In Part 1 of this series, we pointed out that in Judges 2, Israel reached such a point of apostasy that God withdrew His blessing and abandoned His promises (“Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress (Judges 2:15).”) -- God actually worked against His people. God did the exact opposite of what He promised He would do. We found that God has no tolerance for idolatry (none at all!), and that if His people do not repent for it, God will ignore His promises and goodness and turn them over to the captivity from which He has promised to deliver them. This fact is especially relevant today in light of the spiritual condition (i.e. apostasy and idolatry) of Western Christianity. The comparison of spiritual condition of today’s Christianity with that of the apostasy of Israel is remarkable.
This explains why so many prayers go unanswered today. It explains why Christians seem to be receiving from God exactly opposite of what they request in prayer. It explains why contemporary Christianity seems to be losing ground on every political and spiritual front. It explains why Christians, though surrounded by churches and Christian media, find it so difficult to hear from God and know what He wants. Just as with Israel, God has not just abandoned this generation but is out to destroy it. He has placed in the mouths of contemporary prophets lying spirits that tell this generation that God loves them, that He wants to bless them, that they are a mighty people, and that the church will know greatness, when, in fact, He is out to destroy them (i.e., “So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you (1 Kings 22:23).”).
We are convinced that the overabundance of Christian leaders who continue to proclaim God’s blessing on this backslid generation of Christians do not realize the spiritual influence they are under. They truly believe their own words of blessing. This is Joshua-gate: the lies and deception of the end time leadership.
The word “disaster” found in 1 Kings 22:23 (“So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”) comes from the Hebrew root (ra`a`) whose original meaning was “to strip the armor and other valuables from an enemy by force.” We know this happened to Israel repeatedly, but somehow we cannot fathom something like this ever happening to us.
Let’s bring this home to contemporary Christians. In the context of this verse, what does it mean for Christians to be stripped of their armor and other valuables? It means that God has decreed that He will help our enemies strip us of our spiritual armor and spiritual blessing, leaving us exposed and at the mercy of our enemies.
It explains why the spiritual armor of most Christians seems so ineffective – it no longer exists for them. It explains why spiritual gifts are all but missing from contemporary Christianity – it has been stripped away. It explains why the spiritual blessings never seem to come. Christianity is being plundered by its enemies, and God is aiding them. Christians are blindly following their blind leaders, listening to whatever they say, and together they are walking into battle completely naked.
16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders... 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, "Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me,
21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died.
22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their forefathers did.”
We find described here in Judges 2 the spiritual principle of “cyclical repentance.” When Israel first took possession of the land and fell into idolatry, God sent judges to cause them to repent and return to Him. It was a cycle that continued for hundreds of years. Eventually, He stopped sending the judges, and instead He used their captivity to test them. Today, we see this same spiritual principle at work both in individual Christians and in their churches.
When people first come to God, He has long patience with them just as He did with Israel. God recognizes that they will be tempted and may give in to their temptations. We have all experienced temptation following our salvation experience. But God, in His great love and compassion, reaches out to us when we fail and brings us back to Him through repentance. This is very similar to the way God sent judges to Israel. Sometimes Christians (like Israel) actually begin cycles of sin and repentance, but such cycles cannot continue forever. With Israel, there came a time when God stopped sending judges, and He stood back and waited instead.
Christians who continue in their cycle of sin eventually (as Israel did) reach the point where they no longer feel the conviction of God. They long for the revivals that they once experienced, and even though they attend revival meetings, for some reason they don’t seem to be able to experience the touch of God that they once did. They long for the mighty outpouring in their lives that they once received, but instead they find silence. They may even begin to question their own salvation. It is as if God is standing just out of reach, watching and waiting but not acting on their behalf. The vast majority of contemporary Christians today have reached this point, where the mighty outpourings are a thing of the past. Now, they must prove themselves to God by ridding their own lives of their idols without the aid of the mighty revivals they once knew.
But this principle is not just lost on individual Christians. We find it present in churches, too. Many, if not most, contemporary churches have experienced revivals in the past and have seen their share of God’s blessings. However, they eventually reach a point where the revivals no longer come. Most contemporary Christians sense this about their church. They sense the loss of God’s presence in their congregations. They do not understand why God seems so far away from them. They do not understand why God’s presence seems to be missing. They don’t understand why there are no revivals in their churches anymore.
Contemporary church leaders have come from the ranks of today’s compromising idolatrous Christians. They refuse to lay down their idols more so than those in their congregations. Contemporary church leaders have their own idols they cherish. Most of these men have turned their “ministries” into idols. They love to be called (with respect and awe) reverend, pastor, clergy, father, apostle, and prophet. They cherish these titles and make sure that everyone knows what they claim to be. They love to be set upon a pedestal, to be treated with respect and admiration. These men worship themselves right along with the people of their congregations.
The lack of true revival is of concern to our church leaders – not because their congregations are backslid, but because this state of sin might cause their congregations to go elsewhere in an attempt to find God. Consequently, they have found ways to circumvent this issue. They have learned that a great worship team, a band, and a worship “experience” can bring about a religious “high” to their congregations. People who have been exposed to such conditioning leave their churches feeling good, but, as with any “high,” it is short-lived. The “high” usually lasts for the drive home, then the need for revival/repentance returns, and people are left to wait until the next Sunday for another “fix.”
The “buzzing up” of Christians with religious “highs” has created a culture of religious-addict Christians who now “need” their weekly “church experience.” They need the “fix” of their religious worship and religious preaching from week to week. It eases their consciences. But allow them to miss a Sunday, and their religion begins to wear off. It is only then that they begin to feel the sensation of Holy Spirit conviction, and they once again feel the need to repent. So they quickly return to church or find one that can give them a “fix” good enough to numb them to the Holy Spirit conviction.
As a result, we see a great migration of Christians who hop from church to church in search of the presence of God. They think that surely there will be a great (judge) man of God in at least one church who is able to bring back God’s presence to His people. Many of these people cry out for the touch of God’s hand like they once experienced but He does not answer. This is because we have entered into a time of testing where God is proving the Christians of this generation. The question before us: will we, as the people of God, lay down our idols, or will we continue in our sin?
Contemporary Christianity will find it exceedingly difficult to return to God because of the Joshua-gate conspiracy. End time pastors and prophets have changed the understanding of the nature of true Christianity. It is no longer about the purity of their lives but the “religious experience” that numbs them to God. Pastors (heavily influenced by religious academia) have convinced people that it is dangerous to listen to the voice of the Spirit on their own. They do this because they know if people do begin to listen to God on their own, they will find out how shallow and fake their church experience is and the true extent of the Joshua-gate conspiracy their church leaders peddle.
Every time God’s people begin listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they begin speaking up in church concerning sin, apathy, and the need for revival. That upsets other people and disrupts their “religious experience.” It prevents other people from getting their fix, and it calls into question whether or not the church leaders are effective at all. The leaders cannot have that.
Church leaders have, therefore, had to find a way to dismiss the need for repentance. And they have found the answer. Interestingly enough, it is the same answer that Israel used to justify their idolatry. Part of the Joshua-gate conspiracy is found in how our church leaders have changed the perception of the true nature of Christianity. Christianity as taught by Christ and practiced by His disciples is NOT the Christianity of this present day. Christianity as taught by contemporary Christian leaders has become a supplemental insurance policy.
Our Western culture has no end of insurance policies. We have home, life, and auto insurance. We have insurance against flood damage and even on our savings accounts. We have special insurance policies to cover our jewelry and family heirlooms. We have health, medical, dental, and eye care insurance. We even have insurance to pay our kidnappers in the event that we are ever taken hostage. Since the need for insurance is so much a part of our culture, why would it surprise you to learn that contemporary Christians have adopted this part of culture into their religious state of mind?
Christianity in our modern culture can best be boiled down to a supplemental insurance policy. Most insurance policies don’t cover everything. There are gaps ranging from thousands to millions of dollars for which we are responsible, and thus the need for supplemental insurance. Therefore, supplemental or “gap” insurance is offered to fill in where the primary insurance policy does not cover.
Remember this scripture from Part 1 of this series:
5 Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
7 A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, 8 left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim.
9 Micah asked him, "Where are you from?"
"I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah," he said, "and I'm looking for a place to stay."
10 Then Micah said to him, "Live with me and be my father and priest, and I'll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food." 11 So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons. 12 Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. 13 And Micah said, "Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest."
Micah identifies in many respects with contemporary Christians in that he was looking for security. This is evident in his comment, “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” Micah, like contemporary Christians, had reason to feel insecure. His life was full of idols. However, rather than throw out his idols and find favor with God, he hires a Levite (priest) to try to offset the idolatry in his life.
There is no indication in this scripture that anyone ever told Micah that he had reason to fear God (In fact, the authority in his life – his mother – actually “took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah's house. Judges 17:4”). Even so, we cannot deny the “tone” of relief and comfort in his declaration: “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me.” Like Micah, contemporary Christians have an inherent fear of their spiritual condition, and they are looking for security. What they demand from their church leaders is security, and they are willing to pay for it. But they are not willing to give up their idols. Instead (like Micah), they are looking for a supplemental insurance policy with God – something that will appease God while allowing them to continue having their idols. Consequently, contemporary Christianity has become a “bolt-on” supplemental religion for added insurance against eternal disaster.
Christianity in the West as practiced by the vast majority of professing Christians holds that God can be pleased if the good of the individual Christian outweighs the bad. Even though this belief is diametrically opposed to the theology of most denominations, it is nevertheless tolerated and even encouraged in most pastors.
Contemporary Christians are led to believe that if they can just find the right church or the right pastor, then their lives will flow harmoniously with God and His Spirit. This is part of the Joshua-gate myth that is propagated by most pastors. They teach their church members that if they pay their tithes, God’s blessing will be upon them and He will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour… out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive (Malachi 3:10).” In this teaching, there is no linkage of God’s disfavor with the idolatry in their lives. God’s favor is tied to their tithe (actions) and their support (good intentions) of their church. It is easy to see how most church members have come to see holiness as a “bolt-on” benefit to their Christian lives but providing no eternal benefit. Holiness is simply something that would be good to do. Christianity, as defined by Jesus and practiced by His disciples, is nothing more than gap insurance. Today, Christians are defined by the church they go to and their standing in Christ is defined by their level of support and participation in their church.
It is important to recognize that the Levite who sold his services to Micah to work alongside the idols was not functioning according to God’s original design. Yes, the Levites were given no land and were thus expected to disperse throughout the nation of Israel and integrate into every tribe and every village. But their purpose was not to create a business or to operate for profit but to teach the ways of God to His people. However, many of the Levites took advantage of God’s design to carve out a living and profitable lifestyle while providing no real benefits to the people they served.
In the same way that the Old Testament fell victim to unscrupulous Levites, Christianity of the scripture has fallen victim to the pastors and prophets of today who sell their services in exchange for assurances of security. Just like the Levite who was willing to provide Micah with security for a price, today’s Christian leaders provide security to their members for their tithe. This is part of the Joshua-gate conspiracy.
The similarities are far too many to be simply coincidental. The Levites considered their priesthood an entitlement. In their estimation, God would be happy with them and His people as long as they performed their priestly duties. But this was never true. To God, it did not matter what the priest did or how much tithe the people paid if there were idols in the land. He would bring judgment. In the same manner, most church leaders see their “ministries” as entitlements from God (i.e., God made them a leader, so the people must listen to them). And God will be happy as long as they do their part by performing their ministries and the people do their part by supporting their ministries.
An important factor concerning insurance is that it preys on our fears. We have insurance because we fear that tragedy or disaster will come upon us in a measure that is beyond our capacity to cope. That is why insurance companies are so successful. Western Christians look for insurance to address their spiritual welfare just as they do for their physical welfare. Our Western culture has taught us to “shop around” for the best deal.
Most pastors (as well as those who call themselves prophets/apostles) are little more than insurance salesmen. They compete with each other to see who can peddle the best religious insurance policy at the lowest cost. There are those of the “Word of Faith” movement who claim that God’s blessing can be bought though tithes alone, without any spiritual cost (repentance) at all. There are others who peddle the “end time” or the “five-fold ministry” movements. They have men labeled as apostles and prophets and claim that if you belong to their group, you will become a great army of believers in the “last time.” But sadly, none of this is conditional to a spiritual cost. It is merely belonging and believing. There are others who claim that security (i.e., insurance) can be found in a “style” or “form” of church meeting, like house churches or mega-churches with their cell groups. So Christians bounce around, shopping for the best deal.
Be certain of this: there is NO security and NO insurance that will protect you against idolatry. It does not matter if you think you are a great apostle or prophet. If you idolize your “ministry,” none of your great exploits will protect you from a jealous God. It does not matter to what church you belong or under whose ministry you submit. If you find security there, then an idol it has become, and you will answer accordingly. There is no church, no ministry, no church leader, and no doctrine that can protect you from idolatry.
Working Hard and Good Intentions
2 Kings 4:38-40
Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, "Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these men."
One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it.
In this story, Elisha instructed a company of men to make some stew. One of the men found growing in a field “a wild vine” with wild “gourds.” These men then cut up the gourds and put them in the stew “though no one knew what they were.” In the same manner, many church leaders are clueless concerning what God is saying today. They think He wants to fill their churches with more idolatrous people like Micah. They think God wants His people to pour more and more money into the bottomless pits of their ministries so that this cycle can continue. They think that God wants to bless the churches of the West and pour out His blessings on them regardless of their spiritual condition. They think that God is happy with them and their churches. But all these beliefs are nothing more than wild gourds that they have gathered together hoping they will make good stew.
However, Jesus has a different message. To Him, these ministers and their churches are full of idols. They are “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, [and He] will spue [them] out of [His] mouth (Revelation 3:16).”
We always hear the same description church members use to describe their pastor and their church leaders. They say that their pastor “works very hard,” that he “has a good heart,” that he “does a lot of good,” and that he “preaches the word.” But since when does activity translate into spirituality? It never has. And since most pastors of institutional churches claim these same characteristics, are we to assume that all are equally doing God’s will and are approved by Him? Does God really care about activity?
What this really tells us is that most contemporary Christians believe that God can be appeased (or bought off) through hard work and good intentions. It tells us that most Christians believe that true Christianity - free from idolatry – is not what’s important. It’s nothing more than supplemental insurance because you can have all the idols you want. Your hard work and good intentions can outweigh the negative effect of your idols. This is what these men thought when they brought the wild gourds. What could be wrong with gourds growing in a field of herbs? Surely the herbs would make the wild gourds good. The good intentions of these men produced death -- a poisonous stew that killed. In the same way, your good intentions can also produce poison that will kill you, your church, and your pastor as certainly as did those wild gourds.
God does not hate you. You simply have the misfortune to live in a time of great apostasy. You have also been lied to. You have been led to believe that God will overlook your idols if you work hard enough for Him, if you have good intentions, and if you support and submit to a church and its leaders.
Contemporary churches have backslidden, but the good news is that God still looks at each individual heart. Therefore, you are not without hope. If your heart is still yielding enough to receive His conviction, you must lay down your idols before it is too late. Quit trying to find the right church and pastor to help you. Look to God. Most of the time, all you will receive at an institutional church is a “fix” that numbs you against the true conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The institutional church and its leaders are the Baal (idol) of this generation. Baal never demanded that Israel stop worshipping God; it just wanted to be worshipped, too. By comparison, modern Christians worship their church idols, their church building idols, their “ministry” idols, and their church leader idols along with their worship of God. The eventuality of all this is what happened to ancient Israel: they eventually all but forgot about God (whom they could not see) for their worship of other gods (Baal: the institutional church system) they could see.
Christians are well aware of the verse “…not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9).” They apply this scripture to sinners who believe that they are good people and that being good is enough to satisfy God. Then, hypocritically, they go on to believe that good intentions and hard work will be honored by God when it comes to themselves and their pastors. But if God does not honor the “good intentions and hard work” of sinners who continue to live in sin, then why believe that it makes a difference for Christians who dabble in idolatry? It doesn’t.
If we are to find God’s favor today, it will not come from our involvement with the right ministry or church. It will come because we abandon our idols and repent. Your Christianity must be more than a “bolt on” faith that is added to offset your sin and idolatry. It must replace it. Nothing short of replacement will ever please God.
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