Thousands of years ago the Jewish prophet Hosea had words that are coming true now. In the words of Jesus “21 And he began to say unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21)
The church as a whole is changing. People are leaving in droves, and not because they don’t have faith. They are leaving because they can’t find Jesus in the stilted, wooden service of their parent’s churches, or in the stadium-like megachurches of today. They seek a real relationship with Jesus, not an empty ritual or a superstar minister.
Hosea speaks to how some ministers can be a stumbling block to the faithful. They are leading the flock astray.
Hear this, O ye priests, and hearken, O house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king; for unto you pertaineth the judgment; for ye have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
The icons and statues in some churches aren’t aids to worship, so much as blocks to it.
4 They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.
God wants us to do good, not just talk about it. Our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving mean nothing if that is all we do. It is better to spend an hour working in a food pantry or building a house for Habitat for Humanity than singing hymns and collecting tithes.
4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away. 5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. 6 For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.
Just because they say they are connected to Jesus doesn’t mean they are.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
2 The threshing-floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail her.
Jesus tells us about new wine in Matthew 9:17
17 Neither do men put new wine into old wine-skins: else the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins perish: but they put new wine into fresh wine-skins, and both are preserved.
What are we to do? Seek God, and re-connect to the true Vine. Look at what churches and church members do. Look at their “fruit” – are they serving the poor, or themselves? Have they spent more money on houses for the homeless, or their own house of worship?
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap according to kindness; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek Jehovah, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.