Read Ezekiel 34:11-16
I am struck by the contrast between the abusive shepherds of Israel and the Lord, who is the good shepherd. A context of the shepherd’s self interest and abuse we are drawn to the breathtaking faithfulness of the Sovereign Lord. He knows all, and decides to do all to change this ugly pastoral picture into a one of peace, tranquility, protection and blessing.
More amazing is that God does this despite the terrible situation before him. He could have sold the farm, written off the loss, and done one huge cull. His lavish grace draws him to do something else: he took on the shepherds job himself and got to work changing the situation.
What he promises here: to search to restore, to care for, to rescue, to bring to pasture, he has done in Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10), and Jesus continues this work through his church (Matt 28:16-20; John 21:15-19).
When people fail, God will find other ways to bring his purposes to fulfilment
God takes our failing and rebellion upon himself. God steps in and brings restoration and hope to our brokenness. This is the audacity of grace. And we have to learn from his undying commitment to his own saving purpose. When people fail, God will find other ways to bring his purposes to fulfilment. Jesus’ death and rising is all the proof we need.
Q: What do these verses say about your own style of leadership, or about the challenges faced by your own church?
I find the “type” of servant or slave to be misunderstood in today’s culture. We are taught from history and antislavery arguments that servant/slave work is wrong and cruel, yet from the scriptures there is a place for such a position. The argument should address the treatment of a person in such a position and not the position itself. Its evident from scripture that the shepherd was also looked upon as a low class citizen. Yet as you say, if the master is of the right stuff, the relationship can be benifical to both parties. I know from experience on a work site, that if the manager is proactive and teaches or passes on his experience to the workers, the workers do a far superior job and grow to respect the boss for his willingness to be part of the solution. In return a better outcome is achieved on the job.
Todays work sites have a culture of “I know more than you” has built a very divided manager/worker rich/poor world.
I think the church is just waking up to the fact that you can’t go into a poor country and preach the gospel, in our white suits and fancy pulpits, but we must get along side people and carry the load.
God is very much like this. He could have just said “I am God, come up to my level” but instead he came down to earth, even to death on a cross, and carried my load. Wow. and yes we should likewise be imitators of Him.
I think we imagine wrongly that our relationship with God is similar to a human-human relationship. We sell out an Allmighty God as a buddy, a mate. We totally lost respect and expect “fairness” which in human terms equates to equality. But we are talking here about the Creator vs. the lump of clay. We are less than dust, less than slaves (whatever the connotation is), not even worthy the crumbs under the Lord’s table. We sell God’s love as a marketing ploy and forget about the “Justice” part, about being fearful towards our Master. Can we even imagine joy and elation when we read the word fearful? Mostly we experienced it as negative. I feel much more comfortable to see God in the Highest place. That is my duty as a slave. If He comes down to earth, then I am filled with humbleness and eventhough I rejoice, I feel also sad that my Master need to come down because of my sins. To Him belongs ALL glory and honour.