EZEKIEL 34:15-16: “I will tend my flock and let them lie down. This is the declaration of the Lord God. I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Have you ever wondered – “Where is this abundant life the Bible talks about?” Sometimes, in the midst of trials and suffering we can fall prey to these thoughts. If Jesus is our Good Shepherd – where is the abundant life that He promised?
Ezekiel 34 is a chapter about shepherds. It contrasts the Good Shepherd against the evil shepherds of Israel. Here is a profile of the shepherds that were leading the nation of Israel.
- “You eat the fat, wear the wool, and butcher the fattened animals, but you do not tend the flock. You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them.” Ezekiel 34:3-6 CSB
The shepherds of Israel were really not shepherds at all. They neglected the flock, focused on their own needs, and let the flock wander into sin and destruction. Yet, the flock was not off the hook. Every lamb that wandered away would have to stand account for their own actions. There would be a punishment for the shepherd and there would be a punishment for the wayward sheep.
The situation in life today is much the same. We have two shepherds to choose from. We can follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, or we can follow the influences of the hireling, the shepherd who does not care for his sheep. It is in this context that the promise for the abundant life is found.
- “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:8-10 CSB
Jesus proclaims two things in these verses. First, He is the gate to the abundant life. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be forgiven, restored in relationship with God, and be placed on the pathway of abundance (finding pasture). Any other pathway, any other influence, is but a thief. The second thing Jesus proclaims is that we must choose which shepherd we are going to follow.
It is possible to enter through the gate and then wander away from the pasture. To simply enter through the gate is not the secret to the abundant life. The abundant life is found as we follow after the Good Shepherd. It is the Good Shepherd that leads us, protects us, and provides the abundant life. Abundant living is not simply the result of placing our faith in Jesus Christ. Abundant living is the fruit of obediently following Jesus Christ!
Some may still wonder. Then why do we go through times of trial and tribulation, sorrow and loss, hardship and disappointment. Volumes could be written to answer this question. However, the reality of life is everyone will go through these times. The choice is whether we will face them on our own or with the care and leading of our Good Shepherd.
The Bible never promises us an escape from the trial of life. What the Bible promises us, through faith, is a Good Shepherd who will lead us through them all! The choice we have to make is – will we follow?
- “The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me.” Psalms 23:1-4 CSB
We all love the times by green pastures, quiet waters, and personal renewal. Yet, we recoil when we face the dark valleys of unknown danger. Yet – He is always with us. He is leading us. He is protecting us. He is comforting us. And, if we continue to follow Him He will lead us THROUGH them all – into abundance!
- “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” Psalms 23:5-6 CSB
The key to the abundant life is to stay close to and follow the Good Shepherd.
To listen to His voice. To obey His command. To follow in His footsteps.
- “When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 CSB
Lord, this morning, help me to hear Your voice. As I face a pathway that I have never walked before, help me to walk after You, in full surrender, and in full obedience. Guard the attitudes and condition of my heart. Give me the grace I need to obey You through every step that I take. Lead me into the abundant life that You have provided.
In Jesus Name!