Jesus, The Great Shepherd, #2


The seriousness of shepherding is seen in the Lord's denunciation of false shepherds. Men may overlook spiritual imposters, but God does not!

Greedy dogs

The human situation has been exploited by those seeking personal gain, at the expense of others. "Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, everyone for his gain, from his quarter" (Isa 56:11). Even sinful men are agitated when they are aware of this situation. Human exploitation is obnoxious, even to the crudest of people. But their provocation is nothing to be compared to that of the Living God. The presence of false shepherds may be tolerable to men, but it is not so with God. He has spoken clearly and concisely on the matter. He is against those that pretend to be leaders of His people -- those who obtain personal fame and gain in His name, and to the detriment of His people!.

Note, these are "shepherds than cannot understand." Their corrupted hearts have rendered them insensitive to the truth. They have been blinded by their own avarice!

Caused to go astray

Although men have sinned and come short of the glory of God, their condition is sometimes blamed upon their leaders. "My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place" (Jer 50:6). Jesus saw people as "scattered abroad, as sheep having shepherd" (Matt 9:36). There were shepherds, of course--appointed guardians of the flock. But their approach to the sheep actually caused them to go astray. To put it another way, the deficiency of the people was their religion, given to them by their leaders. The teachings of their leaders sent them upon the barren mountains of sin and shame, where they eventually forgot their resting place. Such conditions, tragic as they are, have not ceased to exist. Plausible explanations may be offered for the existence of this circumstance, but they are not acceptable.

Prophesy against the shepherds!

The Lord is not unmindful of the exploitation of His people. In Jeremiah's day, the Lord announced He was against the shepherds. It is an arresting word indeed, and worthy of our consideration. "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" (Ezek 34:2). This circumstance did not end with the shepherds of old; it is still with us.

Throughout history, God has raised up men that spoke against the shepherds, soundly denouncing profligates who fattened their own coffers by robbing the people of God. John Bunyan, Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, and even Thomas and Alexander Campbell were noted for their intolerance of corrupt and greedy religious leaders--to say nothing of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos.