Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,Ezekiel 34:1-19. The shepherds of Israel were the kings and princes and all who had authority over them. The prophet Jeremiah had received a similar message Jeremiah 23:1-22. These shepherds of Israel were responsible for the deplorable condition of the flock. Utterly selfish, they cared not for the sheep of His pasture; they feared not God nor did they have a heart for God’s people. The flock was scattered and spoiled.
Such was the sad condition of the people Israel. And when the Lord Jesus appeared in their midst to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He found them as sheep without a shepherd, and He had compassion upon them Mark 6:34. But they rejected Him and the Shepherd was smitten. Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled: “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the LORD of hosts. Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones” Zechariah 13:7. The false shepherds, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were a curse to the people, and the leaders were against the Shepherd. They delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles. And now for nearly 2,000 years the sheep have been scattered and peeled, wandering among the nations of the earth Luke 21:24. What is their hope and coming blessing we learn from this great prophecy.
(What is said in this chapter of the false shepherds who ill-treated the flock of God, His ancient people, may also be applied to the false shepherds, the hirelings in the professing church. See Acts 20:28-35 and 1Peter 5:2-3.)
“Behold, I myself, even I, will search for My sheep and will seek them out.” Jehovah arises in behalf of His scattered sheep. He will Himself exercise the office of a true shepherd, seeking out His flock. The cloudy and dark day (the times of the Gentiles) is gone and another morning breaks, the morning for which His people have waited so long. What He will do at this time for His scattered sheep is now fully proclaimed. “I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be; there shall they lie down in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord.” And all this has not yet come to pass. Some apply these words to the restoration of a remnant from the Babylonian captivity and see no future fulfillment of these promises. It is evident that the returning remnant did not possess these blessings. Others make a spiritual application and claim that it means the Church and the blessing which Gentiles will receive as the sheep of Christ. This is the common path which most commentators follow. It needs no lengthy refutation, for neither Ezekiel, nor the other prophets know anything of the Church and the “other sheep,” Gentiles saved by grace and with believing Jews constituting the one flock John 10:16; Ephesians 3:1-21). This is unrevealed in the Old Testament. These gracious words of promise have not yet been fulfilled, nor will they be fulfilled as long as the Church, the body of Christ, is being gathered out from all nations. All must wait till God’s purpose in this age is accomplished. When the Church is complete as to its elect number, when the Lord has come for His saints and the true Church has passed from earth into glory, then will the Lord turn in mercy to His people Israel and these promises given by Ezekiel will be fulfilled.
Ezekiel 34:20-26. Some have applied this to Zerubbabel, the head of Judah at the return from, the Babylonish captivity; this is done by those who deny a future restoration of Israel. Others take these words in a strictly literal sense and teach that David the King will become the head of the nation once more, and raised, from the dead, will be the one shepherd over His people. It is not David, but He who is according to the flesh the Son of David and David’s Lord as well. The one Shepherd can only be the Messiah. Numerous passages show that David’s name is used in a typical sense. Jeremiah announced, “They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them” Jeremiah 30:9. Here David stands typically for Christ, the Messiah of Israel, for He is raised up unto them when Jacob’s trouble is ended (Ezekiel 34:1-7). Of Him Jeremiah speaks more fully in Ezekiel 23:5-6 : “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” The two, Judah and Israel, will be reunited by the one Shepherd. The Messiah of Israel is also mentioned by Hosea as David: “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God and David their King, and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days” Hosea 3:5. Isaiah speaks of the sure mercies of David, and adds, “Behold I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader (prince) and commander to the people.” It is therefore not David, raised from the dead, but the Prince of Peace, who was here once to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel and who comes again to save the remnant of His people Israel and to receive the Throne of David Isaiah 9:6-21.
When the Lord is doing all that is promised here and the remnant has accepted the long rejected Messiah-King, a covenant of peace and blessing will follow. “And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. Peace will come to the land and to the whole earth with His coming. The evil beasts, the Gentile world powers Daniel 7:1-28 will no longer devastate the land. All will be peace and safety, so that they can sleep peacefully in the woods. “There shall be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26). How often a hymn is sung based upon this promise:
There shall be showers of blessing, This is the promise of love.
But how few who sing it know that the promise belongs first of all to Israel. When the Lord comes, the showers of blessing will be poured forth upon His people and upon all nations. It will be “the times of refreshing” Acts 3:19.
Ezekiel 34:27 and Ezekiel 34:28 give a brief description of the millennial kingdom. Groaning creation will then be delivered and the wild beasts will have their natures changed (compare Ezekiel 34:28 with Isaiah 11:6-9 and Romans 8:19-22. There is no need to speculate on the meaning of “the plant of renown,” which will be raised up. It is none other than He, who, as to His humiliation, is described as “a tender plant” and “as a root out of a dry ground” Isaiah 53:2. But now He appears in all His glory, and becomes the plant of renown. Their shame and suffering will then be over. He will be their God and they will be His people.