Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – Not Everyone is Called to Preach God’s Word (Numbers 12:1-9)

Featured image: God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush from Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Saint Petersburg. Wikimedia Commons.


Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And He said, “Hear My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses. He is faithful in all My house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and He departed.

Numbers 12:1-9

In many Pentecostal churches, they have a practice where anyone can preach if they “received a word from the Lord.” The problem with this, of course, is (A) without proper discernment, they could just as well be preaching a word from the devil, and (B) the Lord has specific qualifications for men to meet the office of overseer (1 Timothy 3), which not every man can meet. These two reasons, among others, is why we confess in the Book of Concord, “Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper call” (AC XIV). Thus, without a proper call and subsequent ordination, no man can preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. No one can just come up willy-nilly and preach some “word they received from the Lord” in their closet or while they were sitting on the toilet.

Just as God spoke clearly to Moses and not in riddles, so the Lord speaks clearly to us in His Word and not some arbitrary message from an untrained lay person. That’s why the Lord has given us pastors who are trained in pastoral care, hermeneutics, homiletics, etc. and are examined according to the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 for four to eight years—so that the flock that calls him as their pastor will know, without a doubt, that God has chosen this man to be their pastor through the work of the Holy Spirit in His saints. A man may meet those good practical skills, but if he falls obviously short of 1 Timothy 3, he is not called and ordained. He might be an excellent preacher and exegete, but if he’s not above reproach and is not a husband of one wife by remaining faithful to her, etc., he’s not fit for the pastoral office. He can serve God in other ways. If he’s called, his call is confirmed with the laying on of hands when he is ordained (cf. 1 Timothy 4:14).

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