Large rivers like the Thames or the Amazon are composed of many streams and tributaries that flow into them. Likewise the Bible has many streams of truth running through it that make up the whole Word of God.
This teaching today focuses on a somewhat neglected stream that I think needs refreshed in these troubled days.
It is simply this... God divides.
This stream of truth starts on the very first page of the Bible and - as we will see - it finishes on the very last page of the Bible..
Starting in Genesis 1:3-4 - we read,
This simple statement on the very first page of our Bible fits neatly into what is often called the Bible’s ‘law of first mention’
This law (or principle or rule) of first mention means that the first mention on an issue (or stream)in the Bible usually presents the clearest and simplest understanding of a doctrinal principle as it further unfolds throughout scripture. Indeed, to fully understand an important and complex theological concept, Bible students are often advised to start with its “first mention.”
So God’s first mention of dividing sets the principle that follows throughout scripture.
...and God divided the light ..from the darkness.
Or as some translations state,
...he separated the light.. from the darkness.
When Adam and Eve rejected God’s Lordship over their lives and gave authority to the words of the serpent, God separated them from the garden of Eden with it’s access to the tree of life.
He made a division between Abel’s offering of a firstborn lamb and Cain’s offering of the work of his hands in tilling the ground. Abel did it God’s way. Cain did it his way, and his offering was rejected. God said to him, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” Genesis 4:7
God divided Noah and his family from all other inhabitants of the earth - because of the world’s wickedness. Genesis 6:5-8
The apostle Peter wrote that - at that time - God also divided between the obedient angels and the rebellious angels. (2 Peter 2:4)
In the Levitcal law God divided between holy and unholy, and between clean and unclean.
God made a Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15 & 17) which set him and his descendants apart from other nations.
He dramatically separated between Lot and the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19:29
God made a division between brothers Jacob and Esau, because Esau sold his spiritual birthright .. for a bowl of stew to feed his flesh.
Romans 9:13 states,
When God calls a person, or a people, holy, it means he has separated them out from the unholy. To be His people. A chosen people.
Through Moses He dramatically separated His chosen people out from the worldliness and bondage of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 7:6 & 8
This is the clear shadow and type of what God would later do for us through the New Covenant established through Jesus, the Messiah.
God has separated us out from the worldliness and the bondage of this fallen world. He has called us out of darkness and into His light. Peter explains it well in
1 Peter 2:9
God dramatically separated Moses from Korah, Dathan and Abiram when they led a rebellion amongst His chosen people. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households and their possessions. (Numbers 16)
Through Moses, God showed His chosen people the twin peaks of Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal as a constant visual reminder of what divides them between blessings and curses.
Mount Gerezim represented His blessings - which would come through their obedience, and Mount Ebal represented His curses - which would come through their deliberate dis-obedience. (Deuteronomy 27)
I could go on, and on, as the dividing - the Divine separating - is relentless between His people and the godless cultures that surrounded them.
The separation He continually outworked between Israel and their relentless embracing of idols and foreign gods. Between His people and their foreign wives. (1 Kings 11:8; Ezra 10; Nehemiah 13:25)
God has no concern for public opinion.
The Holy Spirit will never mix or compromise with the ruler of this world, the spirit of the age.
James the brother of Jesus wrote in a James 4:4
Again and again, through physical examples God was clearly declaring that He does not do mixtures.
Through these seemingly strange prohibitions God was simply stating that He does not do mixtures.
Yes, God divides ... between light ...and darkness.
Between holy ..and unholy. Between clean.. and unclean.
God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
So it is no surprise that the dividing continues throughout the New Testament .
Jesus separated between heaven and hell. Between the narrow gate and the broad road that leads to destruction..
What did He mean by a sword?
He clearly did not mean a physical sword.
Peter drew a sword to defend Jesus when the crowd came to arrest Him, but Jesus immediately told Peter to put his sword away.
Matthew 26:42 Jesus said,
I remember reading somewhere that Napoleon said, “what I take by the sword, I have to hold by the sword”
It is in the book of Revelation that we see clearly what God’s sword is. No less than four times it states that the sword - indeed, a sharp, double edged sword - are the words that proceed from Jesus’s mouth!
To emphasis the reality of this truth - that God divides - I have placed key portions from the
The writer of Hebrews tells us what the sword of His mouth is designed to do.
Why do I believe that this basic scriptural truth needs refreshing today?
Romans 12:2 states clearly
Yet in recent years, and at an alarmingly increasing rate, the relentless pressure from the culture’s new - and extremely aggressive - sexual revolution, along with its various offshoots, - is causing many church leaders to bow the knee to the spirit of the age.
They are trying to be ‘relevant’ to the changing culture by approving, supporting and affirming what is clearly - in scripture’s strongest possible words - contra-biblical behaviour. We have leaders apologising for scripture offending those who will not submit to God’s authority expressed clearly in His Word.
Mark Sayers is right when he says that the world has evangelised the church.
This is not God’s grace in action, teaching His people it is right to say yes to ungodliness and worldly passions.
On the contrary, the apostle Paul - in Titus 2:11-12a NIV
Charles Spurgeon said,
I’ve seen protesters’ placards confidently stating “What would Jesus do?” clearly in the belief that Jesus would not want any division between God and the world.
Because Jesus is ‘nice’
Yes, He is nice.
However, when Isaiah saw the Lord ‘high and lifted up’ the surrounding angels were not crying out “Nice! Nice! Nice” or “lovely lovely lovely”
They were crying out, “HOLY HOLY HOLY”
Scripture confirms that this was Jesus whom Isaiah saw.
Scripture says in Romans 3:23
Until you are saved, you are lost.
The great divide.
Refusing to tell people that they are lost lest they be offended is not God’s idea of love.
God’s love is not a sugary pop-song “all you need is love” kind of love.
It is not a carnal-lifestyle affirming kind of love.
It is not a Santa-Claus kind of love.
It is a life saving love.
It is a life changing love.
It is love that comes with such grace and compassion that it took Jesus into the company of those whom religious people normally do their best to avoid. That’s why the religious leaders of the day called Jesus a glutton, a drunkard and ... a friend of sinners.
A friend of sinners, Yes. Oh yes.!
But never, never, ever a friend of, nor an apologist for sin..
A lifeboat must be in the sea if it is to save people, but the sea must never be in the lifeboat.
It is His love for sinners such as us that took Jesus to His sacrificial death on the cross.
And yet, even there, His Presence divided.
A sword divides.
You might ‘sit on the fence’, but you cannot sit on a sword.
A follower of Jesus, will follow Jesus. Not the world’s spiritual Pied Piper.
But if you do follow Jesus, remember what He said...
In John 1:14 & 17 we read that Jesus came with grace and truth.
We must never separate these. We must be full of grace and full of truth.
Let us ensure that we rightly and courageously divide the word of God.
also available as video sermon