November 23, 2011

Nov. 23: Restoring our guidance

Josh_Delp

By Joshua Delp, a senior English and Bible and religion double major from Sellersville, Pa.

SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
The theme for this week of advent is “Restore us.” But whom do we really need to restore? Ezekiel 34 speaks from the tradition of those held captive in a foreign land. The Hebrew people had been forcibly brought to Babylon following the destruction of their holy city and temple at the hands of their captors.

The verses leading up to it condemn Israel’s leaders for failing to act appropriately as shepherds of their people. They did not care for the weak and they allowed the flock to be scattered. In light of the failings of Israel’s leaders, God makes a commitment to fill the vacant role of guidance and protection, as shepherd to the flock.

Many people today are disenchanted with their leaders. One does not need to be a misanthrope or believe in an approaching apocalypse to appreciate that there is a crisis of corruption, inequality, and environmental degradation in our world.

The hope that Ezekiel brings to us is that despite the failures of humankind, there is a shepherd to tend the flock. But there is a warning to accompany that hope. The shepherd brings care for the sick and the hungry, but brings condemnation on the fat and the strong. God sympathizes with those who have been excluded from the table of prosperity.

I cannot say that I as an individual or we as a civilization have lived up to the calling of Ezekiel 34. However, the inadequacy of those in power is not justification for apathy or pessimism. In times of moral vacancy, God calls us to personal accountability to our fellow sheep.

In the season of advent, ask God to help restore our guidance.

SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 (NRSV)

11 ” ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

20 ” ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.

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Comments (11)

  1. “In times of moral vacancy, God calls us to personal accountability to our fellow sheep.”

    Thank you, Joshua for providing commentary that instills hope and inspires action.

    Eleanor Nixon November 23, 2011 |
  2. Humbling words. A good reminnder of God’s backwards kingdom. I will be reflecting on this.

    Ellen m November 23, 2011 |
  3. Humbling words. A good reminnder of God’s backwards kingdom. I will be reflecting on this.

    Ellen m November 23, 2011 |
  4. Nice work Josh. Thank you for your words.

    Brenda Shelly November 23, 2011 |
  5. I see this as also applying in our own lives, even if we are not technically a ‘leader’ – are we shepherding the sheep around us, or are we driving them away? We are all leaders in our sphere and in our families in some sense. This is a very encouraging reminder that our reliance is on the Lord God, not on man.

    Sharon Alters November 23, 2011 |
  6. i will do Gods will and look after those not
    as fortunate. as i

    bob c November 23, 2011 |
  7. A wonderful, thrilling and terrifying and tender text. So timely. Thank you.

    Kathy November 23, 2011 |
  8. Well said. Timely.

    John J. Smith November 23, 2011 |
  9. Well said. Over-abundance for a few at the expense of the many isnot God’s way, in Ezekial’s day or ours. “However, the inadequacy of those in power is not justification for apathy or pessimism”

    Mary-Alice Shemo November 24, 2011 |
  10. Ezekial is truly one of my dearest books. Plus I like the song about the wheel in the sky…

    Thank you for your compassionate words. God Bless

    Webmaster of Clarion CX 501

    Clarion CX 501 November 24, 2011 |
  11. Your words about not allowing our frustrations with those in power to keep us from trying to make a positive impact on the world around us were just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for sharing that insight.

    Barb November 29, 2011 |