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The Apple of His Eye
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Wendy Wippel

The SPACE Bible study (likely at a church near you) examines each verse for a Sin that you should avoid, a Promise for you to claim, an Action for you to take, a Command for you to obey , or an Example for you to follow. Do I have a problem with that? Nope. I have about 20,000.

Most of them relating to the big ego (and the limited perspective) which that kind of study perpetuates. The Old Testament (roughly, depending on which translation you are using) contains 27,570 verses; the New Testament, 7956.  

(Someone kindly figured this stuff out way before I every figured out I might want to know it.)

Of the Old Testament, however, 5,875 verses are the major and minor prophets, virtually all prophecy, while 9816 record the history of Israel, specifically.  And there are 5853 verses in the Torah, but many of those are also history and prophecy.

In fact, according to the Lord Himself on the Emmaus road, all of the Old Testament speaks of Him prophetically,  In the form of similitudes (metaphors and symbols) as He declares in Hosea 12:10:

I have also spoken by the prophets and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.

So…the Old Testament is either prophecy (all of it, actually, counting both straight prophecy in the major and minor prophets and prophecy in metaphors) and history.  The remainder is the law. And in the law, there are only 613 direct commands.

(Jews since the early years since Christ have worn prayer shawls with 613 knots on them to remind themselves of those 613 commands.)

What about the New Testament?  Again, someone counted, and of the 7956 verses in the New Testament, only 1050 are commandments.

Bottom Line? Out of the more than 35000 verses in the Bible, a mere 1600 tell us to do or not do something.

Granted, there are the examples to follow.  And there are some promises to claim.  But without the perspective that understanding the historical books gives a student of the Bible, the promises claimed can get ludicrous.

Have you ever heard someone claim the promise that they would be repaid by the years the locust have eaten?  Me too. But that was a promise for Israel and Israel alone. God promised the church in Revelation 2 (Smyrna) that they were going to die. 

But if they died once, they wouldn’t die twice.

That’s really my biggest beef with this mindset.  It’s narcissistic obsession. My husband and I used to occasionally kid our children when they were teenagers (one still in progress) that we could see the axis of the universe sticking out of the crown of their heads. Meaning they were being totally self-absorbed. Everything was about them.

Which is somewhat normal for teenagers, but shouldn’t be for Christians who want to understand the word of God.  And if you are going to understand the word of God, you can’t really ignore 20,000 verses.

And understanding the Scriptures as a whole is, BTW, one of those rare commands in the New Testament, II Timothy 2:15:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

Life can be hard, and I have a confession. I spent pretty much the whole day Saturday crying. There are just some prayers, like Paul’s thorn in the side, that never get answered, no matter how fervently you pray. Maybe someday it will be in God’s time to answer, and if not, someday He will hold me, catch my tears, and explain why His silence was necessary for my good.

Sunday morning, however, I got to church and cried again during worship (the words of the worship song resounding in my soul … you are everything you promised, your faithfulness is true, I am desperate for your presence, all I need is you… waiting here for you) but this time from joy, accompanied by a certainty that I can, in fact, trust Him.

What made the difference?  About six hours in the Word Saturday night.

And none of them (shocker for those in the SPACE program) in the Psalms or the Gospels.  All of them, in fact, in the prophets and in Revelation.

(Not that I have anything against the Psalms or the Gospels, I do spend my share of time in them as well. I just happen to be writing a prophecy study.)

But here’s the deal.  Ultimately we know, from life and from Scripture, that no matter how many examples we try to follow and commands we obey and sins we avoid and promises we claim (even one that actually apply to us) we are still going to continue to sin until we see Him face to face, and in this world we will continue to have trials and tribulations that all the promise- claiming and sin- avoiding can’t fix.  And when push comes to shove that’s kind of discouraging. The whole world is infected with sin, and only Jesus, (but not in our lifetimes), can eradicate it completely.

But we do have the peace that passes understanding, and that comes from the knowledge that He has overcome the world and will someday soon redeem it.  And the details of that are found in His prophetic promises. The ones that have been fulfilled show us that God exists and that He does, in fact, have the power to do what He has promised:

“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.  Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let him foretell what will come.  Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?  You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?”  Isaiah 42:8-9

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.  Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let him foretell what will come.  Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?  You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?”  Isaiah 44:6-8

The ones still to be fulfilled tell us that, in the end, we will live with Him forever and He will wipe away all of our tears.

And if it is not OK now?  Well, it’s not the end now.

Actually, that’s another one of the actual commands, this one from the mouth of the Lord Himself:

"Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We just have to keep watching that play out.

Wasn’t it the Pharisees who searched the scriptures every day to see what commands they needed to obey and what sins they needed to avoid?  According to Jesus, it was because they were so worried about their own holiness that they missed the fact that the scriptures testified about Jesus Himself. (John 5:39)   Presumably both the nature and results of His first and second coming, since He wept over Jerusalem after His reception on Palm Sunday, lamenting the fact that the Jews did not recognize the day that the well- prophesied arrival of their awaited King actually took place.  (Luke 19)

They missed the boat.  Obviously we are commanded to make every effort to  add to our faith goodness, and knowledge, and self-control and brotherly kindness and love, but if we are so focused on our own legalistic righteousness that we’re distracted from  worshiping at the feet of the One who freely gave us His, we miss the boat too. And if we ignore 95% of the Bible (a Bible of which Jesus said that not a jot or tittle would pass away until all was fulfilled), we miss a whole lot of God’s heart that He took the time to reveal to us through His plans.

God said, through Zechariah, that Israel is the apple of his eye:

For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye".

I think we all recognize that is a somewhat poetic way of saying that, God has a distinctive and abiding love for Israel. But I think there’s more.  The “apple” of the eye meant the pupil, and the pupil is the conduit through which light comes into the body.

Israel was the apple of God’s eye also because it was through Israel that light would come to the word.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.  Isaiah 9:2

That is what the Bible, as a whole is about: God’s plans to use Israel as a conduit for light for the world-- the Light of the World, Jesus. That’s the theme, the unifying concept. And understanding that that is the theme is what makes the Bible as a whole understandable.  And much of that is prophecy, some filled, some still not filled. It’s the prophetic plan to redeem the world that was lost on Adam’s watch.

I’ve said it before; prophecy is nothing more than watching God keep His promises all over the world. And studying the whole Bible as the revelation from God that’s much more encouraging (and profitable) than forcing the whole Bible to revolve around you.

That’s my favorite Bible Study. The Apple of His Eye Bible Study. “Cause it’s all about Jesus.

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Truth and Consequences

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