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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

July 24, 2015

God's shepherd rod

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

The prophet Ezekiel wrote an interesting prophecy about the future of God's people Israel:

"I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 20:37-38).

Here God uses the imagery of a shepherd holding his approximately two meter long shepherd's rod as the sheep pass by beneath it to be counted. What does this symbolize for us?

The counting of the sheep as they passed beneath the rod made sure that no sheep was missing, i.e., that the flock was complete. When God delivers His people, He will make sure that no one is missing! "Search from the book of the Lord, and read: Not one of these shall fail; Not one shall lack her mate. For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them" (Isaiah 34:16).

It pictures something else too. As the sheep passed under the rod – a symbol of the Word of God – they would undergo a close scrutiny. The shepherd would run his rod backward or across the grain, as it were, of the wool. The rod separated the wool, allowing the shepherd to look down onto the sheep's skin. He was then able to see both the quality of the skin and of the wool.

God is illustrating that by means of His rod, He is giving us careful, close scrutiny for two reasons: One, it gives Him the opportunity to evaluate the quality of His sheep. Two, it provides a means of separation. Quality and separation are the two reasons for His scrutiny of us.

Recall Matthew 25 and the separation of the sheep and the goats. The rod aids in identifying or making sure of possession. Sheep's ears were often bored through or distinctively notched as a mark of identification. Sometimes, since the shepherds could not always see that identifying mark due to several flocks being mixed together in the pasture, they would make the sheep pass under the rod. When they did, the shepherd would flip back the ear to see the mark of possession. Again, it also gave them a chance to evaluate and determine the relative health and quality of that sheep.

We are all under the rod right now. Now is the time of our judgment (I Peter 4:17), and we are under evaluation to determine to whom we really belong. Who is our shepherd – God or Satan?

As we pass under His rod during our lifetime as the called-out ones, God is determining the answer to that question.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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