Most everyone is familiar with the story of the shepherds watching over their flocks the night angels came to announce the birth of the Messiah. He would be born in a little town of Bethlehem.
Shepherds. Flocks. Sheep. Lambs. Metaphors abound using these terms in scripture.
Shepherding was a big part of everyday life for the Jew. Biblically speaking, the writers of scripture frequently used shepherding imagery depicting Israel as God's flock.
Jesus, the Messiah, is clearly portrayed as the Good Shepherd of His people in John Chapter 10. This was in direct contrast to the priests of Israel who put themselves as leaders over the Jews but instead were very dangerous wolves in sheep's clothing. They were fleecing the sheep. Sheep rustlers if you will.
Sheep require constant oversight, leading, rescue, and cleaning or they die. The object of the parable in John 10 was to show how unfit the Pharisees were to be pastors and teachers because they had not taken up their office in the right spirit of what they were to do having no real clue in who they were dealing with.
Both good and bad leaders were often described as shepherds. A good shepherd would be tender, caring and loving towards his sheep while a false shepherd only cares about his needs being met allowing his sheep to look out for themselves. Sheep can't look after themselves. They are prone to wander and get into all sorts of trouble when left alone. They are vulnerable and easy prey for the wild beasts lurking outside the fold.
Scripture is continually warning us about the leaders who were spiritually fleecing and slaughtering the sheep instead of protecting and feeding them. The Jewish teachers were doing the work of the devil. They were filling themselve while starving their flocks leaving them to fend for themselves.
Paul issued a warning before he left Ephesus: "For I know this that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock" Acts 20:29
Satan is called a roaring lion "seeking whom he may devour." He's in disguise. He's good at looking mighty fine and blending in. Otherwise no one would follow him. The smooth talkers. The charasmatic ones. Be careful. They say one thing but do another. It shouldn't take long to figure it out. Jesus said this in Matt 7:15:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. "
Scripture is chock full of warnings and indictments against these false teachers past and present. They will all fall under God's condemnation. Try reading Ezekiel 34 to see how strong a statement is made against these false teachers. The book of Malachai was written as an indictment against the priests who were supposed to represent God but instead were challenging Him desiring the people to follow them instead of the Lord they professed to worship. Men become religious teachers for different motives. None are right unless they go thru the proper door. Christ is that door. Jesus said this in John:
"Truly, truly I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber." 10:1
In Greek "thief" implies secret fraud and dishonesty. "Robber" implies more open violence. False teachers abound of both kinds. Both are dangerous and need to be avoided.
Nothing is more offensive to Christ than a false teacher, prophet or shepherd. Nothing should be so dreaded in a church and, if needed, to be so plainly rebuked, opposed and exposed.
Jesus came out and said the Pharisees were self-appointed leaders who were hypocrites. He said this in Matt 23:2:
"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All that they tell you to do you should do, but do not do after their works for they say and do not."
To apply that to today we see Pastors, teachers and leaders read so eloquently from scripture saying one thing, yet doing another. Who ordained them? Like minded self-appointed leaders? They tell you to stay pure and holy while they are indulging in all sorts of lewd behavior in their own private lives. They tell you to abstain from all sorts of ungodly behaviors while they either do these things themselves or joke about them when they are not in the pulpit. It's a joke all right. They're hypocrites.
JC Ryle, a preacher in the 1800's wrote this:
"Thousands of ordained men in the present day know nothng whatever about Christ except His name. They have not entered the door themselves and they are unable to show it to others. Unconverted ministers are the dry-rot of the church."
Pretty strong language. How much more so today with the money to be had? Sales, concerts, fundraisers, craft fairs, all done in the name of God. Religion is a booming business today. Entertainment like never before. How this must grieve God to look down upon his creation and see this. But people are flocking to these false shepherds nonetheless.
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned to fables." 2 Tim 4:3
How sad. May what grieves the heart of God also grieve our hearts as we watch our loved ones being snatched away into the jaws of the wild beasts. We need to be on our knees like never before pleading for the Good Shepherd's intervention because we know he laid down his life for the sheep.