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Ezekiel 34:5-6 & meaning...


sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill: yes, my sheep were scattered on all the surface of the earth; and there was no one who searched or sought.

Ezekiel 34:6


Ezekiel 34 [1.] Yahweh’s word came to me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and tell them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, and you clothe yourself with the wool, you kill the fatlings; but you don’t feed the sheep. You haven’t strengthened the diseased, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought back that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with rigor you have ruled over them. 

Ezekiel 34 [5.] They were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food to all the animals of the field, and were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill: yes, my sheep were scattered on all the surface of the earth; and there was no one who searched or sought. Therefore, you shepherds, hear Yahweh’s word: As I live, says the Lord Yahweh, surely because my sheep became a prey, and my sheep became food to all the animals of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my sheep, but the shepherds fed themselves, and didn’t feed my sheep; therefore, you shepherds, hear Yahweh’s word: 

Ezekiel 34 [10.] Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the sheep; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, that they may not be food for them. For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.


  • Historical Background:

Leadership Failures: Ezekiel 34 addresses the failures of Israel’s leaders, who are metaphorically referred to as shepherds. These leaders neglected their duties, leading to the suffering and scattering of the people.

God’s Judgment and Promise: The chapter contrasts the corrupt shepherds with God’s promise to become the true shepherd of His people, offering protection, care, and guidance.

  • Key Elements of the Verses:

Scattered Sheep: The sheep (people of Israel) are scattered because of the lack of proper leadership. This scattering leaves them vulnerable to danger and predation.

Absence of Shepherds: The absence of shepherds implies neglect, lack of care, and abandonment. The leaders failed to protect, guide, and seek the well-being of the people.

Vulnerability and Wandering: The imagery of sheep wandering through mountains and hills emphasizes their aimlessness and exposure to harm. They are in desperate need of a shepherd to lead them back to safety.

Theological Significance

  • God’s Care for His People:

Divine Shepherd: God’s promise to shepherd His people personally highlights His deep care and compassion. Unlike the failed human leaders, God will faithfully guide and protect His flock.

Messianic Fulfillment: This passage also points forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who fulfills God’s promise to shepherd His people with love and righteousness. In John 10:11, Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

  • Human Leadership and Accountability:

Responsibility of Leaders: The rebuke of Israel’s leaders underscores the responsibility of those in leadership to care for and protect those under their charge. Leaders are accountable to God for how they shepherd His people.

Spiritual Guidance: The need for spiritual guidance and protection is paramount. Without faithful leaders, people can easily become spiritually lost and vulnerable.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Trusting God as Our Shepherd:

Rely on God’s Guidance: Trust in God as the ultimate shepherd of your life. Seek His guidance through prayer, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Rest in His Care: Find comfort in knowing that God is committed to your well-being. He sees you, knows you, and is actively seeking your good.

  • Responsible Leadership:

Be a Good Shepherd: If you are in a position of leadership, whether in your family, church, or community, strive to be a good shepherd. Care for those entrusted to you with love, diligence, and integrity.

Seek Accountability: Ensure that your leadership is accountable. Surround yourself with wise counsel and be open to correction and growth.

  • Seeking the Lost:

Reach Out to the Vulnerable: Like God who searches for His scattered sheep, be proactive in reaching out to those who are lost, hurting, or vulnerable. Show compassion and offer support and guidance.

Build Community: Foster a sense of community and belonging. Encourage others to come together, support one another, and find strength in unity.


Psalm 23:1-4: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." These verses from Psalm 23 beautifully depict God as the Good Shepherd, providing, guiding, and protecting His people.

Jeremiah 23:1-4: "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, says against the shepherds who feed my people: You have scattered my flock, driven them away, and have not visited them. Behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings, says the LORD. I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will set up shepherds over them, who will feed them. They will fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither will any be lacking, says the LORD." Jeremiah also speaks to the failure of the shepherds and God’s promise to restore and care for His flock.

John 10:14-15: "I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep." Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep intimately and lays down His life for them.

Conclusion: Ezekiel 34:5-6 poignantly highlights the dire consequences of failed leadership and the deep need for a true shepherd. God’s promise to personally shepherd His people reveals His profound love and commitment to their well-being. This passage challenges us to trust in God as our ultimate shepherd, embrace responsible and compassionate leadership, and actively seek to care for the vulnerable and lost.

By recognizing and relying on God’s shepherding in our lives, we can navigate life’s challenges with confidence and peace. As leaders, we are called to reflect God’s shepherding heart, caring for those under our charge with diligence and love. In our communities, we can embody the compassion of God by reaching out to those in need and fostering environments of support and belonging.

Ultimately, Ezekiel 34:5-6 draws us to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for us and continues to lead and guide us with perfect love and faithfulness.

leader - saved - shepherd

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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