I’ve been following a video college class on YouTube. The professor is exploring the Scripture looking for what it “actually” says on a particular subject. At the beginning of each lecture he reminds his students to follow the rules of interpretation because we are all biased but the rules are objective and will keep you honest.
One rule I’ve come to appreciate is the idea of “descriptive versus prescriptive”. I had never heard this language before but it makes so much sense. Here’s how I understand the difference. Words that are descriptive simply tell us how something is – they describe what has happened or what will happen. Prescriptive language may describe but it also implies action on our part – we should do this, live like this, etc.
When Rebekah prayed during her pregnancy about the struggle in her womb, God was gracious to give her an explanation. He described what was going on and what was going to come to pass. “Two separate nations, one son stronger than the other, the older would serve the younger.”
She must have treasured these special words from God and held them as some kind of promise for her sons. But here was the danger for her – and it is the danger for me/us – we often turn what is descriptive into something prescriptive. God reminds me, “I have said this is what will happen, but I did not ask you to make it happen.”
It is a weighty thing to be privy to the mind of God about someone else. Here’s my takeaway from Rebekah’s struggle.
When it comes to other people’s destiny, my posture is to stand back and watch God bring to pass what He described.
» If I wonder if I have a specific part to play, I should ask God and wait for a specific answer.
» It is not helpful for me to try to figure out how God will work. In fact, I may inadvertently pigeon hole someone because of my pre-disposition. It is certainly more exciting to have a posture of wonder about the limitless possibilities God might use.
» See God’s revelation to me as the gift and treasure that it is. He has allowed me to become an educated observer – maybe for the purpose of interceding for them on their journey.