Israel's leaders are like shepherds
1 The Lord gave this message to me: 2 ‘Son of man, you must speak my message to the shepherds of Israel to warn them. Tell them, “This is what the Almighty Lord says: Terrible trouble will come to you shepherds of Israel who only think about yourselves. Shepherds should take care of the sheep and feed them. 3 You drink their milk and you use their wool to make clothes for yourselves. You kill the best animals to eat. But you do not take care of the sheep! 4 You have not helped the weak sheep to be strong. You have not made the sick sheep well. Nor have you covered their wounds. You have not looked for lost sheep and brought them back. Instead, you have ruled my people in a cruel way. 5 So my sheep ran away to different places because they did not have a shepherd to take care of them. Then the wild animals found them and ate them. 6 My sheep went over all the mountains and the high hills. They went to places everywhere on the earth. And nobody went to look for them and bring them back again.
34:2A ruler should take care of his people, like a shepherd takes care of his sheep. Here, the leaders of Israel were called the shepherds of Israel.
7 So, you shepherds, listen to the Lord's message. 8 My sheep do not have any shepherds to take care of them. So they are not safe from danger. They have become food for all the wild animals. You, my shepherds, have not gone to look for the sheep that were lost. You only wanted to help yourselves instead of my sheep. So I, the Almighty Lord, promise you this, as surely as I live. 9 You shepherds, listen to the Lord's message! 10 The Almighty Lord says this: I have become the shepherds' enemy. I will take my sheep away from them. I will no longer allow them to be shepherds. They will not be able to kill my sheep to feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep, so that the shepherds cannot eat them.
11 So this is what the Almighty Lord says: I myself will go and look for my sheep to bring them back. 12 I will be like a shepherd who looks everywhere to find his lost sheep. I will find them and I will rescue them. I will bring them back from the places that they have run away to. It was a dark day with many clouds when they ran away. 13 They have been living in foreign countries among other people. I will bring them back to live in their own land. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel. They will eat beside its rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 I will feed them in fields on Israel's mountains where grass grows. They will lie down in the good fields. They will eat the green grass that grows on the mountains. 15 I myself will take care of my sheep. I will give them safe places to lie down and rest. I, the Almighty Lord, say this. 16 I will find the lost sheep and I will bring them back. I will cover their wounds. I will help those who are weak to become strong. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will give them justice as their food!
17 This is what I, the Almighty Lord, say to you, my sheep: I will judge you. I will decide which of you are good and which of you are bad. I will judge between male sheep and goats. 18 You bad sheep make sure that you have plenty of good grass to eat. But then you spoil the other grass so that no other sheep can eat it. You have clean water to drink. But then you spoil the water which remains. It is too dirty for other sheep to drink. 19 Because of that, my sheep eat grass that you have spoiled. They drink water that you have made dirty with your feet.
20 So this is what I, the Almighty Lord, say to the sheep: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the thin sheep. 21 You fat sheep use your shoulders to push the other sheep away. You attack the weak sheep with your horns so that they run away. 22 Because you do this, I will rescue my sheep. They will no longer be in danger from other animals. I will judge between one sheep and another sheep.
23 Then I will choose one shepherd to lead them. He is my servant, David. He will take care of them as their shepherd. 24 I, the Lord, will be their God. My servant David will be their ruler. I, the Lord, have said this.
34:24Ezekiel is speaking God's message about the Messiah, God's special King. King David had died long before Ezekiel lived. Here, God says that the Messiah will be one ruler for all his people. God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world as a descendant of King David. See Isaiah 11:1-2; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5; Micah 5:2.
25 I will make an agreement with them, that I will give them peace. I will remove the dangerous wild animals from the land. Then they can live there safely, even in the wilderness. They will not be afraid when they sleep in the forests. 26 I will bless them with many good things as they live around my holy hill. I will send rain at the proper time each year. The rain will bring my blessings to them. 27 The trees in the fields will give them fruit to eat. Crops of food will grow in the ground. The people will live safely in their land. I will take away the power of those who were cruel to them. I will rescue them from the people who made them their slaves. Then they will know that I am the Lord. 28 They will no longer be in danger from other nations. Wild animals will no longer eat them. They will live safely and nobody will cause them to be afraid. 29 I will give them a land that is famous for its good crops. So famine will never cause them to suffer in that land. Other nations will no longer insult them. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them. They will know that they are my people, the Israelites. That is what the Almighty Lord says.
31 You are my people and I take care of you, as a shepherd takes care of his sheep. You are my people and I am your God. That is what the Almighty Lord says.” ’