*Note: When the author renders the word 'Church' as shown here, he is referring to the world's Business Entity Institutional 'Church' we've come to know. When he renders the word church in all lower case letters, he is referring to Christ's authentic, original house church, which He created and continues to build.
As a teacher in an Independent Fundamental Baptist 'Church' (IFBC) I had a gig every Tuesday night teaching to a group of incarcerated men at the local jail. It was at this time that I noticed the word 'pulpit' in Nehemiah 8:4. I thought to myself, "Well waddayaknow! Pulpits ARE in the Bible!" I don't know why, but seeing that word caused me to feel a little Proud. I was Proud because I thought that the Bible was reinforcing my conscious decision to be an IFB. In this culture, pulpits are regarded by some almost as holy ground. I know this sounds silly, but if we narrow our focus for a bit, we'd see this is common in most IFBC's across our land. This would ring truer in 'Churches' where a famous pastor or "preacher" once stood.
Standing in the batters box where Babe Ruth once used to swat his majestic home runs would be a thrill for any Yankee fan. Or, sitting in the very cockpit that Charles Lindbergh once flew the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic. For some, visiting the great rock where water sprung forth after Moses was commanded to speak to it would be another thrill. Hero worshipers abide in many places and some even desire to own an object once used or owned by someone of note, or stand in a place where he once stood, or sit in a place where he once sat. Year round, many flock to Hollywood in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater to stand in the footsteps of men and women who left their imprints in concrete slabs and imagine what it was like to be in his or her shoes. I was a lot like that once.
I remember driving down a lone Louisiana road once. The whole area was nothing but pines trees for several miles on either side of the road. As I was driving, I noticed what looked like a very big tombstone to my left. There it was all by itself with nothing around but trees. I was so curious as to what it could be, I stopped the car, turned around and went back to take a closer look at it for myself. This road was really desolate and this was the first thing I saw for many miles. It was so unusual, it broke the monotony of the ride. I rolled up to the site, got out of the car and saw that there was something chiseled on this rather dark stone. As it turns out, the stone was a marker. It marked the time and place where the gangster duo of Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down. I received a chill at that moment because I realized that I had stumbled across a piece of American history. I imagined what it must have been like to be there witnessing that scene. But I digress... Where was I? Oh yes...
After I got saved, I had adopted a new type of hero; Preachers and Pulpiteers. I used to make it a habit of standing behind several pulpits where I believed great modern men of God once stood. Men like Dr. David Otis Fuller or Dr. Lee Roberson and more. It was just thrilling to know that I touched, stood or sat in a place where someone I admired once occupied that same space. But it was much more than that. I had been conditioned to think that a pulpit was a sacred place to be treated with respect and reflection. Actually, my last Institutional Senior Pastor had a plaque made and attached to his pulpit which said, "Use 1611 King James Bible Only," or something to that affect. It wasn't until after I had left the Institutional 'Church' model for Christ's authentic model, had I realized that all of the pulpit worshiping I was doing was nothing but idol worship. Boy, did I feel stupid!
In Christ's authentic church, we see that there were no pulpits where one man stood bellowing out a sermon. It just didn't exist. If the church wasn't outdoors, it was in someone's home. What's more, in middle eastern culture, most homes had little furniture. Most sat on the floor on cushions and pillows. Tables were around, but chairs were more of a luxury as most homes were very small. The living area was shared by the whole family to eat, sit and sleep. Matts were used as the norm for a bed. They could be rolled up and stashed away to the side of the room to create more space for the day's activities. When Jesus, the apostles or first century church held their meetings indoors, usually it was in someone's home. Generally, the piece of furniture used for sitting, lounging or eating were large cushions. When guests ate dinner, the position normally used was leaning on one's side using one arm to Prop himself up and the other arm to eat. Their legs would be stretched outwardly and everyone would be totally relaxed. When John laid his head on Jesus' breast, this was a position commonly used.
So why am I mentioning all of this? Simple. No pulpits were used in the early church. For one, there was little room for it. Number two, all a pulpit does is give the illusion that one person is above the rest. What I will attempt is to show where the idea of pulpits came from, what man's traditions have done to give us a twisted perception of it, and where it is leading.
Nehemiah 8:4 states in part, "And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood,..." Notice it didn't say that Ezra the scribe stood BEHIND a pulpit of wood. He stood UPON it. Basically, what this Scripture is telling us is that this pulpit was nothing more then a stage; an enlarged 'soap box' if you will. It wasn't a piece of furniture with a desk on top. It didn't sport a reading lamp. It had no shelves to place a Bible, glass of water or illustration Props. It didn't have a place to stick audio wires within. It wasn't cushioned or adorned. And guess what? There wasn't even a microphone. Imagine that! In fact, the definition for a pulpit is simply 'a raised platform.' That's it! In modern day 'Churches' today we see all kinds of pulpits. Glass pulpits, pulpits made of one hundred year old barn wood, plywood pulpits, marble pulpits, plexiglass pulpits, even pulpits with aquariums in them. But no matter how fancy a pulpit is constructed, it still doesn't meet the definition for what a pulpit should be. These fancy pulpits are for show. It is where the spotlight shines brightest in an Institutional 'Church.'
I'd like to briefly brush upon three attributes of pulpits to show that it is not to be used in Christ's assemblies. First we see a...
This erecting and use of a pulpit was a one time event. Nowhere in the Bible do we read of another pulpit being made or used in this way. It was a platform; a stage. It was built for the purpose of elevating Ezra so that all the people could see him. The Institutional 'Church' fathers have taken this Scripture and twisted it for their own use. In Nehemiah the builders have erected a platform to be stood on. It was a temporary stage. It was in no way permanent, as the Scripture said that it was made for that purpose. What Ezra didn't have was a podium. What modern day 'Church' goers and clergy claim to be a pulpit is simply a podium. What modern day pastors claim to be a pulpit is actually a podium. Podiums simply do not exist in this passage. Today, this podium has become, in the minds of pastors and 'Church' goers, a pulpit. But it isn't. It's a misunderstanding through hundreds of years of definitions. that have gone awry. Nowadays in today's modern 'Church' sanctuaries, what we actually see are podiums sitting upon a permanent stage. But, before podiums came around, this was a one time use pulpit to stand on. In all my years in the Institutional 'Church' system, I've never seen a speaker climb on top of a podium to deliver a message, which brings us to point number two...
So, why do we see pulpits in just about every 'Church' of every denomination? It all began with the Roman court system. If we look back far enough into history we find that their court rooms are eerily similar to our 'Church' auditorium (sanctuary) of today. The lay out is similar because at one time, Rome was ruled by a Senate. They ruled by the letter of their laws. Those laws were heard in court rooms. In these court rooms were a bench where the magistrate sat, a place where the opposing sides would bring their grievance before the 'Bench' and a partition separating the common folk from where the Proceedings took place. Years later, after Nero burned down Rome, the Roman government decided to change their governmental format into a Theocracy with the 'Church' as it's center and symbol of government. Rome was no longer lead by someone called an Emperor. All they did was dress up an man, gave him funny clothes and called him a Pope. In fact, little had changed at all. The Pope was still an Emperor, his "senators" were now called Cardinals, and the court room was now called, THE 'Church.' All this Horus-Pocus left little to the imagination as the court room layout hadn't changed much. The pope's throne had replaced the Bench in name only and there was still the partition separating the commons from the elite. In our court rooms today, we see the same exact basic blueprint.
My last Institutional pastor used to say that he was very careful about who he would choose to occupy that space behind his pulpit. I now realize why. It's because the pulpit is a focal point of influence. Whoever speaks from behind it's shadow has the ear and attention of the people. In most minds, we think that whoever stands behind that pulpit must know what he (or she) is talking about. Otherwise, the pastor wouldn't allow them to speak from that position. In a sense, the pulpit has become identified with credibility. It has evolved into a central theme throughout our 'Churches' here in America and anywhere else an Institutional 'Church' calls Christ it's head. The Problem is, they didn't get this blueprint for a sanctuary, show and service from the Bible. It's evolution was derived from the figment of their own wicked imaginations. The pulpit of today is showcasing one man; the pastor. But where is this leading?
The One World 'Church' will have it's own pulpit as its platform. The False Profit mentioned in the Book of Revelation will be it's "spiritual leader." All pulpits across the globe today point to the pulpit of the One World 'Church' of anti-Christ. The development of this One World 'Church' was conceived by Satan eons ago. It's taken some time to build, but our modern world is primed, conditioned and ready to accept it. If you haven't already heard, there is an organization called, 'The World Council of Churches' out there standing at the ready to make Satan's plan all come together. Time is short. The Bible tells us that the whole world will worship under one altar. The altar of anti-Christ. Where will that altar be? In Rome! The Bible calls her "the Great Whore." Eventually though, that 'Church' will be destroyed. But, it won't be at God's hand. Anti-Christ will destroy her by his own hand. Once he moves his headquarters to Jerusalem he won't need her anymore. That kind've sounds like the shelf-life of a whore, doesn't it? When will this happen? During the time called, "the abomination of desolation."
There will be a chain of events that will lead up to this point. First is the beginning of sorrows. Then, the time of the gentiles. Then comes the abomination of desolation where anti-Christ will Proclaim himself God. He won't need the whore-'Church' any longer after that, so he destroys her. His worshipers are no longer recruited by faith, but by the sword. Naturally, after this comes the tribulation period. Immediately after the tribulation will come the rapture of the saints. After the rapture, God will rain down His wrath upon the earth and those left behind. The rest we know. But behind all of this, helping to set it up, is the pulpit.
In Matthew 23:27-33 Christ is lashing out to the religious leaders in Israel, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
"As in ancient times, so today in the middle east, white-washed tombs mark the place of the dead. They all receive a new whitening before days or seasons of feasting and worship. The people believed that to touch or come in contact with a tomb was to defile oneself. Death was the result of sin, and, therefore caused contamination. Therefore sepulchres were always whitewashed. That made them to be easily seen and avoided. Christ made reference to this practice in an address to the scribes and Pharisees. Whitewashing of tombstone did not change the nature of the grave itself, it still contained dead man's bones. The thing might be made attractive on the outside, but there was no difference within. Jesus insisted that religion was not to be an outward decoration merely, just for special occasions; it was to be a life principle, giving reality to all we do." ~'Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind' by: B.M. Bowen.