To be up to speed on this topic please read Part One first.
(All scriptures NKJV unless otherwise stated)
“…..then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.” ( Isaiah 4:5)
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Ps. 91:4
IT’S ABOUT HIS NAME
“Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:1-2)
As we see from this portion of scripture, the question “who covers you?” is not new. The chief priests, scribes and elders were not simply asking Jesus where His supernatural power came from. More than that, they wanted a NAME. “Who is he?’ Come on, tell us Jesus, who is the scribe, who is the rabbi, who is the prophet who covers you? And no more of that over-spiritualised talk about your Father. We want the name of the person who said you could do these things!”
The apostle Paul confronted a similar problem in the Corinthian church.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 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 baptised in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:10-13)
The Lord is jealous over us concerning His Name. We were bought and paid for by His Blood, and His Name is the only Name by which we are to identify ourselves. When believers choose to find their identity in another name other than His, the Spirit is grieved and His Name is dishonoured.
IT’S ABOUT THE FLESH
“Don’t ever let anyone call you
Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. And don't address anyone here on earth asFather,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you `Master,’ for there is only one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. ” (Matthew 23:8-11, NLT)
The Corinthians were apparently separating into factions according to whom they considered was the most authoritative teacher. They were following after men, and for that reason Paul took issue with them. Further in his letter he goes on to challenge them by describing this kind of mindset as carnal and fleshly rather than spiritual:
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?” (1 Cor. 3:1-4)
Finally, he instructs them:
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:21-23)
The Corinthians had become so obsessed with the attributes of certain teachers they were idolising them. They wanted to regard particular individuals as their “master”, “father”, or “teacher”, but Paul wanted them to understand that in doing so they were falling short of their full inheritance in Christ. He wanted them to see that all of these teachers, belonged to them as servant-ministers, and not the other way around.
IT’S ABOUT A SUBSTITUTE KING
At the heart of the Corinthians’ idolatry was the age-old desire for a ruler, a king. The flesh would much rather fear man than fear God. The flesh would much rather submit to the control of law than submit to the freedom of the Spirit. This principle is seen throughout scripture.
Afraid they would die, the Israelites begged Moses to be God’s messenger to them, rather than hear His Voice for themselves.
“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” ( Exodus 20:18-19)
God desired for the people to hear Him for themselves, but they refused. Effectively, the Israelites were elevating Moses as their mediator. The entire nation had been called as a kingdom of priests, but their preference was to be ruled by one man. (Exodus 19:1-9)
Many years later, when the prophet Samuel officiated as Israel’s judge, Israel’s carnal desire for a man-king surfaced again.
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day–with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods–so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behaviour of the king who will reign over them.” So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behaviour of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.” (1 Samuel 8:4-22)
The key to Israel’s demand for a human king, rather than the direct reign of Yahweh over them, was “that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” They wanted a name and a face that could “go out before” them. They wanted someone visible they could show the other nations. They wanted a symbol, a token leader who could take responsibility for how they would live and conduct their lives. They wanted someone with a reputation they could identify with. They wanted to be like the world. They wanted human “covering.”
You see, friends, there is a place for governmental leadership, there is a place for accountability within the Body, there is a place for submission to legitimate God-delegated authority. All these are valid and in order, but only insofar as they are not permitted to substitute for the direct rule of God in our lives. And only insofar as they are not sought out as a counterfeit for the sovereignty and rulership of the Holy Spirit within each believer.
IT’S OF A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.” (Ezekiel 28:14)
Many Bible scholars agree that God’s rebuke to the “king of Tyre” recorded in Ezekiel 28:1-19 is prophetically addressed to Satan. In it, we find that originally this fallen angel was called the “anointed cherub who covers”. Some scholars believe he was especially anointed to cover the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. In the Presence of God, he walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. The passage states that when iniquity was found in him he was cast out of God’s holy mountain, and removed from the midst of the fiery stones.
This Hebrew word “to cover” means “to hedge, fence about, shut in, block, overshadow, screen, stop the approach, shut off, cover” ( H. “cakak” Strongs 05526 ). It is a word than can be used either in relation to defence or oppression.
Beloved, Satan still desires to walk back and forth in the midst of God’s living, fiery stones. He still desires to be the covering cherub on God’s holy mountain, but the covering he offers is oppressive, designed purely to hinder believers and rob them of the freedom and full potential that is ours through Christ.
The doctrine of covering is an old lie with a new name. It is fundamental to the maintenance of a false hierarchical religious system controlling many Christians in this day. Without the power of this erroneous mindset, it is even doubtful that some sections of the “church” could survive.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is OVER ALL and THROUGH ALL and IN ALL. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
The scriptures plainly state that it is God alone who is OVER all. Only God can cover His people, and only the Holy Spirit can unite them. The most disturbing aspect about the covering teaching is that it subtly encourages believers to look to men and women rather than develop their own deep relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. It upholds a man-made church built on hierarchy rather than a spiritual temple built through the unity of the Spirit. It promotes a class system of rulership by title, human appointment and personality, and devalues the priesthood of every believer. It negates leadership by the Holy Spirit and discourages believers from hearing the direction of the Spirit for themselves. It is a doctrine of demons being used to deceive and bind countless believers.
Now, about that freedom we were talking about at the beginning of this article! Don’t, repeat DON’T, use your newfound liberty as a licence for rebellion against authority. If you have been trapped in this covering doctrine be wise in how you appropriate your freedom. There are many, many humble and faithful men and women overseeing and serving the Body of Christ with humility and devotion, and it may well be that whoever has been “covering” you is one of them. If you are blessed enough to be aligned with a servant-leader who demonstrates true Biblical authority, honour them, support them, and submit to them. But don’t expect them to cover you – that’s not theirs to give.
False doctrines are mindsets and beliefs that can only be cast down by the Spirit and the Word together. And ultimately, our walk in the Spirit is not the responsibility of leadership; it is our own responsibility. It is time for each one of us to choose – do we want the rulership of kings, or do we want the rulership of THE King?
Finally, let me leave you with these thoughts:
1) Who covered Philip when He went down to Samaria and started a revival? (The apostles heard about it and sent Peter and John down to check it out!) (Acts 8:4-8)
2) Who covered Philip when the angel of the Lord directed him to the Gaza desert? (Acts 8:26-40) (There’s no record of the Ethiopian eunuch asking him for his “covering” credentials!)
3)Who covered Ananias when he was sent to pray for Saul? (He went to pray for a known enemy of the church and didn’t event get permission!) (Acts 9:10-18)
4)Who covered Apollos when he taught boldly in the synagogue, even though he had not yet received the full gospel? (Acts 18:24-25)
5)And who covered Aquilla and Priscilla when they took Apollos under their wing to instruct him further? (Acts 18:26)
6)Who covered Agabus when he travelled down from Judea to deliver a prophetic word to Paul? (Acts 21:10)
The answer is the same in each instance: The Holy Spirit covered, protected, led, and enabled. He is the only covering we need. The real question is this: is He the only covering we want?
“IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU.”
Great South Land Ministries
Copyright Cheryl McGrath, Great South Land Ministries, 2003 This article may be distributed freely with copyright intact. Permission is needed for reproducing this article or any part of it on a website.