Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our Old Testament passage for this week reminds us that God is deeply concerned about restoration. His people have been scattered, and, like sheep, they are unable to care for themselves for very long. They won’t find the kind of good pasture they need, they will wind up short of water, they will be harassed by all sorts of predators. The sheep need a shepherd.
The Lord knows that his sheep need to be gathered together and cared for. They were scattered when his undershepherds, the priests, teachers, and rulers of Israel failed to do their duty. Those people, also pictured as sheep, became fat and strong but didn’t take care of the sheep they were supposed to watch. So God gives his promise. He will gather his sheep by himself. He will rescue them and bring them to a place of security and rest. This is God’s righteous judgment, to care for those who are hurting, especially those who have been scattered and neglected by the very people they should have depended on.
Three ways of God’s gathering and restoration of his people come to mind immediately. First, for the people of Israel at the time of Ezekiel - the nation has been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. They will be restored to their rightful land. The worship and sacrifice which was interrupted by the exile can be restored. The culture of God’s people gathered together can be re-instituted. God gathers his people out of a very literal exile. Second, for those in the many ages from Ezekiel’s time to now, those who wish to hear from God but who have been troubled and scattered by this world and its false teaching can be restored to right teaching. We may be seeing something like that happening in this day, as Christians are working overtime to care for people during a time of plague. We are certainly attempting to make the good news of restoration to God by faith in Jesus as plain as possible, welcoming those who are fearful and troubled to find the hope and peace of Christ. Third, in the last day, God will gather his people to himself as he raises the dead and gathers those who are still living. Again, it will be a kind of restoration, but at that time an eternal restoration, a rescue from all trouble and strife.
God is gathering his people together. Wherever we might be, we are invited to come and trust in him, as he brings us to a place of peace and rest. He has made that place for us because of his great love for us. We are welcome in his pasture.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.