One of the most noted sayings from the Bible is: “My people perish (or ‘are destroyed’) for the lack of knowledge.” That saying comes from Hosea 4:6. But have you ever wondered why God said His people perished because of the lack of knowledge? Well, the answer is right there in the rest of the verse! Let’s read the verse completely. The English Standard Version (ESV) says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Notice the punctuation of the ESV could suggest the people were destroyed for the lack of knowledge because the priest rejected knowledge. The way the NASB is punctuated suggests that because the priest had rejected knowledge, God; the LORD reject him from being His priest. The interpretation is a bit ambiguous because there were no punctuation marks; no commas or periods in the original Hebrew text. But as we look at the whole of the biblical text, I believe both interpretations are equally valid. People are destroyed for the lack of knowledge whenever the priests, the ones appointed to teach the people knowledge, reject the knowledge they are supposed to be teaching the people! Also, whenever the priests reject the knowledge of God, they reject God and are thereby rejected by God and disqualified from the office of priest. So both interpretations are equally valid and applicable. But for the purpose of this post, I want to adopt and use the idea that God’s people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge because the priests, the ones who are supposed to be teaching them the knowledge of God, rejected the knowledge of God! In other words, I am saying that in most cases, the ignorance and misbehavior in the pew can be traced to ignorance and misbehavior in the pulpit!
We are living in a time wherein the conduct, attitudes, behaviors, conduct and even preaching of many who called themselves preachers, pastors, bishops, evangelists, apostles, right-reverends, or whatever, are absolutely appalling! Everybody and their Momma claims to be anointed or have the anointing today! Yet in many cases, these so-called prophets are really just after the profits! Some of the preachers have more women (in some cases men) than the local pimps! Whenever a pastor is more concerned about the condition of the offerings than the condition of the souls of the people, that pastor is pimping the people of God for profit! Oh! What a shame it is! The Bible refers to the church as the Bride of Christ. But whenever, any church is subjected to the authority and rule of those who seek to manipulate and use her for their own profit and prosperity; that church ceases to be a bride and becomes a prostitute! In that situation, that church is not a local manifestation of the Bride of Christ, but rather a prostitute for a pimp who calls him or herself the pastor!
Now, this is not just solely on the preacher-pimp, the prostitute-church must bear some of the responsibility also! In Jeremiah 5:30-31, the Lord spoke a word through the Prophet Jeremiah concerning Israel that is equally applicable to some of the churches today. He said: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land–the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way!” (NLT) With many churches today, it is just like an old blues song I heard about a lady who responded to her lover whenever he told the lie that he loved her. She said: “I know you are lying, but I love to hear you say it anyway!” There are many in the church today who tolerate foolishness in the pulpit because they don’t want to be challenged or confronted about their own short-comings!
Now before I conclude, I don’t want to give the impression that what I have previously described is the prevailing state of affairs in all churches. This month (October) is Pastor Appreciation Month. If you have a pastor, a leader, a preacher who is indeed a true man or woman of God, thank God for them and let them know in a tangible way that you really appreciate them! There are some pastors, preachers, prophets, bishops, apostles, or whatever, who are indeed true men and women of God! There are some churches who are indeed true to Christ and are seeking to be salt and light. There are some pastors and preachers who are leading churches and ministries that are indeed preaching the true Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and making disciples as Christ commanded. No! Don’t reject the whole barrel because of some bad apples! Don’t get swept away by the flood just because there’s some mess in the ark! I just simply saying that you need to use discernment!
While the Bible describes the church as the Bride of Christ, it also describes the people of God as sheep. It uses that analogy because sheep need a shepherd. Sheep need the care, protection and leadership of a shepherd to survive. So it is with the church. Be a sheep, but don’t be a dumb sheep! The Apostle John gave warning: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn. 4:1 ESV) No! Don’t just accept the bishop’s word that it’s God’s word just because the bishop said it was! You need to be like the Berean Jews in Acts 17:10, where the Bible says: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”(ESV) Take notes during the sermons and then go home and study that word for yourself!
My friend, your standing with God and your eternal destiny is too important to leave solely in the hands of any preacher, pastor, bishop or priest! The Apostle John said that many false prophets have gone out into the world! Many prophets who are actually just “profits!” Many preachers who are just pimps! Many pastors who just want to shear the sheep instead of being a shepherd for the sheep! Many pastors who would seek to turn the Bride of Christ into their own personal prostitute for profit! And so, as I conclude, I leave you with a warning from Jesus found in Matthew 24:24-25: “For false christs (anointed ones; those who say they are anointed) and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” Beware of preachers, pimps, pastors and prostitutes!