Jump Start # 2541
Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”
A reminder, on Mondays our podcast, Heaven Bound, features me reading a Jump Start from the past. We call that segment, “Jump Start Rewind.” You can find our podcast just about anywhere, including our website.
I want to tell you a story. It’s a sad story. It’s about a man who died. His death was preventable, but still, he died. The story takes place long ago in the middle ages in Europe. It was a dark time when peasants worked and lived in very unsanitary conditions. Diseases would often wipe out entire villages. Wars were frequent. Life expectancy was very short. A man reaching his 40’s was considered old. Many women died in childbirth and many infants never saw their first birthday. Villages were run by controlling families of royalty. The common man gave his life to make the local nobles powerful and rich. For most, this was a long and very dark period.
But in one village, a nobleman had a good and decent heart. He favored the common man and looked after them. He opened up his palace and allowed the citizens to come and dine on some of the best foods available. The nobleman worked on cleaning up the water system and improving the health of his citizens. And, something remarkable happened in this one village. People were living happier and longer. Life expectancy soared into the 60’s and even 70’s. The citizens loved this noble and he loved them. It was a wonderful relationship.
And, this is where our story is found. One man in that village didn’t do well. It is the man who died when he didn’t have to. Each day this man, along with others would come from the fields and the village to the palace. They would sit in a giant banquet hall. All kinds of food was brought before them. They were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. And, the food was free. It was always free. The nobleman made sure that his citizens were well taken care of. This one man came each time the banquet doors opened. He sat along with other villagers at long, wooden tables. Before them were roasted chicken, beef, all kinds of fruits, breads and vegetables. It was a feast. It was a feast that these common villagers could never afford. The citizens would fill their plates, and eat until they were full. That is, except for this one man. He would just sit there. All around him people were eating and eating. As days passed by, and people got accustomed to the daily feasts, they would share stories, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. The complexion of their faces changed. You could see life in the eyes of the citizens. That is, except for this one man. He came. He sat among them. But he never would eat. Those around him noticed. They would tell him to eat. He just sat there. Some would even put food on his plate. But he never ate. At the end of the meal, he would shuffle out with the rest of the banqueters. The next day, he would return. Everyone around him was getting healthier and happier. But for the man in our story, he was getting weaker and weaker. His face looked dark and sunken. What he needed was food. It was right in front of him, but he would not eat.
One evening, at the daily banquet, the man fell off his bench. People gathered around him. He was carried to the doctors. He died that evening. The doctors said he died of starvation. So incredible was this. Food was in front of him, but he never would eat. His family became angry. They blamed the nobleman. They started to tell some false rumors. They blamed the other citizens. So upset were they, that they left that village to never return again. They blamed the man’s death on the village and the nobleman.
Such a sad story. This story, however, isn’t about a village in Europe in the middle ages. It’s about church and today. The villagers are us. The nobleman is the Lord. The banquet and feast is the word of God and all the available tools that a congregation offers. Sermons. Daily Bible reading programs. In our congregation, Jump Starts, daily quick quotes, Friday Fives, Bible classes, special classes in the daytime and in the evening. So many wonderful, wonderful ways to grow, be strong and to feast. What a wonderful time!
And, yet, there are some who sit at the table and refuse to eat. All around people are encouraging them. All around we see people feasting and getting stronger and closer to the Lord. And, there are those few who sit at the table, with food before them, and they are starving. Some will die spiritually. They don’t have to, but that’s the outcome, when they don’t feast upon all the opportunities to be strong in the Lord. Brethren encourage them to come, engage and participate. Shepherds provide so many wonderful, wonderful ways to grow and become powerful. But for the few who simply sit at the table and refuse to eat, spiritual disease will overtake them. Temptation will defeat them. They will die. Their families will get mad. They will blame the church. They will blame the elders and the preachers. Yet, there he sat, right before a table of spiritual food and he never lifted a fork. He never opened his mouth. He died from spiritual starvation.
I write this knowing that I could put names to this story. I know of some right now who are starving to death spiritually, even though they sit at a banquet table full of food. It doesn’t have to be this way. Why won’t some simply pick up the food that will keep them alive? Across the oceans, others see what this congregation is doing. They long to sit at a table like this congregation offers. They thank, praise and appreciate what they see. Yet, there sits one, at the table, and he refuses to do the very things that will help him.
Our verse today is much like this story. In the passage, a group is destroyed for a lack of knowledge. It wasn’t that knowledge was hidden, or, locked away and they never knew. God sent prophets. Every day God sent prophets. These people walked through life with their hands over their ears. They didn’t know because they didn’t want to know. Like our story, the man starved to death because he never ate. He could have. He just didn’t.
Week in and week out, God’s preachers are pouring their hearts out to teach, lead, show and help us get to Heaven. They work incredibly long hours. They pour all that they have into everything that they do. They provide for us a rich banquet to feast upon. Wonderful nourishment from Heaven. They teach us. They warn us. They help us. And, yet, here some of us sit at such a table, starving. It’s not a lack of food, it is simply not picking up a fork and eating.
I wonder how many rich and wonderful opportunities are wasted every week by those who show up but they don’t even know if they believe or not. They sit at a banquet table and just stare off into space. They shuffle out, just like they shuffled in. Unchanged. Unmoved. Unmotivated. And, heading to a spiritual death and they don’t even realize it.
How sad! Maybe you can pass this on to someone to help them.