We all want to enter our promised land. And it’s amazing some of the things satan uses to keep us out of it! I’ve many times read the account of the Israelites entering the promised land, yet Holy Spirit recently put His finger on something new for me. As I was reading Numbers 13, about where the twelve spies were sent into the Promised Land, I had never before realised that all of the spies were named in the Bible as the LEADER of their tribe.
Numbers 13:1 – 4 (AMP)
And the Lord said to Moses, Send men to explore and scout out [for yourselves] the land of Canaan, which I give to the Israelites. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader or head among them. So Moses by the command of the Lord sent scouts from the Wilderness of Paran, all of them men who were heads of the Israelites.
So Moses heard from the Lord, and sent the leaders out. They all knew before they even left, that the Lord had already promised the land to them. They all saw the same things while in the Promised Land. Yet, because of what was going on in their own hearts, they filtered this information differently. When they returned, out of twelve spies who were sent – out of twelve recognised LEADERS of their tribes – only two heard accurately from the Lord! The Lord had commanded the leaders to bring life and to lead the Israelites into their corporate destiny and their personal destinies. Yet what happened when the people followed the reports given by their publically identified leaders?
The ten leaders who brought a negative report died immediately before the Lord, and ‘led’ the Israelites to death, not life. Instead of taking their promised land, the people wandered in the wilderness for forty years until all but Joshua and Caleb died. In other words, because they followed their established leaders (instead of God), all but two people out of the millions of Israelites whom God had released from Egypt, missed out on seeing their personal destinies fulfilled.
Wow! In the current church climate where ‘the importance of being under cover’ is taught as the safest place to be, we can see that when applied to this scenario, millions of good Israelite people wanting to ‘honour’ their leaders and ‘stay undercover’ lost their destinies and ultimately their lives over it! And in fact, if the people had agreed with Joshua and Caleb over their own leaders, today’s ‘under cover’ theology would have labelled them as “rebellious”! But who were really the rebellious ones? The leaders were! They made their own decree, rather than agreeing with the decree of Almighty God. And those who blindly followed them, died.
As the realisation of this hit me, Holy Spirit reminded me of the two occasions in the Song of Songs, in which the Shulamite Bride, who was searching for her Bridegroom-King, had to go past the overseers (indicative of the recognised ‘leaders’ of the day), in order to find Him. This is an analogy of our pursuit (as the Bride of Christ) with our King Jesus. On one occasion, the overseers actually bruised her and beat her because she was willing to seek Him further than they were and they didn’t like it.
Song of Songs 3:2 – 4 (TPT) So I must rise in search of Him, looking throughout the city, seeking until I find Him. Even if I have to roam through every street, nothing will keep me from my search. Where is He – my soul’s true love? Nowhere to be found! Then I encountered the overseers as they circled the city. So I asked them: “Have you found Him – My heart’s true Love?” Just as I moved past them I encountered Him, I found the One I adore! I caught Him and fastened myself to Him…
Song of Songs 5:6 – 7 (TPT) I will arise and search for Him until I find Him! As I walked throughout the city in search of Him, the overseers happened to find me as they made their rounds. They beat me and bruised me until I could take no more. In my sounding they removed their “covering” from me.
What would have happened to the Shulamite if she had stopped searching for Him when her ‘leaders’ could not tell her where to find Him? What would have happened if she had turned back when they beat her and bruised her? She would never have discovered His love, she would never have found out who she was, and she certainly would never have fulfilled her destiny! Blind obedience to any person will keep us out of our promised land – only walking in oneness with the Lord will see us enter and fulfil what we have been created for.
The concept of ‘covering’ is very concerning and not at all Biblical. We notice that as the Shulamite continued to search for Him, her leaders ‘removed their covering’ from her. In other words, ‘If you won’t do it our way, we will reject you’. This is not the heart of God, yet it is essentially the mindset of ‘under cover’ theology.
The concept of honour, on the other hand, is entirely Biblical. Honour proceeds from love and we are called to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34), and to submit to one another as unto the Lord (Eph 5:21). Nowhere does the Lord say to dishonour one another. But dishonour is something which proceeds from our hearts as a motive; it is not specifically an action. Would the Israelites have dishonoured their leaders by agreeing with Joshua and Caleb and the promise given to them by God? No! They would have honoured God by coming into agreement with Him. Was the Shulamite dishonouring her leaders by pursuing her Bridegroom-King? No! She was honouring and focussed on Him alone. There was nothing in her heart even thinking about anyone else, much less a deliberate motive to dishonour her leaders. She did not treat them in a disrespectful way – she simply pursued her King.
And what about Jesus? Was there dishonour in His heart when he simply did and said all that He heard and saw His Father do (John 5:19) and it happened not to agree with the religious leaders of His days?
John 7:47 (TPT) The religious leaders mocked, “Oh so now you also have been led astray by Him? Do you see even one of us, your leaders, following Him? This ignorance rabble swarms around Him because none of them know anything about the law! They’re all cursed!
You can hear the unwritten accusation from the leaders in this scripture: ‘You’re not following me so you are being led astray! Don’t you know you’re not under cover!’ Unfortunately, many leaders are building their own kingdom (though it sounds ‘plausible’ when it’s called a ‘vision’), not His, and with their ‘kingdom building’ filter on, they will not always recognise what Jesus is doing. The recognised leaders in Jesus’ time were the very ones who crucified Him! How wrong can you get?!?! They considered Jesus and His disciples to be rebellious because they were so caught up in the law, that not one of them recognised Who Jesus actually was! Jesus and the disciples were labelled rebellious and dishonourable – though they were actually honourable to God to the point of death and the laying down of their own lives.
The gravest concern of this expectation of following leaders as ‘obedience’ to God, is that it asks us to honour man before honouring God. However, even when a leader is filled with the Holy Spirit, they are still capable of walking in the flesh (as are all people), and they do not reside with us in the secret place with God, listening to His whispers and instructions to our heart. Many times the instructions of the Lord appear as foolishness to man, yet they are of Him (the Bible is full of instructions given by God to man, which looked crazy to others). In addition, when we stand before the Lord, we stand there alone. The Lord is not going to look at whether or not we obeyed our leaders specifically – He’s going to look at whether or not we obeyed HIM.
When Jesus was crucified, everything that was hierarchical was turned upside down! The very fact that the first thing that happened was that the veil concealing the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn and the spirit of God was released; then Holy Spirit came to infill and live within all men, should show us that. We now are each Kings and Priests unto our God (Rev 1:6 & 5:10); we all see Him with unveiled face (2 Cor 3:18); and we all have the Holy Spirit living within us. That means there is no veil between God and us, and there is no leader between God and us. The Lord may use recognised leaders and others to confirm what He is saying to our hearts, but hearing from the Lord is ultimately between ourselves and our God.
That also means that the responsibility to know His voice and to recognise it clearly and be obedient, is up to us. The Lord designed us to function together as a body, which means there’s always others around us to seek counsel from, and when we open our heart to be vulnerable before those He Divinely connects us to, we always have others who will pray with us and challenge us when we’re walking in the flesh or have fleshly filters on. We are to be mature before Him, remembering that we represent our glorious God on this earth.
With great freedom comes great responsibility. We are Kings and Priests before the Lord. Let’s ensure that we walk like it.