Why is God a stranger?

19 09 2008

O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, Why should You be like a stranger in the land, And like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should You be like a man astonished, Like a mighty one who cannot save? Yet You, O LORD, are in our midst, And we are called by Your name; Do not leave us!”  (Jeremiah 14:8-9)

 

This passage of Scripture was written during a very bad time in Israel. The people had strayed from the Lord, in spite of many repeated warnings, to the point that God had become like a STRANGER in the land. They had grieved away His presence, and the result was that they became vulnerable to their enemies.

 

If God’s presence was seen among them, it was only like that of a man who was passing through. The sense of God’s nearness and readiness to defend His people from their foes was no longer felt in the land.

 

How does this apply to us? Can it not be said that God is a stranger in our land as well? Once He was our Savior in times of trouble, our Hope, the imminent One who dwelt in our midst. Now, if He is noticed at all, it is as if He doesn’t belong… “like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night.”

 

Consider the evidence that God is a stranger in our land…

 

1.       Think of how FEW CONVERSIONS there are among us. I’m not talking about people walking down aisles, repeating a forumula “sinner’s prayer,” then continuing to live the same sin-drenched lives they always have. The lack of genuine conversions can be seen in the lack of a transformed culture. When Jesus changes lives, the whole dynamic of society is changed – from the individual, to the family, to the workplace, to the church, to the city, state and nation. When God is moving among a people, things CHANGE. The fact that our neighborhoods and our nation are not only NOT CHANGING, but actually digressing further and further into sin is a sign that God is a stranger in our land.

 

2.       Think of how much DEADNESS there is among professing Christians. While those who name the name of Jesus pursue their own advancement and claim financial blessings as a right of faith, the lost are ignored and the oppressed are passed by. Religion is not a license to sin, or a guarantee of a prosperous life. James gave us the most concise definition of religion: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Nothing about health, wealth and prosperity there! Not even a mention of doctrinal orthodoxy, as important as that is. God defines pure religion in terms of personal holiness and sacrificial service. The lack of these defining attributes in the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians is further evidence that God is a stranger in our land.

 

3.      Think of how BOLD sinners are to continue in sin. When God’s Spirit is present among a people, there is a restraint upon wickedness. In our land iniquity parades itself through the streets. Wicked leaders boast of their plans to silence God and overthrow His truth. Men and women in the streets pursue lust and practice deceit and ungodliness with the pride of people who are doing heroic deeds. This too is a sign that God is a stranger in our midst.

 

The withdrawal of God from our land is something greatly to be feared. One of the chief ways that God judges a people is simply by giving them over to their own sinful ways and desires. When He removes the restraints of His grace, a society crumbles under the weight of its own evil. We are far down that path, fam!

 

It’s not that God hasn’t been seeking to get our attention. Wars, calamities, and disasters have been His messengers. A few bold prophetic voices have been raised, but they are invariably ignored and marginalized. For the most part, preachers have been content to build their own empires, “choosing rather to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin than to suffer affliction with the people of God” – a virtual reversal of the faithful example of Moses in Hebrews 11:25. 

 

Among the people there is little interest in hearing the Word of God. Give us short sermons and lots of entertainment! Prayer has not only been banished from the public square, but also diminished in the home and family. And the vast majority of people aren’t even sensitive to the fact that something is wrong! Much less are they aware of the only source of hope and salvation, which is Jesus Christ.

 

It is time for the people of God to wake up! The prayer of Jeremiah needs to become the fervent prayer of our own hearts…

 

O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, Why should You be like a stranger in the land, And like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should You be like a man astonished, Like a mighty one who cannot save? Yet You, O LORD, are in our midst, And we are called by Your name; Do not leave us!”  (Jeremiah 14:8-9)

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3 responses

22 09 2008
julesnpebbles

Wow. This is such a good article!~! You are so right about God being a stranger in this land. Odd how as ‘Christianity’ hits mainstream American culture and gains popularity, it seems sin also abounds. Something is desperately wrong with this picture. May we cling tightly to the Word of God and Christ our Redeemer and FRIEND, not Stranger!

23 09 2008
Benjamin P. Glaser

Wow. Great stuff Rev. Comin. Almost depressing enough to make me A-Mill. 😉

30 09 2008
Rick Morgan

It is amazing that the people that should be the most excited about life sit in the church each Sunday like it is a funeral. The church in the book of Acts was exciting!

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