How the Greeks Destroyed the Jewish Church
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. I pray that the Lord is blessing you and your family and that you are preparing for the soon coming of Jesus.
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The sermon you will hear this month is very important, so important in fact, that this is the second time I am sharing it with our listeners. I presented this sermon about five years ago and since that time, I have been asked by many to present it again. In recent times there have been some who have really pressed me to do this, and I have felt perhaps, that the time has come, since most of our listeners have n ever heard this message. For those who have hear it before, you will find that it has been updated and expanded considerably. I pray that you will receive a great blessing as you listen.
One of the most incredible changes ever to happen to God’s church took place at a time in which there is no biblical record. Yet the changes were so profound and so devastating that it is vital that we study them. The Jews were led by Satan to their ultimate rebellion and to their rejection as God’s church. There are many lessons for us today that we had better learn if we are going to avoid making a similar mistake in our day.
Now, before we read God’s Holy Word, we must bow our heads and ask for his wisdom to understand what He wants to tell us today. Our Father in heaven. Thank you for your holy word and the TRUTH that it contains for us today. Please send your Holy Spirit to speak to us about this truth and help us to understand what you wish to say to us. Help us to see that what happened to the Jews before Christ came to this earth the first time has its parallel today, just before Jesus comes the second time. And we thank you in Jesus name, Amen.
Please turn with me in your bibles to the book of 1 Corinthians chapter one, vs. 18. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
Notice the contrast between the preaching of the cross and the thinking of the Jews. The Jews were looking for sensational manifestations of truth in order to make them willing to believe. They were in some ways like the charismatics of today, who want a religion that mostly involves their senses and feelings, but which largely ignores the intellectual and truly spiritual. On the other hand, notice that the Greeks were emphasizing the intellectual and avoiding the emotional. “The Greeks seek after wisdom,” Paul said. Verse 22. Paul saw that something happened between these two groups of people, the Jews and the Greeks that he believed would also threaten God’s church. He could see what had happened to the Jews under the influence of the Greeks and he warned all of God’s people down to the end of time what was to come.
Originally, the educational system God gave the Jews was simple, practical, natural, and designed to create love and loyalty to God, and an understanding of His law in their hearts. If Israel had remained loyal, God would have blessed them so much that they would have been the admiration of the world and consulted regularly. God’s educational plan would have prepared Israel to announce the Messiah’s salvation to the world.
But God’s chosen people stoned the prophets, went whoring after idols, languished in Babylon, and ultimately rejected Christ the Messiah. After returning from captivity, being fearful of idolatry they hedged themselves with rules and regulations to prevent apostasy. Satan knew it would be extremely difficult to entice Israel into rank idolatry again, so he tried another angle.
At the end of the Medo-Persian Empire, Alexander the Great conquered the civilized world, but his sudden death left the empire divided between his four generals. The Greek empire championed worldly masters of wisdom. Aristotle, Socrates and Plato laid the foundation of Western Culture. They tried to solve the moral dilemmas of society using worldly, pagan philosophy. Though Greek civilization flourished economically, their system of philosophy and education failed to produce the moral system that could change the heart and make it truly noble. It had no divine system of evaluating right and wrong. No standard other than itself to judge righteousness.
Sophisticated Greek culture required highly developed colonization and city life. The city state was the only social concept of mature Greek culture. But it was not a city with walls and fortifications. They were more interested in the usefulness of the city in which to engage Greek culture. Grecian kings were known for establishing large cities, colonizing and mixing cultures together under Greek principles. Colonizing large cities removed people from the natural simple influences of the country and engaged them in the complex, man-made and the artificial.
Previous empires forcefully imposed their culture and religion on those nations they conquered, but it was always difficult. By contrast, Alexander was the first emperor to leave national culture and religion alone from a military standpoint. Nevertheless Hellenistic philosophy, economics, lifestyle, language, and the arts sunk in very deeply. By popularizing their culture and education they could integrate it into other cultures, resulting in one vast “Greekdom” under their intellectual masters. This strategy was very effective, not by creating an empire controlled by military power, but by creating a cultural empire built on ideas and a way of thinking that would influence nations throughout all time. What Babylon and Medo-Persia had failed to do by force of arms, the Greeks did by force of intellect. Though their military power was relatively short-lived, the power of Greek intellectualism is still with us today in every aspect of our lives. No wonder Paul wrote what he did in first Corinthians. He was very concerned that the philosophy of the Greeks would compromise the church. He could see that these ideas and philosophies were very attractive to the unregenerate heart.
Devastating effect on the Jewish church
The effect of Hellenistic culture on God’s church during the 400 years between the last Old Testament prophet and the time of Christ is instructive to His church today. There were no prophets to speak to God’s church, and the Bible is otherwise silent concerning the history and condition of the church during this period. Interestingly many of the same principles the Greeks used on the Jewish church, which led to its terrible rejection of Christ, are being used on God’s church today to prevent it from receiving the latter rain.
One of the four generals that took control of the southern part of the Greek empire after the death of Alexander the Great was Ptolemy I. He began the Ptolemy dynasty that ruled from Alexandria, Egypt. This kingdom had the most influence on the Jews during the 400 years just before Christ came to this earth as a babe in Bethlehem. Moreover, the change that took place during that time had far more impact on the Jews and their faith than it did on other nations. The reason was because the Jews were so different from the Greeks than those other nations.
The Ptolemys were very willing to let other nation’s leaders close to the circles of power in Alexandria. They invited these leaders to participate in at least certain aspects of their government. They also involved them in key aspects of Greek culture including religion and the arts. It was a sort of “political and cultural ecumenism,” but it had powerful effects on Jewish religious thinking.
Today we have a similar convergence within politics and within religion. On one hand there is a strong ecumenical movement within religions leading the churches and religions to tolerate each other, cooperate together and even enter into alliances with each other in the name of peace and coexistence. On the other hand, there is also a political effort to moderate the nations into a sort of global political harmony that tolerates almost all ideas and leads to peaceful co-existence. U.S. President Obama clearly preaches this message, as does Benedict XVI.
The basis of these movements within religion and politics comes directly from Greek philosophy upon which both the Papacy and the Western nations are founded. Political and religious ecumenism are merely a continuation of the trajectory of Greek ideas. The main idea is that nationalism, cultural extremes and even war can be reduced or eliminated if everyone is mixed together and governed by a central global authority. The Vatican promotes this principle because ultimately she can use it to lead the nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples, to look to her for moral guidance.
This strategy of integrating political and thought leaders into Greek government and culture was effectively used to strengthen Greek cultural integration back home. But in no place was this more effective than in Israel. It was a Trojan horse that eroded Jewish uniqueness and undermined God’s plan for the Jews. The pagan Greeks were very friendly to the Jews. Alexander and Ptolemy I offered them equal rights, benefits and protections with all other citizens. This friendly relationship between the Jews and the Greeks caused large Jewish communities to arise in Alexandria, Egypt.
The Ptolemy strategy to integrate Greek culture into Jewish life was a multi-pronged approach through their educational system, their economy, and through entertainment and the arts. The Jews were intrigued by the intellectualism of the Greeks, and eventually became enthralled with it.
The Ptolemy dynasty controlled Egypt in the south, Judea, Phoenicia and the surrounding regions. The Ptolemy kings wanted to merge religions by taking the good parts of each and integrating them into a combined Greek religion. This ecumenical project was difficult from the standpoint of the Jews. They were unique and peculiar. No other religion was a very good fit with it. It had to be changed in order to merge it into the religion of the empire. Other religions could more easily be adjusted to fit the mold. But not the religion of Israel. Dramatic revisions would have to be made to integrate it into Greek culture.
To accomplish this project the Ptolemy kings established an educational center and library in Alexandria. The library was unique. They tried to bring all the religious texts of the various religions throughout the empire to this library, have them translated to the Greek language, and then made available for study.
One of the Ptolemy kings strategically commissioned 70 rabbi scholars to come from Judea to Alexandria and translate the Old Testament (their sacred oracles) into the Greek language. The result of this translation project was called the Septuagint. This would no doubt also open opportunities for the Jews to become more familiar with the culture of the Greeks by exchanging ideas with the Greek master philosophers. The Jews would have vainly seen it as an opportunity to influence the Greeks with their own sacred texts.
But that was only the beginning. Promising and talented Jewish youth were no doubt invited to Alexandria’s schools and then with their degrees came back to teach in Jewish schools. Because Greek culture was becoming quite popular, the Jews thought this a good way to bring fresh thinking and new perspectives into Jewish life. The average Jew was enamored with Greek lifestyle and materialism. And the prospect of wealth strengthened the Jewish fascination with Greek thinking and culture. Meanwhile Greek intellectualism crept into Palestine.
The Jewish priests had made themselves singularly wealthy from the offerings of the people and had become corrupted. Their chief aim it seemed was to gain money. What does the scripture say? “The Love of money is the root of all evil.” Since the priests were essentially the national leaders, they guided the course of their country according to their ambitions and became easy prey to Hellenic influences which improved their chances of increasing their wealth and influence even further.
But a broader economic principle was to come into play in Judea which would affect everybody, not just the priests. The Ptolemy king made a certain Jew the head of tax collection from Phoenicia to the borders of Egypt. He in turn appointed his own countrymen to help him. These enriched themselves and in turn invested in Judea, showering it with money and wealth and improving economic conditions. This investment in Judea raised the people from poverty to prosperity and changed the course of Judean history.
Please understand that Satan was primarily interested in the Jews. He already controlled the Greeks. The Jews were the object of Christ’s supreme regard. They were His church. They were going to have the Messiah. Satan knew that they must be prevented from accomplishing their mission at all costs. Perhaps that is why the Jews were so courted by the Greeks. Their lifestyle and principles were so different from the Greeks hence the Greeks concentrated on them. In the end time, Satan’s primary object is to get God’s people off their mission; off of their spiritual principles and prevent them from proclaiming Present Truth.
The newfound wealth from all this investment helped turned admiration for the Greeks into emulation. Jewish tastes became more refined. They became interested in less practical arts, especially painting. Their homes became more beautiful. Their clothing copied the fashions of the Greeks. But the simple habits and customs of the Jews designed to keep them loyal to God and separate from pagan idolaters was lost. Though they no longer bowed down to idols, they were guilty of a new idolatry to the gods of reason, materialism and fashion. It involved a new way of thinking, a new way of acting, and a new educational system more compatible with the prevailing ideas of the Greek empire.
But it was the Jewish leaders that led the youth of the day to adopt extravagant habits and frivolous customs. They copied the Greeks in everything from eating and drinking to fashion and finances. They indulged in wine, music, drama, theater and other entertainments. They placed more importance on making money than on spiritual values. Greek fashions became customary in Judea. The youth would exercise under Greek hats, and flaunted the popular Greek country dress through the streets of Jerusalem. As the new educational system advanced within Jewish society, so did the corresponding love of worldliness and monetary gain. These enchantments greatly appealed to the youth who were quickly drawn into dissipation and unchastity.
Today there is a similar fascination with fashion. God’s people often dress like the world. For many years women have worn that which pertains to a man (though designed perhaps, to be a little more feminine), and now some men are even wearing that which pertains to women. It is so common now, that most of God’s people don’t even realize what they are doing. God’s people, both men and women often dress to express and expose their sexuality. And it is not just out on the street, but also in sacred worship services in God’s church, of all places. Also, I don’t know how many Christian weddings I have been to in recent years where modesty is thrown to the wind.
Even though we are living in the anti-typical Day of Atonement, jewelry now seems to be everywhere. Frivolous fashion draws attention to the outward appearance, which means nothing to God, and offends Him. Remember what God said to Samuel, “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” That’s 1 Samuel 16:7. So why should we dress and adorn ourselves in ways that draw our attention to the outward appearance. I’m not saying that we should not look neat and tidy, or that we should not have nice clothes. I’m referring to the misuse of fashion and modesty to draw attention to ourselves or parts of ourselves.
For many reasons, gender roles in modern society have become so confused that there is now so much disorientation that it has lead to great social controversies in things which God never intended should arise, such as homosexual lifestyles and even gay marriage. God’s people today seem to have the idea that because we have to love everyone, we had better not speak out against sin. We have been leavened by the very same Greek principles that were used on the Jews.
The Greeks loved their festivals which consumed a large share of public life. Some important Jews, familiar with Ptolemy’s court, witnessed, and even participated in the corrupt orgies connected with the numerous Greek festivals. These leading Jews brazenly introduced them at Jerusalem, including the wine, dancing women and pagan music in among God’s church. The result was that there was less interest in the festivals that God had given to His people to inspire them with truth and soul-saving education. Moreover there was a steep decline in morality particularly among the young. You see, the Jews were being re-educated into the thinking of the world.
Some of the leading Jews knew that in order to Hellenize the Jewish church, they would have to control the education of the young so the Jews could become as much like the Greeks as possible. Some of the most influential Jews shamelessly conspired to systematically Hellenize the Jews through education and eventually abolish the faith of their fathers. The goal of these “liberals” was the complete incorporation of Jewish life and customs into worldly Greek culture.
Greek education put a high priority on sports. The Jewish revisionists introduced games, races, wrestling matches and contests of all sorts in Jewish schools, even though Jewish law sternly opposed these innovations. One of the High Priests named Jason introduced the Olympian games into Judea and built a gymnasium for this purpose in the heart of the city close to the temple. Jewish youth flocked to this Olympic shrine within their own borders. Greek sports masters were hired to teach them their games. The Jews crowded the stadium. Even the Priests neglected their duties in the temple so they could participate in the games.
There was one embarrassment to the Jews. The participants in the Olympic games were required to compete naked. One of the distinctive marks of Jewish singleness to God was circumcision. Yet this became a mark of shame under the influence of the Greeks. To prevent derision, Jewish Olympians undertook a special operation to disguise this. And little wonder. Competitive sports are contrary to God’s system of education, and this symbol of their singleness to God was a constant reminder of their new idolatry.
Perhaps for the benefit of those that are new to this concept, I should refer you to Philippians 2:3 which says “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” There can be no doubt that sports are a form of organized strife. After all, the Greeks had invented them, particularly the Olympics, in order to keep their soldiers fit for the battle.
Most people who have played or watched the more dramatic sports games recognize the overt physical brutality and strife, both among the players and even among the fans at times. But the same principles are at play in games with less physical contact. The players still try to overcome their opponent rather than cooperate with him or her.
And there is still the competition which is contrary to the spirit of Christ. Many people think that competition is a good thing, because it teaches some good lessons. But friends, all competitive games are focused on taking advantage of another’s weakness in order to gain the point or win the game. This is not the principle of Christ who urges us to help one another on the path to heaven.
Moreover, competitive games are full of vanity. The winner is bathed in glory, particularly if it is an important national or international tournament. But even in the local Christian elementary or primary school, the winner is the one that get’s picked first for the next game, and is the one on whose team everyone else wishes to be. This vanity increases pride and arrogance, a spirit that is contrary to the principles of heaven.
Furthermore, many sports games involve deception. You fake one move and then do another. This is breaking Jesus’ commandment which says “thou shalt not bear false witness.”
Some say that you cannot avoid competition in this world. While this may be true, the Christian can avoid it as much as possible and minimize his involvement. He certainly does not have to fill his mind with sports games. Competitive sports and games have become to this generation what they were to the Jews during the Greek empire. They are a form of idolatry which has been sanctified and approved by the churches, pastors, and teachers. How can we be so undiscerning? How can we lead our children to Jesus when we first lead them to the spirit of competition and supremacy over each other?
If you would like more developed thoughts on this topic ask for our sermon “Like the Idols of the Nations.” We will be glad to send it to you.
Loss of Distinctive Doctrines and the sanctuary message
The decline in standards fostered by the liberal leaders led to a general disregard and even denial of the fundamental truths of the Jewish faith. “By the act of its own people, “wrote one historian, “Jerusalem had renounced its age-long isolation and come into line with the great Hellenic world.” The increasing fascination with Hellenic culture led to less interest in the old Jewish laws and ways. Little by little the things that made the Jews distinct; their very identity, became open for discussion. Even conservative Jews began to question their old traditional beliefs. They wondered if the teachings of Judaism were actually correct. They could see that their old teachings were in conflict with Greek reasoning. Yet the Greeks were so “successful,” could it not be the blessing of God that they were so beneficial to Jewish economy? They gradually replaced God’s definition of success with Greek ideas. They even began to wonder if God really required self denial, and whether God was really concerned about man at all. You see, these two things go hand in hand. How can we understand that God loves us deeply, and sacrificed Himself for us if we ourselves have no desire to help others and sacrifice for them? Self-sacrifice is one of the ways that God helps us understand His love for us. God ordained sacrifice to help us grasp the principles of heaven.
Yet in today’s society self-sacrifice is rarely practiced. We build large homes for our personal use and then have to buy all sorts of furniture to put in them. Then we have to maintain them and keep them working properly. The idea seems to be that the larger the home the better. Would it not be better to place these resources into God’s work and live simply, even if we have the resources to purchase more extravagant homes than we need?
The rabbinical schools of the Jews continued to operate. But as Alexandria-trained rabbis held sway over the curriculum, the training in these schools became greatly compromised. Increasingly they were less practical, less biblical, and more theoretical. There was an emphasis on the study of the Greek philosophers instead of the Jewish prophets. Sports, games, wealth and luxury were glorified. Worldly motivation replaced an interest in service in God’s cause.
Year after year the word of God was studied less as the educational curriculum moved toward intellectualism and rationalism. Year after year man was exalted and God was less thought of. The degreed rabbi was extolled and the unlearned depreciated. No wonder Jesus never attended the schools of the rabbis or the theological seminary in Jerusalem. What would happen if ministers today refused to attend the seminary like Jesus did? Would they be more pious? Would they preach more from scripture? Would they be more willing to preach the distinctive principles of our message rather than ecumenical ideas that merely focus on love and unity?
In Judea ceremony increased as piety diminished. More emphasis was placed on the Mishna and the Gemara. The Mishna was a commentary on the Bible which added many laws and ceremonies. The Gemara was a commentary on the Mishna which again added more regulations and rules. There was a saying in “The Ethics of the Fathers,” another commentary, which went something like this; “A child of five years should study the Bible, at ten the Mishna and at fifteen the Gamara. As a student advanced in years and increased in mental ability, he studied God’s word less and man’s writings more.
What do you think this did to their understanding of the great principles of the sanctuary which were designed to protect God’s people from worldliness and teach them the way of salvation? In the Jewish mind these things began to become less and less important. Fidelity to God’s law was seen as too narrow and restricting. Attendance at temple services was less and less. The simple truths of the sanctuary message failed to impress their minds anymore.
The Peril of Prosperity
Liberal compromises do not bring peace and unity. By the second century B.C. the degeneration of the Jewish faith led to severe internal conflicts creating a reaction. Those that opposed this liberalization banded together and formed the Chasidim or “The Pious.” The conflict between the liberals and the conservatives pushed both parties to opposite extremes so that they could not comprehend each other. The conservatives accused the liberals of backsliding, “breaking the law” and of “fearful sin.” The liberals accused the conservatives of folly in retaining the old landmarks and of undermining national progress, prosperity and stability. As you can imagine, the conservatives trying to uphold the historic principles were accused of causing the disunity. Does this sound familiar?
Arguments arose on all fronts. Disagreements about sports, food, medicine, worldliness, and philosophical problems created general discord. Both parties struggled for political influence. The liberal Hellenizers wanted one of their number to replace the conservative high priest and soon the burning question in Jerusalem was whether it was really necessary that the high priest be a descendant of Aaron, leading to fears that the liberals would desecrate the high office.
The people generally took the middle course. They enjoyed the luxuries, refinements, entertainments such as drama and theater, and the ever-present sports, but disapproved of the extreme liberal excesses because they did not want to break their connection with the past. Some even began to rationalize that since the Jews were the special objects of God’s affection, these changes to society, buttressed by economic strength, were actually blessings from God and should be accommodated.
The conflict and strife in Jerusalem with its political intrigues drew the attention of Antiochus Epiphanies, who marched on Jerusalem in 169 B. C. Antiochus desecrated the temple, and made the keeping of the Sabbath and circumcision capital crimes, while forcing the Jews to keep the pagan festival to Dionysias. The revolt of the Maccabees and subsequent wars eventually restored the temple and Jewish nationality under the control of conservatives. But the infiltration of Greek principles was never eradicated. The enemy had succeeded.
The Jews had departed from God again, and to supply the lack of spirit, the conservative rabbis made the Jewish religion much more legalistic in order to restrict Hellenism’s progress. Yet the religious leaders had lost sight of the true object of their faith. They multiplied ceremonies without understanding their real message. Meanwhile, the Jewish church had become so compromised that full reform was essentially impossible. By the time of Christ, it was obvious that even He could not change them and had to start a new church.
“As the Jews had departed from God, faith grew dim, and hope had well-nigh ceased to illuminate the future. The words of the prophets were uncomprehended,” wrote God’s messenger in Desire of Ages, page 29. The influences of pagan culture, philosophy and lifestyle had so gutted the religious life of the Jews that when Jesus came to them, only a few humble souls recognized and welcomed Him. Even the masses who followed Him daily looked for a temporal kingdom, and when threatened by the religious leaders, they deserted Him.
Can you imagine how sad heaven must have been to see the reaction of the Jews to Jesus? Imagine their horror at the hatred that was directed at Christ. Imagine the heartsick angels that ministered to Jesus as He was persecuted by the priests, as He anguished in Gethsemane, was beaten by the Romans, and hung on a cruel cross. Imagine the shock and horrified amazement of heavenly beings as the church leaders mocked him and derided him as he hung on that cross. Unbelievable! Satan had been so subtle and so slick in captivating the minds of the Jews with all these liberal compromises, and then creating a conflict that prevented them from coming back into the balance of the truth. It is difficult to imagine perhaps, but is it not probable that Satan is working to do the same things to God’s church today? As difficult as this may be to accept, it is true. Here is how.
Application to Modern Times
In our day, there has been a similar loss of the core principles of the truth in God’s church, and the parallels are phenomenal. For example, to meet accreditation standards, teachers attend evangelical and secular seminaries for advanced degrees (in the Greek tradition no less) and bring evangelical teachings back into the seminaries training youth to give the last message to the world, compromising the training of younger pastors.
Years ago, the liberals knew that the only way to change the church was to control the educational system. This they have done successfully. Our schools have replaced agriculture with the Greek pagan concept of games and sports and have tried to become as much like secular schools as possible. Have you noticed that many churches have gymnasiums built across the parking lot? The distinctive features of God’s educational system that were to set our educational system apart from the world have been largely eliminated. Academic curriculums now emphasize less Bible and more evangelical theology and ecumenical teachings.
Like the Jews, we have developed an entertainment mentality which includes celebration style worship services, mimes and clowns, movies and theater, amusement parks, computer games, dancy music and the ever present sports. Many of us live in city environments where these entertainments are more easily available. Similar to the Jews, affluence consumes our time and energies, providing little time for God and family. Many are more concerned about making money than about their spiritual life or the eternal salvation of others. And many among us try to become as much like the worldlings around us as possible.
Like the Jews, many now question the distinctive features of our faith. Many “progressive” leaders (as liberals like to be called) are determined to incorporate evangelical religious culture into our distinctive lifestyle and completely do away with the faith of our fathers. Many of us have become ashamed of the distinctives of our faith and like those Jewish athletes, want to hide or minimize them. It’s interesting to note that Jewish distinctives, such as the Sabbath and circumcision, once compromised, eventually became a target of repression under Antiochus. Will similar compromises lead to persecution of those who uphold the distinctive truths that God has entrusted to the last generation, perhaps even by those of their own household of faith? Conflicts between liberals and conservatives today have gotten to the point where they often can’t understand each other.
God’s plan of true education, designed to strengthen the loyalties of God’s people to the Law of God is almost wholly extinct today. Except for a few self-supporting schools such as Hartland College, where young people learn the biblical principles of our faith, there would be no place for youth to avoid, what God calls foolish Greek principles that prevail in our Christian educational institutions (see 1 Cor. 1:18-28). Compromise has gutted the spiritual education that is to be given to our youth to the point that many graduates have little or no motivation to serve God’s cause.
By the way, one interesting difference exists between old Judea and modern Israel God’s last church. The old Jews had a conservative leader in the high priest to help the conservative cause. We don’t have that luxury today. Therefore we cannot hope that a political change in the church is going to restore the faith once delivered to the saints. The burden rests on you and me! We cannot wait for others. We are the ones that must keep the faith, uphold the faith and reveal the faith in our characters and live like we believe that Jesus is coming very soon.
The Messiah not recognized
The Jews were so steeped in Greek education and lifestyle that they could not discern that among them was the Promised One – Jesus the Messiah. They viewed him as unlearned and lower class because he never studied in their schools. They hated his pointed public accounting of their infidelity to the Law of God. They despised his simple teaching about how to be saved. But most of all they were angry that he refused to obey their authority and follow their rules. They may well have been upset that the self-supporting preacher accepted donations and perhaps even some tithe and taught his disciples to do it too (read Luke 10:3-12). The Greek system of education and philosophy had destroyed the Jews capability to comprehend Jesus’ mission and they ended by crucifying him.
The Latter Rain
Is it possible that many of us are so steeped in worldly (Greek) principles that we will treat the genuine manifestation of the Holy Spirit similar to the way the Jews treated Christ? Is it possible that many will miss the latter rain while it is falling all around them because they have refused to follow God’s simple plan of education? How many among us will miss the last opportunity to cooperate with heaven in the final warning message to the world because they have frittered away their preparation time in sports, entertainment, or other worldly pursuits?
Perhaps we need to rethink our relationship to Christ and the world around us and find where we are personally compromised, and do all in our power to recover our faith and live by it in our homes, schools and churches. Perhaps we could gain much by restudying the sanctuary services that God gave to Israel to illustrate His principles of salvation. If we understood Christ’s powerful love for us personally, and comprehend His purpose for each of us in these last days, we could see the pathway through all the temptations and attractions that the Devil would throw at us. Christ and Him crucified is to be the center of our lives. But we must also understand that He is proposing to mature our experience so that we can have characters that reflect Him so fully that we turn from sin completely. If that is our focus, we will escape the dangers of worldliness and selfishness.
How is it with you? How is it with me? Are we striving to become part of the last group of people that will understand and reflect the fullness of the character of God through Jesus Christ? Will you join me in living for Jesus today, no matter how much ridicule, no matter how difficult it will be, no matter how much persecution? Will you join me in pleading with God for a true, mature and full experience with Jesus? Will you join me in digging deeply in His word for truth?
Let us pray. Father, it is in Jesus name that we come to you today. We know that we have often compromised our faith and have adopted worldly principles in our lives, even after we have professed to accept Jesus and the truth for these last days. Help us to see how dangerous it is to play with Satan’s devices. Help us to see how to come apart and be separate from the world. Help us to leave these things behind and look only to heaven, for that is where our home is. We are on the borders of the promised land – our heavenly home. May you sanctify us and purify us, and make us ready, so that when the Holy Spirit is poured out, we will be part of that great final warning message, and that we will not reject Him and miss out on this crucial time. This is our prayer in Jesus name, Amen.