THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
Part IV: Oracles of Salvation and Promised Restoration
Chapter 34: The Failed Shepherds and the Divine Shepherd
Chapters 35:1-36:15 ~ Prophecies for Edom and Israel
In Your love for humanity, You kept the promise You made through the prophet Ezekiel to come Yourself to redeem Your covenant people. But who could have fathomed the way in which You would fulfill that promise! You came taking on human flesh and blood in the divine person of God the Son, the Good Shepherd who came to offer Himself in sacrifice for the sins of the human race. For those who embraced God the Son as Lord and Savior in the cleansing waters of the Sacrament of Baptism, You gave a new heart and a new spirit, removing the hard hearts of rebellion and replacing them with hearts committed to the obedience of faith that leads to eternal life. We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of eternal salvation, and we pledge to demonstrate our love and faith through our acts of mercy in Your name. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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If you live
according to my laws, if you keep my commandments and put them into practice, I
shall give you the rain you need at the right time; the soil will yield its
produce and the trees of the countryside their fruit; you will thresh until
vintage time and gather grapes until sowing time. You will eat your fill of
bread and live secure in your land. I shall give peace in the land, and you
will go to sleep with no one to frighten you. I shall rid the land of beasts
of prey. The sword will not pass through your land ... I shall turn towards you,
I shall make you fertile and make your numbers grow, and I shall uphold my
covenant with you... I shall fix my home among you and never reject you. I shall
live among you; I shall be your God and you shall be my people ...
The covenant blessings of Leviticus 26:3-12
I pray that the
God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd
of the sheep, by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant, may prepare you to
do his will in every kind of good action; effecting in us all whatever is
acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever,
After news of the fall of Jerusalem reached the exiles (Ez 33:21-22), Ezekiel continued with his seven oracles that began in Chapter 33:
Chapter 34 is one of the three most important messianic passages in the Old Testament along with Jeremiah Chapter 31 and Daniel Chapter 7; each of these passages points to the Davidic Messiah and the inauguration of a new age in salvation history. The Davidic Messiah will bring a new, eternal covenant and a new spirit (Jer 31:31-34; 32:40; 50:5). He will come as "[Yahweh] I Myself" (Ez 34:11, 15 twice, 20), and He is a Divine Messiah with the power and authority to judge all nations (Dan 7:13-14).
Chapter 34: The False Shepherds versus the Divine Shepherd
Yahweh's prophetic word to the prophet Jeremiah: "Disaster for the shepherds who lose and scatter the sheep of my pasture, Yahweh declares.
This, therefore, is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says about the shepherds who shepherd my people, ‘You have scattered my flock, you have driven them away and have not taken
care of them. Right, I shall take care of you for your misdeeds, Yahweh declares! But the remnant of my flock I myself shall gather from all the countries where I have
driven them, and bring them back to their folds; they will be fruitful and increase in numbers… Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright
Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise ...'"
Jeremiah 23:1-3, 5-6 (underlining for emphasis)
The prophecies against the nations in Chapters 25-32 focused on the prophetic fulfillment of God's curse judgments for failing to maintain the Sinai Covenant in Leviticus 26:14-45 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68. However, in Part III of the Book of Ezekiel, the focus of Yahweh's oracles concerning the restoration of Israel will recall the promised blessings for covenant fidelity in Leviticus 26:1-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
Part 1 divides into two parts:
Part 2 divides into three parts:
Ezekiel 34:1-6 ~ Oracle 3, Part 1: Yahweh's Indictment
Against the Failed Shepherds of Israel
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them, Shepherds, the Lord Yahweh says this: Disaster is in store for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Are not shepherds meant to feed a flock? 3 Yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock. 4 You have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the injured ones. You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and harshly. 5 For lack of a shepherd they have been scattered, to become the prey of all the wild animals; they have been scattered. 6 My flock is astray on every mountain and on every high hill; my flock has been scattered all over the world; no one bothers about them and no one looks for them.'"
In verses 1-6, God lists the failures of the "shepherds"/rulers He placed over His covenant people as their guides and protectors. The symbolic imagery of a shepherd-king was common in the ancient Near East, and the Bible uses this same imagery. For example, when the twelve tribes came to ask David to become the king of all the tribes and not just Judah, they said: "Look, we are your own flesh and bone. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel on its campaigns, and to you it was that Yahweh promised, You are to shepherd my people Israel and be leader of Israel'" (2 Sam 5:1b-2). Scripture also refers to God as the Divine Shepherd (for example see Ps 80:1; Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25; 5:4).
Jeremiah used this same "shepherd" imagery for the kings of Israel to rebuke their failures (Jer 2:8; 10:21; 23:1-3) and to proclaim that God would give His people new shepherds who would lead His people ("pasture" them) with integrity (Jer 3:15; 23:4). God also promised through His prophets that from the ancestral line of the shepherd-king David would come a righteous "Branch," the Davidic Messiah, to "shepherd" His people (Is 11:6-9; Jer 23:5-6; Ez 34:23-24). In Chapter 34, God takes up the same "shepherding" theme through the prophet Ezekiel that will resume in the prophecies of Zechariah (Zec 11:4-17; 13:7).
In verses 2-6, Yahweh lays out His charges against the
failed shepherds of His people in the judicial act of a covenant lawsuit.
Question: What are God's charges against the failed shepherds of Israel?
Ezekiel 34:7-10 ~ Judgment Against the Failed
Shepherds of Israel
7 " Very well, shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: 8 As I live, I swear it, declares the Lord Yahweh, since my flock has been pillaged and for lack of a shepherd is now the prey of every wild animal, since my shepherds have ceased to bother about my flock, since my shepherds feed themselves rather than my flock, 9 very well, shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: 10 The Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I am against the shepherds. I shall take my flock out of their charge and henceforth not allow them to feed my flock. And the shepherds will stop feeding themselves, because I shall rescue my sheep from their mouths to stop them from being food for them.'"
This passage repeats some of the charges against the failed
shepherds made in verses 2-6 and then concludes in Yahweh's divine judgment in
Question: What is Yahweh's judgment against the failed shepherds of His covenant people and what line of "shepherds" in particular?
Answer: He will no longer allow them to rule His people. Yahweh promises to rescue His people from their abuse. He carries out this judgment by ending the rule of the Davidic kings who failed as good shepherds to the covenant people.
Zedekiah is the last reigning Davidic king. After the return from exile, there is no Davidic king to sit on the throne of David.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 ~ Yahweh's Remedy
11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it. 12 As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness. 13 I shall bring them back from the peoples where they are; I shall gather them back from the countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the inhabited parts of the country. 14 I shall feed them in good pasturage; the highest mountains of Israel will be their grazing ground. There they will rest in good grazing grounds; they will browse in rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself shall pasture my sheep, I myself shall give them rest, declares the Lord Yahweh. 16 I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the injured and make the sick strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.
Yahweh continues His covenant lawsuit against the failed leaders of the Sinai Covenant who do not rightly "shepherd" the flock of God's people. After listing the failures of past "shepherds" of Israel and His judgment to take away their power to rule over His people in Ezekiel 34:1-10, God contrasts each abuse with His remedy (Ez 34:11-16). Yahweh begins His response to the failed shepherds with His promise that "I Myself" will come to "look after and tend my sheep" (repeated three times in Ez 34:11, 15 twice, and 20). Yahweh fulfilled that prophecy in the Incarnation of God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth: son of David, son of Abraham (Mt 1:1). God Himself came as the heir of the eternal Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:16; 23:5; 2 Chr 13:5; Sir 45:25; 47:11/13 Lk 1:32-33) to restore His people and to seek out those lost in the darkness of sin. Jesus announced to the people that He is the Davidic "Good Shepherd" who came according to prophecy (Jn 10:1-18).
Question: How did Jesus "come against" the failed
shepherds of Israel and fulfill God's remedy for the failure of the people's past
rulers? See Is 26:19; 29:18-24; 61:1-2 and
Mt 11:4-6; 15:31; 23:1-36;
Lk 1:32; 4:16-21.
Answer: During the years of His ministry, Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah. He cured the sick, healed the blind and the disabled, and He raised the dead. He tended to the brokenhearted, forgiving their sins and restoring the old Israel in preparation for His Kingdom of the universal Church. At the same time, he "came against" (Ez 34:10) the elders, chief priests, scribes and Pharisees for their abuses in seven curse judgments against the Old Covenant hierarchy (Mt 23:1-36). God came Himself to "shepherd them rightly" (Ez 34:16) by judging their abuse and giving them a righteous Davidic King to lead them in God the Son.
Ezekiel 34:17-22 ~ Yahweh Judges the Sheep of His
17 "As for you, my sheep, the Lord Yahweh says this: I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats. 18 Not content to drink the clearest of the water, you foul the rest with your feet. 19 And my sheep must graze on what your feet have trampled and drink what your feet have fouled. 20 Very well, the Lord Yahweh says this: "I myself shall judge between the fat sheep and the thin sheep. 21 Since you have jostled with flank and shoulder and butted all the ailing sheep with your horns, until you have scattered them outside, 22 I shall come and save my sheep and stop them from being victimized. I shall judge between sheep and sheep.
17 "As for you,
my sheep, the Lord Yahweh says this: I shall judge between sheep and sheep,
between rams and he-goats.
Question: Who are those symbolically referred to as sheep, rams, and he-goats? Hint: the sin offering for a civil leader was a he-goat (Lev 4:22-26) while the sin sacrifice for infringing Yahweh's sacred rights or deceiving a member of the covenant people was a ram (Lev 5:14-26)
Answer: The sheep probably represent the covenant people as a whole, and especially the ordinary people from whom God will separate out the righteous from the wicked. The rams and he-goats are probably the Davidic princes and the civil and religious leaders.
It was the common practice to keep goats and sheep in the same flock. In bad weather, the shepherd had to separate them at night and take the goats into a warmer enclosure since their coats were not sufficiently heavy to keep them warm (Jeremias, Parables of Jesus, page 206). God "tends" all peoples together, but the time will come when He will separate by divine judgment the "sheep from the goats." After God the Son's condemnation of the Old Covenant hierarchy in Matthew 24, He gave a discourse on the Last Judgment (our Gospel Reading) using the same imagery of sheep and goats. The "goats," are men and women who stand in opposition to the will of God for their lives. On Judgment Day, they will be separated out and sent to one side while the sheep, those who respond to God's love by sharing His love with others who are in need, will be sent to the other side. In Jesus' description of the Last Judgment, the goats are sent into eternal punishment and the sheep to eternal life: And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Mt 25:31-46).
Notice that for each of the abuses God lists in 34:2-10, He provides a
remedy in verses 11-16.
Question: How are the abuses in verses 2b, 4b, 5, 6, and 10 answered by God's remedies in verses 11-16?
The Abuses of the Failed Shepherds
|2b Shepherds, the Lord Yahweh says this: Disaster is in store for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves!||11 "For the Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it.|
|5 For lack of a shepherd they have been scattered, to become the prey of all the wild animals; they have been scattered to become the prey of all the wild animals; they have been scattered.||12 As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness...|
|6 My flock is astray on every mountain and on every high hill; my flock has been scattered all over the world...||13 I shall gather them back from the countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the inhabited parts of the country. 14 I shall feed them in good pasturage; the highest mountains of Israel will be their grazing ground. There they will rest in good grazing grounds; they will browse in rich pastures on the mountains of Israel.|
|4b You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and harshly. 6b ...no one bothers about them and no one looks for them||16a I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the injured and make the sick strong.|
|10 The Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I am against the shepherds. I shall take my flock out of their charge and henceforth not allow them to feed my flock.||16c I shall be a true shepherd to them.|
|Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2017|
In response to their abuses, God promises that He will come Himself to "look after and tend my sheep," and He will gather them back from where they are scattered. Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd and said His mission was to find the "lost sheep" of the House of Israel (Jn 10:11-15; Mt 10:6; 15:24; Lk 15:4-7).
Question: How many times does Yahweh promise that
He will come Himself to care for His "sheep," the covenant people and in how
many ways? How is His promise fulfilled?
Answer: God repeats the promise "I Myself" will come four times:
Yahweh fulfills His promise in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Question: When did Yahweh fulfill that promise? Lk 1:31-33; Jn 10:11-15; Mt 25:31-46.
Answer: He fulfilled the promise in the Incarnation of God the Son, Jesus Christ. God came as fully man and fully God to lead His people as the Good Shepherd and the Divine Judge.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Davidic heir promised in Ezekiel 34:23-24. He is the son of Mary, the son of David, and the Son of God (Mt 1:1; Lk 1:30-33). The fulfillment of the promise that "I Myself" will come is what happened in the Incarnation of the Christ. God Himself came to restore His people and to seek out those lost in the darkness of sin. Jesus announced to the people that He is the "Good Shepherd" who has come according to the prophecy (Jn 10:11-18). During the years of His ministry, He cured the sick, healed the blind and the disabled. He tended to the broken-hearted, forgiving their sins and restoring the old Israel in preparation for His Kingdom of the new Israel that is the universal Church. At the same time, He "came against" (Ez 34:10) the elders, chief priests, scribes and Pharisees for their abuses in seven curse judgments against the Old Covenant hierarchy (Mt 23:1-36). God the Son came to "shepherd them rightly" (Ez 34:16): He saw to their spiritual health, judged their abuses, and showed them the path to salvation.
Ezekiel 34:23-31 ~ Oracle 3, Part 2: The Divine
Shepherd as Divine Judge
23 I shall raise up one shepherd, my servant David, and put him in charge of them to pasture them; he will pasture them and be their shepherd. 24 I, Yahweh, shall be their God, and my servant David will be ruler among them. I, Yahweh, have spoken. 25 I shall make a covenant of peace with them; I shall rid the country of wild animals. They will be able to live secure in the desert and go to sleep in the woods. 26 I shall settle them round my hill; I shall send rain at the proper time; it will be a rain of blessings. 27 The trees of the countryside will yield their fruit and the soil will yield its produce; they will be secure on their soil. And they will know that I am Yahweh when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the clutches of their slave-masters. 28 No more will they be a prey to the nations, no more will the wild animals of the country devour them. They will live secure, with no one to frighten them. 29 I shall make splendid vegetation grow for them; no more will they suffer from famine in the country; no more will they have to bear the insults of other nations. 30 So they will know that I, their God, am with them and that they, the House of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord Yahweh. 31 And you, my sheep, are the flock of my human pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord Yahweh."'
Question: What is God's remedy for the abuses His
covenant people suffered at the hands of failed shepherds? See Ez 34:23-24; Mt 1:1, and Lk 1:30-33.
Answer: God Himself will come as Divine Shepherd and as Divine Judge to rule over His covenant people through His servant, a Davidic heir. The coming of the Davidic heir will inaugurate a covenant of peace.
The promise of a Davidic heir in 34:23-25 gave the assurance that despite King Zedekiah of Judah's captivity, and the death of all his sons, the eternal Davidic covenant was still in place (2 Sam 7:16; 23:5; 2 Chr 13:5; Ps 89:4-5; Sir 45:25; 47:11/13). In addition to the promise of a future Davidic king in Ezekiel, also see the prophecies in Isaiah 11:6-9; Jer 23:5-6; 30:9; Ez 37:25-26.
The description of Yahweh's covenant of peace is intentionally
repetitious. The keyword labetah, meaning "in safety, security," emphasizes
the security of Israel as the central issue of the passage (verses 25c, 27c,
and 28c). The repeated word points to Yahweh's promise of freedom from fear of
enemies by securing God's blessings.
Question: The covenant people will live in security guaranteed by what three specific actions? See the list in verses 1-3 repeated in verses 28-29.
Three kinds of divine activity are involved in securing the promised safety:
The allusion to a new exodus is recognizable in two expressions in verse 27c that recall the last verse concerning the covenant blessing in Leviticus 26; compare And they will know that I am Yahweh when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the clutches of their slave-masters (Ez 35:27c) with I, Yahweh your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you should be their slaves no longer, and who broke the bonds of your yoke and made you walk with head held high (Lev 26:13).
30 So they will know that I,
their God, am with them and that they, the House of Israel, are my people, declares
the Lord Yahweh. 31 And you, my
sheep, are the flock of my human pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord
In verse 30, the promise of the Messianic gift of a new peace in 34:25 climaxes in Yahweh's declaration that He is Israel's God and they are His cherished people. It is His goal that the people might realize the presence of their God among them again and this realization will lead to reestablishing their covenant relationship with Him. Yahweh relates a picture of the Messianic Age as a time of universal peace involving the animal world and vegetation like the perfection in Eden. The image resembles Hosea 2:20-25/18-23 that portrays God as the covenant mediator establishing a universal peace.
Oracle 4: A Prophetic Oracle for the Mountains of Edom and Israel
In the other oracles, the judicial charges come first
followed by Yahweh's divine judgment. In this case, the order is reversed in
the judgment preceding the charges. The oracle is in two parts:
Part 1: Yahweh's prophecies concerning the Edomites (35:1-15).
Part 2: Yahweh's prophecy concerning Israel (36:1-15).
The oracle develops two topics:
1. The Edomites intended occupation of the Promised Land of Israel after the Babylonian defeat and exile of its people.
2. God's assurance that Israel would repossess its land and in greater prosperity than before.
In Part 1 of the oracle, Ezekiel is commanded to address Mount Seir, the mountainous region in Edom ( Dt 1:2, 44; 2:1; 33:2; Josh 11:17;2:7; Judg 5:4; 1 Chr 4:42) with the intention of contrasting Edom with the "mountains of Israel" in Part 2.
Ezekiel 35:1-9 ~ Judgment Against Edom
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, turn towards Mount Seir and prophesy against it. 3 Say to it, The Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I am against you, Mount Seir; I shall stretch out my hand against you; I shall make you a desolate waste; 4 I shall lay your towns in ruins. You will become a waste and you will know that I am Yahweh. 5 Since, following a long-standing hatred, you betrayed the Israelites to the sword on the day of their distress, on the day when an end came for their guilt, 6 very well, as I live, declares the Lord Yahweh, I destine you to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you. I swear it; you have incurred guilt by shedding blood, and bloodshed will pursue you. 7 I shall make Mount Seir a desolate waste and denude it of anyone travelling to and fro. 8 I shall fill its mountains with its slaughtered; on your hills, in your valleys and in all your ravines, those slaughtered by the sword will fall. 9 I shall make you a perpetual waste, your towns will never be inhabited again, and you will know that I am Yahweh.'"
The judgment against Edom is total destruction because they joined with the Babylonians in the destruction of Jerusalem (verse 5). See the earlier judgment against Edom in Ezekiel 25:12-14. The Edomites supported Nebuchadnezzar's campaign against Jerusalem and celebrated the fall of Judah and Jerusalem (Ps 137:7; Lam 4:21-22; Amos 1:11-12; Is 11:14; 21:11-12; 34:5-17; Jer 49:7-22). They initiated "bloodshed" against Judah, and therefore "bloodshed" is their judgment (repeated four times in verse 6).
Ezekiel 35:10-15 ~ The Charges Against Edom
10 " Since you said: The two nations and the two countries will be mine; we are going to take possession of it, although Yahweh was there, 11 very well, as I live, declares the Lord Yahweh, I shall act with the same anger and jealousy as you acted in your hatred for them. I shall make myself known for their sake, when I punish you, 12 and you will know that I, Yahweh, have heard all the blasphemies which you have uttered against the mountains of Israel, such as: They have been laid waste, they have been given to us for us to devour. 13 Great was your insolence towards me, many your speeches against me; I have heard! 14 Lord Yahweh says this: To the joy of the whole world, I shall make you a waste. 15 Since you rejoiced because the heritage of the House of Israel had been laid waste, I shall do the same to you, Mount Seir; and you will become a waste, and so will the whole of Edom; and they will know that I am Yahweh.' "
Question: What are Yahweh's two charges against
Answer: The charges against the Edomites that condemn them to divine judgment include:
As in the case of the judgments against Israel, the purpose of God's divine judgment is so the Edomites, who were once part of the family of Abraham (Gen 25:19-28), will know that I am Yahweh (verse 15). The Edomites have Yahweh's invitation to return to the family of Abraham represented by the people of Israel, the descendants of Esau's brother Jacob-Israel. What was Edom became part of Judah when King John Hyrcanus I took control of the territory in 129 BC (1 Mac 4:36-59; 2 Mac 10:1-8). In the 1st century BC, Edom was known by the Greek spelling as Idumea and continued under the control of the Hasmonean rulers of Judah. What was once Edom is part of the modern state of Israel.
The Second Part of Oracle 4: Ezekiel 36:1-15 ~ Yahweh's Prophecy Concerning the Restoration of the Land of Israel
Part 2 of the 4th oracle divides into three parts:
Ezekiel 36:1-5 ~ Yahweh's Prophecy for the Mountains of Israel
1 "Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel. Say, Mountains of Israel, hear the word of Yahweh. 2 The Lord Yahweh says this: Since the enemy has gloated over you by saying: Aha! These eternal heights are owned by us now, 3 very well, prophesy! Say: The Lord Yahweh says this: Since you have been ravaged and seized on from all sides, and have become the property of the rest of the nations, and become the subject of people's talk and gossip, 4 very well, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Yahweh! The Lord Yahweh says this to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the devastated ruins and abandoned cities which have been put to the sack and have become a laughing-stock to the rest of the nations all round; 5 very well, the Lord Yahweh says this: I swear it in the heat of my jealousy; I am speaking to the rest of the nations and to the whole of Edom who so exultantly and contemptuously took possession of my country to despoil its pastureland.'
Yahweh refutes the claim of the Edomites and Judah's
other neighbors that the mountains of Israel now belong to them. He promises
the land of Israel that He will save it from those who have ravaged, oppressed,
and ridiculed it.
Question: Why is Yahweh is "jealous" for the land devastated by Israel's neighbors? To whom does the land belong? See Lev 25:23.
Answer: The Promised Land belongs to Yahweh as His possession. No one can live on it without His permission to live on the land as His tenants.
Ezekiel 36:6-12 ~ The Restoration of the Land
6 "Because of this, prophesy about the land of Israel. Say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, The Lord Yahweh says this: I am speaking in my jealousy and rage; because you are enduring the insults of the nations, 7 very well, the Lord Yahweh says this: I raise my hand and I swear that the nations all around you shall have their own insults to bear. 8 Mountains of Israel, you will grow branches and bear fruit for my people Israel, who will soon return. 9 Yes, I am coming to you, I shall turn to you; you will be tilled and sown. 10 I shall increase your population, the whole House of Israel, yes, all. The cities will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 I shall increase your population, both human and animal; they will be fertile and reproduce. I shall repopulate you as you were before; I shall make you more prosperous than you were before, and you will know that I am Yahweh. 12 Thanks to me, men will tread your soil again, my people Israel; they will own you and you will be their heritage, and never again will you rob them of their children.'"
Despite their collective and individual sins, they are
still His covenant people, and God is angry over their neighbors taking
pleasure in their suffering since their neighbors have committed many of their
Question: List the promises Yahweh makes to the land of Israel and her exiles when Yahweh returns with the exiles to the land that is their heritage in verses 7-12.
Experiencing the fulfillment of the promises will make the people return to "knowing" Yahweh in a covenant relationship. The promises in verses 7-12 recall the blessings for covenant obedience in Leviticus 26:3-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
Ezekiel 36:13-15 ~ No Repeat of the Covenant Failure
that Makes the People Responsible for the Death of Their Children
13 "The Lord Yahweh says this: Since people have said of you: You are a man-eater, you have robbed your nation of its children, 14 very well, you will eat no more men, never rob your nation of its children again, declares the Lord Yahweh. 15 I shall never again let you hear the insults of the nations, you will never again have to bear the taunts of the peoples, you will never again rob the nation of its children, declares the Lord Yahweh.'"
Verses 13-15 are a continuation of the promise in verse
Question: What led to the land of Judah's destruction by the Babylonian "sword," the loss of the lives of her people, and exile for the survivors?
Answer: Judah's idol worship and apostasy from the covenant with Yahweh and the refusal to repent resulted in God's divine judgment that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, and exile for the survivors.
It was from the oracles of Yahweh's prophets that Judah's neighbors knew of Judah's sins against Israel's God and understood that Judah was responsible for the destruction of her land, her citizens, and deaths of her children (verse 13; Jer Chapter 27).
Question: What assurance does God give the exiles
concerning their future when they return to the cleansed and purified land?
Answer: Yahweh, of course, knows future events. He assures the covenant people that "never again" will they be responsible for the deaths of their children in the same way that their idol worship made them responsible for the Babylonian judgment.
In verses 14-15, God promises His covenant people that after their restoration, they will never again hear the taunts and insults of their neighbors concerning His divine judgment against them. The reason they have no reason to fear God's wrath is that, after their return, they will never again abandon Yahweh for false gods. After the exiles' return from Babylon, we never hear again in the Biblical record about widespread idol worship in the Promised Land where God resettled His covenant people in preparation for the next stage in salvation history.
Questions for discussion or reflection:
How did the Advent of the Messiah fulfill the prophecies in Ezekiel Chapter 34? Keep in mind the nature of sin and the necessity of blood sacrifice for the expiation of sins. Throughout salvation history, sin is the great deceiver. The motive for sin is that it appears to give satisfaction, but it is always a disappointment in that it only gives temporary satisfaction and is destructive to the human soul because the soul that sins will die (Ez 18:4b, 20, CCC 1035, 1037). The price of sin is blood. God gave blood as a means of atonement for our sins: For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiates for a life (Lev 17:11). God the Son came to shed His blood on our behalf (Jn 1:29). As St. Paul wrote, What the Law could not do because of the weakness of human nature, God did, sending his own Son in the same human nature as any sinner to be a sacrifice for sin, and condemning sin in that human nature. This was so that the Law's requirements might be fully satisfied in us as we direct our lives not by our natural inclinations but by the spirit (Rom 8:3-4).
How does the blood of Christ expiate our sins and secure our salvation in these three ways?
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