Sheep at Rest
“I MYSELF will tend MY sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says The Sovereign LORD.”
(Ezekiel 34:15 NLT)
Interesting verse. Sheep don’t lie down…unless they’re convinced they are well fed, safe and sound. They have no method of defense, other than flight. They herd together, respond to one another’s fears and rarely settle down. However, when they trust their shepherd, have been well fed and are certain there’s nothing to be afraid of, they will lie down and sleep. GOD spoke this to HIS children who were exiled because of their unfaithfulness to HIM. Yet, HE responds to their cries, promising to redeem them and care for them like a good shepherd would care for his flock, though they have done nothing to deserve it. They will graze in lush pastures, and lie down in pleasant places. HE will take them home.
HE assures them of safety they cannot provide for themselves. Like sheep, we tend to worry about everything. Fear underlies much of what we struggle with. It robs our joy, and causes us to do some things we wish we would not do.
“Fear seems to be at the very core of all the things that battle against my heart and soul. At the core of my busyness is fear. At the core of my insecurity is fear. At the core of my anxiety is fear. At the core of my competitiveness…you guessed it – fear. Fear of not having what it takes. Fear of not having any value. Fear of not being lovable. The list goes on and on.” – Jim Branch
All these fears, hidden deep in our motives, are seeded in us by lies. Our enemy, the father of lies, is responsible for those lies. Yet, GOD intends that HIS people would be like sheep with a trusted shepherd. HIS SPIRIT in us is powerful. Our Good Shepherd gently cares for us, removing our greatest doubts by being with us. When we begin to understand HE is present with us, our fears subside. Knowing our FATHER loves us as we are, in the midst of our mess, helps us begin to rest.
Though, like sheep, there’s no true rest until our hunger is satisfied. Sheep won’t lie down if they’re unsure of their next meal. Note GOD promised the exiled nation lush pastures. Lush pastures aren’t common in arid climates like Jerusalem, so this is a promise of a well cared for plot for HIS people. Provision.
“Let us look at the Scriptures as the green pastures; and as we open them let us ask HIM to be our guide, and to show us where the food appropriate to our need is found.” – F. B. Meyer
Our greatest provision is in HIS Word. When we learn of how HE has provided for others, how HE came to us and gave HIMSELF for us because of how much GOD loves us, our souls gather the nourishment they need to cease striving…and truly rest. Through HIS Word, GOD speaks to us. Though HIS promises are great and the Truth of HIS Word is overwhelming, it is when HE speaks directly to us through the living Word that we find the hope in CHRIST to sustain us through trials.
This verse is more than a promise for hurting people, it’s a reflection of how complete, total and satisfying GOD’s love is. As I consider it, I’m convinced GOD is so much better than we comprehend. HIS love is unfailing, unfathomable, unchanging and better than we can hope or dream. HIS love is perfect and it removes all fear (1 John 4:18). We, like those sheep, can safely lie down in the lush pastures, trusting our Good Shepherd…and rest.