"Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!" Isaiah 30:1-2
My family recently watched the movie Jeremiah and once again it struck me how much the American "church" is like Israel at that time; people seeking prosperity, active in religious works...and very far away from the heart of God. A people being prepared to go into captivity, and yet totally oblivious as they assume themselves to be under the covering of God's blessings.
"Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." Jeremiah 2:11-13
God cites Israel for being wrong in two areas: forsaking God and trusting in idols. The two always go hand in hand because we cannot serve two masters. If one forsakes God, it is because one is pursuing an idol. The text in Isaiah 30:1 calls this idolatry "adding sin to sin." It is bad enough to rebel against God, but this is worsened when we put others in a place that only He should have in our lives.
Since Israel was already spiritually in Babylon (symbolic of false religion), they were going to be taken physically into Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah warned Israel about what was to come, but instead of repenting and seeking God's face, they sought to employ the assistance of Egypt (symbolic of the world) to protect them from God's judgment.
This is exactly what is going on in the churchworld today. Many have believed a lie about man being one's "spiritual covering" and as a result have been blinded by Babylon the Great. Yet as God begins to judge this harlot for her abominations, what will people do? Seeking any other covering outside of the Spirit of God leaves you with only two options: Babylon or Egypt.
Babylon, Egypt, or Zion?
"He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." John 7:18
Some might say, "I have not forsaken the Lord. I am under the covering of an anointed man of God." Yet, any man who allows you to place them in a position that only God should have in our lives is bringing you into idolatry. When men call you into submission to their name, their title, their position, their personality, or their authority...that is witchcraft (Acts 5:36, 8:9-10, 13:6-8, 16:16-18)! When you submit to such, you have become bewitched (Galatians 3:1; II Peter 2:18).
"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." Matthew 23:9
How is it that many today are referring to men as their spiritual "father" or "daddy". This is perversion! If the head of every man is Christ, then for a man to make another man his "head" makes him an spiritual sodomite. He is no longer a man operating under the headship of Christ, but has become a castrated eunuch appended to the body of another man. This is not of the Lord and only engenders to bondage, which can go by many names, i.e. Dominionism, G12, Shepherding, the Apostolic movement, etc.
There is authority given to elders in God's church which must be respected and honored. However the purpose of that authority is not to have men in submission to themselves, but to feed and mature others by their Godly example so that the believers in turn also become ministers of the Gospel. The Biblical pattern for proper leadership in the church is seen in John 13:3-15 as Jesus washes the feet of His disciples.
"So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." John 13:12-15
In this text, it is Jesus who is leading and the disciples who are submitting to that leadership. This is the picture of what leadership and submission is in God's Kingdom. The greatest is he who is a servant of all. This is directly opposed to the picture of leadership in the world. As one brother recently put it:
Kingdom submission = Allowing your leaders to serve youThe assertion that one must be under the authority of another man in order to be acceptable to God is a denial of Jesus Christ Himself, for through Him we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18).
Worldly submission = Requiring you to serve your leaders
Kingdom honor = Holding leaders in high enough regard to emulate
Worldly honor = Placing leaders on a pedestal above other
Whereas there was enmity between us and God, now there is reconciliation. Whereas we were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God; now we are joint-heirs with Christ. Whereas we were far off from God, now we can draw nigh unto Him. Whereas we were rejected, now we are accepted in the Beloved. Whereas only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, now we can boldly approach the throne of grace. Whereas we were slaves, we are now sons. This is what it means to dwell in Zion, when He has turned back our captivity (Psalm 14:7, 53:6, 74:2, 125:1, 132:13; Isaiah 2:3)!
Can you not see that the blood of Jesus Christ makes us one with God whereby He calls us into personal communion unto Himself? Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:15). To claim that there is any other necessary intermediary is to deny the very power of God and make of Him a liar.
Who then - when able to be reconciled with God - would desire to instead to have a man serve as his "spiritual covering"? Only those who Isaiah called above "rebellious children".
Let God Not Speak With Us
"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34
From the beginning, God has desired to have direct fellowship with man; to speak with him face-to-face in intimate communion, but sin stood in the way. From the least to the greatest, the promise of the new covenant is that we may all know God personally. Yet, many draw back because they do not want to be accountable or responsible before God. This has been the case with God's people throughout time.
When being delivered from the slavery of Egypt, the people often cried to return back to this bondage because they still had the Egyptian mindset. They lusted after the luxuries of Egypt, the wealth of Egypt, the food of Egypt. They desired all of the ways in which the Egyptian lifestyle pampered the flesh. In today's terminology, they were worldly (I John 2:16).
Because they still desired the acceptance and approval of the world, their hearts were far from God. Therefore they did not want to stand individually before God...even though this was God's desire!
"And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was." Exodus 20:18-21
God desired to have all the people come near and learn of Him. He wanted to commune with them all the way He had with Moses, but the people were afraid. Why were the people afraid and Moses was not? Because they were not yet through with sin; there were things they wanted more than they wanted God. As a result, they remained far from God because they were not ready to give up the sin that was in their hearts.
This is the same reason why people sit up under preachers today, drinking down every word they say without personal study or conviction by the Holy Spirit. It is not because of some false sense of authority in not touching God's anointed. They chose a Moses to go before them because they are not prepared for God to deal with their sin. By hiding behind man, they feel as if they do not have to be accountable before God. They can hold on to their idols, all while pretending to serve God through obedience to the "man of God". They erect a hierarchy of leadership to distance themselves from God because they have rejected the authority of the Lord.
This is exactly the scenario described when Israel seeks to have a king appointed over them.
"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. I Samuel 8:4-20
God understood that their desire for a man to be set as a "judge" reflected their rejection of Him. They had forsaken God and gone after idols because they did not want the Lord to reign over them.
How many 'Christians' today operate under this same mindset? Professing Christ is not about accomplishing His will for their lives, but using Him to accomplish their own wills. God exists so that I can get a nice house, nice car, nice job, have a comfortable life... As a result, you get many a "mega-ministry" which preaches a Gospel to satisfy just that lust. God simply becomes the means to an end of satisfying your own carnal lusts.
Even when God warns them about the results of submitting to a man in place of God, they still refuse to listen. God's description sounds a lot like the present-day church, setting up hierarchies of "authority" and unrighteously demanding a tenth of the people's money to sustain their own personal "kingdoms".
Wells Without Water
Remember in Jeremiah Chapter 2 referenced above, God says that the people have forsaken the fountain of "living waters" to pursue "broken cisterns" which can hold no water. Peter also addressed these "wells without water" when he describes the false prophets trying to deceive God's people.
"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." II Peter 2:17-19
This living water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, God gives us each believer His Holy Spirit to accomplish what He has been after from the beginning: a people who are sincere before Him and led by Him. This does not remove the benefits of fellowship or church leadership, but it gives each Christian the one covering God says we must have, His Spirit. When Scripture says that this anointing means we have no need that any man should teach us, it is not saying that there is no role for teachers in the Body of Christ. It is saying that the Holy Spirit is the primary spiritual authority for each and every believer.
Even in Jesus' day, there were those trying to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit by commanding that men must submit to other men in order to be in obedience to God. Jesus rebuked these assertions.
"And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part." Mark 9:38-20
These men felt that being close to Jesus meant they had "arrived". They were the mighty men of God whom others needed to follow. They were 'first' and therefore should be exalted over others coming into the faith after them (Matthew 20:1-16). Yet it meant nothing to Jesus that this man was not under the authority of His disciples or submitting to them. If this "spiritual covering" concept many are spewing is true, then why didn't Jesus take this lack of "covering" to indicate that these men were renegades outside of the faith?
The sign-off on us belonging to God is not that we have the approval or "covering" of men, but that we are empowered by God's Spirit to do and proclaim the works of God. Those who are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are already joined to the Body of Christ by that one and same Spirit. The Spirit unites this one Body under the One head: Jesus Christ. HE alone is the head of the church and He does as He chooses. When Paul describes his calling from the Lord, he says:
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." Galatians 1:15-17
What was the first thing Paul did when he was called by God? Did he submit himself to the other Apostles to see if they confirmed he was hearing from the Lord? Did he seek the covering of the church elders to see if they thought he was ready for this calling? No. He "immediately" conferred not with flesh and blood.
Paul was called, spiritually equipped, and sent without having any input from another man. In fact, He spent three years under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit before he even went to fellowship with the other apostles. There was no requirement that he be "birthed" from another apostle's ministry or that he get their approval prior to preaching. He was ordained by God alone and presented to the saints as an existing member of the Body, ready to obey God's commands.
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." Psalm 137:1
Everything that is "covered" by flesh will fail; don't put your trust in it. Even now God is pulling back these covers to expose the wickedness and idolatry of Babylon. As the idols of man are cast down, I urge you to remember Zion.
Don't try to justify Babylon nor make excuses for it, and don't turn to the world for deliverance. Turn from every wicked way and seek God alone, for our redemption draws nigh.
His call is the same to us today as it was then, "Come out of her my people so that you will not be a partaker of her plagues." Why will you perish? The judgment is certain, for it is written. God's hand will not be stayed, but remains outstretched still. Seek the Lord while He may be found.
"Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon." Zechariah 2:7