The Abrahamic Covenant
Bonus Lesson Four
“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”
God makes seven promises to Abram in the Abrahamic Covenant; but when you examine these promises closely they boil down, if you will, to these three:
1. Out of Abram would come a nation of people that The Lord God is going to take a special interest in and for His purpose. To the nation of Israel, and Israel alone, were the oracles of God entrusted. (Romans 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what benefit of circumcision? 2: Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.)
2. This nation of people would be given a geographical area of land all their own. (Deuteronomy 34:4 …Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants…)
3. This nation of people would then have a government and God’s Son would be their King. (Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders…)
The final promise to Abram is the one that includes us gentiles. Because of Abram’s faith, and his obedience, all the nations of the world would be blessed.
This is where you and I come in. It was God who chose to separate mankind into two peoples. The call of Abram is the starting point of this division.
Genesis chapter one thru Genesis chapter eleven covers the first two thousand years, or so, of human existence on earth. During that time period, God has dealt with His creation as a whole; and during this time period mankind was given the opportunity to know God and to serve Him. What did mankind, for the most part, do with this opportunity? They rejected it.
So, God calls into action a whole new plan , starting with the calling out of one man, Abram, who chooses to trust the LORD God, and begins a “walk” with Him from this point onward. God establishes this covenant relationship; therefore, it cannot be altered or broken by man. This Abrahamic Covenant is still in affect today. It has not been fulfilled. Jesus Christ’s first advent was rejected by the Jews as was He.
John 1:46 - Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
This is why I am constantly saying to my classes, in order to understand what you are reading in your Bibles, you must learn to separate, or divide, God’s dealings with the Jews from His dealings with the Gentiles. You cannot mix the two together and this is what most of Christendom does.
I believe this is what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “…rightly divide the word of truth.”
Once again, it’s important to have access to multiple Bible translations because here we have yet one more example of the original Bible language being altered by the Bible translators. If you will take the time to read this verse in the KJV Bible, you will see the Bible translators use the word “dividing” and not “handling.”
II Timothy 2
15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)
The New American Standard Bible has translated this same verse thusly:
II Timothy 2
15: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NAS)
Here’s how the New Living Translation presents this verse:
II Timothy 2
15: Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. (NLT)
I like this one from the NLT because it’s so fluent. It’s written in clearly understood English. But, if you’ll look more closely at the KJV Bible translation, I believe the word “dividing” is more accurate; and I’ll tell you why.
In the Greek language the word “dividing” is the word Orthotomeo (pronounced: or-thot-om-eh'-o). Now the word, orthotomeo, means, “To cut straight.”
This is a word often associated with carpentry. And I believe this is why Paul chose this specific word. A carpenter measures carefully before cutting the lumber. In fact, it is a common practice in carpentry, to measure twice before making the cut. Think about this. A building structure has many angles. Could you imagine what the finished product would look like if careful measurements and were not taken?
Surgeons have adopted this philosophy as well. Before the surgery takes place in the O.R., the doctor will often re-measure before performing the operation. This reduces the chance of error on his part. I was taught at an early age, by my father, to measure twice, and cut once. It’s a safe practice and one that applies to interpreting and explaining Scripture as well.
Read Romans 15:8 and you’ll see that Paul makes his case that Jesus Christ, during His first advent, came to fulfill the promises made to the fathers. Let’s go there now.
8: For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers…
Who are “the circumcision” and who are “the fathers?” This is where being a good Bible student comes in handy. When you want to decipher a word, most generally you go back its origin or its first usage in Scripture. If you’ll follow that rule here, you’ll discover that both the “circumcision” and the “fathers” refer to the Jews – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were the “patriarchs” of the Hebrews.
What are the promises “given to the fathers?” …The covenants… from God to the Jews.
Jesus spoke these words before sending His disciples out to preach the Kingdom of God message and to heal the sick. If you have a red-letter version, you’ll see the words of Jesus in red.
5: These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
6: Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
7: As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.
8: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
If you read verse five above correctly, you see that this is a command from Jesus and not just a suggestion. These chosen men of God were ordered to go only to the “lost sheep of Israel” and they were to avoid all others.
This teaching flies in the face of what you’ll hear in most church buildings today. But this is what the word of God clearly says. Now there are a few exceptions to this command but only a few. And these exceptions we find in the four gospels are made by the Lord Jesus Christ personally.
1. There is the Canaanite woman (a gentile) in Matthew 15:21-28.
2. There is the Centurion’s servant (a gentile) in Luke 7:1-10.
These are the two exceptions found in the gospels. That’s it.
Why were they treated differently? Why were these two gentiles the recipients of God’s good grace?
They demonstrated “great” faith in the One whom God had sent. That’s why.
There are a few exceptions God made to gentiles in the Old Testament as well. The female, Rahab, in the city of Jericho comes to mind.
1: By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
And there is the gentile city of Nineveh. God told Jonah to go there; but Jonah was more than a bit reluctant to heed God’s command.
2: "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
So, there are exceptions in the Bible but precious few.
God does not almost exclusively focus on the gentile nations until the call of Saul, later to be known as Paul, in Acts chapter nine. Since then, there are some Jewish exceptions in this age of God’s Grace, but primarily God has blinded the nation of Israel. This does not mean that God has forgotten or forsaken his covenant people. God's prophecy will be fulfilled concerning the Nation of Israel. You can bank on that!