Good Shepherds Rule the Flock?
with force and harshness you have ruled them
Two leadership characteristics define the shepherds that tick off Ezekiel
Ezek 34 :4
The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
First off lets define the characteristics Ezekiel accuses the shepherds of.
חׇזְקָה chozqâh, khoz-kaw’; feminine of H2392; vehemence (usually in a bad sense):—force, mightily, repair, sharply.
פֶּרֶךְ perek, peh’-rek; from an unused root meaning to break apart; fracture, i.e. severity:—cruelty, rigour.
Seems these shepherds were being kinda nasty with the way they were shepherding the flock. Descriptions such as force, cruelty, rigour – these are simply negative terms. These shepherds were ‘ruling” as a king, or in my mind, like the typical worldly minded boss that has authority issues in his life (Those type were probably bullied in thier childhood, if you ask me.)
As always, there are exceptions to the “rule” – The New Testament freely revises the method of shepherding, since Hebrews 13:17, (at least in the ol’ KJV), allows for shepherds to rule over thier flock. (Hellooo – I am being waggish here!!!)
I have addressed the ruling of shepherds discussed in Hebrews 13:17 in five posts, called “Christian Accountability” Check it out when you have a chance.
Let’s look at the definition for rule in the Ezekiel passage
רָדָה râdâh, raw-daw’; a primitive root; to tread down, i.e. subjugate; specifically, to crumble off:—(come to, make to) have dominion, prevail against, reign, (bear, make to) rule,(-r, over), take.
Wow – these shepherds were actings as kings! Ruling with dominion, prevailing against the sheep, reigning!
No wonder the shepherds crucified the good Shepherd. He was atypical, and the light of His life shone on the bad shepherds, exposing thier cruel manner of shepherding.
The rub comes when I look around today. Do we see Ezekiel’s type of shepherd still reigning over God’s people? Of course.
Superiority of the Professional Shepherd
There are many instances of the superiority of the Shepherd in this culture, those who demand respect from thier flock. Fellowship of the Spirit has been replaced with faithfulness to the Pastor/Priest/Minister. Submission to the will of God has been replaced with subservience to the vision of the Pastor/Priest/Minister.
Don’t get me wrong – We are to submit to one another. That is clear from the book of Ephesians 5:21 .. submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
My concern is the superiority of the professional christian, and the desire of christendom to have it so.
We want a man (or woman) to tell us what God wants. But He has given the Spirit of God to believers for (subjective) guidance, and the Word of God for (objective) guidance. What a blessing to have both the Spirit and the Word. The Spirit of God will not guide you where the Word of God restricts! (Is that news to anyone out there?)
The Apostle Paul’s Superiority
Let’s check out the superiority of the Apostle Paul. Surely if any believer could demand obedience and respect, it would be the apostle Paul. But this concept took a hit in my thinking when I came across 1 Corinthians 16:12.
1 Corinthians 16:12
Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.
Did you catch that? How audacious is that Apollos?!
First off, this is the urging of the Apostle Paul, a man who has seen the Lord, and been given revelations he isn’t allowed to speak of. How dare Apollos refuse a request, a strong urging of the Apostle.
OK – here comes one of my rants!
I tell you, if I was the Apostle, I would have strictly censored Apollos, brought him before the church leadership, stripped him of all fellowship, taken him to the middle of the town and placed him in stocks, with a sign over his head “CONTUMACIOUS” (a wee bit waggish don’t you know!)
What did Paul do? The Apostle of the Gentiles submitted(?) to Apollos’ will – Apollos will come when he has opportunity. How outrageous! How can Paul’s ministry withstand such an insult, such a shaming of authority?
Secondly, I myself wouldn’t have informed the Corinthians of the lack of influence I had over Apollos. Such weakness on Paul’s part. Doesn’t leadership demand obedience?
Unless there was a greater lesson. Hmmmmm.
Self Appointed Apostles & Prophets
The superiority of the professional christian seems to be in full bloom in my neck of the woods. A current fad that has erupted recently in my city is the self proclaimed apostle or prophet. Signs (I mean advertising signs) are all over the city touting of the glorious ministry these apostles and prophets are displaying. Thier billboards and signs have glossy pics of thier person, with crowds feigning at thier presence, with airbrushed highlights and endorsements from other self proclaimed apostles or prophets.
For some reason I fear these “great” christians may never discuss thier weakness and frailty, or the time they had to escape the city in a basket. (Read the last post if this makes no sense)
My friend, if you are under a professional christian that is forcing his way on your life with harshness, run away. Save your soul from the destruction he or she is inflicting on you.
On the other hand, if you currently have found a shepherd that exhibits the humility of the Lord Jesus, and is a man of like passions as yourself, honouring God in his weakness, you have found a blessing. A rare blessing. Let him know, and he just might blush.
Give thanks to the Good Shepherd for your human shepherd.
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