We are currently in a study in the life of Moses at church. It occurred to me that Pharaoh would have had a unique view of what is happening here. I wrote this for the church, but thought others might enjoy it.
Exodus 8:1 (NIV2011) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.
America is giving up on the corporate worship. I was Pharaoh in 1500BC, and I tried to stop worship. It didn’t work out so well. (Exodus 5-12)
When Gallup first measured church attendance in 1937, 73% of Americans went to church. That held steady for sixty years. Then the decline began. 2020 was the first year church membership dropped below 50%.
Then came COVID.
Depending on the survey, somewhere between 33 and 50 percent of regular church goers quit going during COVID. That means they quit both online and in person attendance.
The majority of Americans seem to be done with organized religion.
You don’t have any idea how dangerous this is.
Your God wants worship. Heaven is worship. If you will read the end of your Book, it is all about worship with people “from every tribe and language and people and nation ”. Rev 5:9-10. Heaven is all about community, fellowship, love. Hell, and I should know, is all about the individual. It is silent, alone, and empty.
When Moses came to see me, (Exodus 5-7), he said that The LORD wanted His people (my slaves) to go worship Him. Now, they could have done that in their homes. I couldn’t stop that. I didn’t really care if they did, I just wanted free labor. But Moses wanted them to worship together. As a body – something you now call The Church. That I could stop.
So I did.
And I paid for it.
My country was destroyed through 9 plagues. The crops were devastated. Our livestock dead. Our gods worthless. Except for one god.
The last plague Moses threatened if I didn’t let them go worship The LORD was “The Death of the Firstborn.” Moses even said my own son would die. This was a direct threat against me, against my claim to divinity, against the divinity of the House of Pharaoh. I had to say, “No, they cannot go worship.”
But your God is a jealous God.
They still got to leave. They plundered us and still left on time. As they went, they destroyed my army and drowned me in the Red Sea. Later they got instructions on how to worship from The LORD on Mt Sinai, and built a place to worship called The Tabernacle. Later they built a Temple. One wall still stands. It was all about worship.
They left and my son still died.
When God wants worship, it’s best not to get in His way.
Maybe you think institutional church isn’t even biblical. Well, your God has been insistent on group worship for at least 3500 years. Maybe you think organized religion isn’t biblical. Right. Have you read that other book Moses wrote called Leviticus? That’s a lot of organization. Really boring. And the New Testament, that has more writing about the work of Jesus through His church than it does about the work of Jesus through Jesus. Evidently church is biblical.
The thing I can’t wrap my head around is that I believe I was much more organized as King of Egypt than your God is in organizing His church. I had more control, more consistency, more power over my subjects even. And yet, my Egypt was destroyed by a bunch of slaves and their God—and your church remains and grows.
What is that word—inconceivable?
I would even say my Egypt was more perfect than your church. We created great cities and influenced the world. We were consistently cruel and self-promoting, progressive and successful. Your church across the world is a hodgepodge of inconsistent knuckleheads. “Hypocrites in transition” I believe your lead pastor has called the church—and himself. If there is any proof that a divine hand wants your worship, it is His use of ordinary imperfect churches like your own to bring it about. That God would use you is totally amazing. Surely, he had better options.
But He wants you. Go figure.
The main thing I see, while looking out from my personal Hell, is how like Egypt American Christianity can be. I was happy for the slaves to worship in their homes if they got their weekly work done. You are happy to worship in front of your TV, on your schedule, choosing the best speakers and band, while eating chocolate Pop Tarts and giving a tip online if you feel blessed. I would have been fine with that. Your LORD wasn’t.
God told Moses He wanted the people gathered. They understood that fellowship, community isn’t optional. Your God was willing to kill my livestock, my livelihood, my army, my son to make that happen. There must be something unique about the power of corporate worship.
When the New Testament started, your God gave you a description of what the new church was like in Acts 2:42-47. It included
⦁ Devotion to the apostles’ teaching
⦁ Breaking of bread – which needed others
⦁ Miracles through the Apostles – which needed others
⦁ Radical selling and giving to help others
⦁ Daily worship (before going to work? Or after?) at the temple and in homes
Your new “largest digital bible study resource in the world,” paid for by AnchorPoint Sign up by clicking here can probably be a huge help in learning more about the apostles’ teaching. It can help you with child raising and family devotions, financial management and bible study methods. But it isn’t corporate worship. Somehow listening to a podcast, as helpful as that is to gain information, isn’t equivalent to the worship that The LORD wanted from my slaves, or the early church.
It probably isn’t sufficient in and of itself for you either.
Is your church messed up? Sure. They all are. The members are messed up. The leadership is messed up. Masks, no masks, different political views, a band out of tune, a pastor that goes on so long you wonder if he knows how to land the plane. But God calls messed up people to worship Him together. He will kill for it. He knows you need each other. Probably now that you so often disagree with each other, you need each other more than ever.
Don’t follow my example. There’s hell to pay.
This Sunday—the final plague, the Death of the Firstborn. AND, the Ministry Fair with food. I hope you can join us,
3 Ways to Attend Church