Throughout history it has been true that the people of God have always preferred false prophets who tickle their ears and say things to make them happy. Most of God’s people have never cared to listen to God’s true prophets who tell them the truth. So if you are a servant of God who wants to preach God’s word, remember one thing: You will never be popular. You won’t be able to make money. You will be despised and rejected like these Old Testament prophets were. In spite of all this, the Lord still told Israel in Micah 2:12 - “I will gather a few of you who are left and I will bring you together”. Most of the prophets prophesied that there would be a remnant of people whom God would bring back to Jerusalem from Babylon.

This is true even today. Even though most of Christendom is in a backslidden condition, there is a remnant of God-fearing people on earth who are witnesses to the truth. If you are a God-fearing person, you should look for that remnant wherever you go. Look for those who are sincerely seeking after God and who are leaving Babylonian systems. They won’t be found in any one denomination. In one town they may be found in one church. And in another town, they may not be found in the branch of that first church. There is no “remnant denomination” anywhere in the world today – only local “remnant churches”. So in every place, you must ask, “Lord, where are Your people gathering in this place?” And He will lead you to them.

“Listen, you leaders of Israel - you are supposed to know right from wrong. Yet you are the very ones who hate good and love evil; you skin my people and strip them to the bone. You devour them, flog them, break their bones, and chop them up like meat for the cooking pot - and then you plead with the Lord for his help in times of trouble! Do you really expect him to listen? He will look the other way! You false prophets! You who lead his people astray! You who cry "Peace" to those who give you food and threaten those who will not pay! This is God's message to you: ‘The night will close about you and cut off all your visions; darkness will cover you with never a word from God. The sun will go down upon you, and your day will end. Then at last you will cover your faces in shame and admit that your messages were not from God.’” (Micah 3:1-5).

History repeats itself. 2600 years ago, preachers loved those who gave them large gifts, and prophesied comforting messages to them. The same thing is happening today!! But if someone was poor and could not invite these preachers for a good meal, they threatened them. Such are not servants of God but false prophets. They prophesied falsely, claiming to have seen visions from God, just like many deceivers do today. But God’s message to them was: “The night will close about you and cut off all your visions; darkness will cover you with never a word from God. The sun will go down upon you, and your day will end. Then at last you will cover your faces in shame and admit that your messages were not from God” (Micah 3:5-7).

Micah was filled with the Spirit and fearless in rebuking such false prophets: “I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, fearlessly announcing God's punishment on Israel for her sins.” (Micah 3:8). That may sound like boasting, but it was not. Micah was drawing a contrast between him and the other preachers of his time. Centuries later, the apostle Paul also drew such a contrast between him and others. Paul said, “I preached God's Good News to you without charging you anything. Why? I do it to cut out the ground from under the feet of those who boast that they are doing God's work in just the same way we are. God never sent those men at all; they are "phonies" who have fooled you into thinking they are Christ's apostles.” (2 Cor.11:7-13). Paul did not serve God for money like the false apostles of his time and like most preachers today.

Micah had a lot to say to those who preached for money. “Listen to me, you leaders of Israel who hate justice and love unfairness, and fill Jerusalem with murder and sin of every kind - you leaders who take bribes; you priests and prophets who won't preach and prophesy until you're paid. (And yet you fawn upon the Lord and say, "All is well - the Lord is here among us. No harm can come to us.") It is because of you that Jerusalem will be plowed like a field and become a heap of rubble” (Micah 3:9-12).

The Old Testament prophets spoke a lot about the corruption among the preachers in those days, because that was what was destroying God’s people. It is the same today. The priests and prophets preached only if they were paid. Yet all of them claimed to be depending on the Lord. This is the type of deception being practiced today as well.

A servant of the Lord is entitled to receive voluntary gifts given to him. But there is a vast difference between that and his saying that he will serve God only if he is paid!! What is the difference between a salary and a gift? You can demand a salary but you can’t demand a gift. If you get a gift, praise the Lord. If you don’t get a gift, praise the Lord still. You can receive money every month, but you must receive it as a gift, not a salary. Don’t ever think of any gift you receive as a salary.

A true servant of the Lord will continue to serve Him, whether he gets money or not, whether he gets food or not. He is thankful for those who give him gifts. But he is not dependent on them. God may choose to provide your needs on a regular basis, or an irregular basis. Whichever way it may be, we must never preach because we are being paid. We must never do any service for the Lord for money. If you follow this principle, God will provide all your needs, in one way or the other, and you will be protected from the snares that many preachers fall into.

Zac Poonen