THE PERILS OF APOSTACY
Created on: 18th June 2021
Israel was, and remains, the only nation with which God has made a covenant, so its fate cannot be taken as a direct analogy and applied to any other nation – however, lessons can and should be taken and applied to our own circumstances in twenty first century Britain. In Britain the worship of the God of Israel has been predominant for over 1000 years and now, like Israel of old, we are turning our backs on Him. There are in the UK today 1500 mosques serving the religious needs of some 3 million Muslims, 150 temples where many and various Hindu gods and goddesses are worshipped by approximately 1 million followers. In addition, there are a half million Sikhs, 300000 Buddhists and numerous small pagan and neo-pagan cults and sects. Approximately 17 million – 25% of the population -people disavow any religious affiliation whatsoever. Meanwhile in the USA two avowedly Satanic cults, The Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple, fight legal battles to erect statues in public spaces and lead prayers in Town Council meetings. What are the consequences of apostasy and turning to different gods?
JUDGEMENT ON EGYPT
The story of Israel as a nation begins with their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew people, enslaved for 400 years remembered God and the covenant He had made with their forefather Abraham and in their distress called upon Him. God heard their cries and sent a deliverer, the Prophet Moses. Through the hands of Moses God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians, finally humbling their god-king Pharaoh, son of Ra, to release the Israelites to go and worship God as Moses demanded. The ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians parallel ten of the major gods and goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon. The gods of Egypt are crushed by the demonstration of the power of the God Almighty of Israel. God’s liberation of His people is accomplished by judgement of the people, systems and false gods which held them captive.
BLESSING ON ISRAEL
The Hebrew people, now a free people, flee through the Red Sea into the Wilderness of Sinai. There is a final act of destruction visited upon Egypt; as they pursue the Israelites through the Sea, the waters that parted for the Israelites roll back over Pharaoh and his army, drowning them. The Israelites are cut-off from their past, the powers that had held them captive have been obliterated, they need fear re-capture no longer. At Mount Sinai, the appointed place of worship, Moses ascends the mountain amid thunder, fire and smoke to receive the Ten Commandments; the guiding words and principles by which the newly liberated nation of Israel will live. The slaves, having been freed are now being taught how to live as a free people. Foundational to the Ten Commandments are the first three, placing the primacy of the worship of God above all other matters:
‘And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.’
All freedom and blessing flows from this principle: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, all your mind, all your soul and all your strength.’
Loving God and placing Him first in the heart of the nation secures the presence of God within the nation – just as it does with the individual. After the receiving of the Law came the creation of the Tabernacle, the place where God would dwell among the people and where they were to come to worship in the manner He appointed. Freedom from slavery, instruction on how to live as a free people and the Presence of God in their midst; these were the foundational blessings of God on the nation of Israel. It was to be the Presence of God in the nation that distinguished the Israelites from all other nations on the earth. With God in their midst they were now ready to conquer the land which God had promised to their forefather Abraham.
DECLINE AND FALL
From this point onwards the progress of Israel is a roller-coaster ride, there are troughs and there are peaks but each successive trough is lower and each recovering peak less high, always the trend is downhill. Under Joshua, the successor to Moses, and his successors in turn, the Israelites capture the territory – but not all the land promised. They kill or drive out the inhabitants – but not all of them as commanded. At every turn the Israelites fail to wholeheartedly follow God, worshipping not only at the Tabernacle but also various local deities and spirits on hills and various places. For 400 years the people live as a people of covenant under the Law as mediated by Judges but the Law is increasingly disregarded, eventually anarchy reigns and the people call for the Prophet Samuel to appoint a King over them, rejecting the direct rule of God and the freedom that brings. God enacts a great re-set by the establishment of the family of David as hereditary kings and the building of the Temple of Jerusalem under King Solomon. As with the consecration of the Tabernacle, so with the consecration of the Temple; the Divine Presence so fills the appointed place of worship that the ministers cannot perform their roles. God is still present among His Chosen People.
THE ROT CONTINUES
Under the Kings the rot continues. The Kingdom splits quickly into Israel in the North and Judah in the South, the northern kings establishing an alternative centre of worship at Dan – contrary to the divinely ordained Temple in Jerusalem. The worship of alternative deities, notably Baal, Asherah and Moloch also grows - despite the efforts of zealous prophets such as Elijah and the occasional reforming King. The strength of Israel’s enemies around about her increases until in 720BC the northern kingdom is conquered and taken into captivity by the Assyrian empire.
THE WRITING IS NOW ON THE WALL
The writing is now on the wall for Judah also. The covenant of God with Israel states that with idolatry will come oppression and eventual exile, but despite the reminders of prophets such as Jeremiah the Kings and people of Judah refuse to listen. Eventually the southern kingdom of Judah is also conquered, this time by the Babylonian empire, burning down the Temple and destroying all its bronze fittings, the people are taken away to Babylon, leaving only a remnant of the poor in the land. In exile in Babylon the prophet Ezekiel sees the glory of God departing the Temple. The Prophet Jeremiah is one of those left behind and encourages the remnant that remains with a word from God, that they will prosper if they stay in the land but will be destroyed if they leave for Egypt. The leaders choosing to ignore Jeremiah and the prophetic word of God, leave the land and take the people back to Egypt – back to the country of their ancestors’ enslavement. There in Egypt they continue they continue in their idolatry to the ‘Queen of Heaven’, making offerings and libations. Jeremiah prophesies the means of their destruction. The circle has turned in full, Israel that was delivered from enslavement under false gods has abandoned the worship of God, turned to idol worship and voluntarily returned to the land of their slavery. It is those carried off to exile in Babylon, unwillingly dragged from the Promised Land, who can still hope in the Promises of God, they are suffering the consequences of idolatry and law-breaking but they are learning the harsh lesson that God will not be mocked and that He will have a people who will worship Him alone.
WHAT HOPE FOR THE UK?
For a nation such as the UK which has no covenant with God there is no promise that God will restore. If a nation turns from the worship of God it can expect nothing but a return to the former state from which God raised it up. The only hope that remains for that nation is for a godly remnant to intercede and work to restore proper worship. The New Testament hope and promise is that the Kingdom of God is like leaven hidden in a measure of flour and that the disciples of Christ are like salt. Though invisible the salt flavours the whole dish and leaven causes the whole loaf to rise. The disciples of Christ are those with circumcised hearts, with new covenant hearts of flesh which are keen to keep the law. The law of God has gone forth from Zion, hidden in the hearts of Christian believers, to every nation under heaven. Similarly, the Presence of God is now dwelling in the hearts of the believers; individually and corporately they form the Temple of God. It is for these believers to maintain the worship of God and to call the nation back to worship.
WAKE UP CHURCH!
The worship of false gods and idols is not a neutral thing, it is an act of rebellion against God Almighty. A secular society might believe in the separation of religion from the state of the nation but it is deceived; the worship of God is fundamental to the health of a nation. While there can be no compunction in religion there is a great deal of difference between toleration and approval. It is possible to tolerate an error when knowledge of the truth is strong, but when that truth is no longer acknowledged and error is abundant there is grave danger. The disciples of Christ have not proven their saltiness, we have failed to maintain the worship of God and obedience to the Laws of God, what are we good for and what will happen to our nation? It is time for the church to wake up.
Freelance Researcher & News Compiler | Richard Roper | Published | 2021 | June 18 | 03:00 |
The views expressed in this Opinion Editorial are entirely the view of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views held by the Editorial Board of ‘The Way, or the Trustees/Directors of 66Books.’
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