The Truth About Rightly Dividing

Have you been reading someone else’s messages?


Rightly dividing the word of God is a principle that is barely mentioned in scripture, in fact, that specific term is unique to the King James version with most other translations expressing it as rightly handling the word. I believe the King James boys got it right though, because one of the most important ways to handle God’s word is to correctly divide it based on to whom God is speaking in each book, chapter or passage.

By learning to properly divide His word, your life can be transformed, and clouds of confusion dispelled. Most people who have been brought up attending a church have been subjected to a constant diet of promises that were not made to them, and struggle with requirements that do not apply to them.

A broad view of scripture will reveal that it deals primarily with two different groups of God’s people: The Jews whom He has declared to be His chosen people, and the Church, including some Jews, but primarily composed of Gentiles; those ‘wild olive branches’ grafted in during the time when God set aside His chosen people.

Rightly dividing is an exercise that is greatly facilitated by a basic grasp of dispensational teaching. This is a massively contentious issue in many circles, but if you can receive it, the plans and purposes of God become clear. In each dispensation, God makes a covenant with man, establishing His expectations for a relationship that will lead to His favor and blessing.  (For an excellent education about dispensations, check out Clarence Larkin’s book, “Dispensational Truth”, available free online here.

In the past, as man failed to satisfy God’s expectations, God changed the rules in man’s favor, lowering the bar for man’s performance and making provision for his shortcomings.

At the heart of this issue is the fact that God’s promises are absolute and irrevocable. ‘When we are unfaithful, He remains faithful still, for He cannot deny Himself’ (2Tim 2:13). At every turn, God has reached out to reconcile man to Himself. His righteousness and justice are also absolute and unchanging.  The cost to God for this grace was infinite; the death of His Son. There is nothing God could do in His love and righteousness that He has not done to open the door of reconciliation to sinful man.

God’s promises to Israel were not abrogated by their sin, any more than our sin can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39). God’s promises to Israel belong to Israel, unchanged and irrevocable, and the requirements He laid upon Israel as stated in the agreement He made with Abraham, Isaac, and eventually Moses atop Mount Sinai remains in force.

By contrast, it appears that the Lord gave the Church, His Bride, the sweetheart deal of all eternity. Simply by accepting the free gift of His salvation, declaring with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10) We are not required to adhere to a system of sacrifices and rituals as the Jews were.  Being blessed because we have not seen and yet believe, we are showered with the infinite love and bounty of almighty God. Every believer who has walked with God for any length of time knows though that this is not often easy.

Rightly dividing has become something of a fad of late. Ironically, it is being pushed by a You Tube teacher who essentially made a name for himself by wrongly dividing; taking promises God made to Israel, and, using some sleight of hand, appling them to those in the Church awaiting the Rapture. He made a powerful case for the Rapture of the Church to occur on September 23, 2017, at the Feast of Trumpets.

The Rapture either did not occur, or we have been left behind. Though I firmly believe in the validity of the Revelation 12 sign as a signal from God that we are in the season of the Rapture, I see no justification in scripture to tie the time of the Rapture to any of the Jewish feasts or any other end-time event. The Rapture is imminent and cannot be delayed. Its occurrence is not contingent on some event that must first transpire in Heaven or Earth except for “the fullness of the Gentiles”; something that only God can determine. It is also not tied in any way to our performance. God has not had to revise his schedule because He failed to anticipate our sinful natures.

The Jewish feasts are part of the Mosaic Law laid out by God to Moses atop Mount Sinai and documented in Leviticus; God’s deal with Israel. When given, the feasts were types (as in types and antitypes) of elements of the plan of salvation that God would accomplish for Israel as He fulfilled His promises to reconcile them to Himself and establish them in His eternal Kingdom.

Scripture is full of types and antitypes. For example, the original Passover, celebrated by Israel just prior to their release from Egypt saw its antitype in the crucifixion of Jesus. So far, we have seen the antitypes, the fulfillment of the first four feasts, in the crucifixion of Christ, His burial and resurrection, and the coming of the Comforter at the Feast of Pentecost. Though the Church benefits to some extent, the feasts focus on Israel and they have always been fulfilled in the land of Israel, for Israel.

Many would argue that it was the Church, and not Israel that was the focus of the Feast of Pentecost. That claim has no more validity than saying that the birth of a child holds no benefit for its mother. The Church plays a key role in the redemption of Israel. The author of Hebrews in chapter 11 writes of the faith that exemplified mighty believers of God up to that time. He then adds something of a mystery in verses 39 and 40:

“These all, having had testimony given to them through their faith, didn’t receive the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Heb 11:39-40 WEB

We can see that there is a symbiotic interaction between Israel and the Church. Israel gave birth to the Church, and the Church plays a role in the ultimate perfection of Israel. The Lord promised that the Church would be “priests to his God and Father” (Rev 1:6). Priests need a people to intercede for, and that people will include Israel, those Gentiles saved out of the Tribulation and the sheep nations who inhabit the Earth during the millennial Kingdom.

The promised reward for the Church is eternal life as the Bride of Christ, identified with and dwelling in the New Jerusalem. The promised reward for Israel is a Kingdom without end, ruled by the Son of David, centered in Jerusalem and possessing all the land God promised them on Earth.

By rightly dividing, the plans and purposes of God become clear. When reading scripture, context is king. Look at who is speaking, and to whom they are speaking. When God was speaking to Moses atop Mount Sinai, was He giving him guidelines for the Church, or a path for Israel to follow so that they might be reconciled to Him? Do the writings of the Apostle Paul have application to those still under a dispensation of law, or is he revealing the mystery of grace that applies to the Church? Paul reveals something of the dichotomy in Romans 11:

“13 For I speak to you who are Gentiles. Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh [Israel], and may save some of them.  15 For if the rejection of them is the reconciling of the world, what would their acceptance be, but life from the dead?”   (emphasis and comment in brackets added.)

Was the Lord sent to Earth to preach the Gospel of Grace to the Church, or the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel? Christ said in Matthew 15:24 “I wasn’t sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  Do you believe Jesus was ever vague or imprecise in His speech?  Though His teachings have application to all mankind, he was speaking directly to Jews, calling on them to accept His mercy so that He might lead them into the promised Kingdom.

Had Israel accepted His teachings, Christ still would have had to die to complete the plan of redemption, likely at the hands of the Romans, but the Kingdom could have been established at that time.

Perceived contradictions in scripture are dispelled when the word of God is rightly divided. Different dispensations are defined by the different requirements laid out by God. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways above our ways. Our tiny monkey brains can never fully grasp God’s plans and purposes.

God never fails though to speak clearly, precisely describing what He expects from us. For those of us in this dispensation of grace, we must merely declare with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, and we will be saved [period!].  (Romans 10: 9-10)

Do you see any requirement to obey the Ten Commandments in that contract? The commandments were addressed to Israel, not the Church. The conditions for Israel’s redemption are laid out in Deuteronomy 30, and unsurprisingly, closely parallel those for the Church. In both groups, God works miraculously to change our hearts (Deuteronomy says “circumcise your heart”) so that we become conformed to His perfect nature. Israel’s sins, and ours are forgiven as we are washed by the blood of Christ.

Rightly divide God’s word and be freed from the deceptions and burdensome requirements that come through the door when you get tangled up in someone elses’ agreement with God. Christ said to the Church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10:

“Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Rev 3:10 WEB

That means the Rapture, and that promise applies to everyone who comes to the Lord during this dispensation of grace, Jew or Gentile; alive or dead. Unless you are an unbeliever, or a member of the Jewish nation, the Lord is coming to rescue you. If you are a Jew who comes to Jesus during the Tribulation, the “Time of Jacobs Trouble”, He will sustain you and He’s coming back for you.

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Photo Credits

  • Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe
  • #123005377/Cara-Foto-adobe
  • Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer