FIRST POSTED ON 1 AUGUST 2019.
Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!
In our last session, we did an overview of the history of Israel - God’s Kingdom as revealed in the Old Testament. When we compare the history of the Church - God’s Kingdom as revealed in the New Testament and which Paul referred to as the Commonwealth of Israel in Eph 2:12 - against Israel we see a remarkable prophetic parallel between the two:
First, the generation during the time of Jesus’ twelve apostles mirrored the Joshua generation. Both were characterised by general faithfulness to God - the Church under the leadership of the Apostles and elders who witnessed Jesus’ acts firsthand; Israel under the leadership of Joshua and the elders who witnessed God’s acts firsthand.
Next, the period of the early Church Fathers. This era was similar to the period of the judges in that there was “no king” - no central scriptural authority defining what was Biblically or doctrinally correct, just as there was no central political authority in Israel then defining what was legally or morally correct. The Bible as we know it today was not decided upon until the 5th century. Consequently, everyone “did what was right in their own eyes” when it came to God’s Word, resulting in a cycle of false teachings and doctrines, convening of church councils to fight these errors, and a return to doctrinal truth until the next heresy hit, not unlike the cycles that defined the period of the judges.
Following that, we see the emergence of a human king combining both political, worldly power and spiritual authority with the dawn of the Christian Roman Empire and rise of the Roman Catholic Papacy. But while in the early years of Solomon we see Israel reflecting the rule and glory of God most fully with the completion of the Temple of God, in the Pope’s attempt to elevate himself above the other Church Patriarchs then, we see in the Church the rise of the rule of man and a monument/institution built to his own glory. We will elaborate on this in our later podcasts. This act ultimately led to the Great Schism of 1054 AD, marking the beginning of Day 6.
As the names implies, the Great Schism marked the beginning of division within the Church. Like the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, we see the separation of the Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman Catholic Church, followed by Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, the various denominations, denominational vs non-denominational, charismatic vs non-charismatic and so forth.
At the same time, Christians were - and continue to be - taken into spiritual exile and slavery as it were by the growing apostasy and corruption of the Church. In his work “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” written almost 500 years ago, Martin Luther pointed out that just as the Jews were carried away from Jerusalem into captivity under the oppression of the Babylonian Empire, so in Europe during his time Christians had been carried away from the Scriptures and made subject to the power of the Roman Catholic Papacy through various unscriptural practices. This spread of deception and misuse of religious authority throughout the worldwide Church will only grow more and more as we reach the end of Day 6 with the revealing of the Antichrist.
But just as God restored the faithful among the Jews after a season of discipline, He restores the faithful among the Church in His Kairos. As in the days of Cyrus, God released His Rhema through Luther’s proclamation of the basic doctrines of faith, grace and scripture alone. This triggered the beginning of the return of God’s people back to His truth as found in the Bible with the Protestant Reformation of 1517, something that continues even today amidst the growing darkness both in the Church and in the world - until the fullness of the Gentiles is reached.
And then, in His Kairos, God Himself will return as Jesus the King of Kings. Amen, Come Lord Jesus (Rev 22:20).
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