When scripture came to life…


By Pastor Ron Branch - Contributing columnist



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“Deceitful bow” is one of those curious Bible references found in Hosea 7:16. God refers to the people of Israel as being like a “deceitful bow.” What was on God’s mind when He employed such a term to describe Israel? It was far from being a compliment, for sure.

To apply perspective, consider the bow hunter who has hunted all season for that huge, twelve-point buck that has effectively eluded him. On the last day of the season, as the sun starts to set, after several days of freezing in his stand, the buck appears and walks into easy shooting range.

With a smile spreading across his lips, the hunter imagines the notoriety he will get by bagging the big boy. He confidently pulls the string with attached arrow to the shooting position. But, suddenly, something unexpectant happens — the bow cracks and snaps into two pieces! And, the buck dashes away with the hunter’s heart in tow.

The bow proved to a “deceitful bow.” In other words, at the moment when it could have brought hunting glory to the hunter, the bow proved completely unreliable. The disappointment the hunter feels bites harder than the discomforts he has endured.

Thus, describing Israel at that time as being a “deceitful bow,” God was saying that they were egregiously unreliable, grievously unproductive, and grossly disappointing.

By contrast, the term “deceitful bow” can certainly be associated with the people of the modern church. Time after time, congregations have to struggle with grinding disappointments instigated by those who have proven themselves to be spiritually unreliable. Much comes from revelations of immoral practices. Much is manifested from those exhibiting un-Christ-like character. Sometimes deliberate and sometimes inadvertent disappointments arise that hinder the persistent advancement of God’s Kingdom through the ministries of the church. In either case, recovery is slow and painful.

Just think how churches could certainly be more influential for Jesus Christ if not for the disappointing “deceitful bow” effect.

The necessary question for the people of the church becomes, “What do I need to do to keep from bringing disappointment to the church?” It prevails upon church people to remember spiritual factors important to the church at large.

First, church people need to keep at heart that Christians are uniquely connected by the common bond of salvation through Jesus Christ. Inherent in this spiritual kinship is trust. This consideration is from Scripture that each individual member impacts the whole of the church. The summation is that as this special relationship is breached by unreliable members, disappointments and hurts assail the church as a whole.

Read the apparent disappointment of the Apostle Paul, when he wrote, “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed.” Recall Luke’s account of the Lord’s look at Peter after that disciple’s denial.

Second, church people need to maintain a proper understanding concerning the consequences of actions, decisions, and lifestyles that run contrary to the will of God for those in the church. The deliberate practices of sin bring sure consequences, and sometimes it affects and disappoints others worse than the person who broke God’s principles for righteous living. The warning of Jesus Christ is very appropriate here, as He stated, “Woe to that man by whom offenses come.”

Third, church people need to embrace the truth that God’s ways are always the best ways and best-blessed ways. The value of having a peaceful church is immeasurable. Experiencing the riches of God’s great grace in the church is incomparable. The benefits of having fellowship in the church are undeniable. Christ came that the church may have abundant life, not a burdened or troubled life.

The church is very special and precious to the Lord, who died for it. Furthermore, since there is so much disappointment and hurt in the world, why must the people of the church add to it?

To keep from being a “deceitful bow,” keep your spiritual equipment well- maintained.

In the meantime, hunting disappointment came to Jeshua recently when his bow snapped as he started to shoot a nice buck. Scripture surely came to life for him in that moment.

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By Pastor Ron Branch

Contributing columnist

Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.

Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.