Exile I

Deuteronomy 28.28-29, 65
Isaiah 29, 6.9-13

Over the past two thousand years, there have sprung up literally thousands of denominations, sects and doctrines among God's people. Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses can all read the same passages of Scripture and derive completely different meanings. Why has that happened and will the children of God ever unite in one understanding of God's word?

Studying the scriptures, we find that there seems to be a 'process of exile' which is used by God to prevent His people from returning before the exile has fulfilled His purposes. While detailing the entire process of exile and restoration is beyond the scope of this short note, we will focus on one aspect - blindness - and its consequences.

The two passages in Deuteronomy listed above say that part of the curse of exile is to be stricken with blindness. We know from history that this blindness is rarely physical. Indeed Isaiah is told by God, ' Go, and say to this people: " 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." '(Is 6:9-10 ESV) The passage goes on to explain that this blindness will last so long as the people are in exile.

Several chapters later, Isaiah explains further:
'Astonish yourselves and be astonished; blind yourselves and be blind! Be drunk, but not with wine; stagger, but not with strong drink! For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers).(Is 29:9-10 ESV)

So we see that being blinded carries with it a cessation of prophacy and a lack of understanding. The following passage shows that this blindness applies specifically to Scripture: 'And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, "Read this," he says, "I cannot, for it is sealed." And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, "Read this," he says, "I cannot read."(Is 29:11-12 ESV)

So we have part of the answer to our question about the proliferation of doctrines and interpretations of scripture. We are in exile without the prophets and seers who are to be our eyes and ears. Without them and with our own understanding dulled, we follow the dictates of our own hearts, interpreting Scripture to our own taste and advantage.

In the second part of this article, we will talk about the reversal of the blindness that God has laid upon His children and answer the second question above. I believe that we have started on the path to restoration and will see more and more the fruits of blind eyes being opened.