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September 16, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Ken Casillas continues a series entitled “Looking Unto Jesus” with a message titled “The Good Shepherd,” from Ezekiel 34.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina today on The Daily Platform were continuing a study series entitled looking at the Jesus which is a study of Christ in the Old Testament. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Ken Casillas of the Bob Jones University seminary if I told you that the title of the message today is the good Shepherd you might expect that having turned to Psalm 23.
But actually, our text is not in Psalms.
It is in the prophetic books like invite you this morning to go with me to Ezekiel chapter 34 Ezekiel chapter 34. As we look at this passage we are going back in history all the way to the sixth century BC and to the Babylonian exile of the tribe of Judah along the way as we head in that direction. I'd like us to make a stop in Scotland actually and in the 1800s. During the Industrial Revolution. Here we observed a little girl.
The school age girl was living in the city of Dundee and at the age of 11 she is compelled to begin working in the textile mills eventually putting in 10 hours a day 10 hours of tedium and of overwhelming toil particular for a child that age. Her family is hard-pressed financially and sometimes her mother gives her the humiliating task when she gets home from work of taking some belongings that were pulled together from the house and taking them down to a pawnshop so that they could get some cash to scrape together to pay the bills was the reason that this girl had such a dreary childhood was largely due. Sadly to a dysfunctional father who wasted away the family's money on alcohol and this was a circumstance that the family could not get away from that was just part of the definition of their lives. Let me read to you a little bit about that.
There was one night of terror, the writer says, in every week on Saturday after the other children were in bed.
The mother and daughter sat sewing or knitting in silence through long hours waiting and sickening apprehension for the sound of uncertain footsteps on the stairs. Now again they prayed to quiet their hearts, yet they longed for his coming. When he appeared he would throw into the fire. The supper they had extended themselves to provide for him. Sometimes this little girl was forced out into the streets at that point where she wandered in the dark alone sobbing out her misery that young girl was suffering under self-centered and oppressive leadership in that case, leadership in her home and maybe there are some of you who can relate to that kind of miserable home life or maybe we experience bad leadership in other forms. It could be that your your family actually suffered under a dictatorial pastor who not only tried to control your life but eventually disillusioned you greatly when he was exposed as a hypocrite. Or maybe you're from a country where Christians are facing intense persecution from a dictatorial government and perhaps some of us even in this country will have occasion to face that kind of breakdown that kind of oppression in leadership all the scenarios I think are appropriate parallels to the background of the passage that they were looking at the prophet Ezekiel, he lived in Babylon with 10,000 other exiles who had been taken from Judah in 597 BC and as you read the opening chapters of his book chapters 1 to 24.
It's all about what was still to come for the people that are still back in Judah with a very depressing set of chapters as you read time and again about this judgment that the Lord intends especially for the city of Jerusalem. And then there's a pause, and in chapters 25 to 32 you find a series of other messages that are actually address not to God's people, but their address to the nations of the world.
The people that the Israelites had so long suffered under and got announces that each of those enemies have a day of judgment coming as well. When you turn the page to chapter 33 in the middle of that chapter. A messenger arrives from Jerusalem and he brings the report that the city of Jerusalem had finally fallen and those predictions of destruction and devastation had come to pass, you turn the page again to our chapter, and thankfully the tone, the emphasis they're totally different is what God begins to do from this point forward in the book is to lay out his gracious plan for how he intends to restore the tribe of Judah and all the people of Israel. One day, storing them to their land, restoring them to peace, restoring them to prosperity and when he begins in this chapter instead of addressing all of the external threats that were out there impinging on the freedom and the happiness of his people. The Lord starts by dealing with the internal problem of the bad leadership that these people had suffered under historically and as Ezekiel targets, the leaders, he uses the familiar image of a shepherd to speak about the way in which God desired for them to lead his people is referring here primarily to the Kings that the people of Judah had hadn't those kings in the plan of God had both the political role and a spiritual ministry to play in the lives of the people, but so often they had turned that position into a means of seeking their own personal material benefit you from the beginning of Bible history. Several of the leading human figures in the story they were shepherds you think about people like Abel, you think about people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses functioning in that capacity as their vocation and it speaks to something beautiful about the way that God works so very natural that when the Lord set aside his chosen King David, that he pulled somebody who was from a shepherding background in that role of David's yes and involved authority, but it was mixed in with concepts of tenderness and protectiveness and a heart to truly care for the needs of the sheep effect in Psalm 78 the Lord says that he chose David as his servant took him from the sheepfold from following the use great with young.
He brought him to feed Jacob his people, so he fed them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them by the skill fullness of his hands.
That was the model that was the ideal for the kings of God's people, and it also from the very beginning, the Lord had warned the people that there were grave dangers associated with the concept of the king when they first insisted on having a king in first Samuel chapter 8. Remember that he warned them. I'm going to give you this king, but I want you to realize what is in store for you.
There is great potential for abuse in this kind of role and this king is going to conscript here young people to fight his wars and to serve in his courts and you're going to be taxed and your to be oppressed by your own countrymen, and he says for Samuel 818 you shall cry out in that day because of your king, which he shall have chosen you and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Sadly, what he said there happened even with the Davidic line. Those kings that you would expect would have followed the model of David, especially during the last century of the people of Judah.
It was all kinds of turmoil in all kinds of oppression because of the poor choices of the leaders listen to what is said about Manasseh that he shed innocent blood very much to. He had filled Jerusalem from one end to the other what Jeremiah in chapter 22 says about Jehoiada, Kim Woodham, who built his house by unrighteousness. His upper rooms buying justice who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing, and does not give them his wages you have Eisenhardt only for your dishonest gain for shedding innocent blood and for practicing oppression and violence and so when Jeremiah continues in chapter 23 he goes on to indict those very kings for failing in their role as shepherds and probably that statement of Jeremiah was the inspiration for this passage by Ezekiel.
As we look at this passage thinking about the shepherd Lee leadership that God is looking for. We find three actions that he himself that Yahweh himself will take to provide the right kind of leadership for his people and all that I have time to do this morning is to walk you through the outline of the passage point out a few of the verses and then make some applications in verses 1 to 10. Here is the first action that the Lord will carry out Yahweh will save his people not talking there about ultimate salvation spiritually. He's focusing particularly on their lot in the world because of their bad leadership he's going to save them from that in verses 1 to 6. There's an emphasis that he knows just how much they are suffering under the selfish leaders he lays out the sins of these people, as the shepherds.
They not only didn't care for the needy among the sheep. They were focused on the sheep that were in a pretty good condition so that they could eat no sheep and so they can fleece though sheep that's what they're condemned for in verses three and four specially and as a result, what happened to the people. Verse five. They were scattered because there is no shepherd. They became me to all the beast of the field. My sheep wander through all the mountains. My flock was scattered on the face of all the earth, and no one searched for them or sought after having demonstrated that he is very aware of just how bad conditions were in the rest of this section, the Lord commits himself to rescue them from their selfish leaders. He says because this is the situation that you don't have a true shepherd. Look what I'm gonna do. Verse 10 I am against them. I'm going to oppose them. I'm gonna hold them accountable.
I will require my flock at their hand and I'm gonna terminate these people are going to be fired. He says in verse 10, I will cause them to cease from feeding the flock, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves anymore for I will deliver, rescue, save my flock from their mouth that they may not be meat for them. Yahweh will save his people from those kinds of leaders, but then want is Italy then leader less shepherd lasts as though the solution to these problems were that every man would be his own ruler.
The rest of the passage reveals God's ultimate intent to move on now to verses 1122 which you might be asking at this point what is this have to do with Jesus were talking here about these political rulers in the nation of Israel would incentive a Christ and my relationship with him was we look at some these verses are what you listen carefully and see if any.
This sounds familiar. What we see in verses 11 to 22 is not only that Yahweh will save his people, but that he himself will shepherd his people. He's gonna meet all their needs.
Verses 11 to 16 tell us when you read the passage starting at this point into the engine to find 25 times when the Lord says I will do something and sometimes it is emphatic in Hebrew with an extra pronoun to say I myself am going to do this. I'm going to do it and I'm going to be successful in it. There is this personal determination on the part of God to step in and to act in a decisive way doing for his people what their leaders failed to do is first of August seek them. Verse 11 I will both search my sheep and seek them out as a shepherd. Seek out his flock. So will I seek out my sheep and I will deliver them out of all the places where they been scattered, having found them. He's gonna regather them to their land. Verse 13 bring them out from the people gather them from the countries bring them to their own land, and as he has them there. He's going to feed them and multiple times. He talks about giving them rich food to eat in these pleasant pastures affect the word feed in some these cases could just as well be translated shepherd, and it speaks about the role of the shepherd to guide the sheep to places where they are well fed and where they are able to rest and as for those were 16 who are weak and who are overcome and who are sick, we read that he is going to heal them bind up that which was broken strengthen that which was sick and then he goes on to talk about another dimension of the shepherd ministry of destroying the fat and the strong and feeding those kind of animals, not with food but with justice and that leads us to the second thought here that he's not only can I meet all their needs but is going to judge all their oppressors.
In verses 17 to 22. He talks about a related image not about the shepherd, but about the stronger, fatter violence sort of animals that are mixed in with the flock of his people who will go to a stream of water and who will drink it, but then they'll trample it all up and kick a ball this Monday where the water spoiled for what else and the stronger she probably speaking of, not the Kings but other levels of leadership in society who were taking advantage of their own people. The Lord says he is gonna deal with them as well bring justice upon them, and that's can be a part of his shepherd work. Yahweh will shepherd his people, and yet that's not the end of the passage because the possibilities out there that having been restored to that condition of peace and safety that somehow it could be undermined in the future that some other abusive King would show up.
How stable of a situation.
Is this how far-reaching of a blessing. Is this in the end of the passage tells us verses 23 to 31 that Yahweh will secure his people and is a secure them through two primary means.
In verses 23 and 24 he's gonna secure them through a king of his own choosing of his own appointment. Look at verse 23. I will set up one shepherd over them, he shall feed them. Even my servant David, he shall feed them, he shall be there shepherd and I Yahweh will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them.
I Yahweh have spoken it. There's debate about exactly who is this David being mentioned here.
Some would think that it's David, the historic David brought back to life to rule in some capacity in the millennium that is possible, more likely, I think this is talking about the Messiah as the ultimate expression of the Davidic line and the one who brings in perfectly the ideal that David only generally revealed that he is called a prince, not because he is not an actual king actually that were princes use of Solomon of first Kings but it's a word that is chosen probably to to wipe away the negative connotations that were still there with the idea of a king emphasizes that this is a humble sort of King one who is tender, one who is compassionate, one who seeking out for the sheep and not for his own gain, find yourself facing attention at this point because the Lord had just said I'm gonna shepherd them. He said that emphatically many times and yet he says actually David is going to shepherd them in your asking the question was good be the Lord errs again. We David is again to be divine king resume the human king. How does that tension get resolved hang onto that thought… Consider final portion here.
Verses 25 to 31 God is can secure these people not only through king but through a covenant that he makes a covenant that is called verse 25.
A covenant of shalom course that broad Hebrew word to speaks of well-being of all kinds and in every room of life and you read that some these blessings are physical in nature.
And then at the end, the ultimate spiritual blessing of the covenant is that they're finally going to know that Yahweh their God is with them. He is going to be there God they're going to be united with him and they're going to enjoy his presence personally in awards. This covenant ends up fulfilling the purpose of the original old covenant in my mind this is a way of talking about what Jeremiah calls the new covenant that God is going to use to bring in all these blessings and to bring in the Davidic king is gonna secure his people through those means, Yahweh will save them from their selfish leaders. He will shepherd them and he will secure them to enjoy these blessings forever. Of those promises were originally made to Israelite people and I would affirm what Dr. Talbert said last week that everything that God promised to the nation Israel is gonna be fulfilled down to the letter.
When Jesus Christ returns as the Davidic king to establish his kingdom on earth. In the future. But this morning when I reading this passage so much thinking about the future and the nation Israel were asking what about me and I am directing this message not to the nation Israel but to us who are Gentiles. How can we legitimately direct. These teachings to ourselves today. While some of those statements and Ezekiel 34 sounded familiar is because this passage is the key background to the teaching of Jesus in John chapter 10 where he states so profoundly and so compellingly I am the good shepherd he is presenting himself as the fulfillment of these kinds of predictions, and he's talking about the people right in front of him. There he is applying those concepts to those of the Jewish people who were suffering under poor leadership as well. He brings this up by way of rebuking the self-seeking leadership of the Pharisees and probably some false messiahs that some of the people were tempted to follow and have been disappointed by he describes those leaders in that age as thieves and robbers as a hired hands who look out only for themselves except by contrast, I'm the good Shepherd and I'm totally committed to your well being, you know, he has all the credentials necessary to satisfy every part of Ezekiel chapter 34 is a gospel of John is so much about the the divine nature of Jesus.
The word of God and yet it's also very clear that he was a human being descended from the line of David and here is a figure who is both Yahweh in the flesh, and at the same time from the line of David able to do everything that Ezekiel 34 had talked about and he is so committed to his sheep that he says I lay down my life for the sheep. It's not just about bringing you into political peace because he says that he lays down his life for the sheep so that through his death he is able to give them eternal life such life that no one can snatch his sheep out of his hands as we look that passage and connect with Ezekiel 34. We realize that this is one of many cases where the spiritual blessings of the new covenant and the spiritual blessings of the final kingdom are made available to people here and now way before the final kingdom actually comes I can say that with confidence and I can say that with reference to us as Gentiles because something else. Jesus says in John 10 is this verse 16 and other sheep I have which are not of this fool, not of the Jewish fold them.
Also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. He is a shepherd, not just of the Jews, but of any believer from whatever kindred tribe and tongue and nation and all of these ministries that he is saying.
Ezekiel 34 he will perform. You may begin to taste and experience. Even now, through simple faith in him as your shepherd.
With that in mind, let me leave you with these three considerations. What is all of this mean for us will fundamentally if you had not done this already. Let me urge you to accept Jesus as your shepherd. Let me urge you to call upon him to deliver you, not just from all of your problems here, but from your sin and on the basis of the life that he laid down for you to come and energy to the enjoyment of eternal life except him as your Savior and as your shepherd, your gonna find that he will do for you what no human being can do for you. Everyone at some level will disappoint you. Jesus will stick with you and provide for you thoroughly for all eternity. Number two.
For those of us who have already trusted in him. Let us be encouraged that we have a glorious future to look forward to when that final kingdom comes, we will all be able to enter into the the full expression of Ezekiel 34 and to know the personal shepherding of the Messiah in a climactic and a complete way. Thought should Mr. hope to us during times here on earth. When we do suffer under unfair circumstances less than ideal conditions, oppressive leadership, the best is yet to come.
There is this perfect shepherd coming will bring me to the experience of shalom number two or number three. Finally, you and I don't really have to wait to the millennium to relish in this. To receive this to delight in this to experience this on a spiritual level Christ serves as our shepherd. Now you know sometimes problems in human leadership can be resolved on earth, and there may be things we can do to bring justice, but sometimes justice is just beyond our reach, and it cannot happen, it becomes impossible in this life. One of the things that will sustain us as we wait for justice in the end is to learn that Jesus even in the midst of those circumstances is ever presence to guide and to protect and to heal and to provide and to nurture nisei with a sound so abstract. How does Jesus do those kinds of ministries for me.
Let me bring you back to that little girl. Her name was Mary. You may have picked up that her name is Mary Slusser, who for 40 years went on to serve as a missionary in Calabar, West Africa, and here is how her biographer described the main way that she was able to deal with the, the distressing circumstance in her home quote, the study of the Bible was less a duty than a joy it was like reading a message addressed especially to herself containing news of surpassing personal interest God was real to her to think that behind all the strain and struggle and show the world. There was a personality not a thought or dream not something she could not tell what but one who was actual and close to her, overflowing with love and compassion ready to listen to her to heal guide and strengthen it was marvelous. Sounds like Jesus as shepherd and she goes on to say, most of all, it was the story of Christ that she poured over and thought about his Majesty the beauty and grace of his life. The pathos of his death affected her inexpressibly, but it was his love so strong so tender so pitiful that one her heart and devotion and filled her with her happiness and peace that suffused her inner life extension. How could a girl in a dysfunctional oppressive home go on beyond that to experience a life of fruitfulness for God because she was able through the Bible to experience in a personal way that shepherding ministry of Jesus Christ and may that be your experience as well.
You've been listening to a sermon preached at Bob Jones University by Dr. Ken Casillas, which is part of the study series about Christ in the Old Testament. Join us again tomorrow as we continue this series here on The Daily Platform