Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hearing is Not The Same As Listening

For the past three months our church's Bible study has been in the books of four eighth century B.C. prophets. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. All of these prophets had virtually the same message. It was that God hated the ritualistic, meaningless worship of His people, was offended at the fact that they had incorporated idolatry into their worship just to get along with those around them, and that they treated poor people badly, taking advantage of them for personal gain. They also had something else in common—the Hebrew people heard the message, but refused to listen to it. 

For their complacency toward the prophet's warnings, the nation of Israel, both kingdoms (North and South), was utterly destroyed and the people taken into exile. As our church studied these lessons we asked ourselves why we had any reason to believe God would change His mind regarding these offenses and allow any nation to act the same way Israel acted and get away with it. Does God no longer get offended by idolatry (even if the idols aren't made of metal or stone)? Does God no longer mind that we continue to worship without any change taking place in our hearts? Is God somehow now forgiving of those who take advantage of the poor just to further enrich themselves?

Of course the answer to all those questions is a resounding "NO!". Consequently, any nation that still seeks to get away with such as this will find itself as ancient Israel found itself—utterly destroyed. When we read about these things in the Bible, we somehow forget that God is patient. It took hundreds of years in some cases for God to finally allow what was prophesied to transpire. For example, the Southern Kingdom of Judah existed for more than a hundred and thirty years after the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed.

The New Testament warned us not to be deceived, that God will not allow Himself to be mocked. It is my belief that America is sliding into the same crevice of heathenism that Israel found, and if we do not repent, we will not escape destruction. What is happening in Europe these days should be a warning to us here in "the colonies." God has blessed this nation for more than 235 years. The resources He gave us, the principles we established under His watchful, all-seeing eye have been a blessing all these years, but it seems we have assumed we are somehow going to be more protected than His chosen people were when we do the same things that offended God in ancient times.

We have theologians now telling us, "Yes, but we are different. We now live under grace, not the law of the ancients. God will never do to us what He allowed to happen to them." As I see it, the problem is that we have started to believe that drivel.

While it is true that we now live under grace, in my opinion that only makes us more responsible. The grace of a merciful God is even more of a reason than law to obey His commands. How much more ungrateful we will appear if we ignore the wishes of the Lord after all He has done for us. By sacrificing what was dearest to Him, so that we could make the wise choice regarding eternity, He has placed us in a position of even more responsibility than those who existed only under the law.

People in our culture may be hearing these things, but the evidence is they are not listening, choosing rather to worship their own self-designed version of God. Preachers, we better tell people the truth.