God will abandon us for a number of reasons, and Apostasy is one of them. What exactly does Apostasy mean?
Dictionaty.com says it means: a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.
Wikipedia says: is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person.
In simple terms, it means abandoning God. And when we abandon God, God will abandon us. Now let’s be clear here, this is nothing new and it has being going on since before Moses was a boy. Hear what the Psalmist had to say about it, from Psalm 74:9-11
“We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!”
Probably written during a period of exile, the Psalmist laments their abandonment by God into a period (and one of many) in which there were no signs and wonders (miracles) from God. Nor were there even any Prophets from God to tell them to repent. A severe judgement had been placed on the people and on the land, because the people had abandoned God first.
As recorded in the Bible, the Israelites have experienced many such protracted periods of abandonment by God. Another such is recorded in Psalm 77:7-14 where the Psalmist acknowledges their sin of apostasy and offers to make recompense:
“7Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favourable no more?
8Is His mercy gone forever?
Has His Word failed for all generations?
9Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah.
10And I said, “This is my weakness, the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11I will remember the works of Jehovah; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12I will also think on all Your work, and talk of Your doings.
13Your way, O God, is in holiness; who is so great a God as our God?
14You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the people.”
The questions raised by the Psalmist are in a sense rhetorical, for an answer was not wanted or expected, just a resolution to God’s estrangement. The Psalmist cannot feel the presence of God, but he deeply feels God’s absence; for there are no works of wonder, no miracles, no blessings, and no feelings of security any longer in their community.
What is recorded here is not a short and fleeting abandonment by God, as the Psalmist says “I will remember your wonders of old….” In other words, the Israelites have been without God for a very long time.
As we read the Psalmist, we can see him seeking a new and fresh outpouring of wonder from the Lord and when he talks of these wonders, we see in v14, he is talking in the present tense, saying “You are the God who does wonders…” Though there may have been many generations since the presence of God had been felt among the people of Israel, the Psalmist still equates God with signs and wonders. God IS signs and wonders.
Throughout the Old Testament, the most common form of apostasy was idolatry. When we face, or look to an idol, we can be sure that God is not before us, or in our sight, or in our mind. In all forms of idolatry, we abandon God for something else – and usually something of our own making. Where I live, ‘idol worshippers’ is a Christian euphemism for a Buddhist, or others who bow to idols.
Where then is the Apostasy in the present day Church? Paul answers this question for us in Colossians 3:5 saying:
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (which is idolatry)…. “
Here Paul clearly and unmistakably determines “covetousness“ or GREED to idolatry. The “Prosperity Gospel” which is so prevalent in not only the Western Church, is simply greed, idolatry and apostasy. This seeking after wealth, takes its practitioners away from God. As Jesus said Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If your heart is in wealth making, it cannot be with God. Apostasy is as simple as that.
In Church we can commit moral apostasy, as First John 1:6 warns us:
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
In Church we can also commit doctrinal apostasy. In First Timothy 1:20 it appears that Hymenaeus and Alexander had done exactly this, for Paul says of them, “I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
We Christians have a wonderful God who is just, loving and patient to the extent that He wishes none of us to be lost. Romans 2:4 speaks to this very point asking: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (emphasis added)
God wants us to repent and come to Him. Revelation 2:21-23, recounted in the words of Jesus, tells us of that the woman Jezebel of Thyatira who taught, saying herself to be a prophetess, but caused many Christians servants to go astray, to commit fornication, and to eat idol-sacrifices. Yet, even so, Jesus gave all concerned a final chance to repent:
“And I gave her time that she might repent of her fornication, and she did not repent.
Behold, I am throwing her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of their deeds.
And I will kill her children with death. And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the reins and hearts, and I will give to every one of you according to your works.”
As we can see, when there is Apostasy in the Church, we can still have full church buildings and we can still ‘play church.’ But God will not be there in the Church with us. When God is not there, there are no signs and miracles, no healings and no fruit for His Kingdom. The signs of Apostasy in the Church ought to be clear to those with any degree of discernment.
From the Old Testament, we can find clear evidence that God has and will, remove Himself from any person, any group, any community and even any nation which is in apostasy. This leaves one point to ponder: Is there Apostasy in your Church?