SHOULD NOT THE SHEPHERDS FEED THE FLOCK
Ezekiel 34:1-2 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 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?
Ezekiel was commanded to deliver God's judgements against the shepherds (or leaders) of Israel. Shepherds, by the nature of their positions, have the responsibility of tending to the needs of the sheep that have been committed to them. Primarily this meant to keep them safe from harm and to provide proper nourishment for them, both food and water.
In the verses of this particular text, the sheep that need the care of the shepherds were symbolically the Jewish nation - the children of Israel. The shepherds of Israel can be divided into two groups: shepherds tending to the physical needs of Israel and shepherds filling their spiritual needs.
The physical shepherds of Israel were kings, queens, princes, and the appointed members of their civil government. Taxes were levied and exacted from Israel for the purpose of supporting the governmental bodies that administer civil justice, safety and promote the well-being of the people. The spiritual shepherds of Israel were the prophets, priests, and Levites. Tithes were required from Israel for the purpose of supporting the religious leaders, services, and sanctuaries for the spiritual wellbeing of the people.
Why was God wroth with the physical and spiritual shepherds of Israel? It was because they were using the taxes and tithes for their own selfish benefit, and the physical and spiritual well-being of the people of Israel were being totally neglected. The people were physically and spiritually destitute.
Good shepherding is needed by men and women in many avenues of life. Many, if not all, of us, at some time in our lives, are in the position of being a shepherd over others.
1) Parents are Shepherds. Parents have the responsibility of providing for both the spiritual and physical well-being of their children. Matthew 7:9-11 tells us that parents are required to supply good gifts to their children. In return, God will give good things to parents. Good parenting is not something that mothers and fathers have a choice in. Many passages support the fact that good parenting is a requirement. We see too many instances where mothers and fathers abandon, or never assume, their parenting responsibilities of providing for their children. Woe to these parent shepherds that feed themselves but do not feed their children.
2) Preachers and Teachers are Shepherds. What an awesome responsibility preachers and teachers have. Certainly the rewards are great to see the positive results of good, sound teaching whether it is in the spiritual or secular sense. However, there are in our society, some preachers and teachers that consider this profession as a job, with no responsibilities attached. These are "professionals" that are "in the business" of robbing individuals of their wealth - disguised as preachers and teachers. They feed themselves rather than their hearers.
3) Civil Servants are Shepherds. Whether, as presidents, governors, mayors, judges, law enforcement officers, or court clerks, all are paid by the taxes obtained from the people they should serve. Therefore, civil servants have a responsibility to their constituents. Sometimes we get the feeling that it is just the opposite - the people exist to support the civil servants rather that the civil servants existing to support the people. Some, maybe even many, civil servants feed themselves instead of feeding the people.
Within our families, our school systems, our churches, our various branches of government, we need Good Shepherds. We need shepherds that will put the well-being of their sheep before themselves ---Shepherds that have, as their number one priority, to first feed the flock.