Ezekiel 34:2–3: “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? You eat the fat [perhaps milk and cheese] and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.””

September 27th, 2021 by Pastor Ed in devotional

This was written about all of Israel’s spiritual leaders before the exile: kings, noblemen, priests, and prophets, all the leadership that should have been taking care of, shepherding, God’s people. According to the Apostle Paul, this concept is still true today in the New Testament Church: “And He Himself [God] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). The Greek word used for pastors is literally, shepherds, those entrusted with the task of nurturing, protecting, and supervising the flock. Pastors are charged to feed the sheep. Here in Ezekiel, the Lord was upset because the shepherds were fleecing the sheep and getting fat off the sheep; they were using the sheep to their own advantage.

We have an ancient, early-church document from around 100 AD called the “Didache,” which means “teaching.” It is a first-century guide for how the church was to deal with bad shepherds that might take advantage of them:

Let every Apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord, But let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as well; but if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when an Apostle goes forth let him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night’s lodging; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet . . . But whosoever shall say in a spirit, “Give me money, or something else,” you shall not listen to him; but if he tells you to give on behalf of others in want, let none judge him.

We wonder how many modern so-called pastors or evangelists would be labeled false prophets according to this Didache standard. There is also a practical application of this for every believer who is called by the name Christian. How we need to be others-centered instead of self-centered in our day-to-day dealings with everyone we meet.

“LORD, make us sensitive to the needs of others around us today, and show us how to help them in any way that we can.”