Thursday, July 15, 2021
“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name” (Psalm 111:9 KJV).
Long ago, when I was denominational and silly, I referred to pastors as “reverend.” It was ignorance, plain and simple, a church tradition that I—like billions of others—had never investigated. Then, a Christian brother showed me today’s Scripture. How enlightening! In all the King James Bible, “reverend” appeared once—an adjective for the LORD and not a man (or woman)!
Frankly, when we apply the title “reverend” to someone other than God, we are quite close to blasphemy—if not actually guilty of it. To say it in reference to a person means he or she inspires reverence: the individual awes us, and we have a godly fear toward him or her. This is certainly strange and nonsensical—but, not surprisingly, religion abounds with oddities and absurdities. How egos are stroked, how pride is gendered, when we cry out that flattering title, “Reverend!” (The inflated positions of “right reverend,” “very right reverend,” and “most reverend” are even more ridiculous.)
If we want to address someone in a church setting as “brother,” “sister,” “pastor,” “teacher,” “evangelist,” or “elder,” these are suitable titles. However, we should avoid using “father” in a religious sense, for this is wholly unacceptable (calling a priest “father” is a remnant of Baal/idol worship—Judges 17:10; Judges 18:19; Matthew 23:9). Apostles and prophets were necessary to form the foundation of the Body of Christ, but the completed revelation of the Scriptures has now taken their places (cf. Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). To use “apostle” or “prophet” to refer to someone alive today is to challenge the Bible’s authority.
Today’s Scripture delineates God’s goodness in fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant via the New Covenant. Israel, now redeemed, is enjoying Millennial Kingdom living. In accordance with His “holy” (set apart, sanctified) and “reverend” name (inspiring awe or fear), verse 10 closes the Psalm: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” In closing, remember Psalm 99:3: “Let them praise thy great and terrible [same Hebrew as “reverend” in today’s Scripture] name; for it is holy.”