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'Winging It

    by Stan Smith

Fat Shepherds
Date Posted: June 12, 2024

This is a striking passage in Ezekiel. It's addressed to "the shepherds of Israel", but I don't think it's very much of a stretch to read it with the New Testament "shepherd" concept in mind (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them."'" (Ezekiel 34:2-6)

The problem: shepherds who feed themselves rather than tend the flock.

The accusation: "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock." Talk about "fleecing the flock". They clothe themselves with the wool of the flock. More, they fail to strengthen or heal or bind up or gather the scattered.

There is good news in this.

"'Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.' For thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.'" (Ezekiel 34:10-12)

Yes, it's bad. The shepherds are failing the sheep. They're devouring their resources and giving nothing back in return. They're banking on the "Do not muzzle the ox" (1 Corinthians 9:9) line and living out the "wolves among the sheep" (Acts 20:29) line.

The Bible warns repeatedly that "from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them." (Acts 20:29-30) John warns that antichrists will come from "us" (1 John 2:18-20). Not a question. A certainty. Jesus warned, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!" (Luke 17:1) So, three points.

First, it has come and will come and is here now. Fat shepherds feeding off the sheep rather than feeding them. They have nice, big churches and wear expensive clothes and drive expensive cars ... and their flock goes hungry, especially spiritually (Hebrews 5:11-14). Antichrists are among us, leading astray (1 Corinthians 11:3-4) and deceiving (1 John 2:26; Romans 16:18; Ephesians 5:6). "Among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:6-7) Look for it Expect it. Be ready for it. And don't be deceived by it. The flock is scattered partly because of bad shepherds. Seek, instead, to be fed.

Second, for the shepherds, don't be that shepherd. God doesn't have warm thoughts toward or nice things to say about these shepherds. Don't be one of them.

Finally, for the flock, remember Who it is you can trust to take care of the sheep. Don't give up hope or faith because of the wolves and bad shepherds and antichrists among us. God will take care of them. And He'll tend to us.

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Biography Information:
Born and raised in a Christian home, I've been treated to immersion in the Word and squandered it. 'But God ...' I love the phrase. God has been faithful when I was unfaithful. At every turn He has crowded me to Him.

I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.

For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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