A Brewing Pot of Christian Persecution (Chapter 14)
by Carl Parnell
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Almost all Americans have read the story of Ichabod Crane and the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” However, very few people know anything about the man named Ichabod in the Bible. In fact, his birth came at an extremely low time in the history of ancient Israel. According to I Samuel 4, the Israelites were once again fighting the Philistines. During a major battle, the Philistines defeated the Israelites, including killing the two sons of Eli the priest, Hophni and Phinehas. Also, more importantly, the Ark of God was taken by the Philistines. When Eli the priest heard about his sons being killed and the Ark of God being taken, he fell backwards off the top of a gate that he was sitting on and broke his neck. When Phinehas’ pregnant wife heard about the death of her husband and her father-in-law Eli, she travailed and gave birth to a son that she named “Ichabod, “ before she died. She named him “Ichabod” because “the glory of the Lord” had departed from Israel with the capture of the Ark of God by the Philistines. Therefore, the name “Ichabod” has come to symbolize the removal of God’s spirit from an individual person. In the modern world, the word “Ichabod” would be synonymous with the word “apostate.” As a result, a person who gives up on his spiritual faith would become an apostate person. But, if there were many apostate people, it could affect the entire Christian Church community in America. Then, ultimately, an apostate Christian Church in America could have a long-lasting, negative spiritual, political, and social effect on America as a Christian nation.
How can the name “Ichabod” symbolize the removal of God’s spirit from an individual person? Simply-speaking, since Christianity is a relationship with God and not a religion per se, an individual person could decide to turn his or her back on God and walk away from Him, even after worshiping Him for many years. When this happens, this individual becomes apostate to their religious faith, that is, they abandon it. Unfortunately, in America ’s postmodern culture, more and more Christians are exchanging their religious faith for a more modern secularist approach to life. The Apostle Paul discusses this very modern issue in II Timothy 3:1-5. II Timothy 3:1-5 states,
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Also, Paul continued his discourse on apostasy in II Timothy 4: 3-4. It states,
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Based on Paul’s God-inspired writings in the Holy Bible and the definition of “apostasy,” it is obvious that apostasy is on the rise in America today. But, what are some signs that there is a rise of apostasy in America today? First, America is facing perilous times. In fact, the economy is crumbling at a rapid rate. Thousands of jobs have been outsourced to overseas companies. Also, unscrupulous Wall Street executives and other corporate elites have permitted their greed to get the best of them. As a result, many Americans have lost their jobs in the last two years, approximately one million to be exact. However, jump starting the economy, as President Obama and the 111th Congress attempted to do, has cost American taxpayers billions, if not trillions, of dollars, since everyone, including cities and states, want their fair share of the government’s multibillion dollar stimulus package. At the same time, America has been fighting two wars overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq . Of course, even though troops will be coming home from Iraq soon, the United States might still have to get involved with Iran and North Korea in the weeks and months to come.
Also, Americans continually live with the possibility of another major terrorist attack on a daily basis. Of course, let’s not forget the terrible ordeal that America is facing on its southwestern border, with the hordes of illegal immigrants and gang members that constantly come to America from Mexico. Needless to say, the cost to America for this illegal invasion is horrendous. Finally, America ’s public education system is no longer rated at the top of the educational ladder. Thousands of students graduate each year that are not qualified to do the jobs that American companies have to offer. Could asking God to leave in the 1960s with the Supreme Courts ban of Bible-reading and prayer and the religious apostasy of many Christians be the reason for the failure of America’s public education system in an era of high technology?
Second, some Americans have replaced the love of God with the love of themselves. Humanism is rapidly replacing faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ. As a result, some people have become proud, boastful, and covetous. Sadly, some people even blaspheme God the Creator through their actions and deeds. However, too many people in America are living unholy lives that are not acceptable to a sovereign God. If this was not true, the Ten Commandments would not be broken on such a regular basis. Of course, since the Ten Commandments is prohibited from the public square, it is no wonder that the divorce rate is over fifty percent, stealing takes place on a regular basis, and murders in America are the highest in the world. But, let’s not forget that the number of prisoners in America are the largest in the world, too.
Third, homosexuals, who were a group that was reasonably quiet in the United States for many years, have become a vibrant subculture in America. They have employed many lobbyists in Congress to promote their agenda. In fact, in the spring of 2009, 52 members of the House of Representatives formed a caucus that vowed to use their political powers to promote homosexuality as an alternate sexual lifestyle with all the benefits of heterosexual couples. Of course, only two of these representatives were Republican. Also, homosexual groups have black-balled groups, mainly Christians, who have voiced their opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. They have also used fear and intimidation against those who do not support their sexual orientation. However, it is clear, according to the Apostle Paul, that homosexuality is wrong. He stated that in the last days some men and women would be without natural affections toward each other. Also, he stated that some men and women would despise those that are good. Needless to say, this is occurring in America today. Of course, could it be that the reason for this emergence of a strong homosexual movement in America is the Apostate Christian Church, since a price must be paid for rebelling against a Holy God?
Fourth, America has more and more people who do not support the U.S. Constitution and who have become traitors to America ’s democratic way of life. As a result, it is obvious that they love themselves and pleasures more than God and the nation founded on Biblical principles. Immediate gratification of all types of pleasures is the lifestyle of too many Americans, regardless if it is condemned by God or not. Of course, too many times church attendance and church activities tend to cramp the lifestyle of Americans who are more concerned about their own self-image as they live their fast-paced lives. Therefore, their apostasy has made it much easier for them to fulfill their personal goals in life without being concerned about living a Christian life.
Fifth, some postmodern Christians have a form of godliness, but they are denying the power of the Holy Spirit to operate fully in their lives. As a result, these powerless Christians have refused to accept the truth of the Gospel. Instead, they would prefer to listen to ministers that preach sermons that sound good to their ears, sermons that have nothing to do with their eternal salvation, which was paid for by the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary nearly two thousand years ago. But, despite the manner in which the apostate Christian views God’s plan of salvation, it was given by God to save mankind from eternal damnation and to give them a spirit-filled life.
According to Dr. Michael Green, a British theologian and Anglican priest, in his book entitled Who Is Jesus Christ, “The Cross was a rescue from mortal danger. This is something we willfully ignore. It is too embarrassing. We love to play Jesus off against other faiths or say, Well, I can get to God my own way. We are out of touch with God, and most of us want to keep it that way.” (1) Dr. Green also stated in reference to Jesus, “He is a threat to our independence, a check on our pleasures and, worst of all, a judge of our actions. And so we distance ourselves from Him.” (1) Finally, according to Dr. Green, “All we realize is that sense of deadness, of alienation, of profound loneliness, of lack of meaning, of the inability of possessions to satisfy us who have made possessions our god.” (1) Of course, Dr. Green captures the essence of apostasy in America.
Therefore, Paul the Apostle said that true, Bible-believing, god-fearing Christians should not have anything to do with lukewarm Christians. These Christians could possibly lead other spiritually-weak Christians out of the spiritual fold, especially with all the false doctrines that are being promoted today in America ’s secular and religious world. Hence, as more and more Americans become apostate toward their Christian religious beliefs, the more likely that America as a nation will become apostate, too. Of course, this apostasy would be responsible for America totally rejecting God, except for His true born-again children who He will protect from their enemies and provide for their sustenance, even if America becomes a paganistic, heathen nation.
In conclusion, apostasy was a problem for the early Christian Church and, according to prophecy, it would eventually become a serious problem for the postmodern Christian Church. Apparently, the time is now in America . According to Christianity Today Magazine, a Barna Group research project found that a majority of American youth raised in the Christian Church would leave it by age 29. However, since many of the older generation of church goers are reasonably solid in their Christian faith, there probably would not be as much apostasy in their age group. But, if generation after generation of America ’s youth, who have attended church practically all their life, rebel against the Church and its doctrines, America will be headed toward some serious religious problems. In other words, if the Church of the Future walks out the front doors of their churches today, the Church of the Future could become nonexistent.
Of course, it has been prophesied that an increase in apostasy would occur in the world prior to Jesus Christ’s return to rapture His Church. Could the apostasy that exists in America today actually be the beginning stages of the end times? Will America ’s backsliding Christian Church have the chance to come back to God before Jesus Christ splits the eastern skies? Will God send a mighty move of His Holy Spirit to a nation that has repeatedly turned its back on Him? Will God initiate one final Great Awakening in America , the nation that was founded on His Biblical teachings? Prayerfully, God will. However, if He doesn’t, true Christians might finally arrive at the point in their spiritual life, especially since they will be persecuted for their faith in God, that they raise their voices and shout, “Even so Lord Jesus come quickly.” Then, at that time, when all the true, god-fearing Christians are taken to Heaven, those apostate Christians that remain would be responsible for the renaming of the United States. The new name, of course, would sadly be Ichabod, since as a nation it has turned away from its “First Love,” the Lord God Jehovah and His Holy Son Jesus Christ.
Green, Dr. Michael. Who Is This Jesus? Oliver Nelson: Nashville.
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