What You Need to Know About the Prophet Ezekiel and His Relationship to Modern Churches

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Up until now you may have thought of the Old Testament in the Bible as being a primarily Jewish document, written by Jews for other Jews, but that would be an incorrect assumption. There are many parallels between the Judaism of old and modern Christian church denominations. You just have to know where to look....

Submitted: June 09, 2019

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Submitted: June 09, 2019

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Admonitions to Church Leaders

With Encouragements For the

Faithful (part 1)

Ezekiel 34, verses 1-10, 17-24;

by Minister Paul J. Bern


 

This week's Social Gospel message will be the first of a two part prophecy series which warns the greater Church and its current leaders, together with the conglomeration of churches they govern, about what God says about these religious organizations through his prophets. To find out what the prophets teach, one must read the Scriptures. Unlike modern-day TV prophets, the prophets of the Bible are not of the self-appointed variety, nor did they gain their positions of prominence through political maneuvering and manipulation such as what exists today throughout modern Christianity. The first of the two men I wish to quote from at length will be the prophet Ezekiel, and that will comprise part one of this series. Next week I will be quoting the apostle Peter.


 

The prophet Ezekiel wrote down a prophecy concerning the Hebrew religious establishment at that time, of which he was a member. The echoes of the prophecies of Ezekiel against the religious establishment of his time still reverberate today in the churches where Godliness has somehow been mutated into profitability. Far too much of the church or denomination's resources are spent on the leadership, and far too little is devoted to the many faithful, and especially to those less fortunate. The Book of Ezekiel, which is right between Lamentations and the Book of Daniel, is a very long book, with 48 chapters altogether. He wrote or dictated a lot of different things, but his prophecy against the Temple leadership in chapter 34 is one of the most memorable passages in the entire Bible. So let's begin at verse one.


1) The word of the Lord came to me: 2) 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3) You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4) You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6) My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. 7) Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8) As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9) therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10) This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.'” (Ezekiel 34, verses 1-10)


 

Let's pause and consider that these words were written about 2,600 years ago. There are striking similarities between this topic of Ezekiel's and that of modern Christian leadership. For example, in verse 2, the “shepherds of Israel” were the chief priests of the Temple of Worship in Jerusalem, who performed a similar function to Protestant pastors, Catholic priests, and synagogue Rabbi's of today. You have undoubtedly noticed that those who perform these duties of Church leadership never lived in a mobile home or camper, and you won't see one driving around in an old beater car either. They make sure they and their loved ones have the very best. It's not that I find anything wrong with that. I really don't, to be frank about it. Unless the comfortable lifestyles being lived are done at someone else's expense. Or the church's.


 

You.... clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.” Yeah, that's right, they keep it all to themselves. But it gets much worse: “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” Who are the weak who should have been strengthened? It is those who have found themselves driven away from brick and mortar churches just because they were perceived as not fitting in, and those who were judged because they have addiction issues, or because they were homeless and had great need. These “religious” people will faithfully chip in their ten percent each month, but if they encounter a homeless single mother with a couple of small children on the street, they will dial 9-1-1 on the mother in an effort to get the authorities to take her kids away. This kind of criminalization of those who are down on their luck seems to be the modern American version of a 'cold war' on the poor and defenseless.


 

 “.... because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9) therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10) This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.” Isn't this exactly what is happening today? Look at all the instances in churches – especially with Catholic priests – where sex crimes occurred against those who came to be ministered to. A few of these predators have been rooted out, but there are so many more still in their positions, still operating, and they will not stop until they are prosecuted. Enough said. And now let's move on to part two of this week's message, beginning at verse 17.


 

 “17) As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. 18) Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19) Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet? 20) Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22) I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23) I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24) I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.'” (Ezekiel 34, verses 17-24)


 

This second passage of Scripture no longer judges those in charge, but it encourages and reassures the membership instead, and the Lord Almighty will certainly judge – and save the souls of – those within his flock. As you read in verses 17, 18 and 19, certain people in the churches are keeping too much for themselves while too many others are forced to do without. And it invariably seems to be those at the top that get the most, while the “least of my brethren” oftentimes wind up with nothing at all. God, who is the author of Justice, has a really big problem with that. So He then says, “See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22) I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23) I will place over them one shepherd.... 24) I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them....” (Ezekiel 34, verses 20-24)


 

One easy way the Lord Almighty, who dictated these words to Ezekiel verbatim, can tell the difference between the fat sheep and the lean sheep will be to look at them, and most particularly their lives and how they live(d) them. Not so much their body weight, but that which they have accumulated – or not – while they were here. The more people kept to themselves and failed to share when they could have, the more it will show when their time comes to stand before the Throne of Judgment. On the other hand, those who were content with little, gained much. And that's just how it is in the Kingdom of God. Next week we'll move on to part two of this message against the churches, which will come from 2nd Peter chapter two.


© Copyright 2019 Rev Paul J Bern. All rights reserved.

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