–By Elizabeth Ahlman
“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice (Ezekiel 34:11-16, ESV).
This past Sunday (April 10) and on Easter Monday, I sat in the pew of the German congregation where my family attends and I watched as first 11, then 12 more formerly Muslim men, women and children were baptized. Twenty-three in all in just that short few weeks, with more in instruction and more to be baptized this coming weekend.
Whose work was this? Was it ours? Was it the pastor’s? Was it the work of my new brothers and sisters in Christ? Was it the work of a charity organization? No and no.
While in this chapter of Ezekiel, Yahweh is reprimanding those who had charge of the flock of His people for leading them astray and leaving them to the wolves, His activity as described here is ongoing and for all people. It is Yahweh Himself who seeks the lost — those who were His own and have been led astray, those were left to be fed to the wolves, those who have strayed of their own accord, those who are weak and those who are injured. It is Yahweh Himself who seeks also those who were never His own, who lived in darkness and among the wolves all their lives, who had not heard anything but lies.
In Christ Jesus, Yahweh seeks all those who are lost — both of Israel and outside of Israel — and He makes for Himself a new people out of them. In His death and resurrection He draws all people to Himself. In the preaching of the Law He convicts and kills our Old Adams. In the preaching of the Gospel, He raises us up to new life in Him. In the waters of Holy Baptism, He makes us His own dear children. In His Holy Supper He feeds and nourishes us with His own body and blood. We lie down and rest in Him, our dear Shepherd.
These, our new brothers and sisters in Christ, will face many wolves to come — Muslim family members who will threaten their lives, spies watching their every move, threats and beatings in their Asylum Homes, those who would lure them back into a false faith or sideways into new heresies. But for them, as for us, whatever wolves we face are beaten down by our Shepherd, and we are bound up, strengthened and cradled by Him. He has called them and us out of darkness and wolf dens into His glorious life eternal. Thanks be to God!
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You are our Good Shepherd, protect us, and especially these new brothers and sisters in Christ, from all harm and danger. Defeat the wolves of false gods and false religions and keep us ever in the one true faith so that we may all attain to that eternal pasture where the wolves are forever gone, and we are forever fed and at rest with You; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Learn more about the work in Leipzig, Germany.
- Pray for the newly baptized, that they would be strengthened in the faith!