New King James Version (NKJV)
34 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “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? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
7 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! 10 Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”
Let’s take the time to really think about these verses. God is talking to the spiritual shepherds of Israel but notice how similar many of our modern day shepherds are to them. First, God says that they were ‘eating’ the flock. Now I don’t think that they were literally eating their fellow Jews, so what does God mean when He says that they were eating the flock instead of feeding them? The analogy seems to say that they ravaging, plundering, raping, abusing and basically using the people to satisfy whatever lust they had. God says in verse four that the shepherds had ruled with force and cruelty. That is a description of abuse. We can also say that these shepherds were ‘predators’ because God says that the people became a prey to them. The way that God describes the shepherds is shocking, they not only took whatever they wanted but they made no effort to help the hurting, lost and broken. If that is not a picture of the church today then I don’t know what is.Countless multitudes of children and adults have left the church because they have been abused by it and the leaders have made no effort to heal them or bring them back. Neglect is another form of abuse so these shepherds were abusers in every sense of the word.
Secondly, the shepherds, once they had their way with the people, they allowed the beasts to come in to further rape, pillage and plunder what was left! The people meant absolutely nothing to them except that they were subjects on which they could gratify their every lust and when they were done they let outsiders in to continue the carnage. Is this not exactly what many of our leaders are doing today? Every week we read about some ‘wonderful’ pastor who has been caught raping children in his care. Our ministry along with many others have tried for years to establish constructive dialogues on this issue with some of the most well known ministries and most of them have no interest in talking about abuse much less dealing with it. Many of our leaders are plundering the people of God and when they have filled their lusts they allow the rest of the offenders to come in and take what is left. Many of our leaders could care less about the cries of the oppressed and the abused, they simply turn a deaf ear.
Ezekiel 34 could be written about many of our modern day shepherds who are wolves in shepherd’s robes and I believe that God’s judgment will be the same for the historical shepherds and the modern day wolves who are masquerading as Christian leaders.