The LORD is, at this moment, calling His sheep to pass under His rod and come into His sheepfold. We know that the LORD is the Good Shepherd, as David penned in Psalm 23, and that He promises to care for His sheep. We also know from Jesus’ words in John 10 that His sheep hear and know His voice. So, as the LORD is calling His sheep into the sheepfold, they are passing under His rod and are being counted.
Knowing the voice of the Shepherd is the hallmark of belonging to the Shepherd. Even now as the Shepherd is calling the sheep, they must be able to hear and recognize His voice. This is not a time for confusion, fogginess, or distractions. The sheep who will be counted are those who know the Shepherd’s voice.
In Ezekiel 20:37, God says of Israel, who had been scattered to the nations, that He will make them “pass under the rod.” The rod was not only a marker to count the sheep; it was also the shepherd’s tool of authority. With it, he would correct, corral, and guide the sheep. A call to pass under the rod is a call to yield to the authority of the LORD. Only a position of humility allows for yielding, so it is naturally under the rod that the sheep pass. God continues in Ezekiel 20:28 to say that He would “purge the rebels from among [them], and those who transgress against [Him]…” Passing under the rod is a process of submitting and yielding to the Good Shepherd; There is no room for pride, selfishness, or headstrongness.
The LORD, as the Good Shepherd, provides a safe, bountiful place for the sheep. God said that He was bringing Israel into “the bond of the covenant” (Ezekiel 20:37) as they would pass under the rod. This covenant place of safety is the Shepherd’s secret place. It is a place where the sheep can find solace, provision, and safety. In this ever-increasing chaotic time, the Good Shepherd is calling us into His sheepfold. As we pass under His rod, we pass into His protection and into His care.
The irresponsible shepherds of Ezekiel 34 have had their day and their opportunity to properly care for the sheep. Ezekiel and Jeremiah both laid out God’s concerns about the shepherds who failed to bind up the wounds of the sheep, or even feed them with the correct nourishment. Indeed, the vulnerability of the sheep has been exposed in this season, and God is clear about where the responsibility lies. To be sure, God said that He would “judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats,” (Ezekiel 34:17), and so judgment rests with Him. However, there is good news to the sheep who have not been well-fed and cared for: God is coming for you.
In the latter part of Ezekiel 34, God outlines His solution. He says, “I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them…I will feed them in good pasture…I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick…” God said that He would come and be a Good Shepherd to the sheep who had been held enslaved. God’s attention has been turned toward His sheep.
For those who will respond to the Good Shepherd in this hour, there is freedom. God has a sheepfold of safety and protection into which He desires to bring His sheep. It is a place where they will be healed and set free
So, to the sheep who are scattered and abandoned: take courage for your Shepherd is calling you.
Turn toward the voice of your Shepherd. Respond without delay. Pass under the His rod. Be counted, and step into the safety of the His sheepfold.
By Nicola Ramitt