Deuteronomy 13:1 (Christian citation: Deuteronomy 12:32)
EYT KOL-HA’DA’VAR ASHER ANOCHI ME’TZA’VEH ET’CHEM OT’TO TISH’ME’RU LA’ASOT LO-TO’SEIF A’LAIV VE’LO TIG’RA MIM’MENU
“The entire word that I command you, that shall you observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.”
“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do it; you shall not add to it or take from it.”
“For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Acts 20:27 (Paul speaking to the Ephesian elders before his final departure from them)
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
There are theological scholars from various traditions who say of these declarations, especially of the one in the book of Revelation, that these are not literal but instead are stylistic conventions used by the authors to try to maintain the integrity of their writings and to preserve them from scribal dilution.
These scholars are walking on thin ice: it is unwise to impose humanistic interpretation on the direct and sober words of the scriptures. Better it is to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the congregation of the LORD. Some academicians in Christendom have committed the errors of many past theologians—constricting the words of God by their own rationality. The words of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 remain true to this very moment, and beyond this moment forever:
“But God has revealed [those things which God has prepared for them that love him] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
“For what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
“But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” [KJV, updated by the author.]
And as concerning individual interpretations that ignore the judgment of the rest of the Body of Messiah, Paul’s admonition concerning prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:29-33, 36-40 is apropos as a guide for correctly discerning the mind of the Blessed Holy Spirit as he ministers to us through the gifts of the Spirit:
“Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
“If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.
“For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.*
“And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all communities of the saints….
“What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?
“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
“Wherefore, brothers, zealously desire to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
“Let all things be done decently and in order.”
[*See verse 3 of this chapter which tells us that the spirit of Messianic prophecy is “unto edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” These words indicate “building up”, “encouragement” and “comfort.” Severe prophesies of accusation, finger-pointing, division and judgment should be carefully weighed in the presence of at least two or three proven prophets who are adept in the Holy Scriptures and are mature in the workings of the Holy Spirit and who are able to discern between the spirit of man and the true Spirit of God at work in utterances.]
From Moses throughout all the scriptures, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) So then, Peter is able to say of the Holy Scriptures—even in contrast to the great event of the Transfiguration of Messiah on the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark 9 of which he himself was an eyewitness—
“But we have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private^ interpretation.
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)
^[Peter’s word translated “private” comes from the Greek word “idios”—Dr. Strong writes of this word, “pertaining to self, i.e. one’s own; by implication, private or separate….”]
An earlier devotion points out that Moses’ final sermon that we know as “Deuteronomy” is actually the beginning of the formal function of Prophecy in the Bible. This was carried forward in the School (literally, “the Company”) of the Prophets under Samuel. (1 Samuel 10 and 19) It is affirmed in Amos 3:7, “Surely the LORD God will do nothing, but (that) he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets.” The ministry gift of “Prophet” is one of the five primary ministry gifts to the Body of Messiah in the New Testament. (Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12, et al)
Therefore, let us pursue good scholarship; however, let us also take heed to ourselves that we not violate the Spirit of Prophecy in the community of Messiah by altering the written word of the LORD as it has been handed down to us through many generations of faithful and careful transcription**, for “the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)
[**even when contested by textual critics who sometimes seek to pervert the faith of the disciples by adversarial rationalism grounded in soulish motivations]