The Nature of God: The Heart A Shepherd

During the Thirty Year’s War in Europe (1618-1648) they slew the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus while his troops were winning the Battle of Lutzen, in what is now Germany.  Sweden was thrown into mourning, and government officials met to determine how to replace the king. Some suggested a republic; others thought the crown should go to Adolphus’ cousin, the king of Poland. The chancellor of Sweden arose and said, “Let there be no talk of a republic or of Polish kings, for we have in our midst the heir of the great Gustavus, his little daughter, 6 years of age.” Some protested that they had never seen her. The chancellor said, “Wait a minute, and I will show you.” He brought in Christina, daughter of the king, and placed her on the throne. One representative who was especially suspicious of the move pressed forward and gazed intently into her face. Then turning to the assembly, he exclaimed, “Look at her nose, her eyes, her chin! I see in the countenance of this child the features of the great Gustavus. She is the child of our king!” From all quarters of the room rang the proclamation, “Christina, Queen of Sweden!” – Source Unknown

In the beginning of Ezekiel 34, there is a serious condition God is addressing.  If you look into the eyes of Israel’s priest you would not see the nature of God.  They didn’t behave like God, they didn’t reflect God’s nature and they didn’t care for the people the way God intended.  Hear the charges against them in God’s own words, 

“The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 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. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 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. [1]

There is a perception that the Old Testament God is an angry, wrathful, quick to punish being. What is often missed, even ignored, is the patience and the amazing love of God. The Almighty, upon closer review, is dealing with sheep who are obstinate, stubborn and rebellious, but still, God reached out to them. God is patient with His people. Israel was guilty of committing great sin but in spite of their failings, God is merciful and forgiving.  God offers them time and time again a pathway back for their wanderings.  All they had to do was repent and remember the covenant God made with His people.  I love this observation from Jeffery, “God’s love is not soft and weak, as if it cares nothing about sin, but, rather, exactly the opposite. He cares deeply and sin grieves him. While he will not tolerate it or excuse it, he will pardon it, and it is against this backdrop of divine holiness that God’s love shines most brightly.[2]” 

Unfaithful Leaders

The reference to unfaithful shepherds referred to Israel’s kings and could include their spiritual leaders. How were they unfaithful?  The leaders sought to be served, rather than to serve, they were indistinguishable from having no leader at all.  Maybe you have been in a situation like this in ministry or life.  Where it is obvious your leaders are only concerned about themselves, their career, their personal gain.  That attitude destroys the heart of the people.  These leaders left the people of Israel like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus points out a similar spiritual condition in Matthew 9:35-36, 

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.[3] 

When this happens to the people of God, they wander aimlessly and are easily attacked and became food for their great enemy Satan and the world. It is the role of the shepherd to care for the sheep not feed on them.  

Dear Father God, I pray for you to provide Your flock with faithful shepherds who love the sheep as you do.  In Jesus name. Amen.

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eze34:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2]Jeffery, P. (2004). Opening up Ezekiel’s Visions(p. 103). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[3]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 9:35–36). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Next Week the Series Continues:  God’s heart reflected in going after the Scattered.

4 Comments on “The Nature of God: The Heart A Shepherd

  1. Pingback: The Nature Of God: The Heart A Shepherd | A disciple's study

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