If only we could shape up and go back to the way things were — the days when the church was solid, committed and righteous. In my head, I thought these feelings were evidence of my faithfulness to God. Those who disagreed were — well — deceived.
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But little did I know that I was actually caught up in the sin of idolatry. In the book of Numbers, we encounter Israel traveling through the desert. But there are no Instagram stories for this journey. Instead, there is a whole lot of moaning, protesting and criticizing of God and Moses. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it! The story is simple.
The people are dying from the snake bites. God provides a solution for them. That solution is a bronze snake Numbers attached to a pole. Whoever looks at it will live. The serpent was not magical. It healed only through the miraculous power of God. Fast forward about years and the Israelite King Hezekiah goes on a campaign to purge the land of idols. As he sweeps across on his righteous crusade, something interesting takes place.
He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made…. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan. I am not the kind of guy who thinks the church should just blindly accept every new thing just for the sake of it.
Neither am I an anti-traditionalist. I think traditions are good, meaningful and necessary. And to be honest, I do think some of us do. While some try and defend their allegiance to tradition with a cloak of faithfulness to God, I fear that often times our refusal to evolve and adapt is rooted in our idolatry of a past era. We worship the church of yesteryear as though it is our Saviour. We idolize the ways of our forefathers as though they are our standard.
We venerate, adulate and exalt the former ways as though God is not here today, right now, in this new generation doing a new thing. Like the Israelites we take that which was once a blessing of God and turn it into a curse. About four years ago my wife and I were scolded because we dared to suggest that, due to the patterns of life in our current generation, a church that gathered in the afternoon instead of the morning might actually be a neat thing to try.
The person who scolded us used all the same arguments. We gently challenged the idea by appealing to two facts. First, the morning gathering is not mandated in scripture. Second, we are not changing anything other than the hour we gather. There is nothing holier about 11 AM as opposed to 3 PM, and a later service may open doors to reach people who could never attend a morning service. For example, there are more people working night shift today than ever before which means there are millions who are not even awake at 11 AM on Sabbath because they only got to bed at 6 or 7 AM that very morning.
A huge part of our population is therefore missed by our refusal to adapt. The morning service may have been a blessing in the past but, if clung to religiously, it can become an idol and a missional curse in the present. And while this might be a bit rough, allow me to speak freely. The idea is that the way the church was then represents the best of who we have ever been and if we want to be pure again, we have to go back there. I want to be a biblical Adventist.
Being biblical means I can be in the here and now, interact with the world I live in and speak life to contemporary reality while still being one with Jesus. I can keep my eyes focused on the mission he has called me to be a part of instead of day-dreaming about the past or having nostalgic fantasies of a bygone generation.
To such who feel this way, may I remind us that the church is a living organism, not a museum. So here is my challenge today. God has led us in the past, yes.
He has blessed our efforts in the past, yes. He has done awesome things through us in the past, yes. And we can learn tons from our past. But we must not revere it. God is here today, in the here and now, and he is doing a new thing. Our God is a living God. A here God. A now God. And if we have been idolizing the past, then like Hezekiah did to that bronze serpent, its time we break those idols no matter how beautiful they might once have been.
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Note: This article was originally published at thestorychurchproject. It has been republished here with permission. Well said. Wake up churches! Well said Marcos, I totally disagree with your perception. Sabbath worship time should not be based on historic events but should be Biblical.
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In the book of Genesis, after creation God sanctified the seventh day- 24 hours. Therefore the whole day is dedicated for worship not man to choose. Why would man want to fix his own time while God Himself gave direction by resting on sabbath? How do you go to work on sabbath. This is from your example, "there are more people working night shift today than ever before which means there are millions who are not even awake at 11 AM on Sabbath because they only got to bed at 6 or 7 AM that very morning".
I think you are missing the point of what's being said. He's not talking about changing the Sabbath, he's talking about changing the time for corporate worship. The Sabbath lasts all day long, not just in the morning. And yes, there are people who work on Friday nights for various reasons: some are nurses or doctors who must be on call for their patients.
And some don't even know about the Sabbath yet, but are interested in coming to church and are halted by their work schedule. It's just a different way to provide an opportunity for everyone to fellowship and worship God together. Work is not easy to get for Seventh-day Adventist in my neck of the woods. What to do I have seen many people committing to church but leave because work is hard to get. Pray for us, that our faith in God is strengthened as to choose the right thing. You are not the first nor the last to have your faith tested like that. At times like this, we need to ask ourselves the question, "Will I trust God to look after me when I serve Him according to His will, or do I trust my own abilities to make a living.
What happened to them? If you lack faith and courage, please re-read Daniel 3 - the whole chapter. Note how the Son of God Himself came down to walk with them in the fiery furnace. If they had bowed down to the image, they would have missed the company of the Son of God at the very least, and this compromise could have led to their losing eternal life.
http://dichino.ir/wp-includes/gulf/1516.php Do you believe that God is just as able to deliver today as He was in the days of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego? How do you work on Sabbath how do you only arrive from early hours of sabbath morning. I mean how to you publish this article. Remember the Sabbath please. Change is good but it should never be for your selfish reasons. Natalie, perhaps the idea is to have worship services at a time that works for people not of our faith? Is Sabbath School not meant to be an evangelistic activity?
We need to be careful to not worship what God has done in the past while forgetting to worship God himself. Natalie and Pamela, those who work the night shift create new sleeping patterns and routines. So there are Sabbath keepers who work night shifts.
They may not work Friday evenings, but are already in the habit of going to bed in the early morning and waking up later in the day. I have family members in healthcare that work these shifts. If we looked at it from the inverse perspective, church would start at 11pm at night. History is one way that we come to know God and His love and concern for humanity, His hatred of sin and its results, His way of showing mercy to thousands who love Him and keep His commandments, but who in nowise excuse sin. We are counseled to rehearse our past history so that we never forget the purpose for which the Lord raised up this remnant church, so that we never forget "our position and work" before God and before the world.
True, we should be as Paul who said of himself that he had become all things to all men that by any means he may save some. He was adaptable in the sight of the Lord, being true to God, first, but being relatable to the people, secondly. However, we should not forget his undying regard and love for his own people cultural, religious, historical. He was to his death a "Hebrew of the Hebrews" being true its historical, religious, and cultural heritage, while making it clear in his teachings that those things that belonged to the old covenant rites and methods - established of God - that were a "shadow of things to come" were passing away.