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Ancient Israel had leaders who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and obeyed His commands but failed to tear down the pagan altars..
Tear Down the Pagan Altars
Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak / Unsplash

Controversial Issues

"Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land...” (Ex 34:12–15)

I read a recent discussion in response to the question, “Why do you think pastors are afraid to preach what the Bible says about controversial political issues?” An overwhelming number of responses talked about fear of losing their 501c3 status or fear of losing members and, thus, losing money. Another popular response was that while pastors may preach the truth, they simply avoid this controversial issues for the sake of their reputation and that of their church.

Reading through all the responses and criticisms (and there were not just a few), it occurred to me that this is not a new problem. If you look at ancient Israel through Biblical history, Israel had leaders who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and obeyed His commands BUT failed to tear down the pagan altars erected by previous evil rulers, idol worshippers, and those who served other gods. It appears that not dealing with the detestable practices of some, even while doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, sent a mixed message … the people felt no conviction to put away their pagan practices and ultimately and predictably returned to their sinful practices and worship of other gods. And, this scenario repeated itself over and over again. The righteous would rule but if the altars weren’t destroyed, the people returned to their pagan worship as soon as the righteous ruler died or they continued to secretly practice their idolatry. When righteousness ruled, Israel was victorious. When unrighteousness ruled, Israel’s defeat was imminent.

Isn’t this what is happening in much of Western Christianity? Christian leaders, for whatever reason, preach the Word but fail to address the controversial issues, tearing down the pagan altars of homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, divorce, political correctness, etc. They are simply repeating the same practices of ancient Israel’s leaders who did good and followed God’s commands yet failed to tear down the pagan altars. This didn’t make them “unrighteous”, but it didn’t address the sin of the people and establish righteousness as a nation. If righteousness didn’t rule and the pagan altars weren’t torn down, the people either clung to or reverted back to pagan practices. They needed the constant reminder of God’s jealousy over them, of His holiness, and His intolerance of evil.

What an offense to God! He spoke to Israel over and over and over again telling them to destroy the high places, cut down the incense altars, smash the idols and graven stones, melt the molten images, and more. Yet, many of rulers who did right in the eyes of the Lord to obey all His commands failed to address the pagan altars. Why? I suggest that it is the same reason why pastors today preach the Word but neglect to address those practices which God detests and those we label "controversial issues" — practices and lifestyles for which unbelievers demand the right and, even worse, doing so with the acceptance of the Body of Messiah!

Would that the Christian leaders in this generation open their eyes, learn from the past, and begin to tear down the pagan altars of “controversial political issues” one stone at a time until every evidence of them is gone. Would that each of us support those leaders who are committed to obey God, stand for righteousness, and boldly address the controversial issues to rid the Body of Messiah of the ongoing and ongrowing influence of those whose agenda is to overthrow righteousness and secure to themselves the pagan altars.

We live in an age where compromise is running rampant. Because of the flood of controversies surrounding political correctness, most are unwilling to stand for righteousness. Our God is a jealous God and He will NOT share His glory with another.

It’s time unrighteousness be exposed for what it is and righteousness be the cry of God's people.

It’s time the cry for tolerance, compromise and political correctness be silenced and the Christian leaders throughout the Body of Messiah fearlessly proclaim the truth!

It’s time for believers to worship God in spirit and in truth, without silently and blindly accepting the practice of unbelievers as normal or acceptable.

It’s time to tear down the pagan altars!