Then this message came to me from the LORD:
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: Destruction is certain for 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 broken bones. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with force and cruelty.
So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd. They are easy prey for any wild animal.
They have wandered through the mountains and hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.
"Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. Though you were my shepherds, you didn't search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve.
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, along with their right to feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.
"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 to which they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.
I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers in all the places where people live.
Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in lush mountain pastures.
I myself will tend my sheep and cause them to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD.
I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes -- feed them justice!
"And as for you, my flock, my people, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, separating the sheep from the goats.
Is it not enough for you to keep the best of the pastures for yourselves? Must you also trample down the rest? Is it not enough for you to take the best water for yourselves? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?
All that is left for my flock to eat is what you have trampled down. All they have to drink is water that you have fouled.
"Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will surely judge between the fat sheep and the scrawny sheep.
For you fat sheep push and butt and crowd my sick and hungry flock until they are scattered to distant lands.
So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused and destroyed. And I will judge between one sheep and another.
And I will set one shepherd over them, even 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!
"I will make a covenant of peace with them and drive away the dangerous animals from the land. Then my people will be able to camp safely in the wildest places and sleep in the woods without fear.
I will cause my people and their homes around my holy hill to be a blessing. And I will send showers, showers of blessings, which will come just when they are needed.
The orchards and fields of my people will yield bumper crops, and everyone will live in safety. When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the LORD.
They will no longer be prey for other nations, and wild animals will no longer attack them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid.
"And I will give them a land famous for its crops, so my people will never again go hungry or be shamed by the scorn of foreign nations.
In this way, they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them. And they will know that they, the people of Israel, are my people, says the Sovereign LORD.
You are my flock, the sheep of my pasture. You are my people, and I am your God, says the Sovereign LORD."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)