Bad Leadership Lead to Judgment

Title: Bad Leadership Leads to Judgment
Text: Lamentations 2:14
Time: October 29th, 2014

 
As we look upon the landscape of our country and culture today with its sharp moral and spiritual decline we ask ourselves the question – how could this happen? How could our people fall so sharply morally and spiritually when there are churches that line the streets of our large cities, that dot the landscape in small towns and villages, and are even found often far out in the countryside. According to national polls nearly one-third of the population of the United States, or one hundred millions persons, claim to be born-again Christians; and an even larger amount claim Christianity in general. Yet at the same time when there are millions and millions of Christians and thousands and thousands of churches – some that have thousands or even tens of thousands of members – how can at the same time our nation decline so sharply morally and spiritually in the last decade or so? You’d think that with all the Christian churches and ministries and publishing houses and educational institutions and so-called para-church organizations, and so forth, you’d think that Christian moral and spiritual values would be flourishing. But it isn’t so. What can explain this lack of influence of Christianity? The best explanation is that the problem is due to lack of Christian leadership, or to put it more strongly, the problem is due to bad Christian leadership. We see the same problem in the Old Testament of the Bible among the ancient Jews during the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the people into Babylon. Jeremiah the prophet warned the Jews again and again to repent, to turn from their sins, to avoid the coming judgment of God. But they wouldn’t. Now after the fall of Jerusalem happened we read in Lamentations one of the main reasons why the nation fell and the people were exiled – because the prophets, the leaders, the teachers failed to warn the people of the coming judgment and failed to turn the people from their sins. Lamentations 2:14 says, “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.” Now by analyzing this verse we can learn something today for ourselves. We can learn from the ancient Jewish mistake. We don’t have to face God’s wrath and judgment for our national sins. We still have time to turn away from sin and turn back to God in order to avoid destruction. Our nation is definitely headed towards some kind of destruction because of our grave sins – to mention only two obvious sins – the murder of legalized abortion that’s been around for decades and the new sin of so-called gay marriage that’s sweeping the nation. I could list others, but these two qualify us for God’s judgment in and of themselves. We could avoid that judgment if we would but turn away from these sins, and in order to do that we need Christian leaders to start warning the people, because as of right now not many of them are warning people. If we can learn from the Old Testament example, if we can begin to do our duty, we just might be able to avoid God’s judgment upon the United States. Let’s look further at Lamentations 2:14 for answers.

First, we need leaders with the right vision and with the right teachings. Lamentations 2:14, “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless. . . . The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.” According to this verse Jerusalem fell and the Jews were exiled into Babylon because their leaders had the wrong vision for leadership and were teaching the wrong things. Well, what were the leaders and teachers doing that was so wrong? They were telling the people that everything would be alright, that there was nothing to worry about, that God would rescue them and defend and protect them from danger. In other words, the false prophets, teachers and leaders were being overly optimistic and irresponsibly positive towards a clear and present danger. They were falsely reassuring the people that all would be well. And the people wanted, of course, to hear this positive and encouraging message, and so the people believed the false prophets and false teachers and false leaders. But the people rejected the words of the true prophets like Jeremiah who was telling them that unless they repented and turned from their sins and returned to God they’d bring judgment upon their land. The people didn’t like that message, but they liked the message of the false prophet and the false leaders and the false teachers. What the ancient Jews needed was not just one or two true prophets who spoke the truth of God to the people, but they needed a whole army of true prophets to speak God’s Word to them. Instead, they had weak men who were more interested in being liked and popular with the people. They were more politicians than true leaders. These bad leaders first of all had a faulty vision of where it was they were supposed to lead the people. They thought they were supposed to make life comfortable for people. They thought they were to make people happy and encourage people to continue on with the status quo life. And so, consequently, they taught a message of comfortable religion that never talked about sin, never warned people of God’s judgment for sin, and never called people to repent. Well, sadly, we see the same comfortable religiosity preached from the pulpits of most churches on Sunday mornings today. Yes, that’s a very general statement, but the evidence backs it up. Most pastors today are loath to speak about sin, and if they do talk about sin, they are careful to not offend people by it. They rarely call people to repent of their sins. And so, we must conclude that as far as today’s Christian leadership, generally speaking, it acts a lot like the faulty leadership found in ancient Israel. It has a false vision of comfortable status quo living, and it has a false message of overly optimistic and positive spirituality. This gives people the false impression that all is well, or at least, nothing is critical spiritually or morally in our nation. But that false impression given today by most Christian leaders is leading people astray and towards destruction, just like it did among the ancient Jews.

Second, we need leaders who will preach sin correctly. Lamentations 2:14, “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin. . . .” Most Christian pastors, teachers and leaders don’t teach about sin very much, and even if they do teach about it a little, they don’t teach it correctly. They say they don’t want to offend people. And there’s no doubt that preaching and teaching about sin will offend people because we’re all sinners and so teaching about our number one problem, sin, will indeed offend. But it’s supposed to offend – and convict. But it won’t convict people properly to confess and repent of their sins if it’s not taught properly. Now the problem among the ancient Jews was that their prophets, their teachers, their leaders weren’t exposing the sins of the people for the very same reasons why pastors and teachers in our churches today, by and large, don’t expose the sins of people today – it offends people, it’s negative, it causes hard feelings, it makes people uncomfortable, and so forth. There are all kinds of reasons why the ancient teachers of the Jews didn’t properly teach the people about sin, and we can understand these reasons. But that’s no excuse for not teaching the people about sin. People need to hear what is right and wrong, they need to hear the moral boundaries explained, they need strong leaders and teachers to tell them the truth about sin instead of cowardly avoiding the subject out of fear of offense. Teachers and leaders and pastors today need to learn from the example of the ancient Jews – when you fail to teach sin properly you are hurting the people not helping them. Now by not teaching on sin, by not offending the people, the false teachers thought they were actually doing the right thing because they were supposedly “encouraging” the people instead of judging them. That’s what many teachers say today. Our nation is going through an abortion holocaust of millions of babies murdered each year but you’d never know that from going to the typical church on Sunday morning. We’re also going through a marriage moral meltdown with so-called “gay marriage” but again, you’d never get that from the average pastor’s message in church. It’s as if Christian leaders think that avoiding all this helps things. Hope for the best and don’t talk or teach about it. What we need is for every pastor, every Bible teacher, every denominational leader, every para-church minister and so forth to expose sin and call people to repentance. That’s what should happen, but it’s not what is happening. And we see the multiplication of sin occurring as a result. The Bible isn’t silent about sin, neither should the leaders of God’s people be silent either.

Third, we need leaders who will warn the people of coming judgment for sin. Lamentations 2:14, “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.” About the only thing that church leaders and teachers today avoid more than sin is in proclaiming the coming judgment of God. That’s exactly what the false prophets and false teachers did in ancient Israel, they didn’t warn the people about the judgment of God for sin. And again, we can perfectly understand why they didn’t talk about judgment because the reasons are the same for not talking about sin – it offends people, it causes hard feelings, it causes division among people. Sinners don’t like to be told they are sinners, and they especially don’t like to be threatened by divine judgment. So the false Jewish teachers, leaders and prophets avoided offending people by speaking of sin and they avoided talking about the wrath and judgment of God as well. In fact, they assured the people that God wouldn’t allow anything bad to happen? Sound familiar? It’s as if pastors, teachers and leaders today in most Christian churches take plays from the false prophets of Israel’s playbook, because they too avoided talking much about sin and hardly ever talk about divine judgment. They think it’s better to avoid negative and disturbing subjects. But they don’t realize that far from helping people, it’s greatly hurting them, because they aren’t being properly warned about the consequences for sin. That’s what the verse say, “They did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity.” That means the false teachers didn’t talk enough about sin to turn the people from their sins, and consequently wrath from God came upon them over their sins and the judgment of captivity and exile was the result. And so today, nice and polite pastors might think they are helping their flocks by not offending anyone on Sunday morning by not talking about negative subjects such as sin and judgment, but they are actually hurting people because of their neglect in teaching all of God’s Word properly. The Bible talks about sin, frequently, so too should pastors, teaches and church leaders. The Bible speaks of judgment often, so too should Christian leaders. It’s totally irresponsible to fail to warn people about sin and then simply let them head into judgment and destruction. If the pastors of churches had preached sin and judgment properly over the last few decades our nation wouldn’t be falling of a cliff today morally and spiritually. It all comes back to bad leadership, and the Christian church is full, I hate to say, of bad leaders, for failing to teach what God called them to teach.

We’re a long way down the road to divine judgment for sin. What should have been taught from thousands of pulpits in thousands of churches across this country for decades hasn’t been taught – and it’s still not being taught much even today. But even if all the pastors in all the churches were to suddenly begin to teach sin properly and warn the people of the coming judgment, that still might not be enough because of the long neglect in church leadership over the last few decades in our country. I don’t know if things can be turned around at this late hour or not. But we have an opportunity to at least get one thing right, one thing that is perhaps possible to do right at least so we can say we tried – and that is to preach sin properly in respect to so-called gay marriage and to threaten the people of this nation with divine wrath if we don’t stop it. We have such clear Bible examples as to what happens when homosexual sins go unchecked, because we have the example of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament. But even this example plus the many other teachings found in the Bible doesn’t seem to be enough for churches today to take a clear stand for biblical morality! There are even whole denominations that officially and publicly support homosexual so-called marriage! So in a growing number of cases the prophet voices that should be thundering against this sin are actually advocating in support of it! This goes beyond false prophecy, this enters the realm of the outright demonic. Why do we need the devil and demons when we have certain church denominations to do the devil’s work of promoting the sin of homosexual immorality? And otherwise faithful churches and denominations are busy playing it safe by keeping quiet and remaining silent so as not to offend people. But what we need is leaders who will not remain silent, but instead to teach people God’s Word concerning morality and immorality. We have mostly weak men filling leadership positions in the church today, but that needs to change. These times call for strong men who will call sin by its name and warn people to turn from their sins or else the judgment of God will come. If that message had been preached over the last few decades we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today. But it wasn’t preached. Like I said before, I don’t know if judgment and destruction can be avoided, but whether it can or not, we still need to be faithful to God and preach about sin and judgment. We have the example of ancient Israel here but will we be wise enough to learn from it? We’d better learn before it’s too late or else we’ll suffer the same destruction as they suffered. Let’s pray it doesn’t come to that. Let’s pray for good leaders to lead us back to following after God.

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