[b]The Horns and Their Abusers[/b]
[i]by Robert Wurtz II[/i]
(An Examination of How False Teachers Have Abused God's Word)
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. (I Kings 2:28-29)
Joab had conspired against Solomon to bring Adonijah into power. Fearing for his life he knew not what to do save one last ditch effort to save his own skin. He ran to the tabernacle and took hold of the horns of the altar. This was a practice established under the law as a means of offering a temporary asylum to those that had killed someone until it could be rightly determined whether the act was accidental, justified or murder. If it was accidental they were instructed to flee to a city of refuge where the avenger of blood could not pursue them. (Numbers 35:10-34) Yet if a person presumed to go into the tabernacle to take hold of these horns so as to avoid just punishment they were to be... taken away even from the altar. (Deuteronomy 19:4-14 Exodus 21:14) This precept prevented the former precept from being abused. Joab clearly abused the practice of taking hold of the horns of the altar and Solomon commanded that he be struck down- even before the altar.
God's Arm Not Twisted
The story of Joab is full of meaning. It is exemplary. It is an account of a man that was in rebellion against the throne of Israel and yet fleeing for refuge while yet retaining that rebellion. There was a right use of the practice of taking hold of the horns and there was a wrong use. At any rate God's arm is not twisted by His own word. Joab was to be dealt with and God's word must not be made the stumbling block towards those dealings.
The Horn of Psalm 105:15 and I Chronicles 16:22
God set in order a precept also in the Old Testament as a warning against those that would come against the ones that He had ordained to His service. (Psalm 105:15) The anointed may have been kings or priests. (Exodus 29:6-7 Exodus 40:9-15 I Samuel 15:1) Kings, priests and prophets were not to be 'touched' or 'harmed' physically. They were the Lord's private possession set apart for His purposes. David understood this and would not engage King Saul even though Saul had fallen away from God and was trying to kill him. David did not 'stretch out his hand' to harm Saul even though he had opportunity (I Samuel 26:11). This is the level of respect that was afforded the Lord's anointed.
Yet it is superfluous to mention that those that are truly in Christ are 'anointed'. There is not this Old Testament distinction between king and priest and the common people in the New Testament. (I Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:9) Moreover those that are anointed stand in the place of the prophet as they become as it were the very oracle of God when the Spirit gives the utterance. This makes for an entirely different context for understanding Psalm 105:15 and I Chronicles 16:15-22.
It is the false distinction between clergy and laity that empowers this error. Error always begets more error because the premise is wrong. There are no hierarchies in the New Testament as if God's people were under some Gentile power structure. I have written extensively about this in a previous entry and will not address it again here except to say that Gentiles have power structures, but Jesus commanded that it shall NOT be so among His churches. (Matthew 20:26) God has given authority in His churches, but that authority is to the end that the churches would be protected and edified and not so as to make men Lord's over God's heritage.
Withstood to the Face
You will recall that Paul the Apostle stated that he was 'the least of the Apostles.' And yet in Galatians Paul withstood Peter to the face for his error. Samuel had likewise withstood Saul. These are but a few examples of what 'touch not' does NOT mean. It does not mean to confront them for their error or expose their error. On the contrary we are commanded to Titus 3:10-11 to reject a heretick after the second warning. Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for condemning false apostles as liars. (Revelation 2:2) There can be little doubt that these men professed themselves to be 'anointed'- not just 'anointed' but apostles! Who would dare withstand these false teachers and liars? Ephesus did and Jesus commended- notice not condemned- commended. On the contrary He strongly rebuked Thyatira for allowing a Jezebel to teach the people. (Revelation 2:17-22)
The Horn of Matthew 7:1
It is important to understand that there is a sense in which we must exercise judgment in life. (Philippians 1:10) We do it almost continually even without realizing it. None of us could live 24 hours without exercising judgment of some kind. It is true that we are not given the authority to judge people in the sense that we can condemn them, nor would most want such authority. Yet we are told that we will know people by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16) To make the distinction requires the use of right judgment. (John 7:24) We are also commanded to be watchful and to guard the people of God against destructive influences. (Ezekiel 22:26, Acts 20:28)
Post-modernism has virtually criminalized standing for truth. Everyone's opinion is equal, so they say. Yet they don't mind being judgmental calling Christians judgmental. And yet this attitude has crept into the churches. How? In many cases it's because of the institutions of higher learning that pressure Christians to compromise or entice them to elevate themselves to a postmodern mindset. Understand that political correctness began in the institutions of learning. Tolerance is now somehow exalted over truth, logic and common sense. There seems to be an enticement to rather appeal to the intellectual elite than to please God. Some are conforming to this world rather than being transformed by the renewing of their minds. These concepts unlock the wheels of perdition so that lies and deceit can roll through society wrecking and ruining unthwarted! The enemy would have it no other way. And what better than to stroke the pride and ego of a postmodernist as they feel the elation of being 'tolerant'- as if tolerance is a virtue.
Taking Hold Of the Horns
Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?" he asked. (I Kings 22:9-25)
False prophets and teachers have taken hold of the horns of Psalm 105:15 and Matthew 7:1 in our times as modern day Joab's seeking refuge in defiance of God Almighty. As if that were a light thing they have taken to smiting the Miciah's of our times also that declare the truth of what God is truly saying. They have made for themselves a horns, as it were, to impress the unsuspecting with their golden ear tickling tongues. They hide behind Psalm 105:15 and Matthew 7:1 as they smite the men of God in the mouth (as it were). In an ironic twist of events these unanointed deceitful workers that were before of old and ordained to this condemnation stretch forth their hands against the Lord's anointed even Jesus Christ to lay hold of the inheritance for which He was slain- all the while receiving cover fire from believers declaring, 'touch not the Lord's anointed!' Had these men and women belonged to God they had not made their beds with the devil; had they that commit adultery with them had fallen upon them with the sword of God's word and rebuked them for their lying they had not been in jeopardy of the bed of affliction that surely awaits these vain talkers and deceivers. (Revelation 2:22)
Wisdom Fell Upon Deception
Only Satan could make acquiescing to lies and deceit appear nobel and biblical. He has provided the proof texts for the green light many in the churches are giving these deceivers. Prosperity peddlers, false prophets and a host of other compromises and lies today are holding the horns of the altar as did Joab whilst pushing around the voices of Truth as did Zedekiah. Yet Solomon stated, He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15) It is an abomination to allow lies and deceit to go on in order that the so-called 'anointed' would not be touched. Many are handing the wolf the keys to the chicken house thinking they are doing God a service. Yet God has shown us clearly in His word that one cannot abuse His precepts and expect to yield their benefit. Men might milk the system in our times to loop hole all sorts of schemes unpunished; but in the economy of God those men are 'fell upon' lest God be mocked and His people be destroyed.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon