I will search for my sheep and care for them.
Jehovah compares himself to a shepherd. That is significant because it helps us to understand what Jehovah is like. A loving human shepherd takes full responsibility for the survival and welfare of the flock of sheep under his care. He leads them to pasture and to water sources; watches over them by day and by night; protects them from predators; carries the newborn; searches for strays, and cares well for sheep that are injured. Sheep need care and attention in order to thrive. In a spiritual sense, it is the same with people. Without good spiritual care and leadership, people suffer. They become vulnerable and stray morally—just as the “sheep that have no shepherd” scatter. However, Jehovah lovingly provides for the needs of his people.
The 34th chapter of Ezekiel is a prophecy. Prophecies typically are a statement of intent on the part of God — an expression of his judgments to come in connection with a significant accomplishment in the outworking of his purpose.
While the prophecy of Ezekiel is primarily addressed to “Israel,” in reality it is directed to Christians. And more specifically, in the 34th chapter of Ezekiel God speaks directly to those who are shepherds over his sheep at a specific point in time.
Furthermore, that point in time — the occasion when God’s words become reality — is when Jesus returns and becomes the shepherd of God’s lost sheep, during the “days of clouds and thick gloom.” (vs 12)
We know this to be true since Jesus is called the “son of David” — being an heir of the throne that God originally covenanted with the literal shepherd, David. Ezekiel 34:23-24 states: “I will raise up one shepherd over them, my servant David, and he will feed them. He himself will feed them and become their shepherd. And I, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain among them. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”
But who might these shepherds correspond to in reality? The Watchtower’s Daily Text and the article upon which it is based certainly implies that the shepherds are the elders who oversee the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And that is a sensible. However, you might be surprised, even shocked, to know that the Watchtower does not teach that. Well, that is only partially true. They do and they don’t. Actually, they retain two totally different interpretations that they use to suit their purpose.
Consider what the September 15th, 1988, Watchtower has to say in the article entitled: “They Will Have to Know that I Am Jehovah”:
In a message to Ezekiel after Jerusalem’s fall, Jehovah condemned profaners of His holy name, the governmental “shepherds of Israel.” How well those words fit the rulers of Christendom! (Read Ezekiel 34:1-6.) Unlike the Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, Christendom’s political rulers fatten themselves materially off the “sheep.” But as God delivered his sheep by stripping selfish shepherds of rulership when Judah was desolated, so he will again deliver his sheep by depriving Christendom’s rulers of their authority during the “great tribulation.”
Going back to the publication of the book entitled The Nations Shall Know that I Am Jehovah (1971) Bethel has taught that the shepherds of Jehovah’s sheep are the rulers of Christendom — specifically, the political rulers, which the Watchtower dubs “governmental shepherds.”
The reason Fred Franz (Bethel’s former chief interpreter of prophecy) felt compelled to fabricate the absurd notion that Jehovah entrusted his precious sheep to the care of the political tyrants of this world is for the obvious reason that Jehovah condemns his shepherds for not properly caring for his sheep. Not only that, the prophecy reveals that God intends to relieve such shepherds of their duty to oversee his sheep and appoint “David” to regather all his scattered sheep.
Because Franz was most intent on fortifying the 1914 myth, he was obviously compelled to concoct an interpretation that the appointment of “David” occurred in 1914 and the lost sheep have since come under his care by being shepherded into the Watchtower’s holding pen. And because the prophecy goes on to say that Jehovah will cause the injurious wild beasts to stop preying upon his sheep, the Watchtower has been obliged to peddle the blasphemous notion that Jehovah’s Witnesses reside in a predator-free spiritual paradise.
In reality, Jesus did not assume the Kingdom in 1914. His coming is in the future; albeit, in the immediate future. His coming will be marked most notably by nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and all the rest.
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses are absolutely convinced that the sign of Christ’s presence is old news, and the elders appointed by Bethel will absolutely crush any of Jehovah’s Witnesses who doubt the 1914 line, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses are due to be stumbled, scattered and lost to the wilderness, when the Watchtower’s whitewashed wall comes crashing down. And the elders, the shepherds whom God has appointed, will be powerless to recover Jehovah’s lost sheep. This is to occur in the immediate days ahead, during the days of clouds and thick gloom.
If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, why not ask an elder in your congregation why the Watchtower has two separate interpretations of the 34th chapter of Ezekiel? Perhaps ask them why God would expect tyrants like Hitler, for example, to care for and feed his sheep? Or if you are especially bold and really want to shake them up, why not write to Bethel and ask them to explain the contradiction? Of course, they will not. What they will do is forward your letter to your own elders to have them counsel you. But that might be the best way to get them to think. Time is short.