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Shephards & Sheep

The word of the lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Africa; prophesy and say to all of them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Africa who only take care of themselves and their kith and kin! Should not shepherds take care of the whole flock they had taken on? You eat all the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the whole flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.

“You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no dedicated sincere shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the waylaying wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the difficult mountains and on every worrisome high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth in utter disarray, and no one searched or looked for them again.

“Therefore, you leading shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my suffering flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become easy food for all the exploiting wild animals of the world, and because my allowed shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves only rather than for my flock, therefore, O sit-tight shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and I will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.

“As a true shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is indeed with them, so will I look after all my sheep. I will rescue every one of them from all places where they were forcibly scattered on a day of judging clouds and punishing darkness. I will bring them out from the many spread out nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them back into their very own land. I will pasture them again on the abundant mountains of Africa, in the fertile ravines and in all the rich settlements in the vast land.

“I will tend all of them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Africa will be their fruitful grazing land as always. There they will lie down in its good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the free mountains of Africa. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down restfully, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for all the lost and bring back all the strays. I will bind up all the injured and strengthen all the weak, but the thieving sleek and oppressively strong l will completely destroy. I will shepherd all the peopled flock with justice.

As innocent, as lost

“As of you, my shaded flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one kind of sheep and another, and between righteous rams and mischievous goats. Is it not enough for all of you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for all of you to drink the same clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with you feet for others? Must some of my flock feed on what some of you have trampled and what some of you have muddled with you feet? Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to those of them: See, I myself will judge between the glutton fat sheep and the bullied lean sheep.

“Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your opportune horns until you have driven them away, I will save those my flock from you, and they will no longer be plundered any longer. I will judge between one sheep and another plainly. I will place over them only one shepherd, my servant and chosen one, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my chosen servant will be their prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.

“I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts within it so that they may live freely in the desert and sleep openly in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my blessed hill and heavenly throne. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing as ideal. The trees of the field will yield their fruits and the ground will yield its crops; people will be secure in their land, in their homes. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their afflicted yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslave them.

“They will no longer be plundered by the descendants of foreign nations, nor will the wild animals amongst them devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the world’s other nations. Then they will know I, the LORD their God, I am with them and that they, the dismembered house of Africa, are my people too, declares the Sovereign LORD. You are my sheep, the special sheep of my abundant pasture, you are my people, and I am your only God, declares the most Sovereign Lord.’”

PARAPHRASED FROM EZEKIEL 34; NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV) OF THE HOLY BIBLE

Woe to the shepherd
If his foe is his herd
And damned is the sheep
On a pasture they can’t reap.

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