Summary: The same holds true today, as it did in Ezekiel's day. While no leader is totally responsible for what other people do, they have a major responsibility to lead others in the right way be treating them right and pointing them towards Jesus.
Heavenly Father. I pray for your mercies on the spiritual leaders of our day who have gone astray. There are many who have purposely led others astray, and many have unknowingly led others astray by their misguided direction. I pray for conviction for those whom you have called to be leaders and shepherds of others. I also pray that those who shepherd well, would continue to shepherd well. Father, as the God of all creation who knows our weaknesses better than we do, we ask that you would strengthen us with your Holy Spirit. We pray that we would have hearing that would allow us to hear your voice. We pray that what we see, is the vision that YOU have placed in us. Lord, may each person who shepherds do it in a way that is pleasing unto you. We thank you and give you praise. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Now before anyone in this room tunes me out when I talk about shepherding, I want you to think about your own selves and those you have been given influence over. At the very least, MEN, you are to be the shepherd’s over your family. At the very least, WOMEN are to be the shepherd over their children. Children can shepherd other children. Ultimately, we must remember that a shepherd is nothing more than a leader who will care for those who God has entrusted in their path.
Let’s look for a moment at the scriptures here in Ezekiel 34. We can break this chapter down into 3 sections.
Section 1—the wicked shepherds (of Israel) are condemned
Section 2—God promises to rescue His people
Section 3—God promises to provide for his people
Now, you remember how God called Ezekiel to be a watchman? Remember how He told Ezekiel that if the watchman did not warn other’s of their sins then their blood would be on his hands? In a similar thought here, God has placed each of you as shepherd’s over others. Granted, it has to start from the pulpit. If what is being taught from the pulpit is wrong, then what those who hear begin to share may be wrong. It could very easily snowball. This was taking place in Ezekiel’s day. Those who had been entrusted to care for others, were spreading false doctrine and this was causing many to go astray. WHAT YOU TEACH OTHERS BY YOUR ACTIONS OR BY YOUR WORDS, OR THE NEGLECT OF USING WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU, WILL BE JUDGED ON THAT FATEFUL DAY. IF YOU THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT YOUR SILENCE IS ACCEPTABLE AND / OR OVERLOOKED BY GOD THEN YOU ARE IN FOR A MAJOR AWAKENING. God does not reward silence, especially when His words are being quenched.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22-- 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 DO NOT QUENCH THE SPIRIT. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Sheep provided meat, wool, milk, and cheese. A shepherd’s responsibilities included maneuvering the sheep so they were in the most fertile areas so they could be fed well and become strong. The shepherd would also stay with the flock at night to help protect them from the wild animals that would seek to kill, steal, and destroy.
If the shepherd failed to do any of these, he risked the health and welfare of his flock which could also hurt the health and welfare of his family and those who depended upon the flock for sustenance. If the sheep chose to go astray, the shepherd had the responsibility to do whatever it took to bring that sheep back. If it continued to happen, the shepherd would break its legs to teach it to wait upon the shepherd for guidance and assistance.
Listen to what Jeremiah (Ezekiel’s contemporary) had to say in Jer. 10:21. “For the shepherds have become stupid, and have not sought the Lord; Therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.” God would often scatter the flock on purpose to keep them from being harmed by the negligence of the bad shepherds who would abuse and misuse them.