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Thursday, May 26, 2011

"My People Israel"

In 1st Kings 16.2, what does God call the apostate, idolatrous Church in the north?

First, allow me to make a seriously important point. The Westminster Confession of Faith rightly claims that there is one church from Adam to eternity (25.1). The story of Israel and Judah united, and then Israel and Judah divided is the story of the Church of Jesus Christ under the Old Covenant.

Now, looking at 1st Kings 16.2, notice what God calls His Church and He says it twice. Think of it, here is the northern “Church” -- idolatrous, violent, faith-breaking, apostate to the gills; and God affectionately claims her as His; “My people Israel”! The broken, scandalous, splintered Church is still His! In desperate need of reformation & resuscitation, yes; but His nonetheless. In serious need of reclamation and reconstruction, no doubt; but His nevertheless. The Spirit corrects our skewed notions here. We must be cautious in claiming that the apostate “churches” are not Christ’s Church. God says, not once, but twice “My people”! Their idolatrous actions showed that they had either synchronized and syncretized Ba'alite idolatry and Yahweh worship (with Asherah as Yahweh's consort!!!!); or outright rejected Yahweh. [This has some bearing on the PCA's position paper: which I encourage all to prayerfully and thoughtfully examine, especially in the light of God's claims in 1st and 2nd Kings, and the prophets Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, and Amos. But it also has some bearing on how we look at certain other “Churches” that appear to be establishing “alternative” versions of Christianity by turning their back on the ethical standards of 2,000 years of Christianity -- let the reader understand].

How do we respond, then? On the one hand, we are not, ever, to look lightly on apostasy. 1st and 2nd Kings, the prophets, 1 Timothy 1.19-20, and Revelation 2-3, for example, make this crystal clear. To synchronize and syncretize God's way with the ways of other gods and religions is shameful, and attracts God's rightful justice.

On the other hand, like Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29.20-30.27) & Josiah (2 Chronicles 35.1-19) many decades later, we should seek to call them back to what their baptism (the covenant sign!) preaches and proclaims. These belong to Christ (remember, God says, "My people"!), and must be restored to Jesus, confessing their sins and embrace the Lord Jesus in living faith!

If we call them back (whether they return or not), then we will find that we are standing in the long, honorable tradition of Jehu son of Hanani (1st Kings 16.1 and 7). That with him, we are instruments of God’s word: the word that offers life to those who will repent and believe (Ezekiel 18.23, 32); & yet the word that stands as a memorial monument against those who persist in rejecting Jesus Christ the Lord.


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