First Reading:  Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17


Signs of Hope


11  For thus says the Lord YHWH: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.


15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord YHWH. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and will bring back that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but the fat and the strong I will destroy; I will feed them in justice.17 As for you, O my flock, thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, the rams and the male goats


World English Bible


"Pride goes before the fall." But after the fall, what happens next? This was the question Ezekiel tried to answer for his contemporaries taken into captive exile.


As the son of a priest, Ezekiel was taken into exile by the Babylonians. Soon after, Ezekiel felt the call to prophesy among his countrymen. Through visions and strange behavior, Ezekiel tried to explain why the Jews were in exile. And he looked ahead to God's salvation.


While the Jews lost all because of their sin, they would be gathered together by the power of God. The Lord would bring the Diaspora (communities of Jews spread throughout the world) back to worship in Jerusalem, like a shepherd gathers lost sheep who strayed from the flock [34:11-12]. He would care for the injured. But there would be judgment, for not all the lost would be innocent [34:15-17].


While the exiles felt guilt and remorse for their sin, they needed a counterbalance in hope. We, too, need hope to pull us out of our funk. But we need a firm reason for hope. That reason is God himself.


What hope has God given you this day? How has his activity turned you away from dark emotions like anger or self-doubt?