Ezek 34.1-31 tells us that now Ezekiel prophesies against the shepherds of Israel at the direction of Yehovah. They were cruel, uncaring and had no heart for it. These shepherds were the “roehim” or the civil and religious leaders. Yehovah promises to depose them from their office and take care of the flock himself, and promises to send the Messiah, the good shepherd, to take care of the flock.
v 1…Then the word of the Lord (Yehovah) came to me saying,
v 2…”Son of man (mortal human being; Ezekiel represents the people), prophesy against the shepherds of Israel (kings, priests, princes-civil and religious leaders). Prophesy and say to these shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God (Adonai Yehovah), “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves (only)! Should not the shepherds feed the flock (yes, it was the duty of their office)?
v 3…You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock (enriched themselves at the people’s expense).
v 4…Those who are sickly (poor) you have not strengthened (relieved their pain), the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up (the wounded were not helped), the scattered (gone astray) you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and severity you have dominated them (cruel and tyrannical).
v 5…And they were scattered for a lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field (like Babylon, Assyria, Moabites, etc) and were scattered (due to neglect).
v 6…For my flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill (fled from place to place, left on their own); and my flock was scattered over the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them (the monarchy had failed and the people were not unified).’ “
v 7…Therefore (as a result), you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
v 8…”As I live (an oath),” declares the Lord God, “surely because my flock has become a prey, my flock has become food for all the beasts of the field (the kingdoms and nations) for lack of a shepherd (no civil or religious leaders cared for them), and my shepherds did not search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed my flock;
v 9…therefore (as a result), you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
v 10…’Thus says the Lord God, “Behold (take note and see), I am against the shepherds, and I shall demand my sheep from them and make them cease from feeding the sheep (take the kingdom away from them). So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore (enrich themselves), but I shall deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them (they were wolves in reality).’ “
v 11…For thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold (take note and see), I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out (investigate their needs-Matt 15.24).
v 12…As a shepherd (John 10.11; Gen 49.24; Matt 2.6; Micah 7.14) cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for my sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day (couldn’t see and got lost).
v 13…And I will bring them out from the peoples (nations) and gather them from the countries and bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land (this was partly fulfilled when they returned from Babylon, but it will ultimately be fulfilled in the latter days when Messiah comes).
v 14…I will feed them in a good pasture (the truth), and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights (the eschatological kahal). There they will lie down in good grazing ground, and they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel (a good sheepfold, safe with fat pastures).
v 15…And I will feed my flock and I will lead them to rest (lie down feeling secure, nothing to bother them),” declares the Lord.
v 16…And I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind the broken (limbs), and strengthen the flock (all the things the bad shepherds did not do), but the fat and the strong (the oppressors of Israel) I will destroy, I will feed them with judgment (based on God’s justice for taking advantage of the flock).
v 17…As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats (Yehovah looks at the heart. We can do the right thing but not with a complete heart-2 Chr 25.2. We should obey the Lord, but with a complete heart-1 Kings 8.61. Azariah did what was right, but did not take away the bamot or high places, but Yehovah looks at the heart-Prov 16.2; Jer 17.10; Psa 44.20-21).
v 18…Is it too slight a thing for you that you should feed in the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures (to the rams and goats-they oppressed the people and took what little they had). Or that you should drink of the clear waters, that you must foul the rest with your feet?
v 19…And as for my flock, they must eat what you tread down with your feet (with no shepherd they were forced to do it), and they must drink what you foul with your feet!”
v 20…Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them (the rams and male goats), “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep (the rich and the poor).
v 21…Because you push (bullied) with side and with shoulder, and thrust at the weak with your horns (power), until you have scattered them abroad,
v 22…therefore, I will deliver my flock (through the Messiah ultimately), and they will no longer be a prey (to their oppressors), and I will judge between one sheep and another (so that justice is done).
v 23…Then I will set over them one shepherd (Yehovah will raise up the future David, a shepherd, synonymous with king, prince or leader-Ezek 37.24-25-meaning Messiah), and my servant David (a term for the Messiah, who descended from David and was a type of the Messiah), and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd (repeated to show the certainty of it).
v 24…And I, the Lord (Yehovah), will be their God, and my servant David (Messiah) will be their prince (king) among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
v 25…And I will make a covenant of peace with them (in Messianic times-Lev 26.3-13; Ezek 37.26) and eliminate (cause to cease) harmful beast from the land (fulfilled when the people came back from Babylon, and will happen again when Messiah comes), so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods (not only in their houses, but where wild beasts had once roamed-no fear).
v 26…And I will make them (Israel) and the places around my hill (the Temple Mount) a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season (you don’t want rain out of season); they will be showers of blessing.
v 27…Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit (the Messianic age will go back to the way it was before the flood. This also alludes to the “trees of righteousness” rooted in Messiah-Rom 11.18). And the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure in the land (the kingdom is a time of peace). Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the yoke bars and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them (this will be the proof that Yehovah truly has spoken).
v 28…And they will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid.
v 29…And I will establish for them a plantation for a name (this plantation will grow because of the blessings of God, and it will bring widespread honor to Israel from among the nations because they will see that Israel is blessed by God-Deut 4. 6-8), and they will not be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore (they will be empowered to succeed).
v 30…Then they will know that I, the Lord (Yehovah) their God (eloheychem), am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people,” declares the Lord God.
v 31…”As for you, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, you are men (Hebrew “adam” and taken from the earth or “adamah” meaning they are frail and weak, and Israel is going to be blessed by Yehovah’s power and not by any power of their own) and I am your God,” declares the Lord God.