Purpose of Elders in Covenantalism
In this message we will be looking at the use of elders and overseers by God in dealing with his covenant people in calling the nation to repentance, we will consider the need for covenanting again, and taking seriously the signs of the covenant which, we have affirmed already as we conclude this series on ‘Covenantalism’.
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Delivered on 4-29-2022 / grego. 8-26-2022
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Compiled by JS LOWTHER
Purpose of Elders in Covenantalism
Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Eph 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Eph 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
Eph 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Last two sabbaths I had hoped to convey from scripture the absolute need for faithfulmen, women and families and the faithfulness needed to establish the church as a localized and compacted member of the body of Christ.
True Covenant faithfulness is conceived in the essence of God and pronounced with definition through the Word by the Spirit of His mouth we have as a sure hope wherein do we not only trust our own souls to his salvation, but we also judge our own faithfulness.
Deu_7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
Deu 7:10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.
Deu 7:11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
Deu 7:12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:
Deu 7:13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
Deu 7:14 Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
Deu 7:15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
Do you see the blessing in the keeping of the covenant of God? Do we see the immense blessing offered in our decided faithfulness to his testimonies as they are found written in the holy scriptures to be performed by us?
And as we lay these things to our heart do you realize that God has provided means to implement our covenant faithfulness from the individual to the national level as we firmly are seated upon his Everlasting covenant made of his word alone and fulfilled in the blood of Jesus and accomplished in His justifying resurrection?
Last sabbath we briefly filled out the family requirements of church offices, particularly those of elders, overseers and ministers or deacons. We saw specific requirements of faithfulness comported from the law of God which has always been the requirements of such offices. In regards to the family this man was to rule or lead well, have a sober and faithful wife and to have brought up faithful children.
Beyond general family requirements this man was to be apt to teach and able to put to silence the apostate, the pagan gainsayer, and thus not a novice in doctrine, but rather one who admits open the mysteries of the faith and yet confirms unashamedly the revelations of the faith as well.
These standards have always been the desire of God from faithful leaders, the bible says that a faithful worker of the ministry, is given by Christ for the edifying of his own body. For the very purpose of all coming into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
These have a duty imposed upon their hearts to see men and women and families and kindreds and tribes and nations to be no more like children in these things, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.
These workers of the ministry can see afar off the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
And these workers of the ministry are always found speaking the truth in love, for one immediate and eventual purpose that the church may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
And yet the calling of these men on earth is first found in the ability governing the family, loving his wife as he is taught by the Covenant of Grace and redemption, taking his lead in his love life towards his wife as Christ took the imitative in eternity past towards that elect church, those saints which he loved.
These men secondarily are adjudged worthy of such honor in the Church because they are found faithful fathers, nurturing the children up in the love and admonition of the lord and in most things fatherly ruling in such very well.
Only a man who is elder in age has the ability to demonstrate these qualities, and man of gray or white hairs in his beard as the name implies.
Now why do I do a rehearsal of church government in this series on covenantalism?
I’d like us to consider the place and purpose of the elder in as he links his church and family into the nation and interlinked placement God has assigned to him in linking his church and family to the greater whole of the nation:
God speaks to Moses as his spokesman, but Moses appeals to the elders
Exo 19:3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Exo 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
Exo_19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
Exo 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Exo 19:7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
Exo 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
Joshua is among the first men to be formally called a shepherd or pastor of the sheep of the church of Israel
Num 27:15 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,
Num 27:16 Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
Num 27:17 Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
Num 27:18 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;
A leaders covenant
Jos 24:1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
Jos 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
Jos 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
Jos 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Jos 24:16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
Covenants of war to conquest the heathen and posses the kingdom
Num_21:2 And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.
Num 21:3 And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.
Political and National Covenants of reformation
2Ki 23:1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2Ki 23:2 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.
2Ki 23:3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
2Ki 23:4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
2Ki 23:5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
2Ki 23:6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
2Ki 23:7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
The prophet is sent as a gift of Christ’s spirit to refom the king and elders and nation
2Ch 15:1 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
2Ch 15:2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
2Ch 15:3 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
2Ch 15:4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
2Ch 15:5 And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.
2Ch 15:6 And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
2Ch 15:7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
2Ch 15:8 And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.
2Ch 15:9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
2Ch 15:10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
2Ch 15:11 And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
2Ch 15:12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
2Ch 15:13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
2Ch 15:14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
2Ch 15:15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.
2Ch 15:16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
2Ch 15:17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
2Ch 15:18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
2Ch 15:19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
We know so often that unfaithful men do infact end up becoming elders and even ministers, and these men specificly because of the religiousity surrounding them in title only they are listened to and they lead the people astry away from the Covenant, the testimonies of the covenant, the commandments and the faith.
In all these examples we see the elders playing great role in disseminating the seed of the Gospel in the return to God and His law performed by the elders of the people. The elder overseers, the pastors or shepherds of the congregations of 10’s, 50’s, 100’s, and 1000’s, these were the tribal judges given oversight of the peoples souls, and these were in all cases integral to the repentance of the nation.
In Tit_1:7 we read that a “a bishop/ overseer must be blameless, as the steward of God…”, and the way in wich we understand this best is in seeing How Christ speaks of Himself as God manifest in the flesh as the ‘Good shepherd’:
Joh 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
Joh 10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
Joh 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
Joh 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Joh 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
Joh 10:6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
Joh 10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
Joh 10:8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
Joh 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Joh 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Joh 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Joh 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
Joh 10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
This is what was spoken of by Jeramiah the prophet, which was part of the gifts given in Christ in Eph 4:
The restoration of Pastors
Jer_23:1 Woe to the pastors / shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of their pasture!
Jer 23:2 Therefore thus saith the Lord against them that tend my people; Ye have scattered my sheep, and driven them out, and ye have not visited them: behold, I will take vengeance upon you according to your evil practices.
Jer 23:3 And I will gather in the remnant of my people in every land, whither I have driven them out, and will set them in their pasture; and they shall increase and be multiplied.
Jer 23:4 And I will raise up shepherds to them, who shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be alarmed, saith the Lord.
Consider these verses in looking at the concern good shepherds have for the sheep of the Lord’s pasture which they pastor:
Exo_3:16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
These are used rally and move the people out of bondage, and willing to stand up against pharaoh
Deu_31:28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
These were the ones called with heaven and earth to record the need for their office after the death of Moses to keep the people in mind of the law and gospel.
The call of the Prophet speaks to the ministers and elders to rise up and beseech the people to repent and lament before the LORD and to “spare his people… and give not His heritage a reproach…”
Joe_1:14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
Joe_2:16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet
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