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I’m neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but the more I read Scripture, the more some dynamics of how God deals with His people in various seasons shakes me a bit. When I read Ezekiel 46:16-Daniel 1:7, I see God’s people exiled for their lack of fidelity to God. The sorest point? They were removed from God’s appointed worship. In Psalm 137 I hear God’s people lament how their sins had brought them be removed from Jerusalem and the Temple – where God’s presence was manifest, and where proper worship was to be carried out. In Revelation 2:12-29 I read of God’s continual warnings of His intervention if the Churches do not pay heed. And in John 9, I see the established religious leadership unable to discern what is plain before them in Jesus’ miracles, and the judgment He says will follow that.
And it wouldn’t surprise me, if something like what we see in all of these passages may not be happening right now to the Church in America.
I’m Reid Ferguson, and we’ll talk a bit more about that today on Through the Word in 2020.
Many in the Church right now are truly up in arms about the nature of COVID restrictions and how they have impacted our worship practices. And there is cause for much concern. Given the nature of our Constitutional democracy, freedom of worship for us – unlike many parts of the world and most previous generations – we see as a fundamental right. The ancient Jews as God’s chosen people in their own land certainly thought that way too.
But something happened.
God’s people as a larger whole, kept slipping increasingly from mere perfunctory religion to immorality and disobedience of all kinds, to outright idolatry. And at that, they blended their immorality, greed, oppression of the poor, and even child sacrifice, WITH their Temple worship. They self-identified as God’s Israel, but all the while lived, thought, reasoned and acted like the world at its worst.
Forgive me if that sounds a bit too familiar.
But just take a good hard look at professing Christianity in America today. Our rampant immorality, greed, and failure to impact society in the matter of child sacrifice. Indeed, child sacrifice in the very name of the Church. Look at the lunacy preached from many pulpits. The unchecked heretical insanity. The abandonment of the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. The redefining of Biblical concepts like the new birth, justification, and the new ritualism rising everywhere. The embrace of the LGBTQ+ agenda; the backing of organizations like Black Lives Matter (when indeed, Black lives DO matter); more hope in politics than the Gospel; and Christianity as the means to achieve our personal goals, dreams and ambitions rather than being called into the service of our Lord to accomplish His ends in ourselves and in the world.
And then we stand in our righteous indignation that in the face of the COVID-19 crisis – worship is restricted?
We may need to re-examine that approach.
I wouldn’t be surprised that this is indeed God’s hand in response to the low state of Biblical Christianity in America today.
Now were there sound men and women of Godly fidelity in Israel’s day? Of course! Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael just to name a few. Just as there are some great Churches today. And what of them? They suffered exile from worship along with the mass. AND! And they called God’s people to repentance, with the promise of restoration.
And it wouldn’t surprise me, if preaching along those lines ought to begin to play a much larger role in our place and time as well. For this we know: “this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.