“The word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Isaiah 28:13)
This familiar passage (repeated mostly from Isaiah 28:10 just before it) is often cited in support of a detailed, verse-by-verse method of Bible study and exposition. However, the context is one of rebuke to the people of Ephraim (that is, the Northern Kingdom of Israel) in the days of the divided kingdom. Isaiah especially castigates the priests and prophets who should have been teaching God’s Word to the people, but who had instead become proud and then drunkards, leaving the people in great ignorance and spiritual confusion.
Therefore, cried Isaiah: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (v. 9). Before they can really grow in the knowledge of God, they must be built up carefully, line upon line, for they are yet carnal babes in spiritual matters.
A very similar rebuke was administered to the early Christians and would be even more appropriate today: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Such an admonition is greatly needed today, when Christian believers subsist almost entirely on spiritual milk—or even worse, on the froth that passes for evangelical literature in most Sunday schools and Christian bookstores today. We need to get back to the strong meat of the Word, lest we “fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” HMM