A Word To Those In Ministry
Zechariah was a contemporary with Daniel, who referred to the first year of Darius' reign as the time when he interceded on behalf of Israel through fasting and prayer.
Haggai was also a contemporary of Zechariah.
Three prophets were raised up by the Lord at a specific point in time to call His people to an awareness of the Word of the Lord and His Will for them.
Before I go any farther, I believe it is important to look at the spiritual climate of Israel in the days of Zechariah. The land did not have a shortage of prophets, just as there is no shortage of prophets in our day.
The problem was that there were (are) few prophets who would speak the True Word of God. The Prophets of Israel had a history of glossing over the Word of the Lord, in order to have favor in the sight of the people.
Popularity with the people was of more importance than approval from God.
So it is today.
See what the Lord's complaint to Israel was concerning His people:
The Word of God says there is no new thing under the sun. Many ministers in America have been pressured by their congregation to preach a "watered down" gospel that will make them feel good. It isn't popular to preach a message about Hell, or Obedience from the pulpit anymore, because the people in the pews will just go somewhere else, if they are offended.
Because divorce is rampant in the church, the preachers feel like they can't preach the Word of God concerning divorce. The people want to hear "smooth" words spoken to them, and they want the prophets to prophesy deceits.
We have compromised the Word, and think that just because we can quote the word and speak in tongues, and "give a word" to the church, that we are in God's favor.
Christians today bounce from one church to another because they disagree with the way the pastor conducts his service.
They don't like the worship team.
They don't like the message that was being preached from the pulpit.
When a man of God preaches obedience, they shout "Legalism."
But there are always men of God who will not compromise the Word they have received from the Lord in order to obtain favor from men. Jeremiah related the Lord's complaint to the people of his day concerning the prophets in the land:
Jer 23:22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
The Lord said that if the men of God had not compromised His Word, and had taught the Truth to the people, the people would have turned from the path of compromise, and the evil of their doing.
Those who are in ministry are responsible for the souls that the Lord has entrusted to them.
We are not to preach for popularity or for personal gain. We are not to scratch the ears of those who we minister to.
The great Bible preachers of old did not preach for popularity or personal gain. Whitfield, Finney, Moody, and Wesley are names that are synonymous with revival. Each one of these men of God stood in the Counsel of the Lord, and caused His people to hear the Word of the Lord, which was an uncompromising call to repentance. The result of their preaching was a reawakening of the people of God to the standard of Righteousness and Holiness that the Lord is looking for.
True revival in an individual will result in an understanding of the need to walk in Righteousness and Holiness.
True revival is the result of the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life, which convinces him to turn from his sin.
Many preachers today have lost that zealousness for the Truth that the men of God of old possessed.
They have bought the lies that Satan has fed them - lies like:
"You need to love people into the Kingdom of God. They already know they are headed to Hell. They need to know about the Love of God"
"They don't need to hear that they are sinners. They are already aware that they are sinners. They just need to know the One Who died for their sins"
"If you preach about Hell, they will just be turned off. They have all heard about Hell. They need to hear about the Kingdom of God."
"The gospel needs to be presented in a way that is positive. People don't need to be hearing about the 'don'ts', they need to hear about the Good things that God has for them."
A visit on Bourbon Street in New Orleans at any given night of the week will show anyone that the arguments mentioned above are not true. While Love needs to be the motivating factor in reaching out to the lost, it's not true that most people already know they are headed to Hell. The fact of the matter is that a great number of people in America today simply deny the existence of the God of the Bible, and as such, they deny the existence of Hell.
If I know that there is a gang of thugs waiting to mug a certain individual at a particular spot, and I try to convince the person not to go in that direction by telling him that there is a better place for that person but it is in the opposite direction than he is headed, without mentioning the real danger that lies ahead, the chances are that the person will more than likely reject my council, and tell me that he happens to like the direction he is heading.
If I tell him that there is a group of men that are meaning to do him great bodily harm in the direction he is going, the chances are much better that he will stop to seriously consider his options. If I do not warn him, his blood will be on my head.
The fact of the matter is this: LOVE CRIES OUT TO THOSE WHO ARE HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION: "DON'T GO THERE! CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT THE COURSE YOU ARE ON! HELL IS A REAL PLACE THAT YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE FROM IF YOU REJECT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!"
In New Orleans, as in the rest of America, Christians have allowed their love for their neighbor to grow cold. They hide in their "sanctuaries" on Sunday and Wednesday to feel good about who they are, while the rest of the week, they just go about their comfortable life, avoiding the things that might get in the way of their pursuit for personal prosperity. LORD, HELP US TO SEE THIS WORLD THROUGH YOUR EYES!
People DO need to know that they are sinners. There are multitudes who think they are O.K. as they wallow in their sins.
Every night on Bourbon street, the preacher of righteousness will meet a great number of people who profess to be good Christians while they are stumbling in their drunkenness on their way to the next bar. Women who state that they have been born again show their breasts for some beads. Men who can quote the Bible (mainly passages concerning God's Grace) will give a testimony of when they "got saved" as their eyes wander with lustful intentions.
These people need to hear the DON'TS in the Word of God. They need to hear the warnings that are in the Word of God.
1 Cor 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Matt 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
Matt 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
These are all negative statements, yet they are the Word of God. While it is true that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, he spoke the TRUTH, and it is the TRUTH that will make a person free. We need the Whole counsel of God.
The fact is that when we submit ourselves to the obedience of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and seek to obey His Word in all we do, (accepting the don'ts as well as the do's) then we can discover the good things that the Lord has in store for us.
Matt 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
Many preachers today are not giving the whole counsel of God to the people, because they don't want to offend someone, or they don't want to turn the people off. The fact is that if they offend the people with the Truth, the reality is that many people may go elsewhere to hear what they want to hear.
Jesus wasn't ever worried about that. He spoke the TRUTH of the Word of God to the people who were willing to hear, regardless of the consequences.
2 Tim 4:1-51 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 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; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Although a great number of Christians today only want to hear what makes them feel good, if they didn't have teachers who would scratch their itching ears, they would be confronted with the Truth so often that they would turn from their evil ways and from the evil of their doings.
The prophetic Word that had gone out to the people by the mouths of the prophets at the time of Zechariah came in three forms: Intercession (Daniel), A call for putting action to our words to God (Haggai), and a warning of worse things to come (Zechariah).
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