Do you need to return to the Lord (part 3)?

Over the last two days I’ve made some suggestions about how we can apply some challenging verses from Amos to today’s church.

Today I want to explain further why blessings and warnings are often physical in the Old Testament, but spiritual in the New. The answer is very simple. It’s not that God was not concerned with spiritual things in the Old Testament. It’s just that the Old Testament is full of types and shadows of spiritual reality. So we understand, for example, that the cloud and fire that showed God’s presence during the Exodus is a type or shadow that points us to a spiritual reality in the New Testament. That spiritual reality is the presence of God by His Spirit today. What was a physical sign of a spiritual reality has become that spiritual reality.

So we took the physical warnings Amos gave to Israel, and applied them to today’s church. But we did so in such a way that applied mainly to denominations. That’s OK, but I’m not responsible for a denomination, and you’re probably not either. It’s easy to point the finger at others – but perhaps the Lord would like to point it at us. Let’s make sure the application can hit home to our own local church:

“I gave you half-empty evening services
and lack of souls in every prayer meeting,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“I gave you overworked Sunday School teachers
and lack of workers in many ministries,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“I gave you large expenses and lack of income
so your bank balance has sunk,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“I sent disunity among you as I did in the past.
I caused your young men to leave,
along with your recent converts.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your unhappiness,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

“Many times I struck your sermons and bible-studies,
I struck them with shallowness and empty platitudes.
Secular culture devoured your understanding and spiritual growth,
yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.

Is that what the Lord is saying to your local church?

Now before I get into trouble, let me be quite clear. I am not saying that I am certain that the Lord is judging your church. I am not saying that if you are experiencing any of these things then that is definitely a sign that you are on the wrong road and are refusing to return to God.

But the Lord’s question is clear. When difficulties come, do we turn to the Lord?

There are too many churches who are struggling, but simply shrug their shoulders and claim that we live in hard times, and the day of small things, but they never turn to the Lord. I fear that the Lord will do even harder things so that the church returns to him. There are too many churches who are bowing to cultural demands, but simply shrug their shoulders and claim that it’s the only way to reach a post-modern generation, but they never turn to the Lord. I fear that the Lord will do even harder things so that the church returns to him.

Is the Lord saying to them and to us: “Therefore this is what I will do to you… and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God (Amos 4:12).

Articles in this series:

  1. Do you need to return to the Lord?
  2. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 2)?
  3. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 3)? <-- This article
  4. Do you need to return to the Lord (part 4)?