This passage is reflecting the time of Jesus speaking with Peter after his denial. How small Peter must have felt, how unworthy! Yet Jesus, in giving the command to strengthen the brethren, strengthened Peter. Peter needed to know how Jesus felt about him and Jesus trusts him with caring for the flock.
This is something wonderful!
The Spirit of the Good Shepherd will be reflected in mutual encouragement among His people, in their communion with each other.
Who is your Good Shepherd? Your Pastor, Priest, Minister?
His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. But if you are in a religious system that does not allow you to obey your Lord, either through your conscience, the written Word or otherwise, it may be profitable to compare your earthly shepherd with the Good Shepherd.
As we venture through the remaining parts of the verse, it will become obvious that Jesus is the perfect anti-type of these wicked shepherds.
The sheep hear His voice and they follow.
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