This (Today) is NOT “The Day”

crossdayIf you’re like me, you have heard a worship-leader, a praise-team leader, or even a preacher or a pastor encourage people to praise the Lord during a worship service by saying: “The Bible says: ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Now, the Bible does say that . . . , sort of! You will find the quotation in Psalm 118:24. And the actual text in the King James Version of the Bible says: “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

But I’m not bringing this up to quibble over the misquotation of “Let us rejoice” as opposed to the correct quotation of “We will rejoice.” No! The reason I’m writing is because we have traditionally misapplied this passage. “The day” in the passage is NOT a reference to the day of the worship or praise service the worship leader or whoever is applying it to! Sometimes, I have even heard people apply it to any and every day, not just the day of the worship or praise experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m NOT saying that today or any day is NOT a day that the Lord has made and that it is not a day we should rejoice and be glad in! By all means no! Any day we wake up and find ourselves “not dead” is certainly a day that the Lord has made and it certainly is a day we ought to rejoice and be glad in! (And even if we don’t wake up, it’s still a good day that the Lord has made!) No! I’m just simply pointing out the fact that “the day” in Psalm 118:24 is NOT the present day we apply it to!

Perhaps we can come to a better understanding if we would look at the verse in context. So, let’s backup to verse 22 and then move forward to verse 24 and it would look like this: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

As we look the text, we can see that there is an obvious connection between the phrases: “This is the LORD’s doing” and “This is the day which the LORD hath made.” Psalm is Hebrew poetry, and Hebrew poetry used a literary device called parallelism. This was when the author would make a statement in one sentence and then in the next sentence he would either; restate the statement in a different way, add to the statement or make a contrast to the statement. So, here in this text; “This is the LORD’s doing” and “This is the day which the LORD hath made” are parallels: Both statements are referring to the same thing! What are they referring to? They are both referring to the fact that: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” The psalmist says: This is the LORD’s doing! Now, the day in which the LORD did this (The day the Lord made the stone the builders rejected the chief cornerstone.), that is the day the author is referring to when he said: “We will rejoice and be glad in it.” By the way, “the day” was not referring to a specific 24-hour day, but rather it could have been a period of days, weeks, or even years! For instance, when the Bible talks about “the day of the Lord” it is not talking about just one day, but rather a period of time.

In the primary context, the psalmist was referring to the fact that David had been over-looked and rejected as being suitable to be king of Israel. He was the stone the builders rejected! However, eventually he did become king (the chief cornerstone)! In a secondary context it can also be applied to Jesus. He was rejected by men, but God made Jesus the chief cornerstone. The Apostle Paul made such in application in Ephesians 2:20, as did the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:6-7.

Yes! Any day is a day that the Lord has made! And any day is a day we ought to rejoice and be glad in! But when we cite this particular text, we should note that the day in question was and is not our present day, but rather it was the day David became king of Israel! Prophetically, it was the day Jesus died for our sins! It was the day God raised Him from the dead! It was the day he washed our sins away! That day was truly the Lord’s doing! That is the day; we should truly rejoice and be glad in, above all other days!

Eyes Haven’t Seen and Ears Haven’t Heard?

eyes haven seenI was on my way to church one Sunday morning when I heard a song that had such a beautiful melody! I had heard the words of the song many times before, for you see, the words of the song were part of a quote from 1 Corinthians 2:9, which says in part: “. . . Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The gist of the message of the song and the gist of what many covey when that passage is quoted is this: God has such wonderful things in store for those who love him, so much so that it is beyond anything seen, heard, or even imagined! Now, I’m sure if you’ve been around church, you have probably heard this quotation and application yourself. Maybe you have even quoted and applied that passage in that same way yourself!

Well, one of the things I’ve learned across the years of studying and interpreting scripture is the fact that the first rule of interpretation and application is context. The second rule is context! The third rule is context! Whenever you read any verse in the Bible, before you can rightfully interpret and make application, you should always look at the context! How do you do that? You can start by reading some of the verses before and after the verse in question. If we were to apply that rule to 1 Corinthians 2:9, we would immediately see that although the songs that use that quote sound good and the quotes and applications sound biblical, to just quote 1 Corinthians 2:9 by itself and make an application based on just that one verse is a gross exegetical error and a theological misstep!

We don’t have to look very far to see what I am taking about! Now, to give you some context, Paul was speaking to the Corinthian church about the mystery of the wisdom of God (verse 7) as it relates to the crucifixion of Jesus. It was a mystery that had been hidden from even before the world began! The mystery was that God was going to use the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross to redeem mankind from sin. Paul said that if the rulers of this world had known, that by killing Jesus, they were actually affecting their own undoing, they never would have crucified Jesus! (Verse 8) Then Paul makes a scriptural application by adapting Isaiah 64:4 to illustrate his point. Paul wrote: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I said Paul adapted Isaiah 64:4 because it actually says: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah said “what he hath prepared for him that waiteth (waits) for (on) him.” Paul modified the passage for his purposes and said: “The things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Isaiah says, “wait” Paul says, “love.” But I didn’t really bring that up to note the differences, but merely to help us with establishing some context.

The point I really want to make comes to light when we read 1 Corinthians 2:10, which modifies verse 9. In verse 9, the verse we always quote and sing, Paul said, “Eyes haven’t seen, ears haven’t heard, nor has it even entered into the hearts of men what great things God has prepared for those that love him.” Now, you need to remember that Paul is not making a statement or an assertion; he is merely quoting and making application of Isaiah 64:4. Paul doesn’t make a statement until verse 10, when he says: “But God!” Do you see that? “But God” makes all the difference! Eyes haven’t seen, ears haven’t heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men what great things God has prepared for them that love him. . . But God!  But God what? In verse 10, Paul is modifying the quote in verse 9! In verse 9, Paul was saying that it’s all a mystery that is beyond comprehension or imagination, but then he says in verse 10: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

WOW!!!! Paul is saying the things that eyes haven’t seen and ears haven’t heard and the things that have not even entered into the mind, God has revealed them to us by his Spirit! Now the Bible says that we are saved by his Spirit and once we are saved, his Spirit abides in us! Therefore, for any believer to sing the song and quote verse 9 as a proof-text of the unimaginable things God has in store for them that love him is a gross theological error, for it is to ignore the context of the passage and it is to deny the power and ministry of God’s indwelling Spirit! Not only that, it really is to lie on God! You’re saying that eyes haven’t seen and ears haven’t heard, but the Bible says that what you’re sayings hasn’t been seen, heard, or thought of, has been revealed by his Spirit! We can see Paul’s point even more so if we keep reading to verse 12, which says: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” What things? The same “things” from the Old Testament quote in verse 9 that eyes haven’t seen and ears haven’t heard! The same “things” in verse 10 that God has revealed to us by his Spirit!

Oh! I feel a “preach” coming on here! When you quote 1 Corinthians 2:9 as a fact, you are actually calling God a liar! What you are saying hasn’t been seen, heard, or thought of, the very next verse says: But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit and verse 12 says that we have the Spirit so that we might know the “things” that are freely given to us of God! This is a prime example of why understanding the context of a verse, a passage, or even a chapter in the Bible is so important! Doctrines have been formulated, songs have been composed, and people are “testi-lying” when they think they are testifying, all because of a passage taken out of context! In this case, the error is that of drawing a conclusion before reading the author’s actual conclusion! People make the mistake of only reading, quoting and singing verse 9, when they should keep on reading, at least to verse 12!

Now, I know this post is going to mess with some choirs and singers! But we need to make sure the songs we sing are biblically accurate and theologically correct! Many song-writers and composers today are not really biblically literate! Many don’t study the Bible to rightfully divide (interpret and apply) the word of truth!  So don’t just sing a song just because you hear it on the radio and it sounds good! Make sure that it’s biblically sound! So! You can keep on singing, quoting and applying 1 Corinthians 2:9 only and bask in spiritual ignorance if you want to! As for me! I thank God for the next verse that says: “But God!” The “But God” tells me, I once was blind; but now I see!

Jesus is Knocking on the Door

Jesus at the doorHow many times have you heard an altar call or an invitation extended and the preacher or speaker quoted Revelation 3:20 and said or implied that it was God or Jesus knocking on the door of the sinner’s heart and all they had to do to be saved was to open the door and let the Lord in? If you were brought up in church like me, you probably cannot count how many times you have heard that appeal!

But did you know that the picture usually presented in connection with Revelation 3:20 is not the picture the verse is depicting at all? When Jesus was knocking on the door in Revelation 3:20, he was not knocking on the door of a sinner’s heart! There are three basic rules one must follow first in order to rightfully interpret Scripture. The first rule is context! The second rule is context! And the third rule is context! The Bible can be made to say and mean anything when verses or passages are taken out of their context. Such has been the case with Revelation 3:20!

A good rule of thumb in establishing the context is to make sure you read what comes before and what comes after the particular verse or passage. Find out how the passage fits in the narrative or discourse in reference to the surrounding verses or passages. Then read the whole chapter and find out how it fits in reference to the whole chapter. Then read the whole book, then look at the section of the Bible it is contained within (Old or New Testament), then find out how it fits in the Bible as a whole! Now, usually you will not have to read the whole Bible just to find the correct context for one verse or passage; you can usually find that out by reading the surrounding verses and maybe the chapter. The point I am trying to make is that no verse or passage really stands all by itself! In order to properly find the intended and true meaning, you need to find the context!

With that in mind, Revelation 3:20 is part of a letter that was written to the angel (pastor perhaps?) of the church at Laodicea. The message is not just to the “angel,” the message was to the church. This particular church was mediocre in their devotion and service. They were lukewarm; in betwixt and in between. They were not hot and they were not cold! By the way, I’ve heard that particular part of the passage preached to imply that the Lord wanted them hot as opposed to cold, but that is not what the passage is saying. The city of Laodicea had no natural water source. Water had to be piped in either from the hot springs of Heirapolis, six miles to the north or from the cold streams of Colosse, ten miles to the east. By the time the hot piped water would arrive from Heirapolis, it was not warm enough to bathe in. By the time the cold refreshing water would arrive from Colosse, it too was too warm to drink! Thus the people knew exactly what was meant by the wish that they were hot or cold, because they knew first-hand how useless and nauseating luke-warmness was!

Now, I am not going to deal with the whole passage because that is not the purpose of this post. But notice in the verse just before our passage, the Lord said: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19 ESV)  In the two verses immediately following, the Lord said: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Rev 3:21-22 ESV) So, we can gather from the context, because the Lord loves them, the Lord is speaking to church people, encouraging them to be zealous and repent of their lukewarmness. Therefore in this context, there is no doubt that the door the Lord is knocking on in verse 20 is not the door of an unsaved sinner’s heart, but rather the Lord is knocking on the door of the church of Laodicea, seeking to gain entrance and fellowship! Because of their perceived self-sufficiency, they felt no real need for the Lord and what he had to offer!

Oh! What a revelation? In the correct context, this passage should be used to encourage not sinners, but the church (particularly the Western church) to repent of her self-sufficiency, lack of whole-hearted devotion, and exclusion of the Lord from his rightful place as the Head of the church!

“You Shall Recover It All?”

prophecy hype

Not long ago I ran across this Facebook post: “I heard the Lord say. . .“YOU SHALL RECOVER IT ALL!’ No matter what it looks like you are VICTORIOUS and nothing can stop the blessings of God on your life! In Jesus name! If you receive that TYPE AMEN!” And of course, after such a “prophetic” post there were countless comments of “Amen!” It seems that everyone is giving and receiving a positive prophetic word from the Lord these days! But what bothers me about all of this is that most of the prophetic utterances being given are taken completely out of context and are applied to people and situations with no regard for their specific context or situation! For instance; the idea of recovering it all comes from 1 Samuel 30:8. While David and his men were away from home, their enemy came, attacked and ransacked the city and carried off their treasures, old men, wives and children into captivity. In the particular verse in question, David inquired of the Lord whether or not they should go and pursue the captors and the Lord said: “Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and shalt without fail recover all.” (ESV)
Now for our discussion, I want to raise some points from this particular context that are usually conveniently left out of many of the modern “prophetic utterances.” First of all, David and his men suffered this tragedy because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time! The only reason their stuff, wives, women, and children were taken was because they were away from home and had left their homes defenseless! Before a blanket prophetic utterance of “recovering it all” is received, perhaps it would be wise to analyze how and why all was lost! People are so quick to blame the devil for stealing their stuff, but the truth of the matter is that more often than not, the lost can more rightfully be attributed to negligence, lack of wisdom, and in-aptitude! Before focusing on recovering it all, it would be wise to understand why and how all was lost! Sometimes, all was lost because of bad decisions. Sometimes all was lost because of a sinful lifestyle! Before there can be any recovery, these issues must be addressed! God is not wasteful! God will not put water back into a bucket that still has a hole in it!
Secondly, David didn’t just take off in pursuit of the enemy, he inquired of the Lord as to what he should do! In the original context, this was not a blanket prophetic utterance; it was a specific answer to a specific question! David realized he had messed up and he wanted to know from the Lord what course of action, if any, he should take! One thing many people, even some preachers, seem to forget or ignore is the fact that whenever we read the Bible, we are reading someone else’s mail! The text was not addressed to us; it was addressed to the original recipients! Therefore, before we can apply it to us, we must know what it meant to them! Some texts were written to a specific person or people in a specific place for a specific time for a specific situation. Some texts were written to a specific person or people in a specific place at a specific time, but have universal application for all people in all places for all times! For instance, the concept of women covering their heads and veiling their faces in the bible is more of a specific cultural concept than a universal spiritual concept. It was specific for Paul’s time, situation and location!
The third point I want to raise from David’s context is that David understood that he wouldn’t be able to recover it all without a fight! People often talk about having victory, but you can’t be victorious without a fight! It’s not just going to be handed over; there must be struggle and hardship! Note that even before the fight, David had to pursue! If there is to be any recovery, don’t expect it to come back like a lost puppy finding its way back home! No, if there is to be any recovery, there must be some pursuit! And at the end of the pursuit there will be a fight! People, by nature are lazy, but if there is to be a recovery, there must be some effort and sacrifice! David understood that if he was to get his stuff back, it wasn’t going to come back to him; he had to go get it! He also understood that the enemy wasn’t going to just give it back to him without a fight! If he was going to get it back, he had to take it back!
I brought all of this out because most people fail to understand that in prophetic utterance, there’s always more to it than what it seems! Therefore, before any prophetic utterance is received, these points must be considered: (1) What is the original context and does that original context allow for universal application? (2) Does it neglect or ignore the necessity of repentance from sin? (3) Does it neglect or ignore the necessity of a right-relationship with God? (4) Does it neglect or ignore personal responsibility? Weigh carefully the answers because what is being offered as a prophetic utterance might not be a prophetic utterance at all, it might just be someone trying to “sound prophetic!”