#DailyDevotion Jesus, the LORD, Gathers His Flocks
Ezekiel 3411“The Lord GOD says this: Look! I, even I, will search for My sheep and look after them. 12As a shepherd looks after his flock when they are scattered around him, so I will take care of My flock and rescue them from every place where they may be scattered on cloudy and gloomy days. 13I will bring them away from those peoples, gather them from those countries, bring them to their own land. I will feed them on the hills of Israel, by the streams, and in all the places of that land where it is so good to live. 14I will feed them in good pasture, and their grazing land shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they will rest in a good place and graze in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I will feed My sheep and let them rest, says the Lord GOD. 16I will look for the lost, bring back what was driven away, bandage broken limbs and strengthen the sick, but I will destroy the fat and strong ones feeding them with justice.
First we need to understand that Ezekiel is a prophet in exile in Babylon. The kingdom of Judea is in the process of being conquered by Babylon its inhabitants taken away to the Babylonian provinces. On top of that the northern tribes had been conquered by the Assyrian a couple of hundred years before and exiled to distant lands never to seen or heard of again, for the most part. It is in this exile that the LORD is speaking to his people. Though they were there as a punishment for rebelling against him and rejecting him as their God, the LORD, for the sake of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob intends to restore them.
Is this the return of the LORD’s people after Jeremiah’s predicted seventy years? The words certainly are fulfilled in part after the exile. The LORD does bring many of them back to Judah and Jerusalem. He brings them from many of the places they went into exile. Yet, many of Judah remain in Babylon. Many go and spread throughout the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. They’ve even traveled across the ocean to the Americas over time. Despite many returning to the Levant after World War II and the establishment of the country of Israel, they are still all over the world. On top of that the northern tribes, well who knows who they are or where they are, but they certainly are not in Israel.
No, this word speaks to the Last Day. Israel is no longer the physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is all those whose faith is the faith of Abraham, faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Everyone who looks to Jesus Christ for salvation and is baptized into his name is a member of Israel now for they are members of Jesus.
Now it is true, it is highly likely that most Jews in the first several hundred years after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension came to faith in Jesus. It’s always possible many who come to faith in Jesus today are somehow descended in part from the northern tribes. God though has chosen to bless the none Jews in Jesus and make them one with spiritual Israel through baptism and faith in Jesus. Jesus is the Shepherd who is the LORD who speaks here. The new heavens and new earth are what is described by Ezekiel here. He is going to gather us all together on the Last Day and be our Shepherd and gather his people from all across the world, even those in the grave. He will give justice to the nations giving us what we deserved, whether good for trusting in Christ or punishment for rejecting him.
Heavenly Father, ever keep us joined to Christ and make us part of Israel through faith and baptism into Jesus so we may be gathered to him when he returns in glory as our Shepherd. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.