Chapter 34:17-24 (ESV) - “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
“Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one 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.
Question to consider: Who is this servant David who would separate the sheep from the goats?
As difficult as it has been to work our way through all of the judgments that were coming upon Jerusalem and the surrounding nations, we are now in the part of Ezekiel where God has provided a hopeful future for His faithful servants who were forced to live in exile among the pagans because false shepherds had taken over the flock and ruined God’s holy city. Not only did they take the good pasture and clean water for themselves, but they trampled down the remaining pasture and muddied up the rest of the water with their false teaching so God decided to take it upon Himself to tend and provide for His sheep.
The gospel of Matthew focused on Jesus being the long awaited king of David whose kingdom was made up of those who obtained their citizenship by God’s mercy alone. He emphasized that Jesus was this servant of David mentioned by Ezekiel from the very first chapter when he highlighted three sets of fourteen generations: from Abraham to David, from David to the Babylonian exile, and from the exile until Christ. Fourteen is the number representation of the name David which I demonstrated in my study of the first chapter of Matthew. Since today’s word from God to Ezekiel was given during the Babylonian exile, it is interesting to note that God sovereignly allowed it to be fulfilled fourteen generations after it was given.
In case we had any question of whether Jesus was this promised son of David, Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 25 that He would be the one who separated the sheep from the goats talked about in this word to Ezekiel. He was the one who would rescue His flock through the cross, and He would be the prince who ruled over His church, judging between sheep and sheep as the very hand of God. To remove any doubt that Jesus was referring to this passage in Ezekiel, Jesus referred to Himself as son of man. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)
I would argue that the firstfruits separation of the sheep and goats happened at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Jesus prophesied to the church that when they saw the armies surrounding Jerusalem, they should flee to the mountains rather than into the city. Up until that point, the chaff was being threshed from the wheat through the persecution that led to the judgment on Jerusalem, and those who obeyed Jesus’ words survived the destruction of the city where those being judged were gathered as chaff and burned. This established our certainty that the Son of Man will one day return to fully and finally judge the living and the dead.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for sending Your servant David to fulfill Your word to Ezekiel. Help us to see these fulfillments as a reassurance that Jesus will come and set all things right. Amen.