Summary: A redraft of a message that was never preached due to Covid Lockdowns. The message is a call for Christians to reassess their relationship with the Lord God.

The more they increased,

the more they sinned against me;

I will change their glory into shame.

They feed on the sin of my people;

they are greedy for their iniquity.

And it shall be like people, like priest;

I will punish them for their ways

and repay them for their deeds.

They shall eat, but not be satisfied;

they shall play the whore, but not multiply,

because they have forsaken the LORD

to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,

which take away the understanding.

My people inquire of a piece of wood,

and their walking staff gives them oracles.

For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,

and they have left their God to play the whore.

They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains

and burn offerings on the hills,

under oak, poplar, and terebinth,

because their shade is good.

Therefore your daughters play the whore,

and your brides commit adultery.

I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,

nor your brides when they commit adultery;

for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes

and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,

and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.

Though you play the whore, O Israel,

let not Judah become guilty.

Enter not into Gilgal,

nor go up to Beth-aven,

and swear not, “As the LORD lives.”

Like a stubborn heifer,

is stubborn;

can the LORD now feed them

like a lamb in a broad pasture?

Ephraim is joined to idols;

leave him alone.

When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring;

their rulers dearly love shame.

A wind has wrapped them in its wings,

and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices. [1]

Our world has experienced unprecedented panic and chaos for over a year. The societal upset we have endured was primarily political as governments reacted to the threat of worldwide pandemic. A heretofore unknown virus had invaded the security of our comfortable lives; and government, being government, reacted as would be expected. Rather than waiting for sound intelligence that would permit acting intelligently, governments wanted to be seen as doing something. After all, that is why governments exist—to do something. At least, that is what our politicians want us to believe. So, our world was locked down, and even the churches were ordered closed.

This message was planned over a year ago. A risk-averse government locked down our world before the sermon was delivered. Churches, along with all places where people might gather in larger numbers, were closed. Parishioners were not permitted to attend, despite what most would see as an obvious need for divine counsel and comfort.

We do live in a broken, fallen world. We are residents of this fallen world, but this world is not our home. We are ambassadors of Christ, and Heaven is the land to which we are going. We know that “Our citizenship is in Heaven” [see PHILIPPIANS 3:20]. Long years past, an ancient writer described the followers of Christ in these words, “Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life… Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to live in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.” [2]

In today’s text, we witness the Lord GOD mourning the rampant immorality of His professed people. They are charged with sinning against Him, feeding on the sin that has contaminated almost the entire populace. The priests appear to be suffering from some form of ecclesiastical lockjaw—they are incapable of speaking against sin if it means exposing the perfidy of those for whom they bear responsibility. The LORD charges that the people “cherish whoredom;” God says they have become idolaters. Therefore, we see the divine lament, “like people, like priest.” Spiritual adultery has led to physical adultery.

I must pause for a moment to note a truth that is not often recognised—spiritual adultery leads inevitably to physical immorality. Whenever an individual begins to worship anyone or anything other than the Living God, that person will shortly condone the most vile moral acts. If the individual does not personally become adulterous in his or her relationships, she or he will approve of wickedness. An individual who is spiritually adulterous must, of necessity, soon approve of every form of moral turpitude.

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