I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered. Ezekiel 34:12
In the open sea, a rescuer positioned her kayak to assist panicked swimmers competing in a triathlon. “Don’t grab the middle of the boat!” she called to swimmers, knowing such a move would capsize her craft. Instead, she directed weary swimmers to the bow, or front, of the kayak. There they could grab a loop, allowing the safety kayaker to help rescue them.
Whenever life or people threaten to pull us under, as believers in Jesus, we know we have a Rescuer. “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep . . . . I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered” (Ezekiel 34:11–12).
This was the prophet Ezekiel’s assurance to God’s people when they were in exile. Their leaders had neglected and exploited them, plundering their lives and caring “for themselves rather than for [God’s] flock” (v. 8). As a result, the people “were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them” (v. 6).
But “I will rescue my flock,” declared the Lord (v. 10), and His promise still holds.
What do we need to do? Hold fast to almighty God and His promises. “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them,” He says (v. 11). That’s a saving promise worth holding tightly.
When you feel panicked, what’s your typical reaction? What problem can you release today as you reach instead for God?
Our rescuing God, when life makes me panic, encourage me to turn from the rolling waves and always reach for You.
According to Bible scholar Kenneth Bailey, Ezekiel 34:5–12 is one of nine times in Scripture where the imagery of shepherd and sheep is a metaphor for critically important relationships. Sometimes, the shepherd is God Himself or Jesus (Psalm 23; Psalm 95; Matthew 18:10–14; Luke 15:3–7; John 10:7–18), sometimes the shepherd represents Israel’s corrupt leadership (Jeremiah 23:1–8; Ezekiel 34:1–8; Zechariah 10:1–12), and sometimes it’s church leaders (1 Peter 5:1–4). As such, sometimes the sheep are Israel’s faithful remnant, sometimes the people of Israel in general (Mark 6:30–44), and other times the sheep are believers in Christ. To the ancient world, the relationship of shepherd and sheep was a familiar one and as a result formed a very accessible picture of the healthy relationships between God and His people and the danger of exploitation by false shepherds.