Ezekiel condemns the ministry as a whole for being more concerned for self and paycheck than for the "sheep," the members of the church. Rather than helping, healing, and leading, government was often administered with force and cruelty. Talking the talk was followed far more frequently than walking the walk. God also charges them with defiling the doctrine, which verse 18 pictures as trodden pasture and fouled water. Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude all warn about "wolves" at the end time infiltrating the flock, introducing another gospel, and rending the sheep.
Is it any wonder respect for the ministry is at low ebb? God Himself is very upset with shepherds who cared more for themselves than for the sheep. Through misuse and abuse, wolves in sheep's clothing ripped and tore the sheep. God and man deplore and reject such a ministry. The ministry today is in sad disarray, distrusted and despised by many. Some ministers are reckoned as hirelings who cared not for the sheep, but only for their paychecks. These men would compromise the truth, even teach what they knew was wrong, to retain their salaries. Zechariah 11:3 describes a forsaken ministry, howling over the loss of their flocks, which they mistreated.
Screaming for "respect for the ministry" will not help. These hurts can only be healed by proper example and time, combined with a forgiving heart, established by God, in those who have been harmed.
Because of these abuses, insidious Laodiceanism, and our natural proclivity to resent any government except our own, we have a church despised and blown apart by God Himself. (Read all of Lamentations, Ezekiel 22:25-29; and 24:21 to confirm who is behind the separation.)
John W. Ritenbaugh
For the Perfecting of the Saints
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