November 25 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?” ~Ezekiel 34:2

OLD TESTAMENT

God is not happy with the shepherds of Israel. The leaders of the nation, like the king, his officials, the elders (who functioned like clan leaders), the prophets, and the priests, are responsible for leading, guiding, and protecting their people. Yes, God holds the individual “sheep” responsible for the paths they take (see Ezekiel 18), but shepherds must give an account for the guidance they provide.

The problem is that Israel’s shepherds are selfish. They are afraid to speak up because doing so might cost them! They only care about themselves, and their total neglect of the people infuriates God. That is enough to make every leader shudder! God’s solution is to shepherd His people Himself and to restore them. They may be in exile, but eventually they will return to their homeland and enjoy pastures that have been showered with blessing (Ezek. 34:26). The land will become a place of peace and prosperity. (We are still awaiting the complete fulfillment of this prophecy.)

In our modern world, shepherds would be anyone who is responsible for providing spiritual and moral guidance for the people. In the church, this duty largely falls on pastors and elders. In fact, our English word, pastor, can be traced from the old French word for shepherd, pastur (think “someone who spend his life in the open pasture”). Elders work alongside pastors to lead the church. We could include government and civil leaders in today’s application, although to a lesser degree. These leaders do set a moral tone for our culture and point people in a direction by their example.

God’s sharp rebuke to His people’s shepherds is also an admonition to modern leaders and their followers. Leaders should lead well and expect to be held accountable. And those who follow should pray. Pray that God will help your leaders conduct themselves with compassion, courage, humility, wisdom, and integrity.

NEW TESTAMENT

Jesus’ call to “be holy” is hard! We must submit to imperfect leaders. We are to do right all the time, even when we aren’t being treated well. We are to work hard whether or not we are fairly paid or properly appreciated. This is radical stuff, right? The call of Scripture is to be like Jesus. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). He did right when it was hard (1 Peter 2:23). He didn’t get even, He trusted the One who judges justly. Jesus knew that He could trust the Father to deal appropriately with those who crucified Him—and called Him names. It was His duty to die, to love, to forgive. It was the Father’s duty to bring about justice. Think about that.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.