Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3593

Jump Start # 3593

Ezekiel 34:21 “Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad.

  Ezekiel 34—one of my favorite chapters. It is a must read for elders in God’s church today. A deep, deep dive into these powerful passages shows what shepherds ought and ought not to do. God was pulling the plug on the shepherds of Israel. They failed. The flock of God was diseased, scattered and prey to every beast of the field. Even when led to green pastures, these inept shepherds were trampeling through the fields and smashing the grass. When it came to water, they’d stick their dirty feet in the water and foul it up. Self-centered, these shepherds ought never to have been shepherds.

  Our verse today, just another piece of evidence against them, pushing the weak sheep out of the way until they leave. And, that’s just how some are today. They’d rather a problem go to another congregation than have to deal with it themselves. In a college community, I heard a guy once say, “We don’t want college kids coming here.” Really? Can you believe that?

  But as the chapter progresses, God takes care of His sheep. He feeds them. He helps them. Then, He appoints David to be the one true shepherd who will care for the flock. Historically, by the time of Ezekiel, David was dead. This is a prophecy about Christ. Jesus, the one true shepherd. The one who is compassionate. The one who listens. The one who makes a difference.

  Some reminders for us:

  First, being bothered should not bother us. That is the makeup of a servant of God. When people need us, it’s not on our timetable. The selfish won’t help. The self-centered never see the need. But, the heart of a servant will give up a Saturday or an evening or stay late after services, if good can be done.

  The expression from our verse today, “Push with side and with shoulder and thrust at all the weak,” is nothing more than being a bully. They are not pushing the strong. Likely, because the strong won’t let them and the strong will keep that from happening. But the vulnerable and the weak, are easy to cast aside. Alone in a congregation, it’s hard for them to find a place. It’s hard for them to connect. Being weak, they do not attend as they ought to. Being weak, they cave in to temptation more than they should. Being weak, they need help. And, who is going to be there for them. They struggle because they are weak.

  Second, when we complain and are bothered by others, it can have a lasting negative impact on some. Family members will remember. People will talk. The way we help each other can be one of the greatest evangelistic tools. Christ in action. Being the hands and feet of the kingdom opens doors and hearts that may have stayed closed. Every person matters. Every person counts. Every person has a place.

  We sing, “There’s room in the kingdom,” but for Ezekiel’s shepherds, they would have doubted that.

  Third, God has gifted us with talents, opened doors for us to serve and put us in places where we can let our lights shine and make a difference. Instead of helping the weak get strong, Ezekiel’s shepherds were driving them away. Weak and without guidance, those sheep had no chance. Help the weak by being there for them. Encourage them. Show them. Teach them. Don’t give up on them. Don’t drive them away.

  Far too many elders today spend most of their time discussing the church building and budgets, while the flock may be dying right in the pews. It’s time to get back to shepherding. Get among the sheep. Know well the condition of your flock, Proverbs tells us.

  What a blessing and what an advantage congregations have when gifted men are serving as true shepherds. There will always be issues, troubles and challenges. That’s life. But with compassionate servants at the helm, the ship will be guided carefully through the rough seas of a troubled culture and be headed safely home.