Bibles and Temples

Bible with candleA Painful Part of Scripture

The recent daily Bible readings have been in a very painful part of Scripture for me as of late…and I’m not specifically talking about the lengthy genealogies in 1 Chronicles I just got past. 🙂

Instead I find the lack of good kings in Israel and Judah disturbing. Basically, after David, most are bad kings…with just a few good ones sprinkled in.

One of those good kings…getting close to when Judah goes into exile…is Josiah. Kids, you might especially appreciate how old he was when he began to reign. Let’s look at 2 Kings 22:1-2 to find the age when he first sat on the throne:

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

How old was he? [Eight.]

That’s younger than at least four of you, isn’t it?!

But, more important than his age was what he did…which was?

He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

What does it mean by “he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” kids?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

It means he was very faithful, not dabbling with wrong things here and there. He followed God wholeheartedly.

Isn’t that something we’d all like to hear said about us?

The Law Found

Now, in the eighteenth year of being in charge, Josiah ordered that the temple be repaired. Something interesting happened when that work was progressing:

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:8-13).

Now, I want everyone here to seriously consider those words. Here is the king of Judah…heir of David…and the words of the Book of the Law were a surprise to him!

That would be like us meeting here every week, talking about God, and then someone saying, “Hey, check this out! I found this thing called the Bible with 66 books in it and it says we have been totally messing up.”

The king of a nation God formed didn’t have an equivalent of a Bible! What makes that especially crazy is this command recorded in Deuteronomy 17:18-20:

18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

Not only should Josiah have had a Bible, he should have written a copy for himself and read it every day!

Abominable Objects in the Temple

As we read a little further on, the shocking revelations don’t stop there.

Good news, the Book of the Law was found in the temple.

Bad news, a lot of other stuff was also in there:

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel (2 Kings 23:4).

Not only do we have a king without the equivalent of a Bible, we have a church with objects dedicated to other false, nonexistent gods in it. It would be like having an alter to Satan in here when we meet every week.

No wonder there were so many evil kings!

Boy we are lucky that we don’t have those problems in the modern church, eh?!

We have Bible’s growing out our ears…and leaders in Christendom definitely have them. We know because they quote them so often!

As for vessels made for false gods in our churches…other than false Christian churches that’s not an issue either! You would never see an alter to anyone but the Most High in any of our churches!

If something in what I just said doesn’t seem wrong to you, then I fear either you aren’t listening or you are woefully ignorant of the state of the modern church in Western countries.

Even if we go ahead and not hold false pseudo-Christian faiths against Christianity, I believe there is a lot of correlation between what the twenty-something King Josiah ran into and what we are wrestling with in modern Christendom.

We have Christian denominations that, for all intents and purposes, do no have the Bible…and we have metaphorical vessels made for false gods in our churches…

Missing Bibles and Vessels Made for False Gods

As one example, I did a quick search to find out what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America believes about abortions. Back in 1991their ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a social statement about abortion.1

It is sixteen pages.

Sixteen pages!

I don’t need even a page to provide the biblical statement on abortion. Not even a whole paragraph. Not even a long sentence. Exodus 20:13 handles it in four words (based on an English translation):

You shall not murder.

Simple.

If you need sixteen pages to explain your view of a clear, moral issue…then I can almost definitely promise you that you aren’t being thoughtful…

You are rationalizing.

Now, don’t get me wrong…the ELCA didn’t say abortion is okay in any and every circumstance (far from it)…and there are some cases where it is less black-and-white…for instance, when keeping the child means the mother will die.

But if you take sixteen pages to communicate your view on abortion, then you…at best…are going to end-up with a “sometimes it is okay” view like the ELCA…with them providing permission for:

  • The life of the mother
  • Rape and incest
  • “Extreme fetal abnormality”

That probably doesn’t sound to unreasonable on the surface, but from what I read I get the sense that the document is purposely fuzzy in condemning abortion…and I think it says a lot that the same assembly that agreed to that sixteen page statement could not also agree to the clause “… and oppose induced abortion as a method of birth control.”

An embryo is not a clump of cells. It is a baby. An independent life. A life that has as much right to exist as its mother or father.

A life that is covered by “you shall not murder.” A church that cannot rightly apply that one of the Ten Commandments correctly…especially since it has been over 20 years and they probably have shifted further toward favoring abortion…is really a church that does not have a Bible…and that is allowing vessels made for false gods into their temple (in this case, the Planned Parenthood culture of death).

And just like the ELCA is not the only denomination at best fuzzy on abortion, abortion is not the only place where Scripture has been lost and vessels made for false gods have snuck into the modern church. LGBT items are wreaking havoc…but I would suggest that we can summarize all of them with a four letter acronym, FACE:

  • Fame
  • Acceptance
  • Compromise
  • Entertainment

I wouldn’t necessarily rate them in that order…and I know that acceptance is probably a sub-set of compromise…but acronyms make it easy to remember things. 🙂

Fame

With fame I am reminded of Paul saying twice he wasn’t “inferior to these super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5 & 12:11). Whether it be musicians or teachers, we have built a hierarchy in Christendom that puts others whose “royal priesthood” (see 1 Peter 2:9) is no greater than ours up on a pedestal. This leads to all kinds of issues for both us and the ones we venerate. For instance, we might turn off our brains and accept something as true just because so-and-so said it…and they might fall into sin because nobody is willing to tell them they are wrong.

Yes, the first part of Hebrews 13:17 says to “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account,” but you will also have to give an account…and you do have both a Bible and a brain.

Use both. 🙂

Acceptance

As for acceptance, we’ve also accepted a lot we shouldn’t have. We’ve been hit over the head with “thou shalt not judge” (which is a total abuse of Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37) so much we have a difficult time clearly stating anything is wrong. Like abortion as a form of birth control. Sex outside of marriage. Recreational use of drugs. Violent video games.

Name your favorite sin to ignore here.

That acceptance, again, shows the equivalence of not having a Bible and allowing vessels made for false gods into our temple.

Compromise

Which flows into compromise. Around the world, Christianity lives in a harsh environment. Elsewhere, that harsh environment includes physical persecution. As a whole, here, the persecution is through words and laws…but, in both cases, there is a constant, hard, loud pounding attack on the doors of the church to allow vessels made for other gods in…and to burn our Bibles.

Well, at least, all the parts of them that society doesn’t agree with.

And sometimes inch-by-inch…sometimes mile-by-mile…we acquiesce.

We ignore the implications of the clear, concise choice given by God through Joshua in (Joshua 24:14-15):

14 “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Choose this day whom you will serve…

A society that moves further from God every second…

Or the Lord.

Entertainment

Finally, to wrap up the acronym FACE…entertainment.

Before we do, I’ve been talking about how the church is the equivalent to Israel’s temple back in Josiah’s day…but let’s expand the temple’s application a little bit more by looking at 1 Corinthians 3:16-20:

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

“Do you not know you are God’s temple…”

It is true Christendom itself has an issue with entertainment…where some churches appear more caught up in their performance than staying true to the Word of God…

The equivalent of not having the Bible and allowing vessels made for false gods into our temples…

But with every letter of FACE, we are all individually guilty too, aren’t we?

And what entertains us may be one of greatest holes in our walks with the Lord given the abominable material being put before us in various forms. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-24:

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Are your eyes healthy? Is your body…which is God’s temple…full of light?

Are you sure?

Personally, I am not sure. I have to prayerfully consider some of the music I listen to and movies and TV I watch. For instance, I’ll admit I like a good zombie flick…although I try to avoid the gory ones (or at least turn away from the worst scenes). Why not just avoid them entirely?

We never let Mikey play first-person shooter games (and won’t let Augie play or watch others play them)…but my favorite movie genre is action adventure where, more often than not, a whole bunch of people get killed.

Perhaps if I won’t let Augie watch something at 9 years old I shouldn’t be watching them at 52? If I won’t let Augie listen to something at 9 years old I shouldn’t be listening to it at 52?

Let’s all pray for each other…I know I can use yours as I consider whether my actions are the equivalent of not having a Bible and if I am letting vessels made for false gods into the temple.

I think I am okay with the first letter of FACE…another’s fame doesn’t have much weight me…other than when the favorite or respond to my tweet :-)…

But I do have a problem with Acceptance, Compromise, and Entertainment.

However, I do have a Bible here in my hand and I know that it, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, can help me understand where I come up short…and that…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Praise God for his faithfulness and forgiveness!

Choose this day whom you shall serve.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Let’s repeat that together…

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Footnotes

1http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/AbortionSS.pdf


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