Tag Archives: Israel

God’s One Mistake

Many American Christians have discovered God’s one mistake. It has to do with the Lord’s Day. God was apparently not thinking ahead when he instructed his people to gather for worship one day out of seven.

How could the Lord, who knows the beginning from the end, miss the long list of difficulties he created? Did he not realize that people have birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, out-of-town visitors, family time (to name just a few)? 52 Sundays out of every 365 days is a lot to ask.

After seeing how his people Israel struggled to keep the Sabbath in the Old Testament one might expect the Lord to learn his lesson and change his mind in the New Testament. But no. Jesus himself had the notable habit of attending Synagogue regularly (and with people who were trying to kill him!). And the Early Church met more than once a week. What were they thinking?

What does God have to say for himself? Well, the New Testament likens the church to a body. In the same way that a person’s body has hands, feet, eyes, ears, etc., the church is a collection of people with diverse spiritual gifts, each one needed by all the others. When someone is absent the body is incomplete and the other parts suffer. Imagine your hands and feet showing up on different days.

We also read that the church is like a temple. Each person is a living stone in the walls of this spiritual place where God meets with his people. When bricks are missing the building is incomplete and weakened, vulnerable to the hostile forces that come against it.

But wait. Must God justify his commands to us? Do we worship on the Lord’s Day because we have approved it as useful and acceptable to ourselves? Do we have the final word on what is right? “Okay, Lord, I’ll obey if you can convince me that I should . . . if not, then I am taking control!” If this is true, then we should dispense with calling him Lord.

Our cultural ancestors in Europe discovered God’s mistake about once-a-week worship before we did in the U.S.A. They have ‘evolved’ morally and spiritually more rapidly than we have (or is it de-volved?). We are apparently now in a competition to take the lead in this race for the cultural bottom, and doing rather well as of late.

But someone will rebuke me: How can a lack of worship on the Lord’s Day be blamed for the spiritual and moral demise of an entire culture? The point is taken. Perhaps a haphazard attitude about the Lord’s Day is a symptom and not the disease. But if so, should we not make an appointment with the Great Physician? Should we not labor to restore this sign of spiritual vitality: regular worship?

What message is sent to the world when God’s people openly defy him? Why should they consider honoring God when his own people fail to observe one of the most visible expressions of faith? Maybe there is a connection between the church’s observance of the Lord’s Day and the rise or decline of a culture.

At the bottom of it all we must answer this question: Did God make a mistake when he instructed his people to worship one day out of seven, or are we making a mistake when we ignore him?

May the Spirit of God always inspire us to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord,

Brother Richard Foster

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Bablylon

The world around us is changing before our very eyes. Atheists often bitterly oppose any public expression of faith in Jesus Christ. Gays vehemently attack any organization supporting God’s design for marriage and family. Political and legal pressures are exerted against Bibles in schools, prayers in public, the Ten Commandments in government buildings, historical reminders about the Judeo-Christian roots of our nation, and other practices that reflect Christian truth and values.

More and more it seems as if we are living in Babylon, a place of rebellion against God. Ancient Babylon made its debut early in the Bible as a city where people decided to build a tower that would reach to heaven itself. They wanted to make a great name for themselves, without any regard for God’s agenda. The builders of that tower were so far out of step with God that he disrupted their ability to understand one another, effectively putting a stop to their selfish project (Genesis 11:1-9).

Later in Scripture, Babylon emerged as a world power that attacked and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, the spiritual center for God’s people Israel. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies leveled the holy city and destroyed its great Temple, built by Solomon as the premier place of worship for Israel. Those who survived the brutal attack were carried off to Babylon. They found themselves living in a godless country that did not share their beliefs or values (2 Kings 25). Daniel was one of the young Israelites carried away, never to see his homeland again.

Daniel and his friends were hard-pressed to live according to God’s revealed truth in a land full of idols and idol-worshipers. Nevertheless, he and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, courageously refused to go along with the wicked flow of Babylonian society. Daniel’s friends found themselves facing death in a fiery furnace, but refused to disobey God no matter what the cost (Daniel 3). Daniel himself was thrown into a lion’s den because he insisted on praying to God even though the government had outlawed his prayer (Daniel 6).

Centuries later the Apostle Peter, the fisherman-turned-follower of Jesus, wrote to God’s people during the early days of Christianity. In his letter he referred to the Church as “she who is in Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13). His reference was not to a geographic location on any map of the Middle East. Peter was referring symbolically to the godless Roman culture in which followers of Jesus found themselves. Like ancient Babylon, the first-century Roman Empire was out-of-step with the ways of the Lord and intolerant toward the people of God.

Peter opened his letter by referring to first-century followers of Jesus as strangers in the world, scattered, yet chosen by God (1 Peter 1:1-2). God-fearing disciples of Jesus Christ found it very difficult to live righteous lives in such an unrighteous environment. The prevailing cultural values made their lives difficult and it made them unpopular, at times the recipients of brutal and merciless persecution.

God’s people have often found themselves at odds with the societies and cultures of this unrighteous age. Social groups which are guided by and obedient to the values and truths revealed in the Bible have been few and far in between. Political groups that try to govern by the principles of Christianity eventually resort to compromising their core beliefs and values in order to protect their power and privilege in a world full of persistent sin and rebellion.

Babylon appears not only near the beginning of the Bible, but also toward the end. In the Book of Revelation we read that Babylon will be the dominant religious, political, and economic force in the last days. At the very end of this age Babylon, the ultimate representation of the spiritually corrupt power structures in this fallen world, will be persecuting God’s people and promoting godless practices. In other words, this deadly intense wrestling match between culture and the Church will persist until Jesus’ Second Coming.

What are God’s people to do? Perhaps we should take a cue from Daniel in Babylon. Daniel refused to embrace the sinful lifestyle of the society around him. God chose to give him great political influence for a time and gave Daniel great favor with the Babylonians. As a leader in godless culture, Daniel lived and governed according to his faith. He refused to compromise in order to stay in power. He even risked his life to remain faithful to the Lord. And when political fortunes changed, he accepted a role of diminished influence.

God has not called us to overthrow or redeem Babylon. He will deal with Babylon when the time comes (see Revelation 18). Meanwhile, whether we have political influence or suffer political defeat, our mission is to remain faithful to the Word of God by proclaiming the truth and to remain faithful the ways of God by living in obedience to his commands. A great cloud of witnesses has gone before us. Now is our time to serve; and our labor in the Lord will not be in vain.

May the Lord enable us to be faithful in all circumstances,

Brother Richard

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What Happens When We Fail to Tell Our Children Bible Stories?

Something went terribly wrong. The Lord brought his people out of cruel bondage in Egypt with a mighty arm. He destroyed their enemies. He gave them a good land flowing with milk and honey, the Promised Land. All seemed well. Surely they would experience the blessings of God for many generations. But they did not, why?

In the Book of Judges we read that, “another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (2:10, NIV). After the faithful generation of Joshua fought their enemies and secured the land, things took a bad turn. Generation after generation wandered away from the Lord’s truth and the Lord’s blessing disappeared from their land. By the end of the Book of Judges it says that, “everyone did as he saw fit” (21:25). The result was chaos and disaster.

What went wrong? Notice that a generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. God had instructed his people to tell their children and grandchildren about his great deeds (Deuteronomy 6). In other words, tell them the stories about God, about the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the 10 Commandments, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest of Canaan. In other words, tell kids Bible stories.

The generation that won great victories for God, Joshua’s generation, apparently failed in this one respect. They fought their enemies in Canaan but they failed to simply tell their children about the LORD. The result was a nation sinking into spiritual confusion, a nation that could no longer stand against its enemies. Their children and grandchildren grew up disobeying God and the country suffered.

Today we live in a land where everyone does as they see fit. Generations are growing up without hearing about God’s marvelous deeds, without learning about why it is vital to know God and to obey his commands. The people of God must obey his instruction—trust God by telling children the Bible accounts of God’s great works. God can still raise up a generation who will turn our nation back to him and his blessing.

We can passionately fight the enemies of God in order to secure the land and still lose the country. How? By not preparing a new generation of God-fearing young people who are ready to keep the faith alive. Any positive changes that we make in our society are sure to be lost if the next generation of believers is too weak to carry on the spiritual struggle. Although we may wish to, we will not erase the struggle in this age, but we can prepare our children to prevail.

We must faithfully tell children about God’s great deeds.

May God’s Spirit enable us to keep the faith and to pass it on to new generations,

Brother Richard

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