We live in a time of great religious confusion, both within and without the church. Even the definition of the word “church” has become one of confusion for many (and will be addressed in later articles in this series).
Our time, though, is not without example. At the end of the Book of Judges we read, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, NKJV). Israel was a theocracy, i.e., a nation was founded by God, to be governed by God, with it’s leaders appointed by and responsible to, God. We read of the promise He gave to Jacob in Genesis 35:10-12:
“And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.’” (NKJV)
The first leader of Israel as a nation was Moses. After his death, God raised up Joshua as a secular governor and Eleazar (son of Aaron) son ministered as high priest.
Joshua was followed by a series of judges who served alongside a series of high priests. In Judges 2:10, the bible explains what follows, “When all that generation (to whom Moses personally ministered) had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (NKJV) The nation turned from God to serving idols, which began a cycle of sin, bondage and deliverance as God repeatedly raised up judges through whom He would deliver His people. This cycle continued until, as we read in the end of the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Now, move forward to our day and the religious confusion that is rampant. Since our nation is not a theocracy, we do not have a central religious figure working alongside the government. In fact, our constitution forbids the state from interfering with the church. So, according to the constitution, we are free to worship (or not) as we choose without fear of the state.
The various religious groups, sects, denominations and non-denominations demonstrate that religious confusion is the case in our world.
For the most part, each claims that the other is wrong, if not in word, certainly in practice. Dogma has replaced doctrine and the commandments of men are taught in place of the bible. Inclusion is in, intolerance is out (as long as you agree with those who are “tolerant”; if not, they you are labeled as “intolerant”). People are “saved” because they walk the isle and are baptized in our building. Compliance to the Word of God is seen as legalism and compromise with the edicts of the world is adhered to as truth.
Certainly, the world has influenced the church instead of the church influencing the world. And because we have replace the Word of God with our own version of truth, “everyone does what was right in his own eyes.”
The solution to the religious confusion in our day is to return to the Lord and to the truth of His word. Simple yes, but painful most certainly. As with Israel, we can return from the bondage we currently suffer from by repenting and seeking Him with our whole heart. And therein is the pain. Too often we are all too willing to want without obedience.
God gives us the prescription we need from His word: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV) Until we are willing to do this, we will continue in our religious confusion.