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Entertaining the Goats

Sadly, sometimes the church can be turned into the circus. Charles Spurgeon said, “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats…Unless our faith makes us pine after holiness and pant after conformity to God, it is no better than the faith of devils, and perhaps it is not even so good as that.” [1]

The main show in Hosea’s day is the brokenness of Israel and the passive audience are the leaders of Israel. The country is so broken that the shepherds of Israel are laughing hysterically at the sin of Israel, when it ought to be breaking their heart. They should be helping them, but instead they are entertained by them.

By their evil they make the king glad, and the princes by their treachery.

Hosea 7:3

The king and princes are glad, literally entertained, by the double lives (treachery) of people professing to know God. The history of Israel at this time is important. There was a succession of several kings in northern Israel during the time of Hosea (Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, and Pekahiah). One of them reigned as short as one month. They all did “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kgs 15:24). Each king dedicates himself more fully to Baal worship. One after another of the kings had short reigns because God was not at all entertained by the sin these leaders allowed in Israel.

The leaders of Israel were weak, and desired the families in Israel to remain weak. Broken families, and broken societies keep weak men in power. Those who desire power love to see brokenness in their nation, for it means that those who are weak will be all the more dependent on their government. So drug addicts, sex offenders, welfare recipients, the mentally ill, alcoholics, etc. are a boon to those who love to rule. Those with power lust will never be tough on drugs, immorality, or crime, because those are the things that perpetuate their power. They will never support the family, but that which destroys the family. If the church is going to thrive again, godly leaders need to kick the circus out of the church. What is the answer for Israel and for us?

Godly leaders are never passive. Leaders need to take charge and lead the way. In the book of Hosea, the fault is laid clearly at the feet of the king and leaders of Israel. Today, leaders, fathers, mothers, pastors, Titus 2 men and women need to lead the way in learning how to think! They must never allow the deception of sin to creep into the church and the Christian home through entertainment or any other Trojan horse. We must never be so distracted that we allow God’s people to be taken captive by worldliness. Some men and women of God have been deceived by the entertainment of the world and because of the allure of “blowing off steam” find themselves laughing at what God hates. Lord, give us grace to weep over this sin-soaked culture instead of laughing at it and with it.

Godly leaders take on the hard issues. Today once conservative churches are subtly adopting the voice of the world and Christianizing pagan practice in the many realms of culture including homosexuality, gender issues, abortion, and even what a legitimate family structure ought to be (a mom and dad, two moms, or two dads?).

Currently, the popular causes in the world and infecting the church. Once conservative churches and denominations are now seeking to be more “inclusive” forgetting that Christ brings a massive heart transformation. We don’t need to redefine truth and edit or water down God’s Word to be acceptable. We need to trust in the transforming power of the Gospel. There is no cultural issue that is too big or too hard for the Gospel. Godly leaders are more afraid of displeasing God than loss of friends, reputation, or popularity. Jesus gave us a cross to carry, and we must not be afraid to carry it when the world shames us for calling sin what it is: sin.

Godly leaders are serious about sin. If you want to see your family or your church turn the corner, you have to take sin seriously. Leaders need to be courageous and repent publicly. Fathers who have allowed a pattern of sin in the home need to repent openly before their dear wife and children. Some parents laugh at the cuteness of a two-year old’s disobedience. But what might be entertaining at two is not at all amusing at twenty-two. Godly leaders should be serious about their own sin, never excusing it, but always owning it, willing to be held accountable.

Godly leaders are selective about entertainment. Entertainment and amusement in moderation is not wrong in and of itself. Jesus was called a friend of sinners. We can imagine him laughing in sweet love as he made sinners feel loved. But we have to be careful not to allow entertainment to ever turn our brains off. Amuse is an interesting concept. The conjugation is “a” – no, and “muse” – to think. In essence amusement means “no thinking.” It’s when you turn your brain off and forget about life for a while. God wants us to have sweet rest and laughter. It’s fine in a sense to forget about the trials of life by having rich and happy family and friendships. But the Christian may never completely check out. We can’t check out brains at the door of any TV show or film. The use of sin as entertainment to train people in sin is as strong as ever. Television, movies, all forms of social media are using sin as a powerful bait to suck people into entertainment. It’s a way to control the culture. Sin is a mere game. Godly Christians are constantly lured into ungodly scenarios in media and movies through entertainment. Sometimes the plots in a drama or a film is so intriguing that I personally have been baited to continue watching a show I should have turned off. Humor also has this effect. Sometimes there are not offensive elements in media, but the plot itself is immoral (such as presenting homosexuality or gender confusion as a perfectly normal thing). The world baits us through entertainment, often presenting sin as a game. It is not a game to God. Christians need to wake up to the opioid of entertainment! We need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” knowing that God is at work in you (Phil 2:12).


[1] C.H. Spurgeon. A Golden Prayer, Sermon 1391, December 30, 1877.


by Pastor Matthew Black

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