Spending time in Scripture can bring a person to a sense of melancholy. This is where I am at today. The actions of man are frequently so blind to the will of God, that reading about the past and watching it happen again today, brings one full circle to the point that there is no denying there is nothing new under the sun.
In the Book of Judges chapter 10. Israel has suffered for many generations. Repeatedly Israel falls away and does what is wrong in the sight of the Lord and over and over again, Israel is provided a judge to redeem them and give them another chance. By the time we get to chapter 10, Israel is so broken after Gideon and Abimelech that God spares them an external threat, while providing them Tola and Jair to repair the relationships and restore fellowship among the tribes.
After 45 years, Jair dies and leaves Israel as a prosperous group again. There are many sons, much livestock, and great growth within the population and cities. By the time we get to Judges 10:6, “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord….’ At this point we see Israel pursue the gods of every nation surrounding them, rejecting their restored fellowship with each other and God and pursuing those who have oppressed them and practice wickedness.
After another 18 years of oppression, Israel finally seeks the Lord. They put away the other gods, repent of their sins, and ask God to do what He will with them. It almost seems like they repent, except what they really did was just change their behavior. The Ammonites are threatening and instead of relying on God, the leaders of Gilead come together and ask themselves who will fight against the Ammonites for them?
Israel was not following God, they were just looking for what they wanted and if they could have it better by “following” God, they were willing to pretend so they could have it better. There is no intent to rely on God or ask God what His will is for Israel, which we see as they never inquire of God who shall lead Israel against the Ammonites. Instead they pick and choose who will lead them, without even considering what God’s will is.
This reminds me of the words of Revelations to the different churches.
- The church in Ephesus we are informed lost their love of the Lord and the Gospel. They are enduring and not growing weary, but have lost their vigor for the Lord.
- The church in Pergamum, while holding fast to the name of Jesus, also holds to other false teachings and has even incorporated some of those false teachings into their practices.
- Likewise the church in Thyatira, with its works of service, faith, patience, and love, also tolerates the teachings of Jezebel and sexual immorality,
- Similarly the church in Sardis has a reputation for being alive, but is spiritually dead and worthless.
- And the church in Laodicea is neither hot or cold. This lukewarm church, is ignoring Jesus standing at the door, awaiting repentance and faith so He will come in and dine with the new believer.
Over and over again, from the foundations of man in the garden until today, man has rejected God, claimed what is good for their own, and acted as if the world was made by our own hands and through our own toil. Man is constantly rejecting the role of God as Creator and Redeemer. Our perspective regarding our place in the world is lost. We elevate ourselves above God because of His great blessings on us and then forget from whence we come and how we got there.
It is so easy to forget how limited our perspective in reality is. In the Isaiah 36-38, we read about the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Sennacherib is a threat to Judah and the biblical perspective shows Sennacherib demanding Judah worship as they worship and to come under his lordship and protection. Hezekiah goes to Isaiah and seeks deliverance and God honors this request, striking down 185,000 Assyrians and sparing Judah.
As terrible as Sennacherib was, how much do you want to bet there were a whole bunch of Assyrians who thought he was a great leader and they prospered under his kingship? Yet we know he was an enemy of God, but there were people who thought he was great and he did really well for them as leader. We have to understand perspective. How many of us pursue Sennacherib as our leader today because it seems like we are doing well under his guidance and kingship?
Likewise, we get to Herod who is threatened by Jesus. Herod kills all the children two and under in an effort to kill the Messiah. This is a terrible and wicked event that killed untold numbers of children and hurt untold numbers of families. However, there were plenty of people who thought Herod was a great ruler and they loved what he did as they prospered under his rule and did not want it threatened. We must remember perspective, what God sees and wants is seldom what man sees and wants. How many today would love Herod if his rule was benefiting them?
Man has a blind spot, much like the men of Gilead in Judges. Gilead felt an external threat coming and instead of seeking God’s will, they found the biggest and baddest dude they could find to lead them and they put Jephthah in charge of the army and said he would rule over them. They never consulted God. They figured the biggest and the baddest among them was the most expedient and correct solution to deal with the external threat.
This is how we think today. What is most expedient and makes the most sense. Who can we hire and who can we bring in to guide us smartly. Like the men of Gilead we see the 50 meter target and think in our own wisdom we can figure out a solution, while missing all the decisions that have led us to the point we are at. We are experts at ignoring all past decisions and sins to make the expedient decision to solve the dilemma in our face.
This is a terrible mistake on our part.
God gave Israel 45 years to recover and get right after this kind of decision making with Tola and Jair. They began prospering and things were going well and Israel took for granted how God had blessed and restored them to favor and they pursued other interests before God. This is our cycle over and over again.
When I look at the landscape of America and the churches within her, this is what I see. Churches making expedient decisions and ignoring the will of God. What does God want us to do? God wants us to be ambassadors. God wants us to share the gospel worldwide. God wants us to look after orphans, widows, and prisoners. God wants us to be lights in the darkness so others might believe.
Today, churches create programs. Churches build buildings. Churches have campaigns and the one thing they seldom get around to doing? Those things God has actually been quite explicit in telling us we must. The western church, the US model of church, is utterly broken. It is a failure. We have lost our way.
What kind of faith will Jesus find when he returns? These are words and a rhetorical question Jesus himself asked, even though he knew the answer. Unfortunately, what we have today is a shriveled up, sickly looking, rotten smelling faith without power and authority.
Our faith, which is ever more polluted with Reformed Theology, has lost its flavor. Churches are so focused on themselves, they have ignored the call to the world. We tolerate falseness, lies, counter-claims of deity, and ignore sin and our mandate to the world.
We are Gilead. We are facing an external threat after a time of blessing, ignoring our own sins, and the fact God has provided a path of salvation. We are saying we can find the answer to our problems outside of the Bible, God, and prayer. Those answers we ignore, while pursuing what is rational and makes sense.
Lord help us, please. We are lost and in desperate need of your guidance. The enemy is at the gate Lord, prowling around our perimeter, and the only means of security and salvation is found in God. We cannot defeat this enemy on our own, but through the strength and might of God. So please God, come once more and save us from ourselves again.