I recently completed a study on the book of Judges and I found 3 major themes within the story. The first was Israel‘s military and spiritual struggles as they wrestled among themselves and battled with the remaining Canaanites (that Joshua failed to drive out) in order to settle within the land and create a lasting and more durable society of farmers, shepherds, and craftsmen.
The second theme is the amazing grace and longsuffering (but not infinite) patience of God‘s faithfulness to the covenant He made with Israel, as opposed to the amazing disinterest and schizophrenic behavior of Israel in their lack of faithfulness in return.
The third theme is what some scholars call, “the Canaanization of Israel.” In other words, it‘s how the people of God became more and more like the world around them instead of staying separate from the world, or their lives influencing the world around them to be more like Israel. See, that is an important question. Are we going to be influenced by the cultures around us, or are we going to be the ones influencing and shaping the cultures around us? When the Hebrews left Egypt, they had a difficult time freeing themselves from Egypt’s effects.
It‘s been said that it took a day to remove them from Egypt, but it took forty years to remove Egypt from them. The world all around Israel at the time of Judges was the various Canaanite tribes and peoples. In Judges you find Israel being oppressed in many ways by several different enemies, but not so much that they were forcibly dragged kicking and screaming into idolatry; the reality is that Israel preferred more of the pagan gods that the world enjoyed and less of their own God because it seemed not only the more tolerant thing to do but also it was more economically and socially expedient.
I hope this last theme pricked your ears and maybe even stabbed at your heart a bit, because it certainly stabs at mine. If you have read many of my studies, you should know by now that sometimes I‘m quite critical of the modern Church; not because I‘m above it, but because I‘m part of it. I‘m in the midst of it, just like you and I love The Church, I love my brothers and sisters of the faith (Messianic Jew and Traditional Gentile) and I‘m at times befuddled and downhearted at the obvious place we have arrived, and the equally obvious path of confusion and downright idolatry that we merrily rush along with full confidence that we are in good stead with the Almighty in doing so. I’m not the only person that sees this, many of you also see this and are making personal decisions and changes to chart a new way or (as I prefer to think of it) a return to the old well-defined and documented ways of the earliest body of Believers when the Lord‘s presence was tangible and His power flowed in ways we haven‘t seen.
Back in the days of the Judges there was a remnant of Israelite leaders that warned and begged the people to wake up and recognize how their faith had been co-opted by other Israelite leaders who sought only to further their private agendas or to blend in with their neighbors in order to gain wider acceptance. In opposition to this remnant of the faithful, was the ever-growing majority of Israelites and other leaders that said that the current situation demanded that the definition of sin be altered and that peace with their neighbors was more important and a greater good than obedience to an ancient decree about sacred land holdings or full devotion to their one god and His laws. The exact same thing is happening today in our churches. What we once look on as sin, is now simply an alternative lifestyle, and personal choice.
Some of us wrestle intensely with the concept of being “in the world, but not of the world.” Where do we draw the lines? What is acceptable behavior and is ungodly behavior? In growing our churches do we use the Word of God or the ideas of men?
Are we using God’s methods or have churches compromised with the world and used techniques common to the New Age rather than to the Bible? As Christian author and preacher John McArthur said, “Contemporary evangelism has been beguiled and sabotaged by a ruinous lack of confidence in God’s word . . . They have accepted the notion that scripture does not contain all we need to minister in these complex times. So they turn to human expertise in the fields of psychology, business, government, politics, entertainment, or whatever they think might supply some recipe for success that’s lacking in scripture.”
We have preachers who don’t preach biblically, but preach a man-centered religion of self-esteem and self-love. They believe that sin is nothing more than a lack of self-esteem and that the greatest sin is to teach a person that they are unworthy. In the October 5, 1984 “Christianity Today,” Robert Schuller wrote, ” I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.” Huh?
Schuller believes in positive-only sermons so that people always feel good about themselves. The problem is that the positive Jesus he sends a message about is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Bible defines sin as rebellion against God, but Schuller finds that insulting. To him, Jesus was Self-Esteem Incarnate. Hell is not a place of eternal torment to Schuller but just merely a loss of self-esteem. I challenge anyone to find that in the Bible!
No wonder there is no fear of God today and everyone does what is right in his/her own eyes?
While I do believe that there are many good Christians caught up in this mentality, they are deceived and they need to repent and get out of it. I’m sorry if that offends you, but often the truth is difficult to bear . . .
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