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1079. The Good Shepherd

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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September 16, 2021 7:00 pm

1079. The Good Shepherd

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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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.

The post 1079. The Good Shepherd appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, we're continuing a study series entitled, Looking Under Jesus, which is a study of Christ in the Old Testament. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Ken Casias 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 I'd have you turn to Psalm 23.

But actually, our text is not in Psalms. It is in the prophetic books. And I'd like to 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 6th century B.C. and to the Babylonian exile of the tribe of Judah.

But 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, a school-aged girl, who 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, particularly 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 pawn shop so that they could get some cash to scrape together to pay the bills. What was the reason that this girl had such a dreary childhood? It 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 in sickening apprehension for the sound of uncertain footsteps on the stairs. Now and 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 stinted 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 you've experienced bad leadership in other forms. It could be that 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 these scenarios, I think, are appropriate parallels to the background of the passage that we're 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. 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 addressed not to God's people, but they're addressed to the nations of the world, the people that the Israelites had so long suffered under, and God 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. Because 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, restoring 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. He's referring here primarily to the kings that the people of Judah had had, and those kings in the plan of God had both a 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 know, 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. And so it was very natural that when the Lord set aside his chosen king, David, that he pulled somebody who was from a shepherding background. And that role of David's, yes, it 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. In fact, in Psalm 78, the Lord says that he chose David as his servant, took him from the sheepfolds, from following the ewes 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 skillfulness of his hands.

That was the model. That was the ideal for the kings of God's people. And yet also from the very beginning, the Lord had warned the people that there were grave dangers associated with the concept of a king. When they first insisted on having a king in 1 Samuel 8, you 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 your young people to fight his wars and to serve in his courts. And you're going to be taxed and you're going to be oppressed by your own countrymen. And he says, 1 Samuel 8, 18, you shall cry out in that day because of your king, which ye 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 and especially during the last century of the people of Judah, it was all kinds of turmoil and 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 till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to the other. Or what Jeremiah in chapter 22 says about Jehoiakim, woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages.

You have eyes and heart 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 shepherdly 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 one to ten, here is the first action that the Lord will carry out. Yahweh will save his people. We're 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. And in verses one to six, there's an emphasis that he knows just how much they are suffering under these 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 those sheep and so that they could fleece those sheep. That's what they're condemned for in verses three and four especially. And as a result, what happened to the people? Verse five, they were scattered because there is no shepherd. They became meat to all the beasts of the field. My sheep wandered through all the mountains.

My flock was scattered on the face of all the earth and no one searched for them or sought after them. 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 going to do verse 10. I am against them. I'm going to oppose them. I'm going to hold them accountable. I will require my flock at their hand and I'm going to terminate these people.

They're 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 what? Is it going to leave them leader less, shepherd less, 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. We're going to move on now to verses 11 to 22. But you might be asking at this point, what does this have to do with Jesus?

We're talking here about these political rulers and the nation of Israel. What does this have to do about Christ and my relationship with him? Well, as we look at some of these verses, I want you to listen carefully and see if any of 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 going to meet all their needs. Verses 11 to 16 tell us. And when you read the passage starting at this point into the end, you're going 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. He is first of all going to seek them. Verse 11, I will both search my sheep and seek them out as a shepherd seeketh out his flock. So will I seek out my sheep and I will deliver them out of all the places where they've been scattered. Having found them, he's going to 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.

In fact, the word feed in some of 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, verse 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 his 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 going to meet all their needs but he's going to judge all their oppressors. And verses 17 to 22, he talks about a related image not about the shepherd but about the stronger, fatter, violent 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 up all this mud to where the water is spoiled for everybody else. And the stronger sheep, probably speaking of not the kings but other levels of leadership in society who are taking advantage of their own people, the Lord says he is going to deal with them as well, bring justice upon them and that's going to be a part of his shepherd work. Yahweh will shepherd his people. And yet that's not the end of the passage because the possibility is 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? And the end of the passage tells us, verses 23 to 31, that Yahweh will secure his people. And he's going to secure them through two primary means. In verses 23 and 24, he's going to 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 their shepherd.

And I, Yahweh, will be their God. And my servant David, a prince among them, I, Yahweh, have spoken it. Now 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. And he is called a prince, not because he is not an actual king. Actually, that word prince is used of Solomon in 1 Kings.

But it's a word that is chosen probably to wipe away the negative connotations that were still there with the idea of a king. It emphasizes that this is a humble sort of king, one who is tender, one who is compassionate, one who's seeking out for the sheep and not for his own gain. You find yourself facing a tension at this point because the Lord had just said, I'm going to shepherd them.

He said that emphatically many times. And yet he says, actually, David is going to shepherd them. And you're asking the question, well, is it going to be the Lord or is it going to be David? Is it going to be divine king or is it going to be human king?

How does that tension get resolved? Hang on to that thought and let's just consider the final portion here, verses 25 to 31. God is going to secure these people not only through a king, but through a covenant that he makes. A covenant that is called, verse 25, a covenant of Shalom. Of course, that broad Hebrew word that speaks of well-being of all kinds and in every realm of life.

And you read that some of 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 their God.

They're going to be united with him and they're going to enjoy his presence personally. In other words, 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. He is going to 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. Now 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 going to 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, we're not reading this passage so much thinking about the future and the nation Israel.

We're asking, well, 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? Well, some of those statements in Ezekiel 34 sounded familiar. It's 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 had been disappointed by.

He describes those leaders in that age as thieves and robbers, as hired hands who look out only for themselves. And he says, by contrast, I am the good shepherd and I am totally committed to your well-being. You know, he has all the credentials necessary to satisfy every part of Ezekiel chapter 34 because the Gospel of John is so much about 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 at that passage and connect it 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, the day before the final kingdom actually comes. And 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 fold, 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 the shepherd, not just of the Jews, but of any believer from whatever kindred, tribe, and tongue nation. And all of these ministries that he is saying in Ezekiel 34, he will perform. You may begin to taste and experience even now through simple faith in him as your shepherd.

And with that in mind, let me leave you with these three considerations. What does all of this mean for us? Well, 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 into the enjoyment of eternal life. Accept him as your savior and as your shepherd. You're going to 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 full expression of Ezekiel 34 and to know the personal shepherding of the Messiah in a climactic and a complete way.

I thought you'd administer 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. It will bring me to the experience of Shalom.

And 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, it is just beyond our reach and it cannot happen. It becomes impossible in this life. And 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 present to guide and to protect and to heal and to provide and to nurture.

You say, well, this sounds 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 Slessor, 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 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 of the world, there was a personality, not a thought or a 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 it 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 won her heart and devotion and filled her with a happiness and peace that suffused her inner life like sunshine. 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, the 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 Casias, 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-22 14:02:59 / 2023-08-22 14:12:39 / 10

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