Sunday, August 02, 2015

Ezekiel 34 (Part 1)

Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, 'Thus says the LORD God, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill, and My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth; and there was no one to search or seek for them." ' " Ezekiel 34:1-6 (NASB)

The first thing I see, besides the woe pronounced, is that the LORD criticizes shepherds for feeding themselves instead of feeding the flock. I admit I'm a bit puzzled by this, as he says just after this that the shepherds eat the fat, and slaughter the fat sheep. How did these sheep get fat if the shepherds were not feeding the flock? Maybe the were feeding a select few in order to slaughter them? Maybe they were getting fat simply by being where they were in the field? I don't know. I will give some more thought to this as this series develops, and skip to the next group of issues for now.

Ezekiel then brings an accusation against the shepherds based on the lack of fulfilling their responsibilities. They were supposed to, as shepherds, strengthen the sickly. They were supposed to heal the diseased. They were supposed to bind the broken. They were supposed to bring back the scattered. They were supposed to seek for the lost. But they did none of these things. Then, an accusation of doing something they weren't supposed to do...dominate the flock with force and severity.

I believe that these failures of shepherds today are as true as they were in Ezekiel's day. Failure of shepherds to know their duties is widespread. I have experienced these failures personally at the hands of a number of shepherds over my 20+ years as a Christian and have read countless testimonies of others. Reading this passage and looking back at the churches I attended, I would barely know from the teaching I received that these are responsibilities of shepherds. But here, God lists them so that there is no question as to responsibility.