Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Saviour Like A Shepherd Lead Us"1 (Lyrics)
Ezekiel 34:12a – As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. (NIV)
We've been hearing alarming reports on the disappearance of honeybees around the world. Bees leave their hives, never to return. It's called colony collapse disorder. The hives cannot be sustained in the absence of worker bees, and eventually they collapse. This crisis threatens the livelihood of beekeepers, and, in fact, it threatens the entire human race. Much of our food depends on bees for pollination.
This loss of bees reminds me of the loss of people from churches, especially our once-mainline churches. We, too, may be experiencing colony collapse disorder. People depart and never return, leaving fewer to sustain the "hive" and nurture the next generation — and also to serve as a moral compass for society.
Ezekiel experienced a similar crisis in his day. In chapter 34, he paints a bleak picture of ancient Israel, describing them as sheep wandering away from the flock and becoming food for wild animals as a result. Yet within this dismal depiction, Ezekiel plants an astonishing message of hope in today's verse.
I suspect that if Ezekiel was living today he would use bees as his metaphor rather than sheep. We can relate to bees. We know that they are being weakened by disease, parasites, and inadequate food supplies. Many believe that their navigation is disrupted by insecticides, and so bees can't find their way home. People have similar troubles.
In Ezekiel's day, no one bothered to search out the lost to bring them home and provide proper care. They were left vulnerable, easy prey for predators and parasites. Their "navigation" systems got disrupted by harmful influences, and so they couldn't get home. Today, we might point to influences such as consumerism or individualism. And we cannot deny the lack of spiritual nurture.
Really, this is the plight of human sin: being lost and unable to find the way home to our heavenly Father. Ezekiel would have encouraged us with words about our heavenly "Beekeeper" rescuing His lost ones. God Himself promised to care for His own and watch over His precious "colonies". It's happening around the globe. Countless ones are being brought home and healed — restored to the Father through Christ's salvation. His Church will never go extinct, no matter what happens in our churches — or in the honeybee population.
Prayer: Dear Father, as we ponder the threats of loss, our eyes are fixed on You, the God of all comfort. We remember that You are the "Chief Beekeeper" and will never abandon humanity. Help us see You at work around us and within us. May our trust in You grow stronger as we look ahead with joyful expectation of a new home, where there will be no more loss, grief, or tears. Amen.