The apostle Paul wrote, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). We have long stressed that though the old law of Moses was written for and binding upon the nation of Israel, it is filled with messages we need to hear and learn from. In most cases, we can find a direct application to the beginning of Christianity or to the various departures and innovations that have marred the religion of Christianity since its founding. It has been noted, and rightly so, that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. Many are the prophecies of the Old Testament that would hold little meaning without the fulfillment that is found in the New Testament. Prior to the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter two, who would have understood just what the prophet Joel had in mind when he wrote the words of Joel 2:28-32? Yet, when Peter stated, “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16) and then proceeded to quote those words, that which had been concealed was then revealed. Many are the examples of such New Testament revelation of Old Testament statements and prophecies. With all that said, let us take note of somewhat a parallel between words written by the prophet Isaiah over two thousand years ago and what is called Christianity in this age.
Because of the limited space we will leave it up to each individual to read Isaiah 1:1-9. The gist of the text is that Isaiah is prophesying specifically to Judah (Isa. 1:1). He speaks of how the nation of Israel was brought up by God and were His people, but that they had rebelled and turned away from God and as a result had kindled the wrath of God (vs. 2-4). The end result of God’s wrath was the loss of their beloved land, captivity in a strange land (vs. 5-9).
Now let us give consideration to the parallel mentioned and the application for us today. We would start with the fact that the church is as the nation of Israel, in that it is the chosen people of God in this Christian age. Peter, writing to Christians stated, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9). Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29). Thus, Christians are the spiritual Israel rather than the physical nation to whom Isaiah wrote.
Yet, as Israel rebelled and turned away from serving God in the manner and method prescribed by Him, so the church began a journey into apostasy, even before the New Testament writers had completed their work (II Thess. 2:1-7). It was a journey that was long in both time and in the separation from the scriptures given by God. It was almost a fifteen centuries before those we call the reformers began their work to reform the Roman Catholic church which ended in the founding of the multiplicity of denominational churches in existence today.
One can clearly see how God views these apostate churches by reading the description Isaiah recorded in Isa. 1:5-6. He uses words like, “…wounds, and bruises, and petrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment”. Physical Israel was the beloved, chosen nation of God, but they had turned into something ugly, defiled and odious. Spiritual Israel is just as repulsive to God when they refuse to abide by the word given by God to direct our way in this age.
Paul stated that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17). Jesus prayed for unity of all believers when He said, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…” (John 17:21). Paul besought the Corinthians, “…by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10).
Thankfully there was (Isa. 1:9), and there is, a remnant. Those who will faithfully follow the word of God rather than the teachings of mere men have always and will always be the minority rather than the majority (Matt. 7:13-14), just a remnant. Those today who choose to be of the remnant must simply set aside all man made doctrines and practices and become members of the chosen people of God by way of obedience to the gospel of Christ by which we will be judged in the last day (Rom. 1:16-17; 2:16; John 12:48). It’s Gods way or it is the wrong way, no third choice.
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.