Yesterday Chris and I were talking with a store clerk who was at least in her 50′s, but as we paid and Chris rolled (wheelchair) through the line he said to her, “Okay girl, we have to go now, thank you, see you later girl.” She chuckled and said good bye, and we headed back to the car and home. There is a pasture just before you get to our house, and as we rounded the corner there were a bunch of cows in the pasture, and upon seeing them Chris said “Hello girls, watcha doing, eating some grass? Yep.”
He used the same word ‘girl’ for both a 50 something year old woman at a store and for a herd of cows in the pasture, though the proper use of ‘girl’ is to describe a human female child. But it was close enough to be applied to that situation, at least in his mind.
Similarly there is an understanding about scripture and prophecy called ‘the law of double reference’. It means a prophecy or verse means something to the original hearers or readers, and that same word can later be used by the Lord to someone else at another time for something completely different – Yet when He speaks a verse to us it does not negate the first use, but rather agrees with and builds upon it.
Paul and Barnabus, and Jesus
In Acts 13:44-48 we are told nearly the whole city of Antioch gathered to hear Paul tell people of salvation through Christ, and the Jews were moved to envy. After they stirred up the crowd Paul observed that since they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, they would now turn to the Gentiles:
“For so has the Lord commanded us, saying ‘I have set you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth’. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad…”
The scripture the Lord said was meant for Paul, was in fact a direct quote of Isaiah 49:6 in a prophecy about Jesus. It was also stated over the baby Jesus in Luke 2:32, in both cases referring to the Lord, not Paul. Yet the Lord took that verse about Himself and said it was for Paul & Barnabus.
Notice that Paul & Barnabus didn’t choose that verse to apply to themselves, the Lord did.
“Turn to John 14:27″
When I was a teenager struggling with feelings of insecurity, inferiority, and no self-worth, I didn’t believe my offer to serve the Lord was going to be accepted by Him – I didn’t believe He would want me. Then in the middle of worship, the first time I heard the voice of the Lord Jesus Himself, He said:
“I love you John.” I was so startled I stuttered in response: “I, I, love you too Lord.” To which He said, “Turn to John 14:27.” “Now Lord?” “Yes, now.” So I did: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
With that I knew He had accepted my life on the altar of service to Him. But notice that verse was something Jesus originally spoke to the disciples to give them peace. Then about 1,944 years later He picked it out and said it also applied to me. I didn’t pick it. He did.
We have all had a verse ‘jump out’ at us when we have been reading the Bible. Or we’ve had a personal prophecy delivered by someone. Or the Lord quickened, revealed, or impressed upon us a certain verse was for us and our situation. Sometimes it isn’t something chapter and verse, but a direct promise to us by revelation or directly like “Your mom will be ‘born again’ before she dies.” Sometimes He can even quicken something said to us by someone who wasn’t even aware God was using them, but we know a certain portion of what they said was from Him to us.
We can also be like Timothy who was told in I Timothy 1:18 to live “…according to the prophecies that went before on you.” We don’t know if those prophecies for young Timothy included chapter and verse, but they were acknowledged as genuine and accurate by Paul, with instructions to remember and live by them. Notice Timothy didn’t create the prophecy; someone had a ‘word’ for him.
Standing on the Word
Look at the pattern in the Bible: The Lord picks out a verse for someone and says ‘this is for you’. They didn’t pick it out, He did.
However, the common practice today goes like this: We are faced with a crisis so we go to a Bible or a list of reference verses. We flip through the pages or look up our ‘promise list’, find a verse, pray it out to God announcing this is what we are standing on.
But that practice isn’t in the Bible. Then when we are disappointed we wonder why. We did all the right things, didn’t we? We found a verse to stand on, we confessed it, prayed it, waited…check, check, check. What went wrong? Or if we got the answer we think it was the written Word and what we did to stand, when in fact we can’t add an inch or centimeter to our height – God does many things just by mercy and grace and we mistakenly think our formula worked.
You see, we are to get together with Him and let Him give us a Word, then we stand. Christianity is about knowing Him, not formulas, rituals, and ‘models’ doing x thing to get y result. We are to know and walk with God.
Too many in our generation know the written Word but don’t know the True Word (Leaving them with empty and often carnal ‘Christian’ lives) We cannot ‘stand’ on the written Word unless we first have that verse given to us by the True Word. We have to know Him. Not just believe in Him. Not just pray to Him. Not just sing songs about Him. But we have to know the Living Word, from which the written Word proceeds.
Hebrews 4:12-13 – the Word and the Word
“The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing in two the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow, and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.”
When this is taught most preachers use just verse 12 to tell the congregation they need to ‘get into the Word every day’. They rarely read v13 which reveals he is talking about the Person of the Word, the Lord Jesus, and it is He who divides between soul and spirit and judges the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
Think of it this way
Jesus is the Word, and the written Word has flowed from Him to the printed page, therefore He can pick up a verse and apply it to whomever He deems fit to receive it. But if we pick and choose a verse from the printed Word without it having first come from the Living Word to us for that situation, we risk not getting what the Lord has for us because we are in the flesh.
The good news is that when the author says the Living Word divides between soul and spirit and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart, and that all things are open and naked before Him with whom we have to do – he goes on to say: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God…let us come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and help in a time of need.”
He says the Lord Jesus knows and judges our thoughts and intentions, and then invites us to come for mercy and grace to help – wow, what love! What ease in His presence, for He knows all our heart yet loves and yes, even likes us.
Just remember, let Him pick out the verse for you and your situation or you may be like Chris applying the same word to 2 situations with neither of those being the correct use of that word. More next week,