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Neglect and Peace

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Joined: 03 May 2021
Posts: 5
Location: Green Bay, WI

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 5:07 pm    Post subject: Neglect and Peace Reply with quote

"Neglect in shepherding is tantamount to abuse. Without due diligence to the sick and strays – and healthy – a flock is quickly decimated. Consequently Ezekiel can accurately say that the sheep were scattered because there was ‘no shepherd’. The details in this account convey how extreme the abuse had become. The ‘shepherds of Israel’ ¹⁸ had been actively consuming the products and the flock, ¹⁹ with disregard for the consequences. These shepherds ‘ruled them harshly and brutally’ (v. 5; cf. Jer. 10:21). ²⁰ The irony of this picture is all the more stark for Ezekiel, who looks back frequently to the Sinai covenant for his perspective. The word translated ‘brutally’ in v. 4 (perek) is only found in the context of Egyptian slavery (Exod. 1:13–14), a condition Israelites were expressly forbidden to duplicate among themselves (Lev. 25:43, 46, 53)" (p. 195, Scribd edition).

This passage convicted me immediately. I could only think of all the times I had the wrong priorities, or days I didn't give myself fully to my work, or times I looked for excuses not to go visit a person or to hide in my study and find things to do rather than go serve someone. Probably, every instance I can think of I could come up with an excuse for why in that case it was justified. But I have to go to my knees and say, "Lord, if I've been neglectful in my ministry, forgive me." Because I know I have. In big or small ways.

I can take comfort in remembering that I am only an under-shepherd, and the flock belongs to the one who purchased them with his blood. He won't leave them just because I'm neglectful. At the same time, I have to put that comfort and reassurance in the proper perspective; I cannot take it as an excuse to be lax.

I'm thinking about one of my favorite analogies, one I got from an old doctrine professor. He would compare all of God's truth to a great temple of pillars, and each pillar is one true thing God tells us. Each true thing is so big to just wrap our arms around stretches us. If you stand in the right place, maybe you can touch two pillars at once. One pillar is the Great Commission - and maybe I'd lump this section from Ezekiel in with it, just for this context - and in the morning I need to go to that pillar and brace myself against it. Another pillar is the truth that God knows who are his own and will keep them safe, and at night I need to go to that and wrap my arms around it. Get this backwards, and I'll be lazy during the day and troubled at night. Get it right, and I can shepherd faithfully and sleep restfully.
Brandon Steenbock
"Not all those who wander are lost."
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