Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Rage Against the Machine
Rarely did Jesus in His incarnate form exhibit anger. He showed some frustration at the ignorance of the Pharisees and sometimes his own disciples. But in reality there are only two events where He showed genuine anger. One was the time where He railed at the Pharisees and called them vipers, blind guides, and hurled many other invectives their way. Why was there so little anger in His earthly ministry? Well it is obvious that His mission was redemption and that anger and wrath would be reserved for a later date.
But there is another time where Jesus not only spoke words of righteous indignation, but His passion was so ignited that He literally became physical.
Matt.21:12-13 - And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Mk.11:15-18 - And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
esus enters Jerusalem with the cross in His heart and with the temporary accolades of the people. He comes riding upon a borrowed donkey. Some royal procession, huh? The entire scene is breathtaking in its utter simplicity and profound spiritual significance. But as He enters the city of peace He sees what has become of the practices in the Temple, His church if you will. In a matter of days this will all be over and fifty days later God will do a new thing upon the earth. God will have given birth to His Son’s own Bride. Just amazing.
But just the spectacle of how commercial men had made a place which was meant for prayer raised the ire of the Holy One. This Temple was to seek God and His forgiveness, but carnal men, including Temple leaders, had constructed a bastardized replica where men could make money and other men could teach falsehoods. We must sit up and take notice of this event since it seems so out of the ordinary for the Savior. And with all the sins around Him, this is the one that elicited such a dramatic response?
A woman was caught in the very act of adultery and yet no anger. The devil tests Him in the wilderness and yet no anger. Men say He displays miracle power by the devil and yet no anger. Evil men spit upon His face and still no anger. He is beaten and tortured but still no anger. And wicked men nail Him to two wooden planks and instead of anger He asks for forgiveness for them. This is something very special.
But when Jesus gets to the Temple and sees how they are using it for their own prosperity and have disfigured the sacrificial process and made it a business, well that is what angers He who is filled with grace and truth. The place of spiritual meditation and prayer had been turned into a machine that operates for the benefit of man. That required an angry response from Christ who was only days away from death. It is quite remarkable and is indeed prophetically applicable in this ecclesiastical age where the Christian faith has been changed, diluted, and mangled into a religious machine dedicated to the happiness and the glorification of man.
As anyone who has read my heart via this blog I am a strong proponent of grace. I believe God’s gracious offer of redemption is for all men, and I am no legalist. But that cannot be an excuse for silence in the face of such an heretical onslaught as is being observed today. And just like that Temple in Jerusalem, this modern church has become a vehicle for human prosperity and a platform for all kinds of false teaching and practice. But the spectacle is not disorganized and in a state of disarray. On the contrary, the false church is a well oiled machine that operates with precision, glossy pamphlets, well produced videos, and meetings that are anything but disheveled.
So the unbiblical expressions of Christianity are powerful forces of communicative skill and have an amazing and relentless energy that continues to seep into every area of evangelicalism, to say nothing of a lost culture. The intelligence and percipience of men like Bell and Warren is impressive. They seem to know just what cracks in the doctrinal foundation to attack with great cunning and deft. Their precise appeal to the superstitions and discontent of the masses is stunning and quite effective. Their advertisement campaigns are of the Madison Avenue variety.
And men like Joel Osteen use the power of positive and encouraging words along with the imagery of a smiling face to attract great and swelling crowds. People in general are not interested in truth especially if it seems to be negative. And if those words require any sacrifice or alterations in their personal lives it is most unwanted. But when you watch Osteen and others appear in the enhanced imagery of a well produced television program, and when you hear a redundant message of think positive thoughts and God will elevate you into your own dreams of prosperity and honor, then you realize there is a trance like quality to it all.
The machine continues to operate with the internal combustion of powerful deceptions and alluring delights that appeal to the fallen nature in all of us. During the early 1960’s the Beatles came to America and experienced more than what could just be described as popularity. I had their records and many posters. But it was the imagery of television and the new phenomenon of picture cards and posters that propelled them into the culture changing phenomenon they became. Do you not remember what the ten commandments warned against?
Not only were they not to have other gods before God, but they were forbidden to make likenesses of those gods in any form. But what a man places before himself will affect that man, and if given enough time, that man will desire to become what he sees. So we combed our hair like the Beatles, we dressed like them, and we memorized their lyrics, and most of us chose our favorite Beatle. It was a real phenomenon. But back then I had no idea what was really going on. We were involved in idolatry.
But that same spectacle continues today with other singing groups as well as Hollywood stars and even politicians. But amazingly it is being practiced within the so called evangelical community. Preachers have been presented to the public with enticing words of men’s wisdom and with air brushed imagery, and like the Beatles of old they are drawing disciples unto themselves. And within the evangelicals many chose who is their favorite preacher. I am of T.D.Jakes, I am of Warren, I am of Bell, I am Osteen, and a veritable host of others. Men are not drawing people to Jesus. Men no longer shun the spotlight upon themselves. Men no longer even preach the cross. Men preach themselves and being quite successful at it, they have become wealthy. And they have changed God’s church into a modern den of thieves.
We are called to speak out against such things and humbly reject it all. Ours is the gospel and its furtherance. But make no mistake, the New Testament is filled with warnings and castigations concerning false teachings and the charlatans that make a nice living from those deceived supporters. One day the Author and Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ will return to elicit accountability from all sides. And this time He will not be turning over a few wooden tables. This time He comes in a frightful wrath which will consume everything in its path which stands without the blood of the Lord Jesus. It is most impossible to imagine much less lay out in human words.
The term “rage against the machine” is usually meant to stand against secular institutions of war and hedonism. But I have expanded it to mean to stand against what man has done to the church. Until Jesus comes we must follow Him with brokenness and humility and sacrificial faithfulness, but we will also be called to stand against the living apostasy that still calls it self God’s church. We will faithfully rage against that machine.

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