A Lesson on Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth :: By Gene Lawley

Before God told Noah to build an ark, He observed “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).  (Note how the wording seems to go from “man” as in a plural sense of mankind, and then focuses on the individual person, in a single sense.)

Then He has Noah build an ark that takes Noah about 120 years to build. That is a long time for that evilness of mankind to fester and grow more and more violent, yet Jesus related the conditions then to that at His coming in this manner:

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27).

Peter writes of God’s patient waiting for the time of His judgment while Noah prepared the ark (1 Peter 3:20). God has never meant for His own to be the subjects of His wrath when He brings judgment upon the earth as it will be in the coming Tribulation.

This passage in Luke 17 is also in Matthew 24:38-40. Luke, however, adds a likeness of His coming as it was with Lot and the destruction of Sodom:

“Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).

In Noah’s day, those who were taken were Noah and his family of eight people, taken in the ark. Those left behind were “taken away in the flood.” They were left behind in the judgment of the flood.

In Lot’s day, the angels who had come to judge the city of Sodom had to practically drag Lot and his family out of the city so it could be judged. Note again the above statement, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Genesis 19)

The two incidents are linked with the word, “likewise.” As it was with Noah, so it was with Lot—they escaped the judgment that was levied upon those who were left behind.

And Jesus said, “Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

In the next part of the Luke passage, He brings it forward to the day of His coming, saying, “In that day…the day of His revealing… “He who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise, the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

Let’s stop and consider this statement. Can you point to any Scripture where the Lord shows an interest in the specific well-being of those who are the subjects of judgment? Here He is telling the person on the rooftop that His action will be immediate and there is no time for him to go into the house for his goods. And we must ask, how would having his goods help him in any judgment God has in mind for him, should it be judgment the person is headed toward?

In 1 Samuel 15 is the account of Judah’s King Saul disobeying the Lord by bringing King Agag of the Amalekites back alive from the battle. When Samuel asked for Agag to be brought forth, Samuel did not tell that king, “I’m sorry, but this could hurt you somewhat.” Here is what Samuel said and did:

“As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal” (1 Samuel 15:33).

Not a pleasant sight nor story, but it shows the wrath of God expressed through His prophet Samuel, and as well, the terribleness of that wrath for those not redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is more in those comments in Luke 17 that suggests rather strongly that the certainty of a person being born-again and therefore among the redeemed is of extreme importance.

Let’s continue in the Luke 17 passage where He tells of one person being taken and the other one left:

I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17:31-36).

Why do so many Bible students, teachers, preachers and theologians, even, say of the two together, the one taken is taken away to judgment? Were Noah or Lot taken away to judgment? Jesus said, “as it was then, so will it be when He comes.”

The character of God is brought into question with that kind of interpretation. Numbers 23:19 declares this:

“God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent.” If the Lord contradicts Himself in the Luke 17 account, He has violated His character—an impossibility for the God of the universe. He is not a liar.

Likewise, Jesus is consistent in His answer to that final question asked by the disciples in verse 37, “Where [are they taken], Lord?” So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” If consistent with that of the whole passage, this cannot be speaking of a place of judgment, as seems to be the conclusive summation of many interpreters.    

If they are taken to judgment, where is it, and what judgment is it? All of the judgments reported in the book of Revelation are levied upon this earth and the people who are upon it, if you look carefully at them. The redeemed are taken away to heaven to be with the Lord forever.

It is clear that the theory that those taken are taken to judgment is a complete opposite position than what Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah…and Lot, so shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” The principle of rightly dividing the Word of Truth therefore is obviously grossly violated and will not stand before the scrutiny of the whole counsel of God.

What did Paul tell Timothy in that passage? He wrote, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

But the Scriptures are much more penetrating than that. Look at these two verses from Hebrews 4:12-13:

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

So I rest my case.

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