Jim Bakker’s Blog
Woe is Me – Part 5
Posted: 03 Oct 2011 11:35 AM PDT
Woe to the Shepherds!
One of the most scathing rebukes found anywhere in the Bible is in Ezekiel 34. It is a rebuke to the shepherds, or in today’s culture, the pastors. The Prophet Ezekiel was not the least concerned with sparing anyone’s ‘feelings’ when he gave his politically incorrect rebuke in the 34th chapter. He was concerned with saying what the Lord instructed him to say. He didn’t water it down, and he didn’t consider how it might put him in social jeopardy. He was not afraid of the shepherds, but he did have a healthy fear of God, something the modern Church seems to lack.
In my next few blogs, we will be looking at the Woes to the shepherds (pastors). This is one area of woes that you won’t hear preached very much. Why? This message about shepherds feeding themselves and not the flock may have been given centuries ago, but it is prophetically relatable to the modern-day Church. God showed me in prison, that we (pastors and myself included) had been preaching a false, made-up money gospel. I have repented of that and I continue to preach against it. But, it still permeates much of the Christian teaching you hear everywhere.
SKINNING THE SHEEP
In our desperation to maintain huge budgets, we have carelessly misused Scripture to our own advantage. In this regard, the prophet Ezekiel’s warning to spiritual shepherds sounds as though it were written in our generation:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals” (34:2–5 NIV).
Clearly, the anger of the Lord expressed through Ezekiel was a result of the spiritual leaders’ callous concern for their own well-being, rather than being concerned about the needs of God’s people. God wanted shepherds whose hearts’ desire was to care for the sheep, not skin them alive. He still does.
One night while I was sleeping in a prison cell, God gave me another dream, a dramatic vision in which He showed me a picture of the church, the body of Christ. In the dream, the people of the church appeared as cattle being herded along in a line. I was horrified when I saw the sight, for these cattle had no skin! They were a bleeding, raw mass of flesh.
As I viewed the pitiful scene, I sensed God speaking to me. “This is what My leaders have done to My church—they have skinned them! They are being herded toward destruction by the shepherds; they are hurting and bleeding.”
I awoke shuddering with fear and an attitude of repentance. I vowed, “Never again do I want to be associated with anything that even hints at impropriety. Never again will I even hint that godliness is a means of financial gain.”
To Titus, Paul wrote of the requirements to be a spiritual leader, teaching that the bishop or overseer “must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain” (1:7 NASB). Then, in an effort to alert Titus and other spiritual leaders to be on their guard against those teachers who were propagating false doctrine, Paul warned, “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (1:10–11 KJV).
Granted, Paul’s main concern in this admonition was that spiritual leaders know sound doctrine so they could refute the errors being propagated by those believers who felt they should maintain the rituals of Judaism along with their newfound Christian faith; but it should not escape our notice that money was a motivating factor for the perpetrators of those false doctrines. It is still the same today. Money motivates much of the mixed-up, watered-down gospel messages being presented.
(to be continued)