When an important job or mission is entrusted to a person, the usual instruction given to him is to concentrate on his work and to never lose his focus. There is nothing more important than the share of the work given to us by God which is not to destroy the Church we love so much, but to protect it from destruction caused by corruptions and anomalies brought about by internal forces. Our intention is not to form a new religious organization or to establish a separate Church, but to become humble instruments of God in restoring the Church Of Christ into the path of righteousness so that when that day comes, we can all be together again in offering to God acceptable services and prepare for the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. God knows that we have tried our best to protect and preserve our membership in the Church, but when He allowed us to be pushed into this difficult situation, we accepted it as His will, thus, we should never lose our focus on the work He has entrusted us. For us not to be distracted, we ought to learn from the experience of God’s ancient people during the time of their long journey (40 years) on the way to the land promised to them by God after they’ve been freed from bondage.
WHAT SHOULD HAD BEEN THE FOCUS OF GOD’S ANCIENT PEOPLE WHICH WAS THE REASON GOD FREED THEM FROM BONDAGE IN EGYPT?
“And theLord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey …’” (Ex. 3:7-8)
We need to remember that the ancient people of God were made slaves when a new king of Egypt who did not know Joseph arose. Not only were they heavily burdened by their taskmasters but were oppressed tremendously and deprived of their privilege to serve and to worship God. So, what did God do in order to free His people from bondage and oppression for them to regain the right to worship and serve Him? He commanded Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and to bring them “to a land flowing with milk and honey.” Therefore, the people of Israel should have focused on the realization of God’s promise to them—to reach the promised land and be able to freely and joyfully serve and worship Him.
Many of us were also deprived of our God-given right to serve and worship Him and are still suffering oppression from the hands of oppressive ministers and their allies. Our goal which should also be the focus of our work is the restoration of the Church to the path of righteousness so that we can also regain our freedom to serve and worship God.
BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL ON THEIR WAY TO THE REALIZATION OF GOD’S PROMISE TO THEM?
“So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon. And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.’” (Ex. 14:9-12)
When God’s people were nearing their freedom, Pharaoh and his army intensified their pursuit of them, thus, they became so scared of their pursuers. The first thing they did was to cry out to the Lord or ask for His help and indeed, it was the right thing to do, however, they became out of focus. When they became so scared, they blamed Moses for leading them out of Egypt, claiming, it would had been better for them to suffer oppression in Egypt than to die in the wilderness.
When our persecutors began to oppress us, the first thing we did was also to cry out to the Lord. In fact, we started having our devotional prayers. We also continued to serve and worship Him through our weekly meetings (EGMs), and focused on exposing their evil deeds of the hoping and believing that by doing what is right, God will restore the Church to it’s pristine condition. But just like the people of Israel, many of us have began to lose our focus. Some have focused on suspecting and judging their fellow defenders; some, on their own agenda, and some, in satisfying their ego. Moreover, there are those who because of fear decided to ignore the anomalies they see in the Church than be harassed and expelled. Some have decided to stop helping the movement out of desperation and disgust for the divisions, animosities and bashing among the defenders. Worse, like the people of Israel, a few are saying that it would have been better for them if they have remained inside the Church despite the oppression and persecution.
WHAT ELSE DISTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF GOD’S ANCIENT PEOPLE WHICH IS WHY THEY LOST THEIR FOCUS ON GOD’S PROMISES?
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Ex. 16:2-3)
“And the people thirsted for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” (Ex. 17:3)
When the children of Israel experienced hunger and thirst , they complained against Moses and Aaron. They said, it would had been better if they stayed in Egypt because there, they had food to eat. Thus, instead of remembering the many miracles performed by God right before their very eyes and His promises to them, they allowed themselves to be overcome by worries in life.
Let us also examine ourselves. It could be that some are also losing their focus because of the series of problems we face in our desire to see the Church restored to its pristine condition. It could also be that others are being overcome by worries. When these things happen, then, we will suffer the same fate as that of the ancient people of God.
WHAT GRIEVOUS SIN WAS COMMITTED BY THE ANCIENT PEOPLE OF GOD BECAUSE THEY BECAME OUT OF FOCUS DUE TO IMPATIENCE?
“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And Aaron said to them, ‘Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, ’This is your god, O Israel that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ’Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.’ Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings…” (Ex. 32:1-6)
When Moses’ lingered in his return from Mount Sinai where he received the two tablets or the ten commandments of God, the people of Israel became impatient. They decided to form their own worship by pressuring Aaron to make them a god which he did—he molded a golden calf. Hence, their impatience made them lose their focus and their being out of focus led them to committing a grievous error—the wrong way of worship which kindled God’s wrath against them. Let us hope and pray that history will not repeat itself and that we will not fall into this kind of grievous error committed by Israel because of impatience. Sadly, they’re being a stiff-necked people went on throughout their journey in the wilderness.
WHAT DID GOD DECIDE TO DO AGAINST THOSE WHO LOST THEIR FOCUS BY ALLOWING THEMSELVES TO BE OVERCOME BY TRIALS?
“And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, ‘How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.’” (Num. 14:26-30)
God decided that those who had left Egypt twenty years old and above except for Caleb and Joshua would by no means enter the promised land.
Hopefully too, no one among us who were already “set apart by God” will lose our right to enter the land promised to us by God.
Perhaps others are wondering why God made His people wander and experience various trials which brought them a difficult life in the desert for forty years? Others might even think that had they not been put into such a difficult situation they would have not lost their focus. The same thing with what is happening now. Others are wondering and asking, “Why is it taking so long, or why doesn’t God end immediately the miseries of the Church?” “Maybe,” they say, “if He readily put an end to the wickedness in the Church, the problem in the Church and among the defenders would have not worsen.”
WHY DID GOD MAKE HIS ANCIENT PEOPLE WANDER AND EXPERIENCE A DIFFICULT AND PROBLEMATIC LIFE IN THE DESERT FOR FORTY YEARS?
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” (Dt. 8:2-4)
God made them wander through difficult and problematic forty years in the wilderness, to humble and put them to test and know what was in their heart, and if they would continue to obey His commandments despite the trials they had experienced. He also wanted them to believe in Him and in the importance of His words (Dt. 8:2-4). May we also pass the severe test that God has placed before us. May we remain humble by becoming obedient to His commandments.
WHAT THEN SHOULD WE DO SO THAT WE CAN FOCUS AND SUCCEED IN OUR GOAL TO SEE THE CHURCH RESTORED TO ITS PRISTINE CONDITION?
“Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of the valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.” (Dt. 8:6-8)
We should never lose our focus, instead, we ought to remember that our goal is to see the Church restored to the path of righteousness and to glorify our God. We can do this if we remain obedient to His commandments. Every word that comes out of our mouth and every action we take should be guided by God’s will. But most of all, let us continue to rely on God’s help and be prayerful.
HINDI TAYO DAPAT MAWALA SA FOCUS
Kapag may mahalagang gawain o misyon na ipinagkatiwala sa isang tao, ang karaniwang tagubilin ay ibuhos niya ang kaniyang pansin sa ipinagagawa sa kaniya at hindi siya dapat mawala sa focus. Wala nang higit pang mahalaga sa gawain na itiniwala sa atin ng Diyos, na ito ay hindi ang pagsira sa mahal nating Iglesia, manapa, ito’y ating maipagsanggalang laban sa mga korupsiyon at mga anomalya na nanggagaling mismo sa loob nito. Hindi natin layunin na magtatag ng isang bagong pangkating pangrelihiyon ni magtatag ng isang hiwalay na Iglesia, manapa, tayo ay maging mga abang kasangkapan ng Diyos sa ikababalik ng Iglesia Ni Cristo sa daan ng katuwiran upang pagdating ng araw na yaon ay muli tayong magkasama-sama sa kaaya-ayang mga paglilingkod sa Diyos at makapaghanda sa pagbabalik ng ating Panginoong Jesucristo. Alam ng Diyos na ginawa natin ang ating buong makakaya upang maprotektahan natin ang ating pagka-Iglesia Ni Cristo, subalit nang itulot Niya na tayo ay malagay sa ganitong kalagayan ay tinanggap natin na ito ang kalooban Niya kaya hindi dapat mawala ang ating focus sa gawaing itiniwala Niya sa atin. Upang tayo ay hindi magambala, ay dapat tayong matuto sa naging karanasan ng unang bayan ng Diyos noong sila ay naglakbay ng apatnapung taon patungo sa lupaing ipinangako sa kanila ng Diyos pagkatapos na sila ay mapalaya sa pagka-alipin.
SAAN BA DAPAT NAKA-FOCUS ANG UNANG BAYAN NG DIYOS NA SIYANG DAHILAN KAYA PINALAYA SILA NG DIYOS MULA SA PAGKA-ALIPIN SA EHIPTO?
Huwag nating kalilimutan na ang mga anak ni Israel ay ginawang mga alipin noong maghari sa Ehipto ang isang hari na hindi na nakilala si Jose. Kaniya silang labis na pinahirapan, inapi, at pinagkaitan ng karapatang maglingkod at sumamba sa Diyos. Kaya nga kinasangkapan Niya si Moises upang ilabas ang Kaniyang bayan mula sa Ehipto at dalhin sila sa isang lupain na binubukalan ng gatas at pulot. Dapat sana, ang naging focus nila ay ang katuparan ng pangako sa kanila ng Diyos—ang makarating sila sa lupang pangako upang doon ay maging malaya at maligaya silang makapaglingkod at makasamba sa Kaniya (Exo. 3:7-8).
Marami rin sa atin ang inalisan ng mga mapang-aping ministro ng karapatang galing sa Diyos na makapaglingkod at sumamba sa Kaniya at patuloy nilang ginigipit at ng kanilang mga tagasunod. Ang pinakahahangad naman natin na siyang focus ng ating gawain ay ang maibalik ang Iglesia sa daan ng katuwiran upang muling mapasaatin ang kalayaang maglingkod at sumamba sa Diyos.
SUBALIT ANO ANG NANGYARI SA BAYAN NG ISRAEL NOONG PATUNGO NA SILA SA KATUPARAN NG PANGAKO NG DIYOS SA KANILA?
Noong malapit na silang maging malaya, ay pinag-igting ni Faraon at ng kaniyang hukbong sandatahan ang pagtugis sa kanila kaya labis silang natakot. Ang una nilang ginawa ay tumawag o humingi ng saklolo sa Panginoon na siyang tamang gawin, gayunpaman, ay nawala sila sa focus. Dahil sa labis nilang pagkatakot ay sinisi nila si Moises at sinabing mas mabuti pa kung tiniis na lamang nila ang mga pang-aapi sa Ehipto kaysa mamatay sila sa disyerto.
Nang tayo ay pinasimulang usigin at gipitin ng mga mapang-api, ang una rin nating ginawa ay tumawag o humingi ng tulong mula sa Panginoon, at nagsagawa ng mga pagpapanata. Nagpatuloy din tayo sa paglilingkod at pagsamba sa Diyos sa pamamagitan ng ating lingguhang pagtitipon (EGM), at nag-focus sa paglalantad sa masasamang ginagawa ng mga likong ministro dahil sa pag-asa at pananampalataya na ang wasto nating gawain ay gagamitin ng Diyos upang maibalik ang Iglesia sa dati nitong maayos at malinis na kalagayan. Subalit, gaya din ng Israel, marami sa atin ang nawala sa focus. Ang focus ng iba ay nabaling sa mga paghihinala at pagkondena sa kapuwa nila defenders; ang iba ay sa kanilang sariling agenda, at ang iba ay sa pagbibigay kasiyahan sa sarili (ego). Mayroon ding dahil sa takot ay nagpasyang manahimik na lang at huwag nang pansinin ang mga anomalya sa Iglesia kaysa raw sila ay gipitin at itiwalag rin. Ang iba naman ay nagpasyang tumigil na sa pagtulong sa gawain bunga ng kawalang pag-asa at pagkadismaya sa nakikita nilang pagkakabaha-bahagi, pag-aaway-away at pagsisiraan ng mga defenders. Ang lalong masama, tulad ng Israel, ang iba ay nagsasabi na mas mabuti pa sana na namalagi na lang sila sa Iglesia kahit pa sila ay inuusig at inaapi.
ANO PA ANG NAKAGAMBALA SA UNANG BAYAN NG DIYOS KAYA NAWALA ANG KANILANG FOCUS SA MGA PANGAKO NG DIYOS?
Nang makaranas ang mga Israelita ng gutom at uhaw, sila ay nagreklamo laban kay Moises at Aaron. Sinabi nila na mas mabuti pa kung namalagi sila sa Ehipto dahil doon ay nakakakain sila. Samakatuwid, sa halip na maalala nila ang mga himalang nasaksihan nila na ginawa ng Diyos ay pinabayaan nilang mapagtagumpayan sila ng kanilang mga pangamba (Exo. 16:2-3; 17:3).
Suriin natin ngayon ang ating sarili. Baka ang iba sa atin ay nawawala na rin sa focus dahil sa mga sunod-sunod na suliranin na ating nasasagupa sa hangarin nating makita na ang Iglesia ay maibalik sa maayos na kalagayan. Maaari rin naman na ang iba ay napagtatagumpayan na ng mga pangamba. Kapag ganito ang nangyayari, ay matutulad tayo sa sinapit ng unang bayan ng Diyos.
ANO ANG ISANG MABIGAT NA KASALANANG NAGAWA NG UNANG BAYAN NG DIYOS DAHIL NAWALA SILA SA FOCUS O NAHULOG SILA SA PAGKA-INIP?
Nang matagalan si Moises sa kaniyang pagbabalik mula sa bundok ng Sinai pagkatapos na kaniyang tanggapin ang sampung utos, ang bayang Israel ay nainip. Nagpasya sila na magsagawa ng sarili nilang pagsamba kaya pinilit nila si Aaron na gumawa ng gintong baka. Samakatuwid, ang kanilang pagkainip ang naging dahilan kaya nawala sila sa focus na naging sanhi naman ng pagkahulog nila sa isang napakabigat na kasalanan—ang maling paraan ng pagsamba kaya nag-init ang galit sa kanila ng Diyos. Sana ay hindi maulit ang ganitong pangyayari sa mga defenders ngayon. Nakalulungkot na ang katigasan ng ulo ng bayang Israel ay nagpatuloy at nahayag sa buong panahon ng kanilang paglalakbay sa ilang (Exo. 32:1-6).
ANO ANG IPINASYA NG DIYOS NA GAWIN LABAN SA MGA NAWALA SA FOCUS AT NAPAGTAGUMPAYAN NG MGA PAGSUBOK?
Ipinasya ng Diyos na lahat ng mga lumabas sa Ehipto maliban kay Caleb at Josue ay hindi makapapasok sa lupang ipinangako ng Diyos sa kanila (Bilang 14:26-30). Baka mayroon din sa ating ibinukod na ng Diyos upang maligtas subalit baka mawala rin sa focus at di makapasok sa lupang ipinangako Niya sa atin.
Marahil ang iba ay nagtataka kung bakit pinagtagal ng Diyos ang paglalakbay ng Kaniyang unang bayan at pinaraan sila sa napakaraming mahihirap na pagsubok sa loob ng apatnapung taon? Baka iniisip pa nga ng iba na kung hindi sana sila (mga Israelita) pinaraan ng Diyos sa napakahirap na situwasyon ay hindi sana sila nawala sa focus. Ganiyan din ang nangyayari ngayon. Ang iba ay nagtataka na rin at nagtatanong, kung bakit ipinahihintulot ng Diyos na magtagal ang paghihirap ng Iglesia? Siguro raw, kung tinapos agad ng Diyos ang mga kasamaang naghahari ngayon sa Iglesia ay hindi na lumubha ang problema rito at maging sa mga defenders.
BAKIT PINARANAS NG DIYOS ANG KANIYANG UNANG BAYAN NG NAPAKABIGAT AT MASULIRANING BUHAY SA DISYERTO SA LOOB NG APATNAPUNG TAON?
Pinaraan sila ng Diyos sa isang napakabigat at masuliraning buhay sa disyerto upang matuto silang magpakababa at masubok ang kanilang puso kung magpapatuloy sila sa pagsunod sa Kaniyang mga utos sa kabila ng mga pagsubok na kanilang naranasan (Deut. 8:2-4). Sana ay makapasa rin ang ating puso sa mga pagsubok na ating nararanasan sa paraang mamalagi tayong sumusunod sa mga utos ng Diyos.
ANO ANG DAPAT NATING GAWIN UPANG MAMALAGI TAYONG FOCUS AT MAGTAGUMPAY SA ATING INAASAM NA ANG IGLESIA AY MAIBALIK SA KANIYANG DATING MALINIS NA KALAGAYAN?
Hindi tayo dapat mawala sa focus, sa halip, ay lagi nating alalahanin na ang ating pinakahahangad ay makita ang Iglesia na nakabalik na sa daan ng katuwiran at makapagbigay kaluwalhatian sa ating Diyos. Magagawa natin ito kung mamamalagi tayong masunurin sa Kaniyang mga utos. Bawat kilos at pananalita natin ay maayon sa Kaniyang kalooban. Higit sa lahat, mamalagi tayong mapanalanginin at nagtitiwala sa magagawa ng Diyos.