Daily Devotion – November 19, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
34:11 For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.
34:12 As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
34:13 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 watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land.
34:14 I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.
34:15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD.
34:16 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, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
34:20 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.
34:21 Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide,
34:22 I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
34:23 I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.
34:24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.

Here is a passage contemporary Americans can probably relate to.

Ezekiel is painting a picture of God finding all the scattered sheep, returning them to pasture, and looking after them as in the days of old.

Here we are in the midst of a pandemic, scattered, feeling lost, relegated to small gatherings if any, looking for our old companies and familiar old times that seem very sweet as we recall them.

The children of Israel were scattered – some in their own lands but many in exile. The society must have felt divided, fragmented. But the prophet is bringing hope by describing God as a shepherd who reunites the flock and cares for them, tending to the weakened ones and justly punishing those who have grown fat from profiting during the bad times. God is planning good management under a single trustworthy shepherd who can care for the sheep. God will be their God and David will be their prince.

Many of us have been hoping for a “prince” or earthly leader to unite us and care for the weakest among us. Have we also been looking to God to be our God? What is most important to our survival in this challenging time? The prophet is saying God promises both a uniting prince and a faithful relationship with the Lord God. If we have both of those, we will have justice and abundance.

It is easy to think of what we do NOT have in days like this. But what about what we DO have? Where we actually have abundance, let us notice it and give thanks to God for it. Where we see our neighbor lacking in abundance, we can share ours. If we live in careful contentment, we exude the hope that is here in the prophet’s vision of the future. Being living examples of hopeful people is one way to share the Gospel. And this promised richer, more contented future will be ours soon enough. For the Lord is always our God, in present time and in our hope-filled future. Amen.

Lord God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for being our God and giving us abundant gifts. Remind us often of those gifts and of ways to share with others, exuding hope. That is how we live our faith. Help that living to glorify you. Amen.