Relating to God on His terms.
It seems to me that God has always been very clear regarding the way in which people should relate to Him. Adam was given precise instructions of what he could and could not eat in the garden. Abel’s offering was acceptable to God but Cain’s was not. God worked through Moses and Aaron to establish the tabernacle and the ministry of the priesthood.
And when Solomon completed the temple at Jerusalem, God finally had a permanent place amongst His people, who were commanded to meet with Him there at the appointed times and in the prescribed way.
The temple at Jerusalem with its priesthood, altar and sacrifices, represented the revealed will of God concerning the way people should relate to Him.
However, after Solomon’s death, the ten tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel rebelled and made Jeroboam their king. This meant the citizens in the northern kingdom had no place to worship (relate to God) without going back to the temple at Jerusalem, located in the southern kingdom of Judah.
Fearing his people would travel to the temple in Jerusalem and not return; Jeroboam established a counterfeit system of worship. It consisted of a false priesthood that preached a false gospel and offered false sacrifices on false altars.
I have heard it said that no good ever came from the northern kingdom of Israel (also known as “Ephraim”, its most populace tribe). It was a nation that practiced evil and produced only evil kings; the pinnacle of which was the reign evil king Ahab with his murderous wife Jezebel and their lying prophets of Baal.
The Book of Hosea reveals God’s perspective on this kingdom. He describes His people as being like an unfaithful wife, sleeping around with other men and having illegitimate children by them. True repentance for this kingdom would have put an end to its existence. But despite many warnings and chastisements, the people continued in their ways, eventually being invaded and taken into captivity first by Assyria and then by Babylon.
A quick note about the southern kingdom of Judah.
Initially Judah represented a kingdom that remained true to God, but this only lasted for a time. Eventually, Judah adopted the same practices as Israel. Judah represents a group of people who should have known better, yet they followed the stubbornness of their own hearts and the delusions of their own thinking. Perhaps Judah could be thought of as people who, as far as their relationship with God was concerned, “made things up as they went along”.
Judah escaped Assyrian invasion and believing they were God’s chosen people ignored Jeremiah’s warnings. The Babylonian invasion and subsequent captivity was God’s way of cleansing the land and starting over again.
My point is this. Relationship with God must be on His terms. Failure to relate to God on His terms has very serious consequences.
If we are to avoid being deceived by a counterfeit system of worship then what is it we need to know and what do we need to do?
I have heard it said that way people can identify counterfeit money is to know what real money looks like. Education and training about counterfeit money would not be able to keep up with the innovations of the counterfeiters.
For counterfeit money to appear real, there are certain things that must be accurately copied, for example:
• The paper.
• The watermarks.
• The printing.
• The serial number
When Jeroboam set up his counterfeit system of worship, he designed ways of mimicking:
• The priesthood.
• The gospel.
• The sacrifices.
• The altar.
So about three years ago, I began studying the scriptures to see how the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s terms and conditions in these areas. I then looked at how we should relate to God as a result.
In summary, what I found was that relating to God on His terms can be briefly outlined in three main ways:
Firstly, learning to take God at His word.
The unbelieving soldier in 2 Kings 7 failed to take God at His word and died as a result. Abraham, on the other hand, took God at His word and received everything he was promised. Abraham’s faith was credited to Him as righteousness and the same holds true today for all those who believe God, that is, take Him at His word.
Secondly, learning to understand the plans and purposes of God.
The invasion of Jerusalem and subsequent destruction of the temple at the hands of the Babylonians was impossible for God’s people to comprehend, but Jeremiah had revelation from God. Likewise, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus could not understand Jesus’ death on the cross. The events the disciples had witnessed made no sense to them until Jesus gave them revelation of the scriptures and how they applied to Him. Today, the Holy Spirit is able to give revelation to all those who belong to the body of Christ.
Thirdly, learning to willingly cooperate with God.
When Moses brought God’s people to the Promised Land, God had him to set out the terms and conditions of their continued existence there. Likewise, Jesus spoke to the disciples about continuing their life in Him by comparing them to branches, where he is the vine. Jesus made it very clear that fruitful branches would be cut back to become more fruitful but dead branches would be cut off and gathered ready to be burned.
The challenge that lies ahead.
Up until now, God has been allowing us to look at our relationship with Him from the perspective of our Christian beliefs and practices, most of which have been handed down to us from previous generations. The history of Christianity shows that God has been gracious with us in the past.
But in future, God requires that we look at our relationship with Him from His perspective. This is so that we do not get caught up in Satan’s counterfeit system of worship and the powerful delusions that will accompany it. Judgement is coming.
If we are to escape the judgement to come we must ensure that we are relating to God on His terms; failure to do so will take us from deception to delusion and then on to destruction. We can be sure of this. There is a path to salvation but there is also a road to destruction.
It is a Biblical truth that when people deliberately set aside everything that God sets plainly before them, He gives them over to delusion. Within “Christianity” stiff-necked men have been resisting the Holy Spirit for the best part of two thousand years.
As far as relating to God on His terms is concerned, God has set a point in time when enough will be enough. For the men who persist in setting aside God’s way to establish their own, God has a plan to catch them in their craftiness. He will gather them together as one and there will be a false peace and a false unity.
God is going to allow the rise of an end-time counterfeit Christ, complete with a counterfeit priesthood that offers counterfeit sacrifices on a counterfeit altar and preaches a counterfeit gospel that will be confirmed with counterfeit signs and wonders.
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