In Genesis 1:26-28 we see the creation of humanity, of man and woman in the image of God. No other creatures bear the stamp of God, His Image, as do we. While all humanity bears that stamp, we know it takes a saving faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; a faith and trust in Him alone to bring us eternal salvation and to give us the name, Children of God. Yet even among His Children there has been a group of people that bore a special responsibility that went beyond being one of His Children, those chosen to reveal His Word or rule with His Authority. Throughout Scripture it did not bode well for those who treated God’s anointed as common (by that I mean less than special or holy).
When I speak of those whom He has chosen to lead, I am not talking about those called to ministry, called to preach, teach, or otherwise serve, such as we see today. I am speaking of those directly spoken to by God, those to whom He revealed that which is now part of the Word of God, or those He specifically chose to lead. I find all these people in the pages of the Bible. The Lord has revealed all we need know in His Word, the Lord has walked the earth, and after His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, His Church was established when the Spirit indwelt the believers at Pentecost, when the Church of Jesus Christ was born. There is no need of new revelation from the Lord, we have in Christ the head of the Church and as such need no further direct and divine anointing of leaders or prophets to guide us.
In the past, bad things happened to those who treated poorly those the Lord anointed to lead or teach. Just look at what happens in Numbers 12:
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said,
“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.
Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?”
So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. – Numbers 12:1-10
It is clear in this passage that Moses is anointed of God, and to treat him as common angered the Lord. Even when it is done by someone as close to Moses as his brother and sister, the Lord did not tolerate it. As you read through the Exodus account you see what happens to those who treated Moses badly or took him lightly. Read up on Korah and his little rebellion in Numbers 16. Those God anointed to lead (like Moses) and to reveal His will (like the various prophets and apostles) are to be respected. Those going up against them did not fare well in the biblical accounts, even if various prophets and apostles were killed or martyred.
David, although anointed of God to be king over the people of Israel refused to take action to kill Saul. God had anointed Saul, God had lifted that anointing from Saul and placed it on David. But David did not take matters into his own hands, but awaited God’s timing and God’s actions to remove Saul and place himself onto the throne. Going down into Saul’s camp one night, facing a sleeping Saul, the man who was hunting David relentlessly, look at what transpired:
Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” David said furthermore, “As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go.” – 1 Samuel 26:8-11
You can see why God called David a man after His own heart; in this instance David chose to trust God, and God’s timing and not take things upon himself that God had anointed. We are to reverence the Word of God, just as we are to reverence His Person. Those He appointed to lead, reveal His will or teach are to be treated with respect. We are to accept what is written in the Bible as truth and respect those whom God chose to reveal it to, no matter what else they did as chronicled in the Word of God. Don’t poke fun at them, don’t mock them. And certainly don’t think yourself better.
As for those today who are rightly dividing the Word of Truth, they should be honored and respected as well. Those who are not should be corrected with love, and failing that, cast out of the assembly when no further hope of repentance and reconciliation is there.
The things of God are often beyond our comprehension but should never be outside of our respect and reverence. His decisions are never wrong and are never to be second guessed. Ours is just to obey in faith, for someday the rewards received will be beyond our imagination.