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Jun 03 2010

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Decree or Not Decree

David Robertsby David Roberts

There is a catch phrase that has infected certain parts of the Christian church and bears a closer look. The genetic traits of such expressions are that they are overused and contagious. A speaker finds a verse of Scripture, is excited by the possibilities, and begins to use it in public. Another person hears it and likes it and begins to use it, and so on until many, if not most, evangelists, prophets, preachers and teachers are repeating what they have heard others speak, without ever exploring the source. Such is the case with the epidemic called “I decree. . .” this or that blessing into existence.

The first time I heard it used, a well known speaker actually quoted the book, chapter, and verse from the Bible, and therefore, I am indebted to this man. Job 22:28 reads, “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.” One of the first rules of research is to consider the context.  Eliphaz’s unfair claims against Job earlier in this chapter include: “Thy wickedness is great, (thy) iniquities infinite, (thou hast) stripped the naked of their clothing and witholden bread from the hungry, sent widows away empty and THEREFORE snares are round about thee.”

With this background in mind, Eliphaz composes an “if, then” type-logical syllogism.  In verse 23 he says, “IF thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.” This is the false condition set up for Job to be able to “decree a thing.” God, Himself, condemns this kind of reasoning in chapter 42:7: “the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.”

Now, let’s look at the Hebrew word translated as “decree” in this chapter. The basic root of the word “gaw-zar’” is to cut down or off, destroy, divide, exclude. Considering Job’s condition, I can understand why he might want his circumstances to be cut off, destroyed or excluded. Which of these true meanings are those who misuse “decree” intending bring about in our world?

There are two more times that “decree” is used in Job. The first time Job uses it in 28:26 (speaking the thing that is right about God.) “. . .He made a decree for the rain,” using a different word, “khoke” which basically means an enactment. The second time God is proclaiming His almighty power, and He, in 38:8-10, uses the same word as Job had used: “Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,”

In the New Testament we are told we can bind and loose and agree with others in Jesus’ name, and God will answer our prayers.  (Matthew 18:18-19)  Using these verses is a good alternative to “decreeing.”

Be really careful about using the book of Job as a basis for “decreeing” things into being.  And be sure to look at the context of Scriptures before blindly quoting someone else!

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