Teach It, Preach It, Pray It, Live It

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…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” writes the prophet in Hosea 4:6 (NIV). The entire chapter is terrifying in its condemnation, but this one phrase came to mind as I read 2 Chronicles 17 this morning. The chapter describes the early years of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.  Those were good years because Jehoshaphat followed the Lord (17:3-6). One of the items on the king’s “to-do” list is described in verses 7 to 9 where we are told that he sent his officials, along with Levites and priests, to the outlying areas of the country. Their task is described this way: “They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns and taught the people.”

Jehoshaphat’s father, Asa, had been delivered a message through one of God’s prophets. As king, he had begun the process of ridding the land of its pagan idols and its idol worship. Substituting the true God for other gods was inevitably the result of the nation’s spiritual drift. In the prophecy, Asa was reminded that this spiritual drift was, at least in part, the result of a lack of teaching of the Law of God. “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the Law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them” (15:2-4).

Jehoshaphat seemed determined to make sure that it wasn’t from lack of knowledge about God and His requirements that the people fell into sin. He sent out teachers, accompanied by his officials to put the royal stamp on the process, to instruct his subjects about their God.

It is interesting the note that Jesus accepted the title of “Teacher” during His earthly ministry. Ray Pritchard writes: “It may interest you to know that Jesus was a teacher. Other words come more quickly to mind—Lord, Savior, Master, and Redeemer. But here’s an amazing fact. Of the 90 times Jesus was addressed directly in the gospels, 60 times he was called Teacher. This was the word the multitudes used. This was how the disciples referred to him. Jesus himself used the term when he said, ‘You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (John 13:13). When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he said, ‘We know that you are a teacher who has come from God’ (John 3:2).”

We almost always see the Lord in that role. Teaching Truth was never out of fashion. It never ceased to be a necessity for the Lord. People forget. Israel endlessly forgot. Without constant reference to the absolutes of the Scripture, people fall into the habit of making up their own “absolutes” which more often than not don’t resemble God’s in the slightest.

Dave wrote the longest psalm in Scripture, Psalm 119, to emphasize the important of the Word of God. “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my hear. Direct me in the path of your commandments, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; renew my life according to word” (33-37).

I stumbled across a video by John Piper in which he discussed the emergent church, this generation’s latest church growth movement. One of the tenants of the doctrine of the emergent church is the emphasis of relationship over truth. Dr. Piper commented that relationship grows naturally out of truth, and warned of the dangers of trying to reverse the process.

From the history of God’s people we see the reality of that statement. When God’s people were taught about their God and what His desire for them was, and when they obeyed those instructions, good things happened. In the case of Jehoshaphat this statement was recorded: “The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks…” (17:10-11). All this without even mentioning the relationship the people enjoyed because God was with them just as the prophet had said (15:2).

Paul instructed his protégé, Timothy, to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). The word “preach” simply means to proclaim. In the New Testament, as in the Old, the teaching of the Word was necessary to prevent what Paul reminds Timothy of in his next words: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teacher to say what their itching ears what to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths” (3, 4).

The fads soon take the place of the facts when the Truth of God's Word ceases to become the focus of our ministries.



There is a reason why the teaching of the Word of God is so prominent throughout Scripture, why Jesus showed through His own example the importance of teaching about God and His desires, why the apostles put the Gospel and its teaching first and foremost in their ministries. Hosea said it all and we court disaster in our own lives in in the life of our churches by not giving priority to the teaching of the Word of God. Peter wrote: “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”  (1 Peter 1:12, 13, 19).

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