Rightly Dividing by Covenants Matt. 1:23 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In this lesson, we will be rightly dividing by covenants. We are going to examine the right divisions of some scriptures concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ. While rightly dividing these prophecies concerning Jesus’s earthly life and ministry, we will also see references to his suffering and his glory (1 Pet. 1:10-11).
On this side of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we understand that Jesus had to die before he could reign. But during his earthly ministry, Jesus’ disciples couldn’t understand that their Messiah and King should die. Yet Jesus had to die because, under the covenant with Moses, Christ had to suffer the wrath of God for sin (Rom. 4:15; Gal. 3:11-13). Then, under the covenant with David, he would rule on David’s throne (Acts 2:36, 1 Cor. 2:8, Phil. 2:9-11). He didn’t begin his reign at his first coming because the Jews rejected him as their king.
In Matt 1:23, the prophesied virgin born son is “God with us,” [Is 7:14]. Jesus was, in fact, God manifest in the flesh [1 Tim 3:16]. However, the Son didn’t begin to reign and rule over the government when he came [Is 9:6-7]. This really threw his disciples off.
In Lk 3:4-6 we find the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Is 40:3-5. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord. Yet, the valleys weren’t filled and the mountains weren’t brought low. That won’t happen until Jesus returns to rule and to reign. A man who doesn’t understand rightly dividing the word of truth would spiritualize the portion of the prophecy relating to the valleys and mountains because he can’t see the literal fulfillment of these things when Jesus returns and every eye sees the “glory of the Lord” revealed [Rev 1:7].
In Lk 4:16-20, Jesus reads from Is 61:1-3 but leaves off everything concerning the “day of vengeance.” That’s because he only fulfills a portion of the prophecy during his first coming. He will literally fulfill the part concerning the day of vengeance when he returns [2 Thes 1:7-9].
You can see why Peter was ready to fight in the garden of Gethsemane. He knew that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” [Matt 16:16]. And he was ready for his king to rule and destroy their enemies. But as Jesus told Pilate, “if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight,” [Jn 18:36]. Right after Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples were still looking for him to take over and rule [Acts 1:6].
What the disciples failed to see were the prophecies concerning the suffering of the Lord. They didn’t see Ps 22:1-31. Look particularly at Ps 22:1, 7-8, 16-18. Do you see the crucifixion? And then look at Ps 22:30-31. Do you see that “seed” and that “generation” and the “people that shall be born?” These are all references to us, those who have been born again, those who are the sons of God by the new birth [Jn 3:1-10]. We are the generation of the Lord. A dead man brought forth a seed. That’s only possible by the resurrection.
They didn’t see Is 53:1-12. Do you see the trial, judgment and crucifixion in Is 53:4-9, 12? And then notice “his seed,” [Is 53:10]. Notice “justification” also in Is 53:11. And notice this dead man [Is 53:9] dividing the spoil in Is 53:12. These things are only possible by the resurrection. The only person who seemed to be able to grasp all of this at the crucifixion of Jesus was the thief on the cross [Lk 23:42].
Now be sure of this. As part of these prophecies has already been fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus, likewise the second part will be fulfilled, as well. Just look at a couple of examples from the Psalms. Ps 2:1-3 Tribulation, the heathen will rage and the kings will set themselves against the Lord; Ps 2:4-5, 9 Second Coming, the Lord will laugh, vex them and break them with a rod of iron [Rev 19:15]; Ps 2:6, 8, 10-12 Millennium, Jesus will sit upon Zion and God will give him the heathen for his inheritance. Ps 77:1-12 Tribulation; Ps 77:13-15 Millennium; Ps 77:16-18 Second Advent.
Conclusion: the only way to understand these prophecies is by rightly dividing the word of truth according to the covenants.