A Brief History of Called Out Peoples

Throughout history, God has continually called out a people, a remnant that will represent His heart and mind in the midst of universal deception and decay. To answer this calling, God’s people have always been asked to leave where they are and travel through an unfamiliar, lonely place – a wilderness – in order to reach the place He has prepared for them.

This happened twice in the history of Israel, and it has happened twice in the history of Christianity. By looking back on how God has called His people out in times past, we can better see and appreciate the significance of the final exodus that is taking place at this time.

Israel’s First Exodus: God Called the Hebrews Out of Egypt

We have already seen that Moses established a “church in the wilderness” by leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land by way of the desert of Sinai. This exodus is recorded in our Bibles, not just for its historical significance, but for us to learn by: “With most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us…” (1 Cor. 10:5,6). We see how they were tested in the wilderness, and how they failed many of the tests, and failed to enter into the Promised Land because of doubt and fear. We also see how many of them were tempted to go back to Egypt.

All these things are recorded so that we will recognize this tendency in ourselves today and not make the same mistakes they made. So this first exodus establishes the spiritual principle of God calling His people out and is the key that unlocks our understanding of how God goes about the difficult work of calling and setting apart a chosen people for Himself.

Israel’s Second Exodus: God Called the Jews Out of Babylon

Once the nation of Israel was established in the Promised Land, they began a slow and steady moral and spiritual decline, occasionally punctuated with godly kings and periods of repentance and revival. But eventually the wickedness of the nation called for judgment, and this judgment came in the form of Nebuchadnezzar, who conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, killed most of the people, and took the remainder as captives with him to Babylon, where they lived in exile for 70 years.

After that, the Lord once again called them to come out – to leave Babylon, journey back through the wilderness to Jerusalem, and rebuild their Temple and their city. The significant thing about this is that most of the Jews stayed in Babylon. Out of an estimated Jewish population of greater than one million people living in exile, only 42,000 returned. The vast majority preferred the comfortable bondage of Babylon to the uncomfortable, uncertain future of rebuilding their nation. The significance of this is extraordinary. Just as the young nation wanted to return to Egypt, the nation in exile wanted to remain in Babylon.

So we have two exoduses in the history of Israel that provide us with spiritual discernment into what follows after.  Let us now turn to the two exoduses in the history of the Ekklesia.

Our First Exodus: God Called the Christians Out of Judaism

A remnant of Jews did return from Babylon. They rebuilt the Temple and inhabited Jerusalem once again. Having paid the terrible price of their idolatry, they resolved to never disobey God again. But in their zeal they went to the opposite extreme of fanaticism. What eventually developed was a religious system and a hypocritical priesthood obsessed with outward appearances and obedience to the letter of the Law while overlooking mercy, grace, righteousness, faith, and love.

Into this atmosphere our Savior was sent, just as Moses was sent to Pharaoh with a mandate to bring God’s people out of bondage and into the Promised Land. And, just as Pharaoh resisted Moses, so the religious leaders resisted Jesus. Undaunted, Jesus promised another “church in the wilderness” that would stand forever, and charged His disciples to take this message to “all nations” and “to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Even with this clear direction, it would take many years for the truth to sink in: faith in Christ was not compatible with Judaism. Peter struggled with preaching Christ to the Gentiles and was rebuked publicly by Paul. James, based in Jerusalem, tried in vain to make Christianity fit in better with Jewish ideology. But once the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles, it marked the beginning of something new. The Way, as it was then called, was no longer a mere sect within Judaism. The Gentiles heard the message, and thanks to Paul, understood that faith in Christ has nothing to do with obeying the Law of Moses.

Now followers of Jesus were forced to make a decision. Were they going to “come out of Judaism” and be “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a set-apart people” distinct from Judaism, or, would they cling to their Jewish traditions and the teachings of their elders, all of whom rejected Jesus as the Messiah?

The letter to the Hebrews was written to Jews struggling with that very dilemma. After demonstrating conclusively that you cannot enjoy the benefits of the New Covenant while clinging to elements of the Old Covenant, the author concludes:

“We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin, are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood. Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured” (Heb. 13:10-13).

Once again, when offered a choice between comfortable bondage and uncomfortable freedom, we find many chose to stay “within the camp.” They were known as the Ebionites – Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah but insisted on obedience to the Jewish laws and customs in order to be saved. Of course, they also rejected Paul as a genuine apostle. This group flourished within Jerusalem until it was destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70., after which they established themselves in Pella. They persisted for some time, but by the fourth or fifth century they were no longer in existence.

Our Second Exodus: God Calls the Remnant Out of “Churchianity”

By that time, the followers of Jesus were recognized as something springing out of, but totally different from, Judaism. For about 300 years the followers of Jesus practiced their faith in simplicity and in obedience to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, even when enduring fierce persecution from the Romans and the Jews. Eventually, Rome accepted Christianity and made it their state religion. Masses of “converts” poured in. Pagan temples were converted into “Christian” churches, and more church buildings were constructed. An elaborate hierarchy of bishops was established and a religious system was organized that soon exceeded the Jewish religion, both in numbers of adherents and in material wealth. Christianity became institutionalized into three main sects: Catholicism, Orthodox, and Protestantism. Out of Protestantism, Christianity was further splintered into thousands of denominations.

So we see that Israel’s history has repeated itself in the history of Christianity. Just as God called the Hebrews out of Egypt to form a new nation, so God called the early Christians out of Judaism to form a “new nation” of kings and priests. When Israel rebelled against God and committed idolatry, they were led away to Babylon for judgment. In like manner, when Christendom rebelled against God and created an idolatrous system of worship “in Jesus’ name,” they were also brought to judgment; the chief difference being that God did not send them away – He simply gave them over to their own devices, and they were quite content to proceed under the assumption that God was endorsing and blessing the works of their hands.

This brings us to the present time. Just as God called out a remnant of Jews to leave Babylon and journey to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, God has in these last days called out a remnant of Christians to leave “Churchianity” and take a journey through the wilderness. What is He bringing them to? Not to a temple made with hands, but to a house of living stones. Not to the Jerusalem that is below, but to the Jerusalem that is above: the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly City, whose builder and maker is God. It is a “Church in the Wilderness” – not a building, but a body of people in transition between the religious system and the spiritual fulfillment of God’s original intention for the Ekklesia.

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2017-03-06T09:42:30+00:00 By |Ekklesia, Fellowship & Church|

About the Author:

CHIP BROGDEN is an author, teacher, and former pastor who shares "real, simple, truth" about a Christ-centered faith that is based on relationship, not religion. Learn more »

17 Comments

  1. kenneth dawson Aug 4 at 10:37 am - Reply

    yea there is no doubt first god called me out of heathenism then when I got all hung-up on churchianity he called me out of that so now im with you all the way

  2. Paula Harries Aug 4 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Only yesterday,I tried to share with my best friends of 30yrs, how the Lord has been guiding me, only to find they shut me down, finding some excuse to leave. I was stunned, we’d always had good fellowship together….This can only be the first of many such encounters I presume, and the price we pay for saying ‘yes’ to the Lord. So the uncertainty of wilderness life is a reality, my experience yesterday and today’s word has reinforced this truth.Alongside this I like others no doubt have been blessed beyond words at the hand of God on our lives…we are in an awesome and privileged position.I pray I and all of us who are taking this path will be continually filled and strengthened along the way.Thank you once again Chip, you have brought much clarity through your teachings…may the Lord bless and strengthen you in all you do.

    • Clare Kaegi-Watts Aug 4 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Dear Paula,
      Thank you for sharing, and my heart goes out to you in your new walk. I have a dear friend who has just decided to also follow Jesus. Her “party” friends of 35+years have turned on her, abused and insulted her horribly. She is also paying the price of following Jesus. I remember a small writing of A.W. Tozer’s in which he said that as we continue up that steep and difficult path that leads to everlasting life, most will fall away from us, unwilling to lay down ALL to follow Him. It can be and often is a lonely path. But Jesus has promised that we will have MANY brethren to replace those who turn away from us…and really, who else do we have need of, than Him! I CHOOSE to follow Him, regardless of what and who those near me choose. He ALONE has the Truth, the Life, and He alone is the Way. Thank You, Jesus!

  3. Clare Kaegi-Watts Aug 4 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Chip! I continue to give thanks to God for you and Karla! Every day you bring blessing with your teaching, and your words of wisdom and comfort……thank you SO much for not being moved from the path God put YOUR feet on, and for teaching Truth. I pray for blessing and all your needs to be met, as you bring blessing and truth to so many who are guided by your ministry. Thank You, Father!

  4. Paula Harries Aug 4 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much Clare for your encouragement .It is so heartwarming at times to know there are those who understand.May the Lord bless us both as we take up our cross daily to follow Him! Thank you again….be blessed.

  5. Mario C. Alleckna Aug 4 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    About ten years ago I believe the Lord spoke to me about the end-times. He said that He was going to do a new and final thing, “before the great day of the trumpet”, and that there would be two harvests. “These are the days of the first harvest, My harvest. For I, Myself, am bringing into My house a people, selected and equipped for war. They will walk and talk in the Spirit, and with great power. They will be my road-crew, making a way in the desert; a straight road to Jerusalem. They will prepare the coming of the Lord, and they will bring in the great second harvest of many souls.”
    I used to think that the first harvest were today’s “out-of-church” Christians, people like Chip, leading others through this time of wilderness. But I have come to think that the people of the first harvest are those sitting on the fence today, who might be left behind during the rapture. However, because of realizing that they have been left behind, and also because of their general, biblical understanding, they then will follow His call wholeheartedly (first harvest) and bring in the second, unprecedented harvest of many souls–the great harvest of multitudes we read about in the Bible. Any thoughts on this?

  6. molly Aug 5 at 3:32 am - Reply

    Thank you so much chip and karala, for the great annointed messages i always loved and sharing where ever i can !may god Bless you ever

  7. Jackie Kaka Aug 5 at 4:17 am - Reply

    What a feast 🙂 Thank you Chip,i so look forward to sitting quitely and recap.
    God bless you and family.

  8. Lynn Aug 5 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I’m always thanking God for you Chip. I’m so thankful to have a confirming voice in you!! God Bless you and your family.

  9. Shawn Dugan Aug 6 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this and all the years & work that has gone into Church in the Wilderness. You have articulated what I have not been able to express adequately but could not resist. After nearly a decade of “vocational ministry” in Organized Religion, the Lord called and the Spirit led us out. It has been difficult to articulate a response to the “Why?” that we so often receive from people. This book puts a voice to our journey.

    Is this, or will this be, available in audio-book form?

    • Chip Brogden Aug 6 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Not sure… haven’t had many requests for an audio book, but it’s a thought.

  10. Kendall Aug 8 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    We are so blessed.

    • Eve-Loraine Aug 11 at 2:41 am - Reply

      Thank you Chip. You continue to bless me with your writing.
      I had a wonderful surprise this morning. Someone on our e-journey came to visit. . We had a wonderful chat, the first visitor from the e-world. Jesus can give us real flesh and blood connections that come out of the blue. I was so blessed and I think he was too. He is about 4 hrs from me, where my son lives, so we may visit again.

  11. Kendall Aug 11 at 9:07 am - Reply

    It is so pleasant to “be” outside the camp with Jesus where the suffering is nothing to be compared with the glory that is revealed. Rejoice all ye lands.

  12. Randi Aug 16 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Yes!

  13. Rick Norris Aug 18 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Chip, I was a “Jesus Freak” there in So. Cal. with all the earliest Contemporary Christian Artists/ministers i.e. Keith Green, Second Chatpter, Norman, Stonehill etc. I Have done everything from the White House to the Ghetto and been writing/teaching about the remnant, Home-church, and against the Constantinian corruption since the 80s. Let me know if you would ever like to compare notes and fellowship on all this. Blessings!
    Rick Norris

  14. muyiwa daramola Feb 28 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    I can see now that the church of God is one, the ecclesia of God. keep it up sir.

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