First in a series addressing false shepherds
and prophets in the Church today.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:1-18.
Jesus in John Chapter 9 had just encountered the Pharisees once again in their attempt to indict Him in the eyes of the people and end His ministry. This encounter with them, after healing the man born blind, was proceeded by their attempt to have their officers arrest Him in John Chapter 7, which was proceeded by His encounter with them when He healed the invalid at the Sheep Gate pool. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were just the latest in a long line of false shepherds in Israel. In Matthew Chapter 23 He doesn’t pull punches: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
These “spiritual” leaders, these watchmen shepherds, were the latest in a long line of false shepherds in Israel. Isaiah described them as “as blind, without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. They were dogs with a mighty appetite and never have enough. They are shepherds who have no understanding and have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all.” (Isaiah 56:10–11).” Jeremiah writes “For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.” (Jeremiah 10:21). In Jeremiah 12:10 the Lord said through Jeremiah, “Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.” God Himself laments in Jeremiah 50:6: “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.” The Lord is a just God and He has promised these so-called shepherds:
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:1-2.
In Ezekiel He commands the prophet to prophesy 2 “against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep.4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered;6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. Ezekiel 34:2-10.
The early Church immediately faced false prophets and shepherds. Paul warned in Galatians 1:6-9. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Peter warned “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 1 Peter 2:1.
By 50 A.D. some of the Pharisees who had become believers insisted “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” The Apostles gathered in Jerusalem and through God’s guidance proclaimed, “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Acts 15:10-11.
These false shepherds, and false prophets were used and are used by Satan to lead the sheep astray. He uses them to separate sheep from the fold, away from the true shepherd, and thereby destroy them. He uses them to lead people astray from God’s Word and Christ’s Gospel. This has always been Satan’s plan. In the Garden Adam and Eve walked with God until Satan convinced Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit because “when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5. He uses false shepherds to put doubt in people’s minds about God. He used these surrogates effectively as recorded in the Old Testament. He used them effectively during the intertestamental period through his agents the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes. He used his plan against the New Testament Church. The early Church faced such heresies as the Adoptionism, Apollinarism, Arianism, Docetism, Nestorianism, Gnosticism, Ebionites, Marcionism, Montanism, Pelagianism, and many others. The early Roman Catholic Church would soon face syncretism or the infusion of traditions from the Greek and Roman cultures related to traditions unrelated to the Christian faith.
The modern Church faces these same challenges. Satan is persistent, and his game plan does not change. False shepherds today present a different gospel dressed up like Christ’s gospel, but it is not. I will attempt over time to expose some of the false shepherds that the Church faces today. False prophets such as Ellen White and Joseph Smith. Those that preach a false gospel such as the Prosperity Gospel, The Social Justice Gospel, The Unity Gospel, etc. There are the lukewarm Churches that God has promised to spew from His mouth. There are those Churches that do not hold to the authority of Scripture, believe that the Bible is just a book of wisdom, from which they pick and choose the verses best suited to them. Over a series of blogs, I will try to expose these Churches, led by shepherds who are leading Christ’s sheep astray. God help them.