Home > Hermeneutics > Many injunctions in Scripture are expressed in an absolute form, yet are to be understood relatively, example 2

Many injunctions in Scripture are expressed in an absolute form, yet are to be understood relatively, example 2

Arthur PinkYet it is quite plain from the words of Abraham in Genesis 15:6, 8, from his calling the altar “Jehovah-jireh” (Genesis 22:14), from Genesis 26:2, 24, and from God’s words to Jacob in 28:13, that the patriarchs were acquainted with this Divine title. But they did not know Him as the Fulfiller of His promises or in His actual covenant faithfulness; whereas Moses and the Hebrews were now to be given proof of His word in Genesis 15:13, 14, and be brought into the land of Canaan. “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord” (Psalm 25:15) must be understood in harmony with other Scriptures which show there were times when David’s eyes were turned away from the Lord, and, as the result, he fell into grievous sins; nevertheless that was the habit of his heart, the general tenor of his spiritual life. See 1 Kings 15:5, for another comparative statement about David.

“Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire” any longer continued, as what follows shows—the shadows giving place to the substance: “burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required” (Psalm 40:6).

Those last words are obviously to be understood relatively, for such offerings were then required by Divine appointment. But the presentation of the most costly sacrifices (the ram, or a bullock) were unacceptable to Him unless they proceeded from those who sincerely desired to obey and serve Him, as is clear from such passages as Proverbs 21:27; Isaiah 1:11-15. Comparative conformity to the precepts of the moral Law was of much greater importance than compliance with the ceremonial (see 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 69:30, 31; Proverbs 21:3; Hosea 6:6; 1 Corinthians 7:19). Worship is rejected unless proffered by love and gratitude. Similarly are we to understand,

“For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices” (Jeremiah 7:22)

—those were not the primary or principal things I enjoined. No, “But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice”: the design of the whole revelation at Sinai being to inculcate practical subjection to God’s will, the Levitical ritual being a means to that end.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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