"Thus saith the Lord eternal, Behold, I will be against the shepherds, and I will require [take] my flock from their hand, and I will stop them from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more. And I will deliver my flock out of their mouth that they may not serve them for food.
As a shepherd searcheth for his flock on THE DAY THAT HE IS AMONG his flocks that are scattered, so will I search for my flocks, and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered, on THE DAY OF CLOUDS and tempestuous darkness." (Ezek. 34:10,12)—Leeser's Trans.
The Good Shepherd who gave his life for the sheep has various flocks as intimated above, and by His own words: "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (John 10:16.)
The above scripture not only relates to "Israel after the flesh," one of the flocks to be gathered and fed by the Shepherd, but it has special reference to the spiritual flock, the saints of the Gospel Age. As represented in Matt. 13:52, the under-shepherds whose duty it was to "feed the flock," bringing forth to them things new and old, have sadly neglected their office and devoted much of their time to feeding themselves upon the husks of science and man-made theology, and in honoring each other with the titles Rabbi, Master, Reverend, and Doctor, seeking not rather the feeding and strengthening of the flock in the knowledge of the truth, and that honor which cometh from God only.
As prophetically foretold in the preceding verses of this chapter: "The fat ye [shepherds] eat, and with the wool ye clothe yourselves; those that are well fed [that despite the neglect of the shepherds find pastures of truth, and feed, these] ye slaughter [not now, as a century or more ago literally slaughter, but slaughter their influence, casting out their names as evil]. But the flock ye feed not. Ver. 3.
"My sheep have to wander about on all the mountains, and upon every high hill; yea, over all the face of the land is my flock scattered." Ver. 6. The Lord's sheep are intermixed with various nations (mountains) and in various high hills (societies of earth—churches) "there is none that inquireth, none seeketh after them." The shepherds sanction the scattered and divided condition of the Lord's sheep, even claiming that it is the Chief-Shepherd's will that they should be separated in various sects.
But the words at the head of this article assert that at a certain time the Lord comes to the rescue of his sheep, and casts aside the unfaithful shepherds. Mark well that this will be when he is present "here" and "among his flocks that are scattered." Notice also that his presence "among his flocks" is in the "day of clouds and darkness"—in the day of trouble. Trouble on the nations and upon the unfaithful shepherds.
Surely we have evidence that we are now in this cloudy day—that the Chief Shepherd is present. If not, whence comes the food upon which we are feeding, and the refreshing rest of faith which we now enjoy. Is it not in fulfillment of what was written—"And I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down. Ver. 15.
The same lesson is expressed through Jeremiah (23:1,4) and Isaiah touchingly refers to the Lord's care for even the weakest of the flock in the day of His presence, saying: "Like a shepherd will he feed his flock: with his arm will he gather the lambs, and in his bosom will he carry them." Isa. 40:11.
The Shepherd has been feeding us wonderfully during the past few years, and all who are being strengthened thereby should be aware that he is collecting his sheep, and though scattered over the hills of sectarianism, he calls His own sheep together into one fold—one church—as it was at first.
How strange it seems that some cannot realize this; but when they hear His call, "Come," "Come out of her, [Babylon—confusion,] they seem loath to leave, and unused to the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, they inquire, If we come out, into what shall we go? They are so used to bondage to systems and forms and rules of men, that they cannot realize the strength of the fold which has no other bars than the Word of God; they cannot realize the ONENESS of that flock which is kept together simply and only by bonds of love one for another and for the Shepherd.
Looking from the TOWER it seems that there are many such sheep now, who, because of weakness of faith in the words of the Shepherd, and holding to the traditions of men, may lose the high honor of membership in the chief flock—a place among the overcomers. Let us take heed.
But the work of the Shepherd will be first directed to the assistance, feeding and gathering of the first or special flock, yet we thank God that this Shepherd will leave none who truly belong to his flocks to starve. "With his arm [power] he will gather the lambs," and lead them and feed them. Yes, when the arm of the Lord is revealed—when his power is manifest in the overturning of all false systems, then some will SEE, and hear, and obey, who have not the overcoming strength now.
It is of this class we read, "These are they which came out of great tribulation," and "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne [then in exalted power] shall feed them and shall LEAD them." (Rev. 7:14,17.) They will then be ready to be led out of false systems to follow the Shepherd's leading.
Meantime, "Israel after the flesh" will not be neglected; for though of another flock, they are under the same Shepherd. Liberty and restoration to national union and favor will be granted to them, that in due time they may be fitting channels through which the truth of God may pass to refresh, revive and bless all the families of the earth.