Apostasy in the Old Testament

Apostasy: claiming to know the one and only true God, yet not following His truth, His commands, and what He gives to His people. Cain offered a sacrifice to the one and true God, but had no faith. Ham saw with his very eyes the grace of God and was saved from the flood, yet left the covenant that was given to him and his family. Esau, the first born of Isaac, the first born who always receives the blessing, sold his blessing for a bowl of food because he was hungry. The people of the wilderness, saved from the hand of Egypt’s slavery, crossed the Red Sea and were in the very hand of God, yet fell into apostasy because they thought they knew better than the God that saved them. Then Jeroboam, a king over the people that God had protected and saved for nearly 4,000 years, thought that he knew better than the very covenant which God gave. Apostasy, like that of salvation, has its historical roots among the Lord’s people all throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Although at times in the Old Dispensation apostasy may seem like an individual act—such as with men like Cain, Ham, and Jeroboam—but in all of these cases, individual apostasy leads to corporate apostasy from the covenant which God has planned to save His elect people. Concluding thoughts upon apostasy in the Old Testament can only end with thinking of the LORD Himself. A person—a finite being—who has been brought into knowing the infinite God of creation, and who then walks away and breaks covenant in order to follow their own desires only deserves total damnation.  And yet God uses both the salvation of His people and the apostasy of His people for His purpose, and His good.

Often, when dealing with themes of the Old Testament such as salvation, Israel, and redemption, one speaks of the history of redemption or the plan of salvation in which the God of the covenants has come into with mankind. This is most commonly called in reformed theology, “redemptive history.” However, as we can see, the Old Testament has an apostate history as well. How God uses both of these themes for His good is hard for the human mind to comprehend; but for one who is in the covenant that God has given, the history of redemption for His people is much greater. When understanding the sovereign control of God in allowing apostasy through history, the one in the covenant can even enjoy the plan which God has made, and allowed, because of the fall of Adam/mankind. In this, the God of the covenants is that much more beautiful, and the coming Christ is that much more special.


One Comment on “Apostasy in the Old Testament”

  1. Rock on. Great subject matter. I love the fact you brought our how individual apostasy leads to corporate apostasy.

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