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Idolatry and Human Leadership

Idolatry and Human Leadership

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Published by Malcolm Dobson

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Published by: Malcolm Dobson on Jan 08, 2011
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Idolatry and human Leadership-- Part 1Written by David OrtonSunday, 02 September 2007In this six part series, David Orton addresses the issue of leadership in theChristian church. Has the Kingdom of God mimicked the leadership structure of the world?David says patterning leadership structure after the world, is one of the church's biggesttemptation. To fulfill God's plan, we must instill God's leadership.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and goldthey make idols for themselves to their own destruction" -- Hos 8:4 NIV"A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by theirown authority, and my people love it this way..." -- Jer 5:30-31 NIV
I was sitting in a restaurant with several other pastors. Over lunch, our conversation focussed onthe issue of revival as a particular perspective surfaced. One of them said that, “We can’t sitaround praying for revival - we know what we have to do - all we have to do is - DO IT!”Explaining, this leader continued, “Our job as pastors is to run our own churches and to reach our own neighbourhood.” Apart from a strong flavour of independence, it almost sounded right, and,in our present system, is no doubt, what most pastors are paid to do. But our continuingdiscussion revealed behind these statements, a larger view. Revivals come and go – we have noinfluence over them – and, so all we are meant to do is, to “do church”.Consequently, we shut our eyes to spiritual dynamics and hang onto the wheel driving the churchlike any other human organisation. We might even pray and ask God to bless our plans and programs. But they are our plans and programs, not his – they didn’t come from his Spirit, butfrom our own skill and training. We may even pay lip service to unity and revival, but in practicelost any faith-expectation of the kingdom being advanced through sudden, powerful, or extensiveoutpourings of the Spirit. This is not to say that planning and programs cannot play a subservientrole in facilitating a measure of the grace of God, but they have become the head rather than thetail. We prefer to move ahead in our own strength than to wait for God.
The Church's declaration of independence
How did this attitude enter the church? And, what are its roots? To find the answer we must go back to the day when the Old Testament church cried out, as a declaration of their independencefrom God:
“Give us a king!”
 
Samuel had grown old, his sons abused their privileges, the ark of God’s presence was gone, andthe nation was ravaged by civil and moral anarchy.
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Not only had the glory of God departed,they faced a significant leadership crisis. Threatened by their enemies, the people lusted for aking like the other nations. “So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel ...They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king tolead us, such as all the other nations have.’” (1 Sam.8: 4-5 - NIV).
Human Leadership
The single greatest change, in the life of God’s people, was signalled. Profound and far reachingconsequences were triggered from this event, determining the spiritual direction of Israel for generations. Their rejection of Samuel for a king was, in effect, the rejection of God as king.They were opting, instead, for human leadership. However, rather than giving them victory over their enemies, it opened the doors to an inrush of idolatry and demonic power, ending in their own defeat and captivity.
Foreshadowed by the Old Testament Church
In this chapter we will uncover the significance, for today’s church, of what was, in reality,Israel’s declaration of independence. As a “type”
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, it holds lessons for our day, which, if heeded,will save God’s people from further spiritual abuse, on one hand, and on the other, accelerate hisdesign for the transformation of the world through an end-time outpouring of the Spirit. It prophetically foreshadowed a miss-development in the church, dating from the second century,which quickly established religious strongholds and led the church into Babylonian captivity.
A prophetic generation
While the Reformation touched this miss-development, it remains for a prophetic generation tolay the axe to the root. Like John the Baptist,
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it will prepare the way of the Lord by uprootingand confronting the idolatries that led the church into captivity. Centuries old bondages will beshattered as they receive the Father’s heart and a zeal for his house. Through them the house of the Lord will be rebuilt as a house of prayer for all nations. They will deal with root causes – withthe issues of the heart. Emerging from their wilderness preparations, they will propheticallyconfront the historic idolatries of the church. Through brokenness and humility they will pulldown the religious strongholds of pride, that have held her captive to the “elemental spirits of thisworld”
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. They will call her back to intimacy with the Bridegroom, and refuse to be motivated by their own need for significance – they will not pursue their own glory. They will see that thechurch has rejected Christ as king for human control. And, like the prophet Hosea, confront theidolatry of human power structures. They too will declare in the white-hot holiness of God’sanger, “Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? So in my anger I gave you a king, andin my wrath I took him away” (Hos 13:10-11 NIV). They will see that it was God who satisfiedIsrael’s lust for a king, but also God who would take him away.But before we look at the consequences of Israel’s newfound independence we will consider its
 
causes.
Leadership by expedience – a crisis of continuity & authority
They faced both a crisis of continuity and authority.Their request for a king was pressured by expedience - by the tyranny of the urgent – by crisismanagement. Prior to Samuel’s leadership Israel had been without a king with “everyone doingwhat was right in their own eyes”.
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This situation not only marked the whole period of theJudges, preceding Samuel’s call as a prophet, but the fear of its reoccurrence ultimately precipitated his rejection, in preference for a king. With Samuel’s advancing age and imminentdeath, Israel teetered again on the brink of anarchy – a crisis of authority.This dilemma was compounded by a crisis of second generation leadership – a crisis of continuity. Samuel’s sons “did not walk in his ways” and “turned aside after dishonest gain andaccepted bribes and perverted justice” (1 Sam 8:3 NIV). Under these pressures, to ensurecontinuity, Israel’s elders demanded a king.The nation needed leadership and only a king would provide it. In addition, invasion wasimminent. With the Ammonites moving against them they desperately needing militaryleadership.
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And, who better than a strong authoritative king to provide it. But, as the unfoldingstory shows, decisions made by expedience are not usually wise.
Fulfilled in the New Testament Church
This miss-development is directly parallelled in the life of the new covenant church. By the turnof the second century the first generation leaders – the apostles, the Samuels of their day who ledthe church as men of the Spirit, had all passed from the scene, hastening a crisis of apostoliccontinuity and authority – a crisis of leadership. While the apostolic writings were in circulation,so were a lot of others. Heresy and confusion prevailed. The canonical Scriptures of the NewTestament had not yet fully formed and would not for another century or more. Without theauthority of both the Scriptures and the charismatic leadership of the first apostles, the secondcentury church found itself facing the twin dilemma of escalating heresy – a crisis of continuity,and division – a crisis of authority. What where they to do? Trust God to raise up a newgeneration of “Samuels” - anointed apostolic and prophetic leaders, or ask for a king?
Footnotes:
161 - See Judges 18-21 & 1 Sam.4-8. The books of 1 & 2 Samuel flow chronologically from thetime of the Judges, Samuel being the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. The theme of Samuel is the rejection of the “theocracy” (the rule of God) and establishment of the “monarchy”(the rule of man). The theme of 1& 2 Kings is its failure.162 - See 1 Cor.10: 6, 11 - the history of the old covenant (OC) church, Israel, occurred as“examples” (NIV) or as “types” (Gr. tupos) for our warning in the new covenant (NC) church.The word tupos denotes an impression or mark made by a stamp or die. The OC church, in

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