THE MYSTERIOUS ORIGINS OF THOSE WHO REJECT MESSIAH
Something unusual happened in Babylon during the captivity. After being deported to a faraway land, a clandestine priestly caste laid the groundwork for a new approach toward divine knowledge.
Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also.” [Jeremiah 6:16-19]
If one reads the gospels looking for similar clues and seeking this particular theme, it is not difficult to find. In fact, the theme jumps right out at you. Certain religious authorities were always questioning Him. They questioned His teachings, His manner, His motivation, the way He went about things, and even His mental makeup. They repeatedly struck out, however, on all their attempts to discredit Him.
SECRET SECTS A-STIRRING
One wonders how those people ever gained their religious authority. How did it happen? Many Christians never seek out the back story, but there was a lot of really weird stuff brewing up in good old Judea in the two centuries prior to the Lord’s arrival. There was also really weird stuff going on in the centuries before then but it started getting concentrated and coming together in an organized manner by that time.
Let’s go further back for even more background, to just prior to the Babylonian invasion of Judah and the first destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586BC. Up to this time, the many spiritual departures and vile depravities that began with Solomon and continued through later generations of kings and priests laid a foundation for the destruction. We know of the strange pagan practices they adopted and never completely disavowed. One can only imagine how deep the sin became, but judging by the manifold mentions in OT lore, it was quite extensive. We know the results but little of the conspiratorial underpinnings. By the time of the Babylonian captivity, the degeneracy and corruption level reached a point that demanded judgment.
This was the period of the early origin of obscure precursors, factions, and mysterious esoteric sects that had begun forming behind the pages of OT history that would essentially rewrite it and which later came to full fruition. It stemmed from the ongoing sin and rebellion plaguing the dwindling kingdom of Judah. The failing nation, at intervals, had already become the client state of great world powers and most of her final kings were weak, though King Josiah brought a great reform which sadly failed in the end.
The captivity actually began circa 600BC (many scholars say the first deportation to Babylon took place in 597BC). I will not go into all the particulars, but these early divisions within Judah began to coalesce into distinctive groups and eventually produced the various religious sects, mini-cults, political parties, and whatnot by 200BC and shortly thereafter.
HEADING FOR A SHOWDOWN
This resultant splintering and ongoing four century sorting out process had begun long before the captivity, however, primarily with the first big split—that between the priests and prophets. There was a war simmering beneath the surface for what should be obvious reasons. The priests and associates were always on the scene daily working in and around the temple and this put them in close authoritative proximity with the political rulers and kings. The prophets, however, were often the wild card which those in authority didn’t like. They didn’t like them precisely because they were largely incorruptible (and paid a great price for it), and could never be counted on to go along with the program since they always followed God’s program.
But wait. Were not the kings, priests, and prophets all supposed to be on the same page? Did not God create the priestly tribe in the first place and give them a legitimate function? The answer is, of course, yes, but the priestly tribe would often get weirded out and appeared fixated on a never-ending fight with the other major authority God created, that of the prophets, seemingly because of some strange inferiority complex and disagreement with the prophets’ perceived Wild West manner. And compared to them, the prophets definitely had a Wild West manner.
If Clint Eastwood was involved, for example, he would always be a prophet.
To outside observers (the ruling authorities), the prophets were always flying by the seat of their pants and making crazy unfounded pronouncements, meaning they could not possibly be like God or be in obedience to God because God just wasn’t like that. He would never do that. He was structured and organized and orderly and demanded strict attention to detail and doing things in a set manner on a consistent daily basis. According to those in charge, the wacko solitary head-in-the-clouds eccentrics with powerful and perfect unsettling utterances and fiery eyes scaring everyone all the time and getting in the face of those who ruled and telling them off for all their many peccadilloes and transgressions proved they could not possibly be on God’s payroll and therefore must be stopped.
After centuries of this bickering battle the prophets finally were stopped. The prophetic word ended somewhere in the vicinity of 400BC. The preservative was gone. The lights went out. The priests took over. They got their way. And they relished the moment.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Over the next two hundred years, from 400BC to 200BC, a sifting and settling process commenced among those vying for the official priestly perspective and narrative. Then, from roughly 200BC and a few decades thereafter, the origin and early beginnings of the later major religious sects emerged. Their beginnings are still historically sketchy, but enough information can be found to follow their trail. These major sects—Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, et al—wayward and odd, and each with its own agenda, claimed close proximity to God but were truly quite distant compared to the rich relationship with the Lord possessed by the early patriarchs and later prophets.
These new groups came to full flower and strength by the first century AD, just in time to do battle with the greatest of the prophets and His forerunner who was otherwise the best of all time. One wrested control of the people and another wrested control of the temple.
The Pharisees in particular, most of whom were not priests or overtly priestly but certainly not prophetic, had long since undermined the Law of Moses and created their own hyper-sacerdotal encyclopedic answer-all mega index and then orally codified it, meaning it was known only to them and they controlled it. They were thus the holders of secret knowledge. Their illicit work was only possible because there had been no prophet for over four hundred years to stop them. Thus, the Lord obviously knew what He was doing by creating prophets—in part to keep an eye on and balance out those incommunicado priests and kings in authority that seemed to always have a problem with His authority. The absence of the prophets and the clear voice of heaven—the voice of God Himself speaking through the prophets—allowed the priests to create a non-spiritual dimwit faction that took over everything.
After surviving early skirmishes and gaining ever-greater power over a couple of centuries, the Pharisee and Sadducee parties and smaller groups like them were used to having their way. They never had a prophet in their face. They had nothing whatsoever to draw on in all their collective experience regarding how to deal with a prophet. There was never a prophetic correcting voice against them. Squabbling among themselves did nothing regarding correction and only served to foment more hatred and division.
Unlike the prophets, the new religious rulers put their faith not in God but in money, outward appearance, and themselves. They ended up being the epitome of religious spoiled children constantly whining and demanding their way. Every little thing was an offense to them. They were ridiculously easily offended. Everything they said was right—down to the most ludicrous and preposterous detail with little or no bearing on the written Law. They were thus relentlessly pointing out everyone’s errors and tacking on an endless minutia stream of counterintuitive religious do’s and don’ts.
THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU QUIT ON GOD
One wonders why in the world the rest of the nation didn’t simply rise up and stomp these idiots out of existence and get them off their backs. Was it part of God’s judgment? Being constantly rejected by His people going back many centuries, was God giving the people what they demanded, the same way He allowed them to replace Him with King Saul a thousand years before?
In searching for the reason why Judea allowed these religious pretenders to gain such prominence and ruin their lives, one discovers the not so secret answer when one acknowledges the results of their sordid rebellion: When the people rejected God they eliminated His strength, power, and anointing within and upon them. They lost their ability to fight spiritual battles. They were thus forced to surrender to the use of their mere natural strength, something demonic forces could easily overpower and much stronger individuals could take advantage of. The people of the nation meekly surrendered, having no wherewithal to overcome their religious oppressors who were intent on control though guised in false light.
It is for the same reason that the exact religious development has transpired in Unreal Christianity. It should look very familiar.
THE RETURN OF THE PROPHETIC VOICE
But the Lord God was not through. He would take it upon Himself to return and restore, and do battle with the demonic pretenders to His throne. He would bring freedom to those sincere ones caught up in the struggle who loved Him and wanted to be free to serve and worship Him. He would come for them. He would fight for them. He would put everything on the line for them. In one fell swoop the powerful voice of the prophets was gloriously restored.
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’” [Luke 11:47-51] 
The evil ones returned fire by doing to Messiah what they did to all those prophets. He returned fire by coming back from the dead and claiming His throne. Like those in Ezekiel’s boneyard, He continues to return fire through every man and woman He raises up from spiritual death, anoints with His Holy Spirit, and sends into spiritual battle.
All glory, honor, and praise to Yehoshua HaMashiach.
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Posted on February 11, 2018, in Teaching and tagged Ancient Israel, Jesus is the Messiah, Lord Jesus, Messiah, Pentecost, Prophets, Sadducees, The Great Awakening, Tradition of the Pharisees, Yehoshua HaMashiach. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
Kings, priests and prophets. Reminds me of the checks and balances system of our federal government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial branches). The only problem is that the prophets always got the short end of the stick. How many prophets were killed speaking the words of God?
“The prophets definitely had a Wild West manner” and “If Clint Eastwood was involved, for example, he would always be a prophet.” Reminds me of Clint Eastwood in his film HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (I named my first blog High Plains Drifter for a reason). Here is my review of Clint Eastwood’s film:
Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter (1973)
The first time I saw High Plains Drifter was probably in the late 1970s. Clint Eastwood stars in and directs the film. Most westerns are either about cattle drives or cowboys and Indians. High Plains Drifter is different: this is a God’s-Judgment-on-the-wicked western.
Clint Eastwood plays a stranger who rides into the town of Lago–and he has a really bad attitude. This stranger is also very good with a side arm. During the course of the film, the stranger ends up killing some bad guys and burning the town of Lago to the ground. There are a couple of flashbacks of one Marshall Jim Duncan being whipped to death. At the end of the film, the audience can see that the stranger was the Second Coming of Marshall Duncan:
The stranger rides out of the town of Lago past the cemetery. This little guy named Mordecai is writing something on a grave marker.
The stranger looks at Mordecai and Mordecai looks up and says, “I’m almost done here.”
Then Mordecai asks the stranger, “I never did know your name.”
And the stranger replies, “Yes you do.”
As the stranger rides off, the camera shows the grave marker: “Marshall Jim Duncan.”
I have a short story entitled “High Plains Drifter” (Ethos, March & May 1995); I have a book entitled High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America (PublishAmerica, December 2008); I have a blog called “High Plains Drifter.” So is this some sort of gunslinger fixation or is there method to my madness? The clue is in one Scripture: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established.”
There is a lot of sin (unrepented sin) in the United States and in the world. When people continue to live in sin, eventually God’s Judgment falls. The more people try to hide their sin, the greater God’s Judgment. The people of Lago tried to hide the murder of Marshall Duncan, but their sin was found out. You can’t hide from God.
There is a scene in High Plains Drifter where this lady tells the stranger, “Ever since Marshall Duncan’s death, the people in this town are afraid of strangers.”
“When the Stranger says: ‘What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?’
What will you answer? ‘We all dwell together
To make money from each other’? or ‘This is a community’?
“Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger.
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.
“There is one who remembers the way to your door:
Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.
You shall not deny the Stranger.”
Choruses from “The Rock”
There is another scene in High Plains Drifter where the people of Lago [the town of Lago reminds me of Algona, Iowa] are meeting at the church. One of the guys is speaking in the front of the church. The camera then pans to the right and shows a bulletin board with this Scripture:
Isaiah 53: 3-4: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Marshall Jim Duncan was whipped to death; Jesus Christ was at least nine-tenths whipped to death. The stranger riding into Lago (the first scene of the film) is a symbol of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ: not as the Lamb of God, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Isaiah 63: 1-6: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.”
Thank you Tim. I appreciate the contribution. Movies like that let us know there are people who know a lot more than we may think they know. Placing that particular passage from Isaiah in that movie proves it. Though it usually appears that people get away with their sin it actually never happens. It’s one thing to try to do right but struggle, as so many do, and try to find the truth. It is another to reject it out of hand. When one rejects the love of God and His salvation and rejects the very One named YHWH-Salvation they obviously have no chance. If one searches for truth it means they love the truth. If one is not saved but is trying to get there the Lord will lead them. He will always make a way for them and try to help them. He is merciful, kind, and understanding. All one must do is admit fault and repent and get right with Him and serve Him. But He must bring judgment when warranted.
“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?”
They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES?’ Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” [Matthew 21:33-43]
Blessings to you.
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Again, you have written an article that so closely coincides with what I’m studying in Isaiah right now. I just started today on Chapter 36, which is an historical interlude between the two prophetic parts of the book. We see King Hezekiah, who starts well but fails; we see Sennacherib, who conquers all of Judah saving Jerusalem which was protected and delivered by God. Very exciting times, but also a time of tumult and turning away from truth into all the evils that still exist today and have their roots in this time of darkness in Israel.
Thank you Linda. Your study of the book of Isaiah goes very deep into the heart of Hebrew history and spells out in real time what happens when the Lord’s people respect Him or not and follow Him or not. We know that idealistic outcomes, which the Hebrews rarely achieved but did on occasion, are definitely possible and are what the Lord desires. He wants to bless us and take care of us but He can’t do that without our cooperation. I always hear the warnings of Moses and Joshua when I think of the bad outcomes the Hebrews did choose for themselves, as those two patriarchs told them exactly what would happen either way. They could obey unto blessing or disobey unto cursing. The latter ended up being the majority choice of the nation though the Lord always had a loving Remnant who deeply cared for Him and wanted His will.
As it is often said, “I read the back of the book and we win.” That is, that loving Remnant, which now exists as His one Community and has been open to all the people of the world for almost two thousand years, exists due only to the great love of the Lord Jesus who died for them, saved them, paid for their sin, set them free, and blessed them abundantly, but also by their great love and acceptance and desire for Him. There are believers and unbelievers, both Jew and Gentile, and rejecters of Messiah, both Jew and Gentile. The demarcation line is drawn only between those who love the Lord Jesus and those who don’t, regardless of nationality, religion, or any other separating factor. Those who reject Messiah have only themselves to blame and the result of their choice will become evident in time, though not necessarily in this life.
Thanks again for your insightful comment, Linda. I have just now had the time to reply due to work responsibilities. Be very blessed.
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Thanks, RJ. Never feel compelled to respond right away 🙂