37 “But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him (Luke 20:37–38, NKJV).”
The apostles and prophets teach us to be careful how we handle the word of God. We are to rightly divide [“to make a straight cut, to dissect (expound) correctly” (G3718)]. Jesus showed that one way to do this is to use necessary inferences (conclusions) drawn from the Scriptures. The passage He referred to in refutation of the Sadducean error of no resurrection of the dead was Exodus 3:6: “Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’” Jesus drew a necessary conclusion that since God used the present tense (“I am the God…of Abraham…Isaac…Jacob”), their fathers were still alive (Matt. 22:31-32). He rebuked the Sadducees for failing to draw the conclusion demanded by the text. Many balk at the binding authority of necessary inferences, yet Jesus used one to prove there is a resurrection of the dead. We are in the company of Jesus when we carefully handle God’s word to draw their binding conclusions. Like the Sadducees, failure to do so results in being deceived by error for “not knowing the Scriptures” (Matt. 22:29).
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:2–6, NKJV).
A necessary inference is an unavoidable, inescapable conclusion drawn from the information given. It is not merely a reasonable inference or a conclusion that may appear so (John 21:21-23; 7:24). It is the only legitimate conclusion the information given will allow. Notice in today’s passage the things Jesus said and did were (and still are) sufficient evidence for John and his followers to draw the necessary conclusion that He is the Christ. Instead of answering, “Yes, I am the Christ,” Jesus directed John’s disciples to His words and works as evidence from which they should conclude that the Father sent Him (John 5:36). The prophets had foretold of the works He did (Isa. 35:5-7; 61:1-2). Yes, He is the Coming One. Necessary inferences from the testimony of God’s word build our faith and direct our conduct. To suggest they are an artificial approach to understanding the Scriptures denies Christ who used them to establish faith in Himself as the Son of God.
12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. (Hebrews 7:12–14, NKJV)
Properly handling God’s word includes respecting the silence of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15). At times God says, “thou shalt not,” but that is not the only way He reveals His will. The double negative, “It doesn’t say not to,” fails to prove God’s approval. Yet, many use it to justify moral and religious decisions. We must search for what God says on a matter, content that it is sufficient for us to know and to follow (cf. Deut. 29:29). The Hebrew writer used the silence of the Scriptures in today’s passage. He arrived at the unavoidable conclusion (a necessary inference) that the law had to change because the priesthood had changed (v. 11; Heb. 6:20). He explained that only Levites could be priests under the Law of Moses (Num. 3:10). Yet, Moses never directly said, “You shall not have priests from the tribes of Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin, etc.” He did not need to. Moses said what God wanted, priests from Levi. All other tribes were necessarily excluded. Even though Moses did not leave a “thou shalt not” list, Israel knew the correct application. There was no authority for priests from other tribes. Thus, the law itself had to be changed for Christ to be High Priest. God’s silence restrains, it does not free us to act. Let us find what God says, for that is what He approves. Then, “hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).