O Politicians, Listen to Ezekiel!

Posted on November 11, 2020


By David Ettinger

An Angry God
With such a heated political season assaulting us, it’s easy to see politics in many of the things we are involved in, including Bible reading. I’m no exception as I sometimes find messages in the Bible aimed at politicians when they aren’t intended that way.

However, a particular chapter, Ezekiel 34, is aimed at politicians (referred to as “shepherds”). The shepherds are Israel’s King, princes, and royal officials – those appointed by God to look after the welfare of the people. The problem in Ezekiel 34, unfortunately, is that the shepherds were not doing their job – and the Lord is bitterly angry at them!

In verses 2-3, He castigates them:

Prophesy and say to those shepherds, “This is what the Lord God says: ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should the shepherds not feed the flock?You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.’”

This is a justifiably angry God telling Israel’s leaders what He thinks of them, and it is a message all politicians today need to hear.

To Blazes With Them!
It is instructive that the Lord refers to Israel’s political leaders as “shepherds.” Shepherds are to be selfless individuals devoted to the safety, care, and welfare of their needy flocks. Shepherds are to live sacrificial lives, surrendering their own comforts for the benefit of their charges. Shepherds often brave difficult conditions and endure sleepless nights that their flocks may flourish.

One thing a shepherd should never do is put his own concerns before that of his flock. Yet, this is what the politicians of Israel were doing, and what too many today do.

Note how the Lord begins His condemnation with the word “Woe.” This is a way of saying, “Shame on you!” – but stronger. God fleeces the shepherds for “feeding themselves” (v. 2). They have been getting rich off their flock, probably by hoarding the people’s taxes.

God then rhetorically asks, “Should the shepherds not feed the flock?” Of course they should! Instead, verse 3 tells us, “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock” (v. 3).

Though there have always been good and caring politicians, there have been multitudes of the kind described here, and they are prevalent in the 21st century. They are abundant here in the U.S., where the bank accounts of our leaders are dizzyingly massive. Though I begrudge no one their right to make money – and lots of it if they are so gifted – what no one should stand for is politicians amassing wealth on the backs of the people.

In verse 4, God adds to the shepherds’ list of sins: “Those [the people] who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you searched for the lost; but with force and with violence you have dominated them.”  

A Perfect Example
So, how should politicians behave? Taking a list of the sins from Ezekiel 34:2-4, we can surmise that politicians (“shepherds”) should:

  • Put their own interests aside.
  • Serve the people.
  • Nurture the people
  • Strive to do that which is in the people’s best interest.
  • Don’t be in it to get rich.
  • Take care of the sick, diseased, and suffering.
  • Strive to give the people the most fulfilling life possible.

In so passionately and succinctly condemning the politicians of ancient Israel, God has given to today’s politicians the perfect example of how they should serve. How many of today’s politicians do you know fit the bill?

O if only today’s politicians would listen to Ezekiel!