From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 11- Tabernacles – The Feast of Rest, continued
RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD
Again, we feel we should exhort the saints concerning the rich heritage that is theirs in the Word of God. So many have denied themselves the joy and glory of the Word because of the myth that has been raised around Paul’s advice to Timothy, when he exhorted this young minister to “rightly divide” the Word of truth. It is commonly taught that Paul was exhorting Timothy to draw a line of demarcation between various dispensations, and not to confuse one with the other. In other words, according to this teaching, the Old Testament is practically all for Israel, and must not be applied to the Church.
In the first place, when Paul gave this exhortation to Timothy, he was not urging him to take a course in theology; but what he said was “study.” In other words, “give diligence…” as he said in another place, “Study to be quiet…” Let that be your desire and ambition. And if you want to know what Paul meant by “rightly dividing the Word of truth,” all one has to do is to examine his own epistles and see how he applied the Old Testament. Over and over and over again he takes an Old Testament scripture completely out of its “context” as men would say, and applies it to some glorious Church truth which he is expounding.
We could give many, many examples of this. For instance we read much of the blessing of the nations through Abraham; and until this day Bible expositors will insist that this must apply only to the blessing of natural nations through natural Israel. And yet Paul does not hesitate to quote directly from the book of Genesis, and apply these Scriptures to this Gospel Day, and to the Gentiles who are to be justified by faith in Christ. “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed” (Gal. 3:8; Gen. 12:3; 18:18). Again, men will insist that the seed of Abraham is natural Israel, and that the promises are for them; whereas Paul tells us, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). Then again, Isaiah 54, speaking of the fruitfulness of Zion, must only apply to natural Israel; but Paul quotes the first verse and applies it to men of faith, Jew or Gentile: “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not…” (Gal. 4:27). And then we have Isaiah 52, speaking of the glory of Jerusalem: “Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city…” That means Israel and not the Church, we are told. Strange is it not, that four of the New Testament writers apparently didn’t know this, and actually made as many as twelve references to it, or quotations from it.
“There remaineth therefore a rest (A Sabbath) to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). We could go through the Old Testament and cite many examples of God’s rest, and show how they typify this heritage of the saints in the Spirit which God has prepared for this hour. But space would not permit a detailed study of them all. We could mention the seventh day of God’s creative work, when He rested from all His work which He had made, and show how this rest was but a type and shadow of this glorious rest of the believer–the one who ceases from his own works and rests in the finished work of Christ. We could mention Noah, whose name signifies “repose” and show how the dove which he sent forth from the ark found no “resting-place” for the sole of her foot; and how God smelled an “odour of rest” when Noah offered up the sacrifice on the top of the mountain. We could mention Ruth, and Boaz her kinsman-redeemer who would not “be in rest” until he had completed the transaction and redeemed Ruth, that she might become his bride. We could deal at length with the ark of the covenant, and show how it typified the presence of God and the Holy Spirit, and how God would direct it on ahead of the children of Israel in the wilderness journeyings, searching out a “resting-place” for the people of God. We could mention how David prepared a place for the ark when his kingdom was established, and pitched for it a tent–and how they invited the God of glory to come into their midst. And then later, how the temple succeeded the tent of David, and how Solomon prayed on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles: “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy saints rejoice in goodness” (2 Chron. 6:41). In fact, from Genesis to Revelation we would discover how God has not only ordained rest for the people of God, but how He has called us to precede from rest to rest, from glory unto glory, even unto the very fullness of rest itself. GHW
There are many ways to look at scripture and scriptural interpretation. Not all of them are helpful. There are some Christians that reject the Old Testament entirely even though both the Old Testament and the New Testament canon were inspired by the Holy Spirit. New Testament writers, men who knew the Old Testament as their Bible, quoted it and derived from the Old Testament, under inspiration, many times. I still believe the adage that “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” If you differ, be open minded, and continue with us as we come closer to this climax of the Feast of Tabernacles.