Harmony of Revelation and Teaching
Updated: May 16, 2019
Revelatory teaching comes in various forms, some of which are depicted metaphorically as dew, rain, raindrops and showers.
“(Moses said) My doctrine shall drop as the rain; my speech shall drop down as the dew, as the raindrops on the tender plant, and as the showers on the grass.” Deut. 32:2
There appears to be a sequence here - rain, dew, raindrops, and showers. The difference between the types are interesting when considering how revelation interacts with doctrine, or teaching. Let’s look at this passage in some depth.
“My doctrine” (H3948) in Hebrew means to carry away, to attract or gain over the heart by eloquence or persuasive speech. The Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) translates the word as apophthegm which means a weighty saying. Moses is saying he has something of extreme importance to impart to his hearers. He is desiring that his message would gain authority over men’s hearts, attracting them and influencing them to produce lasting fruit. The phrase “my doctrine” actually means something received and alludes to instruction received by insight (revelation).
"Rain” (H4306) means simply that, rain. Neither a downpour, heavy showers or wild weather. Moses declares that his insightful doctrine shall indeed drop as the rain - it shall come drop by drop as rain, beginning slowly and distinctly but eventually increasing more and more until all is poured down and the whole divine revelation is complete. Some say this refers to the coming of the Gospel and its spread across the globe.
“Dew” (H2919) means a covering over vegetation; a night mist. Moses’ speech shall descend gently and softly on the ear and the heart of his hearers (and later readers), like the dew which moistens and refreshes all that it touches.
“Raindrops” (H8164) from a word that means a shaggy or rough goat (H8163). What’s the connection? Perhaps it refers to the inconsistent falling of rain that is rough in its manner.
“And as the showers” (H7241) means to multiply, abundance, to increase greatly, copious showers, heavy showers, shower after shower, or rather a continual rain whose drops are greatly multiplied on the earth beyond human calculation.
Notice that dew, rain, raindrops and showers are those things that connect the heavens and the earth. These are fitting metaphors to describe how revelation comes down to us, not at man’s bidding but at heaven’s command. We cannot manufacture nor demand any revelation; the Lord will send it when He knows the time.
In verse 31 we find Moses calling on heaven and earth to bear witness to what he’s saying. This was no ordinary speech or sermon, this was truth being prophesied. Moses was in fact bringing an admonition to the people because of their rebellious nature, and what he has to say comes directly from heaven as revelation (Deut. 31:19). In fact it’s a song!
“Now then, write this song for you, and teach it to the sons of Israel. Put it in their mouths, so that this song shall be for a witness to Me against the sons of Israel.” Deut. 31:19 (see also verses 21-22 and 30)
It’s an interesting insight that revelation can often come as a song, and that typologically speaking songs are revelations.
Compare the Book of Revelation; there are a two definite songs in it (5:9 and 15:3) with the possibility that other sayings (like 11:17f) were in fact song-like too. So instead of calling this book the Revelation of Jesus Christ we could call it “the Song of Jesus Christ”. Think then how this relates to the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. Change the metaphor for that book and you get the Revelation of Revelations, and what revelations there are in that song book!
Back to the rain! In Jewish tradition words of admonition (as in Moses’ speech/song) are analogous to rain. When rain falls on trees, plants and crops, growth isn’t noticed immediately. It takes time for the rain to have an effect. So too with admonition. It takes time for us to listen and respond to an admonition. Generally we react against being told off, but God calls us to listen, really listen to His song and to respond accordingly.
This song then is an admonition to Israel of which heaven and earth are called to bear witness (two for witness). In fact that same song will be sung again at the end of the age when it becomes the Song of the Lamb (Rev. 15:3-4). So in all of Scripture this song will be sung twice, as a witness and as a completed prophecy.
Let’s pursuer the imagery of dew, rain and showers just a little further.
Dew and rain never form together, and note that dew doesn’t have the life-sustaining power that rain has. Dew is usually perennial, unlike rain which comes and goes according to seasons. “Rain” comes down from above, in the atmosphere. “Dew” can come from either the humid atmosphere or the humidity held within the soil. So in the case of “dew” the water can be formed by a coming down and a going up. This is a wonderful metaphor for how truth both comes down to us from the Lord, and comes up from us after it’s done its covering work.
“Dew” in the natural is often referred to as a covering, and in fact only covers those things that are somewhat out of direct contact with the ground (earth). Dew forms when radiant heat from an object drops low enough to draw vapour from the surrounding atmosphere or the soil. In many cultures “dew” stands for purity and freshness, so how fitting that Moses should sing a song with such wonderful freshness about it.
Revelation is that which comes down to us at times chosen solely by the Lord. Insight that comes out of such revelation is often presented by the prophets, and sometimes apostles. This would seem natural as the Word declares that the church is built upon the foundation of these two ministries (Eph. 2:20). But I sincerely believe that a generation of revelatory teachers is coming forth who will give fresh understanding to such revelations, and anchor them firmly to Scripture.
Sometimes there exists a conflict between the joint apostolic/prophetic ministries and the teaching ministries because of how the two groups tend to function. Apostles and prophets are the foundation-layers and often move in wider revelation than teachers of the Word, who primarily feed the Body. But as mentioned at the beginning of this booklet, I believe that the time is fast approaching when teachers shall begin to receive great revelation that may well astound even the prophets.
All five ascension gift/five-fold ministries are necessary and are to work together. Each comes from a different aspect, but none is better than the other. Rather than competing, each is to work to build as God has anointed him or her.
“It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up.”Eph. 4:11-12
We are to appreciate and draw from each anointing, while not entering into idolatry by exalting one over another. Clearly apostles are only servants sent by the Lord to equip us. The resulting fruit in our lives is a result of God’s grace.
“For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe, as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”1 Cor 3:4-7
As a demonstration of His grace, God chooses whom He will. It is God’s choice who will serve as an apostle or pastor, etc. God has both learned and unlearned apostles; for example Paul the pharisee and Peter the fisherman. A brief look at this diversity is helpful to avoid exalting one over the other.
Paul was a theologian, the highest educated of all the apostles of his day. His theological training helped him convince others of the soundness of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, as well as to combat erroneous doctrine. He had received powerful supernatural revelations, and not only was his conversion a supernatural encounter but this theologian was caught up into the third heaven. The natural tendency of most of us would be to be conceited.
Yet after receiving such revelation Paul studied them solely in the light of Scripture (the OT) for years. Then, in humility, he submitted his revelation to those who were apostles before him, regardless of his intense theological training. He respected the insight and understanding of those who were older than he in the Lord, even if they were less educated than he in theology. Paul was the highest educated of all the New Testament apostles and probably had the deepest revelation – a contradiction by today’s standards.
“Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.”Gal 2:1-2
Peter, one of these “leaders” who could’ve asserted his authority in pride as being the premiere apostle, actually affirmed Paul’s revelation. Peter was willing to submit to the revelation of another brother.
Yes, and even learned men such as Paul, need to be teachable. They can learn from the unlearned, like Peter. The reverse is also true. All need to be teachable. Please note that being teachable doesn’t mean you’re gullible!
“Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervour and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”Acts 18:24-26
Paul taught that there is no conflict between true prophetic revelation and good Scriptural doctrine. We would do well to remember that the Bible was an experience before it was written down! Sometimes the understanding of Scripture follows a supernatural experience. For example, following the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, Peter explained that only in the light of that supernatural experience did Scripture become clear to them: “This is that…” (Acts 2:16).
We find in the Bible that the apostles’ doctrine was a uniform body of teaching; a consensus of both the prophetic ones and the teaching ones. They recognized the need for one another. The apostles’ doctrine was in harmony with one another and was clearly communicated to the brethren.
The highest-educated ministers of today still need to speak in a way that the common person can understand. The gospel is actually quite simple and straightforward; this doesn’t of course mean it’s “simplistic.” Even so-called “deep teaching” can be understood when communicated in a simple and clear manner. True apostles are concerned for the building up of the Body of Christ, not for their scholarly kudos or approval.
Having self-sacrificial love is more important than revelation or miracles or a formal education. Character is more important than gifting. Maturity is more important than anointing. Christian maturity is being like Jesus in character - that is, the Word becoming fleshed out in our individual lives (see 1 Cor. 13:2).
So we find that apostles are to proclaim the mystery of Christ which has already been revealed, beginning as far back as Genesis 3:15. Therefore all subsequent apostolic-prophetic revelation is to retain Scripture as its one foundation and plumb line of truth, with Christ as the Head of the Body. There is to be no deviation in this. Christ must remain pre-eminent (Col. 1:18) and the Word must remain our standard of truth (1 Thess. 2:13 / 2 Tim 2:15).
Good students will receive all God has to say, whether it be through teaching or revelation, rightly discerning and judging the content of the message. None of us individually knows it all, or has perfect understanding, no matter how many diplomas we have or how many trips to heaven we’ve had. We need each other. Apostles need pastors, and teachers need prophets. Together we are to grow up into Christ.
“...in whom all the building being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph. 2:21-22
Blessings to you in the Messiah.
The Issachar Ministry