The False Shepherds
Verse 1 – And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Verse 2 – “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
The shepherds are the political leaders, kings, and spiritual leaders. Ezekiel shows what the rulers should have been, what they have been, and what in the coming times they will be when the True King shall reign in the true kingdom.
Verse 3 – “You eat fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fat-lings but you do not feed the flock.
Verse 4 – “The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.
That one verse has a lot to say about a person that God appoints to lead His people. I believe a flock, a congregation, should be a reflection of their leadership. When only the top leaders are prospering while the rest go without, there is a problem. The same goes for the leaders in our government.
Verse 5 – “So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered.
When the flock is scattered – when they leave the protection of a good shepherd, they are exposed to worldly theology and ideas and become prey for deception.
Verse 6 – “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.
Not only had Israel been scattered and separated by the Assyrians and Babylonians, but their leaders had done a pretty good job of not attending to their needs.
Verse 7 – ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
Verse 8 – “as I live,: says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock” –
Verse 9 – ‘therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!
Verse 10 – ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”
This is a very strong warning for those who are in leadership over God’s people. God expects those chosen to be caring and help those in need or He will remove them from their position.
Verse 11 – ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
Verse 12 – “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 from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.
Babylon was not the only country where the Jews had been scattered. God knew where every single individual was and He intended to bring them back to Israel. God knows where we are too. Please don’t ever think that you have strayed so far that He can’t find you!
Verse 13 – “And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.
Because Christ is the good Shepherd, we are reminded that He can turn any tragic situation around. Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Ezekiel was reminding those in exile that a hope was in their future where God would lead, provide, and protect them.
Verse 14 – “I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.
Verse 15 – “I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God.
Verse 16 – “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”
Cause them to lie down – when complete trust is placed in the Good Shepherd, you can rest! You can sleep at night without worry for tomorrow; you can feel secure knowing that God All Might’s got this! When we depend on anything or anyone but God, frustration and disappointment will come which brings lack of peace.
Verse 17 – ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.
He will judge between men and men, between the smaller and the weaker, the greater and stronger, the rams – rulers, according to their deeds.
Verse 18 – “Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with feet the residue of your pasture – and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet?
Verse 19 – “And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”
Verse 20 – ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.
A bad shepherd is not only selfish but destructive. A minister who muddies the waters for others by raising unnecessary doubts, teaching false doctrines, and acting sinfully is destroying his flock’s spiritual nourishment. James 3:1 – My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Matthew 22:14 – “For many are called, but few are chosen.” The truth is, many hear the call on their lives to teach the Word of God to others, but few will respond because they let distractions and others get in their way. Same goes for hearing the Gospel. Many will hear the true Gospel of Christ, but it takes a response for it to change a life. Teachers and ministers are held to a higher standard. Why? Because they have to lead by example according to God’s Word, not their own.
Verse 21 – “Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad,
Verse 22 – “therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
Verse 23 – “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them – My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.
God promised Israel to appoint a shepherd, the Messiah, from the line of David. David is also referred to by name elsewhere in scripture, that looks forward to a future restoration of Israel.
Verse 24 – “And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord, have spoken.
Verse 25 – “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.
Verse 26 – “I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.
Verse 27 – “Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. The shall be safe in their land and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
Yoke refers to the wooden bar or frame that joined animals so they could carry or pull a heavy load. The yoke became a symbol of bondage. The word yoke here represents foreign domination.
Verse 28 – “And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid.
There is coming a day when Israel will no longer be prey to other nations. They will live in their own land, absent of any fear or harm. This is a promise from God that will come to pass when the King of Kings rules and reigns for all eternity.
Verse 29 – “I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore.
Verse 30 – “Thus they shall know that I , the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God.’ ”
Verse 31 – “You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord God.’ ”
All through these verses, Ezekiel continually reminds the exiles that “They are God’s people!” Even though judgment had come upon them, being taken captive, lost their land, and maybe their hope, God said, “You are still mine.”
In our own lives we will go through hardships, disappointments, crises, fiery trials, and losses, but it never changes the fact that you still belong to a Mighty, Loving, Caring, God!