As the previous lesson 'They Worshipped the Queen of Heaven' illustrated, people become misguided when spiritual truths are dismissed.
But what about God's attempt to realign lost souls with truth?
The fact is, scripture is repleet with examples of God's arm outstretched to His people. He continually reaches out, despite the lost, fallen, misguided conditions they find themselves in. Notice that His arm is outstreched while the lost while they are lost. In other words, he doesn't offer a love once ones spiritual house is back in order--He offers love while we stray. He does it simply because He is amazing.
Question: how did God historically get His word to the people? Generally, through prophets. Prophets came in two types: True Prophets and False Prophets. (well perhaps three types if you include wishy-washy ones like Jonah).
God gave ways to know if a prophet was true or false. We won't discuss that here (but read Ezekiel Chapt. 33 if you want to study more on that). For this discussion, we are assuming that all the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., were true prophets sent by God to call His people back to Him.
Also, as side point regarding prophets and 'Saviours': generally when God's people were spiritually on track but struggling against external evil, God would send a saviour (ex. Moses, Joshua). This is when good people have bad outside forces affecting their life. But, when God's people strayed spiritually and willingly enjoyed an evil lifestyle, he sent prophets. Not that prophets weren't among the people in spiritually good times as well, but the point being, they weren't saved from their sins while they enjoyed their sins...they had to repent first. The prophets helped remind them of that fact. Saviours would swoop through with spiritual power like shiny steel swords and slayed oppressors who held good people captive; prophets confronted God's people with spiritual mirrors to view their own sinful state.
In the Old Testament, the spiritually wicked state of the church spanned soetimes for generations without a glimmer of light. When God would send a good prophet in those days to warn the bad church, the church welcome wagon greeted the prophet with stones or a scourge.
The people didn't want to hear God's Word condemn their ways. So what happened? False leaders arose, claiming to be prophets, and spoke 'smooth things' to the people., prophesying ‘peace, peace, nothing but peace’ Everything the people wanted to hear, but none of it was what God was saying. Jeremiah aptly penned God’s sentiment:
Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jeremiah lived in the days of Nephi, and witnessed Jerusalem's destruction. He was commissioned many times give words through a spokesman to the King (Baruch is the messenger this time, Jehudi is the king). His words were often feared by the people but dismissed by the leader
Jeremiah 36:15And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it (Jeremiah's words) in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears.
36:16 Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.
36:21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll; and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
36:22 Now the king sat in the winter house in the ninth month; and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
36:23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
36:24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
That's right, Jeremiah's words were burned. Heeding them could have saved Jerusalem, but no, that would take admission of guilt. Not going to happen. So what did the king do instead?
Jeremiah 38:6 Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison; and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire; so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
That is right, shoot the messenger. Well, in this case, not shoot but instead drop him in a pit of muck with no food. Out of sight, out of mind.
Isaiah's first vision from God concerned the state of the church, a couple hundred years before Jeremiah:
Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
1:3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
1:21 How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
3:8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen; because their tongues and their doings have been against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.
Notice where blame is cast by Isaiah, by having no knowledge, by losing the light:
Isaiah 5:13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
5:25 Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
8:20 To the law and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
9:17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Notice that despite disobedience, God's had is still outstretched to His people. His patience is not easily exhausted, as some would have us believe. God's purposes span eternity and His work is not frustrated. Abominations have existed through out the ages of the church, yet His arm is outstretched still.
Prophets were sent prepared by God for that which they might encounter. Notice how the prophet Ezekiel is prepared by God, and the terms he uses to describe the church: rebellious, stiff-necked, etc.
Ezekiel 2:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me; they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.
2:4 For they are impudent children and stiff-hearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God.
2:5 And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.
2:6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions; be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
Notice, too, in the scripture above that God clearly states 'they may listen, or they may not listen." Either way, the prophet was to do His job. This is an important point: God will always send a witness, usually multiple witnesses. In the Old Testament times, a person could not be condemned to death, for instance unless there were two or three witnesses to their crime. Likewise, God is fair with His people, sending multiple witnesses (the books of Scripture are multiple witnesses that will be opened at Judgement Day that will grant us spiritual life or death based on our response)
God assures Ezekiel in the 3rd chapter that he will harden him for the task at hand, but notice what God admits--they will not listen to Ezekiel because they will not listen to God. Yet he sends a witness anyhow.:
Ezekiel 3:7 But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted.
Jesus' own words were that those of ancient Jerusalem stoned the prophets that He sent:
Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Ye who will kill the prophets, and will stone them who are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.
Prophets were sometimes called to add extreme metaphorical examples to their words. Isaiah walked three years naked as a witness against Israel for their crimes. Ezekiel enacted some peculiar events in the eyes of the people, just to prove God's points:
For instance, he made a dung sandwich for all the people, to show them how hard their life would be when overrun by the Gentiles:
Ezekiel 4:12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.
4:13 And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.
The rest of Ezekiel contains many similar examples, but you get the point: God wanted to dramatically emphasize the word to the people. For this, the prophets were greeted with stones and scourges.
But there were those who believed the prophets. They too, suffered at the hand of those who didn't believe, or even worse those who once had but were fallen away:
Hebrews 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
The prophets were mistreated for performing the Lord's errand. But God sent the prophets because a witness was necessary. Does God send witnesses to all people? Who can a witness be? Will that person necessarily have the title of prophet? Generally, anyone who sets you on the correct course toward God is a witness for God.
But now, let's look at some witnesses who were prophets, 400 of them to be exact, who prophesied what the king wanted to hear, not what God wanted to say. Find out when one prophet of God crashes the party in When the Prophet's Cried Peace!
Searching for scriptures regarding sexuality and homosexuality? It is a popular search topic, and with good reason: people want to know what God's word says about it.
While our culture has produced new words in our day describing issues of sexuality, the spiritual and moral issues regarding sexuality are are age-old, and are dealt with directly in scripture. Click Here To Find The Words Used in Scripture Regarding Sexuality
The topic of Sexuality and Homosexuality has faced the Christian Church in New ways. What does the world teach? What does the Word of God teach?
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