The Soul Shepherd

God provided someone to be the Soul Shepherd of His people, but His identity was a surprise.

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 34-35; 1 Peter 2

22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. Ezekiel 34:22-24

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24-25

Not infrequently, the Bible uses the analogy of sheep to people. Sheep need constant care. They cannot survive without a shepherd. They are prone to make foolish decisions and get themselves in big trouble. Not being able to defend themselves, they are susceptible to predators.

Ezekiel condemns those who were supposed to be the shepherds of Israel and Judah. They looked out for themselves and neglected those in their care. God declared to them that He would rescue His flock. He would get them to safety. He would pronounce judgment. He would provide one shepherd who would feed them and faithfully fulfill the role of shepherd to them. This shepherd to come is identified as God’s “servant David.” Of course, at the time of Ezekiel’s ministry, David had been dead for four centuries, so the prophet would have been thinking of a descendant of David. We know Him as Jesus Christ, of the lineage of David through Joseph (Matthew 1:1,16; Luke 3:23).

Peter refers to Christ as the Shepherd and Overseer of the souls of those to whom he wrote. Clearly, it is Jesus who fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel and rescued His flock. He has fed His people with truth and He will come again to judge those who have rejected His Lordship and His Priesthood. Meanwhile, those He has saved by His death and healed by His wounds are called to die to sin and live to righteousness. In the first century, the vast majority of the Jews rejected the Soul Shepherd that God had sent them. He didn’t fit the stereotype they had imagined for their Messiah.

I hope you have been rescued from the agony of straying like sheep and know the joy of returning to your Soul Shepherd. If so, give Him all the praise and seek to live to righteousness until we enter His presence through death or His return for us.

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