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The missing facts

And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever. Isaiah 30: 8 (circa BC 700)

Most people in Jersey know that Christianity is strong in the Island. Most people in Jersey also know that Christians call themselves “the people of God”. In addition, most people in Jersey know that the original “people of God” are the Jews, otherwise known as “the children of Israel”.

These “people of God” – first the children (descendants) of Israel and now those who place their trust in Jesus Christ – see themselves as highly privileged and, in a way, “worthy”. They are the “people of God”.

Christians today are well aware that the Son of Man whom they now follow was repeatedly foretold in the centuries “Before Christ” (BC). That foretelling was told to the children of Israel by a number of different people over many centuries – for example Moses, around 1350 BC, and Isaiah, around 700 BC.
‘Look and see, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name, “God with us”.’ (Isaiah, circa BC 700)

Those wonderful foretellings came true in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

But Christians today are by-and-large unaware of certain facts about the people of God – about Israel, the chosen people upon whom God set his love years ago. What, then, are these missing facts?

The words in bold above are the instruction of the LORD God given to Isaiah. He was told to create a public record of the LORD’s words (“write it before them on a tablet”) as well as a private record (“inscribe it in a book”). In that way the LORD intended that his message through Isaiah would “be for the time to come as a witness forever.” Important stuff.

The LORD also asked Isaiah to set out the reason for this special written statement. It was this.  “For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

Horror of horrors. The “people of God” in Isaiah’s day were “rebellious”, were “lying”, were “unwilling to hear the LORD’s instruction”, were telling their teachers, “Do not see”, were asking them to refrain from teaching “what is right”, wanted their teachers “to turn aside from the path”, and wanted “to hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

Given that horrible situation amongst the people of God around 2,500 years ago – amongst God’s chosen people Israel – what was Isaiah told to record?

In total obedience to the instruction Isaiah received from the LORD, he wrote down the LORD’s words. “Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.”

‘As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct....’ (Peter, a contemporary of Jesus writing c. AD 62)

The situation of the “people of God” had become terrifyingly dire. But did you notice two more reasons why their total collapse was inevitable – why the potter’s vessel (which was them – the “people of God”) was to be so shattered that no single remaining piece could be used to hold water?

It was “because you despise this (God’s) word” and it was “because you trust in and rely upon oppression and perverseness.” We know that the “people of God” in BC 700 were actively seeking well-being in major world powers. The “people of God” no longer trusted in or pleased their God.

By BC 584, the “people of God” – Israel – had totally collapsed. They were no longer a nation and the Jews were dispersed across the globe, conquered, and despised. In AD 30 the “people of God” (as conquered, nationless subjects of Rome) rejected and killed their Messiah. Over 2,500 years have elapsed since Isaiah and Israel is still not at peace.

These missing facts are rarely mentioned amongst the “people of God” – the followers of Jesus – today. We too want to hear “smooth things” (acceptable things), things that are “illusions” (trifles), nothing “Holy”. So Christian teachers are obeying us and pleasing us.

Richard Syvret

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