The Bible, with its sixty-six books, is foreshadowed by the Book of Isaiah, with sixty-six chapters. In addition, scholars consider the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah to be the “Book of Judgment,” while the remaining twenty-seven chapters are the “Book of Comfort.” So different are these two parts of Isaiah that some try to say that they were written by two different Isaiahs! But as you can see the Book of Judgment reflects the Old Testament Law and the Book of Comfort shows us the New Testament Grace.
The New Testament with its twenty-seven books, is also divided. There are nine books addressing Jews and Jewish subject; nine books written to Gentiles and Gentile churches, and nine more books, beginning with the Epistle to Hebrews, again written about Jewish subjects. This seems to show us that Gentile Christians are an insertion in God’s plan.
The Book of Isaiah confirms these nine New Testament books to Gentiles in chapters 49 through 57. In Isaiah chapter 48 the Lord speaks to Israel about how stubborn and rebellious they are. Then in chapter 58 the Lord speaks of the true fasting and obedient (future) Israel. These chapters about rebellious and then obedient Israel bracket the nine “Gentile” chapters. There is more! The last verse of chapter 48 and the last verse of chapter 57 serve as “bookends” and contain the nearly identical statements;
“There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” – Isaiah 48:22This middle group of nine books is a picture of Gentile Christianity, sandwiched in the middle of the relation between God and His chosen people.
“There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” – Isaiah 57:21
The last New Testament book in this Gentile group of nine is the small, read-it-in-three-minutes, Epistle to Philemon. Written by Paul while he was in prison, it addresses a Brother-in-Christ, Philemon, who had a slave, Onesimus. Onesimus was with Paul in Rome. He was sent home by Paul with a letter declaring him to be like a son. Paul urges Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother, rather than a slave. Paul also offered to pay the debts of Onesimus.
The name Onesimus (who was useless to his owner at one time) means “useful” and he is a type or picture of the Church. We were of little use before we received Salvation and the Lord included us in His spiritual family. Now we are family members, sons of God, and are useful for whatever His plan may be for each of us.
In this book Paul is a type of Jesus. He petitioned Philemon that he would forgive the sins of Onesimus. Jesus is our advocate before the Lord. (First John 2:1) Paul offered to pay any debts of Onesimus. Jesus paid all of our debts. The story in the Epistle to Philemon is a beautiful picture of the Church being sent Home to Heaven, our debts paid. The Epistle to Philemon is the fifty-seventh book of the Bible, points to the Rapture and is a perfect conclusion to the nine Gentile books.
Chapter 57 of Isaiah corresponds perfectly with the Epistle to Philemon. Verse 1 says the “righteous perisheth” (or are no more – abad Strong's H6), and continues, “none considering (no one understands – asap Strong's H622) that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” Isaiah chapter 57 confirms the Rapture foretold in the Epistle of Philemon.
Just as the nine books addressed to Gentiles and Gentile churches are inserted in the middle of the New Testament, the Church of the Lord Jesus is an insertion in God’s wonderful plan. From this insertion it appears to confirm a pre-Tribulation Rapture, while the Lord will still deal with the Jewish people until the Return of the Lord Jesus.
In the next lesson, the Bible shows us the increase in visible spiritual activity and how the Church fits into that spiritual activity. May the Lord be praised always for His wonderful plan and His wonderful insertion of Gentiles into that plan.