The prince is lifted up

"'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. … 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken. – Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23,24

In this text, the repeated themes grab our attention. They’re pretty hard to miss! The many and varied tasks of the true Shepherd in caring for his people. The repeated use of the first person pronoun – 31 times in the 31 verses of this chapter! The Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something important, important enough to repeat himself — Christ the King takes good care of his people.

But don’t miss an important picture that is used just once in the text — in verse 24. There the Lord refers to the promised Messiah, the blessed “David” to come, and says, “(he) will be prince among them.” There’s much that could be said about the parallels between Shepherd and Prince. The Hebrew word translated “prince” is derived from the word meaning “to lift, carry, take.” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1421)

It makes sense. The prince is lifted up, exalted above his brothers to a position of honor and authority. That certainly is an apt description for Christ the King! But the Royal Son of Heaven was “lifted up” in another way, too, wasn’t he? Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:14,15.)

The One lifted up willingly became One lifted up! The Shepherd became the Lamb of sacrifice. And now God has lifted him up and exalted him to the highest place (Philippians 2:9-11)! One day, every knee will bow. But for the time being, may our knees bow and may we, too, lift Jesus up as Christ our King.

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