Rulers past and future (34:1-31)
The leaders of Israel, whether of the northern kingdom or the southern, were supposed to be shepherds, but instead of caring for the people they exploited them. Their sole concern was for themselves (34:1-4). Because of their neglect of the flock, the sheep were attacked and scattered. Because of the corruption of its leaders, Israel was destroyed by hostile nations and its people taken captive into foreign countries (5-6).
God will therefore punish the shepherds, but he will rescue the scattered sheep and bring them back to their home (7-10). God himself will be their new shepherd. He will feed them and care for them (11- 15). While being sympathetic to those who are afflicted, he will act with strict justice against those who are oppressive (16).
Having taken the flock under his control and care, the true shepherd will remove from it those who, in their greed and selfishness, spoiled the pastures and dirtied the water for others. God will punish those who made themselves rich and powerful by trampling on the rights of their fellow citizens (17-19). When God has removed those who oppressed others for their own advantage, he will set up his Messiah to rule over his people in love and righteousness. The ideal that David wished for but never experienced will then be a reality (20-24).
Ezekiel speaks of the new relationship between God and his people as a covenant of peace. A bond of harmony exists between the good shepherd and his sheep. As the shepherd protects his flock from wild animals and gives his sheep good pastures, so God will protect his people from their enemies and give them agricultural prosperity (25-29). His people will respond with true loyalty. They will be his people, and he will be their God (30-31).