THE SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL!
More and more the phrase rings true,
The Shepherds of Israel are betraying you.
UPON his deathbed sat the great Patriarch, Jacob, before whom were gathered his twelve sons. His voice grew weaker as he uttered the prophetical future of his beloved son Joseph, "... the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob"; (from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel) ... Shortly afterwards "he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost..."
Some seventeen hundred years later Peter wrote "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore that believe He is Precious: but unto them that are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a Stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word... " (I Peter 2) Paul in turn declared "... and that Rock was Christ." (I Cor.10)
As is the Rock, so is the Shepherd. Jesus Himself said, "I am the good Shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." (Jn.10)
Those dual qualities of leadership so brilliantly manifested in the life of our Redeemer King are the standard by which the Shepherds of Israel - the leaders of the Western Christian nations are to be judged.
Sad to say, apart frorn the rare exception, our leaders have displayed a highly developed appetite for the perks of office and authority, at the expense of the 'sheep'. This terrn properly identifies the physical offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the national context of its scriptural usage.
Ezekiel 34 gives an excellent example of this fact, bearing down in scathing terms upon the wayward Shepherds. Just listen to this: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, ... Woe to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool ... but ye feed not the flock The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. They became meat to all the beasts of the field (chay) ... Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?"
"Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, I am against the shepherds ... (I will)cause them to cease from feeding the flock."
"Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out ... I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered ... and I will bring them to their own land."
"And I will set up one shepherd over them, ... even My servant David ... he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them ..."
"They, even the house of Israel, are My people, ... and ye the flock of My Pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God." What could be plainer?
When the Lord Jesus therefore sent His disciples to 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel'; (Mt.10) and later declared that He was 'not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel'; (Mt 15) we understand precisely what He is saying.
David's honoured mention in Ezekiel 34 was not because of an unblemished administrative record, because as anybody who has ever read his life knows, he made some shameful errors. Still he and his dynasty were chosen over that of king Saul's because his deepest motives were unquestionable: placing his life at risk for man or beast, whatever was committed to his trust. He was sterling silver, a man after God's own heart, quick to admit his errors and always ready to repent of his shortcomings. He was not alone a true shepherd but he ruled the whole house of Israel with 'Rock' solid integrity towards God's perfect Laws which he loved with emotion and which he expressed in poetry and song. His people were honoured by his leadership which lasted 40 years. He adorned his office with a glory and a glamour begotten of courage, Godliness, humility, trustworthiness and a selfless love of his people.
That this quality of leadership was expected of the shepherds of Israel is testified by column after column of concordance reference to this great leader, and the many accolades they carry from the voices of the great prophets.
Add to that the divine covenant that relates to his progeny and dynasty, as unbreakable as God's Covenants with Israel: "Thus saith the Lord; if ye can break My covenant with the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their seasons; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne... " (Jer. 33)
King Saul, David's predecessor might have enjoyed the honours of his successor, but his character was full of fundamental flaws. Samuel the prophet told him, "Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God ... for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart..." (I Sarn. 13)
Saul hadn't the feel for the job. He tried to hide his inadequacy behind stupid religious acts. He once ordered that his son Jonathan be put to death for tasting some honey, because he, the king, forbade his soldiers to eat that day, in the hope of gaining favour from the God of Israel, in order to win a battle.
What eventually sealed his fate was Saul's partial failure to 'go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, spare them not...' (I Sam.15)
'But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep ... and all that was good, and would not destroy them ...' When the prophet came on the scene he told Saul, obedience is better than sacrifice and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Unlike his successor, Saul ducked and dived, lied then prevaricated and eventually confessed: "I feared the people, and obeyed their voice."
Now let us understand what the king is saying here because in those words we find the germ of modern day democracy. So alien is this system of rule and adverse to the theocratic intent of the Israel monarchy that Samuel tells Saul "Thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel".
Is that the fate awaiting Charles for his populist approach to the throne?
Whatever his future rnay be it is of interest that not only did Saul lose his throne in the controversy of Amalek but eventually his life was cut off too by an Amalekite. (II Sam.1)
From this point forward, Saul's life becomes an almost unbroken succession of failure and tragedy. We observe throughout his years of struggle with David a very convincing pattern of passionate hate and irrational self destruction in his effort to prevent the coming to power of a Godly political system that would advance the status of the nation and the welfare of the people as never before.
Saul's mind had become unhinged somewhere along the way, as the minds of our modern day leaders undoubtedly have. Perhaps the Royal Prophet Isaiah had this in mind when he proclaimed, "His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter." (Is. 56)
Clinton in the USA, Blair in the UK, John Howard in Australia, and F.W. de Klerk fall perfectly into this category: 'Shepherds who cannot understand'! This however, will not exempt them from the consequences of the chaos they have caused and are causing within their nations, and the distress and loss suffered by the 'sheep' who continue to vote these scoundrels back into power over and over again.
"Thus saith the Lord God; Behold I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock out of their mouth, that they may not be meat for them." (Ez. 34).
With acknowledgment to Trumpet
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