Jesus was once asked, "Lord, are they few that are saved?" (Luke 13:23). When one looks to the entirety of the Bible, he soon discovers that much of it is a historical record of a multitude of people's failures. During the days of Noah, "Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually... and Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repents me that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah" (Genesis 6:5-8). God brought a worldwide flood upon the earth that "The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth" (Genesis 6:13). The apostle Peter tells us that during the days of Noah, God was longsuffering with the wicked people while Noah built the ark, yet they would not repent. Thereby only "a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water" (l Pet. 3:20). A "few" is not many in relation to the population of the whole earth.
Again, we find ourselves studying through the days of the kings in the books of I and Il Kings and I and Il Chronicles. The same scenario was repeated again and again. Wicked men and women refused God's gracious offer to repent and turn back to Him (Jeremiah 8:6). The people of Israel (Hosea 5:3) and Judah (Jeremiah 2:23; 19:13) were "defiled" to the core of their being. The common people, priests, kings, and princes were defiled (Isaiah 1:6). When God's patience ran out, He sent the Assyrians as His rod of correction to destroy Israel (cf. Isaiah 10:5; Hosea 11:5) and Babylon as His battle-axe to crush Judah (Jeremiah 51:20). Babylon and the other heathen nations would not escape the judgment of God either (Jeremiah 25:12; 50:14).
All of society was sin sick, and so the Lord destroyed them with "grievous deaths" (Jeremiah 16:3-4). Were there but a few saved from this horrid ordeal? There was indeed a "remnant" saved that would eventually return to Jerusalem from the captivity (Jeremiah 23:2-4). The word "remnant" is defined as "a small, remaining group of people" (AHD 1046). The small group of survivors was further filtered through the fires of purity in that they found themselves defiled upon returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, walls, and spirituality. Many had married foreign women and thereby sinned (Ez. 9:1ff).
By the time we get to the New Testament, Israel and Judah were occupied by foreigners; i.e., the Roman Empire. The longed-for Messiah came into the world to offer them the forgiveness of sins, yet many rejected him. Jesus taught the people saying, "Enter ye in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). Man has generally hardened his heart against the commandments of God, and thereby stands condemned in sin (Matthew 13:14ff).
Where will you and I be on the other side of eternity? Will we have an entrance supplied to us into heaven? Will we be showed the bottomless pit of hell? Let us all understand that God demands the same from His followers today as He did in the OT days. The Lord demands that we seek Him with our whole being because it is the right thing to do (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 22:37), acknowledge our faults (Jeremiah 3:13; Hosea 5:15; 1 John 1:9) and turn away from them (Jeremiah 18:8; Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). Lastly, God desires our obedience to His laws (Hosea 8:12; Acts 2:38). How many shall have the mind to do these things? The Lord alone knows all things; however, it is apparent that a prototype has been established throughout history and that is a pattern of sin. Let us depart from the norm of history and put sin out of our lives, serving the Lord with all of our hearts. My prayer is that you and I would be recipients of the blessings of salvation.
John C. Robertson