KNOWING GOD IN HIS GLORY

Sheep Without A Shepherd

Jerry A Collins

SCC

9/16/01

 

v     What does God expect from those who lead His people?

v     How does God handle bad leaders?

v     How will God restore good leadership for His people?

 

It was Lord Acton who made the famous statement, Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unfortunately, we have many examples in history of people who have had power and exercised it over people instead of using it to serve people. However, the common biblical figure used for leadership is a Shepherd. The rulers of Godís people were often called shepherds (Ps 78:70-72; Isa 44:28; 63:11; Jer 23:1-4; Zech 7 and John 10:10). As shepherds, Godís leaders were to be strong, caring leaders who used their influence to guard Godís people instead of lord it over them. Ezekiel contrast these shepherds in the land who were abusing their leadership responsibility with the future true shepherd who will serve the people appropriately.

1. LEADERS BECOME BAD WHEN THEY USE THEIR INFLUENCE TO SERVE THEMSELVES1-10

One of the most interesting lessons from church history is that Christianity grows spiritually inversely proportional to the power of the clergy. A strong cleric may have been an asset at first but the danger is that the Christians either become complacent or the power of the clergy corrupt them making it impossible for them to serve people and rule over them at the same time. Whenever the power of church leadership increased the quality of Christianity decreased and things like the crusades in the eleventh century, the inquisitions in the 13th and 14th centuries, indulgences in the 16th century or liberalism in the 19th and 20th centuries were possible. Probably the most significant church history event that increased the quality of the church was the reformation in the 1500ís. It began with a man of God questioning the established religious authorities then in place, Martin Luther. John Wyclif had set the stage for the reformation 200 yrs earlier when he taught against conventional teaching and stated that the church is made up of individual believers and needs no such clergy. 1300 yrs before that, Ezekiel highlightsA. the sins of Judahís leaders. In 1-6 we have three of them:

(1) They put their own interests above those of the people they were shepherding.They viewed their flock as a source of wealth to be exploited rather than a trust to be protected.

(2) They treated the people harshly. Instead of leading the flock to food, protecting from attack, nursing injured to health, searching for any strayed or lost, they ruled them harshly and dominated over them.

(3) They flagrantly disregarded the people and their needs. Their people were vulnerable, scattered, wandering and lost (possibly referring to the exiles). Today they are scattered theologically, wandering morally and all over the face of the earth philosophically so they possess a pagan world view of life. It is interesting that Jesus said the people in his day were like sheep without a shepherd and there was a need for laborers for the harvest in a church filled with priests, Pharisees, saduccees, scribes, elders, sanhedrin, a religiously oriented society with religious leaders everywhere and yet there was no shepherd for them and w/o laborers for the harvest!

B. The judgment of Judahs leaders. In 7-10 they are judged:

(1) They will be removed from their positions of power and influence.

(2) They will lose opportunities to profit at peoples expense.

(3) They will not be able to take advantage of the people again.

(4) God will replace them with His own leadership of the people. The essence of leadership is being an influence for change. They very essence of their leadership will be removed from them. Stripped of their power and ability to rule they will become as vulnerable as they people the exploited once Godís judgment takes hold in the land by means of the Babylonians. False shepherds today are guilty of the same things. 2 Timothy says their influence will spread like gangrene and lead people astray from the truth. They will captivate, oppose, deceive, and be deceived, turn people to speculations, myths to captivateanaudience.In†† every generation we will find false teachers using their influence for personal gain. So God Himself will interceded and rescue His people with a true shepherd 11-31.

2. IN THE FUTURE GOD WILL BE THE TRUE SHEPHERD OF HIS PEOPLE 11-31

The first section how and when he will do this 11-22. The second section describes who and what this leadership includes.

A. 3 Things God is going to do:

(1) At the 2nd coming I am going to gather my people vs 13. The cloudy and gloomy day refers to the tribulation period (Dan 9; Rev 6-18) just before Jesus returns to the earth. It is out of that period that Jesus ill settle here and gather his people back to Israel.

B. I am going to feed them vs 13-15. He will feed them as a true shepherd. The false ones refused to let the people know they were offending God, they were not fed properly only comforted while they wandered and were scattered.

C. I am going to judge them 16-22. Which is what real spiritual leadership does. Organizational leadership ignores the spiritual need so instead we have tolerated sin. At the second coming Jesus will judge between the fat and lean sheep and deliver the true remnant of His people. Before the Millenium Kingdom on earth begins, God will sort out the righteous from the unrighteous (MT 25:31-46) and allow only the righteous into it. The wicked sheep follow the conduct of their shepherds. God will not permit these to continue. There are 12 characteristics of that kingdom which will prevail:

(1) He will appoint a new shepherd, King David as prince over the nation Israel 23-24. We know it is David not Jesus since this prince will offer sacrifices for himself (45:22; 46:4).

(2) Peace will be restored 25.

(3) Eliminate uncertainties of desolate places, wild animals, other nations. The lion lays down with the lamb (Isa 11).

(4) Temple mount area a blessing to the people. Probably no mosque or dome of the rock there.

(5) No unpredictable weather.

(6) Trees will bear a full fruit.

(7) Land will yield full crop.

(8) Secure and safe in the land.

(9) No longer appealing to enemy nations.

(10) No reason for fear any longer.

(11) No more famine.

(12) No more insults from neighboring nations.

There is no way this is ever figuratively or metaphorically or allegorically or progressively fulfilled in nthe church. All of this is still in the future and God will restore Israel because of His unique covenantal relationship with them and use that relartionship to bring together the culmination of all things. None of this has ever been literally fulfilled in the land before. We too have covenanbts with God today. Israel is a test case for us. His judgment and grace are manifested to them in the land. So too, our great and precious promises are true and will be fulfilled as God has said! PTL