Phat Shepherds and Starving Sheep
Ezekiel 34: 1-10,
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 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? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 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.
So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 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. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. As I live, says the Lord God, surely because My flock became a 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. Therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! 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."
Our eyes behold the magnificent splendors of the vast mega-structures that has laid hold on the panoramic views of our landscapes. Each and every city of these United States has it's own share of these majestic edifices we call places of worship. No longer is it a blessing for our churches to have a comfortable and accommodating building, with ample parking for all of it's congregants. No longer are we satisfied having a fellowship hall, pastor's study, and class rooms as a part of the building.
Our churches today must be a community within itself. Our churches must come complete with a basketball gym, aerobic exercise building, weight room, child care facility, computer room, pastor's study, first lady's office, music department, choir room, bookstores, and media rooms. We must also have a couple of well manicured acres, to set the atmosphere and ambiance of the structures.
What I'm getting at here, is for the most part, how we are engrossed in the building of buildings. How we are consumed in the materialism, even for our churches, and one hardly notices that we have taken the pasture away from the flock. Our churches have transformed from the places of being fed, to the places of being fleeced.
It is sickening for a true Christian to hear the elite pastor's boasting about the gated community where they live, the square footage of the mini-mansion in which they dwell, the luxury cars they own, the planes they fly around in, the price of their suits, and their lavish lifestyles, all the while yoking their congregation in the bondage of tithing, and offerings, so that they can have even more. And seated in the congregation are single mothers, raising children on their own, on incomes from minimum wage jobs. Seated right before their eyes, are the mothers of the church, who after paying rent and buying groceries, cannot even afford to have their needed prescriptions filled, yet, their burdens are not lifted, nor are they receiving comfort for their distresses.
Woe To The Shepherds Who Only Feed Themselves
When God called the Prophet Ezekiel, the Children of Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The walls of Jerusalem had been torn down, the gates had been burned, and the temple had been destroyed. There were many true prophets of God, giving word to the people from God, but there were many false prophets, who were instrumental in leading the people into idol worship, greed, and sexual immoralities, all of which were displeasing to God. The People showed no real reverence and admiration towards God, nor did they honor Him as God.
Israel's Wicked Leaders
Ezekiel 22: 23-25,
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, " Son of man, say to her: You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation." The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst.
Today, as it was then, there are many true and dedicated Men and Women of God. Men and Women who have forsaken all to do the work of the Lord. Men and Women who want to live pleasing to God, and walk worthy of their calling and vocation. Men and Women who have made God first, a priority in their lives.
Yet, there are far too many, who climb the stairs every Sunday morning, to grace God's holy pulpits, who do not have a 'Shepherd's Heart." We must know by now, that there is a grave difference in a shepherd and a herder. A herder is one that stations himself behind the herd, and drives them along, while patrolling the borders to keep them in line. But a shepherd is one who goes before the flock, and leads them, without force and cruelty. " " But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
God said, "Woe to the shepherds who only feed themselves."
Woe is, in it's purest language, a curse. Woe means a state of deep distress or misery, as from grief, wretchedness, or misfortune. Woe is a word used to express sorrow or dismay. Woe is a word which reflects the misery resulting from affliction.
A question I'd like to have answered is this: When Jesus said, What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, were the Bishops, Elders, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles, and Prophets exempt or excluded?
Or better yet, When Jesus asked, What will a man give in exchange for his soul, was he only speaking to the dregs of society, the lowest of the low, the greedy outside of the church?
We were sent on Divine Assignment, to do the will of God. To seek those who were lost, and lead them to the saving grace of God, not to again enslave them in "Religious Bondage", and con them out of all their worldly possessions.
Far too many have set their sights on becoming rich in material gain, and have lost their wealth towards God. Far too many are eating and clothing themselves, while the flock is under-nourished and hungry. And when they do give a hand to help someone in need, they tarry for to hear the accolades of their good deed, and to receive their pat on the back. Isn't it a reversal of order, when our buildings are strong, but our flocks are weak, sick, and broken?
The Apostle Paul, spoke of a day of reckoning. A day when all will have to give an account of himself before God. A day when the books (there is more than one book) will be opened, and the shepherds will have to answer to God. Woe to the shepherds who only feed themselves.