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   And why call ye Me, “Master, Master, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46.

   Preaching is hard, unappreciated work. Just consider the Master Preacher, the true Light come to enlighten men who love(d) the darkness (John 1:9, 5) rather, and would not to come to the Light, lest their deeds should be reproved (John 3:19-20).
   One might conclude, it wasn’t a fair exchange that One Who would spend His nights on Olivet praying, interceding, supplicating, for a people, among whom the next day, He would give and be given, loving more abundantly, though He should be less loved (Luke 21:37-38), should just become acquainted with the grief of being despised and rejected of them (Isa. 53:3), and in the end be numbered among transgressors on Golgoleth (Isa. 53:12) … there, bleeding and dying as an Heaven-sent Atonement and Redemption-Price for their sin.

Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel
   But Preachers of every age have suffered by the tongues, and at the hands, of them to whom they were sent.
   Moses, like his peer Jeremiah nine hundred years later (Jer. 1:6), protested that he was slow of speech (Exod. 4:10) – precisely, the sort of men whom Yahweh could use; such as the unlearned and ignorant men fifteen centuries later who, like their Master, were few among many more ‘learned’ but from whom was withheld that ability come of Above to speak with such authority as they (1 Pet. 4:11) – but afterward, endured with his Commissioner the murmurings of an obdurate, obstinate, and recalcitrant people who thought themselves equal in stature with him (Num. 12:2, 16:3).
   And though he should be provoked into disobedience by their unruly dispositions so that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips (Num. 20:8-12; Psa. 106:33), his recompense of being deprived admittance into the Promised Land was a blessing in disguise, as his successor Joshua continued to bear the grievous burden of a people inclined more to serving themselves than to serving Yahweh.
   The Prophet Isaiah mused,
   I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way [that was] not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificed in gardens and burneth incense upon altars of brick; which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable [things is in] their vessels; which say, “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day, Isaiah 65:2-5.
   Of them, he concluded, from the sole of the foot even to the head, there was no soundness; the whole head, sick; the whole heart, faint (Isa. 1:6, 5). There was little need, wrote he, of continuing with them, for they would but revolt more and more (Isa. 1:5) – like dogs, or swine even, which trample underfoot the Pearls of Great Price, then turn and rend the messenger (Matt. 7:6).
   The Prophet Jeremiah, too – having earned the cognomen, the suffering prophet – suffered at, and by the hands, of them whom he would reprove, correct, instruct, rebuke, and exhort. He sent His Word, written and delivered to the sovereign of his people who, lightly esteeming Its message, cut and discarded Heaven’s discourse into the fire (Jer. 36:4-26). Deemed instead, as one who troubled Judah, the Prophet was cast into a miry pit, there to famish … though later, through the intercession of a king’s servant, he was restored (Jer. 38:4-13).
   Faced with certain exile into Babylon, the people of Judah, with dissembled hearts, petitioned the Prophet to seek direction as to their matter from Yahweh … but once His answer was delivered, they rejected it in favor of their own will (Jer. 44:16-17). Little wonder, the Prophet would commiserate with himself, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His Name” (Jer. 20:9). Little wonder, that another – the Apostle Paul, declaring himself as one born out of due time (1 Cor. 15:8), should in his discouragement with ministry, write, “From henceforth let no man trouble me …” (Gal. 6:17). (Could it be, this is what the Master meant when He affirmed to Ananias, “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake?” Acts 9:16.)
   Nevertheless, Jeremiah was ordained as Yahweh’s spokesman with the Sovereign’s putting forth His hand and touching his mouth, and saying, “Behold, I have put My Words in thy mouth” (Jer. 1:9). Yes, though he found it wearisome dealing with a gainsaying and disobedient people, Yahweh’s Word was in his heart as a burning fire shut up in his bones, so that he could not but speak that which had been impressed thereon (Jer. 20:9). Like the Apostle Paul who would follow more than six hundred years later – though he should be appointed to death; was made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men; indeed, the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things (1 Cor. 4:9, 13) – woe to him if he should decline from his appointment (1 Cor. 9:16).
   The Prophet Ezekiel, as a watchman to the house of Israel, received of his Commissioner, an ominous message (Ezek. 3:17) – words, grievous to be uttered before a stiff-necked, hard-hearted people. Yet, to forbear giving them warning; to neglect the duty to which he had been chosen and ordained, would incur upon himself, the wrath and indignation of the Almighty. Yes, the Prophet appreciated more than his constituency, that it should be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of Living, Consuming Fire (Heb. 10:31, 12:29).
   Daniel dared to withstand Darius. And for this he was cast into a den of lions. But his faithfulness toward Yahweh – when it should have been more convenient to have addressed his petition to the king instead of to the King (Dan. 6:7) – positioned him among the Hebrews’ heroes of faith … accorded honorable mention, in that narrative (Heb. 11:33).

Yahshua and the Apostles
   Yahshua, too – though no man had spoken as He (John 7:46) – experienced grief of mind and sorrow of heart … having more to say than hearts of unbelief could bear (John 16:12). (The Apostle Paul would later discover this same dullness of hearing with the people of Corinth, 1 Cor. 3:1-3.)
   And though the Anointed One had been so long time with men chosen and ordained to succeed Him in the Vicariate, some would sometimes be seized with unbelief … in spite of them having with their ears heard, and their eyes seen (1 John 1:1), and themselves spoken many wonderful words and done many good works that had healed them oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). Yes, some, when they ought to have rejoiced for the consolation they had been visited by the Desire of the Ages, instead betrayed Him (Matt. 26:47-49); fled and forsook Him when He might have been succored by a friend (Matt. 26:56); denied His acquaintance (Matt. 26:69-75); and like so many others of Jewry, doubted His resurrection … requiring a sign to substantiate His resurrection (John 20:24-29).
   But later though, of them who had endured and been endued with Power from on High, they would, as well, share His sorrow and His suffering when they, were subjected to men’s persecution and forbidding them to speak or teach at all in That Name That is above every name (Phil. 2:9) … that None Other Name under Heaven given among men whereby men can be saved (Acts 4:12), boldly without the fear that had been their color in Gethsemane, replied, “We ought to obey Yahweh rather than man … for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 5:29; 4:20).

Contemporary Preachers
   And, today, some also labor in the Word and Doctrine among a people who ought to repent and show their deeds but who instead, recompense the others’ selfless work, by continuing in and, becoming increased in, those things which had, and yet do, distract, draw them away, and beset them. Thus, do they manifest themselves little different from others who had also done injury to their election by grace and their calling to become a peculiar people.
   Not at all, are some very much different in thought and activity from their peers of antiquity: rejecting the chosen and ordained, and the studied who show themselves workmen approved of Yahweh (2 Tim. 2:15), having that ability come of Above to rightly divide and speak the Truth as an Oracle (1 Pet. 4:11). Some, like their fathers before them, refuse obedience to the Rule imposed upon them (Luke 19:14; Heb. 13:17), unknowing … and uncaring to know, that it is not even so much men from whom they have declined, as it is He (1 Sam. 8:7).
   For behold, for when they are questioned for their unruly conduct, they revile (Matt. 5:11) and are not afraid to speak all manner of evil against their tutors (2 Pet. 2:10) – as if these, whose appointment is without the Throne’s recall, were in the trespass and transgression – but whose only intent and purpose is to perfect that which is lacking in their faith (1 Thess. 3:10), in order to present them a people having apprehended and attained unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Anointed One (Eph. 4:13).
   Yea, better they which think more highly of themselves (Rom. 12:3) than what they appear to be, should take heed to, and give the more earnest heed to the prophets sent them rather, to esteeming them very highly in love (1 Thess. 5:13) which admonish (1 Thess. 5:12) and sow among them spiritual things (1 Cor. 9:11).
   Better, they should continue steadfastly in (Acts 2:42); earnestly contend for (Jude 1:3) and obey from the heart that form of doctrine that is delivered them (Rom. 6:17). And more also, that they should obey and submit themselves, according double honor to those (1 Tim. 5:17) who stand as vicars of the Messiah before Whom, as stewards of Secret and Mystery, they will account for how they have watched for the others’ souls … that their reckoning might be given with joy and not with such grief that will be unprofitable for their spiritual constituencies (Heb 13:17).

   Of a truth, there should be no greater joy, no greater reward, bestowed upon His ministers than to both see and hear their charges walking in obedience to the Truth (2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:4); and no greater reward bestowed upon both the called out and elect, and their minister, than an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that will endure through eternity (1 Pet. 4:4).

-Elder John W. Reece

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