THIEVES IN THE SANCTUARY

 
“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed.” (Jer. 2:26a)
 
“As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather.” (Prov. 25:20)
 
“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Prov. 22:28)
 
Most people have had some encounter either directly or indirectly with thieves during a normal lifetime.   Everyone is familiar with the daily feature known as the weather forecast.   Low pressure systems may indicate a gathering storm, while a cold front moving down from the Arctic could indicate killing frost or blizzard conditions.   Chilling winds sweeping over some polar icecap might presage the coming of winter.   Sometimes huge mountains of ice, break away and drift with the ocean currents into the shipping lanes, where they endanger shipping.   We are all familiar with the mighty Titanic that struck an iceberg in 1912 and sank with tragic loss of life.   A “gaping hole” three hundred feet long…below the water line, resulted when the Titanic, which scientists pronounced unsinkable, struck the iceberg on her maiden voyage and in a little more than two hours plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic.
 
Everyone would be disturbed if there was an organized attempt to destroy all the survey marks which indicate property ownership.   A wave of indignation would be heard if there was any suggestion about doing away with all navigation aids, all warning buoys and life boats.   Imagine the chaos there would be on our highways if we were suddenly left without any regulation governing traffic or warnings for railway crossings.   Would we permit anyone to tamper with the labels in our medicine cabinet or pollute the drinking water of the atmosphere?   Not even godless Russia will go so far as to ignore the pollution of atmospheric contamination.
 
But in the spiritual realm, where eternity bound souls are at stake, something more dire and dreadful is taking place.   Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, there have been periodic “cold waves” sweeping over the world from the “frigid ice fields” of unbelief.   The effect has numbed the conscience of many in regard to evil and sin.   Multitudes have died without discovering the warmth of the love of God.   Many a mariner on the sea of life has made shipwreck on the merciless icebergs of immorality, doubt, evil habits and materialism.   There are many unpunished robbers that would take away a garment in the cold.   The drink traffic has done so---times without number.   Drink has taken the clothes from the backs of infants and has taken the food from the mouths of children.   Drink has robbed many a man of his honor and many a woman of her virtue.   Drink is a thief that has robbed people of their good judgment, while in charge of a car and has precipitated uncounted tragic deaths with horrible suffering.   But we expect gambling, drugs and liquor to rob people.   It’s natural. 
 
A still greater tragedy is: to discover thieves operating within the sanctuary itself.   Today a far more subtle stealth is going on.   Jeremiah says, “As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed…But where are the gods that thou hast made thee?   Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble…”  Jer. 2:26a, 28a.   A bone chilling wave of unbelief is emanating from many of the organized churches today and their members have been robbed of their garments of salvation and exposed to the icy blasts of unbelief.   A new curriculum has been introduced that attributes the creation story to a myth, the miracles of the Bible to folklore and the Word of God to the level of Shakespeare or Milton.   Thieves are at work in the sanctuary, pilfering the promises of God of their efficacy; they are stealing the heirlooms of the Virgin Birth and the Deity of Christ from their glorious sacred shrines in the hearts and minds of believers; they are robbing the Bible of its miraculous inspiration and Divine authority.   It’s time a host of Jeremiahs apprehended them and confronted them with the challenge, “But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee?   Let them arise IF THEY CAN SAVE THEE in the time of trouble…”   Science is NOT A SAVIOUR.
 
The spiritual world today is threatened with another ice age of unbelief.   Ice chilling effect is seen in the words of Christ, “Because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold.”   Consciences are numbed and coldness of heart has slowed down the missionary zeal of the average church member.   Minds are not alert to the dangers of icebergs drifting into the traffic lanes of the ocean of life.   Historic landmarks erected by our forefathers to warn us of pitfalls have been obliterated and ignored.   Labels on fleshly actions once called sin have been changed.   The truth contained in the new approach to godliness is like pouring a cup of boiling water into the Artic Ocean to warm it.   It’s ineffective, too little and too late.   Churches, having lost their convictions and goals are merging to save themselves rather than to save the world.   The bleak barren tundras of the average orthodox church, support little evidence of spiritual life.   They are taking our garments away in the cold.
 
God’s plan of salvation offers a new creation, not a new curriculum.   He didn’t offer us a “new patch” for our old garment, but a new robe composed of righteousness.   Nor did God suggest a new leaf for a remedy, but instead He gives us new life.    We’re not saved by Science, but by the Saviour.   Calling a rattle snake a lizard doesn’t make its fangs less deadly.   Learning to drink wisely doesn’t insure us of the WILL to drink wisely.
 
Normally, thieves work by stealth under cover of darkness.   They are criminals who are sought and apprehended for the court to determine the penalty they deserve.   Thieves often work in the sanctuary furtively and suavely, stealing the precious jewels of God’s Word and often replacing them with fake jewels that have no value.   Men have profaned God’s temple; they have polluted and defiled it.   Let’s drive the thieves out of the temple and make God’s house the house of prayer it ought to be.
 
God is the great provider.   Adam and Eve improvised a covering for their shame, but God provided a garment.   Cain improvised an offering to God, but Abel came with an acceptable sacrifice.   An argument followed in which we can surmise Cain saying his offering was as good as Abel’s sacrifice.    His voice became louder and more menacing as he became more aggressive and threatening.   Finally, rage dethroned his reason, and in a fit of passion he dealt a mortal blow to his unprotected brother.   Conscience smitten, he sought to flee, but God said, “the blood of Abel had found a voice that cried to Him from the ground.” (Knox trans)   The world had plummeted from the sunshine of God’s love to the long winter night of evil.   The WAY of Cain became the pattern for the way of the unbeliever and the shattered derelicts of their shipwrecks are strewn across the sea of Time.   They are mute evidence of the futility of trying to chart our own course to eternity amidst the rocks and shoals of indifference, unbelief and ignorance.
 
This world has never been hospitable to the gospel of God’s grace.   Jesus was born in a manger and died outside the “holy” City.   Paul suffered the loss of all things for Christ’s sake.   Often the greatest persecution of the followers of Christ, has come from the representative of orthodox religion.   Religious thieves today would rob us of our hope of immortality and callously sanctify unbelief.   But what are these gods doing to save the world from hell, or change the mounting strangle hold of evil.   “Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of trouble…”   Where are the ancient landmarks, which our father’s established?   Where is the garment that God provided to clothe His children and protect them from spiritual death by exposure to the elements of this world?
   

 

 

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