Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. (Isaiah 66:5)
Isaiah predicted that the larger, more staid and respectable congregation, whose religion was active, busy and very aggressive, but which wasn’t individually spiritually searching, would inevitably persecute those whose religion was acceptable to God, approved of the Holy Ghost.
Your Brethren hated You… Why did they hate them?
It is an age old Biblical pattern which goes all of the way back to Cain and Abel. Remember that neither Cain or Abel were atheists. Nor were they idolaters in an obvious sense.
Both of the Brothers were worshippers of the only True God, The creator and Lord of the Garden. Both of them had been taught to worship by Adam and Eve and both of them knew that because of the fall, all worship requires blood(death) and sacrifice.
But Cain was a will worshipper. He decided that his fruits and vegetables were sufficient. Abel came near to God with a broken body of an animal from the flock and blood streaming down his fingers. He worshipped according to the God appointed sacrifice and His offering was openly accepted by God.
Every offering is actually a statement of faith, a theological truism, so also is every sacrifice. When Cain offered fruit but not a blooded substitute, He was saying in effect, “I acknowledge God as my Creator who has blessed the fruit of the ground and the works of my hands”. He was owning God as Creator.
But Abel was saying something different, when he drew near with the best of the flock and with tears running down his eyes. He was saying, ” I come to my God knowing I deserve to die because of my sin, please accept this substitute for my life s you have ordained and be propitiated unto me, Oh God!”.
By owning God as Creator but not Redeemer, Cain was ignoring the fall and the requirements wrought by it, therefore His sacrifice was unacceptable to God.
When God called out to Cain, seeking to bring him to repentance and into right relationship with God, there was no answer.
Instead Cain slew Abel. Why? Because His (Abel’s) works were Righteous. We are told this in First John 3 ,
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.( I John 3:11-13)
Ironically when it says “Cain slew His brother”, the Word “Slew” is a sacramental Word. In a sense He didn’t just murder him. Cain offered his brother up as a sacrifice, not to Gd, but to his own wounded pride and because of the fact that God openly accepted Abel and not Cain.
Such is ever the story with false and insufficient religion, it is violent. If we won’t let Jesus pay for our sins, we will make someone else pay for our sins. Look at Islam, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism and so many other of today’s false but obscenely violent religions.
Consider also the testimony of the times of Saul, when King Saul drove out David and his little flock of outcasts, pursuing them all over the deserts of Judea.
Your Brethren which hated you and cast you out for my name’s sake…
Isaiah is specifically predicting what would happen with Judaism itself, for centuries the only repository of true religion and worship on earth, the custodian of the scriptures and Temple and witness to all of the nations through so many dark and persecuted centuries.
Eventually the religion would calcify into a “Temple Establishment”, a ruling elite for whom the worship became a private enterprise which kept the secrets and dark sayings of the Kingdom of God to themselves, and which developed an oral law and commentary system which literally made void the scriptures themselves.
To this establishment, with its corrupt high Priests, and exploitive scribal class and even to the collapsed Pharisaic revival ( it started as a reaction to Hellenism and to get Israel back to the Bible) came the Messiah in the first century.
The Messiah would gather a congregation around him, mostly of the poor and afflicted outcasts, publicans, prostitutes and societies’ losers. They heard the Word of God and trembled at it through the teaching and preaching of Jesus and John Baptists who preceded Him.
Thus within Israel we had a congregation within a congregation. At first almost all believers were Jews. Christianity is Jewish because Salvation is of the Jews. We have a Jewish Messiah, a Jewish testament, the apostles were Jewish and the Scriptures they treasured were the Law of Moses and Hebrew Prophets.
Most early believers in Jeshua(Jesus) were Hebrews who still observed synagogue worship and temple services, well into the first century. Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism.
But the older congregation persecuted and rejected the early church as Jeshua constantly wanted his little flock,
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.(John 16:1-3)
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
The religious establishment will earnestly be able to say “Bless the LORD!” while they zealously throw out of the synagogues the only truly God fearing remnant of the congregation.
In summary, I believe Isaiah was predicting the church, (which was a mystery) . The church was a congregation despised and rejected by the broader congregation, and ultimately expelled out of Israel.
But when God literally came in the person of Christ , an actually called out to them, who answered?
Isaiah is here predicting the same things Zechariah predicted of the “little flock” of the Messiah.
And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.(Zechariah 11:7-13)
Forty years before the most extractive judgment which ever befell Israel, God sent John the Baptist and then the Messiah himself to literally call out to them pleading repentance, and a return to the faith of Abraham,Isaac,Jacob,Moses and the Prophets.
Jesus became a kind of touchstone, a revelation of the secrets of men’s hearts. Who really loves God?
When God came unto Israel in the person of Messiah, true Holiness exposed fake holiness. Those who truly wanted God turned unto Christ, those who secretly hated God but pretended piety, turned on Christ with all of the vehemence of their own God hatred, culminating in the cross, the sham trial, the attempt to suppress the resection and the attack on the church.
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.(I Thessalonians 2:14-16)
The little flock of cast offs clung to Jesus and found forgiveness nd reconciliation and eventually rebirth!
But the High Priestly establishment, the pharisees and scribes for the most part, chose their own delusions, and suffered judgment an a long night of exile.
I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.(Isaiah 66:4)