“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.” Zech 11:17
I am sure you have heard of the talent show called, American Idol found on the television over the years. What a well-named show since it promotes self-worship to the extreme! This particular show takes its’ traveling circus on the road with its judges and their people to conduct auditions in towns and cities around the U.S. and is promoted around the world. People, young and old, throng to area convention centers and arenas sometimes lining up for miles to wait for hours for a moment to showcase their talent all with the hopes to be picked as the one, “The Idol” of the season. I would add, that crown lasts only until the following season when a new idol will be chosen and hoisted above the previous forgotten idol.
Sadly, as goes the world, so it seems in the church, which is growing fonder and fonder of the world that we are commanded not to love. Our churches are emulating these same worldly methods in their choices of leadership; the music and worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, Deacons, Elders, and Pastors, resulting in the same outcome: an idol in the church. In this end time, more and more, we are seeing church Deacons sitting like judges on an American Idol panel. They run post grads, D.D.’s and BTh’s from various Bible schools past them to weed through and choose the most suitable candidates. They must be young, relevant, fresh and vibrant with the right look. They must have a good voice, the right diploma from the right school with letters, and making sure that they are not, “too preachy” and, of course, “don’t preach the blood”, because that is gory… Incidentally, I have known a panel of judges choose in such a deceitful manner. When they found the “one” they wanted, they were witnessed manipulating the congregation and then unscripturally and mercilessly firing their old fashioned Bible believing Pastor out the door without nearly a moments’ notice. I am sure this was not an isolated incident. To our shame! In this time, very rarely do we find the Holy Spirit doing the promoting of the overseer using Bible criteria. The outcome of such unscriptural methods is predictable, and, as I said, instead of the congregation coming to meet with Jesus, our God, the Pastor has become the idol of the church.
Idol Shepherds Are Not True Shepherds
There is supposed to be one who is to lead the flock, one called the Shepherd. John 10 talks about the Good Shepherd and that the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. However, the Bible has much to say about false shepherds as well. They are also known as hirelings. In John 10, Jesus continues by contrasting Himself with the hireling in v.12-13, saying,
“But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth, and the wolf catches them and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”
The definition of “hireling” as found in Webster’s 1828 dictionary says, “a mercenary; employed for money…”. If you read our scripture passage in Zechariah too quickly you just might miss it! The word is, “idol”. This is very interesting because if this was read orally; we may have misunderstood it to say, “idle”, meaning, lazy or at rest. No, in this context “idol” means, as Strong’s offers, the Hebrew word, “eliyl” (pronounced, “el-eel” ); “good for nothing; vain; specifically an idol – no value; thing of nought.”; in context, the 1828 Webster’s dictionary definition says an idol is, “a person loved and honoured to adoration.” So, what we have here is very close to what we see many of these so-called Bible schools churning out today: many sharp looking and fast talking mercenaries who have become idols, gaining the worship of the congregation under the auspices of worshipping God.
The Flock That Follows After The Man and Not After The Word!
Sadly, there are many Bible schools that are graduating candidates armed with an Alexandrian education. Ancient Alexandria was the city in Egypt where the corrupted manuscripts, such as the Textus Vaticanus and the Textus Sinaiticus, were originally popularized and later resurrected and translated into alternative English versions such as the ESV and NIV, et al. Corruption breeds corruption and these versions have deceived many well meaning church goers today. Also, many candidates emerged with the intellectualism of T.U.L.I.P. doctrine, or Augustinianism, more commonly known as Calvinism. Furthermore, many are coming out of their Bible schools with no biblical understanding of sound music and the adverse effect of the world’s music as a language on the body of Christ. Of course, there is much more, such as psychology in the church, humanism, positivism, and the list goes on. Yes, I am standing on the wall shouting out to all of you Independent Baptist Churches! Watch out! Beware! Worldly philosophies such as these are a minefield of dangers that will at very least spiritually maim your church and is very capable of killing it stone dead. (Cf. James 1:14-15). The problem I can see from my vantage point is a lack of love for the scriptures, because many are reading the wrong words when they are reading at all. What is that old adage? “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book!” Your Heavenly Father wants a closer relationship with you individually through His Word and prayer, not some facsimile of His Word, but the pure Word.
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Psm. 12:6-7
“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” Psm. 119:160
We must trust what God promised just as Daniel trusted while he was reading his scrolls, that His Word is preserved to all generations. A plethora of versions is not acceptable as God’s Word. He said that even one jot or tittle shall not pass away; not one little Hebrew punctuation mark shall be removed! (Matt 5:18) Consider the verse in Zechariah 13:6b – the King James Bible says, “…What are these wounds in thine hands?” The ESV, for instance, says, “What are these wounds on your back”. Yet another version says, “What are these wounds on your chest “. Three versions. Three distinctly different anatomical places. How is that not confusing? For, what does God’s Word say in I Cor. 14:33? “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” You see, many of these well meaning students are graduating with an Alexandrian education and carrying out much baggage because they are not founded in God’s Word. Sadly, the congregation that voted these candidates in have placed themselves in the same danger as the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai all those years ago, having placed an idol with a dull sword in the pulpit.
An Idol In The Pulpit
So, what many churches are left with is an idol as a shepherd. I submit to you that an idol as a shepherd is no shepherd at all, but, a hireling. Sadly, the church has voted in wolves instead of men; wolves voted in by the people who have itching ears. I tell you: Maranatha, friends! The time is at hand and Jesus is coming at any time now because a sign is given unto you today, found in II Tim 4:3-4, saying,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
People no longer want to hear the truth. People do not want to hear sound doctrine and through their abandonment of God’s Word will be left no other recourse but to follow after the man. Webster’s definition of an idol is correct in this context, “a person loved and honoured to adoration.”
So, the sum of it begs some questions, what do you think our Lord and Saviour sitting at God’s right hand thinks about all of this? Our churches are breaking command after command wanting to place an idol in place of God. Go to the Old Testament account of the Israelites first king, Saul. A good looking man that stood head and shoulders above anyone else and he seemed to love the Lord! But, the Israelites already had a King and not just a king; THE KING OF KINGS! But, they wanted a mere man king to rule over them just like all the nations round about. What we are witnessing is the history of idolatry being replayed to us right from the foot of Mount Sinai here in our own time using our own golden calves. We are doomed to repeat it, my friends, if we will not heed God’s Word. We must ask, did we test all the Spirits before asking this pastor to stand before us? Does he use God’s words? Could he be there just there to fill his belly? Will he preach a different gospel than the one we have been taught and know to be truth as exhorted by Paul to the church in Galatia?
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:8
“But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.” Zech 7:11
Let it not be our testimony that we would walk after the lusts of man. Let us turn back to God’s Bible and to Him in fervent prayer! Let us recognize men in the pulpit wielding God’s Word with strength and power. He promised to preserve His words and to hear from on high, but there has to be some men to stand up and some tough decisions made. May God help us. ~R.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15
© 2012; 2018 Remi Fernhout