Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How Did the Church Lose Its Voice of Authority

The Minor Prophets Speak to Today 

She Disconnected From Her History

Hosea 12:9-14 NLT
“But I am the Lord your God,
    who rescued you from slavery in Egypt.
And I will make you live in tents again,
    as you do each year at the Festival of Shelters.
I sent my prophets to warn you
    with many visions and parables.”
But the people of Gilead are worthless
    because of their idol worship.
And in Gilgal, too, they sacrifice bulls;
    their altars are lined up like the heaps of stone
    along the edges of a plowed field.

Jacob fled to the land of Aram,
    and there he earned a wife by tending sheep.
Then by a prophet
    the Lord brought Jacob’s descendants out of Egypt;
and by that prophet
    they were protected.
But the people of Israel
    have bitterly provoked the Lord,
so their Lord will now sentence them to death
    in payment for their sins.

            Many Americans disparage the study of history. Perhaps history courses in High School failed to engage them or tested in way that seemed meaningless and were difficult for them. Perhaps as a young country constantly on the move geographically, scientifically, and economically, we feel we have invented our present and no longer need the past.

          God does not see history that way at all. In fact, he builds and tears down today based on the history of his people and others past and present.

          In Hosea God starts with the reminder that we human beings need on a constant basis. "I am the Lord your God!" Then he recites Israel's history.

  • I rescued you from slavery in Egypt.
  • I caused you to live in tents.
  • I sent my prophets to warn you with visions and parables.

          Then God skips a step further back into Israel's history, the history from which the very existence of Israel grew. Among other things note the parallels, though that may be difficult if you do not know the history, the stories.

  • Jacob fled to Aram.
  • Jacob earned  a wife by tending sheep.
  • By a prophet the Lord brought Jacob's descendants out of Egypt.
  • By that same prophet the Lord protected them.

         But mixed into these to tellings of Israel's history God speaks about his people's current condition.

  • The people of Gilead are worthless because of their idol worship.
  • In Gilgal their altars are lined up like heaps of stones along the edges of a plowed field.
  • I can make them live in tents again.
  • The people of Israel have bitterly provoked the Lord.
  • So their God will now sentence them to death for their sins.

          All through this history God's people claimed their special privileges and status before God. They built a life for themselves in the land. They prospered and formed military alliances to protect themselves. They claimed the name of the Lord, but they practiced sin. They, over the generations, practiced more sin until, ignoring the lessons of their history, they now stood under a sentence of death.

          Jesus built his church on the foundation of Israel's history. He, by his Spirit led them out of sin and protected them by that same Spirit working through the prophets and leaders throughout the Church's history. But today God is repeating the warning he spoke against Israel and had recorded as a warning to us. A warning we have ignored and excused away.

  • My people are worthless because of their idolatrous lives.
  • The possessions they truly worship are built up like temples great and small to the handiwork of their own hands, witnesses of being self-made men among a self made people.
  • They forget I can make them live again in the insecurity of being surrounded by unbelievers and pagans.
  • You people who claim God's name Church have bitterly provoked the Lord of your history.
  • So your God will now sentence you to death, the death of the Great Prostitute.
  • Unless you come out of her and repent - live a different way. 

Photo Credits:
West of Bartlett by Sammie Rowse all rights reserved

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