The news worldwide this past week has been alarming. Everywhere you turn there is escalating violence and it shows no signs of abating. In America, a protest turned violent because of the conservative views of an invited speaker who was to address a college crowd at Berkeley. Whether we are aware of it or not there is a cultural war that is now manifesting itself openly in society. What is also becoming clear is that there is no room for middle ground; one will either conform or stand in opposition. What is happening in our world and how can we reconcile this from scripture?
Lawlessness can only prevail when there is a breakdown of moral law and order. What we are witnessing on a worldwide scale is a redefining of what constitutes right from wrong. There is order, protection and peace when God’s Laws are honoured and upheld. One can understand how secularized society seeks to dispel and remove any notion of God and His commandments. God’s Law stands in the way of man’s attempt to exert his own sense of order and values. Shall we put a term to this? It’s lawlessness plain and simple! What is the root that helps pave the way for such tyranny?
There is an interesting contrast between two different congregations that we can glean from this week’s commentaries. Do you remember Moses up in Mt Sinai as he received God’s Law?
Exo 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Moses established his ministry and leadership on the basis of God’s absolute laws. Later, we see Moses reiterating the laws of God in his final message to the people as seen in Deuteronomy. This is why Moses will serve as one of the Two Witnesses in the last days. The teaching ministry of Moses is needed now more than ever.
Mal 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Let’s contrast this with a scene that was playing out at the foot of Mt. Sinai under Aaron. There was frustration amongst the people due to Moses being removed from the scene. Their patience could hold out no longer as they forced Aaron to establish a new order of church.
Exo 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
This new order of church opened the door to lawlessness that not only affected Israel but had repercussions that went beyond the people of God. If this people would have been steadfast in upholding God’s established laws as exhorted through Moses in Deuteronomy there would have been a totally different outcome. This contrast is covered more extensively in the summaries.
What bearing, if any does this have for us today? Is it possible that the worldwide unleashing of lawlessness can be traced to a compromising church? By no means am I exonerating the perpetrators of violence however the church bears much of the responsibility in what is taking place. We react with disdain at the fruits of violence but fail to consider its root cause.
Jesus had the ability to cut to the chase while calling out the hypocrisy of the “churched” members of his day. I would like to highlight a portion of scripture that may help in gaining a modern day perspective on this subject.
Mat 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
Mat 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Jesus was clear-cut in his teaching from this chapter. He pulled no punches; He did not seek alliances nor was “seeker sensitive” in his words. He was appalled at their definition of church; the manner of church we see in Exodus 32:1-6. It is a church that establishes its own version of doctrine; a teaching that may look good and even show evidence of fruit yet a church that is decoupled from God’s Law. There may be a semblance of church that can be seen however the damage is done by allowing for measures of lawlessness to seep into congregations and society. In the above few verses Jesus references an account of something that took place in the Old Testament. I feel Jesus raised this example to make a point we need to give heed to today. It is a warning and picture of what we are beginning to see take place. (It is important to read the commentary on this event for greater detail and insight)
Zacharias was a priest who lost his life due to raising a standard before King Joash. He reminded the king of the righteous instruction that his father Jehoiada gave him in his early years. Zacharias lifted up God’s Law and it proved offensive to the king. This reflection comes to mind while viewing some of the recent events surrounding President Donald Trump of America. I am not looking to make a political point with the following observation rather it must be seen in a spiritual context:
Much of what the new president has been doing is to simply restore law and order which has been part of the American fabric for generations. In recent years there has been a delinking from absolute law. The Constitution, which was based on moral law, has been redefined as a “living breathing document” meaning that it can adjust and change with the times. This has resulted in a document that is now rooted in secular values determined by the whims of men in positions of authority. These men are no different from the ones that Jesus upbraided in Matthew 23.
Have you noticed the barrage of attacks that have come upon the new American president from many sources? The media, leaders of nations, and even people from his own political party help to form this opposition. I personally feel that we are being given a preview of what is soon to come to the church. The pressure is increasing where the church is either going to be a voice for righteousness or a voice that slowly assimilates into the NEW cultural tide that is forming. I say NEW due to the subtlety that this movement will take. At the moment we see blatant opposition and it is not hard standing against it. A compromised church leaves itself open to the nuances of culture often under the guise of being cutting edge and relevant. It will only be a matter of time before a certain conformity will be demanded upon the church; by then it may be too late.
The key is to prepare now for what is coming. A voice for righteousness is one that will not only speak up but one that will be on its knees crying out for the sins of the land (2 Chron 7:14). A voice for righteousness will be one that seeks to establish his or her ministry based on God’s absolute laws as Moses did at Sinai (Exo 31:18). Sadly, the church at large more resembles the congregation seen in Exodus 32. It has the form of church but it’s based on man’s terms with little adherence to God’s absolute law. This is how lawlessness gains traction; it starts in the church and then permeates society. Are we willing to stand for Truth and that which is right? Take a good look at what is now transpiring with the American President; a man who is only trying to restore order and normalcy to a nation that has come unhinged. What will happen to the church as it seeks to uphold righteousness? Now is the time to prepare and seek the Lord while He may be found (Zeph 2:3, Isa 55:6).
2Pe 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.