Ezekiel 33 and 34 cover leadership, how Ezekiel cannot be an effective leader and how God will one day lead Israel directly and be their shepherd.
30 “As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.” (Ezekiel 33:30-32 NIV)
Ezekiel is a leader over God’s people, but he cannot lead effectively if they will not listen to him. Ezekiel has been proclaiming God’s word to the people for a few years now and telling them of the judgements of God and the consequences of their actions, and they have been collectively taking his messages about as seriously as you would a street performer’s. I think that a lot of people go to church today because they want to hear nice things from the pastor and they enjoy how energetic and uplifting the speaker can be, but unless you are being pushed to change your ways and grow closer to God and step outside of your comfort zone, then you might be like the Israelites here, with the word of God going in one ear and out the other. Hearing the word is not enough, you have to listen and change.
11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16 NIV)
I think that this looks forward to two different times. First it looks to the time after the death of Jesus when the sins of mankind can be covered by Jesus’ blood and man can go directly to God, without the need for an earthly priest and a temple and daily sacrifices. I think that Jesus was even alluding to this chapter when he told the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to find the one, basically telling the Israelites that God was ready to begin this new type of relationship with them that he had told them about during the time of Ezekiel.
I think that this verse also looks forward to the Kingdom of God when he will reign as the perfect shepherd over all those who have believed. At the time of Ezekiel this was very far away, and Jesus had not begun his ministry, and the Church was not yet established, but God still had a plan.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Thanks for joining us this week as we have been going through Ezekiel. It is not a book that we know particularly well and we are glad that we have had this time to study it.
Chris and Katie-Beth Mattison
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+32-34&version=NIV
Tomorrow we will be reading Ezekiel 35-37 as we continue our Chronological Bible Reading Plan.