a. A CAREGIVER, BY DIVINE COMMISSION
i. MATTHEW 28:19-20 – DISCIPLER
· As we look at the characteristics of a good shepherd it will become clear that God chose this motif at least in part because His people are so apt to act like sheep. Scriptures like Is. 53:6 remind us over and over again that God’s people and sheep are very much alike and the connection is most often negative. “Sheep are not only dependent creatures; singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find their way to a shepherd even when it is in sight.”6 The analogy is fitting. It is clear, because of our helplessness and our tendency to wander and get lost we are in need of a Good Shepherd.
o The focus of a good shepherd was to be on his flock--their provision, guidance and safety. The epitome of the bad shepherds, in Ezekiel’s expose of Israel’s leaders of his day (34:1-6), sketches out in vivid terms, what it looked like when leaders failed to provide this care.
o Not only did the shepherd provide nourishment and direction, but David goes out of his way in the Psalm to convey the idea of the shepherd providing safety and protection.
o In Jesus’ description of Himself in John 10 he adds to our understanding of what makes for a good shepherd. The good shepherd is sacrificial. He is willing to ignore his own needs in order to meet the needs of the sheep. Over and over in the passage he states the good shepherd gives his own life for his sheep. (vs.11, 15, 17, 18)
o The other characteristic of the good shepherd Jesus makes crystal clear in his discussion of the topic in John 10, is that the good shepherd is personally, if not intimately involved with all his sheep.
o After each admission of love on Peter’s part Jesus said, “Tend My lambs” John 21:15, “Shepherd my sheep” vs.16, and “Tend my sheep” vs.17. Peter charges the elders at the churches in present day Asia Minor to “shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1Peter 5:2-3)
ii. EZEKIEL CHAPTER 3 - WATCHMAN
The responsibility of a watchman.
1. (16-19) The responsibility to warn the wicked.
a. : God used the figure of the to describe Ezekiel’s responsibility, here and in . He fulfilled his role as a not primarily by observing others, but by faithfully proclaiming God’s word and bringing God’s to the people. God was gracious to provide a at all.
i. “: “See therefore that thou be not an overseer, not a byseer; a watcher, not a sleeper.” (Trapp)
ii. “Ezekiel was not the first to define the prophetic office in terms of a sentry. The 8th-century prophet Hosea makes the identification in 9:8, and alludes to it in 5:8 and 8:1, where he calls for the blowing of the horn. refers to blind sentries, visionaries who are asleep, presumably false or negligent prophets.” (Block)
iii. There are many who consider themselves watchmen to the people of God today. They watch carefully and look for signs of error or apostasy. There is always a place for those to do what Ezekiel was called to do as a watchman – to from God’s word and to . Yet many who do this focus on the examination of supposed error more than the proclamation of God’s truth. This is a distortion of Ezekiel’s calling as a .
iv. Another way this modern office of watchman may distort the Biblical idea is by untruthful or unfair examination of others in search of error or apostasy. If a watchman alerts people to dangers but does not give an honest and fair report, then he will not be believed when they warn of a genuine danger.
v. “Herodotus telleth of one Euenius, a city shepherd, who for sleeping and allowed the wolf to enter the fold and kill sixty sheep, had his eyes pulled out. God threateneth the like punishment upon sleepy watchmen, idol shepherds. .” (Trapp)
b. : God explained the sin and the penalty of failing to be a faithful watchman. If God’s message was not delivered, then . Again, the focus of the watchman’s work is not on the examination of the , but on the faithful declaration of God’s message.
i. : “Hear it, , ye , ye of the Gospel; ye, especially, who have entered into the ministry , ye who to yourselves that ye may feed upon their fat, and clothe yourselves with their wool; in whose parishes and in whose congregations souls are dying unconverted from day to day, who have never been solemnly warned by you, and to whom you have never shown the way of salvation, probably because ye know nothing of it yourselves! O what a perdition awaits ! To have the blood of every soul that has died in your parishes or in your congregations unconverted laid at your door! To suffer a common damnation for soul that perishes through your neglect! How of endless wo must such have to bear! Ye take your , your , or your , to the last , and the last while the souls over whom you made yourselves watchmen have perished, and are perishing, through neglect. O worthless and hapless men! better for you had ye never been born! Vain is your boast of , while ye do not the ! Vain your boast of , while ye neither nor the ! Vain your pretensions to a , when ye do not the work of ! The state of the most wretched of the human race is enviable to that of such ministers, pastors, teachers, and preachers.” (Clarke)
c. : If Ezekiel did faithfully deliver God’s message, then he would bear no guilt if the message was rejected. The one who rejected the message would , under the judgment of God. Yet of Ezekiel, faithfully delivering God’s message, it would be said, .
i. “A phrase which our fathers often used, is not heard to-day frequently, about the work of the prophet. I refer to the phrase, ‘blood-guiltiness.’ Yet that phrase finds its warrant in this paragraph. There is such a thing. If the wicked die in wickedness for lack of the prophetic word, the prophet is guilty of his blood.” (Morgan)d. : This probably has the sense of death in this life, not eternal death – though, of course, most all who would be specifically judged with death in this life would be judged with death in the age to come. Death was part of God’s promised curse for disobedience to the Mosaic covenant.
i. The judgment of death had special relevance in the days of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. False prophets gave false hope to the people and told them to resist the Babylonians and put their trust in the Egyptians to save them. Those who did this would die either in conquest or exile. The path of safety was an obedient trust in the judgments of God.
ii. “‘Life’ and ‘death’ in this context are to be understood as physical, not eternal, life and death. The concept of life and death in the Mosaic covenant is primarily physical.” (Alexander)
2. (20-21) The responsibility to warn the righteous.
a. : The previous verses told of Ezekiel’s responsibility to warn the wicked. Now God told him he also had a responsibility to warn the who may stray from God’s path. If Ezekiel , he would share in responsibility for the sin ().
i. “The (Heb. ) was essentially the man who showed by his good living his adherence to the covenant. It went without saying that he was dutiful in carrying out the requisite religious observances.” (Taylor)
ii. “Ezekiel admonished the righteous man not to turn from his righteous ways—loyalty to the Mosaic code—and disobey God’s commands; for if he did, he would surely die.” (Alexander)
iii. : “It does not here indicate that God deliberately sets out to trip up the righteous and bring him crashing to the ground, but that he leaves opportunities for sin in the paths of men, so that if their heart is bent on sin they may do so and thus earn their condemnation.” (Taylor)
iv. “The idea that God tests the fidelity of the righteous is a well-worn biblical theme, most graphically presented in the prose story of the book of Job. In the Lord’s Prayer there is a petition that God preserve the believer in the midst of such a test. Elsewhere Ezekiel speaks of stumbling blocks that God has laid in Israel’s path in the form of silver and gold (7:19) and idolatry (14:3; 44:12).” (Vawter and Hoppe)
b. : This is the tragic price paid by many men and women who fail to finish well. The real good they have . One sin or a short season of sin can easily wipe out an otherwise good reputation.
c. : If Ezekiel were faithful to bring the message and the righteous were appropriately warned and kept from their sin, it would be good for the one who kept the warning (), and good for the prophet ().
3. (22-23) Another vision of the glory of the LORD.
b. : Once again, Ezekiel had a vision similar to that which he experienced in chapter 1.
i. “Although this is the third time he sees the , the sight still catches him by surprise and overwhelms him with awe. His relationship with God never becomes familiar or casual—even a commissioned and authorized spokesman must prostrate himself in the presence of God.” (Block)
ii. “First he has a renewed vision of the glory of the Lord (22,23). Already, perhaps, he had begun to tum in on himself under the strain that he could foresee was coming. A wise man once said something to the effect that we should take ten looks at Christ to one at ourselves.” (Wright)
iii. JESUS EXAMPLE – SHEPHERD
· REVIEW QUALIFICATIONS OF A TRUE BELIEVER FROM POST#1