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Identifying Wolves—Past and Present

Commentary by Roger Oakland
Understand The Times International: Roger Oakland Ministries

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Both Old Testament and New Testament writers warned ravenous wolves sneaking into flocks led by false shepherds and cleverly harming the unprotected sheep. This is a fact of life throughout history. Perhaps Jude, the half-brother of Jesus said it best:

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [1]

These “certain men” Jude was writing about were wolves who had an agenda to fleece and devour the flock. Obviously, this was happening in the church that had been planted shortly following the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Very little time had passed before they had “crept in.”

But nothing is new under the sun. Paul predicted this would happen as stated in the book of Acts:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [2]

The apostasy in the book of Jude was certainly a fulfillment of Paul’s prediction. However, delving back into an earlier time, it is apparent that the forefathers of Paul and Jude were plagued by similar deceptive plans to dupe those who were called sheep. It would take pages and pages to exhaust the references found in the books of the major and minor prophets in the Bible with regard to those who were neglecting, abusing, and leading innocent sheep to the slaughter. As one example, we look to a plea of Jeremiah found in the 23rd chapter. He proclaimed:

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. [3]

Ezekiel – A Troubled Prophet

Ezekiel was a prophet called by God to warn the false teachers and leaders behaving as wolves and devouring the sheep. His words were supernaturally placed in his mouth as he spoke to these leaders who had gone astray. For example, he proclaimed:

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. [4]

For Ezekiel there was no alternative. He was compelled to follow the instructions from the Lord. The Scriptures reveal the pattern – there was a warning about sin, then a warning about the immediate judgement, and then a warning about a judgment that would come in the future. Those he was trying to warn ignored the warnings and continued down the pathway of being deceived and deceiving others. Very seldom, if ever, did the leaders take heed.

Ezekiel Chapter 8

One of the areas of the book of Ezekiel that zeros in on exposing the sins of the leaders of Israel is chapter 8. The entire chapter provides insight. In short, Ezekiel, through a supernatural encounter with an angelic being, helps us to understand what is happening to the church today. Once more, history is repeating itself and the sheep are being led to slaughter by those who are proud, arrogant, and led by Satan.  

The first 12 verses of the chapter lay the groundwork. Ezekiel describes a vision he had before the wall was opened so that he could see inside. Three times in this portion of Scripture he makes reference to the idol of jealousy. Ezekiel was pointing out one of the most significant things that happens in the the hierarchy of power that naturally occurs in organized religion. Obviously, when you are dealing with human beings who are full of pride and jealousy, this has to be a major factor.

If you do not agree with me, take a moment and think about this? While religious men may give the appearance they are on board together for a common cause, is this really always so? Think of religious contests such as choosing the Pope in Rome? Think of the Southern Baptist or the Assemblies of God? What about non-denominational groups like fellowships of churches such as Calvary Chapel? Does anyone really think that all is well?

The Hole in the Wall

While gazing at the idol of jealousy was illuminating, Ezekiel had seen nothing yet to what was ahead. God supernaturally pulled back the curtains so that he could see through the wall to the temple area. These were things he saw the leaders of Israel doing in secret. Of course, they were no secret to God. As we read:

So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth. [5]

While the things he saw would be shocking enough, it was only a preview of what was to come. The rest of the chapter is very descriptive and shows the level of depravity that the spiritual leaders had stooped to. Many were weeping for Tamuz, a direct reference to worshipping the goddess of fertility associated with Babylonianism and also by the Jesuit Order. Others were bowing down to the sun. Without going into great detail, these spiritual leaders had defiled God’s holy place and were following Satan. Of course, they were oblivious to what they were doing.

A Modern-Day Parallel

As Solomon expounded clearly, there is nothing new under the sun. Whatever has happened before can and will happen again (Ecclesiastes 1: 9-11). Could it be that what Ezekiel saw in his vision is a pattern that repeats, even today?

How about in Calvary Chapel? How about in the Church Growth Movement? The title of this commentary is “Identifying Wolves - Past and Present” I have been doing a series to expose some of the inner workings of the apostasy trends and why and how things have developed as they have. While many remain silent and say nothing, others have responded in accord. Others who have smelled a rat are making decisions to find a way out of the apostasy trap.

When men follow men and seek after power, prestige, and property, anything is possible. Soon the sheep are forgotten for the sake of gain. Then the Scriptures are forgotten for methods that have the potential to draw a crowd and build personal kingdoms. Ecumenical madness replaces scriptural purity. Finally, postmodernism triumphs at the expense of truth. This is one way that wolves infiltrate the flock, similar as in ancient days— manifested differently but still having the same Babylonian roots?

If we could peer through the wall today, like Ezekiel who peered through the wall of the temple, and see those things held in secret, what would we see? As I earlier said, there is nothing new under the sun. God exposed the wolves in sheep’s clothing in Ezekiel’s day, and He will do the same thing today.




[1] Jude 1 verse 4

[2] Acts 20: 29-30

[3] Jeremiah 23: 1-2

[4] Ezekiel 3: 17-18

[5] Ezekiel 8: 9-12


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