3 Keys to Handling the Word of God Accurately.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)
Recently I was reading Joel 3:10 and found the phrase:“Let the weak say ‘I am strong’” and a smile crossed my face as I thought of the song the evidently quotes from this verse. Unhappily, this is just one of a thousand times when we get the context wrong even though we have a correct biblical concept!
Perhaps you have heard the song (written by Don Moen):
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
Of course, we are to boast in our weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on us, “for when I am weak, then I am strong”. (2 Cor 12:10) But this is NOT the context for Joel!!
Believe it or not, this is the Lord’s taunt to the nations of the world to assemble for the Final Battle in the valley of Jehoshaphat! They are to come, one and all – farmers are to: “Beat your plowshares into swords”; the weak and sick are to say: “I am strong enough to fight against Israel!”
The typical interpretation of this verse, as we “clip-and-paste” our way through the Bible, is actually the opposite of what the Lord declared! THE CONTEXT clearly shows the proud and arrogant nations of the world are being gathered by the Lord in the Last Days for the Final Battle of this age.
“I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there.” (Joel 3:2)
2. Be diligent to put yourself into the time period of the original writer.
One thing I often use as a guide to “divide up time periods” is the the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew 1. There we find 3 time periods: Abraham – David, David to the Exile and the Exile to Jesus. Simple but helpful. (Often Christians don’t realize that the Bible is not laid out in chronological order but books are placed in order by their actual LENGTH, particularly the prophetical books, or by their “type” of writing — ie, poetry or history, etc.)
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to [q]the Messiah, fourteen generations. (Mtt 1:17)
Are you reading from Isaiah, then put yourself into the 700s BC. in Judah, before the exile to Babylon. Are you are reading Daniel, know that you are IN Babylon during the Exile, etc.
3. Be diligent to leave your preconceived ideas behind.
One of the strongest areas that I have had to fight through for myself, and that which I see people struggle with a great deal, is the area of preconceived ideas of truth and the way future events will unfold. These are stubborn personal belief systems that we have simply “inherited from our forefathers” in the faith, be that a pastor, mentor, TV show, movie, book or friend. These are not necessarily founded on diligent study or “sweat equity”.
Can I offer you one of the most glaring examples of preconceived truths that are really hard to die in many people?
He [Jesus] spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” (Mtt 13:33)
A standard teaching on this parable is that it illustrates the power of the Gospel impacting the whole earth, like leaven impacts the whole loaf. Indeed, haven’t we been promised that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa 11, Hab 2)
Leaven is an “infiltrating agent”, like the mustard seed, they teach us; small, yet in God, extremely powerful!
Yet what if by diligent study and hard work I come across the fact that in the Bible leaven is always used as a symbol of evil and corruption! Can I leave behind what I have been taught, even if taught it by the dearest people on the earth to me?
“Leaven – which, in Scripture, always symbolizes that which is evil – is not, like yeast, a fermenting element, different in substance from meal: leaven is simply old and sour dough, which infects the whole meal with its corruption.” (D. M. Panton)
Sometimes even the written word of God can not change our already arrived at conclusions… We need the hammer of God’s voice to break that rock!
“Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? (Jer 23:29)
My suggestion is to be ruthless, almost to the point of being, dare I say it, extreme. Especially so, I believe, when it comes to receiving into your spirit prophetic truth about the end of the age, which satan fears more than we and clouds and confuses more than we can ever imagine.