Worship the Lord Jesus alone, not the church
Seek The Lord, and Let Justice Run Down like Water
There is a cry from the Lord’s heart, a call to His people, one that comes from mercy. It is from His principle desire, that we would commune with Him, and worship Him alone. This may not be new, but for many it is surprising to see the underlying concern.
Our Lord God, not the sanctuaries – even church movements of today or generations past – is to be sought. He is calling us back to the essential key, which is to seek Him, and live the life that flows from that intimacy. We seem to have fallen in to trap of seeking first the sanctuary, and not Him. Rather than honouring His house, we have placed it before Him. The church is made of His saints, living stones, or some see it as being the building and associated administration. Over time our focus on meeting God in His house, has shifted to the church and even the good things that happen in the church.
This brings the focus more on the church, rather than on Him, and often on the manmade aspects of church, not even the actual house of God that is not bound by buildings, and administration. Honour His bride, do not worship it.
For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live; But do not seek Bethel [House of God], nor enter Gilgal [Rolling, Rolled away reproach], nor pass over to Beersheba [well of oath, well of seven]; For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. Seek the Lord and live, lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph,..” (Amos 5:4-6a)
Seeking Him places our focus back on His way, and His leading, and His kingdom, and shifts our perspective to be from heaven to earth. Slipping in to focussing first on the “church”, means our focus is largely on the expression of our faith in church, and not in the fullness of His kingdom. Worst still it shifts us to an earth to heaven view of God, which for some can lead to an elitist, self-centred walk as we shift our gaze from Jesus Christ, to ensuring “our” sanctuary is looked after. Forgetting, too, that the presence we may meet in ‘church’ is no replacement for seeking Him.
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honour than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrew 3:1-6)
As we consider this warning, first issued through the prophet Amos (5:4-6), we see the sanctuaries representing the houses or places of worship that relates to generations:
Bethel the sanctuary associated to the new nation of Israel (after the split that occurred following the sins of Solomon). This house of God based where the window of heaven was revealed to Jacob, and yet became a place of false worship. In its day this was the new movement of God, speaking now to our generation where the churches are focussed on heaven on earth, and more generally in the Prostestant/post reformation period relates to the Holy Spirit in church (Pentecostal out-pouring).
Gilgal – the place of worship, and covenant, associated with Joshua, and the children of Israel when they first crossed in to the Promised Land. Its meaning, ‘rolling/rolled away’, speaking of the consecration and sanctification that came from circumcision, and the shedding of blood. In recent history allusions to the charismatic and Pentecostal movement abound given the need to pass through the river to access this place. In Protestant church history, this church season relates to the “sanctification” movement associated with the great revivals in the 1700s where John Wesley and others were used so mightily by God.
Beersheba – The place of worship and dwelling associated with the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac. The meaning of the name (well of oath, maybe well of seven) giving a clue to this type of church. In recent history relating to the word of faith movement, while looking back further speaks of the church the emerged from the Reformation (in the time of Martin Luther) where we saw the restoration of the centrality of the Word, and covenant promise of Justification by Faith.
So here we have it, church movements worthy of honour, and even part of our inheritance, and yet the Lord would say, seek Me. For while it is good to dwell in the house of the Lord, it is the heart of God for us to worship and love Him alone. He also wishes us to see, that His church is not made of building, or certain groups of people, rather the broader body of Christ, and its very essence and construction is from Christ as cornerstone, and us connected directly to Him through His Son. He uses this to form His house. Man’s structures, and church cannot save, and the ways of man have caused the church to be less about His house, and more about structures and administration.
Places of ‘good’ that cannot restore the heart of man, and the way of His kingdom.
They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly. Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: Afflicting the just and taking bribes; diverting the poor from justice at the gate. Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time. (Amos 5:10-13)
Quite profoundly, the key theme of Amos 4-6, and Isaiah 58, reveals that this focus on man and His structure, and not God, has contributed to people who call themselves God’s family, and yet there focus is more on themselves, and casting aside the ways of God. Ignoring justice, proclaim false truths to make ourselves feel good, and neglecting the poor and orphan.
Seek and Repent
Restoration from this place has at is heart a form of repentance and intercession that, both through prophetic acts and in a prayerful heart, reveals we have turned again to the Lord.
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. (Amos 5:14,15)
“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savour your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Seek the Lord with all your heart, repent for allowing such distraction to come. Realise the great our-pouring of the Holy Spirit comes as press in to Him, AND, with genuine heart walk out a repentance characterised by restoration of the broken (people and the church). Our call is to worship and be with our Lord, and out of this place partner with Him in bringing His kingdom to earth, one of mercy and justice, grace and truth, love and peace, where the poor, orphan, sick, and alone are restored and honoured. Wake up church, restore your gaze on Jesus rather than the body, and cause justice to flow like a river.