Fat, Rich Shepherds

October 16, 2017 at 9:08 AM 2 comments

Ezekiel 34 tells us exactly how God felt (and feels), about those who were in the position of shepherding His “flock” (Israel); both kings and religious leaders of Israel. Their condemnation is just and God thoroughly explains why that is the case.

2 Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. – Ezekiel 34:2b-6 (ESV)

The above text is a fairly scathing rebuke to those who were over Israel as religious leaders, priests, and kings. God  was not happy about the ways these shepherds had taken advantage of the average Israelite.

  1. ate the best foods
  2. clothed themselves in expensive clothing
  3. took advantage of the people of Israel
  4. offered no real sustenance or leadership to the Israelites
  5. did not help them become strong in the Lord
  6. did nothing for them when they were sick or injured
  7. those Israelites who wandered away from God were allowed to do so without concern
  8. God’s sheep became scattered because of a lack of religious leadership

Instead of feeding the flock, helping them to become strongly dependent upon the Lord, and protecting them as a nation from outside influences (especially where idolatry was concerned), the shepherds simply took from the Israelites and gave them nothing in return. The leaders of Ezekiel’s day were a sham, in it for what they could get out of it. They didn’t care about the people of Israel. They cared only about their own stomachs, clothing, and their importance in the community.

Starting in Ezekiel 34:10 (emphasis added), God tells Ezekiel to tell Israel what He plans to do.

Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

Ezekiel 34:11-15 then explains God’s plans to reclaim His sheep from the terrible shepherds who didn’t care about them at all. He would judge the sheep from the sheep, removing the fat sheep among them who cared not for the average Israelite.

At least some of this points to the future when Jesus (in the Messianic line of David), will return physically, establish His Millennial Kingdom and reign over all the earth as the Perfect Judge, who will mete out justice in all the earth. However, here in the above verses, God declares His complete disgust and displeasure with the shepherds who so mistreated His people, the Israelites, and what He plans to do about it.

Today’s Israel does not have a working Temple where sacrifices are offered and priests oversee the sacrifices and spiritual welfare of the people and/or their king leads the people by powerful example in righteous living. However, it is important to understand that this type of situation discussed in Ezekiel in some sense, applies generally to society outside of Israel because God is always concerned about His sheep in the Church today.

Not only do we have a Congress in the United States (many of whom are sold out to special interest groups and therefore, are more concerned about making their lobbyists happy rather than doing right by the American people), but more importantly, we also have a Church that is overseen by individuals, many of whom claim to be called of the Lord to be shepherds of local churches, yet their lives seem anything but dedicated to God and more dedicated to their wallets.

I recall a number of years ago doing some research on pastor salaries. In the process, I visited places on the ‘Net that advertised open positions seeking pastors. On several listings, specific churches were able to offer six-figure incomes, a 401k retirement program, a housing and car allowance, and more. For several churches, this was among the first things they listed in their want ads. It wasn’t about their church’s doctrine or what they hoped to find in a pastor. They were telling prospective candidates what they could offer financially first and foremost. That says a great deal about that church and what’s important to them.

Jesus had no place to lay His head, but too many pastors, evangelists, and ministers today live high off the hog. There is certainly nothing at all wrong with earning a decent wage and many pastors who work incredibly hard, sacrificing much for their local flock. The problem is when “ministers” of the gospel become extremely wealthy through their endeavors.

Ezekiel 34 explains God’s view of the situation in Israel and what He plans on doing about it. He talks about the fact that some “shepherds” eat the best foods and drink the cleanest water and while doing so, trample down the remaining food and muddy the water so that the average Israelite gets that.

18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? – Ezekiel 34:18-19 (ESV)

Sad situation, isn’t it? Without naming names, I can think of many pastors of churches or para-church organizations who have tremendous wealth, and I’m sure you can think of them as well. They have multiple expensive homes, lots of acreage (for their prized horses, etc.), fine cars, personal jets, and the best wardrobes money can buy. They will tell you that God has “blessed” them because of their sacrifice and service to Him, ostensibly through their faith in God. Really? Kind of makes me wonder about Jesus, Paul, and some of the other apostles who were the poorest of the poor and daily lived with some form of persecution. Their lives often ended in martyrdom. This is also the way many of our brothers and sisters in Christ exist throughout the world, with the constant threat of persecution and even death for simply being a Christian.

But not today’s shepherd. Today’s shepherd has more than they could possibly need and has access to more money (tax-free), than the rest of us can only dream of. I looked up the net worth of several well-known Christian speakers. One has a net worth of $8 million,while several others come in a bit lower but not by much. This seems to be at odds with biblical teaching.

There is a problem today with churches and para-church organizations that have become more like corporations; the pastor is the CEO, and the deacons are the board of trustees. I realize that in certain states within America, churches must register with the state as a corporation, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the fact that too many churches and para-church organizations are run like Fortune 500 companies. Certainly, churches must endeavor to be in the “black” but to have assets in the millions presents a problem, to my way of thinking, if we consider Scripture and the examples of Jesus and the apostles.

Today’s shepherds are more about making as much money as possible and living the life of the wealthy. Do they have their reward? Certainly, they seem to believe they are where they are and have what they have solely because of God’s blessing on them. Is it? Is God blessing them with financial and material wealth? If so, why? Don’t they have a far greater responsibility to use what they believe God has given them as wisely as possible? Does that include private jets, very expensive cars, and a plethora of homes here and there? Is that the best possible use of the money that comes into their ministries? Why do we not see that in Scripture where workers of the Gospel are concerned?

Something is wrong with too many churches in America and it stems from those in leadership positions. For the average person, often, the choice of a church is determined by how much charisma the pastor has and/or how many exciting programs exist for the kids, or how upbeat the music. It may be that only when the specter of real persecution raises its ugly head (which is what God brought to the shepherds of Ezekiel’s day), that people will come to realize the importance of belonging to a church where only the truth is preached weekly without fail. It is the truth of Scripture that produces depth in our relationship with God. If that truth isn’t preached, there is no depth. Too many today have itching ears and want to hear what they want to hear solely because it makes them feel good but provides no true growth (2 Timothy 4:3). It’s pabulum.

Some years ago, W. Phillip Keller wrote a book called Predators in the Pulpit. First published in 1988 by Harvest House, the author excoriates the state of leadership within many churches today. He posits the question – Is the greatest threat to the church today not from without from our own leadership within? – and spends the rest of the time answering it. When I consider certain alleged evangelical organizations today, the reality seems to be that aside from the fact that many leaders are overpaid, they are often guilty of doling out superficial “balm” as Keller states rather than leading Christians into a truly in-depth relationship with Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.

Authentic Christians need meat and many will go where they can find it.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, Life in America, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments

  • 1. Cheryl Hedges  |  October 16, 2017 at 10:47 AM

    Agreed. Thank you so much for broadcasting this much needed truth. My gut tells me that true revival is needed within the church community before we have any hope of reaching beyond the front stoop of our churches.

    • 2. modres  |  October 16, 2017 at 10:56 AM

      Thanks for your comments, Cheryl.


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