Has God Forgotten Our Children?

“What kind of a question is that?  Of course He hasn’t.  Jesus called little children to Himself.  ‘God loves the little children, all the children of the world’.”  It’s certainly true that the Lord Jesus loved children and children seem to have loved Him.

At the same time, it’s a shame that so much of what we believe comes from Sunday School and sentiment instead of from the Scripture.

Certainly, God can’t and doesn’t “forget” in the sense that there become “gaps” in His memory.  There is a verse, however, in which He Himself say He will “forget your children.”

“Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children,” Hosea 4:6.

This came as a result of God rebuking the people of Israel for their wickedness:  “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed,” Hosea 4:1a-2 (emphasis added).

When God talks about “forgetting” their children, does that mean that there will be a gap in His knowledge, that He actually forgets them and has no memory or knowledge of them?

Of course not.

But read the first part of the verse to get the context of the second part:  Because you have forgotten the law of your God….  Don’t get upset about the second part without understanding the first part.

This verse may be one of those “hard sayings” that skeptics and unbelievers rail against, but, you see,  that’s because, it says actions have consequences.  Every action has a consequence.  Israel, God’s favored, chosen nation found that out the hard way.  We don’t like that; we want things our way, as if God just ran some sort of cosmic Burger King where “you get it your way,” instead of being the King of Eternity.

When God brought the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and made them into a nation, what was one of the main things He told them to do?

In Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, God said, …these words that I command you this day shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up” (emphasis added)

“Teach them….”

He had already warned them about this earlier in chapter 4.  In v. 9, after reminding them of the great blessing and privilege they had, things not given to other nations, vs. 6-8, he said, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life, and teach them to your children and your grandchildren (emphasis added).

“Teach them….”  

Talking to the generation that was about enter the land, Moses reminded them of all the things God had done for them, bringing them out of Egypt and sustaining them through forty years in the wilderness, where there was neither grocery story nor Walmart.  “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years,”  Deuteronomy 8:4.  In Deuteronomy 29:5, he repeated this thought:  “Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.”  In fact, they were still wearing those same clothes and sandals.

When Moses warned them against forgetting the Lord, forgetting what He had done for them in the land of Egypt, and how He had provided for them in their wilderness travels, was he just warning them against a mental lapse of some sort?

No, no.  It was so much more than that.  In 8:11, he said, “Beware that you do not FORGET the Lord your God BY NOT KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS, HIS JUDGMENTS, AND HIS STATUTES,which I command you this day” (emphasis added).

Israel never “forgot” God in the sense that she lost the memory of Him.  She just, for the most part, did her own thing and went her own way.  This is what Hosea was complaining about.

The sad thing is, there is never a single time when Moses ever expressed any hope that Israel would actually “remember” the Lord like she was supposed to.  It was always from the standpoint of warning her what would happen if she went astray.  She had already done that before he ever came down from Sinai the first time!

“Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.”

He “forgot” them by leaving them to the consequences of their actions.

Is there a lesson here for us?  I write of the US, though it’s applicable to other nations and people as well.

There’s a university that does a lot of advertising in various magazines and through the mail.  One time they sent me a sample CD, with lessons which covered the settling of our country by the Pilgrims.  The thing I found striking was that there wasn’t a single mention of the Mayflower Compact.  This was actually the first document of American history, in which some of the passengers on the Mayflower put into writing for the first time in history the idea of self-governance, an idea later formalized by our Constitution.

The interesting thing in this document is found in it’s opening sentences.  After the obligatory reference to King James, of whom they were “loyal subjects,” they referred to the reason for their own coming to the new world:  “….having undertaken [it] for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith….”

Not a word of any of this in this CD.  And this has pretty much become the norm: ignoring the idea that Christianity had any part of the founding of this nation.  Granted, it was never the “established religion,” as it was in England or Germany or other countries.  Some of the founding fathers had suffered under such regimes, a thing which always happens when religion has civil power.  Witness the Inquisition under Rome and the slaughter of tens of thousands, if not millions, of Anabaptists and other nonconformists under the Reformed churches.  The same thing is true in Islam.  So the Constitution was written to prevent the establishment of any religion as “official.” However, the founding fathers did not, by this, intend the founding of atheism as the official viewpoint, nor the preventing of religious observances, as it has developed.

In fact, the first universities in this countries were founded as “seminaries.”  One of the important founders of Yale University was a man named Asahel Nettleton, whom probably not 1 of a 1000 Americans has ever heard of.  He was, however, a successful evangelist and preacher, much used of God in the early 1800s, who opposed Charles G. Finney, his preaching and his popularization of the “New Measures,” which Finney used, methods which were the beginnings of the altar call and modern fundamentalist forms of “soul-winning.”

McGuffey’s Reader, which was widely used until men like Horace Mann and John Dewey urged the secularization of public education, started off teaching the alphabet with “A:  In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”  You can imagine what would happen today if a teacher tried to teach that to her little students.

There has, until the last two or three generations, been a strong Biblical influence in this country.  As time has passed, though, this influence has been challenged and today it is even illegal in schools and government.

And parents have to a large degree fallen by the wayside in the teaching of spiritual truths to their children.  I speak from my own experiences in “church,” but parents tended to drop their kids off for Sunday School and expected the church to give them the teaching they needed.  There was little if any corresponding teaching at home. Any such teaching at school, of course, was, and is, out of the question.

And look at our kids today – generally speaking.  There are still good kids out there, but I fear they are in a growing minority – a minority that will never have government approval. You see kids shuffling down the middle of the street, underwear hanging out, a look of arrogance on their faces.  Drive-by shootings.  Bombings. Schools being shot up.  Drugs. Violence.  Sexual degeneracy.  Gangs.  Nurseries for babies in high schools. Teenage abortion.  Rap “music.”

For the most part, our kids are a mess.

They haven’t been taught the Word of God.  In fact, they have been taught against it. They suffer the consequences of these actions every day.

Though it isn’t just the kids.

There’s a lot of concern in the community about “stopping the violence.”  There’s a lot of church leaders in the lead here, along with the police and other concerned citizens. They want the young people to turn in their guns.  Go to counseling.  Hold vigils.  Light candles.  “Stop the violence.”

But “guns” aren’t the problem.  No, they’re not.  The high school I graduated from was the “tough” school in town.  It’s in what is now probably a hotbed of violence and youthful troubles.  Though I’m sure it’s not still there, in the basement of this school, there was a rifle range (*gasp*) with rifles, locked up, of course, and ammunition.  They were common back then.  I, myself, qualified as a marksman on this range.  But there was never, ever, any trouble with these guns.

Furthermore, most of the fellows carried pocket knives.  No stabbings.  I carried one myself for years, even after I graduated, until the day I tried to make a delivery at the local courthouse and had to go through a metal detector.  Oops.  Why, I was carrying a dangerous weapon!  *sigh*  I had to take it back to my truck and leave it there.

“You’ve come a long way, baby.”

I blame these pastors and church leaders for much of our youth’s troubles.  Instead of preaching the Gospel and requiring repentance, faith, and holy living, they want “social justice.”  “Diversity.”  $15 an hour to fry hamburgers.

They want to take folks out of the slums, without stopping to consider the “slum” that is in folks.  We’re all sinners by nature, preference and habit.

Now, social justice is important.  Even our Lord taught that we’re to treat others as we would like to be treated.  And there’s a great deal more about that in the Old Testament.  However, that’s not the emphasis in these modern times. It’s not at all about how we treat others.  It’s about how they are supposed to treat us.  At the same time, we can treat them pretty much as we like.

But isn’t our God a God of love?  Surely, He wouldn’t do as He might have done in the Old Testament.  Praise His holy name, He is a God of love, but He’s still a God where actions have consequences.  America, and most of the rest of the world, has largely forgotten God by neglecting or denying His Word.  We’ve thrown His Word out and told Him He’s not welcome.

As a result of our actions, He’s “forgotten” us by leaving us to their consequences.

I think we can imagine Him asking, “How’s that working out for you?”

[I’m sorry for the “negative” tone of this post.  It’s just that there’s not much to be “positive” about in this year of our Lord 2014.]

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“Three Paths to God”

I recently watched a very interesting documentary on holy places in Jerusalem.  It showed places which Islam, Judaism and Christianity hold to be sacred.  The Islamic shrines in particular were very beautiful.  I marveled at the patience and dedication it must have taken to build them.  They are truly works of art.  Islam was once the bastion of science and math.  Though I recognize that not all Muslims may agree with the practice, it’s a shame that Islam is now known mainly for blowing things up and killing people.

One of the things that struck me was the difference in the places honored by the three groups.  Islam and Catholic Christianity have large, ornate buildings.  Judaism has a ruin….

In contrast to the ornate monuments of the other religions, Judaism has the Wailing Wall.  There was a segment describing excavations at the base of the Wall, showing what Herod did to prepare to build it.  There was also mention of the oldest synagogue in Jerusalem, on the first floor of the home of the Jewish family featured in the film. Nevertheless, the Wailing Wall is the main Jewish location in Jerusalem.

The documentary told the story of Jerusalem through the eyes of three families, one from each of the three religions represented in the city.  In a way, it was a sad documentary.  The Muslim family was separated by the politics of the region.  The mother and son lived in Jerusalem.  The father was forced to live elsewhere because he was not Jewish.  The family could only get together at a “neutral” site, which they did once a week on Friday.

The Jewish family had been in Jerusalem for nine generations, except for a few years because of one of the frequent battles in the area.  In fact, they were responsible for watching over the oldest synagogue in Jerusalem.

The Christian was a member of the Franciscan Order, whose brother had been murdered and the perpetrator had never been found.

The story revolved around these three families preparations for their respective ways of worship on Friday.

The Islamic woman and her son had prepared food for a meal with the father, then had to go through security checkpoints to get to him – then to get back home.  The Jewish family observed a meal before making their way to the Wailing Wall to pray for their city and people.  The Franciscan monk, with several of his brothers, walked the Via Dolorosa, the traditional journey Jesus took on His way to the Cross.  In it are the 14 Stations of the Cross, which depict various events believed to have been part of that journey.  The Franciscans’ goal was The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the Crucifixion.  It was this monk’s job this time to read the English version of the narrative at each Station.  The interesting thing about him was that he is Palestinian, not Jewish or Caucasian.

There was something else which struck me.  During the course of his narrative, the narrator described these three religions as “three paths to God.”

If “God is One,” as all these religions teach, then how can such divergent views – indeed, such contradictory views – all lead to Him?

Toward the end of the documentary, one of the Muslim spokesmen referred to the teaching of the Quran that “the people of the Book,” that is, Jews and Christians, were to embrace the teachings of his book.

Although the theology of all this is way beyond the scope of this post, I acknowledge each person’s right, humanly speaking, to believe as they will or not in this present world.  We have that freedom in the US, a freedom not enjoyed in other countries, particularly where Islam is predominant.  I would never force others to accept my views. I put these views on this blog with the hope that they may at least give others something to think about.

The thing is, how can I, as one of “the people of the Book,” turn from it to receive new and contradictory teachings?

For example, Islam, though recognizing Isaac, teaches that Ishmael was the favored son of Abraham, and it was he who was sacrificed on the Mount.  Scripture teaches that Isaac was the chosen son of promise and that Ishmael, though blessed as a result of Abraham’s prayer, was rejected and sent away. Isaac was sacrificed, not Ishmael.  And he was truly sacrificed, the fact that God intervened at the last moment notwithstanding.  Abraham was fully prepared to kill his son, though he was prevented from doing so.  Hebrews 11:17, 18 has a commentary on this, which you ought to read to get Abraham’s thoughts during this trial.

Jesus is looked on as just another prophet, like Moses and Adam.  Of His crucifixion, Islam says that it is a “monstrous falsehood”.  On these two distinctions lie the main differences between Islam and the Bible.

Moses was indeed a prophet, but Scripture never tells us whether Adam was ever “saved”.  His son Abel is the first one it ever calls “righteous”.

During His own lifetime, some people thought Jesus was merely a prophet, or a reincarnation of one of the Old Testament figures, Matthew 16:14.  As the spokesman for the disciples, Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” v. 16.  Though the disciples didn’t understand everything that was involved until after the Resurrection, they understood that Jesus was more than just a mere man.

It’s often said that Jesus never claimed to be God.  This is false.  John 8 records one of what were probably many such confrontations between Jesus and the Jews.  In this particular incident, the Jews were talking about Abraham and during the discussion wanted to know if Jesus were greater than their founding patriarch.  In John 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, ‘Before Abraham was, I AM.”   By His use of the designation Jehovah in the Old Testament used of Himself, Exodus 3:14, the Jews understood fully that Jesus was claiming to be God.  That’s why they tried to kill Him, v. 59.

As for the crucifixion, our Lord many times referred to His death, Matthew 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:18, 19.  The disciples fell woefully short in their understanding of what He was saying when He told them about it because His dying didn’t fit in with what they thought would happen when the Messiah came.  They failed to understand that without that death, none of the things promised in the Old Testament about the final restoration of Israel could happen.

This is outside the scope of this post, but let me say only that the OT promises of Israel’s restoration were not all fulfilled in the return from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah, nor are its promises of “the kingdom” fulfilled in “the church” in some sort of “spiritual Israel.”  Many disagree.

As for the other, how many “paths” are there to God?

The Lord Jesus was very clear on this.  In Luke 12:24, He said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” In Matthew 7:13, 14, He said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

You see, there is no salvation in a Christianity which is looked on as just another of the world’s religions.  Indeed, if that is all it is, it’s unnecessary.  “Religion” is about ornate buildings, impressive ritual, solemn liturgy, all part of what someone has called “the trappings of religion.”

It’s only as we understand what the Lord meant when He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  In other words, if you ever want to get to know the Father, the Son will have to introduce you.

“Religion” looks on His statements as unnecessarily restrictive, or as “bigoted.”  But Christianity is the only religion with a Cross, with a Resurrection.  In just a little while, it will be Easter.  Multitudes will take part in “Easter Sunrise Services.”  I wonder, though, how many truly understand the significance of what they’re celebrating.  Or is Easter just an opportunity to wear a new outfit?  One of a couple of time a year one goes to “church”? Something to be done before the annual Easter egg hunt?

The Resurrection is the evidence that God accepted the death which preceded it.  That death was a payment for sins.  In theological terms, it was a “satisfaction” for the penalty required by our breaking of God’s Law.  The Franciscan brother mentioned above talked about “getting to salvation” by suffering, etc.  But salvation is NOT about what WE do.  There’s nothing we can do to pay for our own sins.  It’s all about what the Lord Jesus did, not only on the Cross, but during His whole life.

God requires absolute perfection, with not a single misstep in our whole life.  Who can honestly say that of themselves?  A single fault, a single “mistake” is enough to condemn us forever.  What, then, about the innumerable things of which we are all guilty?  There’s only been One Who could ever challenge His enemies, “Which one of you can accuse me of sin?” John 8:46 paraphrase.

It’s that perfect righteous life that’s imputed to the believing sinner that allows him or her to stand uncondemned before a holy, righteous and just God. It’s that effective death which allows him to enter heaven rather than being consigned to hell.  In and of ourselves, we have no such life or death.

There’s no salvation in “religion,” no “path to God” through the doors of any religious building, no matter how beautiful or impressive it may be.  No religious observance can atone for a single sin.

Salvation is only to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, who He was and what He did. There is no other “path to God.”  No other door by which we may enter.

There’s so much that could be said about this.  Let me just finish up with this:  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.  He alone is the path to God.