The “Pastor’s Vision”

Man with binoculars
One of the false concepts that some believers have accepted without question is that they must commit themselves to “the pastor’s vision.”

The concept of “the pastor’s vision” basically teaches that God has revealed a special vision to the pastor for the local church, and congregants must unite around that vision and devote themselves (and their resources) to fulfilling it.

Emotional pleas to serve “the pastor’s vision” are sometimes accompanied by persuasive statements such as, “You won’t reach your full potential until you learn to serve someone else’s vision.” “Serving the pastor’s vision will teach you humility, loyalty, submission, and maturity.” “God will promote you and fulfill your dreams as you serve the pastor’s vision.” “The church will not grow unless we unite under the pastor’s vision.”

Various Scriptures are also quoted to support the concept of the pastor’s vision such as, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18), and “Write the vision, and make it plain” (Habakkuk 2:2). When kept in context, neither of these Scriptures remotely imply that we are spiritually-obligated to devote ourselves to a pastor’s vision.

For example, in Proverbs 29:18, the Hebrew word translated as “vision” is referring to Divine instruction and revelation. The Hebrew word translated as “perish” means to cast off restraint and run wild. If you were to read this passage in the New King James Version, it says, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.” Did you catch that? This verse is not saying that without a pastor’s vision, a local assembly will perish. It’s saying that where there is no Divine instruction or revelation from God (being properly taught, proclaimed, and obeyed), the people will cast off restraint and live however they please. But those who keep the word of God, blessed/happy are they.

Habakkuk 2:2 also has nothing to do with supporting a pastor’s vision. If you begin in chapter 1, you will see that the context of Habakkuk 2:2 is a prophecy against Israel. The Lord told Habakkuk to write down a vision that He was sending the Babylonians to invade Israel and take them captive for rebelling against Him. But this is obviously not what pastors are referring to when they say, “Write the vision and make it plain.” They are quoting Scripture out of context to persuade believers to support their religious agendas.

Do we have to rely on religious leaders to find out what God’s vision is? Not at all. We aren’t under the Old Covenant anymore.

During the Old Covenant, the children of Israel relied on prophets for a vision or word from God (Hebrews 1:1), because at Mount Sinai they forfeited the privilege of hearing from God personally (Exodus 20:18-19). They preferred being led by men than being led by God (1 Samuel 8). They also relied on prophets for a vision or word from God, because most of them didn’t personally walk with God God and have the indwelling Holy Spirit as we do today. They relied on priests and prophets to stand between them and God and tell them what God said.

In the New Covenant, we don’t need to rely on religious leaders for a vision or word from God – because today, God has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2). The Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all believers to lead and guide us into all truth. As Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice” and “they shall all be taught by God.”

God most certainly has a vision for us, but it’s not some secret ‘special revelation’ that He only reveals to pastors. God’s vision has already been revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There is no need to waste time, energy and resources on books and conferences about “vision-casting” or “how to cast a vision for your church.” All we have to do is pray, ask God for wisdom, and study His word to find out what His vision is.

Beware of religious leaders who claim that God gave them a vision for the church, particularly IF their vision contradicts Scripture AND they are asking you to ‘partner’ with them (i.e., give them money). Don’t be so quick to jump on unbiblical religious bandwagons cloaked as “the pastor’s vision” or “God’s vision for this ministry/church,” and invest your time, energy, and money into personal agendas that have nothing to do with the will and word of God. The very same phenomenon happened during the Old Covenant: “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.” (Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13).

Many wolves in sheep’s clothing have crept into the sheepfold with an agenda to make their own name great and fatten their pockets at the expense of unsuspecting souls. Their plan is to globalize their religious empires, not glorify God, edify the saints, and preach the Gospel to the lost. They know that it’s human nature to want to be a part of something greater than yourself, and they play on that desire by using Christianese language like, “God gave me a vision for this ministry/church” in order to appeal to believers and obtain man-power, free labor, and financial support for their religious pyramid schemes.

The only vision that we’re called to be a part of is the vision God laid out for us in Scripture. Yet many Christians have been lured away from God and His word and seduced after the vain imaginations of religious leaders.

This is not to say that elders cannot speak a prophetic word for a local assembly, or that God would never give an elder a dream, a vision, or a specific directive for a local assembly. We are cautioned not to quench the Spirit by despising prophecy. But at the same time, we are also cautioned to “test all things” by examining any alleged prophetic word, dream, vision, or specific directive under the light of God’s word to verify its authenticity.

Any vision that doesn’t line up with the proper context of Scripture is a personal religious agenda from man. Without discernment, the pastor’s “vision” can become a blinder which renders us visionless and places us in subservience to man-made agendas.

Are You A “Dumb Sheep”?

Unfortunately, some professing Christians refer to themselves by this self-deprecating term.

539669_640790589280655_1411711844_n
The “dumb sheep” label doesn’t come from Scripture. It comes from the spiritually-abusive Shepherding Movement of the 1970’s.

The Shepherding Movement (also known as the Discipling Movement) was the failed attempt of religious leaders to promote accountability, submission to authority, and covenant relationships through “personal pastors” who acted as “spiritual coverings.” The goal of the Shepherding movement was to develop mature character and prevent moral failures by making every believer “accountable” to a “pastor” who personally mentored them.

Unsurprisingly, the Shepherding Movement became plagued by controlling religious leaders with a superiority-complex. These religious leaders saw themselves as “the wise shepherds” and their followers as “lowly laymen” who didn’t know their right foot from their left.

Professing Christians were taught that “God calls His people sheep because sheep are dumb. They aren’t the brightest creatures. They’re stupid, rebellious, hardheaded, and defenseless.” As if to imply that God’s people are brainless animals who “need to be corralled by a man of God who knows what’s best for them and can save them from their foolish ways.”

Although the Shepherding Movement was dismantled decades ago, its abusive and demeaning false teachings (including the dumb sheep concept) are alive and well. Some professing Christians continue to put themselves down in an attempt to seem humble (“Oh I’m just a dumb sheep dependent on the Lord!”), and some religious leaders continue to belittle and control their congregants by diminishing their spiritual identity in Christ.

The Shepherd and His Sheep

Throughout Scripture, we see the metaphor of God as our Shepherd and believers as the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34, Matthew 25:31-33, John 10, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:2-4). What we don’t see is God likening us to sheep because we are dumb in the sense of being stupid, dull-witted, unintelligent, and foolish.

The Lord used the metaphor of a Shepherd and His sheep to illustrate His protective nature, guidance, provision, tender care, oversight, and sacrificial love for us. The Lord calls us “sheep” as a term of endearment, not to imply that we are stupid, idiots, aloof, or simpletons.

Aren’t People Called “Dumb?” in Scripture?

The term “dumb” is used in Scripture, however, the ancient Hebrew and Greek terms translated as “dumb” do not mean stupid, dull-witted, unintelligent, or foolish.

The ancient Hebrew and Greek terms translated as “dumb” have a few meanings:

1. To lack the ability to speak (due to a physical disability or demon-possession). For example, in Matthew 9:32-33, Jesus cast a demon out of a man who was deaf and dumb (mute, unable to speak).

2. To be rendered speechless due to astonishment (i.e., “dumbfounded”). For example, in Daniel 10, Daniel was trembling and dumbfounded (rendered speechless due to astonishment) after seeing a heavenly vision.

3. To hold one’s peace by remaining silent. For example, Isaiah 53:7 says that Jesus “. . . was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is dumb [silent] before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”

Nowhere in Scripture does the word “dumb” mean to be stupid, dull-witted, unintelligent, or foolish.

How does God View His Sheep?

The Good Shepherd said: “But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10:2-5)

Jesus has a complimentary view of His sheep. He said that we recognize His voice and come to Him, and that we follow Him because we know His voice. But we will not follow strangers, we run away from them. Does that sound like an unintelligent undiscerning person to you? Is that the behavior of someone who is stupid and foolish? Not at all. Following Jesus and avoiding false shepherds is spiritually-smart and wise. Let’s keep reading. . .

“All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.” (John 10:8)

Refusing to listen to wolves and hirelings shows good judgment and wisdom, not naivete and idiocy (a lack of sound judgment).

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Did Jesus send the apostles out as “dumb sheep” among wolves? No. He sent the apostles out as “wise serpents” (meaning intelligent, careful, and mindful).

How Did The Apostles View God’s Sheep?

“And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.” (Romans 15:14).

Paul didn’t view the saints as incompetent stumbling bumbling dumb sheep. He believed that they were knowledgeable enough to warn each other about the very things he wrote about.

“I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” (Romans 16:19)

Can “dumb sheep” be wise in what is good? No.

“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your assembly in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5)

Paul saw the saints as gifted and knowledgeable. He didn’t view them as spiritually or intellectually incompetent or inadequate. He expected them to be spiritually-competent enough to exercise their spiritual gifts in decency and order (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:6-8).

1 Corinthians 2:16 says that we have “the mind of Christ.” Is the mind of Christ dumb? No.

Believers are expected to be spiritually-smart and mature in understanding, not “dumb sheep.” This is why the saints were sometimes reproved for being carnal and stunted in their spiritual growth (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). The apostles had high expectations for them.

“Brethren, do not be children in your thinking. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)

“He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”(Ephesians 1:8)

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

“. . . for the Holy One has given you His Spirit [anointing], and all of you know the truth. So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies” (1 John2:20-21, 1 John 2:27).

It doesn’t sound like John the apostle saw the saints as dumb sheep either. He saw them as anointed, discerning, and knowledgeable in the truth. He didn’t write to them because he saw them as defenseless, helpless, aloof sheep. According to John, they didn’t even need anyone to teach them the difference between truth and counterfeit, because the anointing [who is the Holy Spirit] already taught them the truth. John wrote them to confirm the truth of the Holy Spirit.

In Conclusion

The cliché about “sticks and stones” isn’t true. Words are harmful, and they can have a deep negative impact on us, especially when coupled with the subversive influence of Scripture-twisting.

In a world full of put-downs, insults, verbal abuse, and demeaning language – especially towards believers, the last thing we need is to be called “dumb sheep” by those who ought to model the grace, loving-kindness, and tender care of the Chief Shepherd.

Frankly, if some religious leaders think that their congregants are stupid and dim-witted, that might be a reflection of their poor leadership and watered down theology.

Although there is a dumbing-down taking place in churchianity today, I don’t believe that God’s people are “dumb sheep.” No. . . we aren’t dumb at all. Like the Jews at Berea, we are “more noble” than that.

And the people of Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (Acts 17:11)

Does Your Pastor Have a Moses-Complex??

Some religious leaders today are having an identity crisis. . . . they have what I call the “Moses-complex.”

identity crisis

Signs that Your Pastor has the Moses-Complex

1. He believes that he has the same spiritual status, rank, authority, and ‘prophetic mantle’ as Moses.

2. He flaunts his supposed ‘authority’ over the congregation and justifies it by saying, “God ordained me to rule over this church just as He ordained Moses to rule over Israel.”

3. He portrays himself as “God’s appointed mouthpiece/prophet to the church” and tries to parallel it with God appointing Moses as a prophet to Israel.

4. He directly states or implies that he is “more anointed” than everyone else and tries to justify his spiritual elitism by quoting the passage of Scripture (out of context) where God took the Spirit upon Moses and anointed 70 elders.

5. He claims that anyone who says anything “negative” or “critical” about him is “putting their mouth on the man of God” and will be punished by God. He tries to justify his immunity from correction by pointing to the Scripture where God struck Miriam with leprosy for speaking against Moses. This scare tactic is meant to frighten people away from holding him accountable to the word of God.

6. He claims that he is the “spiritual covering” of his congregation or followers and tries to justify this claim by saying that, “just as Moses was the spiritual covering of Joshua and the children of Israel, I am the spiritual covering of this church (or ministry).”

7. He is an untouchable “pope” at the top of a religious hierarchy where he isn’t accountable to the congregation. He says that he is only accountable to God and tries to justify his top-down authority structure and lack of accountability to the congregation by pointing to the Old Covenant Moses-model of leadership.

8. He has glorified butlers ‘ministry assistants’ and ‘armor-bearers’ waiting on him hand and foot as if he’s a worldly king or religious celebrity. He tries to rationalize people catering to him and waiting on him hand and foot by saying “Moses delegated authority to leaders who served under him. They learned humility by serving. You can’t have authority without submitting to the authority of the man of God.”

9. He believes that he represents God in your life, “just as Moses represented God before the children of Israel.” In essence, he claims to be the “vicar of Christ” which is blasphemy.

10. He believes that anyone who tries to minister “without his permission” is “usurping his authority’ and trying to take over “his church (or ministry)” “just like Korah usurped Moses’ authority and wanted to take Moses’ position over Israel.” Insecure, paranoid, and controlling leaders twist the story of Korah’s rebellion to protect their position and micromanage all ministerial activities in their religious organization.

obey

11. He believes that when he speaks, it is the equivalent of God speaking — therefore if you don’t listen to him and do what he says, God will punish you and the devil will wreak havoc in your life.  This is all rationalized by a skewed line of reasoning that, “God put His word in Moses’ mouth. Therefore when Moses spoke, it was actually God speaking, and anyone who didn’t listen to Moses was punished and died in the wilderness. Since the pastor is as Moses over the church, when he speaks it is actually God speaking, therefore you must obey the man of God, and if you don’t God will punish you.”

12. He believes that the life and ministry of Moses foreshadowed him and his ministry.

The word “foreshadow” means “to indicate or suggest in advance; to show or represent beforehand by a figure or type.” Foreshadowing (as this very word implies) is when the shadow of an object is thrown before the advancing object itself, in order to present an image of that which is to come. The purpose of foreshadowing is to give a hint or sign of something that will happen later.

In the Old Testament, God used various individuals, objects, and events to foreshadow New Testament events, the body of Christ, and above all Jesus Himself. It can be said that the Old Testament was intended to give God’s people a sneak preview of Jesus Christ and things to come.

One example of foreshadowing is Noah’s ark which pointed to Christ as the Ark of Salvation. Another example of foreshadowing is the Old Covenant Passover lamb which pointed to Christ as the Lamb of God.

Religious leaders who believe that Moses foreshadowed themselves are guilty of blasphemy and idolatry. How so? Because Moses Foreshadowed Jesus Christ.

Moses & Jesus

The Scriptures teach that the life and ministry of Moses foreshadowed Jesus Christ.

In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.

A few verses down in Deuteronomy 18:18-19, God reaffirmed that He would raise up a prophet like Moses: “I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.”

The Scriptures show that God promised to raise up a prophet like Moses. This prophet and His message would be so important that God will personally deal with anyone who rejects Him.

My friends, this prophet is not your local pastor or your favorite Bible teacher who erroneously sees himself as “the 2nd coming of Moses.” It is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a look at the similarities between Moses & Christ 

1. Moses was an Israelite, and according to the flesh, Christ was an Israelite.

2. Satan tried to murder both Moses and Christ while they were infants to prevent the deliverance of God’s people (Exodus 1:15-22; Matthew 2:16-18).

3. Both Moses and Christ were born while the children of Israel suffered under the domination and bondage of Gentile rule (Exodus 1:8-10; Luke 2:1-5).

4. Both Moses and Christ spent their early years in Egypt (Exodus; Matthew 2:13-15).

5. Both Moses and Christ were brought up by individuals who weren’t their biological parents (Exodus 2:9-10; Luke 2:33). Moses was raised by Pharaoh and his daughter, and Christ was raised by Joseph.

6. Both Moses and Christ saw the burdens of their Israelite brethren and had compassion on them (Exodus 2:11; Mark 6:34).

7. Both Moses and Christ sat at a well to rest, and were kind to women by offering them water. Moses watered the flocks of the the daughters of the priest of Midian. And Christ offered living water to the Samaritan woman (Exodus 2:15-17; John 4:5-15). Both went against cultural customs by speaking with women.

8. Both Moses and Christ performed extraordinary miracles to confirm God’s word and prove that they were sent by the Father (Exodus 4:1-9; Exodus 4:28-31; Exodus 14:31; Deuteronomy 34:10-12; Mark 2:10-11; John 3:1-2; John 5:36; John 10:37-38, John 14:10-11; John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22).

9. Both Moses and Christ gave God’s people the law/covenant. The Old law/covenant came through Moses, and the New law/covenant came through Christ (Exodus 24:8; Joshua 23:6; Hebrews 12:24; Hebrews 13:20; Matthew 26:26-28; Romans 8:2; Galatians 6:2).

10. The law/covenant of Moses was inaugurated by the blood of animals, and the law/covenant of Christ was inaugurated by His own blood (Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:11-22).

11. Both Moses and Christ were transfigured on the top of a mountain (Exodus 34:29-35; Matthew 17:1-3).

12. The children of Israel rejected both Moses and Christ and wanted to kill them (Exodus 17:1-4; Mark 15:12-14; John 1:10-11; John 58-59).

13. Both Moses and Christ chose 12 men, then appointed 70 others (Deuteronomy 1:23; Mark 3:14; Numbers 11:15; Luke 10:1).

14. Both Moses and Christ forsook riches and made themselves poor servants, choosing instead to suffer persecution with God’s people as sojourners in this world (2 Corinthians 8:9; Hebrews 11:24-26; Philippians 2:5-8).

17. Moses was a shepherd, and Christ is our Good Shepherd (Exodus 3:1; John 10).

18. Moses was called to deliver God’s people from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:10). Jesus was called to deliver people from slavery to sin and out of spiritual Egypt (Luke 4:18-19; Luke 19:10; John 8:31-36, Acts 7:35).

19. Moses was a ruler of Israel, and Christ is our Ruler (Acts 7:35; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6).

20. During the Old Covenant, the children of Israel were baptized into Moses, and in the New Covenant, believers are baptized into Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-2; Mark 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12).

21. Both Moses and Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 34:28; Matthew 4:1-2).

22. Both Moses and Christ washed their brethren with water to consecrate them for service unto God (Leviticus 8:6; John 13:3-5).

23. Both Moses and Christ interceded for God’s people (Exodus 32:9-14; Deuteronomy 9:25-27; Numbers 14:11-20; Numbers 21:7; Luke 23:34; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

24. Both Moses and Christ are noted in Scripture for their humility (Numbers 12:3; Philippians 2:5-11).

These similarities are not a coincidence. God orchestrated the life and ministry of Moses so that it would foreshadow the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The apostles understood this very well and proclaimed that Jesus is the Prophet who would be like Moses (Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:37).

“Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (John 1:45)

“If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.” (John 5:46)

“For He [Jesus] was faithful to God, who appointed Him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.” (Hebrews 3:2-6)

Where Does The Moses-complex Come From?

The answer can be found in 2 Corinthians 3:14-16: “But their minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 

veil

Some religious leaders today have a Moses-complex because their minds are hardened and their hearts are covered with a veil so that they do not understand the truth. They talk about Christ, but they have not learned from Him — otherwise, He would have lifted the veil from their hearts so that they can understand His word.

Their minds are hardened and their hearts are full of pride, which is why they do not understand the Scriptures about Moses and the Old Covenant which foreshadowed Jesus Christ. In their blindness and arrogance — they believe that the Scriptures about Moses point to themselves, and they use the Old Testament as a footnote to exalt themselves.

It is only when someone humbles themselves and turns to the Lord that He removes the veil which covers their heart. Then the eyes of their understanding will be enlightened, and they will see Jesus Christ, and not themselves, proclaimed throughout the life of Moses and the Old Testament.

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to ME! Yet you refuse to come to me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-49)

Jacob’s Tithe

This article is part 2 of a series about tithing. Questions and comments are welcome.

The Rules of Discussion:

1. Be respectful.

2. Be on-topic.

3. Be clear and concise.

4. Be a Berean: “They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (Acts 17:11)

****************************JACOB’S TITHE******************************

The second mention of tithing in Scripture is in Genesis 28. The background behind this chapter begins in Genesis 27. Please study both chapters for yourself, because I’m only going to provide a summary.

A SUMMARY OF GENESIS 28

This chapter begins with Jacob fleeing for safety from his brother Esau. But before Jacob left, his father Isaac forbid him from marrying a Canaanite woman and sent him to his mother Rebekah’s hometown of Haran to find a wife among his uncle Laban’s daughters. Then Isaac pronounced the blessing of Abraham upon Jacob: “May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings he promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham.” (Genesis 28:3-4)

Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran, and at sundown he set up camp and fell asleep. While he slept, God visited him in a dream and said “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)

Jacob woke up from his dream in awe of God and afraid. So early the next morning he took the stone that he rested his head against, set it up as a memorial pillar and anointed it with oil, and he named that place Bethel which means “house of God.” Then Jacob made this vow: IF God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and IF he will provide me with food and clothing, and IF I return safely to my father’s home, THEN the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 28:20-22)

DOES GENESIS 28 PROVE THAT WE MUST TITHE TODAY?

Some supporters of modern-day “tithing” claim that Jacob’s vow proves that “a tithing commandment existed before the Old Covenant, therefore tithing is an eternal universal principle, and we are still obligated by God to tithe 10% of our income to our local assembly or religious leaders.” However, they ignore the following:

1. Tithing was NOT a part of God’s covenant with Jacob (see Genesis 28:13-15). Anyone who claims that tithing was a part of God’s covenant with Jacob is lying on God, Jacob, and adding to Scripture.

2. God’s promise to bless Jacob was based on faith — not tithing. God had already promised to bless Jacob before he ever vowed to give God a tenth. Anyone who claims that God’s promise to Jacob was based on tithing or that God blessed Jacob “because of his tithing” is in error.

3. God didn’t command Jacob to tithe. Jacob took it upon himself to vow a tenth of everything God gave him. Anyone who claims that God commanded Jacob to tithe is lying.

4. Jacob did not vow out of faith. He vowed out of unbelief/doubt, fear, and manipulation. Anyone who claims that Jacob vowed out of faith in God is confused and deceived.

5. Nowhere in Genesis 28 does it instruct us to titheNor did the prophets, apostles, or Jesus quote Genesis 28 to teach anyone to tithe 10% of their income. Anyone who quotes Genesis 28 to teach you to tithe 10% of your income is in error and mishandling the Scriptures.

6. The Scriptures do not say if Jacob ever kept his vow, nor does the Bible say if he ever gave a tenth to anyone else. Anyone who claims that Jacob was a regular tither or a faithful tither is speculating, building a tithing doctrine on speculation, and adding to Scripture.

SHOULD WE FOLLOW JACOB’S EXAMPLE IN GENESIS 28?

Some supporters of modern-day “tithing” say that we should follow Jacob’s example in Genesis 28 by tithing 10% of our income, but a close examination of the text shows that we should most definitely NOT follow Jacob’s example in Genesis 28.

Jacob was a man of God, but during the beginning of his life he often doubted God and behaved in a manipulative manner. For example, he took advantage of his brother Esau during a weak moment and stole’s Esau’s birthright (see Genesis 27). He aso deceived and manipulated his father by pretending to be Esau in order to steal his brother’s blessing.

In Genesis 28, Jacob once again doubted God and behaved in a manipulative manner, by trying to strike a bargain with God. Jacob said “IF God will” do this for me, and “IF He will” do that for me, and “IF He will” such and such. . .THEN the Lord will certainly be my God.” (Genesis 28:20-22)

Jacob’s vow shows that he did not trust God in this instance. Earlier in the chapter, his father Isaac had already pronounced the blessing of Abraham over his life. Then God appeared to Jacob in a dream and personally pronounced the blessing of Abraham to him. Jacob had every reason to trust God, because not only did he hear the blessing of Abraham pronounced to him by his father and the Lord, but he also saw physical evidence that God keeps His promises because he personally witnessed how God blessed his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac.

There was no reason for Jacob to attempt to bargain with the Lord, because God had already promised to take care of him, and Jacob should have known that the Lord would take care of him just as He took care of Abraham and Isaac. The Lord would not promise to take care of Jacob, then not do it. He is not a man that He should lie. He is True and Faithful. Jacob showed that he really didn’t know the Lord nor trust Him to take care of him when he said “IF God will indeed be with me and protect me and provide for me”. . . . . . IF? There is no such thing as “IF” or “maybe” when God promises us something. All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are YES and AMEN (2 Corinthians 1:20).

God did not tell Jacob that He would only provide for him if he tithed. He told Jacob that He would provide for him – period. If God will provide for birds who neither plant, harvest, nor store food in barns — then how much more will He provide for His people? “If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:30) If the Lord is truly our Shepherd, then we shall not want, lack or need (Psalm 23:1). He will provide for us by virtue of who He is  — the Good Shepherd, the one who leads and guides us into green pastures, the one who leads us to still waters, the one who gives us life more abundantly. He cannot be manipulated like a “heavenly genie in the sky” to provide for us through wheeling and dealing, bargain-making, swearing an oath, or vowing to give Him 10% of our income.

Many people who support modern-day “tithing” are like Jacob. They do not fully trust God to provide for them because He is faithful, loving, and gracious. They believe that they must appease God into providing for them by giving a tenth of their income. They are scared that if they don’t practice modern-day “tithing” that God will not provide for them. The truth of the matter is that God provides for us because of His faithfulness, love, and grace. No one can boast that God provides for them because they give 10% of their income. Yet many people who practice modern-day “tithing” pat themselves on the back when God provides for them, and say that God took care of them because of what they did and not because of who He is. That gives the glory to self instead of God.

When God appeared to Jacob in his dream, He said “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.” (Genesis 28:13). God announced Himself to Jacob as the God of his forefathers, and He was also Jacob’s God. Yet Jacob said that if God did x, y, and z for him — then and only then would he worship the Lord as his God. The Lord had already proclaimed Himself as the True and Living God, the God of Jacob’s forefathers — He had already demonstrated His character and power, so He did not need to prove Himself worthy of being God and worthy of being worshiped. Jacob was irreverent when he said that the Lord would be his God “only IF God did x, y, and z.” The Lord was already His God and worthy to be worshiped.

Lastly, Jacob made a thoughtless rash vow, and Christ forbid us from making vows in Matthew 5:33-37: “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’  But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”

Surely we should not imitate Jacob if he did something that Christ forbid. Human beings have a tendency to get caught up in the moment and use poor judgment by making hasty vows that we can’t keep. Yet we don’t know what tomorrow holds, so we can’t be certain if we can keep a vow. It’s unnecessary for us to make vows, because our word should be sufficient. Whether we say “yes” or “no” that should be exactly what we mean. Swearing oaths and making vows opens us up to the enemy because he can use our vow to trap us, make us look dishonest, unworthy of being trusted, and compromise our witness.

Beware of churches, ministries, and religious leaders who tell you to swear an oath, sign covenants, or vow a tenth or some other portion of your income. They are instructing you to do something which Jesus forbid. In the New Covenant, we do not swear oaths, sign extra-Biblical covenants, and make vows to show our commitment to God or “partner” with a ministry.

Some Believers make the mistake of assuming that if a patriarch of the Faith did something, then God must approve of it and we should do it too. But that is a dangerous assumption to make, because the patriarchs sometimes said and did things that were ungodly, and this is definitely the case with Jacob’s vow in Genesis 28. He did not set a godly example that we should imitate in Genesis 28. He set an example of what NOT to do.

Furthermore, the patriarchs practiced various things that are no longer in effect. For example, they offered up animal sacrifices and kept the law of physical circumcision — both of which we do not practice because animal sacrifices and the law of physical circumcision are no longer in effect in the New Covenant. The animal sacrifices foreshadowed Jesus Christ, who “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26), and the law of physical circumcision foreshadowed spiritual circumcision which is “the cutting away of your sinful nature” (Colossians 2:11). So, just because the patriarchs practiced something does not mean it is an “eternal universal principle” or commandment binding upon New Covenant Believers. We have a totally different Covenant with God than the patriarchs, based on better promises.

God does not want us to imitate the ungodly things that the patriarchs did, nor does He want us to keep obsolete out-dated practices that the patriarchs kept. He does however, want us to imitate the FAITH of the patriarchs by trusting Him, but on a much greater level by being a living sacrifice like Jesus Christ — who is our ultimate example.

Touch Not God’s Anointed

silence

“Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15). Is this Scripture saying that we aren’t allowed to question religious leaders and hold them accountable to God’s word, and if we do, we’re “touching God’s anointed” and something bad will happen to us?

The historical context behind 1 Chronicles 16:22 shows that “Touch not mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm” is part of a thanksgiving song that king David wrote after Israel won a war against the Philistines. Israel’s victory inspired king David to reflect on the many times that God protected Israel from being destroyed by their enemies.

The Hebrew word that David used for “touch” means to physically strike someone. King David was warning anyone who would dare inflict physical violence against Israel and God’s prophets. He wasn’t saying that we aren’t allowed to question religious leaders and hold them accountable to God’s word.

The widespread attitude that no one is allowed to question, correct, or expose religious leaders is false, idolatrous, dangerous, and contrary to the word of God. All throughout Scripture, God sent believers (such as Moses, Nathan, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, and many others) to question, rebuke, and expose religious leaders in Israel.

The New Testament is full of examples of believers publicly rebuking and exposing false prophets, and warning believers to stay away from false teachers (see Matthew 3:7-10; Matthew 23, Matthew 24:11; John 10:1; John 10:12-13; Acts 17:11; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-9; Galatians 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:10-14; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 2:18-23; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude; Revelations 2:2)

The Lord expects us to hold one another accountable and protect each other from spiritual harm by questioning, correcting, and (if need be) exposing religious leaders. We do this out of love for God, His word, and His people.

leader idolatryThe belief that religious leaders are somehow exempt from accountability mainly stems from idolatry (the worship of men), Biblical illiteracy, an inflated view of leadership, and an unbiblical perspective of accountability.

The truth is that no one — no matter one’s title, position, or status — is above being questioned, corrected, and exposed if need be. Everyone is capable of falling into sin and error, therefore everyone is subject to being questioned and held accountable.

In Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus warned us that many false prophets would come in His name saying “I am the Christ” (which means “I am the anointed one”) and lead many people astray. This prophecy is being fulfilled today. Many false shepherds have come in Jesus’ name claiming to be “God’s anointed” when in fact, their fruit speaks to the contrary. This is why it is so important to discern the fruit of religious leaders who hide behind “touch not God’s anointed” to silence believers and dodge accountability (Matthew 7:15-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; Ezekiel 44:23; Malachi 3:18; 1 John 4:1).

The only leaders who don’t want you to question them and hold them accountable are false shepherds. They’re afraid of being exposed and losing followers, because their followers provide them with wealth, power,  position, and a platform to influence the public. Beware of leaders who get defensive and angry when questioned and corrected. A hostile response is a sign of pride and guilt.

Who is “God’s anointed” anyway? Just because someone has a title, wealth, talent, a large following, and performs signs and wonders doesn’t mean they’re anointed. False prophets have all of the above, but they aren’t anointed (Exodus 8:7; Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelations 13:11-15).

The evidence of the anointing is the fruit of the Spirit, which is godly character (Galatians 5:22-23). But if someone consistently produces bad fruit (the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21), there is no reason to believe that person is anointed or of God (1 John 3:4-10). A good tree cannot bear bad fruit.

 photo footwashing.jpgThe greatest example of what it means to be anointed is Jesus Christ. The term Christ/Messiah actually means “The Anointed One.” Jesus alone has the anointing or Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:9). He is more anointed than anyone else by virtue of His Divinity. Yet He didn’t walk around threatening people into silence with “Touch not God’s anointed!” and brag about how anointed He is. He demonstrated His anointing by serving others in humility as a bondservant (Luke 4:16-19; John 13:1-17; Philippians 2:5-8).

Serving others in humility is the mind of Christ. But where is this humility among religious leaders who pull rank and shout “touch not God’s anointed!”? Such leaders refuse to be accountable to God’s people and have a spirit of rebellion, which is witchcraft. They misuse and abuse the Scriptures to intimidate believers into silence and evade correction. 

Religious leaders do not have a “special anointing” that places them on a higher level than other believers, or grants them immunity from being questioned, corrected, and exposed. All believers stand on equal-footing before the Cross of Christ and share in the same anointing or Holy Spirit.

In the kingdoms of men, leaders are not subject to ordinary citizens, and they use their position, influence, wealth, connections and create loopholes in the law to evade accountability. But in the Kingdom of God, we are to be different from the world and mutually accountable to one another and God’s word. There are no big “i’s” and little “you’s” in the body of Christ. A leader who power-postures and speaks and behaves as if he is not one of the sheep is a wolf.

Saints, don’t let anyone attempt to threaten you and muzzle your mouth by twisting Scripture. Empty threats of “God punishing you” for speaking the truth about religious leaders are nothing but vain curses that shall not alight. No weapon formed against you shall prosper.

There is no need to walk on eggshells and be afraid to question religious leaders and call out those who are living in sin and teaching false doctrine. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. The righteous are as bold as a lion, not cowardly lions. In this age of apostasy, we must have a spiritual backbone to speak the truth in love, in season and out of season, whether anyone wants to hear it or not (2 Timothy 4:2-5).