September 10, 2021
"The Word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and say to them: This is what the Lord God says to the shepherds..."
“The Word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and say to them: This is what the Lord God says to the shepherds: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed their flock? You eat the fat, wear the wool, and butcher the fattened animals, but you do not tend the flock. You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. They were scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them.’” Ezekiel 34:1-6
God loves a good shepherd! When we think of shepherds of the Bible, we typically gravitate to David, the worship leading shepherd boy who transcended the sheep fields to slay a giant, command an army and eventually shepherd a nation. But even David, in his flesh, could act as a bad shepherd. We recall how David commanded for one of his “sheep” (Uriah the Hittite) to be led into the heat of battle, then abandoned so David could steal Uriah’s “lamb” (his wife) Bathsheba. Through David, we learn that even the most upright of human shepherds will fail us in fleshly ways. Perhaps, that is why David sang, “The Lord is my shepherd…” Surely, he knew at the deepest level that only God could adequately shepherd His people.
And that is precisely Ezekiel’s point in today’s passage! The shepherds of Israel were concerned more with the wool and mutton (exploitable byproducts of ministry) than they were concerned with the wellbeing of the sheep themselves. Feed the sheep? Bad shepherds feed off the sheep, literally eating them for dinner! Perhaps, that is why Jesus addressed this issue with the apostle Peter.
“He asked him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ He said, ‘Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.’ ‘Feed My sheep,’ Jesus said.” John 21:17
And since the Lord is truly our Shepherd, we can understand why Jesus addressed Himself in this manner:
“‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, the hired man leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.’” John 10:11-15
And, exactly who are the sheep of Messiah’s pasture? Are they not ALL who trust in Him, both Jew and Gentile who by faith believe in Him? John 10:16-17