Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
“Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come, bring it with you, and the books, but especially the parchments,” 2 Timothy 4:11-13.
I realize the above scripture is not too familiar and is seldom used for the text of a sermon, but I thought it might be of some profit to us; after all, it is in the Bible, and we might take some time and speculate on the mystery of what all this means if it is taken into the spiritual realm.
As I did this, I came up with quite a marvelous revelation. I compared it with Second Timothy 2:14-15: “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto Yahweh, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
We have no problem understanding that Paul’s letters were written to a young church, to real people that existed at that time, people who were struggling with difficulties in their midst that had to be confronted. Nevertheless, Paul’s letters have been a tremendous blessing to me and to every other true believer, but they were geared for the church during that time frame and were never meant to replace the active ministry of Christ within His body as the body is maturing.
Surely no one would say that Paul was penning a secret message to us when he wrote these particular verses to Timothy. But these verses do not stand alone when it comes to this letter, it was written to an individual who lived at that time and does not apply to any individual who is living now. We should be careful that we do not take prophecy and phrases out of their time and proper application. There are other texts that must be placed in certain time frames—when this is not done, confusion reigns. A good example of this can be seen in the misappropriation of the woes quoted by Matthew in chapters twenty-three and twenty-four.
I realize this could be territory where angels fear to tread, but tread we must. Misappropriated scriptures always move us down the “wrong path,” a path that will end in confusion. But before we deal with those scriptures in Matthew, let us go to another scripture that has lead a multitude down the wrong path. “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And swore by him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer,” Revelation 10:5-6.
In my early childhood a popular songwriter interpreted this to mean time had to stop passing and wrote a song to that effect. Therefore, I grew up with his concept. I used to ponder on this theory and wondered how time could stop while life in any form existed anywhere on earth or in heaven. I reasoned that time would continue to pass even if there was no life anywhere, or even if the earth exploded as some people believed then and some still do. Then one day the light came on; I understood what the prophet saw. Time and time again a warning had gone out for Israel to repent and get back to a right standing in Yahweh, yet the people did not hear and obey. At last the Lord sent his angel with the final word, “My judgment is falling now, right this day. You have no more time to prepare. Preparation time has run out for you. You have no more time left.” It was said a little differently in those days because they did not form their speech like we do in modern America. Nevertheless, if we think of it for a moment, time does not end, dispensations end, things change, and people die, but time goes on.
Back to the Lord’s warnings found in Matthew chapters twenty-three and twenty-four. The question here is what is the time frame of these predictions? Most Bible believing Christians think it is still in the future. Could that many people be wrong? I say they can and they are wrong. I feel certain I can scripturally prove my reason for believing that this prophecy was fulfilled in the lifetime of many of the people that Christ preached to when he was on earth. When we try to take it out of that time frame, we find ourselves lost in a conglomeration of unfounded conclusions that takes us down a path that has no road signs and a dead end.
Since we all must agree that the gospels were written by chosen individuals and are the Anointed Word of the Lord, we should ask, “What is the time frame of these particular prophecies?” A few scriptures come to mind that should help us clarify this. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house (lineage) is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,” Matthew 23:34-36.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,” Matthew 24:32-35.
“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away,” Mark 13:30-3 (NKJ).
“Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled,” Luke 21:32.
In an effort to place these events in the future tense, some have said that when our Lord said, “this generation will not pass away,” he was speaking about a future generation that will live on earth when these signs appear. But that interpretation would not only violate the English language but would have to completely ignore the fact that these signs were all visible forty years after this prophecy was given and just before it was fulfilled when Titus permanently destroyed that system in A.D. 70. As hard as Israel tries to replace the old order, the fact is they cannot; they do not have access to the Ark, the tables of stone, the pot of manna or the golden candlestick, and those items will never be replaced.
Matthew chapters 23 and 24 are a combination of warnings and precise instructions to the interested parties. We need to carefully examine these warnings, especially the one to flee from the city and escape into the hills of Judea. Compare Luke 21:20-32 with Matthew 24:14-22. Please notice this does not describe rapture. “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day, ‘For then shall be great tribulation,’ such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” This describes a time of the Jews going into captivity.
We need to recognize that the Lord’s commission to the disciples in Matthew 10:2-8 will help us to understand that it was personal to the Jews. “These twelve (disciples) Yasha sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” The command was given to all twelve of the apostles, and they were ordered to go only to the house of Israel.
Another scripture is found in Matthew 15:24: “But he (the Lord) answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The third scripture to consider is also taken from Matthew’s quotes: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom,” Matthew 16:27-28.
It also helps to consider the mercy of Yahweh and to understand the purpose of Christ’s visit to earth. We can miss some very important elements of his ministry if we only key in on the cross experience and its consequences. Christ’s role as the Savior can never be exalted beyond its significance, but there are other elements we need to examine if we desire to glimpse the splendor of the whole scope.
At the time of the Lord’s earthly ministry, the Mosaic Law was a state religion; to question its authority was to subject ones self to great danger. Breaking one minor man-made rule could warrant a death sentence if the Sanhedrin Counsel so desired to have it so. Christ was tried and condemned to die a very cruel and horrifying death for saying Yahweh was his father. Taking this into consideration, it is not too difficult to come to the conclusion that bringing the law dispensation to its full consummation by birthing the new covenant demanded a strong move that was beyond the ability of the natural man.
Through Christ’s submission to the law, he raised the creation above it. The law had no power over him, because he lived above its demands. This fact is important for a clear understanding of his mission. We must remember he came in the flesh and joined himself to the human race. By living above the law, he established a higher principle and set up a kingdom based on the pinnacle he had reached as a man (see 1 Corinthians 15:21). But his visit to earth was more than that; Love has no power until it is expressed. In sacrificing all that he possessed in his manhood, our Lord expressed the very highest pinnacle of divine Love. Love had to express itself before it could reveal the lack in the adamic realm; that is, the adamic kingdom could not be overpowered until a higher, more effective principle was expressed in the flesh and revealed its weakness. A misrepresentation, of Yahweh had ruled over creation, but when a higher love was expressed it destroyed the lie that had held man’s mind in captivity.
This captivating power existed only in the carnal mind; the carnal mind could not see anything above its own power and ability. But the law had brought human perception to a degree of understanding that enabled a remnant to grasp a higher concept of Yahweh. This remnant could see something beyond and higher than their very best performance. They, for the first time, became aware of their lack. They lost the man-god concept and saw Yahweh as Spirit and perceived him as the Spirit that was expressed in unconditional love. This higher principle that penetrated the creature’s imagination birthed the love that was expressed in Christ. This love overpowered carnality through its ability to be expressed and thus demanded a higher order of spiritual government. By openly expressing a higher manifestation of love, it replaced the adamic priesthood, or disannulled it by canceling out the need for man’s mediatorial rulership of man over man by the truth penetrating, contacting, joining, or uniting with man. Man had now overcome the need for a child conductor (that is, the sacrificial priesthood). Through man’s revelation of his lack, or sin, the sperm of truth in the law cultivated the soil, creating a desire in the mind of man to rise above his lack. This desire gave the creation the potential to develop and function in this higher love expression.
Yahweh, or Love’s true expression, had to penetrate man’s consciousness; the creation had to become aware of it, to believe it existed and to develop a desire to inhabit that higher realm. Not all men were convinced, but the few that believed were sufficient to propagate the seed thought, so that it began to grow and spread itself in the earth. This is what is spoken of as the Kingdom of Yahweh, or Heaven. The Father sent his love expression in a flesh and blood body as a living manifestation of himself. This was a manifestation that went beyond faith. They could see, touch and feel it; it had substance. This was necessary to open the eyes of Yahweh’s people and to awaken them to the reality of righteousness. Yasha came as a light in the world; those that he confronted could choose to seek to reach his pinnacle or choose to sleep on in their darkness. Israel, for the greatest part, chose darkness.
We should understand that Yahweh must preserve the freedom of choice, even though it looks to the natural understanding that this is the very thing that creates evil. If he interferes with our choices without an invitation, he dooms creation to their created status. But when he gives us a choice of expression and we choose his expression and reject death’s expression, we are progressing into a full expression of his glory that is birthed out of genuine growth. We are not to become pre-programmed robots, but we must become true sons birthed through the Spirit of Truth and reality.
To attempt to serve Yahweh for personal gain or reward is not to serve him at all; we are serving our own needs. Yahweh does not need my labor and sacrifices. I need my labor and trials so that I can experience choices and reap the consequences. We eat from our own garden; therefore, we should sow nutritious seed thoughts. I can express my thoughts to another, but he must translate their meaning by his own understanding; therefore, my thoughts are sometimes reshaped or twisted by his interpretation. My ideas can also be raised to a higher degree of understanding than I perceived and knowingly expressed. We exchange words with others, but we do not exchange spirits.
Our Savior said, “I say unto you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord,” Matthew 23:39. Remember, these words were to those people Yasha was looking at.
I have heard ministers imply that Jerusalem, spoken of in Matthew 23:37, was referring to the New Testament Church. In this scripture, our Lord was addressing Jerusalem. He was not ministering in symbols. here; he was warning a pathetic, but stubborn people that were about to be killed and their bodies thrown into the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna), a cursed valley near Jerusalem where garbage and animal bodies were consumed by fire.
Listen to Peter in Acts 2:40: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward (crooked) generation.”
This is just one of the many scriptures that teach that Christ made his merciful appearance to that generation in the fullness of the Father’s glory. Righteousness demanded that they be given the light of his Shekinah to loose them from the demands of the sacrificial priesthood which was established through the ministry of Moses. As long as they had no light beyond that system, they were not guilty of rejecting the new order—but the truth Christ taught shined so brightly that it left them without excuse: “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin,” John 15:22.
One mistranslated word can create a false concept; I say this because the word “aion” did this when it was translated “world,” instead of “age” in Matthew (13:38-40) when Yasha explained his parable.
“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (age); and the reapers are the angels (messengers). As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (age). The Son of man shall send forth his angels (messengers), and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
When John the Baptist spoke of the believers being baptized in fire (Luke 3:16), none of us came to the conclusion that he was referring to natural fire, even though it is the same word that is translated natural fire in other texts. Paul became the second witness to the true symbolic meaning of this word (1 Corinthians 3:13-15) as he penned his admonition to that Church:
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
If this fire, the baptism by fire and the one that sets the tongue on fire in James chapter one, is spiritual, would it be violating Scripture to say that the fire connected to our Lord’s warning could be of the same substance?
Back to the timeframe of the warnings in the Gospel of Matthew, in this same Gospel (5:5), Yasha said the meek would inherit the earth. In the book of Revelation, John the Divine sees a vision of the new heaven and new earth, and in them he sees the tree of Life. In his description of it, he says, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of Yahweh and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations,” Revelation 22:1-2.
If we are glued to their concept, we will run into some difficulty here. Some things do not fit into the scope. We have the new heaven in the new earth, and one tree growing on two sides of a river. We have the throne of Yahweh set up on earth and enough water gushing out of it to create a river. But the most confusing part of this scene is the ever-bearing tree that produces its foliage monthly, foliage that is used to heal the sick nations. Are we to believe that there will be want and need in the new arrangement? We understand by reading Revelation 21:1 that the first heaven and first earth had already vanished.
John said, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away ….”
If we are talking in the natural here, we must admit that there is to be a lack in both the new heaven and the new earth. But if we see by the eyes of the Spirit, we will see beyond the natural interpretation of these words to come to harmony and peace in the above message.
If we have eyes to see, Paul sheds light on this subject in his admonition in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21(NKJ):“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old (things) have passed away; behold (look, see), all things have become new. Now (after the old has passed and the new has arrived) all things are of Yahweh, who has reconciled us to Himself through Yasha Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that Yahweh was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though Yahweh were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to Yahweh.”
In Colossians 1:13, Paul said, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (NIV).”