Ezekiel may have been the “watchman” of Israel, but he was not the only one responsible for them. The monarchs and princes, other political leaders, and especially the priests were likewise responsible.
By the very nature of leadership, leaders typically feed off those being led. The Royal Family and other political leaders were supported by the tax rolls. The priesthood was supported by the offerings and tithes. There was nothing wrong with this. All was a part of the plan of God. What wasn’t a part of the plan of God was for the leaders, feeding abundantly off the led, to neglect the very ones they were supposed to be protecting.
Their abysmal example led the flock to feed off one another and their short-sightedness and self-centeredness made them prey for predators of all kinds.
God, however, was watching.
He determined to remove the leaders, and judge between the sheep.
Why? Because ultimately, the flock belonged not to themselves, nor to the shepherds, but to God. And I love the way chapter 34 ends: “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God declares the sovereign Lord.”
Church leaders, especially preachers (who, because they are paid, do feed off the flock) should remember that we are responsible for those entrusted to our care – not to force on them our own pet projects, but to school them in the Way of God. We are responsible to God. The position is not about our own fulfillment, but about fulfilling God’s will. And we are not alone. All the brethren are jointly and severally responsible for one another to make the flock environment a place of nurturing.