Role of God's Prophets in the Cyclical Patterns of Apostasy and Restoration of Lost Light and Truth
God follows patterns.
As these patterns relate to the salvation of mankind, God always respects our agency. When we give strict heed and diligence to His words; God continues to speak. When we choose instead to ignore, take lightly, or reject what He has given, God honors our agency by restraining His communications to us; and the Glory of God, or Intelligence which we might have enjoyed, is forfeited.
This rebellion against God and subsequent loss of truth and light has been called apostasy. When, after a period of apostasy, God decides again to dispense His Intelligence to mankind, this is known as a “dispensation.”
A component to the patterns God follows is that He communicates through His chosen servants and messengers. When those servant messengers are mortal, they are often referred to as prophets. When prophets record the Intelligence communicated from God to them in writing, such becomes scripture. Scriptures contain truth and light that, like God Himself, is timeless; yet because He is dealing with mortals, this Intelligence is necessarily introduced into a dimension that we call time. When, after generations of silence, God’s Intelligence is again introduced to mankind by a living servant messenger, such a prophet is known as the head of that dispensation.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of recognizing God’s patterns and of discerning where we are located within them. An awareness alone that a certain pattern exists does not guarantee that we will be able to avert the lack of progress (known as damnation) associated with not heeding God’s message. When assistance is needed to identify our location within God’s patterns, He mercifully provides such aid to those who will receive it.
Fortunately, because they both understand God’s patterns, as well as perceive the conditions of the people among who they labor, prophets have the ability and often the obligation to convey specific messages from God to their respective dispensation. To do so these messengers use any and all extant scripture. It is not rare, and of course very useful, for living prophets to customize existing scripture, even those of past dispensations, in a fashion that conveys a timely message to the people of the dispensation in which they live. Unfortunately, a tragic observation about this divine pattern of prophets and scripture is that they are both usually unrecognized and unheeded by most of the people who are near enough to hear them. God’s true prophets are in fact often so unpopular that they are persecuted and even murdered by the very people they are trying to save.
Almost 2,000 years ago a group of unimaginably “religious” people both ignored a living prophet and murdered their own God because they could not, or would not, recognize how God’s patterns applied to them in their day. Astoundingly, they actually believed they were righteous. These same people were so aware of the above described patterns that they openly asked John the Baptist if he was then fulfilling a well-known pattern from the past. (John 1:19-22)
The angel Gabriel, himself once an ancient prophet, had already announced to The Baptist’s father, Zacharias, that John would be fulfilling part of an ancient prophecy by saying, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just: to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
Because he understood the ancient patterns of God, the same John who baptized and clearly declared Jesus Christ to be “the Lamb of God” later sent servants to inquire of his Lord; “Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another?” (Luke 7:19), and Jesus Christ Himself openly referred to John the Baptist as a type from their own ancient history when he said; “And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mathew 11:14-15) Most of them would not hear; they would not “receive it.”
When Nicodemus could not, or would not, understand what he was being taught, God finally referred him to an ancient type from a bygone era; the sign of when “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up.” (John 3:14)
Jesus twice referred to “the sign of the Prophet Jonas” as a response to requests for “a sign,” (Matt 12:39-40, 16:4; Luke 11:29-30) and even taught that, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas: and behold greater than Jonas is here.” (Matt 12:41)
When at last, even as their pagan ruler could see the travesty then underway amongst these people, Pontius Pilate ordered the fact that the “son of man” they were about to crucify was in actuality their “King” to be physically written on a sign, in three languages, and hung above His head. And yet these strictly religious people could not, or would not, see what was happening right in front of their eyes and by their very own hands. They did not repent, avoid condemnation, and accept Intelligence. They would not see what was happening in their own day; even as God Himself repeated a well-known Psalm to them, from the cross, in the very act of fulfilling its words. They would not believe what they could not disbelieve.
Today, God is again attempting to reveal His Glory to mankind. Once again, His pattern is repeating in front of our eyes. Both the Book of Isaiah as well as the chiastic verses found within it are examples of the patterns of God. The Book of Isaiah has been used by different prophets in different dispensations, to illustrate timeless truths and God’s patterns to their people.
God’s prophecy given through Isaiah to King Ahaz stated “…Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This prophecy certainly did not mean the same thing to that ruler or even to the faithful people living west of Mesopotamia in the 8th century BC, that it meant to the people living in Judea almost a millennium later, nor what it means to Christians living in the 21st century AD. Yet it manifests timeless truth to all, regardless of the period of time in which we are living.
If you will receive what God is offering and heed the words of the new and everlasting covenant made available through the words of His servants as recorded in the scriptures, you may be saved from the overflowing scourge and desolations that will quickly be upon the face of the whole earth because mankind has again “…transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5), and God is yet again honoring the agency of man.
With the prophet Isaiah, we plead with all, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)