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26th May 2007

"Woe to Those at Ease in Zion..."

Joseph Herrin (6-17-2000)

http://heart4god.ws/id95.htm

 

THEME: The clergy/laity system is a corrupt, unscriptural system. It was created to meet the fleshly desires of both groups, clergy and laity. The clergy, like the Pharisees, love the place of honor that comes from elevating themselves above the mass of professing Christians. The laity, like the children of Israel at Mt. Horeb in the wilderness, do not want the rigors of holiness and true discipleship. They don’t want to be personally responsible to God, preferring to be at ease, so they allow themselves to be categorized to a sub-class of Christians whose main responsibility is faithful attendance upon the superior class called clergy. They have found it easier to be the servants of men than the disciples of God.

 

Amos 6:1

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion...

 

WOE

An exclamation of sorrow, grief, misery.

 

EASE

(ez) (sha'anan, shal'anan, chiefly, "at ease"): Used 19 times in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament... in an ethical sense, indicating carelessness or indifference with reference to one's moral or religious interests...

(from International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft)

 

ZION

Zion, the highest of the seven hills upon which Jerusalem was built. A type of the church of Yahshua the Messiah.

 

Hebrews 12:22-23

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven... (NAS)

 

I share these references and scriptures at the beginning of this article to make it clear who is being referred to and what they are being warned against. As the scripture in Hebrews so clearly reveals, Zion refers to “the general assembly and church of the first-born.” That is you and I, if you are a believer in the Lord Yahshua the Messiah. Woe, sorrow, grief, misery, is proclaimed to you and I if we are at ease, that is, if we are careless or indifferent regarding our citizenship in this place.

 

I have previously written and posted the article “Houses of Ill Repute” to proclaim God’s displeasure with the Christian Religious System as it stands today. We are told that “Judgment begins at the house of God” and even as Yahshua cleansed the temple at His first appearance, He will do so once again as He returns a second time. The temple in this case is built of living stones, you and I.

 

Even as it could be said “Woe!” to those who met the judgment of Christ at His first appearing; they were driven out of the temple with a whip, and some 40 years later this very temple and the Jewish Religious System it represented was destroyed so that not one stone remained upon another, even so this judgment will be repeated and what has become a den of thieves will once more become a house of prayer.

 

The main attraction to remain in this unscriptural role is that it affords a sense of ease and a lessening of the demands of discipleship. The common understanding of clergy and laity is that the clergy are people who have devoted their whole lives to God and to serving Him in whatever capacity they are gifted and called in. The main focus of the minister’s efforts correlate to his particular gifting and calling.

 

If the minister has the call of a pastor, he will be focused on shepherding, nurturing, feeding, and tending to the flock of God entrusted to him. In such a case the laity often become the focus of all ministry in the body. Rather than ministering according to their own callings and giftings they are viewed as subjects to be ministered unto. These often receive years and years of nurturing by their shepherd, but are never brought to maturity nor released into service themselves. They are perpetual children under the care of a benevolent minster who serves as their spiritual father.

 

If the minister has the calling of a teacher then the laity is often viewed as his students attending his school. Week after week, sometimes two or three times on Sundays, as well as Wednesday nights, and on other occasions, they sit under this teacher’s tutelage and are instructed. However, by being viewed as laity, they often remain as students. They are seldom given opportunities to put into practice what they are learning. They are citizens of the world who are majoring in Christian understanding, with a distant minor in actually learning what it is to walk out their own relationship to the Father. Similar to college students, they are given lectures week after week, but there are usually few opportunities to apply what they have learned, except through admonitions to tithe and to be faithful to attend all classes.

 

If the minister has the calling of an evangelist then the laity either becomes the focus of his evangelistic efforts, or they become extensions of his own calling as he encourages them to evangelize the community they are in. In such a case the body is at least active, sometimes very active, in attempts to reach the lost, but many of the members are operating in callings and giftings that are not their own. Although all saints are told to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you...” (I Peter 3:15), not all saints have the gift or calling of an evangelist. They are often pressed and manipulated into roles and activities that are foreign to their personality or equipping.

 

These three callings seem to be the most predominant among those referred to as clergy. There are also those who have the calling of the prophet or apostle. If these too try to function while maintaining the false division of clergy and laity, similar aberrations will be manifested among those to whom they minister.

 

In all of these situations the minister’s calling becomes the focal point of the body. Those who like teaching will gravitate to the teachers. Those who want the comfort and sense of belonging afforded by a pastor will be attracted to these ministers. Those who desire the appearance of great activity, or who have evangelistic hearts themselves, will often seek out groups headed by ministers who are evangelists.

 

In everyone of these situations, the minister is the one who does most of the work. The body often becomes an extension of the minister and expands the scope of the minister’s work. The minister becomes the choreographer of the life of the church. He recruits different ones to fill slots, or, in larger churches and certain denominations, committees may be formed to handle the work of recruiting and enrolling people in what is deemed to be the mission of that particular fellowship.

 

What is lacking in this is the maturity that can come to the saints only through hearing from God personally and responding in obedience to His leading. The intimacy of knowing God, hearing His voice, communicating with Him, and responding to His summons in obedience is absent. The laity is trained to be man-led rather than Spirit-led.

 

This is a much more comfortable pattern for many saints, than discipleship. It is easier to listen to the pastor and respond to his direction than it is to develop a hearing ear before God and become responsible for one’s own life and relationship to God. Many pastors don’t require anything of those they minister to, other than to attend and pay tithes. This is low-impact Christianity at its peak. The Christian can be assured of an eternity in heaven and live his life with little consideration of what the Lordship of Christ actually entails. It is having your cake and eating it, too. Friendship with the world is not much of an obstacle. All one is really asked to give up is a few hours of his time and some money, and according to all statistics there are few who opt for this low requirement type of faith that give much of either.

 

However, if the particular pastor at one church teaches greater responsibility before God, and this seems too demanding, or if he exhorts the members to do something they feel uncomfortable in doing, they can simply go from body to body until they find a comfortable match. And sometimes, if the members don’t want to do the leaving, they will ask the minister to leave and they will hire or appoint one who is more to their liking.

 

This option is not available to those who are true disciples and are being led of God’s Spirit. If God asks something of His child that is difficult, a decision is mandated. Either obedience or disobedience must be chosen. However, these tough choices and uncomfortable moments can be wholly avoided by choosing to be ‘laity’ and opting to be led by a clergyman instead of God.

 

When God led the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt, their first destination was Mt. Horeb where they were to meet with God. It is said that God’s presence on the mountain, although clothed in darkness and cloud, was terrifying. The ground quaked, there was lightning and thunder and fire. John Bevere, in a number of his books states that the Israelites chose not to approach God because they knew that he would require holiness of them. They had come out of Egypt, but Egypt was still in them. They therefore entreated Moses to meet with God for them and they would in turn receive God’s instructions through him.

 

Is this not a picture of the clergy/laity system? Believers who are terrified at what a personal relationship to God and true discipleship would cost them, have opted to have a mediator stand between themselves and God. This mediator is the false class called clergy. It is the Pastors, the Priests, the Ministers, the Bishops, etc.. These clergymen are those who are deemed to have dedicated their lives to God and who are satisfied with the requirements of the Lordship of Christ upon them. Let them meet with God and those who are unwilling to make the same commitment can then continue to live much as they please while making a few concessions to the minister who is mediating between themselves and God.

 

This is a totally unscriptural pattern. Paul told Timothy:

 

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ [Yahshua]...

I Timothy 2:5 (NAS)

 

I would like to interject here that I am in no way speaking against the proper functioning of ministers nor am I belittling their calling. There is a genuine place for ministers among the body of Christ. They have a high calling and a clear commission from our Lord. It is not the existence of ministers that is a problem, it is the false way that many of them are perceived within the majority of the body of Christ that embraces the error of the clergy/laity separation. I have discussed the true calling of ministers in the articles mentioned previously.

 

It was Yahshua who gave ministers to the body of Christ, but these ministers were not to replace Yahshua in His role as mediator, they were to point men to Yahshua. The ministers were not to be the ones who did the work of service before God. All saints were called to this. This is made clear in the scripture passage that speaks of Christ giving these ministers to the body.

 

11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NAS)

 

All saints are called to do the work of service and are called to attain to the knowledge of the Son of God, to come to maturity and to the full stature of Yahshua the Messiah. Yes, this is demanding. It means that the saint must focus on this calling and give up his attachments to the world and the pursuit of the things of the world. It calls for loving God with “all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength” (Mark 12:30). It is those who are at ease in Zion who have said, “Let the clergy devote their lives to God. We are content to be laity and live for ourselves. Only we will give lip service to God and we will fulfill the few requirements that seem good to us and which the man of God requires of us.”

 

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion...” Why? Because “God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

 

Yahshua knows those who have pursued Him unrelentingly and without holding back, and He knows those who have chosen the path of ease. This is why He said, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

 

If you would hear God say to you “Well done, good and faithful servant”, then you must do well. Don’t shrink back from God because you are afraid of what His holiness will require of you. Let go of your attachment to the idols of Egypt, then you will be able to approach the Living God. Then you will desire no mediator other than Yahshua the Messiah.

 

38But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Hebrews 10:38-39 (NAS)

 

Father,

When our flesh cries out in terror of the requirements of coming into your presence, may the spirit within us rise up and put the flesh to death. Give us a glimpse of the joy set before us so that we might embrace the way of the cross, the way of discipleship. May we be so enamored of You that all else seems petty and fleeting in comparison. You are the joy set before us. You are the prize we are striving for. You are the object of our faith. May You be glorified as all creation sees your righteous ones passionately pursuing You.

Amen