No one is above being corrected, whether privately or publicly rebuked directly by the Lord or indirectly via one of His messengers. However, before I proceed, the Lord usually handles issues privately before giving public rebukes. Examples of no one being “above the law” include:
• The Lord used prophets to rebuke kings (1 Samuel 13 & 15, 2 Samuel 12, Mark 6:17-18, etc.).
• The Lord used prophets to rebuke priests (Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34, Matthew 3, Malachi, etc.).
• The Lord used prophets to rebuke other prophets (1 Kings 13, Jeremiah 28, etc.).
• The apostle Paul publicly rebuked the apostle Peter for his hypocrisy, even though Paul could have been deemed junior because he was not one of the original 12 apostles who served with Jesus (Galatians 2).
• Jesus rebuked the clergy on several occasions, most notably in Matthew 23. The Lord also rebuked Aaron (prophet and high priest) and Miriam (prophetess) for speaking out against Moses because of his interracial marriage (Numbers 12).
“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” ~ Proverbs 27:5 (KJV) Every rebuke listed in the Bible, even if they were given in private, are now open rebukes because they are a matter of public record.
Before you rebuke anyone, especially openly, ensure the Holy Spirit is leading you to do so. Many people have given rebukes based on their own volition instead of the leading of the Holy Spirit, thereby committing the sin of witchcraft, especially when the rebuke is meant to manipulate and intimidate versus correct. Moreover, even when the Lord directs you to rebuke others, it may not be well received and you may get rebuked in return. As previously stated, some rebukes are works of the flesh as opposed to promptings from the Holy Spirit. You do not want to be like Peter who made the mistake of rebuking Jesus, under the unction of the wrong spirit. That was why Jesus “…turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind Me, satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.’” ~ Matthew 16:23 (KJV) On the other hand, if you get rebuked for following the Holy Spirit’s direction, especially by someone who considers him or herself senior to you, do not get into a battle because you have done your job. Your effort to correct that individual will then become a part of the person’s judgment. Like Jeremiah warned, ‘And the Lord hath sent unto you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.’ ~ Jeremiah 25:4 (KJV) A part of why the Lord forgave David of his transgressions (2 Samuel 11) was because the king humbled himself and took the correction from Nathan, the Lord’s messenger, and repented rather than trying to justify his sinful actions or silencing the prophet (2 Samuel 12). By the way, silencing the prophet also includes putting him to death for speaking out against the king. Lest not forget that King Ahab put the prophet Micaiah in prison because he did not like the message the prophet delivered (1 Kings 22). In addition, during the reign of king Jehoiakim of Judah, Jeremiah was almost put to death for delivering the Word of the Lord. In the same chapter, Urijah prophesied against Judah and then fled to Egypt once his life once threatened. Nonetheless, the king sent his men to Egypt to bring Urijah back to Judah where they killed him (Jeremiah 26). It is a bad move to try to silence the Lord’s prophets when they are doing the work of the Lord.
Another reason to ensure the Holy Spirit is directing you to rebuke another person is because “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” ~ 1 Timothy 5:19-20 (KJV) That does not mean elders are immune from being rebuked, to include publicly. Elders, sometimes you get rebuked because the messenger has the Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit to bear witness against you. Keep in mind what the Lord revealed to Ezekiel in a vision regarding what people were doing in the Lord’s house (Ezekiel 8). You cannot hide anything from the Lord (see Psalm 139 and 2 Kings 6:8-12). Your “secret sins” may be a secret to others (such as your congregation or spouse) but they are not a secret to the Lord. So, if you are in error, repent before the Lord exposes your deeds. Woe unto the (married and single) “shepherds” who are having sexual relationships with the Lord “sheep”! Stop fondling the Lord’s sheep and feed them instead!
It is better to humbly receive a rebuke and repent rather than remain unrepentant and face the consequences, which may include eventually getting judged by the Lord. If you do not respect (fear) the messenger, at least respect the One who sent him or her. Keep in mind that Jesus said, ‘…there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him.’ ~ Luke 12:2-5 (KJV)
Do not lose your fear for the Lord. “For we know Him that hath said, ‘Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense’, saith the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord shall judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” ~ Hebrews 10:30-31 (KJV)
Notes: Prophets, the Lord is not going to use you to rebuke anyone if you are living in sin, especially the same sin. Jesus said, ‘…Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’ ~ Luke 12:1 (KJV) By the way, never get so loyal to a “pastor” that you become disloyal and/or ineffective to the Lord, don’t lose your saltiness (Matthew 5:13). Nathan the prophet and Gad the seer both worked for king David. However, their ultimate allegiance was to the Lord, which was why they obeyed Him and rebuked the king and declared the Lord’s judgment against him when he was in error (2 Samuel 12, 1 Chronicles 21). Whose prophet are you? Do not eat at Jezebel’s table (1 Kings 18). “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:21 (KJV)