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Monday, October 12, 2009

Restoring from Captivity

Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; And they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity . . . (Lamentations 2:14).

As I meditated on my memory verse for the week my thoughts took me to the historical setting of Jeremiah's lament. Jerusalem, once the vibrant and prosperous capital of ancient Israel, lay in ashes. Its leaders murdered. Its population sent into ruthless exile.

It didn't have to happen that way. God had sent His prophets again and again to warn the nation of impending judgment for their sins. But the people preferred the gentle and soothing message of false prophets and priests to the harsh words of God's emissaries who warned against listening to falsehood.

And so, judgment fell -- swift, sweeping and deadly.

And then my thoughts returned me to the present, and to the messages I have heard from pulpits and Christian TV and radio programs which offer gentle and soothing promises, but never speak of God's justice, holiness and judgment.

I've heard the flock of God encouraged to become better people by learning about their "personality traits" as defined through psychological tests -- but rarely have I heard the flock encouraged to diligently, passionately, fervently seek God on their knees and in the words of the prophets, apostles and Church teaching.

I have heard "touchy-feelly" messages in which people are promised by their pastors health, wealth and happiness, but never have I heard them talk of Scripture's message of persecution, suffering and deprivation for God's elect -- or of how even Jesus "learned obedience from the things He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).

God's prophets have always -- always -- been enjoined to speak the truth as a fire and as a hammer that shatters a rock (Jeremiah 23:29). God has always sent His emissaries to expose iniquity among those who should know better, that they might be spared judgment, which is inevitable to the unrepentant.

"Go into all the world," the Lord commanded the Church, and teach God's truth --the full truth -- even if it is disquieting and unwelcomed. For only in so doing can we participate in the work of God to restore people from their captivity.

There is no greater call or mission a child of God can have.

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