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Single pastor in Ezekiel?

Submitted: 10/28/2004
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Question: With regards to Ezekiel 3:16-21, this seems to be a reference to one man leading the people of God. Is this a type of Jesus or is this a type of the modern-day pastor? This thought appears to be repeated in Ezekiel 33:1-9. Could you give me your explanation of these passages?

Answer: Ezekiel 3:17 says, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me.” This passage is referring to Ezekiel in his role as a prophet to Israel. Ezekiel 33:1-9 is the same. In this sense, these verses could be considered typical of Jesus as “the Prophet who is to come.” Like Ezekiel, Jesus spoke the words of God to the people of Israel (see John 3:34; John 17:8). There is no reason to believe that Ezekiel was a type of the modern-day single pastor.

Even though Ezekiel prophesied to Israel, he was not the pastoral leader of Israel. Ezekiel 8:1 speaks of “the elders of Judah.” Ezekiel 8:11 speaks of “seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel.” In Ezekiel 20:3, the Lord tells Ezekiel to “speak to the elders of Israel.” There may be many occasions when a prophet would give a word from God to the elders of a local assembly and they would be wise to listen carefully.

In Ezekiel 34:2-6 the Lord declared, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”

This passage shows that even with multiple elder-pastor-shepherds, leaders can still become self-centered and corrupt. The Lord’s solution is recorded in Ezekiel 34:12 where He says, “As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep...” and Jeremiah 3:15 where He says, “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” The solution is not decreasing the number of pastors to one, it is recognizing Jesus Himself as the Chief Shepherd and changing the hearts of those who are serving in a shepherding role.