In 2 Chronicles 25, we find Amaziah, king of Judah, going to battle against Edom. He originally hired a hundred thousand Israelites (from the Northern Kingdom) to fight with him, but was warned by a prophet that God was not with Israel and their soldiers would cause defeat for Judah. Amaziah heeded this word and sent them home. Then he went out and soundly defeated the Edomites, the sons of Seir, with the help of God.
Inexplicably, after the victory Amaziah took the gods of the defeated Edomites and began to bow down in worship to them. This brought a visit from what was surely a grizzled old prophet who said, “Why have you sought the gods of the people who have not delivered their own people from your hand?” Or to put it more simply, “Why are you worshipping gods who didn’t help the last people who worshipped them?”
It reminds me of much of modern day evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Many are reverting to efforts and methods that didn’t work the first time. These “gods” didn’t help the last people who used them. Why would we think they would help us?
History has shown that the great “new evangelical” promise didn’t work. The church of Jesus Christ is not stronger today than it was sixty years ago. Billy Graham didn’t usher in the kingdom. ECT and the forty year run-up to it did not restore brothers.
Today there is greater confusion than ever about the gospel. There is more theological illiteracy and less discernment. Of course, the confusion about the gospel, theological illiteracy, and lack of discernment has always existed. But today, it exists in the church and not with the newly saved people from whom we should expect it. It exists in people who have been in the church long enough to know better.
Until we quit trying things that didn’t work the first time, there is little hope that anything will improve. We need a return to solid doctrinal preaching, combined with intense personal application that hits people in the face with the implications of the text of Scripture. We need to quit beating around the bush and avoiding people’s toes.
Amaziah’s response to what must have been a crusty old prophet sounds like a page right out of the modern church: “Have we appointed you a royal counselor? Stop.” Today, when someone dares to pipe up about the foolishness of trying to revive past failed methods, they are often greeted with disdain. They are accused of being old fashioned, judgmental, and the like. They are asked, “Who appointed you the judge over us?” The new generation surely knows so much better, don’t they? Surely the problem with the old ways was the attitudes and critical spirits of those who didn’t value unity in the body of Christ. There is no way the failure could rest with anyone else.
Such small-mindedness and historical ignorance will only perpetuate the problems faced by the modern church. God spare us from the failed tactics of the recent past.