What has this year been to us? What has it brought us? What have we become during the course of the last year?
It’s been quite the year to say the least. I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage us to remain firm and stay the course even if we discover that we have in our midst misguided brethren enamored with Egyptian delusions, inviting us to join the revelry around an idol of their own fashioning. I want to encourage us to hold fast to the truth and to the words of God which we were taught, living words that remain forever. These words are with us, even now, and they will never leave us. We must continue to be guided by them.
Where do we find men today in whom we recognize the spirit of God? Where are the men who guide us in word and in deed, like a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day? Where are the men who have the courage to confront us with our sin and smash our various golden calves around which we are wont to dance today? Are there such men today? Today, more than ever, we need such men.
We need men who understand clearly that to surrender half the truth is to surrender the truth in its entirety. We need men who understand that flexibility may be fine for managing one’s personal affairs, but it most certainly must not be practiced at the expense of the most sacred personal treasure entrusted to our care i.e. the Word of God. We don’t need men who foolishly embrace compromise in the vain hope of saving the entire cause only to discover that their opponents will only see in their concessions a nullification of the cause.
God beckons even the most estranged from His Word to repentance, return, and renewal. But nowadays, it seems, few are even aware that they have strayed or how much. What too many fail to understand is that God is not constrained to churches and altars. He does not desire to be remembered only one or two days of the year for a pious ceremony of self-mortification and religious platitudes. The Master of the universe, the God of all the earth, the God of all life, the God of every thing that has breath, the God of every heartbeat, desires and expects to find His dwelling in all of our thoughts and emotions, in all of our acts and pleasures, and in all of our words and deeds. Has He not declared:
As truly as I live, says God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but only in that he should return from his ways and live” (Ezekiel 18:23) . . . “Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:1-2).
These truths are reflected in every word of God. As the present year draws to a close, may it not merely facilitate a pious “settlement” with God and our consciences. He demands that the entire year be dedicated to His service – not the mere sacrifice of a day or two here and a day or two there as the mood strikes us. God does not need even one of these days, but we are in need of Him, His help, His grace, His light, His blessing, and His nearness. We just don’t need Him at the beginning of the year or at the end, but every single day and every single hour and let us not fall prey to the notion that one day can serve as a proxy for the other, let alone an entire year.
May we find the courage to demonstrate the error of those who are enthusiastically dancing around the golden calf. May we help them fully comprehend the futility of their “worship” and boldly proclaim that God abounds with truth and love, and that He is ever ready to rebuild our broken lives and establish for us a blessed future. And yet, let us not deceive ourselves. Let us not think that because we have abandoned Him that He will in His grace adapt or “update” the standards of His Word to the “requirements” or “sensibilities” of the present age, let alone carve a place in it for the rules and maxims we sought to establish for ourselves in our apostasy. The second set of tablets were not edited nor amended in order to better accommodate our nature which had been the cause for the smashing of the first set. Though we are certainly conscious of and eternally grateful for His grace, which is the only hope for wretches such as we are, let us also take care not to cheapen His grace under a misguided notion of freedom, which is not the freedom to live as we please, but the freedom to live as we ought.
May we not be deceived by the alien elements in our midst who could really care less which god you worship as long as you’re “religious” and worship some god – never mind which god, or how – as if we possess the right to select for ourselves a god of our choosing and create our own order of worship, while complacently raising an altar and exclaiming, “This is your God, O Israel!”
Men can never choose their god; it is the God, Creator of heaven and earth, Who calls mankind to serve Him and do His will. May we respond to His call with an attitude that is commensurate with deep reflection, repentance, and renewal, while remaining steadfast and immovable in the confidence that He stands ready to forgive our past and restores the years the locust has eaten.