In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul mentions some episodes from Israel’s life about how Yahweh judged them for their sins as recorded in parts of Exodus and Numbers. Then he says this in v. 6: “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”
And in vv. 11-12 he says similar things: “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
Paul would have of course had much more than just these few Old Testament episodes in mind as something Christians today should not forget. Believers need to remember what happened back then, and learn the lessons thereof. That is why all Christians should never stray long from the OT. There is so much there which we need to learn about today.
Each of the 39 OT books are full of spiritual truths which Christians need to be aware of. Let me offer another few bits, this time from my daily reading in 2 Chronicles. In 2 Chr. 14-16 we read about Asa King of Judah. He was one of the better kings of Judah. But at least the southern kingdom had some good kings. The northern kingdom of Israel had no godly kings at all. In 2 Chr. 14:2-5 we read this:
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.
Notice that he gets the divine seal of approval. And what he did was something Yahweh celebrated and praised. Asa tore down the religious sites to the false gods. And with his radical steps to purge Judah of all pagan gods and worship, the result was rest and peace for the southern kingdom.
What struck me as I read this again was how radical this in fact was, and how unlikely most Christian leaders today would try to emulate this. Indeed, if any believer did something like this today, most Christian leaders would condemn him for being unloving, judgmental and un-Christlike.
We have so many pansies in the pulpits today that the majority would likely kick out of their churches anyone this radical. Of course Asa was both a spiritual and political leader, whereas Christian leaders today tend to be only the former.
But we could easily see comparable actions today including renouncing sham interfaith services or resisting moves to promote Chrislam. I have already discussed a few courageous Christian women who did just this – and then some. One of them, Heidi Mund, bravely challenged the Muslim takeover of a Lutheran church in Germany: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/02/08/one-brave-christian-woman-contra-mundum/
The other one was Christine Weick who almost single-handedly took on the Islamic takeover of a Christian church in Washington DC last year. I tell her story of radical discipleship here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/01/30/courageous-saints-in-an-age-of-spineless-wonders/
Both these women are heroes in my books, and put to shame most of the spineless wonders that pass for Christian men today in our churches. These gals stood strong while most evangellyfish do nothing for the kingdom, and whine like babies when someone does do something radical for Jesus, like these two champions.
They would go on like girly men about how Jesus would never do such things, and complain about being unloving and ungracious, etc. Um, do these folks actually ever read their Bibles? Or are they too busy watching TV and playing lousy FB games?
If they would read the Word, they would recall a really radical act in which Jesus actually went out of his way to form a whip, and then use it big time as he chucked over tables and made it clear that the perversion of God’s house was utterly unacceptable.
Hmm, no spineless Christianity there. No effeminate Wimpianity there. This was full on divine butt-kicking action. We even are told why he took such drastic and politically incorrect action: ‘Zeal for my Father’s house has consumed me’ (see John 2:17).
Guess what? We sure can use a bit of zeal for the Father’s house. We sure can use some Christian men and women who are fed up with the ordinary, with the mediocre, with just playing games and chasing after trivial pursuits. We need some Holy Ghost-charged warriors for Jesus who will not flinch in the face of battle, nor pay any attention to all the cowards in their easychairs who sit around and criticise them all day.
We need more believers like King Asa. We need more guts and gumption like Jesus had. We need more dedication and zeal than the average pew-warmer has. That is the normal Christian life. That is what being a follower of Jesus really means.
Before I conclude this piece, let me just briefly offer a few more incredible gems found in this account of King Asa’s life. Consider 2 Chronicles 15:1-2: “The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you’.”
This warning given to King Asa is something we all need to heed. Theological debates aside, this is a constant theme found throughout Scripture. As but one other example of this: “If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us” (2 Tim 2:12). We dare not treat these warnings lightly.
And the other incredibly moving passage found here is 2 Chr. 16:9: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Wow, that is a wonderful and challenging promise. God never rewards the casual inquirer but only the serious seeker.
He always responds to a heart which is fully committed to him. And he searches, he looks, he strives to find, he longs for, that committed heart and dedicated soul. This too is what radical discipleship is all about.
The words of British evangelist Henry Varley to D. L. Moody are a fitting end to this meditation: “The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.”
Now that is what being radical for God is all about.