God sets Ezekiel as a watchman for Israel; Ezekiel prophesies over Egypt, Edom, and the ‘bad’ shepherds of Israel, then he promises a good Shepherd and restoration to Israel: Ezekiel 32:1–33:20; 34–36
How had Israel’s rulers behaved? Had they cared for the people the way they should have? Had they been good shepherds? Well, no. Jeremiah had already told them as much, but it seems they needed to hear it again.
Ezekiel 34:2-6 What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.
Instead, God Himself would be the new shepherd.
Ezekiel 34:31 You are my flock, the sheep of my pasture. You are my people, and I am your God. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!
He would start by finding all the lost sheep:
Ezekiel 34:11-12 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.
And He would not just randomly find sheep, keep them and care for them. The fat, greedy sheep would be culled.
Ezekiel 34:20-22 I will surely judge between the fat sheep and the scrawny sheep. For you fat sheep pushed and butted and crowded my sick and hungry flock until you scattered them to distant lands. So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another.
And a new ruler would be set in place: David.
Ezekiel 34:23-24 And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the Lord, have spoken!
So suddenly, Ezekiel’s words go from passing judgement on corrupt and ungodly rulers of Jerusalem to prophesying a new David, the Messiah.