The Bible has former and latter’s, and an Old Testament and New Testament, but there are more dualities in the Bible than you may realize.
The Captivity of Sin
After King Solomon’s reign, the nation of Israel split into two different nations. One was known as the Northern Kingdom and was referred to as Israel, so when Israel is mentioned in Bible prophecy, it refers to the Northern Kingdom, which consisted of ten of the tribes of Israel. The Southern Kingdom became known as Judah (or the Jews) and was comprised of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The Northern Kingdom, or the ten of the tribes of Israel, dwelt in Samaria, while the Southern Kingdom remained in control of Jerusalem and the southern half of Israel, so ten of the tribes of Israel were in the Northern Kingdom, while Judah, Benjamin, and Levi remained in Judah, so some Old Testament prophecies refer to Israel, and some to Israel’s sister, Judah (Jer 3:6-10). The striking thing is the prophecies are very similar concerning their coming judgments. Some of the prophets wrote about the coming judgment of Israel, while others wrote specifically to Judah, but in both cases, the nations were judged and sent into captivity for idolatry. Even though the nations were taken captive at different times, the reasons for God’s judgment were the same, and so was the judgment (captivity). The point is, if God judged His own people for their sins, then why would He not do the same to others? That’s why I believe that many of the Old Testament prophecies are applicable to the nations today. They may not be falling in front of a stone image to worship it, but whatever is above God is an idol nonetheless, so unless they repent and trust in Christ, their judgments will be similar. It may not be a physical captivity, but as Jesus said, “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), so they really are captives…captive to sin. The Apostle Paul asked, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Rom 6:16)?
Now and Then
Today, there is no shortage of people who are self-proclaimed prophets of God, and it is just as it was in Jeremiah’s day where many of these claim to speak for God, but in biblical times, if you spoke for God, it was considered Scripture, so just as in Jeremiah’s day, we would do well to “not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer 23:16). God tauntingly says to these false prophets, “who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened” (Jer 23:18), saying, “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied” (Jer 23:21), so “who among them has stood in the council of God?” I believe that number is zero! Even in the New Testament, Paul prophesied that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). All we can do is stick “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:20), or light from God.
Former and Latter
When Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and prophesied what was to come, much of it was fulfilled in 70 AD when the Roman Army, under Titus, destroyed Jerusalem, killing over a million Jews. You can also find similar prophecies in the Old Testament that have direct application to our day. Jesus said that before the temple is destroyed, and of course that would naturally mean Jerusalem, He warned that “many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matt 24:5-8). Today, we see nations rising up against other nations, sometimes meeting in the middle (i.e. Syria), and we are seeing an increase in famine and earthquakes (in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas) in places where they used to be rare. And just as Jesus said it would be leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction, “lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt 24:12).
When the Roman Empire fell, some historians noted that it fell for the same reasons many other nations fell, including Sodom and Gomorrah, and even Israel and Judah. When Ezekiel was prophesying to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, he noted similarities between Judah and Sodom and Gomorrah, writing, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it” (Ezk 16:49-50). Today, the disparity between the rich and the poor is widening. There is no indication that famines will decrease, the poor will get richer, or the hungry will be fed better. God will judge any nation what Sodom and Gomorrah did, including His own chosen one. The Apostle Peter wrote, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Pet 4:17). Obviously, the outcome will be horrendous.
There is a duality in the Bible too. There is the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, there is the Old Testament and the New Testament, and there is a day of salvation (today), and a day when God will judge the world (Dan 12:2-3; Matt 25:31-36; Acts 17:31; 1 Cor 6:2; Rev 20:12-15). For some, that judgment will come after death (Heb 9:27), so it’s exceedingly better to trust in Christ today. If you haven’t already done so, come to Him. If you do, He’s your Savior, but if you reject Him, He will be your Judge tomorrow. Grace and mercy are still available to all who come to Him…but if you delay, then you may have to pay for your own sins. It is infinitely better to have Christ pay for your sins than to pay for them yourself. With one way (John 14:6), your saved by grace (John 19:30; Eph 2:8-9), but without “the way,” you’ll pay forever.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.