AGAINST THE FALSE SHEPHERDS
OF THE LAST DAYS
Often in the ancient Near East, the rulers were designated as "shepherds". (See Isaiah 44:28, Jer. 2:8, 10:21, 23:1-6, 25:34-38, Micah 5:4-5, Zechariah 11:4-17.) Moses and David were called "shepherds" (Isaiah 63:11, Psalms 78:7). They were both called by God while shepherding.
The term "shepherd" came to be used by those who were the spiritual guides of that day. Prophets, priests, and teaching scribes were called "shepherds".
In these last days, there are many ministers, pastors, and evangelists who desire to be known as "shepherds". Every pastor, minister, prophet, apostle, and evangelist is a "shepherd." Unfortunately, many are "false shepherds" and many fit this description found in Ezekiel.
In Ezekiel, we find God has given a message both to the false "shepherds" of Ezekiel's day, and of the last days. Ezekiel speaks to a "day of clouds and thick darkness." This phrase has eschatological overtones.
"Clouds and darkness are round about Him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne."
"...for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand: A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread."
"The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly... that day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness."
Therefore, God's message in Ezekiel is primarily to these last days. We need to examine the message, and heed its warnings.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LAST DAY SHEPHERDS
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd; and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them."
1. The false shepherds feed themselves without feeding the flock. The false shepherds do eat the fat, and clothe themselves with wool of the flock, but they do not care for the flock. There are many false shepherds today who are in it for the money, the filthy lucre, they beg, borrow, and spiritually steal from the congregations. Many take offerings from the poor, needy, and hungry while they buy with it their new luxury car, their summer mansion, and their 1000 dollar suits. They care little if any for the hungry of their congregation.
2. The false shepherds have not strengthened the diseased, nor healed the sick, and have not bound the broken. Many in our day find fault with the diseased, ill, and hurt. They will preach that if the person had given more money, or lived more righteously, they would not be sick. The true shepherd should feed, strengthen, aid, love, care for, empathize with, and pray in faith for these same people. Our business in not to judge, but to aid. The person may be ill for some spiritual fault, or for a trial of faith, or as Job, a demonstration of faith.
3. The false shepherd does not bring back those who are driven away, and do not seek out the lost. Many will not even admit that church congregations of our day have driven away many, many souls. The sinner is right when he/she says that there are many hypocrites in the congregations. There are also false prophets, abusers, enablers to the abusers. There are false shepherds who sit there blindly, apathetically, or stupidly allowing such sins, and watching people being driven away from the Lord by these people. Their reasons usually are that the abusers of others are good givers, or family, or some other factor that makes them appear more valuable to the false shepherd.
It is time for true shepherds to see the hurt, the offended, the driven away, and to take action to bring them back to the fold. It is time to cease defending, coddling, and aiding those who have driven people from the Lord, and from the congregations. It is almost time that the Lord will send angels to judge those who have offended His little ones.
4. Some false shepherds have ruled the flock in their congregation with force and cruelty. Shepherds are to be an "ensample" to the flock, and not to try to be "lords" and rulers. To rule with "force and cruelty" will cause many of the flock to scatter, and the only ones that remain are those who are easily intimidated. Cattle are "driven," but sheep are "led"; and the Lord wants "shepherds" to lead.
5. Some false shepherds have thus scattered the flock of their congregations. In some congregations, the false shepherd did not do any 'shepherding' work; and the flock has scattered away from the fold of the Lord where they have become prey to the beasts (demonic forces) of the world. Those who have left the congregations (folds) of such false shepherds are now wandering the mountains and dangerous places of the world. Their safety is in great jeopardy. Their souls are in danger of hell-fire. The false shepherds do not search for such lost ones, for they are the offending, sinning, and abusive ones who have chased such ones from the fold.
FALSE SHEPHERDS WILL SOON
LOSE THEIR JOBS
God is the true and heavenly good Shepherd, and all other shepherds are to be doing His bidding. There is only one Shepherd and many "under-shepherds". The "under-shepherds" who are false, wayward, and sinful will soon be put out of their positions by the Lord.
"Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not My flock. Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them."
God is saying that because:
My flock has become a prey...
My flock became meat to beasts...
There was no shepherd...
Shepherds did not seek out the strayed of the flock...
Shepherds fed themselves...
Shepherds fed not the flock...
I am against the false shepherds.
I will require (Hebrew = darash = to make inquisition)
My flock at their hand.
I will cause them to cease feeding the flock.
Neither will false shepherds feed themselves anymore.
I will deliver My flock from them.
There is a judgment coming upon the church related in many passages of Scripture (I Peter, Ezekiel 9, Matthew 13, etc) commonly called the "Harvest of tares". This judgment will remove those who offend and do iniquity to the flock of God. The false shepherds would we wise to repent and correct their evils before such a judgment comes.
After this judgment, there will be a greater than ever restoration of the flock. We call this time the "double portion time of the latter rain revival.
"For thus saith the Lord God, Behold I even I, will both search out My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be; there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick; but I will destroy the fat, and the strong; I will feed them with judgment."
God says that He:
will "search... seek them out"
"will deliver them out of all places
where they have been scattered..." (34:12)
"will bring them to their own land..."
"will feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the rivers,
in all the inhabited places... in a good pasture...
upon the mountains shall their fold be...
a good fold... a fat pasture..."
"will cause them to lie down..."
"will seek the lost, driven away..."
"will bind up the broken..."
"will strengthen the sick..."
"will destroy the fat (ones) [i.e. the false shepherds]
The Lord is the good Shepherd and He will do what the false shepherds would not. During the "double portion" time of the last days revival, the Lord will bring a restoration of the flock, and a revival to the church which will astound the world.
Soon, the Lord will bring about the separation of the false shepherds and of the wicked from the flock that will allow such a revival to come.
"And as for you, O My flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for My flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord God unto them; Behold, I even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle."
Notice that God will "judge between cattle and cattle..." (vs. 17) The word "cattle" is from the Hebrew word "seh" which means "a member of the flock, either sheep or goats." This passage of Ezekiel relates to the message of Jesus in Matthew (Not Matthew 25:31-46, but to Matthew 13). Here, Jesus judges between the ones who pretend to be part of the flock, as the tares had pretended to be wheat.
The wicked within the church will soon thus be judged. There are bad sheep, and false shepherds amidst the flock. The flock will be purified, not only of its bad and evil leadership, but also of those who have followed and heeded the evil ways of such false shepherds.
Then the Lord will "set up one shepherd over them." (34:23). David will become the chief under-shepherd of the Messiah. (34:24-25). David, who was himself an earthly shepherd over natural sheep, was trained and developed by the Holy Spirit to become the chief under-shepherd for the Lord's flock.
"Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days."
The twelve apostles, and the twelve patriarch's will each have a tribe or a particular part of the heavenly flock.
"And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, That ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
"That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Jesus is now, and always will be the Great, Chief Shepherd of the flock of God.
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant."
I Peter 2:25
"For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
I Peter 5:4
"And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
David will be a shepherd, ruling under the Lord Jesus, that Israel needs:
"he shall feed them..." (34:23)
"he shall be their shepherd..." (34:23)
be a "prince (nasi = an exalted one, a prince, a ruler) among them. (34:24)
Therefore, David, the apostles, the twelve patriarchs will become the under-shepherds of the Lord to replace the false shepherds.
"And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David, a prince among them. I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land; and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a Plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen anymore."
God promises that He will make a "covenant of peace" with the flock. The millennial rule of the Lord will be a time of peace.
During the millennial time, God will:
"make evil beasts to cease"
"make them to ... dwell safely in the wilderness"
"make them to... sleep in the woods..."
"make them and the places around My hill a blessing"
give "showers of blessings"
have the "earth ...yield her increase..."
break the "bands of the yoke..."
"deliver them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them
(the false shepherds)...
make them "no more to be a prey..."
allow no "beast of the land to devour them..."
allow "none... make them afraid..."
"raise up for them a plant of renown"
(refers to the Lord Jesus,
Isaiah 4:2, 11:9, Jer. 23:4, 33:15, Zech. 3:8, 6:12)
no longer allow them to be "consumed of hunger..."
allow no more for them to "bear shame of the heathen..."
God then, in the last verses of this message, makes it very plain and adamantly declares that this flock is His flock. The false shepherds have acted and declared to own those who are truly the Lord's.
"Thus shall they know that I am the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are My people, saith the Lord God. And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God."
Note, God calls them:
In fact, in chapter 34 of Ezekiel, the pronoun "My" is found 18 times. God claims ownership. The false shepherds will soon find themselves put out of the job they have tried to possess, to own, and to control. God will not allow the false shepherds to continue much longer.