Spring 2008 Magazine: Israel and the Church Part II
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
 
 
The idolatry of Israel and the idolatry of Babylon are essentially the same. In both cases, those who would not conform to the new standards were cruelly persecuted.  Manasseh filled Jerusalem with the blood of those faithful ones he slew. Ahab had the faithful priests slaughtered, and were it not for some that found refuge in caves, he would have rid the land of the knowledge of the Lord. The terrible record of Manasseh shows just how far Israel fell.

The kingdom of Judah, prosperous throughout the times of Hezekiah, was once more brought low during the long years of Manasseh’s wicked reign, when paganism was revived, and many of the people were led into idolatry. “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.” 2 Chronicles 33:9. The glorious light of former generations was followed by the darkness of superstition and error. Gross evils sprang up and flourished—tyranny, oppression, hatred of all that is good. Justice was perverted; violence prevailed (PK 381.1).


The lessons to be learned from the great apostles and the spiritual and temporal leaders of Israel are there for us to heed. Although we have Aarons and Mannassehs in the world to this very day, it would be good to consider how God dealt with them. Both Aaron and Mannasseh repented and will be in the kingdom of God, both of them were restored to their positions of authority by the grace of God and our attitude towards apostasy in the church should be the same as that of our great example. Our duty is to preach the message of warning to a dying world, but to leave the final judgment of character and salvation of even the worst examples in the Church, to God.

The apostasy in Israel foreshadowed the apostasy of the Christian Church as a whole. Even while the disciples were still alive, apostasy crept into the Church.

This is almost unbelievable. Like the Shekinah had covered Mount Sinai and apostasy flared in its very presence, so the glory of the God of Israel had walked amongst man and they had not even perceived it. In the very presence of the glory of Christ and in the time of the powerful preaching of the apostles the mystery of iniquity was doing it’s work.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you (Galatians 3:1)?


No sooner were the disciples departed to their graves, than the greatest apostasy in the history of humanity took hold of the Church. Soon the streets of spiritual Jerusalem were flowing with the blood of the saints as they did in the time of Mannasseh or Ahab. The official Church was transformed into Babylon and as Nebuchadnezzar made his golden image, issued a persecuting edict and heated the furnace sevenfold to consume the faithful, so the Church set up a system of false worship and heated the furnace to consume the saints.

As Belshazzar held his feasts, defiling the vessels of the Lord and praising the gods of silver, wood, and stone that see not nor hear, so the Church did the same and God’s people became captives of Babylon. Babylon in New Testament times clearly represents Rome.

Grattan Guinness writes that that there was no difference between paganism and that which crept into the idolatrous Church supposedly representing Jesus Christ:

Had Paganism its temples and altars, its pictures and images? So has Rome. Had Paganism its holy water and incense? So has Rome. Had Paganism its tonsured priests, presided over by a pontifex maximus? So has Rome. Had Paganism its claim to sacerdotal infallibility? So has Popery. Had Paganism its gods carried in procession? So has Rome. Had Paganism its college of pontiffs? So has Rome its college of cardinals. Had Paganism its religious orders? So has Rome. Had Paganism its costly robes, its Queen of Heaven, its rural shrines and processions? So has Rome. Had paganism its pretended miracles and weeping statues? So has Rome. Had Paganism its canonization of saints as in the deification of dead Caesars: So has Rome. Had Paganism its idolatrous calendar and festivals? So has Rome. Had Paganism its celibacy, mystic signs, relics, cruel persecution of those who stand for truth and righteousness? So has Rome.i


I warn you against this evil that is pervading the world anew today—working in and amongst the reformed churches covered by a veil of righteousness.

Wherever you see ritualism or higher criticism, shun it. Wherever you see a priest instead of a preacher, an altar instead of a communion table, wax candles instead of the sunshine of God’s love, ceremony instead of sound doctrine, sacraments instead of saving grace, liturgies instead of earnest prayers, splendid music instead of spiritual worship, gorgeous vestments instead of Gospel truth, tradition instead of “it is written,” crossings instead of Christ, there you have Romanism no matter what it is called, no matter how attractive the architecture, the music, the solemn ceremonial. Shun it.

Just as Israel was restored to blessed liberty and the captives of Judah returned to Jerusalem led by godly men, such as Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah, so the New Testament Church was restored and reformed by the Reformation movement led by godly men such as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, and Tyndale.

Just as the restoration of Israel to full political and ecclesiastical autonomy was accomplished in less than fifty years, so the Reformation restored full ecclesiastical and political autonomy in less than fifty years. Luther published his theses in 1517 and the peace of Augsburg was in 1555; in England the full establishment of the protestant churches was accomplished in 1563, which also marks the close of the council of Trent.

Just as Ezra the scribe restored the Word of God to Israel, so the Reformation restored the Word of God to spiritual Jerusalem. Just as that Word was lost then, so it was lost to people in the Dark Ages, locked away in a dead language and gathering dust in obscure libraries. It was Martin Luther who, like Ezra, gave the people a living knowledge of the Word. He was about twenty years old when he discovered his first Latin Bible in the library of the University of Erfurt where he was a student. How he longed for his own Bible and how it started an unquenchable fire, is history. What Luther had done for Germany, Tyndale accomplished for England and soon the Bible was translated into the common language of the nations that embraced its light.

We pick up the story once again in the Spirit of Prophecy:

Ezra was impressed by the Spirit of God to search the historical and poetical books of the Bible, and by this means he became familiar with the sense and understanding of the law. During the captivity the knowledge of God’s will had to some extent been lost. Ezra gathered all the copies of the law that he could find. He published copies of those among God’s people, and became a teacher of the law and the prophecies in the schools of the prophets. The pure Word, thus diligently taught by Ezra, gave knowledge that was invaluable at that time (Letter 100, 1907; 3BC 1134.4).

The Lord raised up Ezra to be His servant. He moved upon the heart of the king, so that Ezra found favor with him. The king placed in his hands abundant means for the rebuilding of the temple, and made it possible for the Jews to return who for seventy years had been in captivity in Babylon. In thus giving to His people another opportunity to serve God in their own country, the Lord shows His forbearance with His wayward children (Letter 98, 1907; 3BC 1134.5).


If recovering the Bible is the first and greatest feature of the Reformation, then the preaching of the righteousness of Christ and salvation through His merits is the culmination of the restored Word. This is what the Reformation accomplished, sweeping away the useless intercessions of priests, saints, and Popes. Christ was restored to His supremacy. Rome could not survive without its priestly intercessors, its power would be corroded and its terrible strangle hold on the conscience of humankind would be lost.

The Romish Church reserves to the clergy the right to interpret the Scriptures. On the ground that ecclesiastics alone are competent to explain God’s Word, it is withheld from the common people. Though the Reformation gave the Scriptures to all, yet the self-same principle which was maintained by Rome prevents multitudes in Protestant churches from searching the Bible for themselves. They are taught to accept its teachings as interpreted y the church; and there are thousands who dare receive nothing, however plainly revealed in Scripture, that is contrary to their creed, or the established teaching of their church (GC88 596.2).


Even the restoration of a Jewish political system foreshadowed the constitution of reformed Protestant communities and nations, the establishment of which took place under intense opposition. Both movements consisted of a spiritual, ecclesiastical, and political work, both are connected to a recovered Bible, and both gave the sense of the original document to the people.

Sadly, I believe there is a chapter still to be written. Just as the restored captives of Judah were led to crucify Christ, so the restored captives of end-time Babylon will be led to crucify those that keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

But the good news is that if the First Advent (First Coming of Christ) belonged to the time of the restored temple, then the Second Advent will belong to the time of another restored temple. The destruction of the world after the rejection of Christ, and so the rejection of the three angel’s messages will signify the end of the great controversy between good and evil.

Just as the remnant that embraced Christ and His Gospel escaped the destruction of Jerusalem by fleeing to Pella, so the remnant will flee from antitypical Babylon to avoid destruction. Just as John the Baptist called out a people with an Elijah message to embrace the Messiah and prepared the way for the First Coming, so the antitypical Elijah calls out a people to make straight the path of the Lord, to restore the old waste places and the breach in the wall.

Just as Elijah was forced to flee from the wrath of Jezebel, so the antitypical Elijah will have to flee from the wrath of antitypical Jezebel. Just as the daughter of Herod’s wife asked for the head of John the Baptist, so the daughter of the great prostitute will ask for the head of the antitypical Elijah, and the antitypical King Herod will give the commands to execute her wishes. Just as there are two antitypical Elijahs, so there were two preparations for the coming of the Lord—John the Baptist and the Adventist message.

Just as there were two temple cleansings, so there are two calls out of Babylon. Just as there was a remnant and a remnant of a remnant in the history of Israel, so there is a remnant of a remnant at the end. The second temple was destroyed and God built up the Church on the foundation that cannot be moved. The Reformation movement, the second temple of Christianity, will eventually also be destroyed as it binds itself to Babylon and does not recognize the time, only to make way for the Kingdom of God.

God has a controversy with the world. When the judgment shall sit, an the books shall be opened, He has an awful account to settle, which would now make the world fear and tremble were men not blinded and bewitched by satanic delusions and deceptions. God will call the world to account for the death of His only-begotten Son, whom to all intents and purposes the world has crucified afresh, and put to open shame in the persecution of His people. The world has rejected Christ in the person of His saints, has refused His messages in the refusal of the messages of prophets, apostles, and messengers. They have rejected those who have been colaborers with Christ, and for this they will have to render an account (TM 39.1).


Just as the great Christian apostasy destroyed the truths of the Gospel and buried them under pagan rituals, so the Reformation was called into being to restore the truths. In spite of the surrender of the Protestant principles and the great ecumenical movement which seeks to undo that which has been wrought and bind once again the children of Protestantism to Rome, there is still a great work to be done by that other angel that has to lighten the world with his glory. The remnant of the remnant has to restore spiritual Jerusalem, said the prophet Nehemiah.

Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach (Nehemiah 2:17).

And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you (Joshua 18:3)?




i Henry Grattan Guinness, Romanism and the Reformation (Hodder and Stoughton, 1887): 8-9. Read this book
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