2000-12-30 - God's Command to His Church
Messiah: His Final Call to Israel, Part 17
And He will say, "Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people." (Isaiah 57:14) As may be seen by examining Isaiah, Chapters 56 and 57, the Prophet is discussing events of the End Time. In this connection, speaking for God, he issues a command: "Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people." To whom is this command given?
Isaiah 40:1-2 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she hath received of Jehovahs hand double for all her sins.
When this passage is studied in light of the one just mentioned above, it immediately becomes evident that the Prophet is addressing the same group of God's people in both chapters -- believers in Jesus the Messiah. This is also confirmed by the facts presented in Isaiah, Chapter 62, which will presently be examined. The command, "Cast ye up . . . prepare the way. . . take up the stumbling block," is an echo of an old custom. In ancient times when one monarch announced that he would visit another ruler, the host monarch would construct a highway through his territory, from the border to his capital, in order that his royal visitor might come with all the pomp and pageantry of state.
In Isaiah 57:14 the way to be constructed is not for some royal personage, as in the two passages below. The way to be constructed is for the people of Israel in their returning to God. This verse Isaiah 57:14 clearly says "take up the stumbling block out of the way of my (Jehovah's) people.
Isaiah 40:3-5 The voice of one that crieth, "Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain: and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."
Isaiah 62:10-12 "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up an ensign for the peoples. Behold, Jehovah hath proclaimed unto the end of the earth: "Say ye to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.'" And they shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of Jehovah: and thou shalt be called Sought out, a city not forsaken."
The command to remove the stumbling block assumes that there is something in the way of Israel's return to God over which the nation stumbles -- not a literal stumbling block, of course, but some doctrinal teaching which they do not understand, and which, therefore, they do not accept. This stumbling block may be a single doctrine, or it may refer to the system of teaching which is thought of as a whole.
How can the stumbling block of error and misunderstanding be removed? There is but one way -- by presenting the truth and exposing the error. The command to remove the stumbling block, therefore, is a figurative way of commanding those who have the truth to proclaim it to God's Ancient People. Today we can pray for peace in Israel. That peace will one day come to the land. We can also pray for the stumbling blocks to be removed and the truth to be put in place for the Jewish people. We can (and we should) pray these things take place the way the Lord says they should. Perhaps today is a good day to ask the Lord just what part He would have you to do. May we all do what we can to keep God's command to His Church in these matters. May these events be ever before us in the days ahead.
In His Service,