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Leadership #3 - Ezekiel 34

Ezekiel 34:1-22

Teaching Moments

1. The shepherds of this text are the kings and officials that ruled Judah. God has removed them because of their inadequacies and will replace them ultimately with “one shepherd” (David; v. 24).

2. The text is fairly self-explanatory as it tells the story of God’s dissatisfaction with his shepherds, his removal them, and the fact that he will take their place himself. I think the significant point here, like last week, is that God expects his shepherds to follow his own model. He expects his shepherds to be like him.

3. This week we learn more about what God expects from his shepherds, and exactly what it means to be like God the Shepherd. God takes over the shepherding in vv. 11-16 and we see in detail what it means to be a godly shepherd.

4. Note the ways in which God’s shepherds failed him and their flock: selfish, consumed everything for themselves, used the flock for their own advantage (eat curds, clothe themselves with wool, slaughter for food), mistreated the weak/sick/injured, did not care about strays. Indeed, “you ruled them harshly and brutally.” Mistreated their flocks for their own advantage. The shepherds did not lead their flocks, so the sheep scattered. The flock had no direction, no protection, no guidance, no one who cared.

5. I think we should concentrate on this selfishness idea. It is in the text in v. 2 and in v.8—two book ends that surround the other details mentioned in point 4. These shepherds are in it for themselves rather than for their flock. Therefore, God will rescue the flock by holding the shepherds accountable.

6. This text stresses the accountability of the shepherds. They are responsible for their flock. If they consume them, use them, abuse them and do not care for them, God will judge them accordingly.

7. God offers the proper leadership in vv. 11-16. Here we see what a “good” shepherd does because we see what God does for his flock. God is the model for good shepherding.

8. What is the problem among the flock? The flock imitates their shepherds. Just as the shepherds are selfish and look after only themselves, so the flock does as well. God will judge between one sheep and another. While the flock must take responsibility for its own actions, the prior failure is among the shepherds who did not care for the weak, sick, etc. among the flock so that they were not abused. Thus, God will place a shepherd over them who will treat all with goodness and justice.

9. Most often, “church problems” are due to bad leadership and bad shepherding. Accountability starts at the top, and leadership must take responsibility for the care of all the flock and pay particular attention to the weak and sick among the flock. Yet, the flock must also take responsibility in how it treats each other.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the basic problem of “bad” shepherds (v. 2)? [They only take care of themselves!]

2. How is this basic problem reflected in vv. 2-3? What five different groups of sheep are mentioned in vv. 2-3? What were the shepherds doing for these sheep?

3. What happened to these sheep because the shepherds were not looking after them?

4. What will God himself do for the sheep (vv. 9-10)? [He will remove the shepherds, and he himself will take up the shepherding task.]

5. From God’s description of what he will do for the sheep, what do we learn is the function of a shepherd? [vvs. 11-16 describe what God will do, and notice the various things that are included in his task: searching for the lost, bringing back the strays, tending them, food, protection, justice, rescue from dangerous places. Notice how “good” is stressed—God does good for his flock.]

6. What does God’s speech to the flock say about how the flock behaves in relationship to God, each other and the shepherd? (vv. 17-22).

7. Why is God so harsh with his shepherds? What does this say about the responsibility of shepherds and the seriousness of their task?

8. In this description of the function of shepherds, what aspect of their task did you find most important in terms of your own experience with human shepherds (elders of the church)?

9. Why is God so harsh with his flock in vv. 20-22? What is the problem among the flock (vv. 17-22)?

10. What do you think a church should learn from this text about God’s expectations from his shepherds, the role of shepherds and the relationship between shepherds and the flock?


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