Who cannot understand;They all look to their own way,Every one for his own gain,From his own territory."
In Isaiah 56:10-12, God identifies those of Israel who, though in a place of leadership, have chosen to compromise God's Word for their own gain. In the context of what they are looking to gain, it is apparent that not only would it include financial gains, but also gains in power, prestige, influence and position. They will, for the sake of their own congregation, take what they can how they can, when they can to enlarge their position and increase their pleasure. This is always accomplished with a compromise of God's Word first. For these "shepherds" to accomplish their end, they must allow sin to be unchallenged and even encouraged overtly for the sake of not offending any. To swell their ranks they must give a pretense of religiousness, but keep the meat of the Word well hidden in the refrigerator and instead feed the flock fluffy, feel-good food. It is, of course, non-nutritional food, so what will be evident is what is later described in Ezekiel 34: "And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “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? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, butyou do not feed the flock. 4 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. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 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.”
7 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! 10 Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them."
Proof of this dangerous shepherd's presence is found in the fruit of the works produced by the flock. Instead of the fruit of the Spirit of God, the works are fruit of the flesh...loosely draped in a garment of self righteousness, poorly concealed by the make up of religious piety and false humility. Not only can this be seen it also can be heard. Perhaps not as often during the courses of religious gatherings, but most prevalent during the rest of life's moments. In their homes, in the workplace, in the stores. These are the places where the challenges of life's realities will manifest the heart of the matter. The words that flow from these sheep of the false and worthless shepherd will be words of coarse language, filth and echos of the world around them. Gone will be the grace of the meeting house or the loving speech of the Bible studies, instead the mouth will accurately and intimately reflect the heart. Woe, I say, Whoa there false shepherd! You think that you can just ignore the Word of God and the correction the sheep needed because you want to increase your flock? You may indeed increase your flock, but not in the manner of the Gospel, for the one who like all else, going astray..turning every one to his own way has chosen to ignore the Savior who bore all our iniquity and is instead choosing to remain astray. You've just provided shelter for wolves, or at the least encouraged rebellious sheep. Cry not when the flock you were entrusted with is torn open from within; cry not when the ease you desired becomes the thorns of your eternity; cry not when the fatness you consumed rises up in bile to choke your very breath and the God who allowed you to shepherd stands against you, as you have stood against His Son, the Great Shepherd.