One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, November 16, 2013: Ezekiel 33:1-34:31
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?'" Ezekiel 34:2 (NKJV)
There are a number of images used in Scripture to describe the relationship between God and His people. One of the most vivid is that of the shepherd and his flock.
Throughout the Bible, from beginning to end, the idea of shepherd and sheep is used to describe not only God and His people, but also all leadership and ministry. The Bible regularly describes God as Shepherd. One of the most familiar passages, Psalm 23, begins, "The Lord is my shepherd." Jesus describes Himself as "the Good Shepherd" (John 10:11,14).
All leadership, in some way, reflects this basic idea of shepherd and sheep. Churches today have pastors (another word for shepherds). All eldership is rooted in the shepherding motif. Even secular leaders are depicted as under-shepherds -- "ministers of God" (see Rom. 13:4-6). When Ezekiel or Jeremiah address "the shepherds of Israel" (Ez. 34:2), they are not just speaking of the priestly order. They are indicting the kings and leaders of Israel.
According to Ezekiel 34, leaders are charged with three basic responsibilities: GUIDANCE, PROVISION, and SAFETY.
The job of leaders is to LEAD!!! Ezekiel's most scathing indictment of bad shepherds is their lack of guidance. Repeatedly he says the sheep are "scattered" and they "wander through the mountains" (34:5-6). The sheep have no direction and therefore they fall away.
By contrast, the good shepherd searches for the sheep and "brings them out" (34:13). The good shepherd gives good leadership that gathers the flock. He leads to greener pastures and refreshing waters (Ps. 23:2).
Much needs to be said here, but I will quickly say that Satan's primary tactic is to neutralize, nullify, or disqualify God's leaders. It takes incredible courage to lead. Leadership takes us into a preferred future, but it requires breaking out of old patterns in order to embrace the new.
Leadership is never based on where we are. It is based on where God wants us to go. That is not "maintenance thinking." It is "future thinking."
The job of leaders is to FEED. Healthy people will require healthy food. Good shepherds feed their flocks well. No fast food here!
Needless to say, in a day of sound bites and slogans, the need of the hour is exposition and clarity. What would it look like for a church, a community, a city, a nation to be built on Truth?
Leadership is not satisfied with raking leaves, when we can grow a tree.
Leaders are called to CARE. In the mass of human need, it is so easy to become callous and uncaring. When we come face-to-face with the stupidity of sin and the blindness of many human hearts, there is the temptation to "circle the wagons" and shut out the pain.
Shepherds cannot do that. In the words of Ezekiel 34, we are called to "bind up", "strengthen", and "save" (34:4,16,22). The shepherd does not think first of his own safety, but rather of the sheep.
So many wolves circle the flock these days. Whether it be false teaching or flirtatious media -- whether it be financial distress or family disorder -- the heat is on. God's "secret weapon"against the wolves is a godly shepherd.
Leadership is under attack in our day. The world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to neuter all leadership and render it token.
If you are a leader, please join with me in re-dedication to LEAD -- no matter what happens. If you have someone over you that is called to lead, please SUPPORT them. Satan wants to pick them off. Israel fell because leaders failed. In the famous words of John Maxwell: "Everything rises and falls on leadership."