Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel

Text: Ezekiel 34:1-7

This passage contains a prophecy against “the shepherds of Israel.” They failed to fulfill their role in leading the people by taking advantage of them and only looking out for themselves. The most obvious parallel to “shepherds” would be to elders shepherding the Lord’s church. However, there are applications for all of us. We are to help one another spiritually, not hurt or hinder each other. This lesson will examine the prophecy against the shepherds of Israel and see what applications we can make.

They Fed Themselves and Not the Flock (v. 2-3)

  • The shepherds’ responsibility was the feed the flock – they failed to do this; not only that, but they took advantage of the flock for the sake of their own interests
  • God’s people need to be fed – this nourishment comes from the word of God (1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Peter 2:2); elders and preachers feed us (1 Peter 5:2; 2 Timothy 4:2), as should all of us (Ephesians 4:15, 25)
  • We need to put others ahead of ourselves – attitude of selflessness (Philippians 2:3-5); not to show partiality for/against others (James 2:1-4, 8-10)

They Ignored the Sick, Broken, and Scattered (v. 4)

  • Those who needed help, guidance, and support did not receive it from the shepherds – the same condition existed in Jesus’ time on earth (Matthew 9:36)
  • Help those who are spiritually sick – correct those who are in sin (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
  • Help those who are broken in spirit – provide encouragement (Hebrews 3:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14)
  • Seek for those who have gone astray – restore them to the Lord (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20)

They Led by Force (v. 4)

  • Rather than gently leading the sheep, as a shepherd should do, they led by force – word “severity” comes from a word that means to break apart; the people’s weakness helped the shepherds retain their power/position
  • All that we do must be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14) – not to use spiritual weakness/immaturity of others to our advantage
  • We cannot force people to obey the Lord – everyone has freewill (Deuteronomy 30:19; cf. Joshua 24:15); we can persuade people to do what is right (2 Corinthians 5:11; Acts 26:28-29), but it is up to them to do it

They Neglected the Unity of the People (v. 4-5)

  • The shepherds were there, but they were not acting like shepherds (“lack of a shepherd“) – therefore, they were scattered; this left them vulnerable to attacks from the enemy
  • We must value unity among God’s people – good and pleasant (Psalm 133:1); be diligent to preserve it (Ephesians 4:3; cf. Acts 4:32)
  • We are vulnerable when we are isolated – easier prey for the devil (1 Peter 5:8); there is strength in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Conclusion

  • Hear the word of the Lord” (v. 7) – this is what we all need to do
  • Heed the warnings that are given in the word of God
  • Obey His instructions – teach and encourage others to do the same

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