|Ezekiel 34:2-4 |
2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherd: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the sheep?
3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourself with the wool, you kill the sheep that are fat, but you do not feed the sheep.1
4 You have not strengthened the diseased, you have not healed the sick or bound up that which was broken, you have not brought back that which was driven away or sought that which was lost; instead you have ruled them with force and with cruelty.
1 Woe be to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the sheep? The shepherds feed themselves, by taking money from the sheep instead: You eat the fat, you clothe yourself with the wool, you kill the sheep that are fat, but you do not feed the sheep. The shepherds, (ministers, preachers, priests), then and now don't even know how to feed the sheep, they only know how to be fed by the sheep; they think they are feeding the sheep, but they only speak from the nature of death with their carnal minds that are enmity with God. Jesus said: The words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life;" he does not say the words as written, much less the scriptures or writings, are spirit and life. When Christ himself speaks to a soul, his words are spirit and life to that soul, for spirit and life are in his words, when he speaks them. But when another reads or speaks them without his spirit, they minister neither spirit nor life. For instance, Christ's calling to Lazarus when dead and buried, “Lazarus come forth;" his words were spirit and life to Lazarus. But let another read or speak the same words to a man dead and buried, and cry to him to come forth, they will not raise him to life. (From A Christian Progress).
To feed the sheep is to speak words and teachings heard from the Spirit of God. The Spirit gives life, so words supplied by the Spirit of God to a true teacher or preacher, increase the life of God in their listeners. Reading from the dead letter of the Bible, does not give life to the listeners. The letter kills, but the spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6. As Paul said: Which things also we speak, not in the words, which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit instructs; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Cor 2:13. As Peter said: If any man speaks, let him speak with God's words [oracles]; 1 Pet 4:11.
Even Jesus did not judge, speak, or act without the Spirit's specific prompting. Jesus said:
Jesus said that a man who preaches from his own mind seeks his own glory. He seeks your money, your admiration, and your subjection to his authority. The preachers of Christendom stand condemned for seeking their own glory and then accepting pay for their worthless words; when to even charge for true words of life like Balaam, spoken from the spirit of God, is expressly forbidden by Peter and Jesus. Seeking their own glory, the preachers of Christendom speak from their carnal minds, the nature of death, and preach their opinions from the vain imaginations of their evil hearts.
They do not feed the sheep. They are incapable of feeding the sheep because they have not been taught, perfected, and authorized by the Lord; they are self-appointed. They don't have words supplied by the Holy Spirit. They have not been appointed through gift by the Holy Spirit. The preachers today, feed themselves, by taking money from the flock. Preaching for a salary is the error of Balaam, which is spiritual adultery, loving wages and profit — both Peter and Jude had some very grave things to say about those who solicit donations or preach for a salary. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children — for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Peter and Paul and Jesus all spoke strongly against preachers who took money from the flock, feeding themselves at the expense of the sheep.