WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 26, 2012
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MEETING OUR DEEPEST NEED
(GOD delivers and provides for HIS people)
The “shepherd” metaphor that is often used to describe the function and role of a “leader” is one of the most endearing analogies that can be found, in all of Scripture. Ezekiel 34, and many other passages, help us to understand that role in regards to GOD’s people who are called to, or, who wish to serve, in the leadership capacity. In Ezekiel 34:1-6, each accusation by the LORD, actually implies the positive trait that one should look for in any person who functions as a leader in the Christian church, family, community, or government. However, by presenting us with these contrasting negatives traits of the condemned leader, the LORD is actually showing us what the ideal leader should contain, and maintain in his or her character.
Here in this passage, several examples of “negative leadership” are highlighted, and they include;
· Those who take care of themselves, rather than caring for those who GOD assigned
· Those who profit in an ungodly manner, off of those being led.
· Those who “actually physically, emotionally, or spiritually harm those who follow
· Those who fail to strengthen the weak, through presenting them with the word of
GOD, and prayer.
· Those who fail to seek the lost, and, “rule harshly and brutally over their flock.
These kinds of leaders are in sharp contrast to the “ideal spiritual leadership” we find in CHRIST JESUS, the ultimate GOOD SHEPHERD. GOD is seeking leaders who are willing to pattern themselves after the example of CHRIST, and we, as Christians, have a right to expect human spiritual leaders to commit to doing just that (1 Peter 5:1-4). And while each individual is responsible for his or her own moral and spiritual choices, it is the leaders who set the tone for the Christian community, who are most accountable to GOD.
GOD has taken a stand against bad leadership, and ultimately, HE will remove such leadership from their positions. HE will not hold blameless, those government, church, community, and family leaders who fail to pattern themselves in accordance with the vivid picture of leadership, that CHRIST JESUS has presented to us already, during HIS three-year earthly ministry.
GOD charged the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy against the leadership of Israel in the sixth century B.C. because HE wanted them to be strong, caring shepherds who would guard the spiritual safety of their flock with all diligence, and here in the twenty-first century A.D., HIS desires for us to embody those leadership qualities, like all things concerning GOD, has not changed.
Then and now, too many shepherds have neglected their sheep and, as a result the sheep were, and are, scattered away from the fold. It is time to call the shepherds to judgment for their actions and hold them accountable for the neglect and abuse of those who were entrusted to their leadership, by GOD.
As Christians, we thoroughly understand that Ezekiel wasn’t just speaking about the return of the Jews to their homeland from Babylon, as he closed this particular chapter of his prophesy. He was, indeed, also foretelling something far into the future regarding the blessings that await all earnest Christians when the LORD JESUS comes upon the scene for a second time.
In the Greek, the word New Testament writers often use for “earnest expectations”, or, “hope for the future” is “apokaradokia”. It describes the attitude of a man who scans the horizon, with his head stretched forward, as he eagerly anticipates the first signs of the coming of the glory of GOD. Life for the Christian should always be a throbbing and vivid expectation of the joy that awaits them at the end of their Christian race.
When the GOOD SHEPHERD returns, HE will already know how HE will separate the “wheat from the tare”, and the “sheep from the goat”. And the bad shepherds, who did not serve in the manner of which GOD called them to serve, will all be judged in a manner preserved especially for them, because they failed in their positions of higher responsibility to GOD. And this goes also for the “false shepherd”, or “wolf” that just showed up wearing sheep’s clothing, and was not sent by GOD, but rather, made himself a “hireling”.
But let us also remember that, even if we don’t have an official title in the church, we are still leaders as parents, or, as the only Christian in our workplace, or, as the only Christian in our family, extended family etc. And so we still have to set a good example of Christian servant-hood and leadership, at all times, wherever we are, and, wherever we go.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
Larry Dell Alexander (1953–) - Encyclopedia of Arkansas
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