“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, 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 will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”  (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

The prophet Ezekiel delivered an oracle condemning the shepherds of Judah, the kings who had failed to fulfill their responsibility. They had been placed in their office by God to care for His people as a shepherd cares for a flock of sheep that belongs to someone else. Ezekiel precedes God’s condemnation of the wicked leaders with a graphic prophecy of Jesus the Messiah as the Good Shepherd. He would do what the false leaders would do: protect His own from external dangers and internal dissent, provide them with truth, mercy, love and healing. He would ensure justice for the poor, oppressed and downtrodden. The Kings of Judah did none of these things. Instead they used and abused the people and increased their own prosperity and glory at their expense and led them into idolatry and wickedness.

We might apply the condemnation of the oracle to some of our political leaders who, in a sense, have a responsibility or calling from God to guide and lead the nation with justice, righteousness and self-sacrifice. They are called to set good examples of godliness and selfless service. Instead some have chosen to exalt their own egos and to seek fame and prosperity while allowing the nation to descend into moral chaos and sin. God will work out His perfect plan despite them.

We would also apply this condemnation to our Christian pastors who are called to be shepherds of the flock of God. Pastors are supposed to feed the pure word of God to believers, lead and guide them in Christian obedience. Instead some have adopted the standards of the business and entertainment world and seek to make a name and a profit at the expense of God’s people. They are supposed to model themselves on Jesus the Chief Shepherd and lay down their lives for those in their care. The pastor who realizes that he is a servant of God, not an overlord of God’s people is a great blessing to the church.