Ezekiel 34 – Shepherds & The Lost – 8

shepherd-carrying-sheepTrue Shepherds Seek the Flock

the lost you have not sought

In our last post, that is on those sheep that were straying, we found that the shepherds were acting on the sheep, forcing them out, banishing them, thrusting the sheep away. The sheep were straying away from the flock due to the active work of the shepherds.

No so in this instance. But first, lets read the passage.

Ezek 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.

Let’s define the term “sought” first. The Hebrew word is baqash. The definition is as follows
בָּקַשׁ bâqash, baw-kash’;

  • to search out (by any method, specifically in worship or prayer); by implication, to strive after:
    • ask,
    • beg,
    • beseech,
    • desire,
    • enquire,
    • get,
    • make inquisition,
    • procure,
    • (make) request,
    • require,
    • seek (for).

I hope you get the impression that this seeking represents a drawing action on the part of the shepherd, a rescuing effort.
It may seem I am laboring an obvious point, but these last two terms represent a duality that the bad shepherds were getting completely backwards.
The previous blog described the shepherds as actively rejecting the sheep. Not so in this phrase. The shepherds were simply indifferent. The shepherds were acting passively in regards to the sheep they were responsible for.

True Shepherds Seek the Flock

Luke is the gospel that displays the seeking heart of the Messiah. His life and character stand in stark contrast to the shepherds Ezekiel is describing

Luke 5:31 – 32

31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Again, the Master is describing His heart, and the extent of effort and risk He will undergo to find that one sheep, and to rescue it, bring it home and celebrate with His loved ones.

Good Shepherd seeking lost sheep

Luke 15:4 – 74 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Note that the shepherd lays the sheep on His shoulders. I have heard that shepherds, when finding a lost sheep, will break one of the sheeps legs, to dissuade the sheep of ever leaving again. I don’t know if this was common practice in Jesus day. No matter, it is the Shepherds perogative to disciplinie His sheep, and He does so with our benefit in mind.

The truth that stands out for me, is that the Shepherd carried the sheep, the wandering sheep that caused ths shepherd to leave the comfort of His home, and to search, search search. He carries the sheep, and that with rejoicing, not anger or resentment over having to search all day, possibly missing the football game after church, or loosing out on the bbq over at Sally’s home.

One of the first Bible verses I memorized speaks of this intent of the Messiah. His desire to not only save the lost, but to seek them. He is actively searching.

seeking the lost

Luke 19:10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

This verse actually confused me for many years. I was considering a popular teaching of how Jesus’ mission was to save only those He knew would trust Him, those that, from the foundation of the world, would be destined to believe and be saved.

In my opinion, seeking them seemed to be unneccessary since they would come to faith no matter. Currently, I understand the seeking is the first step, an effort independant of the saving effort. He seeks. And He saves.

Back to Ezekiel 34. From verse 5 – 6, the Lord describes the current condition of the sheep. And what is that condition? The sheep were scattered, dispersed, strewn about.

scattered sheep

Ezekiel 34:5-6

5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts.
6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

The sheep were scattered due to the shepherds actions (or inactions)!

Verses 7-10, the Lord speaks of the sheep becoming prey for beasts, while the shepherds lived a life of self indulgence.

The Lord states He is against the shepherds. The shepherds are the enemy. He will rescue the sheep from these shepherds. Rescuing speaks of danger, danger at the hands of the shepherds that the Lord has declared to be the enemy.

He is against the shepherds, and will no longer allow the sheep to be food for the shepherds.

Current Conditions

Times have not changed. During the apostle Paul’s ministry, false apostles in the Corinthian church brought believers into bondage, exalting themselves, taking advantage of the sheep, and speaking of how important they were as shepherds.

2 Corinthians 11:19-20
19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves!
20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

Does this not smack of the same attitude, the same superiority, and abuse that Ezekiel was confronting? Is not this an all too common condition of the western church?

Don’t get me started!

Paul tries to shame the believers in this passage, but it also reveals that false teachers/shepherds are a constant problem for the people of God, no matter what time we live in!

How did Paul exhibit his authority? By the shameful (cowardly?) escape from Damascus.

Paul in basket

Paul was a man of like passions, with fear and weakness. He regretfully boasted of the sufferings for the Lord in the previous verses – he was forced to speak of it.
He would rather have “boasted” of his humanity and exalted the Lord in his life.
Strange credentials to say the least!
Lets get back to Ezekiel, and end this post on a positive note!

Ezekiel 34:15-16

15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.

16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

Parable of lost sheep

The Lord Himself, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ

  • will make them (the sheep) lie down
  • will seek the lost
  • will bring back the strayed
  • will bind up the injured
  • will strengthen the weak

He is the Good Shepherd!


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