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Interpretations and Applications

30 May

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:13-16)

Jesus is fulfilling yet another prophecy, not exactly anything new. Except, this particular prophecy is quite vague. All it says is that the land of Zebulun and Naphtali would see a great light. Couldn’t that easily mean something as different as those areas would merely experience a very sunny day? Who is Matthew (aside from a Holy Spirit inspired author of the Bible) to say that this prophecy was of Christ?

Well, a pretty obvious reason for Matthew’s saying that the prophecy refers to Christ, is that he’s Holy Spirit inspired, and so has that authority. Another possible answer would be to draw the line backwards: i.e. to see that Christ went to those areas, and so the verse must refer to Him. A third possibility is to simply look at Isiah’s Character, and draw the conclusion that this man doesn’t make casual prophecies about the weather, and so the verse must have some sort of further meaning. Which, in this case, would be that it was referring to Christ. So, is it one of the three? All three? Something else entirely?

The New, explains the Old. Matthew knew that Jesus is the light which illuminates hearts and minds, and chases away the darkness. Matthew also knew that Jesus was physically passing through Zebulun and Naphtali, so he made the reasonable connection. Which is why we can come to the conclusion that the New Testament, explains the Old Testament. Take this example:

But to each one of us(A) grace(B) has been  given(C) as Christ apportioned it. This is why it[a] says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives(D)
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b](E) (Ephesians 4:7-8)

(The actual verse, Psalm 68:18, says that God received gifts from men). Paul tells us that grace has been given to us, and then misquotes a verse to confirm what he said. The doctrine he was trying to teach, allowed him to find a verse, and explain it according to how it applies to us. Back then, in the Old Testament, God received gifts from men. He received their sacrifices, and led those captive to the law. But now, He gives gifts of grace to all who ask, and leads captives of grace. As was said, the New explains the Old.

Now, trying to do what Paul and Matthew did can be dangerous, because we have to be sure that we’re interpreting a verse correctly. Otherwise we could see a random verse, and decide that it means something completely wrong. The base rule though, is that the interpretation must actually make sense, and go from applying to the people in the Old Testament, to applying to us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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