Cut to the Heart vs. Pricked to the Heart


This is an interpretation I have held onto for years, keeping it in my spirit rather than writing it down.  I have done this for a few reasons, but the noblest reason has to do with the importance of this particular interpretation.  At the first, when God taught me regarding this interpretation, I was baffled by its importance.  For this reason, I decided to allow the knowledge and wisdom to have time to marinate within my spirit.   The truths put forth in this interpretation need to be adhered to by the Body of Christ in these end times.  With that said, let’s get on with it.


Stephen – “Cut to the Heart”

Stephen was a man full of faith and power (Acts 6:8).  I don’t think I have ever heard preached from the pulpit anything this man could have done wrong.  Usually, all the preaching points to the fact he was the church’s first martyr, and that he was a bold and powerful Christian… which he was.  Ministers also point to the beautiful Spirit led sermon he preached to the Jews before his death, and how possibly, the accuracy and enlightenment of that sermon within the context of Israel’s history is unsurpassed.  All these things are true and deserve attention, but there is something else that deserves attention, for the edification of the church:


Matthew 7:6


Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.


Jesus gave us a commandment that we should not take what has been freely given to us and simply vehemently and emotionally cast it in front of others.  In doing this, we end up exalting our own faith and we also end up challenging people who might not be ready to understand these enlightened truths on a certain level; perhaps even a people who don’t possess the humility or openness to receive.  Often times these people are full of pride, and to challenge them or to emotionally “peel into them” will only result in us shooting ourselves in the foot, according to Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:6.  Even the scriptures say regarding Stephen, as a result of his discourse toward the Jews, that they were “cut to the heart.”


Acts 7:54


When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.


What needs to be understood is Stephen was so zealous, was so forward and enthralled by his own passion, that he did… cast his pearls before swine.  In doing this, he challenged the Jewish people on a dramatic/fleshly level.  He simply “cut the Jews to the heart” and according to Jesus’ warning, this error had repercussions… the people would simply trample what was cast at their feet and would then turn and tear you into pieces.  Let’s define Matthew 7:6.  To cast is to vehemently throw something down… in distain for another’s feelings.  Let me ask you a question?  Is that something you want to do when representing Jesus Christ and the gospel?  Also, look at how the Jews reacted to Stephen’s words, they gnashed on him with their teeth.  Gnashing is an animal instinct, exactly mimicking Jesus’ comparison to the pigs and the dogs.  Simply put, Stephen’s actions manifested in the people exactly the type of spirit Jesus said would manifest if one vehemently threw down their testimony in front of another without concern for their welfare; their primal instincts would come out and the minister would be subject to their animalistic emotions.


There is one more place in the scriptures where it says the Jews were “cut to the heart”:


Acts 5:29-40

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sin. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Do you see?  Even Peter got over zealous and challenged the Jews, by saying, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hanged on a tree.  This statement did not go over well with the Jewish people, and the statement was a direct fleshly challenge to their past actions as well as to their testimony as Jews.  The Jews had a lot of pride in the fact they lived to please God, Peter challenged that pride when he said, “The God of our fathers…” basically their God, “…justified the one whom you judged.”  Make no mistake about it.  This was a serious fleshly challenge Peter cast forth, and the scriptures say that the Jews were “cut to the heart” as a result.  And what did the Jews immediately seek to do as a result of being “…cut to the heart?”  They immediately sought to slay them (please take note this was before Stephen was martyred… as yet, no one had been killed for their testimony of Jesus Christ).  Again, Jesus commandment is alive and well.  If you cast your pearls before swine, and try to justify yourself, you will not be justified!  Just like Jesus’ commandment says, “they will trample your words under their feet, and will turn and tear you to pieces.”  As further proof of the accuracy of this interpretation, it was only Gods divine intervention through Gamaliel which stopped Peter and the other apostles from becoming martyred.  This was God’s mercy in their lives; despite the fact their actions disqualified them.


I want to quickly add that some might argue that Stephens’s fate (martyrdom) was determined the moment the council convened and the false witnesses testified against him (Acts 6:8-15).  I believe this assumption is not accurate.  We have already seen through the above scripture how God, through divine intervention, saved the apostles earlier who made the same error.  So God could have done it again… but He didn’t.  It was not automatic that Stephen was going to die simply because the council was convened.  We also have testimony through the scriptures that Jesus himself walked through the crowds that wanted him dead (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59, John 10:39).  Peter and others were miraculously delivered from prison (Acts 5:19-27, 12:3-12) as was Paul, (Acts 16:25-26, Acts 23).  Paul was also raised from the dead after he was stoned (Acts 14:19-20).  To assume Stephen was doomed and so knowing this he let down his spiritual guard and “went out with a bang” is just not realistic considering the awesomeness of the God we serve.  Jesus gave us a commandment in Matthew 7:6.  If we choose to ignore the commandment, there are consequences, and Stephen fell headlong into those consequences.  I meekly believe the reason God delivered Peter and Paul from death is because God had a concrete plan for Peter to minister to the Jews and Paul to the gentiles (Galatians 2:7), so both lives were spared… hence, God allowed all the miracles at the prisons which delivered Peter and Paul from certain death (Acts 5:19-27, Acts 12:3-12, Acts 16:25-26, Acts 23).  With Stephen, I believe God was going to exercise another purpose.  He was going to allow Stephen to become martyred, but He was going to raise up Saul in his stead.  If you remember at Stephen’s stoning, the Jews laid their clothes at the feet of Saul (Acts 7:58).  I believe Saul witnessing the stoning was no accident.  God was going to use this witness to set a fire under that young man, to bring the essence of Saul out of Saul, so that Jesus could rebuke him on the road to Damascus. 


We also need to remember that as Stephen was being stoned, he cried out for the Lord Jesus “to receive his spirit,” (Acts 7:59).  When Stephen cried thus, it was not immediately received by God.  Basically… Stephen was mimicking Jesus on the cross when our Lord cried out, “Father, into thine hands I commend my spirit,” (Luke 23:46).  It was at this time Jesus gave up the ghost, or surrendered his life unto death (John 10:18).  Stephen was zealously trying to mimic our Lord, probably because he had been so successful at ministering both through faith and power (Acts 6:8).  But Jesus, desiring Stephen to be more complete, desired the Christ-like Spirit within him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).  This is what Jesus yelled previous to giving up the ghost, and this is what He wanted from Stephen.  “And he (Stephen) kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep,” (Acts 7:60).  As soon as Stephen forgave as Christ forgave, he was received.  This little example is just a portrait into Stephen’s frame of mind at the time of his stoning.  This is further evidence that Stephen was not fully in Christ’s Spirit previously.  Stephen was certainly imitating Christ and was “…attempting to be in Christ’s Spirit through zeal.”  What I am getting at is this little hiccup by Stephen just shows he wasn’t fully aligned with God’s Spirit or Christ’s commandment (Matthew 7:6) previous to the stoning.  There was a lot of zeal in Stephen and although God used this zeal, this zeal side stepped Jesus perfect heart and will for His followers.  This is why Stephen had to align himself more with Christ’s Spirit before God would receive him and allow him to “fall asleep.”  If you have any questions as to this interpretation, please read Acts 7:54-60.  It is quite clear the Holy Spirit was honoring Stephen for his zealousness and for the fact he was about to become the first martyr of the church, but this doesn’t mean he was 100% aligned with Christ’s commandments while  he was offering his discourse.  Christ honored Stephen’s zeal but within this passage, there is a lesson for us to learn… if we are willing to receive it.


I want to make the point that Stephen was powerfully backing his ministry as well as the ministry of the Holy Ghost.  Who is going to argue against Stephen’s discourse being Holy Spirit empowered?  Stephen’s discourse was absolutely Holy Spirit empowered, for it added powerful knowledge into the mystery of Christ that had yet to be made manifest (Acts 7:55, Ephesians 3:9-10).  But we must remember that although Stephen had a powerful ministry in God, and although he was chosen (Acts 6:5) and the Holy Spirit backed him powerfully, that he still needed to obey Jesus’ commandments within his anointing, calling and faith justification.  When Stephen strayed from the Lord’s commandment, he was still backed by God powerfully but he also paid the price for his error.  We need to take caution and learn a lesson from this passage of scripture.  We need to be discerning about God’s calling but we also need to be wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.  Stephen was as wise as a serpent but unfortunately… he cut like a serpent too.  We as God’s church are to obey His commandments, and right now I am declaring to you that you have already been commanded by Jesus Christ Himself to abstain from, “cutting to the heart!”  You didn’t like it when you were in ignorance, when someone cut you to the heart, so God is reminding you now, and has already told you in scripture that it is absolutely the wrong spirit (Matthew 7:6).  This spirit mimics James and John’s spirit toward the Samarians in Luke 9:54-55 when they wanted to call fire from heaven.  Didn’t Jesus rebuke them?  This type of spirit is not proper for witnessing and it is not proper for manifesting the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life that He could have a church body that would do as He did, and love as He loved.  Do you think it is a coincidence that as soon as Stephen forgave and was meek toward the Jews that everything righted itself?  Do you think it is a coincidence that until that happened things were ugly and the repercussions were irreversible?  Make no mistake about it, Stephen’s gifts and ministry were missed by the church body after his death, and it was the direct result of a zealous young man who was powerful in his faith but not discerned in the scriptures to understand the error of his ways.  God is reminding us and calling us to His higher plain.  If it is God’s will that we glorify Him through death then it will happen, but to ignorantly put ourselves into that position is not only not edifying for the church, it is actually sin if we know the difference (James 4:17).  In many places in the Bible God Has and will give us the commandment to flee.  Jesus’ parents were told to flee into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod (Matthew 2:13).  Jesus even commanded His disciples to flee when faced with persecution (Matthew 10:23).  The early church was given a decree by Jesus himself to flee Jerusalem when it was compassed with armies (Luke 21:20-21).  It wasn’t God’s will that any die in 70 AD when the temple was sacked by Titus.  For this reason, He warned His people to flee, and they did flee, to Pella.  There are indeed times when it is the Lords will that you become martyred for His glory, but you will know the difference and you won’t be able to escape (John 21:18-19).  Understanding these things… we need to see Stephen’s fault and we need to be discerning and learn the lessons Jesus is pointing out.  Basically, if we are anointed and are called and are empowered by our faith we STILL NEED TO OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD within all of these things or we will not even begin to be justified!  I want to remind you again that I am not pointing out Stephen regarding some grave injustice that he preformed or some huge error on his part.  Stephen was greatly honored of God and God was even able to raise up a Saul in his stead, but we as a church body need to address this information so we do not become repeat offenders.  It is much more important that the body of Christ become discerning in all His ways then to vainly lift up Christians of the past.  I am going to give you further evidence pointing you in the right direction, to help you consciously understand what the Lord is saying to His church body in these final days.


Peter – “Pricked to the Heart”                  


I already offered knowledge earlier regarding Peter’s error of, “cutting to the heart.”  I now want to show you an example in scripture where Peter does it right, and this solid Christian witness leads to a powerful work of the Holy Spirit and a harvesting of souls for the kingdom of God.


Acts 2:14- 41     


But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.


We can clearly see the spirit in this discourse is different then the two previous discourses where Stephen and Peter “cut to the heart.”  In this discourse, there is truth but that truth is not cast down in an effort to disrespect or emotionally charge the listeners.  Peter is offering (revealing) the truth in such a way that the listeners understand Peter is not challenging them, but merely attempting to enlighten and soften their hearts.  The spirit’s delivery is different, and as you can clearly see, the effect the witness has on the Jews is the exact opposite.  Instead of the Jews hearts receiving a “cut” from Peter’s words, their hearts received a “prick.” 


Now, there is a huge difference between a “cut” and a “prick.”  It is impossible to reveal the burdensome truth to someone without pricking them.  The truth is like a sword (Hebrews 4:12) and its manifestation has implications.  But it is entirely possible to present the truth to someone without overwhelming them with the wrong kind of spirit, even disrespect.  Take the word “cast.”  If you were proposing to your fiancé, would you simply cast the ring at her feet in your effort to propose?  Of course not… you would gently place the ring on her finger.  When the Jews were “cut,” it came as a result of the speaker casting… not discerning to offer the truth in love.  The truth was indeed offered, but it was cast down as a prideful judgment toward the listeners.  This is why the Jews responded with a cutting hate.  In the above discourse, the truth is represented, hence the word “prick,” but the truth is gently represented in love and with a desire to rally and not to offend.  This is why Peter was so successful and there was a harvest of souls that day.  He offered the truth in love, and in doing so, the listeners were convicted “pricked” but not to the tune that they were offended and cast off restraint.  Peter’s gentleness became an example of what to do, whereas Stephen’s casting became an example of what not to do.  The lesson: Do not open your mouth and cut people.  At the very least you will offend them and your Christian witness will be lost.  At the very most… you will end up persecuted and possibly killed for the gospel.


If you examine the texts you will see clearly when Stephen opened his mouth and disobeyed Jesus’ commandment, the result was the people were:   Acts 7:54          


cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.  This action resulted in Stephen’s death. 


In contrast when Peter opened his mouth and obeyed Jesus’ commandment, the result was the people were:   Acts 2:37


pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?


This resulted in 3000 people being added to the church that day.  We don’t need to look very far to recognize what method the Lord wants us to use.  This idea of pricking to the heart rather then cutting to the heart is the basis of what the Lord is trying to say to His Body in the end times.  The Bible even clarifies that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your hearts and to love your neighbors as yourselves (Mark 12:29-31).  What aspect of this commandment allows us to turn on our neighbors and cut them as we cast our truths at their feet?  Not one aspect allows us to do such a thing.  We need to be the right kind of witnesses, actions speak louder than words.  If you do decide to use words as a witness, then there better be some honoring actions before and after those words so people will recognize your good intentions.  Words directed from believers toward nonbelievers often have the tone of judgment, and trust me, nonbelievers often receive it as a judgment.  Jesus said:


John 6:63


… the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.


Let me tell you right now that all words are spirit.  A word can not come except a spirit come before it.  But let me ask you a question.  The words that you speak… are they life, or death?


Jephthah – “Cut to the Heart”


Jephthah’s story is outlined in Judges 10:6 – 12:7.  If you need additional insight into his life, I ask you to read the section for yourself.  Right now I want to confirm what I have stated earlier, that it is far better to prick to the heart than to cut to the heart.  Jephthah is a good example of this distinction.  In the book of Judges, the people of Ammon were oppressors of Israel, and Israel called on a man named Jephthah to become the head of their army and deliver Israel.  Jephthah agreed and eventually won a tremendous victory over the people of Ammon.  Israel had now subdued the people of Ammon and had peace.  But right after this victorious war, there arose a problem in Israel:


Judges 12:1-6


And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire. And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.


The first thing I want to point out is this situation resulted in war… a civil war were Israel smote Israel.  Could this have been avoided?  I will demonstrate later using an earlier text, that this battle could have been avoided, but right now, I want to focus on this particular text.  Ephraim was wrong.  They were absolutely wrong to threaten Jephthah for not calling them to war.  Most likely, Ephraim was prideful and wanted the glory for themselves; Jephthah probably understood this and is why he spoke to Ephraim using the truth in a very challenging manner:    


And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?


You see, Jephthah used the truth but he used the truth in such a way to directly challenge Ephraim.  This is also the method Stephen utilized toward the Jewish people.  He used the truth but he used the truth to cut and challenge, and not to mend.  Stephen’s situation resulted in serious contention and eventually death.  Jephthah’s situation resulted in bitter war and eventually death.


 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.


This entire situation certainly wasn’t good.  Let me ask you a question, wasn’t Jephthah technically right? Didn’t he tell the truth when he told Ephraim they were wrong?  Of course he was technically right, Ephraim was technically wrong (Judges 10:9).  But let me ask you another question.  As a result of Ephraim being wrong, should they have died in a civil war?  Should Israel have killed their brothers? No, I believe this slaughter was a grievance to God and could have easily been avoided.  The simple truth is Jephthah cut to the heart because his truth was a judgmental truth and he sought to further establish his justification through war.  Jephthah was not interested in helping Ephraim at all; his sole intent was to prove to Ephraim he was right.  He then sought to use the truth to implement his justice toward whom he believed to be wrong (Ephraim).  What can we learn from this example? 

Jephthah was so in himself that he lost sight of an important fact that we as Christians should never lose sight of.  That although he was technically correct, he would not become justified in harming his brother (Ephraim) simply because he was correct.  Jephthah thought being correct gave him the license to act however he wanted.  Is this Jesus’ commandment in our lives?  We Christians make the same mistake when we cast our perils before swine.  The only reason we do this is just like Jephthah, we want to become justified in the truths we understand.  There is one problem regarding Jesus’ commandment… showing mercy doesn’t allow someone to be justified.  When we chose to demonstrate mercy, we must forfeit our right to justice.  This is mainly why we don’t chose mercy, but instead we chose to justify ourselves by casting and venting to the point where our truth causes damage.  Righteousness teaches that Jephthah needed to forgive his brothers infraction, not judge it through cruelty.  We will now examine a man who did forgive rather than get justice for himself (or justify himself), his name is Gideon.       


Gideon – “Pricked to the Heart”


Now, as we go back to a previous judge, we have a contrasting example of a man who humbles himself in mercy.  Gideon (Judges 6-8) was chosen by God to reverse the oppression of the Midianites upon Israel.  God was able to use Gideon powerfully not only to defeat the Midianites, but to witness the love and righteousness of God toward his brother. 


Judges 8:1-3


And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply. And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.


I want to first point out that it is the men of Ephraim who directly challenge God’s judge Gideon (Just like they will later challenge God’s judge Jephthah) .  Ephraim challenged both judges, and when they challenged them, they did so in the exact same way.  In both instances Ephraim was offended when God used someone else to deliver Israel, and in both instances, Ephraim directly challenged the one whom God called and anointed to perform the work (Judges 11:29).  But check out Gideon’s response to Ephraim, was it similar to Jephthah’s?  


… What have I done now in comparison of you?


The first thing Gideon does is he strokes the pride of Ephraim rather than attack it.  Gideon basically says, “I have done nothing in comparison to you.”  This is brilliant because it was something the situation called for.  Then, Gideon took the truth and simply pricked them with it rather than offend them with it, and in doing so, he exalted them with it:


Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you?


If you read the text in chapter 7, Gideon calls Ephraim after the slaughter and tells them to seize all the Midianites who are scattering toward the water.  In the pursuit, Ephraim is able to capture and kill two Midianite princes, Oreb and Zeeb.  Gideon basically says that although God used him to win the war, that Ephraim was able to do much more in catching the princes then he was able to do throughout the entire war.  Gideon highlights Ephraim’s success and totally downplays his.  He knows Ephraim is insecure and he is secure enough to steady them both (Mark 9:50).  His witness brings peace:


… Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.    


As soon as Gideon, God’s anointed, ignores the fact that the truth is on his side and humbles himself by seeking peace… his action defuses the entire situation and a war with Ephraim is avoided.  Gideon’s action (toward the truth) is the exact opposite of Jephthah.  Jephthah used the truth to justify himself.  Gideon used his security in the truth to defuse the entire situation and usher in peace.  Whereas Gideon humbled himself in the truth, Jephthah justified himself in it.  This is the clear difference between the Spirit and the flesh ministry.  The Spirit seeks to establish peace in spite of the truth whereas the fleshly looks for justification (justice) because of the truth.  It is two totally different examples.  One example is secure, the other is insecure.  One example shows saltiness in stabilizing the entire situation, the other shows a lack of salt in destabilizing it.  As we abide in Jesus Christ and his words… we are secure (Mark 9:50).


Last Admonishment


As Christians we are called to go above and beyond, to turn the other cheek, and to allow ourselves to be wronged.  A lot of the time, we need to turn the other cheek when we share, and we need to allow ourselves to be wronged when we discuss.  The examples of Jephthah and Gideon are exactly like the examples of Stephen and Peter.  Whereas Jephthah and Stephen sought to establish truth through enforcing, utilizing their unsanctified fleshly emotions (cutting to the heart), Gideon and Peter sought to share the truth with a spirit of meekness and temperance with the intent of establishing peace (pricking to the heart).  In all four situations, there is a challenge because such situations involve an encounter with the truth, but the question becomes, how will we encounter others using the truth?  With the example of Peter and Gideon, peace was established.  With Gideon there was no war with Ephraim and with Peter, 3000 were saved.  It is the exact opposite with Stephen and Jephthah.  With Jephthah there was a horrible civil war were 42,000 Israelites died and with Stephen’s example, no one was saved that day and Stephen was killed.  So you need to ask yourself a question? Pricked to the heart vs. cut to the heart.  I have used both the old testament and the new to establish that it is totally possible to humble yourself in a way where the truth is not forgotten, but where it is represented with a spirit of meekness.  Anything involving the truth is going to hurt, but are we going to use the truth to heal or to conquer?  The choice is ours, but I caution you to receive the testimony of Gideon and Peter, rather than that of Stephen and Jephthah.  As Christians we are not justified when we use the truth outside of love, and we can often cause more problems than we seek to solve.


So, in closing I would like to say a few things.  First off, I need to say that although I pointed to a lot of what Stephen did wrong, he was a blessed man of God who’s faith and determination should be an example to us all.  Let’s not disrespect God by ignoring what we’ve learned.  Let us take this example and do good, giving glory to God.  It would be a shame if we understood the knowledge presented here, but we chose to ignore that knowledge to our own destruction.  Let’s learn an example from Stephen’s life and death, and let us run the race faster and stronger now, with more honor and more glory going towards God and His purposes.


The last thing I want to say is that this interpretation is very important.  Just like the Jerusalem decree pointed to necessities the church, at that time, needed to focus on (Acts 15:23-29), right now the Holy Ghost, through prophecy, is pointing to necessities we as a church need to focus on.  I truly believe it is God’s intention to hammer the concept of this interpretation into the consciousness of the body of Christ.  Prophecy is what God is saying.  In short, this interpretation is what God is trying to say to the Body of Christ now.  I have written this interpretation because I truly believe God not only wants this understood, but He wants it implemented to every degree.  I have sought to live by this interpretation ever since God revealed it to me.  I have not always been perfect, but God is faithful to forgive.  There are no excuses regarding this interpretation.  It is a black and white issue with no grey.  Either you obey Jesus’ commandments or you don’t and you repent and He forgives you.  There is no in-between and there is no justifying fleshly ministering.  God is not trying to give anyone an opinion.  He is cautioning everyone towards Godly resolve within His Spirit, as well as our awareness toward the same.  We have our ammunition, we need to go forward without excuse.  We need to do the will of God and prosper.  If you have read my other interpretations, I usually don’t emphasize as much as with this one.  This interpretation is critical.  The reason is simple.  The knowledge presented here, according to the revelation of the mystery of Christ, is absolutely timely and edifying for the body of Christ NOW.  These truths have never been so important.  Of course, they were always important, but now is the time to implement them so that Gods purposes can be fulfilled in these last days.  It is like the book of Revelation.  The interpretation 500 years ago was not as important or dutiful as the interpretation is now.  Since we are now living in the last days, it is important we have a dutiful interpretation of the book of Revelation NOW.  These truths have always been important, but it is time for the Body of Christ to rise up to God’s standard now, to be all that she can be, without spot or wrinkle, to be presented to the praise and honor of God in Christ Jesus.  If the Church does not learn to exercise itself within these truths, it will be difficult for the church to have any kind of foundation for the Lord to discipline us.  If we act like the world, we are not Christ’s… but if we listen to His voice, He will be glorified in us.  This interpretation covers the entire spectrum, concerning what God expects from us as His witnesses toward the world, as well as how He seeks to use us in the lives of other believers, or perhaps even weak brethren.  Receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost is crucial for us to rest fully in this interpretation so I urge everyone to contend for it (Acts 8:15-18).  Evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the Godly love that the church will openly shed for all men and women.  Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is like receiving God’s heart.  You will openly love people with a love you have never known or experienced… and in this love you will be inclined to be longsuffering toward others.  I believe in the last days, if you are seeking the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, you will surely find it.  If you don’t have it now, start obeying all of Jesus’ words and make sure you abide in Him completely, not the world.  Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him completely.  God is pleased in your diligent obedience.  God bless you as you implement this interpretation and God bless you as you lose self so you can become the abundant witness Jesus expects.  God will honor you as you honor Him.