Popular Nigerian pastor and columnist, Femi Aribisala has learnt his intellectual voice to the practice of Christianity in Nigeria which has come under questioning in recent times.
Jesus warns believers to be wary of thieves and robbers. He says: “I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” (John 10:7-8).
Who precisely are the thieves and robbers of whom Jesus speaks? Is he talking about men who mug us in the streets? Is he talking about highway robbers who snatch our cars? Or is he talking about those who break into our houses in the dead of night? Listen and understand.
The thieves and robbers of primary concern to Jesus are the pastors of our churches. Jesus’ message is that pastors and other so-called “men of God” are thieves and robbers who steal, kill and destroy. Quoting Jeremiah, Jesus blasted pastors: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:13).
Jeremiah says the church building should not be confused for the temple of God: “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord,” (Jeremiah 7:4). He says further-more: “My people have been lost sheep; their pastors have led them astray.” (Jeremiah 50:6). Ezekiel is of the same opinion.
He says: “Woe to the pastors who feed themselves instead of their flocks. Shouldn’t pastors feed the sheep? You eat the best food and wear the finest clothes, but you let your flocks starve.” (Ezekiel 34:2-3). Is this not directly applicable to many of today’s highfalutin pastors? Isaiah says: “They are as greedy as dogs, never satisfied; they are stupid pastors who only look after their own interest, each trying to get as much as he can for himself from every possible source.” (Isaiah 56:11). Does this not acc-urately describe today’s pastors who use all kinds of tricks and shenanigans to fleece the flock of their hard-earned money?
Robbers of God
God asks in Malachi: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. ‘But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me.” (Malachi 3:8-9). Pastors use this scripture to browbeat their church-members and extort money from them. However, what they hide from unsuspecting Christians is the fact that the thieves said to be robbing God here are actually not the people of Israel, but the Levites and pastors themselves. As is still commonplace today, the pastors of biblical Israel were stealing the tithes and offerings of the people, and converting them to personal use. (1 Samuel 2:28-35). All through Malachi, pastors are the objects of God’s angst: “It is you, O priests, who show con-tempt for my name.
But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ You place defiled food on my altar.” (Malachi 1:6-7). The Levites were replacing the unblemished sacrificial animals with crippled and diseased ones. (Malachi 1:8). “This admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honour my name, I will send a curse upon you.” (Malachi 2:1-2). The priests were fraudsters: “The lips of a priest ought to pre-serve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruct-ion—because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble.” (Malachi 2:7-8).
Moreover, the widows, the fatherless and the aliens were going hungry because the priests were denying them the portion of the tithes and offerings that God expressly reserved for them. (Malachi 3:5). Therefore, God is insistent: “Bring ALL the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” (Malachi 3:10). Since these same Levites were the ones required to atone for the sins of Israel, their thievery was in danger of bringing a curse on the whole nation.
Therefore, God promises to send Jesus; his “messenger of the covenant,” to purify, in this in-stance, the priests and not the people: “He shall purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.” (Malachi 3:3). That process ultimately involves the replacement of the Levitical priesthood established after the order of Aaron, with a completely new Messianic priesthood, esta-blished after the order of Melchi-sedec. (Hebrews 7:11-16). This would fulfil God’s long-standing plan: “I will establish ONE pastor over them, and he shall feed them- my servant David. He shall feed them and be their pastor.” (Ezekiel 34:23-24).
This one true pastor is none other than Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Good Samaritan who minist-ered to the man attacked by robbers on Jericho road, while the priest and the Levite ignored him. (Luke 10:30-35). With Jesus replacing them High Priest: “the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.” (Malachi 3:4). Thus when Jesus finally arrived, he declared: “All who ever came before me were thieves and rob-bers, but the sheep did not listen to them. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good pastor.
The good pastor lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:8-12). It should therefore be clear that the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy is none other than the pastor. Pastors are “bad” all-in-all; but Jesus is “the good pastor.” Accordingly, under the New Covenant, says Jesus: “There will be one flock and ONE PASTOR.” (John 10:16). That means all those still parading themselves as pastors today are thieves and impostors. With the replacement of the Levitical priesthood, there should be nobody still collecting tithes today, calling himself a Levite or pastor. Jesus forbids this, saying: “Do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for one is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.” (Matthew 23:8-9).
If you still don’t get it that pastors are the thieves who steal, kill and destroy, listen to Hosea: “The priests are like a gang of robbers who wait in ambush for a man. Even on the road to the holy place at Shechem they commit murder.” (Hosea 6:9). Shechem was a “city of refuge” and of Levites and priests. But the very priests God had appointed to teach the truth that people might live, were those endangering their lives. Answer me this: who killed Jesus? Was he not killed by pastors? Who said in Jesus’ parable of the landowner and the vinedressers: “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance?” (Matthew 21:38).
Was it not the vinedressers, represented today by pastors? Never forget: pastors killed Jesus. Every day, today’s pastors testify against themselves that they are the descendants of those who killed Jesus. They rob men of God determined that they, and not God, should be the gods of their lives.
In effect, the armed robber steals from men with a gun in his hand: the pastor steals from men by brandishing the bible. Therefore, Jesus says to pastors: “Assuredly, tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31).