Christian Churches of God
The Basis of Biblical Leadership
(Edition 3.0 19941126-20000212-20070720)
The responsibility of biblical leadership is examined. The Elder is shown to have some significant responsibilities which cannot be avoided. The responsibility of each of the members of the Church is also highly significant.
The Basis of Biblical Leadership
There are so many erroneous views in mainstream Christianity of what the New Testament is all about, because professing Christians have divorced themselves from the words of the Old Testament, which are The Scriptures. They have read into the statements in the New Testament justification for what they are currently doing. The most extraordinary things are used to justify why they do not have to change their position and why they don’t have to do what Christ said.
One thing that is important is the concept of leadership. A lot of people are looking at the New Testament and what they think biblical eldership is and divorcing it from the Old Testament concepts that were mandatory in the terms of leadership. When Christ created the Seventy of the New Testament he was recreating the Sanhedrin or the Council of the Elders. What he was doing was sending a new council out.
This paper starts off with a shearing story.
In the mid-1980s the writer’s family produced a record wool clip with a yield of some 92+%. The average yield is normally 70% of greasy wool. Thus the purity of this yield can be envisaged. The wool managers at the wool stores wanted to know whether the sheep had been put up on blocks to get such a high yield.
Getting the sheep to produce high yields is largely a function of husbandry. We can obtain many lessons from the sheep analogy when we look at leadership within the Church. We are called sheep by analogy and that analogy is appropriate. We are sheep because of the characteristics of sheep. The characteristics of sheep leadership apply to the Church and the servant leaders of the Church.
We will look at the basic requirements of husbanding high-yielding sheep. From these requirements we can then apply them to the elect and see how Church leadership must be properly developed in order to produce high-yielding sheep in Christ's flock or more correctly in Australian terminology, Messiah's “mob”. Large flocks of sheep are termed mobs.
The basic requirements are listed as follows:
An uncontaminated environment;
Sheep have to be protected from predators. However, this family experienced major losses from dingos and thieves.
Assuming that the flock is intact, the production of wool and lambs are related to the seasons and to management.
Sheep ‘cycle’ in accordance with the seasons established by God. The managers need to keep in accord with God's Calendar or the lambing percentages will be down. More particularly, joining of the ram to the ewes has to be controlled and timely. Flock numbers increase through being in accordance with God's system.
Nutrition has to be consistent otherwise the wool becomes tender and there are breaks in the fleece which reduces the ‘staple’ and decreases its ‘usability’ and hence its value.
Weeds have to be kept out of the paddocks. Some weeds affect nutrition; others affect the wool by contaminating the fleece as foreign bodies, such as sticks and grass or burrs, etc.
These are aspects of sheep management. Likewise, Christ's flock has to be given pure food and protected from contaminants. Christ's flock is trained to discern the voice of the shepherd. They prove and test all things in accordance with the master's manual. When other sheep warn of danger the entire mob listens and becomes alert. They do not turn on each other and attempt to silence those doing the warning regardless of the source of the warning.
The provision of rain in due season is essential to the growth of food. Also, good rains at the right time scour the wool, thus assisting the production of a clean fleece. Fat, full-wool sheep can go down under the weight of a heavy wet fleece. A sheep left on its side for any length of time suffers from two dangers. The first is that predators take it easily. This also includes the crows that can peck out its eyes from this position. Eagles also readily kill grown sheep in this position, whereas normally they would take only lambs.
Secondly, sheep left unattended on their side suffer gut problems and need to be stood up quickly and the intestines realigned by simple rubbing. The manager must be alert to sheep that have gone down under the weight of their burdens.
For the ministry of the Church of God it is no different. We must be alert to people who have gone down under the weight of their burdens. Christ and his system (the Church) are not a burden and we should be looking to make life as enjoyable as we can for everybody within the system.
Sheep under intensive conditions are subject to parasites. The more closely grazed, the greater the parasite problem. This also can damage the wool staple causing tender or low-yielding wool. If sheep are packed in and overgraze one’s property new feed needs to be introduced and the grazing paddock opened up. That also works with the word of God. We have to be unlocking books of the Bible and we have to study. All of us have to be opening up new paddocks. We have do what we can, and help one another in the process.
Sheep can suffer through fly strike. ‘Blown’ sheep can suffer loss to the affected parts but more importantly, unless treated, the area struck will suffer maggot infestation, which eats into the flesh of the sheep and causes death through infection. Sheep have to be treated quickly to prevent their death. Spiritually, that has been misinterpreted by most of the cults to mean: ‘Don’t let anyone read anything or talk to anyone else who might exercise their brain’. That is the exact opposite of what it means. We have to keep giving people new feed and testing their knowledge against the Scriptures. They have to test and weigh ideas against the word of God. We have to be skilled in that otherwise we do not become skilled in the Scriptures.
The process of shearing is an intensive, highly organised affair requiring hard work by all parties. The result is the work of a highly trained team. The sheep are shedded beforehand as the wool cannot be wet. The shearers are assisted by shed-hands called rouseabouts who keep the smooth flow of the shed. The environment must be kept clean otherwise other contaminants, which are not a normal part of the environment, become tangled with the wool. The contaminants are pressed into the bales and cause problems later on in the mills, damaging equipment in places far removed from the farm.
The fleece is picked up and thrown on to a table made up of rollers. The fleece is then skirted. This involves the skirters plucking off the dirty or matted parts of the fleece and placing them in the bins marked for the bellies or the skirtings. The wool that falls through the table in short staples is termed locks. These are also pressed separately. These sub-categories and tender wool have much less value than the clean strong fleece. The wool classer then assesses the fleece for its approximate micron measurement and quality. A micron is a measurement of thickness of the strand. The finer the micron the greater its value. (Carpets are made out of thick strands of heavy wool; fine wool makes expensive garments.) The classer grades the fleece and places it in lines of similar fleeces to be pressed into bales of the same grade. The correct assessment of the lines maximises the returns from the flock.
The sheep are often classed by the wool classer before shearing so that the sheep may be culled. They are culled for wool quality, their capacity to produce by age, and the health of the sheep. Also, they can be separated into different mobs, dependent upon the quality.
There are different mobs in the Churches of God. The 144,000 are a different mob of higher-yielding fleece than the Great Multitude and they are simply a reflection of this grading process where people are asked to do different jobs depending upon their spiritual power. How we prepare ourselves will determine how Christ can use us. We can be used in the Kingdom of God now dependent upon how well we prepare ourselves to be used. We don’t have to be fit, young and thirty to be useful in the Kingdom of God. We don’t have to be a male. The males speak according to the Law, but the policy making of this Church is made by a good percentage of women. Many of our aged pray a lot more and harder than the young. Everyone has a function. Everyone works and they are used according to their capacity to produce in the age and the health of our sheep.
The analogies to the care of the flock are obvious. The environment of the elect has to be controlled and the nutrition they are fed has to be of high quality. Moreover, selected poor-quality rationing affects the capacity of the mind to grow and to analyse truth. We have to be challenging the minds of our people all the time, to sit down and say, “What’s happening; why am I here; and what does God want me to do?” The real situation here is that we are looking at how to get the best out of our people. We cannot supply zeal for the Lord. We can do nothing about sheep that will not eat. People starve themselves because they have a misguided concept of what constitutes the Church of God, and what constitutes true doctrine, and they won’t read anything. The comfort afforded groups by refusing to analyse the truth results in a weak mindless individual. Like a sheep that lies on its side too long in a controlled position, it dies unless it is made to stand up quickly.
Christ places those chosen by God and given to him into flocks. The system for their care and management is laid down in the Bible. Christ established a system of control of the Church and those leaders are referred to as Elders and Deacons. However, the system of leadership of the Church in the New Testament is merely a continuation of the ancient system of eldership that was established with the patriarchs and which was established under the Law at Sinai. This system incorporated the Council of Elders and that system of eldership was established for all time. The structure of the priesthood was to change and, as we see from the New Testament, the priesthood was to become incorporated with the eldership, but the eldership itself was an ancient system.
The function of eldership is the care of the flock or congregation of Israel, which under the New Testament Church incorporates the Gentile converts to Israel. Israel is not just a physical nation. The identification of the nation of Israel is not important in the sense that as a physical concept it detracts from the extension of salvation to the Gentiles. The Gentiles are not reduced one jot by the fact that we are or are not of physical Israel. The Gentile people are called into the body of Israel and made into Israelites by conversion. The fact that we are born into the physical nation of Israel, whether we are a Jew or an Anglo-Saxon, is irrelevant in terms of our calling. There are many non-Israelite people called to hold just as high a place as physical Israelites – and, in fact, higher places. There are many Gentiles who hold the highest places the Church has to offer and will do so in the Millennium. That is a biblical position. It does not reduce their position; they are all sheep. Ultimately the millennial structure will encompass the whole world.
The simple functions of leadership involve establishing an environment free of contaminants. The leadership quite simply runs down to houses. Every man is a priest of his own house. Every woman has to free the contaminants from her children’s minds and the minds of the people around her. The biggest contaminant for human minds in this century is television. We have to be so judicious of what we watch and what we let our children watch.
This process commences with the First Commandment and works through to the entire structure of the Law and the Testimony. If they do not speak according to the Law and the Testimony there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20, KJV). The responsibility extends to the entire nation through its leadership. The system of Elders preceded the giving of the Law at Sinai.
Genesis 50:7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, (KJV)
The eldership was a national system that extended beyond Israel. The system of Elders was present in Egypt both by houses, by tribes and in the nation.
Exodus 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: (KJV)
The Elders were spokesmen for Israel and were used as the means by which God's spokesman directed the nation.
Exodus 3:18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. (KJV)
See also Exodus 4:29.
It wasn’t just Moses who went to Pharaoh; it was Moses and the Elders of Israel. So eldership is a function of the leadership of the nation. Ultimately, the rule of Israel will extend through the Elders. The system of biblical Elders that was set up will rule this planet. They will rule and it will not be a political structure as it is now envisaged. There will be systems where those Elders are nominated and elected and they will rule the nation.
The Elders of Israel were responsible for the preparation of the Passover. They had a responsibility of speaking for the nation to other nations and to authorities. They also then had a religious responsibility in preparation.
Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. (KJV)
So, the Passover was not done as a ritual priestly thing; it was done through the nation and the Elders were responsible for the preparation and the killing of the Passover lamb. The Elders were there with Moses at Horeb when Moses struck the rock. The rock was symbolising Christ. We often forget this concept and we neglect the concept of eldership, because we think the eldership in the Bible is some sort of strange doctrine of Nicolaitans. For example, we would have the mainstream Christian churches set up a different system and envisage a different system of eldership. What they tried to do was rule the planet with inequity.
Exodus 17:5-6 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (KJV)
That rock was Christ and that water was the Holy Spirit. The Elders were present with Moses, signifying that they were responsible for shepherding the outflow of the information of the Holy Spirit in the Last Days, from Jesus Christ to the people of Israel. When we note that it was not just Moses but the Elders as well, we understand what was going to happen in the New Testament.
Moses acted in accordance with the principle that the Elders were the Council of authority in Israel, and that they reflected the system of the greater Council of the Government of God. Similarly the priesthood functioned around the Elders under Aaron.
Exodus 18:12 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God. (KJV)
These Elders were charged with the responsibility of the Commandments of God.
Exodus 19:7-8 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 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. (KJV)
These seventy Elders formed the basis of the system that Christ ordained in the New Testament Church.
Exodus 24:1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. (KJV)
These Elders also saw the Angel of Yahovah (or Elohim, or God) with Moses and Aaron.
Exodus 24:9-18 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
This symbolises the fact that Joshua was the prime minister, the person who acted for Moses. Joshua is the name of Christ and the concept of going up to the mountain signifies the fact that Christ was taken away and the Elders were given the responsibility for the government of the system until Christ returned. That’s what is meant by symbols as examples to us. That is why the Seventy were there. That is why Christ ordained the Seventy. When Christ was resurrected and ascended into Heaven, the seventy Elders and their successors were given responsibility for the government of Israel onwards for two thousand years until the return of the Messiah.
And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
The six days, of course, signify the time that people were on the Earth. The seventh day is the millennial reign of the Plan of Salvation.
And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. (KJV)
The forty days and nights Moses was on the mountain represented the forty Jubilees of the two thousand years.
The Elders were responsible for the sins of the whole congregation of Israel and they signified this conjoint responsibility by their involvement in the sacrifices of the Law.
Leviticus 4:13-26 And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the LORD: and the bullock shall be killed before the LORD. And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock's blood to the tabernacle of the congregation: And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, even before the vail. And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the LORD, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar. And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn him as he burned the first bullock: it is a sin offering for the congregation. When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish: And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD: it is a sin offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. (KJV)
Thus, it is evident that the sins of the whole congregation rest upon the Elders for atonement, whereas the sins of the ruler or the individual are the responsibility of those individuals. So, the process is established where an individual is responsible to God and he has to make his own reconciliation to God. As the congregation of Israel, the Elders have the vested responsibility in acting for the congregation to God. They are in control of the offerings before God. The congregation is the direct responsibility of the Elders. This aspect is lost on modern biblical eldership. The functions of the individual are dealt with further in Leviticus 4:27-35.
Initially Aaron and his sons were ordained as the priesthood to Israel, and this priesthood was symbolised by the Ram of Ordination in Leviticus 8:22-36. This Ram of Ordination also symbolised Messiah. He ordained people first through his life then he was killed so that his blood would ordain the Melchisedek priesthood. We are ordained through the sacrifice of Christ and his blood has produced the priesthood.
The time-frame of the consecration of the sons of Aaron was seven days (Lev. 8:33). The punishment for failing in their duty was death. On the eighth day the Aaronic priesthood was called and together with the Elders of Israel they offered the sin and peace offerings, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The responsibility of the priesthood was shown to be profaned by the sons of Aaron who were killed and replaced, as seen in Leviticus 10:1-11. So, if we fail in the priesthood we are put to death and we are replaced. This replacement of the other sons of Aaron shows us that the priesthood was systematically eliminated, and that Christ replaced the priesthood and that it looked forward to another priesthood of Melchisedek.
Leviticus 10:1-11 Now Nadab and Abi'hu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered unholy fire before the LORD, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came forth from the presence of the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD has said, `I will show myself holy among those who are near me, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mish'a-el and Elza'phan, the sons of Uz'ziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, "Draw near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp." So they drew near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said. And Moses said to Aaron and to Elea'zar and Ith'amar, his sons, "Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not rend your clothes, lest you die, and lest wrath come upon all the congregation; but your brethren, the whole house of Israel, may bewail the burning which the LORD has kindled. And do not go out from the door of the tent of meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you." And they did according to the word of Moses.
It is not a game. When we take on the eldership of the Lord it is a very serious thing we have done.
And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying, "Drink no wine nor strong drink, you nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.
A man can’t get drunk and come and give a sermon. The punishment is death. It is not the authorities that mete it out on us – it is the Living God who deals with us.
You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by Moses." (RSV)
The failure of the priesthood to carry out their duties is death. The passage of the priesthood from the Aaronic to the Melchisedek took place under Christ at Pentecost. He ordained the Seventy (Lk. 10:1,17) and this action replaced the authority of the Sanhedrin of Israel.
The injunctions against the priesthood covered the requirements to keep their duties in all holiness.
The significance of the transition after the seven days, accompanied by the Presence of the Lord, related to the Plan of Salvation and the presence of Messiah. The Elders were then given responsibility around the Tabernacle of God.
Numbers 11:16-30 And the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit which is upon you and put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.
So, Moses was not allowed to bear the burden of the priesthood alone. That puts paid to the concept that God speaks through one man. God does not speak through one man and never can. If He spoke though one man He would not have done that to Moses and not taken the Spirit and put it on the Council of the Seventy. They were given authority with Moses. Hence, quite simply, the Church is run by a Council of Elders, and God does not speak entirely through one man. If He did not speak entirely through Moses and give him the one lot of the Spirit, He surely will not do it with anyone in our time either. When Messiah comes we will then have the same position with Messiah and the Council. We have Messiah already and we have the Seventy that he left behind and that Council is replaced.
And say to the people, `Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, "Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, "Why did we come forth out of Egypt?"'" But Moses said, "The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot; and thou hast said, `I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!' Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?" And the LORD said to Moses, "Is the LORD's hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not." So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and placed them round about the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did so no more. [the KJV says that they did not cease]
Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested upon them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, forbid them." But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp. (RSV)
These two people were not with the Angel of God at the time. They were not with the rest of the Elders; they were outside the tabernacle. There were two people outside of the Seventy, outside of the organised structure, and these two then began to prophesy. What is the significance of this? The two Witnesses are literally ouside of the ordained seventy eldership of the Last Days, and they are listed by God amongst them, but they are not drawn from the ministry of the existing churches. They are raised in the Last Days and they return all of the eldership to God. That is the significance.
The spirit of prophecy was given to the elders so that they would assist Moses. The KJV holds that they did not cease. This is the context of continual prophecy in the latter days.
Now the Aaronic priesthood was not involved in this manifestation of the spirit of prophecy. This refers to the later sequence when another prophet like unto Moses would arise, namely Messiah. The Seventy were given the capacity to prophesy and not just in the environs of the tent with Moses. This sequence was to reflect the later responsibility of the New Testament Elders.
The responsibility of the Elders was not confined to Israel. Midian and Moab were led astray under their Elders and they fell into divination through Balaam (Num. 22:4-7).
It was the responsibility of the Elders to come near to God. This was not confined to any one tribe (Deut. 5:23). Judgment and also expiation were vested in the Elders from Deuteronomy 19:12 and 21:2-6.
Deuteronomy 21:1-6 "If in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess, any one is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, then your elders and your judges shall come forth, and they shall measure the distance to the cities which are around him that is slain; and the elders of the city which is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer which has never been worked and which has not pulled in the yoke. And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley. And the priests the sons of Levi shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled. And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; (RSV)
Now this is an expiation process for the Elders by regions. So Israel was divided under an eldership, a central core, and then the Elders were given regions and sub-regions.
Deuteronomy 21:18-22 "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, `This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Being an Elder is a very serious responsibility and we understand we are not to allow evil to go unpunished. That organisation or system is set up in the Millennium. This is the Law.
See also Deuteronomy 22:15-18 and 25:7-9. The Elders had the power of chastisement. This power became vested in the Church in judgment.
The Elders became responsible with Moses for the keeping of the Commandments in Israel.
Deuteronomy 27:1 Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, "Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. (RSV)
The Elders and the leaders stand before God in responsibility (Deut. 29:10). Moses delivered the Law to the priest with the Elders for safekeeping.
Deuteronomy 31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and gave it to the priests the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. (RSV)
Hence the responsibility for the Law rested in the eldership.
The Elders were given the charge by Moses and it was recorded against them.
Deuteronomy 31:28-30 Assemble to 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 witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands." Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel: (RSV)
Under Joshua, the Elders acted conjointly in the leadership of Israel (Josh. 7:6; 8:10). They were witnesses against Israel. Israel was sent into captivity for not being gracious unto its Elders (Lam. 4:16). The priesthood and the prophets were profane, iniquitous and sinners (Lam. 4:13). Thus Israel was dispersed (Lam. 4:15). The conjoint leadership of priesthood and eldership was enshrined in the New Testament and for the Millennium. Christ grouped these together so that the system is run conjointly.
Joshua 8:33-34 And all Israel, sojourner as well as homeborn, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, half of them in front of Mount Ger'izim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. (RSV)
The positions of the Elders in judgment were established in Israel (Josh. 9:11; 20:4; 23:2; 24:1,31). The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and the days of the Elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord that he did for Israel (Jdg. 2:7). We know the story of Israel under the Judges (see the papers Samson and the Judges (No. 73) and Gideon’s Force and the Last Days (No. 22)). The same process went on under the New Testament Church. When the Elders who had seen Christ died, then the rot set in. We now have the setting of the establishment of the eldership of Israel. This is the setting in which we must view biblical eldership and leadership generally.
In this whole process there is an exercise in eldership in the leadership of the nation. We have responsibility not just in terms of preaching, but we as a people have a responsibility to lead our nation, to give them sound leadership and to organise them structurally. When we bring this nation to repentance, we have to give them sound leadership under an eldership or a parliament, which will produce sound government. The responsibility of the eldership rests in the Melchisedek priesthood as well. Also, those people have to be converted Christians to be in the eldership which will lead this country. Our responsibility is to call this nation and all Israel to repentance, and place at its head converted men capable of leading the nation out of the mire and back to Jesus Christ and to the God whom we all worship.