Loving Father, open my eyes to the areas in which You have given me influence and to be sober about the standard You hold me to.
Read Ezekiel 34:1-31
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Positive leadership includes leading and following as necessary parts of the same whole” (Eugene B. Habecker).
This may well have been Ezekiel’s first public utterance since the arrival of the messenger bearing the news that Jerusalem had fallen (33:21). The prophet makes clear that behind the waywardness of God’s people lay a failure of leadership, here expressed by the shepherd metaphor. Those who are leaders do well to ponder verses 1-6. Are the weak strengthened, the sick healed, the injured bound up? Are the strays brought back and the lost sought after (4)? Are unhealthy attitudes and behaviors in the body of Christ a priority to be dealt with? Or do personal issues get in the way?
If there was failed leadership in sixth-century B.C. Israel, there were also unruly followers. The “like people, like priests” syndrome was active (Hos. 4:9). Willful squandering of resources (18,19) and mutual victimization (21) were rendering the flock dysfunctional. Verses 17-19 raise some hard questions for those who are followers. Do we shove and butt one another rather than committing ourselves to follow the vision of our leaders? Do we muddy the water by withholding our resources unless the church agrees to use them according to our personal preferences?
The dysfunction is overcome when the Good Shepherd himself steps in. The coming of Jesus as Messiah is alluded to in verse 23. He is the Shepherd through whom the Lord will make a covenant of peace with his people (25). While Ezekiel and his contemporaries could only anticipate the coming of Jesus, we are able to celebrate it. But do we? Are we asking him to establish his peace (shalom or well-being of all) in our fellowship? Are we willing to hand our local church back to Jesus? After all, the church is his body, not our private enterprise.
In prayer embrace your church: “Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 6:23).
Shepherd who laid down Your very life, give Your church shepherds after Your own heart. Thank You for those willing to give their lives for You and Your flock.
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