REBELLION THROUGH THE ABSALOM SPIRIT
Rebellion In The House Of God
Obedience vs Rebellion
Today I want us to look at Rebellion and attempt to address this problem in the church today. It’s not a new problem and, unfortunately, it’s always been among us. It has caused God’s people much misery due to God’s judgment and the curses associated with this problem. This “problem,” which is better defined as what it is — sin, is rebellion/lawlessness. To you, it may not seem too bad, but my concern is how it shows up in sensitive areas of the church — the leadership of the local church and how it affects the future blessings of God’s people. Rebellion is not new. Rebellion is manifested in any resistance to God’s will and authority. I also will show you the difference between rebellion and reformation, for many had to break away from religious institutions in the past to seek truth that was contrary to from within His word. See God and His authority are inseparable and they come in two forms:
His Direct Authority
His Delegated Authority through Church/ Governments & Family etc.
Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
Many of us that live in a democratic society find it hard to understand this Authority and try to bring God down to an equal level, as what we do with our own leaders. Many people say I will only submit to these authorities for as long as I agree. See God is not wanting for you to be forced to submit or follow blindly, but through a broken heart that you would delight in the governing authority that God has placed over you in your governments/churches & families etc.
Someone said once that “There is freedom in obedience, there is bondage in rebellion.”
See with rebellion and disobedience it brings an access door to the devil to sin and demonic power in your life.
Obedience – Closes that door
Disobedience – Opens the door
The Highest form of worship is obedience to God and that is why He said “..to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22) So if we disobey His delegated authorities over our life, then we are not being obedient and it is sin before the Lord.
See you can see visions and have dreams, preach an anointed message, bring 1000’s of souls into the kingdom through evangelism, but still stand judgment because you were rebellious to the authorities in your life.
Today I want to focus on rebellion as there is a difference from rebellion and disobedience (even though they often work hand-in-hand). Disobedience refers to a refusal or failure to obey. Rebellion goes further in that rebellion questions with the intent of eventually wrecking the work or system. Rebellion involves resistance or a show of defiance (a challenge) toward authority (government). One can be disobedient without also being rebellious. However, one is rarely ever rebellious without also being disobedient. In fact, the more obedient one is while in the midst of their rebellion, the more evil are their intentions because they are working to hide their true nature and state of their hearts.
Let us go back to the first Rebellion which started with Lucifer (Satan) in heaven
Isaiah 14:12-14 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
Those “I will’s” were decisions of rebellion. The Bible gives us many examples of sin and its consequences, as well as God’s remedy for sin. No, the rebellion I want to discuss is better termed mutiny, division, schism, contention. All of these terms relate to the same issue — a refusal to do as you are told combined with a conscious decision to undermine the source of the instructions. This rebellion is the type that Judas Iscariot demonstrated when he turned his back on Jesus and turned him over to His enemies. This rebellion is the type that divides churches, that makes ministers pull out from their pastors (with the intent, of course, of taking as many members with them as possible), and that makes members begin factions and coalitions in the church against the plan of the church leadership.
While we are doing this, the church makes itself look extremely foolish and unholy to the world.
While they laugh and mock, they reject what we have — the remedy for their distress. Why is
this? Because of our rebellious, contentious, fighting ways. We fight each other within a church,
we fight other churches within our denominations, we fight other denominations that teach a
similar doctrine and then we break away sometimes starting another church denomination for no real reason other than rebellion. We have fallen into the trap that the Apostle Paul warned about in Galatians 5:15 “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
We are consuming each other while the devil sits back and laughs, because we do not know how to submit to our leadership.
Demonic spirits manifest themselves in a number of ways but most often in your attitude, personality, character, and, of course, the things that you do. Rebellion is not only an action but it is the very nature of the devil. We will take, as the main subject of this look at the spirit of rebellion, Absalom, the son of King David. We will look at his actions, attempt to understand the infection in his spirit, and determine what remedies we can use to avoid his judgment. The spirit of Absalom is having its way in our churches. We must be careful to keep it from having its way in our lives also.
Before getting into the details of our Scriptures, let’s make sure we understand what we’re talking about with this word “rebellion.”
What is rebellion as defined by the Bible? I Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” The Bible says that rebellion is so serious, that those that engage in it are considered by God to be in the same category as those that practice witchcraft (and notice the Bible’s proclamation against them Exodus 22:18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live..”). No witch or person engaged in witchcraft or person doing things as this (rebellion) will have any part in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, Galatians 5:21 “.., they which do such things SHALL NOT inherit the kingdom of God”.
The Bible is clear on God’s attitude toward rebellion: Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things
doth the LORD HATE: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and HE THAT SOWETH DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN.”
Anything that God hates, we should distance ourselves from. “Discord among the brethren” is colorful King James Version English for rebellion. I remember 5 years back I did a message on these six things the Lord hates and as soon as I showed the scripture on the projector screen two people walked out of the church straight away complaining all the way out. See they were both in rebellion.
Now let’s look at what the dictionary says on this word:
1. Open, armed, and organized RESISTANCE to a constituted government.
2. An act or a show of DEFIANCE toward an authority or established convention.
SYNONYMS: rebellion, revolution, revolt, mutiny, insurrection, uprising. These nouns represent acts of violence intended to change or overthrow an existing order or authority.
In looking at the definition, there are two words that are very disturbing, resistance and defiance. These are not attitudes of those who plan to partake in the heavenly kingdom. These are not attitudes of those that say that they are trying to live like Jesus Christ. These are simply attitudes of a rebellious spirit in its ugliest display. These two words are best demonstrated in a parable the Lord Jesus told during His final week before His crucifixion: Matthew 21:28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.”
The first son demonstrates RESISTANCE (to keep from giving in) when he says I WILL NOT. At that point, he was openly rebellious. However, as the story goes on, he repents and “gives in” or gives up his rebellion. The second son’s rebellion is more subtle and devilish. He acts as if he will go and even adds, “Sir,” to his response. But he didn’t go. This demonstrates DEFIANCE (an intentionally disrespectful behavior or attitude).
Usually defiance is bolder than in the actions of this son but his actions show his contempt for the wishes of his father.
Look how the Bible views a rebellious spirit even in one as innocent as a child:
Deuteronomy 21:18 - 21 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.”
Many will be quick to point out that this is the Old Testament and we, as New Testament believers, have a new foundation founded on better promises. That is true. However, the Old Testament was written as our (New Testament believers) example (I Corinthians 10:11). Let me share with you what this verse says in the Amplified Version: “Now these things befell them by way of a figure — as an EXAMPLE and WARNING [TO US]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax — their consummation and concluding period.
As an old preacher once said, who has since gone on to be with the Lord in his interpretation of Proverbs 1:5, “a wise man will take a hint and increase in learning.” We should take a hint, as we are admonished in the verse in First Corinthians and not stir up God like this!
Rebellion ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS is divisive. It causes the people of God to choose sides, to determine which “camp” they are in. I Corinthians 1:12-13 “Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
It is often intended to demean one in order for the rebel to rise to prominence. But even in this, the end result is schism, division, and segregation of the people of God within the church. Sometimes the division is not easy to see. One camp may pronounce themselves holier than the other and they attempt to side with God. Another camp may not want to hear about sin in the church in teaching or preaching because of their actions. These, knowingly or not, side with the devil against God. However, the reality is that ALL REBELLION IS AGAINST GOD.
Rebellion vs Reformation
So is reformation also rebellion and when is it alright to challenge authority that is corrupt? Mighty men of God that have gone before us have challenged corruption in the Catholic Church, which has paved the way to the freedoms we enjoy today in knowing the truth. Because of this we can learn in one service what might have taken believers in the Dark ages eighty years to learn. Had this not happened where would we have been today?
First looking at the Webster’s dictionary definition below this will give us grounding:
1. the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory,
True reformation brings a complete upheaval to a dark situation, through great physical and spiritual strength which creates an atmosphere of freedom and relationship between God and His people.
Jesus was our teacher for reform and throughout His ministry; He taught us how we should be acting, how we should be operating, and the way we should be thinking. But before what He was teaching us could come to pass, He had to be a reformer by dying on the cross, snatching the keys of hell and death from satan to stop the abuse, and then being resurrected from the dead so that our divine right of inheritance could be restored to us.
Jesus perfected it! And so did Paul. He was never controlling, yet He was totally authoritive. He was a Shepherd leader, but never domineering. People followed and submitted because He led them somewhere they wanted to go. Somewhere they needed to go. Jesus never led a rebellion against the authorities in place of His day, He conducted Himself as an honorable servant in all things; yet He brought true reform to the oppressive systems of the teachers and leaders, by the authority of the Truth!
The spirit of reformation is the spirit of truth. It is the strength to stop abuses in our personal lives, our churches, and the life of our nations. It must come before we will ever see the power of true restoration. Heaven has shown us what is to come, but we must take the vital steps for our generation and our time. We must call for the spirit of truth to live in our homes, in our churches, in our lives, and in our nations. Every generation needs reformation, because when we forget our history or our reason for living, then our reliance upon the Holy Spirit can grow dormant, and the heavens close and become brazen.
The Spirit of reformation, birthed by the Holy Spirit of God, must be cried for and grasped. We must have men and women of god who will rightly discern what they are hearing from heaven through the entire word of God for this generation to prepare for the return of Jesus.
I believe all of us want to address the religion that holds us back from knowing God more intimately, so that a true divine hunger for God can draw us and consume us. I believe we are all hungry for the genuine and not a cheap imitation. Reformation can never be born without that kind of hunger to know the truth and therefore it is not just a church split through rebellion in which we see a lot these days, because people don’t agree on trivial things.
The Spirit of Absalom
Now let’s get into our discussion of Prince Absalom, the son of David, and look at this spirit o Absolam.
ABSALOM, THE SON OF DAVID
Absalom was the third child of King David born to him while he was king in Hebron, (II Samuel 3:3) “…the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur.” These were the early days of David’s kingdom and it was a time when the kingdom had not yet been established. David was reigning in Hebron and had not become the king over the entire country of Israel. His attentions were divided between establishing the kingdom, establishing his family, and staying alive. II Samuel 3:1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. It was during this time of turmoil that two children who played a prominent role in his future were born, Amnon, his first born, and Absalom, his third child. As time went on and the two children grew into men, Amnon looked at his half sister, Tamar, Absalom’s sister, and lusted for her. His lust was so overpowering that the Bible says it drove him to sickness — II Samuel 13:2 “And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar….” A plot was conceived and Amnon raped Tamar to satisfy his unfulfilled lust. When he had completed the deed, his lust turned to extreme hatred and contempt for Tamar — II Samuel 13:15a “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her.”
Ultimately, in revenge for this deed, Absalom killed his brother Amnon and fled to safety in his grandfather’s homeland. Absalom stayed there for three years until Joab, David’s General of the Army, intervened and brought him back to Israel.
An important point in all of this is that David was aware of the rape of Tamar but did nothing about
it. He was angry but did nothing else. Absalom gave him two full years after his return to resolve
the issue before he took it upon himself to act. However, in spite of David’s errors, this was no excuse for Absalom’s rebellion.
When Absalom acted, he proceeded to “steal the hearts of the men of Israel” (II Samuel 15:6) through flattery and sowing seeds of discord among God’s people. Ultimately, he was able to persuade the people that he should be king instead of David. He went so far in his rebellion as to entice David’s key cabinet members to join the rebellion. After assuming power, Absalom had sexual intercourse with David’s concubines in a tent on top of the palace in full view of all. This was done to show his contempt for David and all that he stood for. Eventually, the rebellion was put down and Absalom met his death. His death caused many other lives to be spared because oftentimes a rebellion only lives as long as the ringleader is there to give it life.
In examining this sad episode in the life of King David, I want to look at Absalom and find out what is involved in having a spirit like his. What characteristics did this person exhibit that we want to steer as far away from as possible? There were things in Absalom that I have seen in so many cases of rebellion in the church. All of these will be discussed in great detail in the next section as we look at what caused the rebellion in the life of Absalom. As we look at the causes of rebellion, please note that there are many more answers, which are not covered here. However, these might be the reasons that Absalom might give when he stands before God.
Rebellion and what causes it?
WHAT CAUSES REBELLION?
1. INJUSTICE: REAL OR PERCEIVED.
(As Absalom stands before God, this might be his first excuse: “David did me wrong! Something had to be done!” These are the words of the spirit of Absalom — don’t let it be you!)
The roots of a rebellious spirit go deep and as you will see hear transfer onto others that are hearing.
Hebrews 12:15 “ looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;.”
The root of bitterness and rebellion also, has its origin in things that were not properly dealt with in the past. Absalom did not deal with his sister’s rape properly. King David knew of this crime in his own house and did not deal with it properly. After Absalom left Israel, King David did not deal with the exile of his son properly. When Absalom returned, King David did not deal with his return properly. There are a lot of errors here by the leader, but that was no excuse for the rebellion.
The seeds of rebellion often are sown when one feels that they have not been treated fairly. Even in business, if one feels that their supervisor is treating them unfairly or unjustly, they can either deal with it through the proper channels of the business (while keeping their spirit right) or they can begin to work to undermine the success of the business with the intent of destroying the success of that supervisor. It may start small with theft of company supplies, malicious gossip, or contempt toward company rules, but the origin of this rebellion is still seated in some real or perceived injustice.
With this reason for rebellion, let’s make something very clear. You may have actually been, or may still be, the victim of an injustice or many injustices. You may have been mistreated, insulted, lied on, etc. However, this gives you no right to undermine the authority of the one who has done this. Before you let things bother you, go to the Word of God for an answer. The Bible gives clear remedies to situations where you feel you have been wronged:
What do you do when you feel a brother or sister has treated you unfairly or unjustly? If you find yourself the subject of an injustice or unfair treatment (perceived or otherwise) and the source is one of your brothers or sisters in the Body of Christ, here is what the Bible says: Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, (there’s the unfair treatment) go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: (there’s the solution if they will do what’s next) if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. But don’t begin a gossiping campaign against your brother!
Follow the Bible steps:
• First, talk to them one on one and try to get it straightened out. Unfortunately, many Christians today will, without blinking an eye, lie and tell you that “nothing is wrong, you’ve got it all wrong” when they KNOW what they did. The Bible foresaw this time also and gave a second remedy.
• Second, get someone else (one or two or more) to go with you who have personal knowledge (not hearsay from you) about this situation to try to get it worked out. Perhaps when the person hears that their actions have been viewed by a number of people, they will repent. But again, the Lord saw how we are today and presented a final solution.
• Third, bring it to the church. In bringing it to the church, you need to bring the one, two, or more witnesses that you had in step 2. The church must be convinced that this is not in your mind but is truly a problem that the other person should have dealt with. Now if they refuse to repent, you and the church are to separate yourselves from them. The integrity of the church is the goal of the Scriptures. The church must be spotless and without any blemish. To be that way, we’ve got to work together to keep it clean. In this case, you have one that is more interested in themselves, in the face of overwhelming facts, and not the integrity of the Body of Christ. Paul admonished the Corinthian church to use this same approach in dealing with sin in I Corinthians 6. Notice that through all of this, the one who has suffered the injustice has no right to rebel, but to do things the Bible way.
What do you do when you feel your leader has treated you unfairly or unjustly? This is probably where most Absalom rebellion in the church begins. This may take any number of forms in coming to this point. It may have started in the prior step. When you brought the situation to the church, perhaps the leader didn’t want to follow Bible order. Perhaps you were passed over for a promised position or one that you felt should have been yours. Perhaps the leader is doing like David did with Absalom and not dealing with sin in the camp properly. Perhaps, God forbid, the leader is obviously in sin. In whatever the case, what do you do? Before answering, remember that your life is not your own. I hope that you are in the place that you are in because of following the will of God. If God did NOT lead you to the situation you are in, you need to quickly find out the will of God for your life! In this case, however, I will assume that you are exactly where God placed you. If so, you must become like David. David endured many years of torment from King Saul. One commentator stated that Saul attempted to kill David twenty-two times! In all of that, whenever David had the opportunity to fight back, he would not. Look at one scene where David had the opportunity to end this:
I Samuel 24:3-7 “So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.”
Friends who wanted to get in good with Saul had betrayed David. He had to move his parents to Moab to protect them from Saul. Finally, he ended up moving all his men to the country of the Philistines to avoid Saul. In this movement, remember that David had numerous opportunities to kill Saul and take the kingdom by force but HE WOULD NOT! Why, because Saul was the Lord’s anointed and, more importantly, David recognized and respected that anointing. After you have exhausted every remedy and you realize that you are in the will of God, there is no step-by-step process as in the prior example. You’ve got to go and take a lesson from David in Psalms 23:1-4 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (A shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep. If God led you into that situation, He knew exactly what you would encounter when you got there.) 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he LEADETH me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he LEADETH me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God does not always lead you through the still waters or the paths of righteousness. Sometimes He EXPECTS you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. During those times we must learn to just lean on His rod and His staff. That’s God’s servant you’re upset with. The same God that put that servant in place will deal with them. In the meantime, you keep on leaning on His rod and His staff. These are the sources of your comfort. But by all means, don’t pick up that Absalom spirit!
What do you do when YOU are the one that has treated a brother or sister unfairly or unjustly? Before leaving this section, let me remind you that YOU (AND I) ARE NOT PERFECT. Our perfection is a spiritual perfection but we are working daily to make our outer man line up with the inner man. This will help keep us from being the rebel. Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” This may seem out of place with our discussion of the source of rebellion but it’s added to, once again, maintain the integrity of the Body of Christ and to keep us from the spirit of Absalom.
2. AN INFLATED IMAGE OF YOURSELF.
(As Absalom stands before God, this might be his next excuse: “I could do a better job than David!
He wasn’t doing what he should have been doing as king. Something had to be done!” Again, these are the words of the spirit of Absalom — don’t let it be you!)
Leadership or at least being the one in charge of anything is a tough position to be in. It not only means that you receive all of the credit (and usually it’s not as much as deserved) but it means that you also receive all of the blame (and usually it’s more than deserved). In a leading position, you are accused of either taking too much on yourself or not taking enough on yourself. Young preachers must be careful when they view the work of older ministers. Often the thought will cross their mind, “I can do better than that.” They have not thought about the price the older minister has paid to get to that point or the opportunities that are now available that may not have been available to the older minister. All they know is that when they get the opportunity, they will show the people of God how it’s supposed to be done and, whether intentional or not, will usurp the position of that minister. By doing this, they will bring themselves under the judgment of God.
Too many times we find the people of God in the condition of Jude 16 “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” In viewing this same verse in the Amplified Version, it states as follows: “These are inveterate (habitual) murmurers (grumblers), that complain [of their lot in life], going after their own desires — controlled by their passions; their talk is boastful and arrogant, [and they claim to] admire men’s persons and pay people flattering compliments to gain advantage. I call these types of people “users.” They live to use someone to gain an advantage in their life. If the church service is not the way they like it (or the way they could get it done), they complain. If they need to get ahead and you’re already there, they stick around you to enjoy your favor. Use your contacts/ money and any other favour they can gain from you. They boast about what they have and what they can do, but they have never proven anything. The real problem with these boasters and complainers is that they don’t complain lawfully — they do it behind closed doors in a devious, treacherous, rebellious manner. Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, NOT TO THINK OF HIMSELF MORE HIGHLY THAN HE OUGHT TO THINK; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
Absalom was of the same lot. After he had been forgiven for his crime and allowed to live in the royal city once again, he began to feel that he could do better than David. He had not paid the price that David paid. He had not suffered through the twenty-two attempts on his life by Saul. He had not fought the wars that David had fought. He had not secured Jerusalem from the Jebusites, as David had done. Absalom had done nothing! His only claim to fame was that he was pretty (II Samuel 14:25) and that he was of the royal family. He began to think more highly of himself than he should have. II Samuel 15:3-4 “Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I WOULD GIVE HIM JUSTICE!” (I would do better than David, because he’s just not doing the job!)
While we’re on this subject of inflated egos, let’s look at one more example from the Scriptures.
Numbers 16:1-3 “Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
Korah, Dathan, Abiram all came with the, men of renown and came to Moses with this distorted image of themselves and of their leaders:
• You think too much of yourself. After all, we’re just as holy as you are.
• Not only are we just as holy as you are, ALL the congregation (all of the children of
Israel) is holy and the Lord is among them. In other words, you aren’t the only ones that
know the Lord, we can pray too.
• Because of that, you don’t have any right to lift yourself above the children of Israel.
How dare you call yourself our leader and lead us out into this wilderness!
This view was distorted. Their thinking of themselves was inflated. First, everyone knows that
among three million people, there’s NO WAY you will have 100% holiness. Jesus had only twelve
and His testimony was that one of them was a devil. How many more devils were there here?
Next, Korah and his crew forgot two big things: God put Moses and Aaron in charge and God had
used them mightily to distinguish them from the rest of the people of God. In other words, by
choice (God’s choice) and by experience, Moses and Aaron had earned their position in God. Their
view of themselves was distorted and brought them to rebellion. Later, when I talk about the
judgment of God upon this spirit of rebellion, we’ll finish this episode and talk about their tragic
While we’re on this subject, let’s look at one last thought on an inflated image of yourself:
COMING TO THE CONCLUSION THAT YOU HAVE MORE THAN YOUR LEADER.
Let me shock you with something: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH KNOWING MORE THAN YOUR LEADER. A number of pastors may have just cringed and shuddered thinking that I am encouraging rebellion rather than speaking against it. The first thing that the church must realize and pastors must realize is that it is the anointing of the office that determines who follows and who leads.
In talking about the rebellion of Korah earlier, Moses had an office. His office was higher than that of Aaron who was the high priest. Moses was chosen by God to lead the people. The anointing of his
office was more important that the abilities of others because he was the one that God put in charge.
Ephesians 4:11-12 “And HE GAVE some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Jeremiah 3:15 “And I WILL GIVE YOU pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” The anointing of the office is the determining factor on whether the results that God is looking for will be accomplished or not. Also, the best leader knows how to put to work those people that have special talents to edify the Body of Christ. Your knowledge and your anointing are important to the body, but everyone must be in subjection to someone. Only one is the leader.
The problem with this thought (“I’ve got more than the pastor”) comes from pride in the one that feels that their knowledge is more important than the office. Often this arises in young Christians who try to insert the world’s standards for promotion and success into the church. That’s why Paul clearly instructed Timothy that a novice should not be installed as an overseer (bishop, preaching elder) lest they be lifted up in pride and fall into the devil’s trap (I Timothy 3:6). Pride is the problem and he (yes, “he” because pride is a spirit) brings with him his friends, Rebellion and Destruction. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” If you feel that God has given you something, find out what He wants you to do with it. Whatever God gives is given for the edification of the body, not for the edification of you and the Body of Christ works in order.
I Samuel 24:4-6 “Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lordsaid to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, THE LORD’S ANOINTED, to stretch forth mine hand against him, SEEING HE IS THE ANOINTED OF THE LORD.” Did David know more about God than Saul? Without a doubt I think we would all have to answer, “Absolutely!” However, Saul was God’s anointed and David clearly understood the importance of the office. And because David understood this, he would not lift a finger against Saul for fear of falling into the judgment of God, in spite of the promise that he had on his life. Psalms 105:14-15 “He permitted no one to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.”
R.A. Torrey was the first head of the Moody Bible Institute. He was the minister of D.L.
Moody much like Elisha was to Elijah. He was university trained at Yale, a highly acclaimed
university to this day. Mr. Moody, on the other hand, was not a “man of letters” but was, at best, a
high school graduate. He was, however, the man anointed for that time. So when Mr. Moody
would tell Mr. Torrey what to preach and Mr. Torrey would balk, Mr. Moody’s response was, “You
do as you’re told.” And you know what? Mr. Torrey did as he was told and respected the anointing
of the office.
As a footnote to what has been said earlier, many insecure leaders may be disturbed at the words in
this section. Some of you have taught that, as a leader, you should never reveal any weaknesses to
the people. You should know all the answers and be the one that God speaks to. I’ve got news for
you; the people will find weaknesses in you that you didn’t even know were there. Also, if God is
in your ministry, He will place people in your midst to support you with prophetic words and
insights from God. Why? Ephesians 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of
the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Your confidence must be in God and in what
He has called you to do. Your testimony must be that of Paul’s: I Timothy 1:12 “And I thank
Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the
ministry.” Your source must be Christ Jesus for it is He who enabled (empowered) you and put you
into the ministry that He wanted. Your life and your ministry is in His hands. This is not a call to relaxation but a call to confidence in the Lord Jesus for He is the one that empowers and sends. I
Corinthians 12:18 “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”
3. CONTEMPT FOR THE LEADER.
(In his third appeal, as Absalom stands before God, he might realize that he is without excuse and
let his true feelings come out: “I disgraced David by laying with his concubines! He was a pitiful
excuse for a king. Something had to be done and I’m glad I did it!” Once again, these are the
words of the spirit of Absalom — PLEASE, don’t let it be you!)
2 Samuel 16:20-22 “Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give advice as to what we should do.”
And Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong.” So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”
This reason for rebellion and the next are the two most evil sources of rebellion. These are
things that should not be once mentioned among the people of God but, unfortunately, they do
occur. There is no excuse for this attitude towards ANYONE but, unfortunately, it has happened
in the body of Christ. I chose the word “contempt” rather than “hatred” because contempt covers more areas. Contempt refers to something (or someone) that is despised, dishonored, or disgraced. Someone who is looked upon with contempt is viewed as vile (evil, low, bad, detestable) or worthless. (To bring it down to everyday life, the one you roll your eyes at is the one you view with contempt.) In the legal system, when someone is in “contempt of court,” they disobey and show open disrespect for the rules of the court and, because of this, it’s a quick way to spend a night in prison. Christians will never admit to hating someone, but their actions show that they have contempt for their leader.
(Remember: This “leader” could be your worship leader, Sunday School leader, Usher leader,
Board president, your supervisor on your job, your parents, or your pastor. Rebellion can appear
in any area of your life.) Because you just can’t stand the person or you resent the position they
are in, you refuse to show them respect, you refuse to obey them, and you work to make them
look bad. All of this is part of the spirit of Absalom. Someone will see your actions and will be
inspired to treat the leader the same way. By your actions, you have brought not only yourself
into judgment but you have led someone down the same path.
4. MALICIOUS INTENT TO DESTROY.
(As Absalom continues to stand before God, realizing that he is without excuse and letting his true
feelings come out, he might add: “I intended to take the kingdom from David! I wanted to see him
off the throne and DEAD! He was a pitiful excuse for a king. He did nothing about my sister.
Something had to be done and I’m glad I did it!” Once again, these are the words of the spirit of
Absalom — PLEASE, don’t let it be you!)
II Samuel 15:1; 5-6 “1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him
chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 5 And it was so, that when any man
came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. 6
And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom
stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” 2 Samuel 17:1-4 “Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and weak, and make him afraid. And all the people who are with him will flee, and I will strike only the king. Then I will bring back all the people to you. When all return except the man whom you seek, all the people will be at peace.” And the saying pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.” The death of David, Absalom’s father, the sweet psalmist of Israel, the
anointed of God, pleased Absalom well. God help us!
This is probably the most evil source of rebellion. This rebellion has no excuse. It fully intends
to overthrow what you have for personal gain or for your embarrassment. This is the spirit of
Absalom. Yes, he could claim past injustices but he too had done wrong. He had murdered his
brother and, by the mercy of the king, continued to live even though he should have died
according to the law. Somewhere in all of this, Absalom lost sight of what HE had done and set
about to destroy his father. How often do we see ministers who have been saved and blessed
because of a church and a church leader and then turn around and attack that leader? This is the
same spirit that caused the “friend” of Julius Caesar, Brutus, to turn on him and literally put a
knife in his “friend’s” back. This type of rebellion will be brutally judged by God. The person
who engages in this should hope that God judges them in this life and opens their eyes that they
might repent and not have to face the wrath to come.
5. MISSING THE WILL OF GOD.
(Finally, as Absalom stands before God, this might be his final excuse, now that he realizes that
God is unimpressed with his anger and he tries to humble himself but it’s too late: “I didn’t know
what I was doing. I thought David didn’t care about what happened with my sister or even with his
oldest son. I figured that since he didn’t care about his oldest son, certainly he doesn’t care about
me. I felt that something had to be done!” In our dialogue, these will be the final words of the
spirit of Absalom as he stands before God to give account of the deeds in his body — please,
please, please, don’t let it be you!)
2 Samuel 13:37-39 37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of
Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. 38 So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur,
and was there three years. 39 And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for
he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead. Isn’t the attitude of David
interesting? He was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead. That’s what David was
supposed to have done to keep sin out of Israel. Amnon had sinned a sin with a death penalty but
David did not carry it out. Absalom did carry it out and David now felt at peace about the whole
thing but he sure missed his son.
This source of rebellion does not always stem from the type of evil desires and intents as the
previous kinds mentioned, but it has the same effect. This source is rooted in a lack of
understanding of the will of God whether it be for you or for someone else who impacts you. An
example of this type of rebellion is Lot, the nephew of Abraham.
Genesis 13:7-12 “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it waswell watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.”
This move represents one of the stupidest mistakes ever made. Lot had prospered but only because of Abraham. This prosperity between the both of them caused strife but Abraham, understanding the will of God, was willing to do whatever needed to be done to put down the rebellion. (The rebellion was among the hired hands. Abraham fully understands that this was something that he could fix and that he would fix it. Lot obviously did not have the same mind.) Lot, in his carnal mind, looked up and chose the prosperous ground, which led to the wicked city of Sodom. Almost every
school child understands what happened later with Lot, his wife, and his children. The problem
was that Lot did not appreciate or understand that Abraham had a promise while he (Lot) only
had a bloodline.
Genesis 12:3 “And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curseth you: and in YOU (Abraham, not Lot) shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Does God judge us for this kind of rebellion? Would God be so unfair as to require this of me when I did not understand the will of God? The answer is clearly stated in Ephesians 5:17 “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” .
Here is another real example and has been repeated in various forms throughout the years in the church.
Brother Jack is a faithful member of a local church. He has been a member a number of years and has grown up to a point. Now, however, the growing has basically stopped. He visits other churches when his church is not having service and has become exposed to all types of wonders that are expanding his soul. The more he sees, the more frustrated he becomes with his home church. God sent him to his home church and God has let him know that soon (but not yet) He will move him on. The waiting on God’s time is eating at him and he has become less faithful, less punctual, and less Christ-like in his attitude while waiting. Brother Jack is spreading seeds of rebellion through his actions. Many pastors would look at this example and say that this is a reason why people should not visit on their own but that’s a shortsighted approach. Even if you have the most dynamic ministry going, the people belong to God and He will place them where they will best benefit His kingdom. Brother Jack must realise that no matter how frustrated he is, HE IS IN THE WILL OF GOD … if he stays where he is. However, every time he complains, he is NOT in God’s will. Be careful! The seeds of rebellion are deceitful, elusive, and sly. We must not be unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is!
Is There Judgment on Rebellion?
God does not like rebellion and He deals with it harshly. We’ll look at two examples in detail
beginning with Absalom. After that, as promised, we’ll take a look at the end result of the
rebellion of Korah.
2 Samuel 18:14-17 “Then Joab said, “I cannot linger with you.” And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him. So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.”
In concluding the history of Absalom, he brought the rebellious country into battle against King David. Many were killed in the battle as part of the judgment against rebellion. (2 Samuel 18:7 Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.) After the battle began to be lost, Absalom fled and got his magnificent head of hair caught in a tree that he rode under. From that vantage point, he became an easy target for Joab, David’s general. Notice one key point in verse 17, when the cause of the rebellion was eliminated, the rebellion ceased. Once Absalom was killed, the people of God went home and the rebellion stopped. Rebellion is a cancer among God’s people. To eliminate it, the source of the rebellion must have a heart transformation or they must be moved out of the picture. (Are you viewed as a source of rebellion, a ringleader in a cause to stir up something? Are you afraid that you may be the reason others have turned from the one(s) in authority over them? I urge you to quickly repent and work to fix what you have done before God begins to move you out of the picture!)
Let’s go back and revisit the rebellion of Korah from Numbers 16. Korah was of the tribe of
Levi. He was already privileged to be a part of the priesthood and, with that, came the unique
opportunity to minister unto the Lord. When Korah and his crew presented their rebellion to
Moses, he reminded them of what they already had. Numbers 16:8-10 “Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?”
(While on this topic, we must never lose sight of what we already have. As stated before when we dealt with the sources of rebellion, it often comes from wanting what you don’t have or a desire to move up without paying the price that God wants you to pay.)
Korah and his crew were not finished in their evil ways. Rebellion often brings with it an ugly
attitude that makes the people of God scratch their head and wonder about the salvation of the
one who is rebelling. Look at how those who were in the rebellion with Korah responded when
Moses called for them to come to the tabernacle. Numbers 16:12-14 “And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
This is awful! Look at the attitude of the people of God. Because they are so deceived in the rebellion, they refuse to listen to what Moses says. They see Moses as an opportunist (he was using them?) who has made himself the leader over them (see how they refuse to acknowledge the anointing of his office?), as one who has not fulfilled his promises (thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards), and as one who may do them bodily harm (wilt thou put out the eyes of these men). They see this because they are blinded by their rebellion and the ugliness of their attitude has begun to come out. This kind of spirit invites the judgment of God on the life of the rebel. Beware! This ugly attitude compounds the judgment because they turned meek Moses into an angry man who prayed against them.
Numbers 16:15 “And Moses was very angry, and said unto the LORD, Respect not their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.” When we rebel, we make
it difficult for the leader to remember us kindly in prayer. The quick response is, “If they have
the Spirit of God, then they’ll do right.” That shoe also fits on the one who rebels. Let’s go to the conclusion of the sad story of the rebellion of Korah. Unfortunately, the conclusion is worse than with Absalom. The whole earth opened beneath them and swallowed them up and even those that rebelled with them were devoured by the fire of The Lord (Numbers 16:28-35)
Everyone involved in this rebellion was eliminated unlike with Absalom where only the rebel
was punished. That’s the danger. You don’t know how God will judge the rebellion but rest
assured that He will judge it. In concluding this section, here are some additional Scriptures to
meditate on regarding God’s judgment on rebellion. Some of them deserve a study of their own
but here’s the main point of them: Please saints, let us be careful!
Proverbs 17:11 An evil man seeks only rebellion: therefore a CRUEL MESSENGER shall be sent against him.” Who is going to send this “cruel messenger?” Let’s see the workings of God in the spirit world.
1 Kings 22:19-20 “Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw theLord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.” The cruel messenger is sent by God! Also compare
what it says in First Timothy 1:18-20.
Isaiah 1:19-20 “If you will be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land: But if you
refuse and rebel, YOU SHALL BE DEVOURED WITH THE SWORD: for the mouth of the
LORD hath spoken it.” Many swords have come into our lives and we cannot see the hand of God working against us for our rebellious ways.
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: FOR THAT IS UNPROFITABLE FOR YOU.” While you’re looking for a blessing, you’re also messing up your blessing because you make the work of those watching for your soul grievous.
1 Peter 1:17 “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;” Let’s learn how
to fear God and do as He says!
How To Stop Rebellion
I Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ. I have asked the Lord this before and He was faithful and just to give me a ready
answer that enables me to keep my soul right. However, it’s a never-ending battle to keep the
flesh under submission and the spirit of Absalom from coming in. “Rebellion is so deceptive, so
subtle. It can sneak in when I’m most vulnerable – when I’ve been hurt by the one who God has
told me to obey. How do I fight it? How do I keep my spirit right? The Bible warnings are so
terrifying that I want no part of this sin! On top of that, there are things that I will run into in my
Christian life that I will not like. There will be times that I KNOW I can do better. There may
even be situations where I feel like God has called me to do something that my leader is keeping
me from doing. What shall I do? I must have the victory over this in my life! I don’t want to
find myself working against God’s program. What shall I do?” I don’t have a ready answer but
thanks be unto God that He does. These are remedies that He impressed upon my spirit to share