The Law of Specificity

But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation…For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.” (Hebrews 1:13-14, 7:13-14).

An important canon of accurate Bible interpretation is the Law of Specificity. It was introduced in its most complete form in the very first instructions God gave to human beings: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

From these instructions, see how well you can do on this simple three-question quiz:

  1. Did Adam have divine authority/permission to eat the fruit of an orange tree?

  2. Did Adam have divine authority/permission to eat the fruit of a pecan tree?

  3. Did Adam have divine authority/permission to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

The Law of Specificity (and the Answer Key in Genesis 3) plainly informs us that the correct answers on this quiz are “Yes” to # 1 and # 2 and “No” to # 3.

The rest of the Bible records other occasions which document the spiritual catastrophe of failing to exercise and honor this basic law of understanding and obeying God’s word.

  • Nadab and Abihu did not use the fire God had specifically authorized; they were struck dead by fire from heaven (Leviticus 10:1-2).

  • Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had specifically instructed him; he was denied the blessing of entering the Promised Land (Numbers 20:7-12).

  • King Uzziah sought to function as a priest in the temple; he was smitten with leprosy for his transgression of God’s Law of Specificity (2 Chronicles 26:16-21).

The argument made by the Hebrews writer in both of the passages above is rooted in the reality and validity of the Law of Specificity. When God has precisely identified who or what He wants done, substitutions are not permitted because exact compliance is required.

The proof that Jesus is not a created, heavenly being like the angels (Hebrews 1:13-14) is rooted in applying the Law of Specificity to Psalm 110. The proof that the Law of Moses had to be abolished so Jesus could lawfully function as both priest and king is also rooted in the Law of Specificity (Hebrews 7:13-14).

So, when the Bible says: 1) Marriage is the divine union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5); 2) The husband is the head of his wife (Ephesians 5:23); 3) Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1); 4) God is to be praised using one’s mouth and heart (Ephesians 5:19), the Law of Specificity requires precise compliance and no substitutions.

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Author: jchowning

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