A short message on "Rightly Dividing the Word"
In one of my morning meditations, I opened up to Jeremiah chapter 15, and was again struck with the similarity between the times of Jeremiah and today.
Jeremiah was living at a time of judgment - Jeremiah was living at a time when there was great compromise among his fellow ministers; and in fact, that was the reason judgment was coming.
Jeremiah was very isolated… He was sitting alone because of the truth that separated him. The word of God separates people (John 17:17).
Jeremiah 15:16, 17, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation."
*Here is a case where the words were sweet to the taste, but then became bitter (Ezk. 3:3, Rev 10:9).
Jeremiah’s message was not too popular, and it almost seems that Jeremiah was in a state of vacillation, or a hesitancy to speak forth what God was saying. You almost have the idea that Jeremiah was feeling that God was letting him down… Or that he was standing alone.
Jeremiah 15:18, "Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?"
This is what John Bunyan describes as the Slough of Despond. Can you get the picture here? Jeremiah was being reproached for the true message. Now the Lord responds:
Jeremiah 15:19, "Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them."
The reproach of Jeremiah’s message had caused him to back away; but then the Lord encourages him to be bold. God wanted a clear message to resonate from his lips; and then God promises in verse 20, that He will be with him to deliver him.
“…If you will separate the precious from the vile…” God wants his ministers to make a distinction between the holy and the profane. Many of today’s ministers would never address the sins that their people are guilty of because they would no longer be popular, nor would they have a mega church.
If you will uphold my standard… if you will draw a distinction between the left and the right, then you will be my spokesman and you will stand before me… As we shall see, it is a privilege to stand in the Lord’s presence. The other ministers are to be denied this privilege.
People like Jeremiah, are destined for a martyr’s crown! Back in church history (ninth century), there was a man by the name of Anskar, who was later dubbed the apostle to the north. This Anskar, evangelized the Scandinavian countries, and he suffered much abuse and mistreatment from the pagans…some of them burned his buildings, etc. etc.
After years of missionary endeavors, he comes to the end of his life, and he is disappointed that he has not fulfilled the vision… When he was young, he had a vision of winning the martyr’s crown.
However, he was never physically martyred, so he thought that he had really missed it; and yet the Scripture has something to say about this – quoting Paul:
“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Rom. 8:36).
*Anskar was a martyr while he lived… He was a living martyr, and I’m sure the martyr’s crown awaits him!
The Lord goes on to speak to Jeremiah 15:20, "And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD."
*They shall fight against you, but not prevail!
I think this helps us to understand a few things… For one, this does not mean that Jeremiah is not going to face opposition. In fact, they’re going to throw Jeremiah into a dungeon and into a pit. That still does not mean that God has forsaken him, nor does it mean that He will not deliver him.
So, what were the other contemporary preachers of Jeremiah’s day preaching? – I am sure that some of what they were saying was true. However, the real problem was what they were not saying. They were ministering to the people who were idolaters and adulterers.
Did they address the problem? Did they address the idolatry, and the lewdness of the day? No! They simply overlooked what was going on, and never addressed any of the issues, or any of the prevalent sins of the congregation.
Ezekiel, (who was also contemporary with Jeremiah) said this concerning the compromising ministers of their day: They have caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity. Why? – Because they never defined or condemned iniquity.
Consequently, their congregations were full of sin, and the whole nation was on the brink of judgment… The nation actually fell because of ministers that were derelict in their duties.
Ezekiel 44:10, 11, "And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them."
They shall keep their ministries--There compromise would forever limit them to the outer court. They would take care of the menial duties, and minister to the needs of the house, but they would never enter into the presence of the Lord!
Ezekiel 44:12-14, "Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity. And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein."
*There you have it. They shall never approach to me. They shall never partake of the holy things, or know intimate communion or revelation.
The Lord goes on to say in Ezekiel 44, that the priests that did uphold God’s standard, (the sons of Zadok), would enter in to the holiest place and ministering to the Lord Himself.
The charge that was given at the inauguration of the priesthood was that God’s ministers were to teach God’s people the difference!
Lev 10:10, 11, "And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses." This charge is not just to the Old Testament ministers. Jesus Himself gave this to charge to His disciples at His departure. They were to teach all nations whatsoever He had commanded. (Remember, the New Testament standard is higher!)
Paul told Timothy to rightly divide the word… balance, balance, balance… study, study, study. 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Do you see the danger of a lopsided message? Today’s feel-good message is the spirit of antichrist. The antichrist is called a flatterer. He makes people feel good! He disarms people! He tells them that God loves them no matter what. He tells them that once they have accepted salvation, they never have to repent again.
As the apostle Paul said, Satan’s ministers appear as ministers of righteousness. However, their message is distorted because they never warn of the consequences of sin. Anything that distorts the truth is distortion. Even a truth can distort the truth if it is not balanced. We are specifically addressing eternal things … anything that makes a lie.
*We are talking about those who purposely contrive and love lies!
Revelation 22:15, "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
In conclusion: Today’s news media does everything to promote their view. They picture one side rioting and demonstrating for a cause… However they do not view the side that standing against the cause, or for the right.In his book: The Naked Communist, Skousen was showing how that only 5% of Russia was for the Bolshevik Revolution. How did they gain control? The Bolsheviks controlled the press, and had everyone believing that the majority was for the movement. The Mensheviks (the majority) were not for the movement.
In the end, God will honor those who honor him!