Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bad Shepherds

In my reading recently I found a chapter that struck me immediately as I read it.
The resemblence between many of today's pastors, fathers and leaders struck me the most here.
With my family band, when I lived at home, I was privileged to do a ton of traveling (a past time I'm very fond of and miss)!  Along our travels to churches everywhere, from in the pines of East Texas, to the prairies of SE Colorado, to the farmland fields of NC, to the hot windy plains of KS, to the mountain tops of the Rockies, church after church we learned a lot.  Among the different churches we've sang at (over the 12 years I was with the band) we've made several lifelong friends of pastors who follow the Lord completely and aren't ashamed to, but sadly
many pastors fit this category spoken of in Ezekiel 34.
Ezekiel 34 (with some of my own commentary)

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 once 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."  For thus says the Lord God: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.  As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.  And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.  I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel.  There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.  I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord God.  "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and strong, and feed them in judgement.  As for you, O My flock," thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.  Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your
pasture- and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet?  And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet." Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: "Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.  Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.  I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them- My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.  And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.  I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.  I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.  Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase.  They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid.  I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people," says the Lord God. "You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God," says the Lord God.

It is speaking to the Israelites specifically but in reading the first half, I couldn't ignore the resemblance....
"You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool"  They make money off the congregations and feed and cloth themselves and just use the people for their own gain!
"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."  This is the MANY young weak people coming to be taught and nurtured but instead are forcefully ruled with unnecessary rules or and the 'broken' parents can't help as they are never bound up or fed either!  And those driven away aren't pursued, and they're usually driven away by 'be perfect' rules... you can't do that!
"So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered."  So the world gobbles them up and 'teaches' them their ways and they are no longer able to be 'found' or convinced to return, for they are completely eaten up, they became food....
"Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture- and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet?  And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet."  And here we see the worst cruelty of these 'shepherds' and fat sheep; they polute the food and drink for the church, and thus give them wrong and false doctrine and filthy instead of living water!  Oh how Christ must groan and weep for our 'churches' of today!

And fathers too!  I was very blessed to have a good shepherd for a father, but the examples of this passage apply there too.
(And even if I did have a sinful bad shepherd father, it would still be up to me how to live my life and be, I couldn't blame him for my own choices in life. My mother is a perfect example of living a Godly life without a good shepherd father.)

The Lord is very clear here.  And I was grateful that my church has good shepherds as the leaders.  Who are also good shepherd fathers.  They all as it says in Hebrews 13:17, "Obey those  who rule over you, and be submissiver, for they watch out for your sould, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." And submit as to those who must give an account, for they do!  They do have to give an account to the Heavenly shepherd Lord Jesus Christ!!!

Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven! And you're doing just fine.  The Lord wants our all, and he tells us to follow and be submissive to leaders for a reason.  Even to ungodly leaders.  To show them how Christ followers are different!  (See 1 Peter 2:18-23 btw servants means 'employee').

Anyway I'll let you go!  Thank you all for reading and for your continued prayers as we still pursue north Africa!
-Faith Elizabeth Meggs