If you were to hire a shepherd, what criteria would you base your choice on?
There would be many things to consider. I think attitude and values would be important. You would want a shepherd that will be watchful, caring, guiding, nurturing and a searcher of any runaway sheep.
In Ezekiel 34, we see that God continues to speak through Ezekiel and to rebuke the Shepherds of the time. Often a Priest, King or officials would be referred to as Shepherds, as they have roles of leadership in the land. We see that God is not happy with the current shepherds as they have the wrong attitude and actions as a shepherd. They have no desire to care for the sheep, the flock of Israel. These Shepherds were exploiting and abusing sheep. Therefore the flock of Israel needs to be rescued and protected.
That’s why God reveals that He will be Israel’s Shepherd. He will look after them, gather, provide and protect them. He will not only rescue but continue to sustain them. He will regather Israel in the future, and provide hope for them.
Ultimately, we see these things fulfilled in Jesus. In John 10, Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd. We are his Sheep. Jesus provides the care and support we need in a Shepherd, but it only works if we’re listening and following the Shepherd. Today, the challenge is that if we’re in ministry, we’re Under-shepherds, and we have a privilege and responsibility to be caring for our church, the flock. If we’re doing this right, we have to answer to the Great Shepherd before us.
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” Ezekiel 34:11-12.