Hebrews 2:1, God Has Magnified His Word….

The reference behind this post’s title is Psalm 138:2, where the Psalmist said, “I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (NKJV)

We are inundated with sermons and cards and fb posts which emphasize God’s love, but we don’t hear nearly as much about God’s truth.  Yet here the Psalmist joins them together:  God’s love and God’s Word.  And he makes an astonishing statement, that God holds His Word in greater honor even than His own name.

That’s something to think about.  We live in a time when God’s name isn’t very highly thought of.  We’ve even abbreviated things because of the limitations of texting and such.  You ever see the letters “OMG”?  We think little of God’s name, and I’m afraid we think little of His Word, as well.  We shouldn’t.

God has a great deal to say about His Word, those who proclaim it, and those who hear it.  In this post, we’ll only look at a sampling of what He says.  All quotes are from the NKJV.

Deuteronomy 18:9-22:

9]When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.  10]There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11]or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.  12]For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.  13]You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.  14] For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.  15]The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.  Him you shall hear, 16]according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’  17]And the LORD said to me:  ‘What they have spoken is good.  18]I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.  19]And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.  20]But the prophet who presumes to speak in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’  21]And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD had not spoken?’ – 22]when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

Deuteronomy 12:32-13:5:

32]“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.  1]If there arises a prophet or dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2]and the sign or wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ – which you have not known – ‘and let us serve them,’  3] you shall not listen to the words of  that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  4]You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.  5]But that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk.  So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”

I’ve quoted such lengthy portions because we don’t usually take the time to look up references.  And it’s important to see or hear what God says, not just what a preacher or teacher, even me, says that He says.

In these portions, there are several things.

1. There are true spokesmen for God, 18:18.  It’s true that the main reference is to the Lord Jesus, John 1:45, but there are men who are called by God into the ministry.

2. We’re not to use “worldly” methods of worship or to seek guidance, 18:9-14.  God declares all such things to be “an abomination.”

3. There are men who speak in God’s name who do so falsely, 18:20.

4. How do we know which is which, v. 21?  God gives us two tests by which all teaching is to be measured.

a. The prophecy doesn’t happen, as given, v. 22.  We’ve mentioned this in other posts, so won’t dwell on it here, just to say that there’s no room for a “partial” fulfillment “literally,” and the rest fulfilled “spiritually.”  There may be a partial fulfillment in that the thing prophesied may have more than one “stage,” if you will, but it all has to come to pass eventually.

An example of this is the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, 10:  9]“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.  10]I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off.  He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”  

In Matthew 21:1-11, we read of the “Triumphal Entry” of our Lord into Jerusalem.  The preparation for that entry, vs.1-6, sets the stage for the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which is quoted in v. 5.  But that’s only half of what Zechariah prophesied.

According to Deuteronomy 18:22, the other half, v. 10, also has to come to pass.  As our Lord actually sat on a donkey and entered Jerusalem, so also must He actually have dominion…from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.  Zechariah 14 describes this time further.  I think it’s safe to say that this hasn’t happened yet.  Our time and society certainly shows no evidence of it.  Not even “spiritually.”

But there’s another possibility:

b.  Suppose the prophecy or sign or wonder does happen.  Remember, when Moses confronted Pharaoh about releasing Israel from bondage, that Pharaoh’s men were able to duplicate the signs Moses did, at least for a while.  Some believe that they faked it, but I think that they actually were able to do those things.  Further, our Lord foretold of a time when men will show signs and wonders which, if it were possible, would deceive even the truly elect, Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22.

What was Israel to do if that happened?  What are we to do?  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 tells us that any such thing must be in accord with the revealed Word of God.  It cannot be accepted as true if there is anything which goes against that Word.  While it’s true that Scripture wasn’t yet complete in the OT, in our time the Bible is a completed, objective standard by which everything is to be judged, not something to be received subjectively, that is, you have your belief and I have mine.  Nor is there further or private “revelation,” as some claim.  To the law and to the testimony!  If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them, Isaiah 8:20.

You might also consider Jeremiah 2:8; 6:10, 6-19; ch. 23 to see how well or not Israel obeyed these instructions.

And one more,

2 Chronicles 18:10, 18,  22-23.

10]Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, “Thus says the Lord; ‘With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.'”…18]Then Micaiah said…  22]“Therefore look!  The LORD had put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”  23]Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go from me to speak to you?”

This is a story of a confrontation between a false prophet and a prophet of God.  The thing is, the false prophet was fully convinced that he spoke for God and was greatly insulted at the idea that he didn’t.

It is true that “prophesying” doesn’t always have to do with foretelling the future.  Sometimes it just refers to “preaching,” with no element of prediction at all.

Many today, like Zedekiah of old, talk of “the spirit from the Lord”.  Now, we have no right or authority to kill false prophets, like Israel did.  Nevertheless, John warned us, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1.

Lord willing, we will have one more post on this, because…

God has magnified His Word.

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“…that the Scriptures might be fulfilled…”

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a brother about a course he was taking at a local Christian college.  He mentioned that the professor teaching it believes that all the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled.

This is a common viewpoint.

In its introduction to Matthew, The Reformation Study Bible  says, “[Matthew’s] citations are not presented as isolated predictions and fulfillments, but as proof of the fulfillment of ALL the expectations of the Old Testament,” p.1360, (emphasis added).

Elsewhere, we’ve referred to the church bulletin insert which said that Ezekiel 40-48 were “fulfilled in Jesus.”

I’m sorry, but I cannot agree.

Jesus did indeed fulfill many prophecies during His first coming.  Matthew himself lists 19 such prophecies by text and two others with a general reference to “the prophets.”  It seems to me, therefore, that these prophecies clearly demonstrate that prophecy must be fulfilled “literally” [and, yes, I know how some folks view that word!] and not just “spiritually”.

For example, looking at Ezekiel, in our Bibles there are 9 chapters with some 270 verses of extensive and exact detail, even down to a priest’s haircut and whom he may or may not marry.

Keep in mind that Ezekiel was a priest and would not have dared to come up with something like this on his own.  Besides, God instructed him to “look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here that I might show them to you.  Declare to the house of Israel everything you see,” Ezekiel 40:4.

To say that his writings can be lightly dismissed because of the the fact that one or two words which Ezekiel used were also used by the Lord Jesus of Himself seems to me to be going too far.

We grant that there are some difficult things to understand in these chapters.  For example, some are troubled, even offended, by the references to various sacrifices, believing they deny the final sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.  I freely admit that I don’t understand them myself.  However, without meaning in the least to be irreverent or flippant, I expect that, since God told Ezekiel to write them down, He will take care of it.

I have no doubt that, when all is said and done and this world is over and regardless of our views of prophecy, we will all discover that we didn’t have everything “figured out”.

There were many prophets in Israel.  It wasn’t to be taken for granted, though, that they all spoke for God, even if they said or thought that they did.  If Israel were to ask how they could tell which were true prophets and which were false prophets, God gave them two simple tests.  These tests still work.

The first test is found in Deuteronomy 13:1-5, where God gave this instruction to Israel,

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods,’…you shall not listen to the words of that prophet….for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul.  But that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death….  So shall you put away the evil from among you.” 

Even though New Testament believers do not have the right or the authority to kill false prophets, still the lesson is clear, all messages must be faithful to and judged by the Word of God.

The second test is in Deuteronomy 18:21, 22,

“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ – when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

In other words, the thing prophesied has to happen!

I don’t believe that Israel would have accepted the idea that a prophecy could be fulfilled “spiritually.”  They were told certain things would happen and they expected those very things to happen.  Now, it’s true that they didn’t always understand everything that would be involved, any more than we do today.  And there might even be a “spiritual” element involved.  Still, there was a definite thing or things expected.

For example –

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:  ‘In those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgement and righteousness in the earth.  IN THOSE DAYS JUDAH WILL BE SAVED, AND JERUSALEM WILL DWELL SAFELY.  AND THIS IS THE NAME BY WHICH SHE WILL BE CALLED:  THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’  For thus says the LORD:  “David shall never lack of man to sit on the throne of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually,” Jeremiah 33:14-18 (emphasis added)..

God said He would keep His promise to Israel and Judah.  To say that this was fulfilled during the return from Babylon or that it’s fulfilled in “the church” and the Lord Jesus is sitting on David’s throne in heaven is to miss the point of the prophecy.  Jerusalem hasn’t dwelt “safely” since its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and certainly not after the return from Babylon.  Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi testify to that!  She still doesn’t!  Judah isn’t “saved.”  Jerusalem is still called Jerusalem, there being nothing “righteous” about her, since she is in part inhabited by those who call the Cross “a monstrous falsehood.”.

There are many other OT portions we could look at.

Zechariah 14 is one of them.  Read it.  When has the Lord returned, there have been catastrophic geological changes to the planet and a moral and spiritual revolution taken place so that everyone who is left of all the nations…shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”?  To say that some of this refers to the “eternal state” as the Reformation Study Bible does is to ignore the plagues and punishment Zechariah describes.  How would they even be necessary?

Jeremiah 33 and Zechariah 14 certainly tie in with Ezekiel 40-48.

The Church is unknown in the Old Testament.  It didn’t come about because Israel rejected her Messiah and so God instituted “Plan B.”  The Cross was part of God’s eternal purpose, Ephesians 3:11.  Israel’s rejection of the Lord Jesus was part of it.  It doesn’t say much for our view of God if we believe He had to go to Plan B.  I don’t know about you, but if God had to do that with me, He’d be way beyond “B.”  No, no.  The Church is “Part B,” if you will.  But that probably is another whole post.

To deny even the possibility of a “literal” fulfillment seems to me to cast doubt on the truthfulness of God’s Word.  If He didn’t mean what He said, then why did He say it?Why didn’t He say what He did mean?  And what else in His Word can we not trust?  So, it seems to me that there’s a lot more involved than just fussing over some marginal issue.

The few words of this post won’t lay the discussion to rest, by any means.  I just hope it might give some food for thought.

The Scripture must be fulfilled!