Church Leadership Comes With Great Responsibility

(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)

Ezekiel 14-15

ChurchLeadership-400x300In 14-15 Ezekiel is writing to the first wave of people who were taken into exile to Babylon from Israel. The main exile had not happened yet, so at this point Ezekiel is focusing on the theme of judgment in a similar way as Jeremiah, since Jerusalem had not fallen yet. Ezekiel now speaks to these people, mentioning the elders of the people first (verse 1). One thing is for certain; the Jews had not learned anything from what was going on during Jeremiah’s time, where the same problem was happening. They still tried to synchronize idol worship with God.

In 14:2-5 God says

“Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’”

The men that God is talking about are the elders who sat down in front of Ezekiel. These were the leaders of the Jews who were in exile. They were responsible for carrying on the same sins that led the Jews into exile in the first place. In 15:7 God says, “I will set my face against them. Although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them. And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the Lord.” They escaped the fire of the first exile, but they will be affected by the next thing that the Lord is about to do. In the history of Israel, men like this tended to seek a prophet’s advice for their own ends. If it didn’t coincide with their personal desires then the prophet was hated. This is what was seen in Jeremiah’s case. Here God deals with the leaders rather sternly.

So what can we take from this? Leadership is very important among God’s people.

Whenever those who lead the flock of God stray away from who God is they tend to influence others to stray as well. This is why it is important for all of the church to know the Bible and the Truth for themselves so that we can all together judge whether what is being spoken in the church is true or not, and whether or not a leader is leading in the right direction. Important to notice is that not just the elders who are mentioned in verse one were judged. Responsibility falls on each individual who chooses to sin. However, the leader of God’s people is held to a higher standard. James 3 talks about how those who are teachers are held to a higher standard because they are responsible for embodying the truth of God to those they teach. The standard is held high, and its held high for a reason. We as the church should stand behind those who pastor and teach us, praying for them and encouraging them. We should submit to them insomuch as they embody who God is. Satan certainly spends much of his time attacking them because they are integral parts of the church. Paul spent much of his time opposing false apostles and false teachers. These leaders pose a huge threat to the church, especially to those who are not well rooted in the truth. They seduce the weak and lead them away to cultish ways.

This is also why discipleship is important in the church: when someone gets saved they need to be led in the right direction, taught, and built up. But the pastor who fears God is meant to lead the battle charge against the darkness, and in battle a strategic tactic is to cripple or take out the leader.

I say we spend time praying for our leaders, praying for their role in the church. We as the church need to ask God to use them in great ways. There has never been a need for strong men of God to lead the battle charge as there is right now.

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