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What is Ezekiel 34 about? Can you explain it to me?


Thank you for asking your question about a chapter in the Bible. 

It is possible that you heard Ezekiel 34 being preached in church and you are wondering what it meant. I encourage you to speak to your church leader if this is the case, and I'm sure they will clarify what they said and meant to you. 

Ezekiel 34 is in two main sections. The first is God's condemnation of the shepherds of Israel, and the second half is God saying that he will shepherd his people. 

Quite often the bible uses metaphors and similes in order to describe how God feels regarding a particular matter. The use of sheep is often used in the Bible to describe the people of God. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). Shepherds, of course, are people who look after sheep and this is their primary responsibility. However, God spoke to Ezekiel in order to prophesy against the shepherds of Israel (Ezekiel 34:2). This sounds really harsh to poor shepherds on the hills looking after their sheep! However, remembering similes, the shepherds were really the priests who look after the people. 

The role of the priests were to show the people how to live for God. However, being fallen human beings, they ultimately could never do this. The priests would distract people from God and would do unclean things that God detests. Every new priest, however good they may seem at first, would fall into sin. 

The only resolution to this problem was for God himself to be a shepherd (and priest) to his people. 

The second half of Ezekiel 34 delivers a prophecy where God himself says "Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out, As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them..." (Ezekiel 34:11-12). God makes it clear that he will be a shepherd to the sheep, and that he will rescue them. 

The prophecy goes even further to tell us who the shepherd will be: "And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken" (Ezekiel 34:23-24).

This could add some confusion. Ezekiel's prophecies were delivered 500 years after David died, so how could he be a shepherd? Also, God said he would rescue his sheep, and yet he says David, a human, will do it. How is this possible? 

The answer is found in Jesus. 

Jesus, the Son of God, is the second member of the Trinity, meaning that he is completely and eternally God. He chose to be born as a human in order to save us. The family line of Jesus traces its way back to David (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3). Therefore we see Jesus fulfilling the two requirements: fully God and fully man in the line of David. 

So what about the shepherd? How is Jesus the shepherd? Jesus said "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Through his life Jesus showed us how to live, and through his death on the cross he died for our sins. He then rose from the dead to show his power over the grave and so that we can be rescued from death into life. 

In summary, Ezekiel 34 is a wonderful chapter because it shows us the glory of Jesus in the Old Testament. The whole of the Bible is about Jesus from beginning to end, and Ezekiel 34 helps to show us this. Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (you and me) so that we can be saved and know God personally. I encourage you to pray to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins today. 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

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