I tearfully confessed to God today that I did not feel the love by other sheep who say they know God but cluster as if no one else can know God with them.  After prayer, comes God’s message.  He does this every time!  This passage in Ezekiel comes up next exactly the day I need it most.  Why the confession?  Because of what I recently heard said and portrayed by “sheep”. 

Fellow Sheep, it breaks my heart to hear the sheep say, “We like our small pen where we are fed (church), because it feels true and right.”  “Churches with a lot of sheep can’t be right or good—people just get lost in them.”  “How can people really know each other in a largely attended church?”  Because I had recently concluded a work as a connections director in a larger, not a mega church who loves people beyond themselves, I knew exactly how they can know each other!  My heart sank.  Tears came to my eyes at hearing sheep put down other sheep who leave the 99 to go after the lost, who provide healing for wounds in Jesus Name, and who show love to those who feel unloved.

I know what you’re going to say.  I realize that no church is perfect because we are sheep and sheep are not the brightest animals in the pasture.  Sheep follow whoever is in front of them.  Sheep copy what has been said for centuries whether it is right or wrong.  Sheep come to the trough out of habit expecting to be fed with whatever is placed before them without question or graze wherever the head sheep takes them.  I understand the habitation of sheep.  But, we can and should strive to be better!

Recently, Randy and I have been attending a sheep pen in a very traditional, smaller attended environment.  The sheep look straight ahead without notice of other sheep in the pen.  The sheep cluster in very intimate groups who look and talk just like them. The sheep rarely talk to anyone else.  There are less than one hundred attending in a beautiful “pen” that could accommodate more sheep seeking to be fed and sent.  The music is meditative and seems sincere. The message is spoken with clarity from God’s Word.  We are told what we should do but not so much with how to “just do it.” Randy and I, veteran church servants, don’t understand the “family meeting” language with other terminology used that seems to exclude us.  How much worse it is to someone seeking the Good Shepherd.

Fellow sheep, we are not new to the sheep pen.  We are not new to being the “sheep of His pastures.”  We grew up attending, serving, teaching, and preaching with and to sheep while leaving the pen to help sheep who have lost their way.  We still go where Our Good Shepherd calls us and leads us.  In my heart, I’m only sharing today the hurt God shares in His Word when we don’t feed and care for His sheep (each other) as well as those who are lost and hurt by other sheep.  This breaks His heart so it breaks our hearts.  And it should.  God thought it important enough for us to know the work of Shepherd and Sheep to explain it here through Ezekiel, followed by David and other prophets.  God then He sent His Son to explain it again…and again!  When will we get it, sheep friends?

Ezekiel 34, The Message

When the Sheep Get Scattered

1-6 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!

7-9 “‘Therefore, shepherds, listen to the Message of God: As sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because my sheep have been turned into mere prey, into easy meals for wolves because you shepherds ignored them and only fed yourselves, listen to what God has to say:

10 “‘Watch out! I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back. They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep. No more shepherds who just feed themselves! I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed. They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer!

11-16 “‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.

17-19 “‘And as for you, my dear flock, I’m stepping in and judging between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. Aren’t you satisfied to feed in good pasture without taking over the whole place? Can’t you be satisfied to drink from the clear stream without muddying the water with your feet? Why do the rest of my sheep have to make do with grass that’s trampled down and water that’s been muddied?

20-22 “‘Therefore, God, the Master, says: I myself am stepping in and making things right between the plump sheep and the skinny sheep. Because you forced your way with shoulder and rump and butted at all the weaker animals with your horns till you scattered them all over the hills, I’ll come in and save my dear flock, no longer let them be pushed around. I’ll step in and set things right between one sheep and another.

23-24 “‘I’ll appoint one shepherd over them all: my servant David. He’ll feed them. He’ll be their shepherd. And I, God, will be their God. My servant David will be their prince. I, God, have spoken.

25-27 “‘I’ll make a covenant of peace with them. I’ll banish fierce animals from the country so the sheep can live safely in the wilderness and sleep in the forest. I’ll make them and everything around my hill a blessing. I’ll send down plenty of rain in season—showers of blessing! The trees in the orchards will bear fruit, the ground will produce, they’ll feel content and safe on their land, and they’ll realize that I am God when I break them out of their slavery and rescue them from their slave masters.

28-29 “‘No longer will they be exploited by outsiders and ravaged by fierce beasts. They’ll live safe and sound, fearless and free. I’ll give them rich gardens, lavish in vegetables—no more living half-starved, no longer taunted by outsiders.

30-31 “‘They’ll know, beyond doubting, that I, God, am their God, that I’m with them and that they, the people Israel, are my people. Decree of God, the Master:

    You are my dear flock,
        the flock of my pasture, my human flock,
    And I am your God.
        Decree of God, the Master.’”


Was there any hope for God’s scattered people? Yes, because the Lord would come to deliver His flock from their oppressors and gather them to himself. In Ezekiel’s time, the Lord brought His people back from Babylon; but the picture here is certainly much broader than that because God spoke about “foreign countries”. Ezekiel promised that in the end times, the Lord would gather His flock “from all the places where they were scattered” and bring them back to their own land where He would be their Shepherd.

Jesus is the One and Only Good Shepherd who came to save the flock and set things right between individual sheep and God.  Jesus came to earth seeking the lost sheep to heal their wounds, give strength to the weaker ones and to save them from the wolves of religion who knew not God.  Jesus helps his sheep understand His love and care for them while teaching them what is coming.  Jesus foretells what will happen to goats and sheep that parallels the words by the prophet Ezekiel.  Jesus teaches;

““When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” 

Matthew 25:31-46, NIV

Do we love The Shepherd?  “How deep the Father’s love for us”, we sing readily but how deep is our love for Him?  In the gospel of John, we read where Jesus reiterated His call to Peter for Peter will become a shepherd later to thousands of new sheep. We learn that what proceeds the work of a shepherd is answering the question —“Do you love me?”  The love of Jesus is the qualifier for His work in and through us.  Read slowly and prayerfully…

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” –John 21:15-17, NIV

Oh Lord,

We sheep muddy the waters of your intentions of extending love, mercy and grace.  I’m ashamed and humiliated.  I repent of all we have done or said that left seeking sheep on the sidelines to fend for themselves in this world.  Continue to break my heart of what breaks your heart in our behaviors.  Change me. Transform me to be and do all you created me to be.  I do love you, Lord with all that is in me.

In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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