In Ezekiel 34 the Lord Himself comes as the Shepherd to search for His sheep and seek them out, bringing them back to Himself as the pasture, restoring them, recovering them, and healing them; to shepherd is to take all-inclusive tender care of the flock.
This week in our Crystallization-study of the book of Ezekiel we are enjoying God’s Recovery by Life through His Shepherding, mainly based on Ezekiel 34.
The recovery is necessary because certain matters revealed and ordained by God were damaged, lost or misunderstood, and God’s people – in various ways – have been divided, wounded, broken, and severely damaged.
So the Lord must have a recovery to bring us back to His original intention, so that His eternal purpose – which is based on the desire of His heart – would actually be carried out. The Lord’s recovery is by life; life is the content of God, the outflow of God, and this recovering life reaches us by His direct shepherding.
The Lord wants to recover us by His life, and He does so through His shepherding; this recovering life reaches us through the shepherding of the Lord and of those who were willing to be gained by the Shepherd Himself, so that He may shepherd us through them.
This shepherding is most necessary, most precious, and most costly. The Lord is Emmanuel – God with us – to be our Shepherd, and He wants us to be directly under His shepherding. His shepherding of us is His taking an all-inclusive, tender care of each and every one of us.
He speaks to us, He arranges all our circumstances, He heals us, He binds our wounds, He puts us on His shoulders, He cares for us in love, He feeds us, and He takes an all-inclusive, tender care of us.
May the combination of our immediate and instant experience of Christ, and the word that unveils Christ in His shepherding, would leave on us a lasting and unforgettable impression concerning the Lord, our relationship with Him, the church as God’s flock, and how the high peak of the divine revelation and the God-man living are ultimately expressed through shepherding in mutuality.
Shepherding involves Taking All-inclusive, Tender Care of the Flock of God
After the Lord’s resurrection, He came to visit His disciples, and in particular in John 21 He came to shepherd Peter and recover him back to loving the Lord and shepherding the sheep.
The Lord commissioned Peter to “feed My lambs” (John 21:15), “Shepherd My sheep” (v. 16), and “feed My sheep” (v. 17). Feeding the lambs is nourishing the new believers with the riches of the inner life; this is an intimate and personal feeding, making sure the new ones eat and drink the Lord to grow in life.
Shepherding the sheep is taking care of all the needs of the sheep; to shepherd is to take all-inclusive tender care of the flock. Feeding the sheep is giving food to the Lord’s people and caring for them in love as the flock of God.
The Lord’s word left a deep and lasting impression on Peter, who later wrote in his first epistle to encourage the elders to shepherd the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:1-2).
A shepherd takes care of all the needs of the sheep in the flock, whether this need is grass, water, shelter, or protection. Shepherding implies feeding, but it involves more than feeding; shepherding involves taking an all-inclusive tender care of the believers in Christ as the flock of God.
To care for the flock, the church as a whole, involves caring for every sheep. The Lord’s understanding of shepherding is that it is all-inclusive; we as believers in Christ are the Lord’s sheep, and we are not merely “spirits” but tripartite human beings living always in some kind of situation, so the care we need must be all-inclusive.
The Lord knows our situation, and He as the ascended Head is shepherding us in love – both directly and through the members of His Body, rendering an all-inclusive tender care to all the sheep. Any kind of care that we try to render that is not tender and not all-inclusive is not shepherding.
If we look at the sheep as creatures, they may not be the brightest animals, but they are sensitive enough to know when they are being taken care of and when they are not; they may be powerless to do anything about it, but when there’s the all-inclusive tender care, they know deep within that they are supplied, cherished, nourished, protected, cared for, mended, and healed.
In the Lord’s all-inclusive tender care of the flock, He as the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Shepherd of our souls, takes all-inclusive tender care of all the sheep, making sure that each sheep is well provided for and well-tended to.
We are here in the church life enjoying the Lord because of this Shepherd.
We need to cooperate with the Lord’s shepherding and be one with Him in His heavenly ministry to take all-inclusive tender care of the saints – the sheep in the flock of God.
Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to us as the Shepherd to take all-inclusive tender care of us and of all the sheep in the flock of God. You understand our need, You know where we are, and Your care for us is all-inclusive, tender, and specific. Thank You Lord for shepherding us and taking good care of us as the Head and through the fellow members of the Body. We want to learn to cooperate with You in Your heavenly ministry to let You shepherd us so that You may also shepherd others through us.
The Lord comes as the Shepherd to Search for His Sheep and Bring them to Himself
In Ezekiel 34, in the first part of the chapter, the Lord speaks a direct word to the shepherds in Israel, the leaders in Israel, who were supposed to shepherd the people of God, but they rather drove them away, fed themselves and not the sheep, clothed themselves with the sheep’s wool, didn’t strengthen or heal or bind up those sick, neither did they seek the lost.
The result was that the people of Israel were sick, broken, driven away, lost, and scattered over all the surface of the earth.
The leaders of the people of Israel, instead of caring for God’s sheep, caused the sheep to suffer. Not one would seek a lost sheep, not one would have the heart or skill to heal someone who is broken, and not one would bring back someone driven away.
But the Lord as the good Shepherd, the pneumatic Shepherd of our souls, in His recovery He Himself directly will seek out, find, bring back, heal, mend, and recovery His sheep.
We need to pursue the Lord and experience His shepherding, and we need to cooperate with Him to seek the lost, heal the broken, and bring back those driven away.
Only those who have been lost and found would seek the lost; those who have been broken will heal the broken, and those who have been wounded and mended by the Lord have the heart to shepherd others.
The Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and He seeks those who were lost so that He may bring them into the enjoyment of Himself.
This is our experience: we were sinners, and it wasn’t us who sought Him – but it is He who sought us out, brought us out of the nations into His house, into Himself. We were formerly the same as the unbelievers, but one day the Lord Jesus as the Shepherd sought us and brought us into the enjoyment of Himself.
Even when we backslide, He still seeks us to bring us back to Himself and even into Himself as our good land (Ezek. 34:13). Today we are in Christ as the good land, and we are in the church life as our good land.
Christ as the good Shepherd brings His people back to their own land, and also to the high mountains (v. 14). The Lord Jesus brings us back to the experience of the resurrected and ascended Christ.
He also brings us back to the rivers (v. 13); He brings us back to the flowing of the life-giving Spirit, the rivers of living water of the Spirit.
From the mountains (the resurrected and ascended Christ) the living water of the Spirit flows; after the Lord sought us out and brought us back to Himself, we returned not only to Christ in the transcendent position of His ascension, but also began to drink of the Spirit as the living water.
We may think that we are seeking the Lord, but our seeking is actually a response to His searching as the Shepherd for His sheep to bring them into the enjoyment of Himself as the good land, as the resurrected and ascended Christ, and as the living water of the life-giving Spirit.
Thank You Lord Jesus for coming as the Shepherd to search for us and bring us back to Yourself. You are the good Shepherd seeking out the lost sheep, mending the broken-hearted, healing the sick, and bringing back those who are driven away. Lord, we are here not because of our seeking heart but because of Your shepherding care. Thank You for bringing us into the enjoyment of Yourself as our all-inclusive good land. Thank You for bringing us to drink of the living water of the life-giving Spirit. Thank You, Lord Jesus!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ron K. for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Ezekiel, pp. 176-177 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Ezekiel (1), msg. 11 (week 11), God’s Recovery by Life through His Shepherding.
- Hymns on this topic:
# You’re the One inside who cherishes me, / Feeding me with milk from Your holy Word, / Lord, You bring me just to feast upon You. / And You feed me richly… / And now I see… / You’re the One who’s always shepherding me. / And I see… / You’re the One who’s feeding, watering me. / And I see… / You’re the One who loves me as Your sheep. / And I see, Lord, You shepherd me. (Song on Jesus as our shepherd)
# The King of love my Shepherd is, / Whose goodness faileth never; / I nothing lack if I am His, / And He is mine forever. / Where streams of living water flow / My ransomed soul He leadeth, / And, where the verdant pastures grow, / With food celestial feedeth. (Hymns #528)
# Jesus, our wonderful Shepherd / Brought us right out of the fold / Into His pasture so plenteous, / Into His riches untold. / Glorious church life, / Feasting from such a rich store! / Here where we’re dwelling in oneness / God commands life evermore. (Hymns #1221)
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