Paul wrote that…
…the stories of God’s people in the Old Testament “happened to them as an example” for us and “were written down as warnings for us…” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
Turns out we live in a culture that rejects the notion of a warning. That would imply we are doing something wrong.
And we don’t take kindly to that idea.
We only want to hear good news!
Too bad for us!
Because it leaves us unprotected from the folly of repeating the calamitous history of the people of God in our day.
I am well aware of the fact that God is alive and well in many places in the world and that His people are thriving in many places, including here. But at the same time there are many glaring examples in the North American Church where we have turned our back on God and embraced a feel good religion that has little connection to the Church of the Book of Acts.
We’d do well to consider the example and warning that still echoes through the millennia to our hearts from the Old Testament saints.
I was reminded of this this morning, thinking about the following perspective of a friend and Bible scholar who once casually said to me…
“Esther is a story of God saving a people who didn’t want to be saved…because when it was time for them to return to the City of God, only a handful went back. The majority stayed in Babylon and the priests had to be coaxed out of what had become a comfortable exile.”
My friend continued…
“Ezra is a story of the rebuilding of a temple God never inhabited.”
“Nehemiah is a story of the rebuilding of the walls and houses of the City of God that people had to be bribed to live in.”
There are too many places in the Church of North America where those three “warnings” from the history of the people of God in the Old Testament need to be heard, namely that…
1. Our churches are populated by too many “saved people” who, when the cost of discipleship is unveiled, turns out would rather not be saved.
2. Many churches have wondered so far from God, He clearly is no longer in residence.
3. Many churches have to camouflage the real Gospel in order to bribe reluctant adherents to show up.
That’s the warning.
The good news is that I don’t think our situation is irredeemable.
Not for a second.
In fact, I think the North American Church is poised for a new awakening. The economy has been tried and found wanting. Politics have been tried and found wanting. Global stability has been tried and found wanting. And the nightly news is now showing images of a seething unrest in our cities that only God can calm.
Our only hope is a massive, nation-wide repentance and return to God…of His people. We need a nation-wide prayer movement inside the Church of North America with a determination to not leave His presence until He has revived His people.
Revival for no other reason than Jesus deserves a radiant Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish, that is winning a lost and dying culture to Him…not through a message of accommodation and compromise, but a call to repent and return.
That’s our hope.
I still have hope!