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"I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord GOD. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment." Ezekiel 34:15-16 (Read Ezekiel 34)

God lays much of the blame for the fact that His people of Israel had turned away and came under His judgments upon the shepherds who should have been feeding and nourishing God's sheep with His Word.

Had they been preaching and teaching God's Word, admonishing and bringing back those who were erring and wandering from the fold and comforting those who were overwhelmed with guilt and the problems of life, God's flock would not have been scattered and carried away by their enemies. Instead, those who should have been shepherds to God's people were busy feeding themselves and taking advantage of the sheep under their care.

The same, of course, is true today in regard to the pastors who have been given a charge to shepherd God's flock over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers (cf. Act 20:28). Instead of shepherding the flock and using God's Word to feed and nourish the souls entrusted to their care, pastors take advantage of the sheep and seek worldly gain at the cost of those they should be nourishing. Instead of watching over the flock and protecting it from false doctrine, pastors are often the ones advancing false doctrine and erring views which destroy faith (cf. Rom. 16:17-18). Instead of admonishing the erring and giving God's comfort to the penitent and suffering, pastors say nothing against the sinful lifestyles of our day and offer false comfort to the impenitent and erring.

What does God say He will do? "I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them -- My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken" (Ezek. 34:22-24).

God promised to send His only-begotten Son into the world, born a descendant of David, of the Virgin Mary. He would be the Good Shepherd who would gather God's sheep from all the nations where they had been driven. He would give His life for the sheep to redeem them and restore them to God's flock. He would feed His sheep with His Word and protect them from the assaults of those who seek to destroy and devour God's flock, and He would judge the shepherds who took advantage of God's flock and failed to be true shepherds to them (cf. Isa. 40:10-11; Jer. 23:1ff.; John 10:1ff.).

What does this say to us today? To pastors, it is a stern warning to shepherd God's sheep with God's Word. It is a warning not to abuse or neglect God's flock but to preach the whole truth revealed in the Bible and to faithfully apply God's Word to recover the straying, to admonish the indifferent, to comfort and bind up the weak and injured and to gather the lambs to their Savior. Those who don't fulfill their duties will be held responsible for their failures to shepherd God's sheep, but those who do the work entrusted to them will receive a reward (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1-2).

Peter writes (1 Peter 5:2-4): "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away."

And to the sheep, it is a reminder that the Good Shepherd continues to watch over our souls. He feeds and nourishes us with His Word and Sacraments. His Word reveals to us our sinfulness and comforts us with the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross (cf. 1 John 1:7 -- 2:2). He gave His life for us, His sheep! Cf. Isa. 53:6. With His Word, He admonishes us when we go astray, He comforts us when we repent and look to Him for pardon and peace, He encourages and comforts us when we are weighed down with guilt and overwhelmed by the troubles of this life.

When His called ministers are faithfully doing their duty, He commands us: "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:17).

And, of course, the ultimate goal is that we, God's sheep, dwell with the Lord Jesus forever. The goal is that expressed in Psalm 23:6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

"Savior, like a shepherd, lead us; much we need Your tender care. In Your pleasant pastures feed us, for our use your fold prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours." Amen. -- Lutheran Service Book, Hymn No. 711, Verse 1.

[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Religion on 05/08/2019

Print Headline: Chief Shepherd will judge undershepherds and gather His sheep

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