Sheep are helpless.
There’s just no getting around it. They have almost zero survival skills. They are not fast. They can’t find their way home. They are not quite or stealthy. They are really stupid. And on top of all this, they smell.
Yet, the Scriptures constantly refer to God’s people as shepherds.
How does that make you feel?
Honestly, it should make you feel great. Not because you are stupid and you smell, but because sheep need a shepherd, and it just so happens that God loves being the shepherd. Ezekiel 33 and 34 contrast the shepherds of God’s people, the kings and priests and prophets, and God, the true Shepherd of His people. The leaders of God’s people are worthless shepherds. Of them, God says:
Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
This is a stern warning to those who serve as leaders among God’s people. It should remind us of how serious a love God has for His people and what sort of judgment awaits leaders who are lazy and wicked. But I’m not here to talk about that. I want to show you the type of Shepherd that God is:
11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: 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 from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
I won’t say much more, because this passage speaks clearly for itself. I just love to be reminded that even though I am dumb and smelly and wayward, I have a Shepherd who leads with love and justice, and will never abandon one of His own.