Monsters in the dark?

I’ve been thinking about the kinds of things we sometimes tell our kids. It’s so tempting when your toddler wakes up frightened to simply tell them monsters are not real. The truth however, is that monsters ARE REAL. Whether they be faceless corporations that abuse people and the planet, individuals in positions of greater or less power who maim and kill with no remorse, wicked behaviors like hatred, malice, violence, and prejudice; or spiritual forces of Hell, the reality is that monsters are real.

Certainly we want our children sheltered from certain realities until they are of an appropriate age to process them properly. I’m not suggesting we brief our toddlers on gender selective abortion or the global sex trafficking trade; but we do want them to stand in the face of evil rather than being shocked and dismayed at its very existence.

This education begins at the earliest ages possible. Our kids don’t need to be lied to and taught there are no monsters, they must be taught to embrace the greater truth that a good and sovereign God rules the universe. They need to know that on His side they can be personally responsible for destroying monsters and freeing prisoners.

As G.K. Chesterton said, children don’t need fairy tales to know that dragons are real, they already know that. Fairy tales teach children that dragons can be killed.

Zinzendorf 2.0

In a world increasingly defined by its crises, it is time for a radical shift back to an old approach to Christian community. The 21st Century has barely begun and already we are confronted with a growing plethora of complex challenges that must be overcome. The global economy that has defined much of world politics over the last 100 years appears to be increasing in instability. The ecology of the planet is increasingly taxed by unsustainable human practices, some of which could very well bring in the devastating effects of droughts and famines. Technology has allowed for great leaps forward in human wickedness, including the massive growth of the pornography and sex trafficking industries. In addition, here in these United States, the political situation is rapidly increasing in instability since our government has broken loose from its Constitutional moorings and has been careening wildly towards Federally imposed tyranny limiting free speech, freedom of religion, and the other freedoms American’s claim to hold dear. In the midst of all these difficulties the Church of Jesus Christ, as a body called out to serve their fellow man and seek and save the lost, has an incredible opportunity to take the lead in resolving these difficulties.

From its inception, this blog has been about Faith, Sustainability, and Liberty. The idea that follows is still in the rough, it needs refining and tempering, but above all it needs people of God to be willing to make radical changes in obedience to Him. What follows represents Thetonedeafbard’s total solution to the crises that are converging around us. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment or sending me an email at thetonedeafbard@gmail.com

That this shift is definitely necessary needs to be made clear, but effort has been taken to not overly dwell on the problem. The following is a brief summary of the problems looming on the horizon of the 21st Century, details of each issue are abundantly available from other sources.

The Problems
As this post is rather long, those well acquainted with the difficulties I mentioned in the first paragraph may skip this section.

First and foremost, the Western Church is facing a crisis. Much of it is becoming increasingly irrelevant to young people, while simultaneously many churches are selling out core Christian values and in the process giving up any influence they had left. Even good churches struggle to accomplish their Biblical role because their members aren’t really doing life together. Even for those who are still truly following Christ, it has become increasingly difficult for their worship not to be crammed into one of several compartments in their lives. At the end of the day, Christianity must be communal to survive in an increasingly antagonistic post modern culture, and right now it just isn’t.

Simultaneously, the Global Church is experiencing a massive transition. The success of Christian Mission in reaching the unreached, while not complete, has seen massive success. So much so that the West no longer makes up the majority of the Christian world. Western influence is still very strong, but will likely begin to wane in the near future, as our Majority World brethren take more and more responsibility. In the meantime, there are still thousands of unreached people groups perishing without the Gospel. The Church needs to make a concerted effort to make a functional hand off of this task, before the Western Church drops of the scene more completely.

Industrial agriculture is failing. All the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetic tampering, monoculture, etc. is beginning to take effect. The global food supply is increasingly vulnerable to disease and an increasingly unstable climate. In particular soil degradation and deforestation are taking a heavy toll, causing decreased crop yields, alterations in weather patterns, drought, failure of the soil to retain moisture, increased plant disease, aquifer depletion, and a whole host of other environmental issues. Our expensive fossil fuel based inputs are yielding more and more diminishing returns. Sooner or later, as yields decrease and soil depletes industrial agriculture will no longer be able to feed the earth’s growing population.

Our cheap energy era has also come with tragic human consequences. Urbanization and industrialization, while allowing some to reach levels of prosperity never before imagined, have also created massive pockets of urban poverty. In many of these pockets people are unable to meet their own basic needs for food, water, shelter, healthcare, hygiene, etc. Those living in these areas are suffering from daily deprivations, and are also more prone to exploitation such as that by the global sex trafficking industry. The Church of Jesus Christ has a Biblical command to meet these physical needs while introducing the Savior. At this time we have seen great strides towards relieving this suffering, but what is needed most deeply is a cultural shift that will address the larger problems causing poverty and suffering.

Exacerbating all the problems listed above is the increasing risk of economic collapse at the hands of rogue nations. The United States has led the way in treading a path towards tyranny and economic slavery. Americans are losing more and more of the liberty they cherish, while supporting a military industrial take over of the rest of the world spearheaded by super corporations. The tragic results are that, while even American’s who have more traditional ability to defend themselves against the rise of authoritarianism are giving up their liberty, those in the rest of the world with less resources are also paying the price for our negligence. As the cost of all of this government increases, the entire globally connected economy is facing increased threat of hyperinflation and collapse. Since this is happening simultaneously to these other global issues, the entire world could face massive amounts of suffering and loss simultaneously as much of what we have thought of as civilization risks passing away.

With a series of issues of this proportion and level of interconnectedness, a giant game of whack-a-mole isn’t going to work. These solutions call for a concentrated solution that will address all of the dangers and suffering that are happening now and are yet to come. The good news is, that solution has already been found. There is a historically validated answer to the current situation, that can be implemented today.

A Historical Solution

Count Nicolaus Zenzendorf and the Moravians provide one of the most fascinating expressions of Christian community available. While not historically well known in many circles, the Moravian community continues to have a disproportionate historical impact. The Moravian community launched the Protestants into world mission well ahead of the “Father of Modern Missions” William Carey. Their community life influenced the thoughts and practices of both John Wesley and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Even now there are churches all over the world who originally received the Gospel through the ongoing ministry of the early Moravian missionaries.

The Moravian Brethren were originally from a variety of theological backgrounds that were being persecuted in other parts of Europe. Count Zinzendorf provided them with shelter and allowed them to form a community on his estate. When theological infighting grew intense, Zinzendorf decided he had better take a more active role in the community. He sat down with the various community leaders and they studied the Scriptures continually until the issues were resolved. What came out was not a unified doctrinal statement in the traditional sense, but instead a set of standards for Christian living in community. Over time this deliberate practice of Christian community in sharing of the word and life together developed into a mission sending community the world has not really seen the like of since.

With an emphasis on practical skill development such as agriculture or various useful trades, the Moravians went forth equipped to provide for their physical needs while physically serving those to whom they went. They went forth with a passion for Christ so deep that several literally sold themselves into slavery to reach unreached African slaves. A survey of the modern mission movement, and how disproportionately it has been touched by this small community of brothers and sisters, gives us a great deal of insight into the effectiveness of doing life and mission in intentional community.

The temptation when looking at such an effectual community as that of the Moravians is to think that such a place must have been a historical anomaly. The fact of the matter is though, it has long standing in the classical Christian tradition. Eusebius records communities such as this one as early as the first century, and while it is not entirely clear, the Acts gives us some clear indicators that the New Testament Church was living in a very communal setting as well. All the way through the medieval period, and even today in the Roman Catholic church, the monastic tradition emphasized life together as a means to know God and serve man better. The trouble with discussing the monastic movement, for the purpose of this conversation, is that many today focus on how withdrawn members of the monastic movement were from daily life so much that they fail to see the innumerable acts of intentional mission performed within it. Suffice it to say, that the Moravians provide an excellent example to work with, provided it is recognized that they stood on the shoulders of others and did not represent some entirely new idea.

The New Moravians
The question then is: How could such intentional living impact the difficulties faced by the Church today? This kind of intentional living comes with an impact that has the power to reverse a great many of the problems faced today. What follows will be a brief outline of the impact of a return to Christian community in the Church today.

Many of the problems faced in the Church, especially the western churches, stem from a lack of true Christian community. Despite being active members of local churches, regularly attending services, and even partaking in a plethora of church related activities, many Christians are not in anyway getting the kind of community required for a vital Christian faith. Biblical Christianity cannot be had apart from Biblical community. This is why we are a called out body of believers, not merely called out individuals. The Christian life can simply not be attained without Christian fellowship.

This is particularly true when we are talking about purity and relevance. Purity cannot be maintained in the face of a hostile post-modern society without a community for support. Even if a theoretical individual had the will not to give into perceived social pressures, the ability to recognize the numerous areas where ground had already been given would be absent. Only in community can individuals see the dangerous flaws in the societies they have grown up in and then actively reject those flaws through their actions. This is a process, it doesn’t happen over night; but it can’t even begin if there apart from a group of people doing life together.

Without community, Christianity is also largely irrelevant. The Gospel was written for communities, not individuals. The command to love one another only applies if there are others to love. How can the transforming power of the Gospel be modeled before a broken world, unless radical disciples submit themselves fully to the life together. When Christian interaction is limited to intentional times of worship and fellowship and then each believer goes back into a largely secularized environment, what is put on display? Nothing more than the actions of a single individual. However, when a body of people do life together in a way that reflects the love of Christ in them, then their individual witnesses joins together into a compelling case to a different kind of life – a life in Christ. Separated Christians have very little opportunity to impact the world around them, but in intentional community whole communities, and even nations, can be transformed by the power of the Gospel.

Not only is intentional community required for basic Christian life in purity and relevance, it is also vital to the Christian mission. The Moravians successfully sent a disproportionate number of laborers into the harvest field largely because they had the community support structure to do it. There was a community to hold accountable each individual to the call of God to the nations, but there was also community in place to insure that each individual was equipped and supported in living out that call. No one left for the fields unsure of who would be upholding them in prayer 24 hours a day. In a time when the global leadership of the church must transition, nothing can be more unifying or missional than moving back towards this kind of intentional life together. As the majority world church rises to influence, now is the time to insure that the Church moves forward rooted in solid community, rather than empty times of fellowship.

This isn’t simply a matter of transitioning to a better form of Christian community while we transition to new leadership. Moving towards more intentional community will also make this transition more smooth and effective. The Western Church has gained a tremendous amount of insight, through experience, over the years into how to Biblically and effectively reach the unreached. As much of this knowledge as possible needs to be shared with our brothers and sisters around the world as quickly as possible, so that they can begin to fulfill their role in the mission of God. Unfortunately most Western education structures, among them colleges and seminaries, are not very compatible with the majority world church. Even if they were more compatible, they have often proved to be a barrier to those headed toward full time Christian service. The model Jesus provides for us, and that the Moravians displayed so well for us, is that of the life together. The disciples experiences with Jesus were ultimately the base of their entire ministry in the book of Acts. In the NKJV, Acts 4:13 says of the Pharisees “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” It was this act of doing life together that resulted in the Apostles missional effectiveness and understanding of the Gospel. Life together takes education and information sharing out of the classroom where it is theoretical and out to the streets where it is practical. Not only is this a more effective tool for teaching and equipping God’s people, it is also universally applicable in all cultures because community life is defined by those who live it.

At this point it is clear that community, as modeled for us by Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians, has a powerful impact on Christian living, but what about some of the other 21st Century issues in discussion? In an age where our agriculture system is such clear trouble, there has been a growing movement of people “back to the land” who are focused on subjects like self sufficiency. The reality is, there is no such thing. The success of our ancestors in living sustainably off the land was rooted firmly in community not individualism. That said, if a dedicated community chooses to radically focus on Permaculture as a sustainable design system, it can live in a way that not only protects the community itself from the growing list of short comings of our current system, but that, whether urban or rural, also protects the larger community around it. The ability to design and work together in restoring natural patterns of design in the land, provides the ultimate opportunity for communities to live out the already present positive alternatives to our failing industrial model.

This kind of sustainable living together also answers the questions posed by urban poverty and suffering. Focusing on sustainable food production and high quality community healthcare that combines modern knowledge with natural patterns allows us to not only alleviate the suffering of the poor in the short term, but also to educate poverty out existence by modeling a better way forward. Hands on education that demonstrates the success of those who practice it can cause the whole economics of poverty to be abolished. Especially where we are talking about greening the food deserts and equipping people with the ability to meet their own basic needs. This is especially true when intentional Christian communities make the choice to set up in the heart of poverty blighted urban centers. The end result of this change not only removes poverty, but also makes impossible the all to uncommon exploitation of the poor that is too common today.

Finally solid communities doing life together in a way that is sustainable by design to the glory of Christ are not only hedged from the destructive effects of sin and temptation, but also from global economic uncertainty and the growing push towards statism. How this ecological liberty impacts poverty and redefines local economies has already been discussed, all that needs to be added is that this redefinition removes those local areas from the chaos of global markets by bringing all of the most important economic needs of the community back within the community. When all of these needs are met locally, communities are not so adversely impacted by the larger scale economic problems we face.

Community also lies at the root of solving our problems with the push towards Federal control of everything. First, it reverses the push to honor the state as though it were God through dependency, instead asserting the value of each member of the community to assist in living sustainably before God. Second, in community, those who love their God given liberty can more effectively work to protect it. Since small, self sustaining communities are already economically fairly autonomous and free, they are much less susceptible to being bullied by the State. With so much of the aggressive tyranny happening at the local level, replacing local governments with deliberately free communities puts a stop its growth. Not only that, but the kind of community being discussed here also sets forward a model for free living that can continue regardless of what happens in the country as a whole.

Intentional communal living then is a key tool for educating and equipping the church to carry out its essential mission. In addition, it is the key to sustainable living on this planet and will assuage and shelter against the suffering present and coming in our nation and world. It should be a great comfort that this has been done successfully before, and, while perhaps not being done as completely as discussed here, is being done successfully even in our times. It is time for the Church to make a concentrated effort to return to vital Christian communities, communities that heal people and the earth they inhabit.

The Next Zinzendorf

Only one thing is lacking. The leadership necessary to begin implementing and calling for this change needs to emerge. The Moravian community was successful to a large degree because of the passion and commitment of Count Zinzendorf to the success of Christian community. In a day in age where much of the Church has moved far away from such principles of community, it will take strong leadership to return to it. The call and push towards effective community is urgent and time is moving quickly.

Would the next Count Zinzendorf please stand up?

The Mustard Seed and the Candle

My poems often reflect my prayers and meditations, whereas other posts reflect my thoughts. I’m working on laying out some very important thoughts, but I’ve spent a lot of my time in prayerful meditation as of late.

This poem is for all my friends struggling with their doubts and unbelief, let us pray together “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”

There are times when the darkness closes in like a prison,
And unanswered questions rain down like a deluge,
The storm soaks to the skin,
And the heart floods with doubt in dismay.
Is He real?
Does He care about me?
Am I forgotten?
Where is His strong right arm?

In this dark and doubt,
The light becomes unclear,
Answers become questions,
Beliefs are turned to doubt,
The turmoil reaches fever pitch,
And crisis grips the heart?
Is there something wrong with me?
Why does my heart entertain such fears?
Perhaps I need simply to believe harder?
Or maybe I never believed at all?
Am I a son, or do I yet remain a slave?
Is my heart truly renewed?

These questions are not yours to answer,
Anymore than faith stems from yourself,
But there is one who answers such questions,
If you have only enough faith to ask

Yours is the way of the candle,
Light a small wavering flame in the dark,
And wait in quiet expectation,
For the blinding light of breaking day.

And yours is the way of the mustard seed,
A tiny grain of faith,
But cling with diligence to it,
And the roar from the throne above will move mountains of unbelief.

Thomas needed to see the scars,
Gideon had a fleece,
Moses was reaffirmed twice by signs and doubted still,
Yet The Lord did not lose patience,
And Thomas touched the scars,
Gideon’s fleece proved true,
The God of signs and wonders,
Will prove Himself to you.

Bring your questions before the throne with boldness,
Lay open your heart before Your King,
If it was your own faith that saved,
You would be dead in unbelief,
But our Lord is not unable to make His servants stand,
He strengthens the weak knees and steadies trembling hands,
His final answer was a man called Jesus,
Who could be seen and touched,
Ask Him what you will,
And His answers will be just as real.

If you know the Almighty is real,
And that Jesus is alive,
Why hesitate to ask Him to reveal Himself?
Do you fear that He would do it?

A Poem for Sons, in the Dark

A Poem for Sons, in the Dark

Darkening Sky,
Pelting Rain,
Gathering Inertia,
Swelling Pain,
Slipping Feet,
Muscles Strain,

Down, Down, Down I fall onto my face.

The trail ahead is steep,
Shrouded in darkness and fog,
But the Mountain looms through dark,
Forbidding all who come.
Enemies line the way in mass,
And I am overcome.

The way is choked with thorns and foes,
And I am choked with fears and doubts.

Faith finds me not in this hour of despair,
Alone in the dark,
Weak and unable to press ahead,
The dust of the earth chokes my lungs,
blinds my eyes,
and dries out my tongue,

Then in the solitude of my misery and defeat,
I let out an anguished cry
And it goes up, up, up into the sky

Little do I know,
In the ignorance of despair and pain,
The cry pierces the darkness falling,
And the falling rain,
It flies straight and true like an arrow,
Into the heart of God.

Then from within comes the Comforter,

The Helper raises His voice,
And despair shakes in fear.
“Look back before you try to rise,
And see from whence you have come”

The world will always say,
“Leave the past in the past and don’t look back”
But I turn my ahead anyway,
At the command,
There behind is a trail of tears and blood,
Of toil, struggle, and pain.

But then my eyes clear,
There streaming back mile after mile,
Piles of broken chains and shattered fears,
Defeated Foes,
And joy through tears,
Peace in the midst of chaos,
Victory through defeat,
All the way back to an old, rugged cross,
Where a slave died and a son was born,
And the all sufficient man placed His life,
Into the insufficient man who had none.

I weep tears of joy at the sight,
Then comes my Counselor’s quiet voice
“Now Son you may look around you,
And set yourself for the road ahead”

And when I seek to rise to dance upon this mountain of injustice,
I find a hand waiting to lift me up,
Where I swear there was none before,
There I find an army waiting,
That had been there all along,

So I rise up on my feet,
But leave the dust as a reminder on my clothes,
Shields of Faith locked around me,
Safe in the community of brothers and sisters,
Comforted by those placed by the Swift, Sure Hand at my side,
This is the fellowship of those who do not fear despair,
The sons and daughters who have turned defeated into a sweet offering.

We are not a people who need relief from pain and torment, death defeat or despair,
For every time we die,
We rise again!

See the Morning

Having wrapped up my Permaculture Design Course, it is time to begin writing again. I have missed being able to share my thoughts and feelings in this way. The last few months have been hard, and today’s poem captures the thoughts and emotions I am wrestling with right now. The last phrase is of deep significance to me personally, it is credited to 2 of the first Moravian missionaries. They are said to have shouted it back to shore as they sailed out intent on literally selling themselves into slavery for the sake of the unreached. May we all have such courage and faith, and when we struggle to do so may we drive one another forward.

See The Morning

The road ahead is rough and rising,
The road behind long and painful,
The road ahead is choked with thorns,
The road behind is slick with my sweat and blood,

Moving forward is painful,
I am stiff and struggle to force one foot before the next,
My muscles strain from the trial,
And sweat drips down like rain,

Each step forward I am buffeted,
Forced to my knees but not pushed back,
I set my face into the wind,
And rise to continue my journey,

The pain it begs the questions,
And the wind whispers subtle lies,
In the face of pain and heartache,
The lies pour out with smooth rhythms,

They say:
Is faith worth so high a price?
Can you continue to walk, who cannot stand?
If He cannot or will not provide, do you trust that He will save?
You are weak and weary, lie down and do not attempt again to rise.
You are alone in this struggle, therefore give it up and walk away.
There is no victory for you here.

In the swirling flows of fears and doubts,
Despair takes a deep root within my heart,
I have no answer to the charges,
For I am certainly weak and near to fainting

Yet I will walk on this night,
Even under the utter blackness of despair,
I will fall and rise, fall and rise again
If for no other reason than to see the morning

Darkness lasts not forever,
Even when our light is weak,
The light has come into the world,
And the darkness cannot overcome or understand

Feelings lie and deceive,
Emotions fail in the time of greatest need,
Yet he whose faith is properly placed,
Will have a foundation made of stone.

I will recount Thine deeds of old,
And pile stone upon stone in memorial,
Raising high an Ebenezer,
Recounting each tender mercy and strong deliverance,

Lord I believe, but help my unbelief,
In dark of doubt and pain of despair,
Whether visible or not, you are there
So I will trust to see the morning in Thee

Those that overcome follow the Lamb wherever He goes,
Yet the overcoming does not come easy,
The price is often high, higher than I have yet paid,
But the highest price is already paid,
And sin and death defeated once for all,
Therefore no price I pay is any price at all

The Lamb of God will receive the reward of His suffering!

Rogue Government

It’s been a busy year or so for questionable activities within the US government. Just in the past few weeks we have had breaking stories about the IRS deliberately persecuting certain types of political organizations and the NSA engaging in massive surveillance of the American people, the 4th amendment not withstanding. A growing, but still relatively small, number of Americans are deeply concerned about the state of affairs in Washington DC. Many have taken to blaming their elected officials for this mess that we find ourselves in.

Let me be clear. This is not President Obama’s fault. This is not Congress’s fault. This is our fault. Speaker Boehner tried to blow off the NSA spying program as no big deal, because there is supposedly plenty of congressional oversight in place to protect us.

Get real Mr Speaker! The NSA is estimated to have around 30,000 employees, and that is not counting this new trend Mr Snowden uncovered of using government contractors to engage in surveillance work. The IRS is even more bloated with over 100,000 employees. Let’s look at a few more agencies: USDA 105,000; FDA nearly 10,000; CIA around 100,000. You get the point.

The problem we are facing today is not that our President or Congress are actively engaged in these kinds of unconstitutional behavior, although they certainly condone them. The real problem is that we have developed a giant bureaucracy that is far to large, just in terms of manpower, to actually be overseen by our elected officials.

When we put these kinds of systems in place, most people believed that our government was just looking out for our best interest and that our elected officials would keep things from getting out of hand. The reality is these kinds of departments get far to big, and far to powerful for Congress or the President to remotely keep in check. In fact, in many ways these agencies have far more power and influence over the decisions of our elected officials than the other way around.

As if that wasn’t enough, a multitude of the people controlling these agencies are former employees of organizations they are supposed to regulate. Monsanto for example has a plethora of people at the USDA. If you think lobbying is a bad thing, imagine free lobbying by loyal ex-employees who are now supposed to give key advice on issues that affect your company. These agencies aren’t looking out for us, they are looking out for themselves. Why should we really be surprised when the IRS persecutes political groups, many of which have sought to abolish the IRS. They are just seeking to protect their own paychecks.

There is no amount of oversight possible that can reign back in these rogue agencies. They have accumulated a vast amount of power, often under the cloak of secrecy; and as the NSA leaks reveal, will use it as they see fit whether Constitutional or not.

The only answer is to return to our Founding Principles and begin abolishing the myriad of Federal agencies we’ve created. The NSA has served to strongly prove that our Founding Father’s were right, and that we can’t compromise our liberties in the least to the Federal Government. Supposedly we were trading liberty for safety, in the end it looks like we’ll have neither. The only way forward through this mess, is to return back to principles that have always been there to protect us.

Liberty and limited government cannot be halfway done. Once we begin to compromise the bureaucracy takes over and the steady march towards tyranny cannot be stopped unless the bureaucracy is first abolished.

Daily Scripture Meditation

In reading through the Old Testament, particularly the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles; one of the first things we notice is that there is a constant fluctuation between the worship of God and the worship of idols in Israel. In many cases this change took place in rather extreme ways within a single generation. One minute there would be a good king and the people would pursue God and then the next minute that leader would be gone and it would be right back to idolatry. Now obviously we know that God preserved for himself a remnant of those who were faithful to Him (1st Kings 19:18 for example0, but have you ever wondered why the people were so quick to switch back and forth between the worship of God and the worship of idols?

2 Chronicles 15:3-4 provides an explanation that has some important truth for us today as well.

“For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their trouble they turned to The Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.”

Like most people, Israel turned back to God when the futility of their idolatry became clear and they had no where else to turn; and God, being gracious and abounding in mercy, responded to their repentance and prayer. That they had a long tradition of idolatrous ways (as does all post-Eden humanity) partially explains there constant back and forth, but the 2nd half of verse 3 shines some additional light on the subject. They had been a long time without a teaching priest and without law.

When the law departs from a people, when the priests fail to keep in constantly before them. They have no solid foundation on which to resist idolatry and wicked behavior. There commitment to The Lord is based on emotion, and upon what they need to receive from The Lord in that hour. When a political or cultural leader stands as the driving force to follow God, then they will. When that leader is gone, they won’t anymore. Without the sound teaching of scripture to provide a moral backbone, nations flounder in idolatry and sin.

We live in a day and age where idolatry is running rampant. Obviously we don’t put our trust in little statues of made up gods anymore, but instead we have turned to insurance policies, to political leaders, to economic systems, to money, television, and others. In the midst of all this idolatry, the Church, the “kingdom of priests” has allowed herself to be silenced by the need for “tolerance”. In an age of moral relativism, holding forth a bright light of absolute truth, right and wrong, is unpopular. People are more comfortable lurking in the gray haze of “it doesn’t really matter”, “don’t judge”, and “no one is really right”.

If this is allowed to continue that the pattern from Scripture is clear, we will see a back and forth vacillation between worship of God and worship of idols based solely on emotion. As that vacillation continues idolatry will become worse, up until the point that God chooses to pour out His wrath on our nation and punish the idolatry for the sake of His name, which on our account is now slandered among the nations. Ultimately responsibility for this will fall on the Church in this nation for failing to hold up the Scriptural commands as absolute and essential.

If you don’t want the blood of others on your hands, then don’t participate in this deliberate watering down of Scripture. Cling to the whole Word and beg others to do so as well.