Christianity has ignored the Old Testament except to extract and misappropriate God’s favourable promises to Israel, while ignoring those passages recording His wrath towards His rebellious people; but we neglect the Old Testament at our peril for it reveals the nature and character of God and His relentless hatred of hypocrisy, idolatry and lawlessness.
The Jews were His first-born and He loved them in a special way; Israel was the wife of Jehovah in the same way as the Church is meant to be the Bride of Christ; yet He ruthlessly dealt with them for their apostasy, bringing other nations against them and scattering them like dust.
Why does apostate Christianity think it will be any different for them?
The scriptures show two things; firstly, that you can’t truly know God unless you are obedient and secondly, that the promises of God are of no value except to an obedient heart; once we obey, the door opens to revelation.
Consider Psalm 50. This is a prophetic psalm pointing to the second coming of the Lord of Glory.
The first four verses announce that He is coming and the timing of His coming is when the Word has gone from the east to the west, or the rising of the sun to the going down thereof (vs 1). In other words, when the whole world has heard the Word.
His revelation and glory had shone forth in Zion He says (vs. 2) even if no-one really understood what He was doing, including His own beloved first born people, Israel.
He is speaking when He comes and what He is speaking is judgement; this is that part of His prophetic mission, recorded in Isaiah 61, that remained unfulfilled in His first coming.
Natural phenomena accompany His coming and it is all very dramatic and tumultuous (vs. 3).
The entire universe, the heavens and the earth, bears witness to His righteous judgement and His glory (vs. 4).
Firstly, He speaks to His holy ones (vs. 5 & 6). Who are these? They are those who have engaged with His covenant on the basis of sacrifice; and this means their sacrifice, not His. The basis of their holiness is the sacrifice of self, resulting in their living a crucified life before Him – not man – and which He sees because “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). “The Father is watching”, Jesus tells us (Matthew 6:6) and it is Him we are to please, not men.
None other can claim to be one of His holy ones, for just as He sacrificed His life for us so we must sacrifice our life for Him; there is no other way; life will only follow death. True resurrection life will only follow the death of self and only those whose old man, the carnal, selfish, natural man, is truly dead can be said to have taken up His covenant through sacrifice.
Then He speaks to Israel (Vss. 7-15). He doesn’t reprove them for their sacrifice under the Law, but He does testify against them that they never understood that these things were there for their instruction. Did they really think that God needed them to bring food to Him, who created all things? So immature was their knowledge of the Holy One of Israel! So deceived were they by their teachers and false prophets and the doctrines of men that they rejected the Lord of Glory sent to save them and, instead, crucified Him. Their religious bondage blinded their eyes and closed their ears; none could see nor hear. But, the psalmist tells us, God is going to deal with Israel, as a nation, in the coming day of Jacob’s trouble.
Then He speaks to the wicked. Who are these? These are those who take His covenant in their mouth; not into their hearts by sacrifice as do those He called His saints, but in their mouth. In other words, they talk the talk but they don’t walk it. This is really modern corporate Christianity, which talks much about God, but won’t accept His instruction; like Israel, Christians today rely upon their priests to search out the scriptures and tell them what to do. What they tell them, of course, is self-serving, not God serving; they turn their backs upon divine revelation and turn instead to the doctrines of men. They haven’t resisted lies, theft, adultery, slanders and every evil thing, the psalmist says, and because God didn’t strike them dead they just continued on their carnal way. Worse, they contented themselves with the thought that everything was OK with God because they thought He was just like them!
It is only the sacrifice of righteousness, which is absolute surrender and trust in the Lord (Psalm 4), that will satisfy Him. Only as we order our conversation, that is, our way of life, aright, will He show us the salvation of God. That is, He will point out to us what that salvation truly is and how we might enter into it.
All this the psalmist says. It is a bleak picture. In the meantime, God’s people passively continue on their way, completely ignorant of the coming catastrophe and basking in an assurance that relies upon the doctrines of men handed down from generation to generation. Where is the crying out to God for revelation? Where are those receiving the gospel, not in word only, but in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5)?
To paraphrase John of Gaunt in Shakespeare’s Richard 11;
This Church, which was wont to conquer others, has made a shameful conquest of itself. Ah! Would the shame of it vanish with my life; how happy then were my ensuing death.