Don’t Count the Congregation

“For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beer–sheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people. And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my Lord the king may see it: but why doth my Lord the king delight in this thing? Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel” – 2 Samuel 24:2-4

God had brought David many mighty victories by God’s own hand and the congregation of Israel began to increase. Then David began to get prideful, boastful, and arrogant thinking that a large following reflected his greatness. He commanded to count the congregation as a determination of his successes, and the Lord counted it as wickedness.

In fact, an angel of the Lord came with a plague and wiped out 70,000 of them in one day. Proving that the Lord giveth and the Lord can take away. None of it was because of David’s greatness, in fact it was actually in spite of him and his frailties that it was given and this was a lesson that was needed for David. Though it cost him and his congregation greatly to learn it.

I think that many among the church today might do well to be reminded of this. That God positions us all in our place in the body and calls us to do His good work and will and when we are obedient to it, most will not like or appreciate it. Therefore to use numbers of followers as a measure of success is very dangerous. God had to act quickly and sternly to prevent David from developing and spreading that kind of mindset.

Of the original 2,000,000 that Moses led out of Egypt, only two made it into the promised land. Paul, after giving up all to travel, preach, and start churches becoming the cheif Apostle to the gentiles. A man who’s messages are still preached in every church around the world today. Yet in his own day he was chased out of every place that he went to preach. In one city he was stoned and thrown out as dead, got up and went back in and kept preaching. Yet at the end he tells Timothy that only Luke was with him and that at one point no man stood with him. Many of the churches that he had planted had turned against him and most were preaching that God was against him and that his hardships and imprisonments were evidence of it. These men had fallen to the deception that followings determine success in God’s Kingdom when historically it is usually quite the opposite.

Praise God when preachers preach the truth and men receive it, but the truth is that they rarely do. Noah preached righteousness for 120 years and only managed to save 7 members of his on family and himself, but he changed the world doing it.

The measure of success in the Kingdom of God is not masses of followers but humble obedience. Did you go where God told you, stay where God put you, and deliver the message that He gave you no matter who received, despised, or rejected you for it. Because we are called to be a witness, to testify of the Words of God, the teachings of scripture, and the testimony of Jesus. Those who receive it in faith will be saved by the grace it offers to those who believe. Those who reject it will give an account for that decision before the courts of heaven where we will be called once again to be a witness. Only this time we won’t witness to them of God’s words, we will witness against them of their words to God. That they received the truth and are without excuse.

Who was a better example of this then Jesus? He who is called by God “The Faithful Witness”. He who said, “they hate me because I come to bare witness of them that their deeds are evil.” Jesus, the most successful in God’s Kingdom in all of existence was not impressed by the masses. He had barely more then 12 and one of them was a devil. Yet He did the Fathers will and those few that He was faithful to Shepherd changed the world. Just like Noah’s few, or Moses’s 2, or Paul’s handful.

My friend, get this in your spirit, biblically and historically those who followed the masses usually ended up following the counterfeits and the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jesus Himself warned us of this when He said that they would lead many to the broad and easy way of destruction. While he reminds us that the few who were true were not usually excepted by those they were called to speak too.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12

Jeremiah was thrown into a pit and eventually stoned, Isaiah was sawed in half, Maciah was imprisoned, Ezekiel was killed, John of Patmos was exiled to an island, John the Baptizer was beheaded, the disciples were martyred. Were they not successful because they had few followers? No, quite the opposite. The counterfeits in fancy garb in their elevated pulpits had the masses while speaking to them lies and hypocrisies that flattered and fluffed their depravity. All the while the truth was being despised and rejected, along with the ones who spoke it, as those faithful few stood as witnesses before men, demons, and all of heaven. Like Stephen who got a standing ovation from an angelic congregation and even Jesus Himself, while the masses stoned him as a heretic. Let history bare record of them, that they did the will of the Father and there is no other measure of success then this, that they were obedient, even when no one liked it.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:24-27

Where did the church get this idea that to be liked and excepted by the masses was a measure of success in the Kingdom of God?

When biblically usually only the counterfeits, false prophets, heathens, and Pharisee had the big followings. When did we stop believing that straight is the gate and narrow is the way and “few” are they that find it?

My friend I assure you of this, that if you look to be part of the crowd then you will follow them straight to hell because that’s where the “many” or going. They think they will make it to heaven but they won’t. Jesus Himself said this. He said that they will say on that day that they did many wonderful things in their churches in His Name professing Him as their Lord and King, but while they professed with their lips their hearts were still far from Him. He will be forced to tell them, “depart from Me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you.

Many or they that are called, but the chosen are few. The few that do the will of the Father that is in heaven. No matter who hated them for it. No matter how humble, sacrificial, or un-glorious. No matter how lonely it was. To do the will of the Father was enough. Even if the work was thankless, this side of heaven. To hear those words spoke to us when we enter in, “well done My good and faithful servant, enter into your rest”, will be worth it all in the end.

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” – John 4:34-35

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