Mate Scriptures

The premise behind the method of study employed by the "Assembly of the Body of Christ" is that one must find the Greek and Hebrew "mate scriptures" in order to truly understand the will of God and His truth. Here is an excerpt from their website (click picture for link to site)

The scripture used is Isaiah 34:16-17. The ABC's non-contextual interpretation of this scripture alleges that this scripture proves their theory that one must find "mate scriptures." I declare this is not necessarily true.

The ABC strictly adheres to a method of bible study in which one examines an entire context in order to properly understand the text. That is truly not a bad idea. Any thought taken out of context can be twisted and distorted to have it say something it does not say. Again referring to their website it states you must own

"A Panin's translation of the New Testament to determine the full context (complete thought) where any N.T. Bible verse is found - so we can see the full puzzle piece."

The bible translated numerically by Ivan Panin works only for the New Testament but I would assume the same principle; examining the entire context; would also carry over to the Old Testament as well. It rightfully should if we are to have a good understanding of what is written.

So, looking at Isaiah 34:16-17 in its entire context let's examine this "scriptural mate" theory and see if it holds up to scrutiny. Here is the entire text surrounding Isaiah 34:16-17 (the whole chapter). I have highlighted verses 16-17.

Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them. And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein. Isaiah 34:1-17

As you read through this context above ask yourself this one question. Is this context referring to proper bible study or is it referring to the permanent destruction of a set of nations? I have underlined the beginning of the context to show that it is indeed referring to a set of nations.

One of the biggest bugaboos of our language is the use of pronouns. They make reading more pleasant but if one does not properly refer the pronoun to its subject, the meaning of a sentence can become grossly distorted. To understand who or what verses 16-17 refer to I have replaced all of the pronouns below (in parentheses) with the intended subject.

Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of (the world). For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all (the nations) armies: he hath utterly destroyed (the nations), he hath delivered (the nations) to the slaughter. (The nations) slain also shall be cast out, and (the nations) stink shall come up out of (the nations) carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with (the nations) blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all (the nations) host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, (my sword) shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, (the sword) is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with (the lambs, goats and rams), and the bullocks with the bulls; and (the nations) land shall be soaked with blood, and (the nations) dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. (Edom) shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through (Edom) for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess (Edom); the owl also and the raven shall dwell in (Edom): and he shall stretch out upon (Edom) the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be (in the kingdom), and all (Edom's) princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in (Edom's) palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and (Edom) shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to (the satyr's) fellow; the screech owl also shall rest (in Edom), and find for (the screech owl) a place of rest. (In the kingdom) shall the great owl make (the great owl's own) nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under (the great owl's own) shadow: (in the kingdom) shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with (the vulture's own) mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of (the dragons, owls, wild beasts, satyr's screech owls, great owls, etc. ) shall fail, none [of these ](wild creatures ) shall want for a mate: for (God's) mouth (yes God's mouth) hath commanded, and (God's) spirit hath gathered (the wild creatures). And God hath cast the lot for (the  owls, wild beasts, etc. ), and God's hand hath divided (Edom) unto (the wild creatures) by line: (the wild creatures) shall possess (Edom) for ever, from generation to generation shall (the wild creatures) dwell therein. Isaiah 34:1-17

So pulling out verses 16-17 with the pronouns replaced with the subject of the pronoun:

Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of (the dragons, owls, wild beasts, satyr's screech owls, great owls, etc. ) shall fail, none [of these ](wild creatures ) shall want for a mate: for (God's) mouth (yes God's mouth) hath commanded, and (God's) spirit hath gathered (the wild creatures). And God hath cast the lot for (the  owls, wild beasts, etc. ), and God's hand hath divided (Edom) unto (the wild creatures) by line: (the wild creatures) shall possess (Edom) for ever, from generation to generation shall (the wild creatures) dwell therein.

So, you see, this scripture has nothing to do with finding "mate scriptures" when we look at the entire context. It has to do with the complete destruction of a set of nations (Edom, Bozrah, Idumaea) which would become no longer suited for habitation by mankind and would instead be forever a habitation of birds and wild creatures of various sorts. Here is a quotation from "Easton's Bible Dictionary"  regarding the Edom of Isaiah 34.

There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isa 34:5-6; Jer 49:7-18; Eze 25:13; 35:1-15; Joe 3:19; Am 1:11; Obadiah; Mal 1:3-4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and beasts, and reptiles."

Or this from the Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary

16. book of the Lord-the volume in which the various prophecies and other parts of Scripture began henceforward to be collected together (Isa 30:8; Da 9:2).

Seek-(so Isa 8:16, 20; Joh 5:39; 7:52).

no one . fail-of these prophecies (Mt 5:18).

none shall want . mate-image from pairing of animals mentioned, Isa 34:15 ("mate"); no prediction shall want a fulfillment as its companion. Or rather, "none of these wild animals (just spoken of) shall be wanting: none shall be without its mate" to pair and breed with, in desolate Idumea.

my . his-Such changes of person are frequent in Hebrew poetry.

them-the wild beasts.

So, you see, this scripture used to prove the "scriptural mate" theory has nothing to do with "scripture mates" whatsoever; it has to do with the mates of  birds and other wild animals who reside where Edom once stood. Edom, representative of those nations who were not serving God, was destroyed by God and left desolate forever and became the breeding ground of wild animals only and not fit for the dwelling of man.  

I wholeheartedly agree we should look at ALL scripture in a contextual way and it is by applying that principle to this scripture it is proven that it does not refer to the seeking of  "mate scriptures" through Greek and Hebrew word studies as the ABC alleges.

2 comments:

Will Riddle said...

Scott-- This is a good post. I'd be fascinated to see other uses of Scripture by the group as my special area of interest is Hermeneutics

I completely agree that this usages is out of context. It would be interesting to see a usage of the "mate" principle.

In general I do believe that connecting the dots between NT and OT is actually important and helpful, so are word studies etc.

Anonymous said...

Scott, email me