Monday, July 14, 2008

Nehemiah 9 and the PCUSA.

The Old Testament is filled with examples of God’s people turning away from God. The Old Testament is filled with examples of God disciplining his people for turning away from him. The judgment of God was not something trivial or easy. The punishment for not going into the Holy Land as instructed was 40 years of wandering in the desert until every adult that voted against going into the Holy Land died. In Numbers 21 we read the account of God’s people speaking against God and Moses—so God set venomous snakes to the people and many people died. The northern and southern kingdoms did things that displeased God so God brought judgment on the two kingdoms. The northern kingdom fell, its inhabitants we taken into captivity and dispersed throughout the victor’s kingdom and were never heard from again (the lost ten tribes of Israel). The southern kingdom was conquered, its inhabitants taken into captivity in Babylon.

What would lead a person to think that God will not bring judgment upon the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for its actions? Or, maybe that is what God has been doing for the past 30+ years. Think for a moment, those denominations that have been moving away from the Bible and seeking to ordain practicing, non-repentant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons have been experiencing catastrophic membership losses for 30+ years. God’s judgment? The denominations moving in this direction are in Europe, the United States and Canada. Most churches in Europe sit empty. God’s judgment? The Episcopal Church in the United States is being ostracized by most of the world wide Anglican Communion. God’s judgment?

Nehemiah 9 is a brief record of the disobedience of God’s people. Here are some of the ways the Israelites are described:

  • Stiff-necked: Has the PCUSA been stiff-necked. For thirty years God has been keeping the denomination from ordaining LGBT persons; yet, at every General Assembly meeting the issue comes up again. Stiff-necked people?
  • Do not obey your commands: God has given very specific commands concerning worshipping other God and about homosexuality (both male and female versions). A gay wedding was done at the More Light Presbyterians official dinner at during the Assembly by a Presbyterian pastor. Do not obey your commands?
  • Rebelled against you: (see the two bullet points above)
  • They put your law behind their backs: Picture this—a child comes into the kitchen and grabs a cookie from the cookie jar even though his mother has told him not to. Mom walks into the kitchen. The child immediately places the cookie behind his back and pretends that nothing has happened. That is what this past General Assembly has done with God’s word and law—it pretended that they don’t exist or have meaning.

That section of Nehemiah concludes with these words:

“But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.” (Nehemiah 9:36-37)

Nehemiah’s words ring true today—we are in great distress!

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