Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Covenant of Peace

I know it will sound rather foolish for me to say that we live in a restless and tiresome world. Your first inclination will be to roll your eyes and respond with a sardonic "duh". My stating this truth, however, is not meant to be taken as a sort of news flash, some highligh of a new discovery about our existence in a fallen world. Rather I am stating it as a fresh reminder. Even with this truth as a common knowledge we can begin to live our lives in such routine that we forget just how True it really is. Life is restless and tiresome. But what may be a news flash to some of us is that God is a giver of peace.

Ezekiel 34 gives us this assurance in a most tender and wonderful way. There we read:
"For thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will stregnthen teh weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy, I will feed them in justice."

In this context the Lord, through His prophet Ezekiel, has declared that the shepherds of Israel- that is her leaders and government officials- are destroying and corrupting His flock to the point where He is forced to intervene. The leaders were getting fat by exploiting the sheep and the results had even led to their being "scattered," that is exiled. But the Lord, the great and mighty Shepherd, will seek out His lost sheep and will bring them back. He will give them their land, He will feed them on rich pastures, they will lie down in sweet meadows and rest!

The verses continue painting a picture of the Lord as a tender shepherd of His own flock. In verse 23 He declares, "I will set up over them on shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them : he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken." The reference to David here is symbolic. It does not refer to the actual King David, who by this time was long dead, it does refers to some one in the Davidic line, however. That one is known to be Jesus. Jesus is the one who in John 10 says, "I am the good shepherd . The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep," and "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." And furthermore He says of himself, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." This is the true great and good shepherd.

So when God says in Ezekeil 34:25 "I will make with them a covenant of peace..." we know thatHe is speaking and pointing to a time when Christ shall reign over His church on earth. Christ ushers in this time of security and rest for His flock because of His death and resurrection. And here we, the true sheep of Christ, will find genuine rest. Rest for our souls, rest for our hearts, and rest from this tiresome world. Christ is the good shepherd and all who find their rest in Him are looking forward to this covenant of peace! Rest is not found anywhere else.


Anonymous James said...

this was very encouraging, thanks brother.

6:57 PM  

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