Well, so friends, if you got a Bible, you can turn with me to Second Kings chapter 13. Let me kind of give you the plan here for this week and next week.

What we wanted to do today was to, in light of national events, we wanted to turn our worship into more of a lament today. So you’ve seen how we’ve tried to do that. We hope it’s a helpful guide to you in your own personal prayer life and guiding you through how to lament and think biblically about that. But there’s another thing I want to do this week. We’re going to in our time in the word, we’re just going to stay right where we’ve been. We’re going to keep going through Second Kings. We’ve been in first and second Kings and the theme of the text today, we’re going to cover five chapters. So it’s a big section, but it’s because it’s all one section together. The theme of that is the spiritual decline of Israel. So all the way down to there ceasing to exist. So we’re going to guide through that. The question that we’re going to ask is, how do we what are the indicators of spiritual decline in the life of Israel in this case, but then also in a national life and a personal individual life in our family lives, in our life as a church together? Just try to honestly reflect upon that let the Lord speak to us about where those things might be present in us? Then how we respond to them? How do we react to them, but I want to do something different next week, we’re going to take a break from our series, because it’s not lost upon me that we’ve been studying these books of the Bible, where at different moments, God has commanded some pretty significant acts of violence. I know I hear that you in different pockets talk about that, like, wow, how do we respond to that? How do we think about that, and I want to just take some time to help guide you in that next week, we see an act of violence like the one we saw this last week, and the one in Buffalo the week before that. Obviously, I don’t think it’s, I don’t think we’re sort of misaligned on this. We all go, that’s evil, that’s wicked. We grieve it, we call it what it is, and we condemn it. But then we’ve just studied these acts that God doesn’t even just condone, he commands, these acts of violence in the Old Testament. I just want to help you think through how do we condemn one, while on the other hand, look at God commanding another? What do we do with that? What do we make of that? My guess is that it might be helpful to you to have some understanding about how we are to think about those things, how we can say God would not condone one, but he actually commanded another in the scriptures, and why there’s a difference between what God might have commanded in the Old Testament and how he might, what he would do and commanded us to do and the New Testament context. So when I was thinking about that next week, Alright, fair enough. Okay. So that’s what we’re gonna do next week, when you spend some time on that, I just wanted to share that with you. So you could kind of be thinking about that, maybe prepare yourself a bit.

Today, we’re going to interact with Second Kings, chapter 13, through 17. As I said, the theme of this, these chapters, and I’m not going to be real linear with you today. So let me just warn you in advance, I’m not going to go 13, 14 15, I’m not going to kind of go through that way. What I want to do is treat the whole section like it’s one big thing, and what are the major themes of that, and the major themes, the spiritual decline of the nation of Israel, and the indicators of that decline? So here’s the way you could maybe think about it. How many of you have ever gotten on Web MD? because you had some symptoms going on? You wanted to figure out, you wanted to self diagnose? Right? To your doctor’s great chagrin? You did that because he’s like, please don’t self diagnose come to me, I’m a professional, I’m here to help you, I can help you see what those symptoms actually are, like, what’s underneath those symptoms? Right? Well, the scriptures are inviting us to not self diagnose spiritual decline, that the disease is spiritual decline, there are symptoms that point to it. The scriptures are here to help us see what it actually is that’s going on, in the heart of a person, or in the life of a nation. So I want to encourage you, as we think about application of this text, I want you to, I want to encourage you start with the smallest circle and move outward. As you think about how to apply this, the first smallest circle is your own individual self, to think about, are these indicators of spiritual decline present in my life, the broader circle is your family. Do you see the indicators of this kind of spiritual decline in the life of your family? If so, what should you do about it? What is your role within the family? And what is your place? What how would God have you respond to that? The broader circle after family would be our church life together? Do you see indicators? Do we see indicators of these of spiritual decline in our own spiritual life together? In our life groups in our worship together? Are these things present? If they are, how would God instruct us to change those things? We should never assume that we are always nailing it as a church right? Should always hold ourselves before the Lord and say, How would you correct us? Is there a word question here for us? Then lastly, what about our national life? How do these things apply? My guess is you’re going to see some of these indicators of spiritual decline of Israel. You are going to see some very clear parallels in our national life together, but I don’t want you to start.

There, I want you to start in that smallest possible circle. I want you to move outward as a way of applying it. These indicators of spiritual decline apply at every one of those levels, they apply to nations, they apply to individuals and everywhere in between. That’s what I want you to see today. So that’s our question, what are the symptoms of spiritual decline? I’m gonna give you a little bit of background, but broadly speaking, there, there are many that the Scripture speak to you, but these five chapters give us three, then they give specific manifestations of those three, and here they are, I’m just gonna give them to you upfront. The first is idolatry. When I say idolatry, I want to get beyond the cliche of idolatry that we sometimes think about. They had some metal statues they set up, I don’t do that I’m good. I want to help us think about what idolatry was the root of idolatry, what is it, but that’s the first indicator spiritual decline in the nation of Israel is idolatry. The second is moral confusion. By moral confusion, I don’t mean hey, I don’t know what right and wrong is, although that’s certainly present. It’s actually saying what is evil, I’m calling good. And what is good, I’m calling evil. It’s reversing the categories. That’s what I mean by moral confusion. So you’ll see the people of Israel be so morally confused, that they call evil things good and practice them. That’s number two, moral confusion. So idolatry, moral confusion. Then the third is a loss of godly leaders, a loss of godly leaders, when they when a guy leader goes from the scene, there’s no one that seems to be behind them to step in, and fill that gap and fill that void. Just think about the necessity of that in your family life. Think about the necessity of that in our church life together and think about the necessity of that in our nation. How important godly leadership is. So those are the three they’re going to be present. Now, can we do a little history just to play? Make sure we’re all we all get our context? Yes. You got to nod at me or something. Otherwise, I just won’t do it. Oh, yeah. All right, good, I was gonna do it either way, you didn’t really have a choice, I just want to make you feel good, like he did.

So we’re going to look at as we look at these five chapters, because we’re going to do, we’re gonna focus on chapter 13, and the end of chapter 14, and 15. And then 17. And here’s why 14 and 16. Deal with Judah, and we’re gonna focus on Israel. So you remember, we’re divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. This is the end of the northern kingdom, just what’s going to happen, the chapters that come after these, the end of the southern kingdom. So we’re going to focus on Judah later, even though there’s some fascinating stories and indicators of spiritual decline in Judah. In these chapters, I just I want us to, for the sake of focus, to focus on Israel today. So in chapter 13, we’re gonna find the stories of two kings, they’re gonna be very short, Jehoahaz and Joash. Then we’re going to find the story of the death of Elijah. If you remember, Elijah has been off the scene for a little while, there was a section of these books that focused on Elijah and Elijah and their ministries. We talked about how God was committed to raising up voices that would represent Him. The death of Elijah being recorded in these chapters is not just because that’s when it happened as a historical reality, it’s actually there to send a very important message. I’ll tell you what that message is, as we come to thinking about godly leadership. Then chapter in chapter 14, and through chapter 15, here’s where you’re going to notice we are going to run through some kings, man, I mean, he’s going to be king after king, king, I think. They’re each going to be described with like no more than three sentences, maybe four. And the message of the end of chapter 14 through chapter 15, is essentially none of these kings matter. They are inconsequential because they refuse to follow God. They are only the value of their life is to point to is to show to you how great the spiritual decline among the people of God is. So here’s the keys. We’re going to run through Jeroboam the second Zechariah Shallum, Menaham, Pekahiah, and Pekah, six of them all within a chapter. Right, and the point is, we’re just running through them, right? They get short shrift, and then the final king of the nation of Israel is a man named Hoshea, he again, gets very short attention. But he has the distinction of being the king on the throne when Israel ceases to exist as a nation in 722 BCE, and will not exist again as a nation state until 1947. AD. So think about that. It’s over 2000 years, where they do not exist as a nation. So here’s how the whole thing concludes, very succinctly chapter 17 Verse six, in the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Hola. And on the Haber, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the middies, and then there’s going to be a description in chapter in verse seven and following about their idolatry and why God did this. But I want you to get that in one verse, not two, not three, not five. In one verse. God takes the nation of Israel and says they’re done. It is over right now. Doesn’t mean God’s purposes for them are done doesn’t mean God is not still to this day at work among the people of Israel. But he brings the promise or the they’re living in the land that God had promised to Abraham to an end at this moment, and they will cease to exist as a nation for a long time. Now, here’s the here’s the thing, these chapters are really all about I said, spiritual decline, but a spiritual decline as a result of one thing, one phrase, and this, I just want this to be burned into your brain, if I can, covenant breaking.

All of this results, all of this spiritual decline. The indicators, we talked about idolatry, moral confusion, lack of godly leaders, or loss of God leaves, it’s all those are all symptoms of spiritual decline, which are the result of breaking covenant with God. Now, here’s what you need to understand. I’m going to try and do a very broad thing here in a very short way, and you’re not going to get it all okay? But here’s what I want to give you. God establish a covenant with the nation of Israel. All right. Now, when we think about the scriptures, we think about it in two pieces, two covenants, but they’re probably not the ones you think of right. We talked about a covenant of works that existed in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 it was Adam and Eve under a covenant of works. Then beginning in Genesis 3, the covenant of grace begins. Then he administers that covenant of grace God because he’s made a promise of redemption and salvation that would always be through faith, salvation, from Old Testament to new is always by faith never by works, you hear me, always by faith, never by works, always a result of grace. So when we see what we call the Old Covenant, which is Moses, being given the law by God, that is a law being given by grace not to save the people, by their keeping the law, but to show them their need for grace, so that they would then be saved by faith. So here’s what happens. God makes a covenant with a man named Abraham. It’s a covenant to make a people from him, the nation of Israel, and ultimately, finally a redeemed people from every nation. A promise to give that net physical nation Israel, a land a place that’s in Genesis 12, and Genesis 15. Then he administers that covenant to Abraham, through another covenant. That’s the one we call the Old Covenant the covenant gives with Moses at Sinai, which is the giving of the law. that law exists to show the nations what God is like to show Israel how to live, but ultimately show them their need for a Savior, someone to keep the love for them, because they would never be able to keep it that was always God’s design, and always his plan. So the covenants, Abraham is not nullified. Paul says in Romans and in Galatians. It’s not nullified by the giving of the law. That’s an administering of his covenant to Abraham. Does you follow so far? Yes. Okay. So he’s administering that covenant through the giving of the law. Now, Israel needs to live within that law, a covenant is always divinely initiated, meaning God is the one who establishes he brings it, we don’t approach him and say, I want to make a covenant with you, God, he approaches us and says, I will make a covenant with you. There is no covenant that is human initiated between people and God. Yes, God is the one who initiates covenants always come with promises. They always come with requirements. What we’re gonna see is that Israel again and again, fails to live the requirements of the covenant that they have, through Moses with God. So they’re breaking those, they’re breaking that covenant. But all of this is going to point us to a final new covenant. We’ll get to that, because that’s where all our hope is going to be at the end of all this, okay, so I just whet your whistle a little bit there. All right, for that new covenant to come, and how it’s going to be the great hope that we have. God is going to call his people through the prophets for 200 years, the nation of Israel is going to be called to repentance, lest we think God is just going off sort of half cocked and going on, you know, look, I’m done with you people. He sins prophet after prophet for hundreds of years saying to them, Repent, turn around, stop doing what you’re doing. And they at every turn, ignore him until he finally brings them to dissolution, as a nation in this moment that we just ran. So within all that, the thing that you need to save and friends, if you didn’t follow all that, it’s okay. Here’s what you need to grab hold of the people of Israel keep breaking the covenant. That is what is leading to the spiritual decline that eventually leads to God removing them from the land that he had promised to give to them. Right now.

Let’s take a look at each one of those things. Idolatry, moral confusion. And then finally, what was the last one? Last forgotten leaders? Were close. You just didn’t want to say it. That’s what I’m gonna believe right now. I just did I make your head spin with all the kids. But it stuff? Yeah, a little bit. Okay? No, it’s okay. So let’s look together. Okay, now here’s what I want you to here’s what I do with my kids. We read the scriptures at night. When we read them, I often will say to you, I want you to listen for the thing that gets repeated in this passage, because I’m trying to teach them to look for the main idea in any section of scripture that we read together. But bedtime is real fun in our house. All right.
So we’re looking for the theme. So I want you to tell me, I’m going to move through the text here, I’m going to highlight some verses and I want you to tell me what the repeating phrase is on the other end of this. So chapter 13, verses one and two now. All right, first sign of spiritual decline is idolatry. Chapter 13, one and two, in the 23rd, year of Joash, the son of a Uzziah, king of Judah, Jehovah has the son of Jay who began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned 17 years, he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of a bat, which he made Israel to sin, He did not depart from them. Okay, go down to verse 10. Now, just couple verses later, chapter 13, verses 10 and 11. In the 37th, year of Joash, king of Judah jehoash, the son of Joe has began to reign over Israel and Samaria, and he reigned 16 years, he also did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam, the son of the bat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them. Okay, flip over one page, go to chapter 14, verses 23 and 24. In the 15th, year of Amaziah, the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned 41 years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam, the son of the Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. Alright, pop quiz times, not a pop quiz, because I told you in advance. What is the repeating phrase, there’s actually two, what are the repeating phrases? He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. That’s the first repeating phrase, we’re going to talk about that one second. This firt. The second repeating phrase is, he did not depart from the sins of who Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that was on your baby name list take it off, right? Jeroboam, he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam which he caused the people to sin. Now, if you’ve been reading right following along, and one of the things you recognize is, why is that phrase repeated, by the way, I read it to you three times, guess how many times it’s repeated in these five chapters, seven times. Seven of the kings have that exact phrase spoken about them, he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son from the Nebat. Why is God repeating that phrase for us? It might be because he wants us to learn something from it. The sin of Jeroboam, the sins are many, but the chief sin is idolatry. If you remember, when Jeroboam came to the throne of the northern kingdom, he’s the first king of Israel, when the kingdom divides into southern and northern, right Rehoboam is on the southern throne. Jeroboam is on the northern throne. It says he’s worried about the people in the North, returning to the south, to the temple to worship God, because that’s what the law told them to do, to go and worship in that place and make their sacrifices in that place. He doesn’t want that to happen, because he thinks they’ll return to Rehoboam and become let him be their king and reunite the kingdom. So what does he do, he makes two golden calves, and he sets them up in the northern parts of Israel. He says, this is where we’re going to worship. In other words, he makes what church idols. So this when he says they didn’t depart from the sins of Jeroboam, what he’s saying is, every single one of these kings led the people into idolatry. They practice it themselves. They encourage the people to practice it. Not a single one of them ever said, You know what, we should worship Yahweh, we should worship the God who actually exists. Rather, they all said, we will continue to worship idols, every single one. So that’s the thing that’s being condemned here. Now, that’s the phrase that gets repeated and it is the most important phrase along with the first one that we all noted which we’re going to come to in a minute. But all of these things can all of these kings continue to lead the people in idolatry. Now. This is the most important thing to grasp from the text because idolatry is the first and greatest indicator of spiritual decline. The question Why should come to mind and here’s why. It is the most egregious and it is the root of all the other indicators of spiritual decline. It’s the most egregious because idolatry is not just setting up a golden statue and worshiping it. Idolatry is spiritual adultery. It’s giving the first place in your heart to someone other than God. You hear me, it’s giving the first place of affection and commitment in your heart to something or someone might be a philosophy might be a statue, might be a hobby, might be a relationship, it is giving the first place of affection and commitment of the will to someone or something other than God. That makes it spiritual adultery because a covenant breaking a covenant is not just breaking a legally binding agreement. It is changing your relationship position to someone. When the people commit idolatry, they are saying, we forsake our relationship with you God in favor relationship with this idol with this thing. Friends, when you and I commit idolatry, it’s probably for most of us not because we set up a statue in our bedroom to worship. That still happens today. But probably few of us in a western context do that. It’s probably because we have given first place in our affections to someone other than God or something other than God. As adultery against God, it is the equivalent of cheating on our spouse. And saying, I’m going to give myself to this other person with whom I do not have a covenant, I’m going to establish intimacy with them. Now, the reason that idolatry is also the chief indicator of spiritual decline is not just because it’s the most egregious, but also because it’s the root of all the others because once you reposition your heart towards something having first place in it, that is not God, you become unable to rightly discern all other activities going forward, or all other motions or pathways forward, everything else becomes deformed. Does that make sense? Once the position of your heart towards God is ill located, then it becomes impossible, you might get every once in a while hit upon a right action. But ultimately, all these other ones went to look at the moral confusion. When we look at the loss of God, and leisure, they all result from idolatry. They all stem from that. That’s the first place that’s impacted. Now, I think Tim Keller is really helpful on this in a modern context. What he shares with us, I think, is very helpful when he says, The idols are very rarely evil things that we exalt in our life, they are almost always good things that we turn into ultimate things. They are good things like kids, spouses, jobs, hobbies that are wonderful and enjoyable, that take a place of ultimate for us, we look to them for our peace or satisfaction or security. One of the things that you’ll notice, it’s really odd about Israel as they go through these moments. They keep worshipping these idols, God protects them, and then they worship the idols of the people they defeated. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s God’s way of saying this is nonsensical. They’re completely confused. So the nations continue. The reason they do it is because they’re scrambling to look for someone to protect them, keep them safe, and give them a sense of meaning and direction in life. They keep turning to these false gods. The reason they do it ultimately, is because they want to do what they want to do. To set an idol on the throne of our hearts is usually because we want to be in control, we want to worship ourselves. Therefore, we put an idol that we can remake in our own image that can justify our own actions and our own behaviors on the throne of our hearts now. Thought about this long and hard. Because, you know, again, think about our individual lives, or our church life, our family lives, our national life together. You know, I could get up here and I could go, here’s some of the things that I think are idols in our national life together. But my guess is that what would happen is, you’d really be frustrated that I didn’t mention one you want me to mention, or you’d be really happy that I didn’t mention one because you would think now I’m off the hook. So I’m not going to make a list of idols for you. I want to give you two questions. Here’s the question. What if it were I guess it’s one question with two parts? What if it were taken from you today? would cause you to respond with either complete deaths, despair, desperation? or cause you to respond with absolute violent anger? What would cause and evoke an immense anger from you? What would cause you to be in complete despair? That’s usually a good indicator that good thing might be becoming an ultimate thing. Is that a fair question? Okay. The reason it’s so important to recognize our idols and our hearts This is another kellerism if you will our idle factories, they manufacture idols one after another after another. So the ability to recognize when those good things are becoming ultimate things taking first position in our heart, and not being utilized for the purposes to which God gave them, for which he gave them to us, the reason we have to recognize these things is because they are the root of spiritual decline. We don’t want spiritual decline. Fair enough. Yes. Can I just say, before we move on to moral confusion, you’re never going to be done identifying and rooting out idols, you’re never on this side of heaven going to be done. Because if your hearts are idle factories, you can get rid of one and another one is going to another temptation to make something and it is going to come right in. Right? It’s hard to identify, because kids are always the easiest example to me, it’s right and good that I would love my kids, I want to protect my kids. Then I would actually get angry. If someone sought to harm my kids. That would be right. Would we all agree that’s just and good and righteous, and yet it is possible for my kids to first place in my heart. If they do, so they become an idol. They themselves this wonderful gift from the Lord can become that idol. It’s difficult to discern, and we have to be constantly vigilant at this root of spiritual decline.

So let’s move to the second indicator, again in this text, and it’s moral confusion. As I said, I don’t mean I’m confused. I don’t know the pathway forward, although that occurs, I mean, calling good evil and evil good. Now, it seems obvious why that would occur if we’ve already given ourselves to idolatry, as we said, the root of these things, because once you are there becomes very hard to discern right and wrong. Now let’s go back to the first phrase that you all identified, right? So our theme in the text, these verses, if we only had these verses, we would be able to really identify what these passages are all about. The second phrase was they didn’t depart from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of the Nebat, which he caused the people to sin, the first phrase was they did what was in the sight of the Lord. That phrase teaches us two things. The first is that there is such a thing as evil, and God is not afraid to call it that. God is not confused morally, he does not hem and haw, he does not lack for knowledge, to understand whether something is good and right. And he does not go well. You know, in this circumstance, I guess maybe for them, it’s okay. Well, for them, it wouldn’t be okay. God is not morally confused. So when he says he did what was evil, he makes it very clear that that is there is such a thing as that. Then the second thing is that he very clearly says, in a beautiful way actually says, I’m the one who determines what fits in what category. The second, you look away from me and start trying to figure it out on your own, you’re going to get confused. You’re at an individual life and at a national life, a nation that looks away from God’s definition of what is good and right, and starts to call things he doesn’t call good and right, good and right, and vice versa, is going to become very confused and not be able to discern right from wrong for very long. That’s true for us as individuals and as true in our families. Now, listen, here’s what he’s saying, in this beautiful way. All that matters about your actions and my actions, your thoughts, and my thoughts are what God thinks about them. When God looks at them, does he see evil? Or does he see righteousness? They did? What was evil in my what site? There was, I looked at it and when I looked at it, here’s what I saw. His gaze, his viewpoint, his vantage point, is the one that matters. What does he say? What does he declare, that’s what he’s trying to teach us with that phrase being repeated over and over and over again to say, Lord, I hold up my actions and my life and my heart and my, my thoughts to you. You tell me if they are right and good in your eyes, or if they are wicked, and evil, you show me. That’s the second thing that we see here. So let me give it some examples then of this moral confusion that the text highlights all right. So it’s a broad category. There are multiple expressions in this text, right? Chapter 15, verse 13, through 16. So remember, chapter 13, we run through a couple kings. Elijah dies, we’re gonna come back to that. But we also have chapter 15, which is this just like we run through the Kings really fast? Look at just look at verse 16, Chapter 15, verse 16, Menachem has come to the throne. Here’s what happens at the end says, At that time, so Menachem is over are throwing the king before him shall loom. Then it says at that time he sacked Tiffa. and all who were in it and its territory from tourism on, those are locations within Israel. So what Menachem is doing is he’s trying to take the kingdom by force, and these people that he wants to rule, look at what he does to them. It says because they did not open it to him. In other words, the cities resisted his rule. Therefore, he sacked it, and he ripped open all the women in it who were pregnant. Now, this is what he’s willing to do to the people he wants to rule. Do you see the evil of that? Do you see the wickedness of it? In Judah at the same time, they are sacrificing their children on altars of fire to false gods. One of the major themes of moral confusion in a nation and a people in my own life is when I don’t value human life, all human life from womb conception to death, is made in the image of God. All of it is precious, every single one, and care for those lives, whether they be in the womb, or whether they be 95 years old. Care for those lives, dignity offered to those lives is a mandate from the Word of God. It’s not optional. The reason is, because when we get morally confused, we start to figure out ways to devalue lives that aren’t like mine, because their color skin is different, or lives that aren’t like mine, because they, they’re inconvenient to my plans. moral clarity always values human life made in the image of God, always. Some moral confusion in the nation of Israel looks like ceasing to value human life. We’re going to see that in numerous ways. That’s just one where this king is coming to the throne. Here’s another indicator of moral confusion is not just failing to value human life. The second moral confusion is seeing mercy as affirmation. Let me tell you what I mean by that, I’m not going to read this part to you. But at the end of chapter 14, Jeroboam the second, his name already does not bode well for him. Right, he comes to the throne, he’s every bit as wicked as Jeroboam the first, and Jeroboam the second comes to the throne, and God does something remarkable. In chapter 14, verses 23 through 27, God says, he is evil. And then the very next sentence, he says, but because he wanted to show mercy to the nation of Israel, He blessed them and cause them to thrive. It’s the last moment of thriving in the history of the country. Last moment until they’re, they’re gone in 722 BC. There’s this moment of economic thriving, and, and foreign affairs thriving. You would think this doesn’t make any sense. You just said they’re evil. Yet now there’s this just huge manifestation at a national level of your mercy towards them, to bless them. Why would you do that? Because God is overwhelmingly merciful. He is deeply merciful. Now, here’s the mistake that gets made, though, is that in those moments, sometimes, God in his infinite mercy will bless us in spite of our wickedness, in spite of our actions, he may do that for a nation, he may do it for an individual, the mistake we make is when we don’t measure our actions against God’s righteous standard. We end up saying, Oh, I must be doing right. Because God is blessing me and good things are happening in my life, good things happening in your life may just be the mercy of God in spite of your wickedness, rather than an indicator that you are doing what is right, which is why moral clarity is needed, about what is right and what is wrong. Because there are times we’re living, and this is very true. There are certainly moments we’re living in righteousness, and doing, according to God’s standard does lead to thriving and blessing. Yes, it absolutely does. But it’s not as simple as just saying, Those who do what’s right, always get good things, and those who do what’s wrong, always get bad things. The Scripture is very clear that that does not always happen. So being able to have that moral clarity. And the last, I’m just going to point to this one and then I want to move on to the loss of godly leaders. The prophets that still exist in the land in this moment, the last few prophets in the nation of Israel are Hosea and Amos. So if you read those two biblical books, you’re reading about this moment in history, when you read them. Hosea is focused on the idolatry, the spiritual adultery of the people. In fact, God has him live that out in his life with his own spouse. It’s supposed to be a picture of visual picture of the adultery of the people against God, Hosea and his marriage to a woman named Gomer. Right? If Hosea is focused on that side of the nation of Israel, what’s going wrong? Amos is focused on the other side of the coin. He’s focused on their moral confusion, their moral, lack of clarity. He spends time condemning the nation and saying, Turn around and repent, because you are doing what is wicked. If you want this afternoon, you can go read Amos, chapter two, Amos, chapter two, Amos identifies for the nation, several things that he says this is how morally confused you are. Says you oppress the needy, you ignore the poor. You Your worship is disordered, and your sexuality is disordered. Those are the four things he highlights in Amos chapter two and says you want to know that you’re morally confused as a nation, let me show you you don’t care about the poor, you make it harder on those who are already oppressed, make things more difficult for them not seek to raise them up, you are sexually confused, and you are confused in the way that you worship. Those are the four things you always do those things sound familiar at all. Again, we are not Israel. As a nation, we are not God’s chosen people. We are a nation God has used like he’s used other nations throughout the course of his telling of history, praise God for that. But you want to if you want to indicate a spiritual client, there they are. Amos is very clear. Let God’s word speak to us. Do we find those in our own lives? In our families, we find it in our church.

Let’s talk about the last indicator of spiritual decline, loss of godly leaders. So Elijah is death is the story of that is told in chapter 13. And for the second time, I’m going to summarize it for you okay. But it’s a fascinating story. It’s there for one very specific reason, not just because this is when it took place, but because he’s making a point. The point is this. When Elijah goes, the last powerful God the leader is going. In other words, Elijah and Elijah were in the story to show us that in spite of these wicked kings, God was raising up voices and saying, No, I’m going to put a godly man here in a position of authority, so that he’s continuing to speak the truth. Even though Amos and Hosea, yes, they come, none will be what Elijah and Elijah were, none will have the power of Elijah and Elijah. So there is a loss of God of a godly leader, and there’s no one to replace him. That’s the message. The story is really fascinating, because Elijah is interacting with the king at the time, and Syria is attacking, and he gives them a command. He says, Go and he, they know he’s sick, Elijah sick, and then he’s going to die. Like Elijah goes up to heaven and chariots of fire. But Elijah dies just like the rest of us, he gets sick, and he dies. When he gets sick and he dies, the King comes and actually professes man, you are the very he calls him the chariots and the Horsemen of Israel, what he means by that is you are God’s power demonstrated into our nation. Right. He says, I want you to go out and and strike these arrows against the ground. When you do, you know, that’s, that’s how many times you’re going to strike down the nation of Syria when they come and attack you. So he strikes it three times, and he says, you’ll defeat him three times, you should have struck the ground six times even more. In other words, the king doesn’t really have a sense of how to operate. He needs Elijah to show him and Elijah is about to leave. Then in an even weirder, kind of more fascinating moment. Elijah is dead, he is buried, there are Raiders coming. There’s somebody else having a funeral afterlife since death. I don’t know why I like his grave is open, but for some reason it is they throw the body in a rushed way, in order to not have these raiders come and kill them. They throw this guy’s body into a place his grave and they run away. When the body hits the grave, it jumps back up out of the grave alive. You probably have not encountered that at the last funeral you’re at. The point of those two stories is not just like, well, that’s a weird story, right? It’s meant to show you that the power of God that was on Elijah is departing from the people of Israel. There was a godly leader in place and now he’s gone. There is no one to replace him. Then we get into that. That’s chapter 13. Then remember what I told you about 14 and 15. It’s just bad king, bad king, bad king, bad king, bad king. With no power, no capability, no discernment, no moral clarity. So the point of that story, and the point of by the way, the way they tell the transition from one king to the next is by the end of Israel, there is no longer this man rained, and then he died a natural death. Then his son reigned after him. That’s kind of the normal succession or succession plan. By the time you get to the end of Israel, every single King is turned over by intrigue, conspiracy and assassination. Every single one so There’s no transitions of power from one guy to the leader to the next. No peaceable transition of power. It’s just conspiracy upon conspiracy upon conspiracy. Somebody is struck down, somebody else usurps their authority comes into their place. They last a little while, and then someone usurps them just one after another after another. Would you say that’s an indicator of a loss of godly leadership? Yeah, it is. So that’s what we see again and again. So friends, here’s the question for us as a church, not just at a national level, not just at an individual level, at a family level, let me say, husbands and fathers, this is a challenge to you. This is a challenge to us, are we raising up a next generation of godly and let me say that the older we get, the more we tend to bemoan that there aren’t godly leaders coming behind us whose fault is that? We tend to miss the fact that that’s on us. We have to raise up another generation of God fearing young men and women. When a church finds a lack and a void of godly leadership within its midst, it’s an indicator of spiritual decline. When you find it in your families, it’s an indicator of spiritual decline, we find the international life. It’s an indicator of spiritual decline. It is not a small thing, to look around and not be able to find godly leaders. That is a large thing. It is a dangerous thing. Because it is a symptom of a disease that destroys you understand. Now, let’s conclude with this. What do we do? What do we do? Because here’s the thing, I think if we’re honest, and I just listed those three indicators of spiritual decline, and that covenant breaking the nation of Israel is doing you and I might recognize that we have a covenant with God, and yet we do those things. We tie our hearts to things we shouldn’t tie them to, and not for his sake. We find ourselves at points, perhaps, calling things that are good, evil and evil, good, we might find ourselves confused. We might find a lack of God’s leader. If we do, then what guarantee do we have that God will not need to remove us the way he removed Israel? Right now again, if you take the full story, full circle all the way to the end, we see that God still has plans for Israel Praise God. But his reason for making a covenant with with Israel was always not about national Israel, it was always about creating an international people called the church. That would be his people, true spiritual Israel, Jews and Gentiles together in the church, and he establishes a new covenant with us. Here’s the distinction between the New Covenant and the old. Here’s the assurance that Israel has been called to repent, repent, repent, and so are you and I were these indicators of spiritual decline are present were called to repentance. That’s the only right response. It’s not figured out human ways to avoid the decline. There is no other answer other than repentance. That’s the only answer. So how are we led to it? They kept getting all these threats and eventually had to be dissolved, and they never repented? What guarantee would I have that I would repent? I’m no better than them. Here’s the answer of what actually can work actually lead you to repentance. It’s the way the New Covenant is set up, praise God. Because what he has done in establishing the new covenant is not said, You need to obey me, in order to fulfill the requirements of the covenant. He has said, I have both established the covenant with you, I’ve divinely initiated it by sending my son. Then I have fulfilled the requirements of it as well. Every covenant comes with requirements, we have not filled fulfill those requirements. But we know one who has the new covenant is different, because it’s not a covenant given instead live out the tenants of this covenant. The requirement of the new covenant is faith. Faith. Why? Because Jesus has not only initiated the covenant, he has kept the requirements of it for us. That’s why he will not dissolve us. It’s why the church will never be replaced. It’s why he will never send us into exile or dissolve us as He did the nation of Israel because he has always been aiming to establish this group of people. In establishing them. He’s brought forth the only thing that actually works, not repentance under the threat of harm. But repentance that is brought forth based upon the knowledge of what’s already been done, and which cannot be lost. Does that make sense? We walk in repentance when we see the indicators the symptoms of spiritual decline, not because of a threat of being left by God. but because of a guarantee of what’s already been given to us and cannot be taken from us, because Jesus has met every requirement, he is the perfect fulfillment of the covenant that God has made with us. All our hope is in His righteousness, his perfect obedience, and his perfect establishment of the new covenant that we have in his blood with the Father, praise God. That’s why it will never be like it was with Israel for us. He will bring us home. Now, our right response is not good. I don’t need to worry about repentance. No, our right response is repent, repent, when there is any one of the symptoms of spiritual decline. Hold up before the Lord. Call out for his mercy. Here’s the thing, it’s there waiting for you. Right, you guys are gracious. I’m going to pray. In fact, let’s do this. Let’s stand together. I know we would normally sing a closing song. But we’re at 12:01. Five chapters take a little while. You guys are patient. You’re gracious. Thank you. Thank you worship team for giving me grace on that. Let me pray over you. Let me say to the our prayer team is here. If you just find yourself in need of lamenting together, if you find yourself in need of care, that’s what they’re here for. We want to pray with you. Send you today in the power of the Holy Spirit. So now receive the benediction. Where Jesus, we thank you for the examination of your word, we pray that You would take it in the power of your Holy Spirit and apply it into our hearts and lives in each specific place where it’s needed. Pray that you would help us to be yielded to you. Open handed towards you. Thank you for your word. I pray now that as your people go, they would go in the power of your Spirit. They would go in the joy of their salvation. That they would go in rest in the knowledge that they have a covenant with you. It’s one that you have kept. To covenant you will never break because you’ve established it in the righteousness of Your Son Father. It’s more fuel for worship for him how great he is. What mercy you have shown me the right response of our heart be to lay down sin and take up righteousness and walk in it every day more and more and more so that you get all glory King Jesus for you, all glory for you. We ask it in your mighty name.

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