The Camel Owns the TentAn old Arab proverb.
One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. "Master," he said, "let me put my nose in your tent. It's cold and stormy out here." "By all means," said the Arab, "and welcome" as he turned over and went to sleep.
A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, "I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here." "Yes, you may put your forelegs within," said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.
Finally, the camel said, "May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do." "Yes, yes," said the Arab. "Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us." So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.
Not long ago the church was focused with the spreading of the gospel. Those who were born again in Jesus Christ had a distinct and exclusive kinship with each other, and they avoided being in lock step with those outside of Christ. As a new believer 37 years ago, I can still remember the feeling that I was not of this world. And in the gatherings, Christ was exalted and preached and we fellowshipped as the real body of Jesus Christ. It was something to experience back in those days.
I cannot identify the exact year it began to happen, but I think it started with the Moral Majority in the late seventies. It was about that time when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and others began to steer the church in a new direction. All of a sudden politics was introduced to the church as a viable means to change a culture. It was at that same time when bigger church buildings and relevant type services came into being. The entire focus of the church changed dramatically.
It was also during that time that the prosperity gospel came into prominence. Money and power were now embraced as the divine rights of believers. Humility ran for cover. Even the local churches that rejected the prosperity message were affected by it and by the culture of hedonism and capitalism. Church salaries soared, and the churches entered into unbiblical debt to secular institutions.
Churches began to feel their power through the voting booth and in politics in general. Preachers were asked to appear on talk shows to discuss the topics of the day which were political and moral issues. The entire mission of the church was compromised while at the same time the church was viewed as a powerful voting block. We allowed the political camel’s nose under the tent and within a decade the camel was completely in the tent and running it.
I am not one who sees a demon under every bush. But I do believe what has happened to the evangelical church is a direct result of demonic deception working in conjunction with the fallen flesh of believers. And upon further Scriptural investigation, we understand that those who attempt to change things by democracy and the power of organization, are not only blind to the lesson of Gideon, but they are actually working against the will of God. Look at Rev. chapter 17.
Here we see an outline of what will happen in the last days. There are shadows and metaphors to be sure, but God gives us a glimpse into the fallen machinations of man. And when we are dealing with prophecy, there can be no doubt that these things will come to pass. Man can never change what God has revealed in the future, and in fact, God also participates and directs the last days. Look at verse 17:
Rev.17:17 - For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
Do you not understand the implications of what God is saying here? Not only are the governments of man setting about to do their own will and to join together with each other, but God Himself has placed it in their hearts. That means that when the church moans and groans about a one world system, and how liberals are joining with other nations, they are kicking against what God Himself is doing - as if they can change it! The kings of the earth are actually divine pawns that ultimately will do the will of God. And yet the body of Christ seems to think they can change things by scolding and voting and informing.
The entire end time plan is unfolding before our very eyes, and instead of rejoicing at His coming and giving sacrificial effort to spread the gospel, the western church pays homage to the camel and goes about washing and stroking and grooming the very fallen camel that God is using to bring His prophetic promises to pass. We cannot change that fallen camel, but the gospel can change the hearts of men. We should not allow that camel to come under the tent of God’s kingdom and have us distracted from our calling.
The Lord does not want us to change the systems of this world, and in fact we cannot. And do not assume that God’s hands are tied when wicked men rule. Oh no, God will catch the wicked in their own snare. But here we are today still opening the tent to those systems, and being self convinced that democracy is somehow a divine instrument, we spend all kinds of time and energy attempting to sanctify a fallen camel. The camel is what it is, but it should have no place in the kingdom of God. And once his nose is allowed to poke underneath the tent, then his body will follow.
Once the church began to embrace nationalism and democracy and patriotism, it wasn’t long before it became a vicious idol which consumed the church and diluted the everlasting gospel. Once the church paid allegiance and homage to a nation, its allegiance to Christ was significantly diminished. And the camel of nationalism and democracy was given a place within the tent. A prominent place. And believers spoke about issues and politics and elections and politicians and economics rather than Jesus and His gospel. And preachers became conservative voices rather than gospel voices.
We cannot serve the Tent Master AND the camel. They are incompatible and completely at odds in every way. The camel is demanding and his yoke is a burden. He demands spectacular attention and money every two and four years. He demands organization and rallies and talk shows and every four years he speaks about the same things all over again. And this camel suggests that every election is the most important in history and unless the right person or people get elected the nation is doomed. Of course it is like warning people that unless the Titanic elects a different captain the ship will sink - but all the while the hull has already been ripped beyond repair and is sinking with relentless speed.
But our Master’s yoke is easy and light. His promises are not burdensome, and His love and grace are liberating. He does not cry for the repair of the Titanic’s hull, but He commands us to point people toward the Lifeboat. And every person who lends his money and effort and voice toward hull repairing, is one less voice pointing toward the Lifeboat. For now, the captain of this sinking ship is the god of this world. There will come a day when the Captain of our souls will step aboard and create a new vessel which will radiate His glory. But only He can do that.
Until then, our calling is souls and our message is the Lifeboat. You see, in the kingdom of our vessel, the Captain IS the Lifeboat. We need our Captain and not some earthly camel. Amen.