New Covenant Ways – BT17
Scripture’s precept-upon-precept study WAY to knowing God is a baited trap
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For an understanding of how “The Word of God” radically changed between covenants, see Logos Word of God – BT19.
In Isaiah 28:5-29, God ridicules the Jewish teachers of Christ’s time for their “precept upon precept, line upon line, a little here, a little there” (a) expositional study and teaching of the scriptures, which ironically is the pride of Calvary Chapel and many other Precept Ministries. Verses 5-6 speak of “the day Yahweh will be . . . glory . . . beauty to a remnant of His people, when a Spirit of righteousness . . . and strength comes to those who turn back (repent) from the battle at the gate.” It’s not a physical battle, but a verbal battle between the Jewish teachers and the Messiah. God tells these “scoffing rulers of Jerusalem” to instead “akouo hear/listen-to-understand the logos message of Yahweh.” Let’s dive in deeper! <Notes> a) in Hebrew written as baby gibberish for infant-children, b) Isaiah 28:14.
We know the entire passage is about the Messiah’s teaching ministry because 4 NT verses (a) all cite Yahweh this “logos message” in Isaiah 28:16 that God has “laid a Foundation in Zion (Jerusalem), a Stone, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone, of a sure Foundation: whoever has trusting-relying-faith will not panic-in-hurry-and-be-disgraced (b).” God says in v. 28:23, “Incline your ear and/coupled akouo hear/listen-to-understand My Voice; give attention and/coupled akouo hear/listen-to-understand My utterance-message (c).” God is trying to teach His people directly, but we will see they would rather learn by rote like little children in school indirectly from gramma writings in graphe scripture! Speaking of Christ (d) in v. 28:24 as “He who plows for sowing,” God says “He is rightly instructed, for His God teaches Him,” and in summary in v. 28:29, “He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.” Likewise Christ’s birth was prophesied by Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” <Notes> a) Matthew 21:42; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6; Acts 4:11Matthew 21:42, Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:6, and Acts 4:11, b) Hebrew: react in panic; Greek: be ashamed or disgraced, c) imrah: utterance, logos: message with focus on content, d) Greek for “Messiah.”
Isaiah 28:6 says: “The battle is at the gate,” the entrance WAY to Jerusalem, symbolic of the people of God, and this battle is for their hearts-minds! The Jewish “priests and prophets” in Christ’s days in v. 28:7 “reel with wine, stagger with strong drink, reeling in [prophetic] vision and stumbling in [priestly] reasoning-judgment.” Why are they so off balance? Why does God then say: “their [sacred] tables have no room on them because of their own vomit?” God’s not talking about having more room for plates of food and more wine! They have had enough! We know these “tables” refer to the places where the long manuscript scrolls of scripture were rolled out, read, compared, and studied by the “priests and prophets,” just as they still do today! Their own obsession with rolling out scripture scrolls to study them, and their “craving for debate, arguing over words, and controversies about the Law that breed quarrels that only ruins the hearers” (a). The Jews consider this a high form of worship to this day! But to God it was like a “vomit” of written words, leaving no room at their “tables” to akouo hear/listen-to-understand directly from God, that is, from their own true Prophets because they killed all of their own Prophets (a) and NOW they won’t Christ and will kill Him, too. Stephen said to them: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you” (b). How many scholars, churches, and pastors would this be said of, who also “despise prophecies” despite stern warnings not to (c)? Instead, they “do not listen to the dabar/logos messages (d) of the Prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth (e) of Yahweh.” The Church of Christ I was saved in was just like this! <Notes> a) Matthew 23:37; Luke 11:47, 13:34; Acts 7:52; Romans 11:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:15, b) Acts 7:51, c) 1 Thessalonians 5:20; 1 Corinthians 14:1, 39, d) dabar: of words, message, saying, sentence or section of discourse, report, counsel, charge, reason, a way or manner; logos: message content, e) what comes out of mouths is prophetic-rhema words and that’s what forms the content of the dabar/logos messages.
Nowadays, instead of just “tables” with exposed scrolls, scholars piece together manuscripts under UV-safe air-tight glass and use digital, high-resolution satellite cameras and computer analysis to aid the lengthy process of determining scribe insertions/corrections in margins, erasures, corrections, and even previous underlying text, and putting the pieces together to form the text. It’s very complicated and time consuming! There are a “around 400,000 textual variants of the NT, a staggering number when coupled with the fact that there are only 138,000 words in the Greek NT, meaning there are almost 3 variants per word. However, “less than 4000 (2.8% of the NT) have a good chance of being authentic and changing the meaning of the text,” writes Tim Barnett 5/24/2016. Nevertheless, if you read the scholarly papers, there is much ongoing debate about just about everything in “textual criticism.” That’s what these scholars do for a living: “craving debate, arguing over words, and controversies about the manuscripts that breed quarrels.” They make lots of money doing this also!
When you stop buying into Christian propaganda and really look at the manuscript evidence and Church history of the Canon or what’s supposed to be in the bible, it’s easy to have your trusting-relying-faith seriously shaken! A lot of people go to seminary and after learning all this, lose their trusting-relying-faith, so these schools have the nickname “cemetery” for a reason! Many people have abandoned their trusting-relying-faith, because their trusting-relying-faith was based on doctrines that rely on manuscript accuracy! That’s all they had to stand on! And when they actually see how 400,000 textual variants do change meaning, and in many cases significantly, they are blown away. I was one of those Christians, taught by the Church of Christ from 1980-1983 to be really good at bible study.
When Mountain Avenue Church of Christ split in 1983 because of a leadership coup, many people fell away from Christ because they had no inner reality, no actual connection to “the living Word of Jesus Christ.” The church didn’t even believe in the enabling-power of the Holy Spirit for today, His Spirit-baptism, or His grace-gifts! If I hadn’t sought God on my own in proseuche conversational-prayer for a month and got massively “filled with the abundant-fulness of God . . . by the means of the Holy Spirit” per Ephesians 3:19 and 5:18, even though I didn’t even have terms for it then – see “My Story” at About Us, it’s possible I would have left The Trusting-Relying-Faith too because I told God that if He didn’t show Himself to be real I was going back to my old way of life figuring out that I had only been brainwashed by religion. I didn’t matter that I had 10 notebooks filled with personal bible studies and could evangelize on campus with my bible. It was empty words!
What you really need to ask yourself is this: “Did God really want us to work this hard just to know Him and His will, or make this knowledge accessible only to ‘the wise and learned’ – see Bible Info. Many manuscript scholars often sit on their findings for many, many years before the public ever gets to see their translations! What are they afraid of? I think most of it has to do with securing publishing rights, more grant money, and selling books!
That’s why God asks in Isaiah 28:9, “to whom will He (Christ) anagello announce-declare [in detail] tidings (a) or yarah throw out-instruction and/coupled to whom will He make to discern-understand (b) the shemuah/aggelia announced-message (c)?” Certainly not these “prophets and priests” who were still so immature from God’s viewpoint, “just weaned from milk drawn from the breasts” (v. 28:9), certainly not to these teachers who God mimics with a Hebrew baby’s song for their study-teaching approach: “precept (d) upon precept . . . line (or rule) upon line, here a little, there a little.” The NET bible says the repetitive syllables of “indeed a little there, a little here” or “command after command, command after command” are gibberish that resembles baby talk, which fits the context. That was their method of studying the scripture to understand God’s will as a series of “precepts, regulations, ordinances” of the Law “taught by humans” by rote (e) – a very slow, difficult, process with comparatively childish results! <Notes> a) The term eu + aggelion for good tidings/news is used 76 time for the Great News of ‘gospel’ throughout the NT, b) biyn: mentally distinguish for understanding and discernment – see New Covenant Ways – BT16, diligently/eloquently instruct. The Greek is anagello again, c) shemuah: something heard, announcement, news report, rumor, tidings, fame, doctrine; aggelia: thing announced, a precept or message – see logos message, d) command, ordinance, oracle, e) Romans 2:26; Colossians 2:20, 22; Hebrews 9:1, 10; Ephesians 2:15.
It’s all about context! Isaiah 28:1-9 is a chastisement and a warning by God to Ephraim directed to the false teachers and prophets through the Prophet Isaiah about their drunkenness and to stop corrupting the spoken word of God through the addition or replacement of these written prophecies with words from false prophets and teachers, who embraced idolatry; thereby contaminating the truths in graphe scripture about the God whom they were commanded to worship (cf. Isaiah 8:19-20). What these false prophets and teachers add with their Oral Traditions is childish gibberish! Why? Because the written words are for little children and now they are adding more to it! What they should be doing right now is listening to their Prophets speak, but they go back to writings! MSG says: “We’re not babies in diapers to be talked down to by such as you – ‘Da, da, da, da, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s a good little girl, that’s a good little boy.’”
The NET bible is accurate on its translation! “The present translation assumes that the repetitive syllables are gibberish that resembles baby talk (cf. v. 28:9b) and mimics what the people will hear when foreign invaders conquer the land (v. 28:11),” but we will see this also about the Spirit’s ministry of tongues for the completely-different-in-kind New Covenant. “In this case the Hebrew zeer for “a little” refers to the short syllabic structure of the babbling – cf. CEV “senseless sound after senseless sound,” Revised English Bible and see pg. 1010 of Koehler, L., W. Baumgartner, and J. J. Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
EXB makes a note: “It may be the people mocking the words of the prophets as nonsense,” but it’s actually God mocking the teachers! TLB says: “he tells us everything over and over again, a line at a time and in such simple words.” NOG says: “They speak utter nonsense.” Gill’s exposition notes: “Signifying, that they must be dealt with as children were, when first instructed in the rudiments of a language, first had one rule given them, and then another, and so one after another till they had gone through the whole.” This is exactly the NT’s argument about the Jewish people needing child-like, hand-holding ‘rote’ padagogos or paideuo training of the stoicheion elementary ‘abc’ fundamentals of the gramma writings of graphe scripture (a) that was baby’s “milk” but the “solid food” was discernment by the Holy Spirit – see New Covenant Ways – BT16. Matthew Henry notes: “Those that teach are drunk with wine, or intoxicated with false doctrines and notions.” Barnes notes: “There is a constant repetition of the command, without ornament, imagery, or illustration; without an appeal to our understanding, or respect for our reason; it is simply one mandate after another, just as lessons are inculcated upon children.” Keil and Delitzch note: “the short words are intended to throw ridicule upon the smallness and vexatious character of the prophet’s interminable and uninterrupted chidings,” but once again, it’s actually God mocking the teachers! What amazes me is how many scholars get some of the details correct, but they don’t have the discernment of the Holy Spirit, don’t read carefully in the Isaiah 28 context, and don’t see how the NT uses this passages. The NT is the “substance and reality” of the OT “shadows and copies.” You must always interpret backwards for the greater light of the NT! <Notes> a) Hebrews 5:12-13; Romans 3:2; Acts 7:38; 1 Peter 4:11.
The promised Christ will certainly not ongoingly teach His people this WAY the teachers of Christ’s day this prophecies about do! We know His WAY is supernatural because in 1 Corinthians 14:21 Paul cites Isaiah 28:11 in reference to the Holy Spirit’s supernatural grace-gift of tongues as a sign to these unbelieving Jewish “prophets and priests” saying: “For by people of strange-gibberish (a) glossa tongues/languages and/coupled with foreign/different lips Yahweh (God) will speak to the people, saying ‘This is rest . . . to the weary; this is repose’ – Jesus says He will give rest to the weary (b) – but they still refused to akouo hear/listen-to-understand” (c). Again, the problem isn’t the teachers “reading” but not “listening” to WHO was speaking – Jesus and His disciples! In the context of 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 (d), these “gibberish tongues/languages” are the supernaturally-enabled glossa tongues/languages of “men and angels” (e), that on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:5-6 “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound [of the Holy Spirit rushing onto the disciples] the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.” This is “the people of strange-gibberish (a) glossa tongues/languages and/coupled with foreign/different lips” of 1 Corinthians 14:21 citing Isaiah 28:11. It’s for the entire Church age, what the Holy Spirit gives Christians for proseuche conversational-prayer, singing, and even communication within Church services if also interpreted by the Holy Spirit – see Grace-Gifts. God is speaking by His Spirit to the Pharisees and scribes who we shall see are mocking these prophets, but God mocks them saying their rote way of learning about God by the gramma letters is actually gibberish. I learned Greek that way, by rote, saying the words over and over and over. <Notes> a) stammering, buffoon, mocking, gibberish, foreign-sounding, b) Matthew 11:28, which is true Sabbath Rest from the works of the Law: Hebrews 4:1, 9, c) Isaiah 28:12, d) see also Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4, 11, 10:46, 19:6, e) 1 Corinthians 13:1.
Ironically, these “strange glossa tongues/languages” they mocked were the actual “logos message of Yahweh” even though they come in the form of and will sound to the unbelieving “prophets and priests” just as gibberish and baby-like as the way God views their own “precept upon precept….here a little, there a little” teaching of the graphe scripture! That’s exactly what happened starting on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-21. When 120 disciples were “filled by the means of the Holy Spirit and/coupled began to speak in heteros other [of a different class] glossa tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance,” many “devout people from every nation under heaven….were astonished because each one was hearing them (all) speak in his own language, and they were amazed and astonished . . . because we hear them telling in our own dialektos dialect-languages/tongues the mighty works of God, and all were amazed and perplexed.” Whew! 120 Christians heard by people from “every nation under heaven” – that’s supernatural! Yet, others mockingly said [because they obviously didn’t understand a word], “they are filled with new wine [like stammering, gibberish-speaking drunks],” but Peter had to correct them: “These people are not drunk as you suppose, for it is only 8-9 am (the third hour),” and then he cites Joel 2:28-29’s completely-different-in-kind New Covenant prophecy: “I will pour out My Spirit . . . your sons and daughters shall actually prophesy, … envision visions…dream dreams…[and to summarize] on My servants I will pour out My Spirit and they shall actually prophesy.” What they heard in “strange tongues” that appeared as gibberish to the mocking Pharisees and scribes was actually Isaiah 28:11 and Joel 2:28-29 prophecy, which is always the directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words of God, now promised (a) for ALL of God’s servants throughout the “last days” or Church age (a), and it just started right then – see Promised Holy Spirit! <Notes> a) Acts 2:17, 38-39.
We know from the context of Acts, these “others who were mocking” were the unbelieving Jews, many of which were the false “prophets and priests,” who were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribe teachers of Christ’s day that Jesus constantly argued against. Isaiah 28:13 says that these Jewish teacher-leaders “may walk” a bit forward in their knowledge of God’s will from graphe scripture, but “they soon fall backwards, but finally on their backs to injury,” described in v. 28:6 as the “reeling” of a drunk because their study “tables are filthy with vomit” from v. 28:8, unaware that they have been in v. 28:13 “lured into a trap, and finally captured.” The learning “table” of the Jewish teachers and scribes (a) surely lured them in with potential knowledge of and forward progress toward God, but then they soon fall backwards into the clenches of the snare and are crushed to death! The “wise and learned” were fooled! This will not stop the Messiah from “doing Yahweh’s deed – and strange it is; His work is alien” in v. 28:21 to so many religious people, so used to study. To understand the different WAYS to know God, see the Knowledge page. <Notes> a) grammateus: not just professional writers or copiers of gramma writings of graphe scripture, but ‘expert’ interpreters and teachers of it.
As Christian musicians, are we also “stumble over prophecy and tongues” and be “snared, trapped” by the gibberish idea of learning about God through gramma writings of graphe scripture one line upon line, one precept upon precept? Then God will mock us also and “pay us back with bent-backs forever” – see New Covenant Ways – BT18. We cannot go back to the WAY of the false prophets who prophecy from their mind and the false teachers who don’t actually know God even though they know all about God through the bible. This is all old covenant WAY that has been replaced by the completely-different-in-kind NEW covenant WAY of prophecy by the means of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My Voice” – not read about Me from writings of men, only some of which were collected over 100s of years! We must graduate from child-like, gibberish, rote learning! That’s exactly what the NT says over and over!
Lord, help us move past the gibberish, “milk” of the gramma writings of graphe scripture, even NT writings. Let us embrace the promise You came to replace it all – the Holy Spirit being our “one teacher” so that “we have absolutely in fact no need that any man teach us for we have the anointing that teaches us all things.”