Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 607 · 1 month ago

Evil Pastors and the Good Shepherd

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 34

Lord, we do thank you for your word and the way that it both instructs us and and gives us, gives us words that we might learn how to confess our hearts, how to live in light of you and the things that you are doing. Indeed, you are good and you do good. Please teach us your statutes, and do so tonight, that with our whole heart we might keep your law, that we might delight in your law, I'm even when we are afflicted, even when we struggle. Lord, we has that you would use these things to cause us to learn your will better and to cling to you more through faith alone. We ask that you would bless the reading and preaching of your word tonight, and we pray this in Jesus name. Man, please remain standing, if you're able, and turn your attention with me to Ezekiel, chapter thirty four. Here God speaks to the shepherds of Israel, who are the kings of is real, the leaders of Israel, and he brings a judgment against them, but also promises to provide a better shepherd and a good one. So let's hear Ezekiel thirty four. The word of the Lord came to me, son of man, prophesied against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them, even to the shepherds, thus says the Lord God, Ah, shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding yourselves, should not shepherds, feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The week, 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 so. They were scattered because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered. They wandered all over the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord as I live, declares the Lord God. Surely because my sheep have become a prey and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves and have not fed my sheep. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord, God behold, I am against the shepherds and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths and they met me not be food for them. For, thus says the Lord, God behold, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out, as a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered. So I will seek out my sheep and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered, on a day of clouds, in thick darkness, and I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land and I will feed them on the mountains...

...of Israel, by the ravines and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land and on rich pasture. They shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep and I myself will make them lie down. Declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost and I will bring back the straid and I will bind up the injured and I will weaken the strengthen the weak and the fat and the Destrong, I will destroy, I will feed them in justice. As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God, behold I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it enough for you to feed on the good pastor that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastor and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? and must my sheep, eat what you have trodden with your feet and drink what you have muddied with your feet? Therefore, thus says the Lord God, to them behold I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep, because you push and side and shoulder and thrust at all the week with your horns till you have scattered them abroad. I will rescue my flock. They shall no longer be a prey and I will judge between sheep and sheep and I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them. He shall feed them and be their shepherd, and I, the Lord, will be their God and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am Yah. Way I have spoken. I will make with them a covenant of peace and Banish Wild Beast from the lands so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and all the places around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season. They shall be showers of blessing and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit and the Earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land and they shall know that I am the Lord when I break the bars of their yoke and deliver them from the hand of those who enslave them. They shall no more be a prey to the nation's no, nor shall beasts over the land devour them. They shall dwell securely and none shall make them afraid, and I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. And they shall know that I am the Lord, their God, with them, that and that they, the House of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God. Praise God, you may be seated. Ezekiel, Chapter Thirty Four, amazing chapter in which the Lord speaks to the leaders of Israel, major ones and minor ones, and brings judgment on them for their failure to be shepherds to his people. And in those words of judgment and the words of judgments against Israel's leader, we also hear his love for his people.

God is angry, yes, but why? Is Angry? Because something, because someone he loves, is being harmed his people. Now, as we've seen in the earlier parts of his Ekiel, his people are, of course, complicit in the sins of Israel. They have been involved in all kinds of evil and scandal and injustice, all kinds of false worship. When it says that the shepherds, they're scattered across and even to the high places, it's probably a reference to idolatry and false worship which the people have been involved in, which the people should have known better. And yet, at the same time we recognize something that is evidently true and scriptures all over the place and in our everyday lives as well, and that's that leaders are held to a high responsibility. It star whatever position they are in, whether it's it whatever particular calling they've been placed in this world. Leaders, those who are called to care for other people, are placed, are our hell, to a higher standard. And here these leaders, these shepherds, are not even coming close to what God expects of them. To understand what God expects of them, listen to deuteronomy seventeen and deuteronomy seventeen when the law was given. God gave laws concerning the kings of Israel. What should the Kings do? What was their requirement? How were they to shepherd the flock of God? Here's what deuteronomy seventeen says, beginning at verse fourteen, when you come to the land that the Lord your God, that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me. You may indeed set a king over you, whom the Lord your God will choose, one from among your brothers. You shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner or over you, over you who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you you shall never return that way again, and he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book, a copy of this law approved by the levitical priests, and it shall be with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children in Israel. So when I read this passage I imagine, wow, I would have been awesome. What King would have done that? Right a king established in Israel. First thing he does gets out a book and writes down the law. Writes it down. Can you imagine writing down, let's say, all of Deuteronomy, all of itticus, riding down the lawn, copying it down, each and everything, studying at thinking about it, meditating on it, memorizing it. He submits it to the livitical priests. The livitical priests then look at it, a whole class of people requ hired to look at the log...

...in, to examine it, to make sure that it's right, to make sure that it's correct, hand it back to the King Yas this is good, and then he reads it all of the days of his life, not just for you know, pleasure reading or nighttime reading, although it does bring pleasure and delight and goodness, but so that he might rule. Well, imagine that King, that good king, speaking the words that we read earlier in Psalm one hundred nineteen, with his book of the law, saying things like teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in Your Commandments. That be awesome, a wonderful king. Imagine a king saying you are good and do good, teach me your statutes. Imagine that King saying the law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. That king would be this king here in Deuteronomy Seventeen, this king who is not supposed to acquire things for himself. His job is not to place himself above everyone else and then acquire as much as he can over and against them, to love silver and gold. What is he called to love? The Lord? What is he called to follow the Lord's Commandments? He is not a king over were all men and overall people and over all gods. He is an under shepherd. He is a king who is called to submit himself to the Lord, to the Lord's Commandments, to the Lord's ways. Verse Nineteen, it says of the law, and it shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life. Why? That he may learn to fear the Lord, his God, and by keeping all the words of this law, in these statutes and by doing them, that his heart might not be lifted up. This king is he reads the laws, he meditates on the Lord, as he learns to fear the Lord, he's going to be humbled. He's going to keep on the straight and narrow, not turning to the right hand or the left hand, and as he did it does so he will be blessed, he will continue long in his kingdom, him and his children. In many ways, David was this king, a man after God's own heart, who loved the Lord and followed the Lord and whom to whom the Lord promised a throne that would last forever and eternal kingdom as long as David's son would obey, as long as David Sun would do as God had called him to do. We all know that David failed, and we know that Solomon did exactly what deuteronomy seventeen says not to do, which is take many wives, among other things. His heart was turned away from the Lord because of that. In many, many other shepherds of Israel also turned away to the Lord. And here the Lord speaks to these shepherds with deuteronomy seventeen and mind and does one of these kind of things. And in his wrath and in his anger, he speaks to these shepherds and he says, I know what you're doing. I've seen what you are doing against my sheep, shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding yourselves. Should you not? Should not shepherds feed the sheep? Remember what Jesus says to Peter. Do you love me? Yes, I love you, Lord. And what does he tell him to do? Feed my sheep. Do you love if you get as I love you, Lord, feed my sheep and then again, feed my sheep. That's the call the shepherd. Shepherds are not called to gorge themselves on the sheep, to destroy the sheep and scatter...

...the sheep. Shepherds are called to love the sheep and feed the sheep. I think Peter I got the message and came to understand and follow and teach exactly what the Lord called him to do. Listen to Peter's words in first Peter Five, when he speaks to elders in churches, he says so I exhort the elders of ung you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight site, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you here this not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering over those under your char over over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive an unfading Clou clop crown of glory. This call to shepherd the sheep, to feed the sheep, to not be ruling over them. It sounds just like Deuteronomy. Seventeen under shepherds, under the Lord, who have in their mind first and foremost the spiritual care of God's people, not the material care of themselves. These shepherds, however, and it is ekiel thirty four, are feeding themselves. You eat the fat verse three, you clothe yourselves with wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The week 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 harshness, harsh this you have ruled them. I believe it's in and do good who points out that there's only two places that this kind of harsh rule is is mentioned in the Old Testament. One is of Egypt and the harsh rule that they exercise, this domineering, harshness in Egypt, and the second is the command in the law to not do this. And here this is exactly what they are doing. They are going back to Egypt, not only in the sense of trusting them, as we saw earlier, and easy equal exactly what they were told not to do, but they are also going back to Egypt in their hearts, accumulating wealth, accumulating power, focusing on strengthening themselves and not protecting and caring for the people. And the fact that they have not done these things mean this, that the sheep are in a sorry state. God's people are weak, sick, injured, strayed, lost, scattered, as well food for the beasts which he refers to, is as the nation's I'm taking over them wandering around over the face of the earth with none to search or seek for them. It's a sad, sad thing. For those of you have ever lost a pet or an animal we have. It's awful when you imagine this creature that you're supposed to care for and love just out there somewhere, not at getting the food it needs, not getting the water it needs, prone to beasts and dangers, with no home, no place. It tears it your heart. Why is it not tearing at their heart? Why are they not sad? Why are they not seeking? Why are they not binding? Why are they not helping? Because they don't care about any of that. They don't love the Lord's people like he loves them. They love themselves. They loved their...

...false gods. And so, in his fury and his wrath, God speaks to them and says these terrifying words and verse eight. As I live, declares the Lord God. Surely because my sheep would become prey and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves of the Novat fed the sheep. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord the says the Lord God. Behold, I am against the shepherds and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to there. I would put this in quotes, feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths. What a graphic image, that they will not be food for them as I live, declares the Lord. How does the Lord live forever? Never a time when he was not living, never a time when he under the divine nature, is is less in any way or beginning or ending in any way. God in his awesomeness and God in his infinite according to his infinite nature. It's according to that that he will come against his shepherds, because they calls the sheep to die, as he lives. He will rescue them from their mouths. When I was in seminary, one of the things that the OPC does is they will the committee for Home Missions In church extension will sometimes come to seminary campuses and run these they call the ministerial I'm rereading. Just blinked. Anyway, their readiness for ministry. They run these readiness for Ministry seminars and they meet with the seminarians and they talked with them about what pastoral ministry is like and give you some assessment and what to do in these kind of things. Well, anyway, one of those times the pastors in our denomination, who was the chairman for that, a committee for home missions of Church Extension, Dick Gerber, some of you may know him, and he came and he spoke to us from Ezekiel thirty four on how to be a pastor. I was one of the most powerful messages on that subject that I've never heard. That's always stuck with me. It's a good passage to go to when selecting ministers and looking for elders and, of course, as ministers and elders is those who called to various leadership positions in the church. That's a good passage for us to go and reflect him. We say, what kind of Shepherd am I being? For two reasons. One, we see exactly what we ought not to be. We see the danger in it, we see the terror of it, we see the sinfulness of it and we also see the Lord's heart, because as under shepherds of the Lord here in Israel and now in his church, the under shepherds of the Lord are to fear the Lord and have the Lord's heart. The Lord's love, the Lord's care, the Lord's mercy. They are to seek what is lost, they are to bind up what is wounded, they are to heal what has been hurt and injured. As Peter says, are not disupposed to do so with harshness and domineering. They're not supposed to do so for shameful gain. There to do so out of love for the sheep. Do you love me?...

Feed my sheep out of love for the Lord, love for the Lord's people, and that the Lord's body is Zekiel thirty four is a powerful reminder to anyone who cares for those who belong to the Lord, a powerful reminder to follow him in the things that he does. It's also a powerful reminder, I think, to remind us that ultimately, our under shepherding means that he we look to him for our strength. That's what they failed to do here, but that's what he offers to his sheep. God says in Verse Eleven. Behold, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. This ought to be a comfort to anyone who's in a position where you're suffering under bad leadership and bad shepherding. You don't have to give up on the church or God or anything like that. You just have a bad shepherd, that's all. And you know that God who is the chief Shepherd, that Jesus, our chief Shepherd, is, Peter Calls Him. He will take care of his people, Jesus says. The gates of hell will not prevail of his church. Neither will shepherds from hell, those who would seek to destroy and harm his people. Jesus knows how to take care of his own and he will and he does. The Lord comes himself off and he searches for his sheep, he seeks them out, he seeks out his flock, where there are scattered, he brings them in. And then, as he brings them in, what does he do? He just pours blessing out on him. Here's good food, Here's rain in the seas and here's safety and protection, all that he says. Here is a picture of Heaven. Now he will return to that at the at the end, but before he does that he speaks to one other group, other sheep. So these are not shepherds, official shepherds, we might say, but these are people within Israel who have taken advantage of bad shepherding these he says, I will divide the sheep from the sheep, or we might say the true sheep from the fall sheep. There are these sheep among his flock, not shepherds themselves, and yet who have used this situation to hurt others. Notice what he says in verse eighteen. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pastors, that you must tread down the rest of your pastor this would be like being at a at a fellowship meal, right and and you cut and and somebody comes in front of you and they they see something really delicious, they get a big old spoonful of it, they put it on their plate and then they spit in the bowl. Like Dude, wasn't it anough that you just got this giant helping of delicious fellowship meal food on your plate you have to go and ruin it for everybody else? It's a sort of thing that's going on, this very selfishness again, selfishness and accumulation Um, he describes it. He continues to describe it this way. Or to drink of clear water, that you must money the rest of the water with your feet, and must my sheep eat what you've trodden with your feet and drink what you've muddied with your feet. God will judge those. He described some of their actions in Verse Twenty One. They push with side and shoulder, they thrust it all the week with their horns till they have scattered them abroad. These are mean sheep, these are these are bad sheep. These are people in the in the congregation on the family of Israel, who see the weak and instead of helping their brother and strengthening their brother and say, and...

...man, this king we've got, I know, always hard, but let's keep our eyes on the Lord. They instead use the opportunity to hurt. They use the opportunity to fight and they get they increase gain for themselves. And again, in the similar way as before, God responds by saying, in Verse Twenty Two, I will rescue my flock. They shall no longer be prey. I will judge between sheep and sheep. And then this wonderful passes that speaks to us of Christ. Verse Twenty Three. I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant, David, and he shall feed them. He shall feed them and be their shepherd, and I, the Lord, will be their God and my servant, David, shall be prince among them. I, the Lord, Have Spoken, but if you written, but if you done, the Lord speaks in this way and of course he speaks of Jesus. David had long ago died on David had produced many sons and grandsons and great grandsons. He speaks here of the promise to David, of the son of David who would be set up and would be shepherd over Israel. He repeats the promise, this great promise given to Abraham and to David, this covenant of Grace. I will be their God and well, they will be my people, he will be the shepherd and we will be the block. And here, in particularly, focuses on that divided covenant from Second Samuel Seven and says that David will be prince among them. Princes is an interesting word here. It reminds us that this one will be from them, a people among them, under God, in some way P's. And yet you know that when Jesus came he of course was God. This is an amazing thing and we see these what seemed to be contradictory things coming together here. On the one hand, God says I will be their shepherd and on another hand, he says, and this David will be prince and he will be their shepherd. Well, we find out in Jesus, as it's one in the same God, the son of God, comes Immanuel and good and comes to be with us to be a shepherd over his people, and yet also is the son of man, from the Line of David. He fulfills his role as a human king overs people, that role that Adam failed at, the role that every person has failed at except for him. This covenant of peace that he makes with us, or he that he makes with us in Christ, this king that he gives to us in Jesus, is the one who brings us into this as scatological pasture land, this amazing place where where we are safe and protected. This passage that we read earlier in eleven is through Verse Sixteen, and then again here in twenty five, through the end where he says I am he says it ending in Verse Thirty One, and you are my sheep and I am your God. This is a picture of Heaven, this is a picture of what God ultimately brings us into under Christ, our shepherd, Jesus, of course, and John is called the Good Shepherd. He loves his sheep, he rescues his sheep, and we see that in Jesus's ministry, this great son of David, this great one who has come into the World God himself. What does he do with the weak? What does he do with the lost? What does he...

...do with people that are injured, broken, who are sad and sorrowful? What does Jesus do with those who don't know where they are going, who can't find their way, who have been hurt by people in authority and with great power? He rescues them, texts them, he heals them, you nourishes them, he takes them under his wing and they praise him. And that's what Jesus has continued to do and can and will continue to do until he comes again. We will no longer er be a prey to the nation's no longer shall we be devoured. We shall dwell securely and none shall make them afraid. This is what the Lord does for us, he promises to do for us. He does this, of course, by going to the cross for us, to rescue us from our own sin, the sin that makes bad shepherds do what they do, bad sheep do what they do and really all of us do what we do. He heals us, he rescues us, he restores us, he gives us life, he brings us in as his flock, and he continues to do that even today through his under shepherds and through other sheep and our midst to love and and and care for us on the way. I want to finish by reading to you a passage from revelation, and you'll see exactly why I think this speaks of Jesus. In revelation seven, we read of the Lamb of God, and interesting, an interesting title in light of the the call of Jesus's is shepherd. He is in fact both a sacrificial lamb and also the ruler of his people. In well, Begi at verse thirteen of Chapter Seven and read to the end of the passage. And here the echoes of Ezekiel. Here let your heart be thankful for the Lord. Then one of the elders addressed me, saying who are these clothed in white robes, and from where they come? I said to him, sir, you know, and he said to me these are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white, and the blood of the lamb. Therefore, they are bethrow before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple, and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore. The Sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat, for the lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of living water in God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. HMM, isn't that wonderful? What a glorious promise God gives to us, a promise that he has kept. Here John has this revelation, this vision of the lamb on the throne, the son of David sitting in power, ruling over his people. And what's the result? It's the exact opposite of the bad shepherds. It's the exact opposite. Instead of tragedy and loss, weakness and destruction and danger and all of us, it's perfect bliss. In Jesus, as the lambs in Jesus, through the blood of the lamb, through the blood that he shed for us, we becought we come a to God out of the great tribulation, happy, not dead, not eaten,...

...not devoured by the evil one, but happy, sheltered in his presence. Simply his presence is all that we need to be safe and to secure. God himself wiping away every tear from our eye, leading us to springs of living water. But the Lord is your shepherd. You have nothing to fear, not even bad shepherds and the world, or in that particularly in the church. It doesn't mean that bad shepherds are all of a sudden good shepherds. Because of that, bad shepherds be warned. And let everyone who seeks to be a shepherd and under shepherd in the in the Church of God, take these words and think of them very carefully, to hear the heart of the Lord, to know the Ministry of the Lord and to serve him with fear. Let's pray. Lord God, we thank you for your word to us this evening. We thank you that you do not leave us alone when we find ourselves under the lead, under bad leadership, that you do not merely let us be devoured and die and fall into hell itself, but instead, Lord, you, you go out, you search for us, you find us even in our own wickedness. Or it is amazing that you take even a very wicked people and bring them, through your word and your spirit, to repentance and life. We think of the King of Nineveh, who was called a shepherd of those people, who's called to repentance and repented. We think of Paul, a leader, a religious a leader among Israel, and yet persecuting the Church of God, attacking your very own people, and yet becoming one of the greatest shepherds in the history of the church. How amazing is your grace, how good you are? How often and how how many times you protect us and we don't even know you're doing it? How many times you feed us and we forget to give you thanks and remember that it's from your hand? How often we forget about the things of Heaven and become overly focused on the things of this world, fearing the kings of this world more than trusting in you, the lamb who sits on the throne? We ask, Lamb of God, that you would indeed be our shepherd, the Good Shepherd, the chief shepherd, the head of the church, the husband of the bride, a father to your children, that we would be your flock and that you would guide us in every way that we should go when we wander, bring us back when we're hungry, feed us when we are injured, do not break us, but heal our wounds and help us on our way. We also, Lord, we do pray for those whom our shepherds over us in our churches. Lord, I ask him and lead us all in prayer for myself and for the elders of our church. We asked that you would put into US humble hearts, hearts that reflect and and manifest your love, that it would not be our work that is being done among your people, but yours, a simple ministry of your love to...

...your sheep. We ask a Lord, that you would strengthen us in our duties, that you would strengthen us in our capabilities, that you would help us in our rule, that it might not be for selfish gain or domineering or anything else except except the humble service in the name of the Lord. Lord, we also pray the same for other churches. We asked that you would raise up few future leaders on through internships and seminaries and all these other means that we use. We pray for I'm even our youngest ones and future ones, and ask, Lord, that you would equip and establish people who are able to lead us, to lead your church in the ways of the Lord. We asked also, Lord, that you would that you would help us through the dark places, through the trials and through the the wanderings, through the Valley of the shadow of death, Lord, through the great tribulation, through persecutions, through all of it, never ever lead us. You promise you never will, and we trust you for this and Jesus name, we pray on men.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (617)