Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 09:47:30 CET Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 10 Contents -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Weekly reading, Exod.2:23-25 2. Psalm 105:23-26 3. New Testament, Matthew 3 (part 1) 4. Books 1. Weekly reading, Exod.2:23-25 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Exod.2:23-25 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them. "And it came to pass in process of time." This means: it happened after many days that the king of Egypt died. How many days are it, after Moses was born? It was 80 years after he was born, and 40 years after he fled from Egypt. For when Moses spoke to Pharaoh, he was eighty years old, "And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh." (Exod.7:7) "Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush." (Act.7:29,30) "The king of Egypt died". The king was dead and all the people who sought the life of Moses. So, it was now possible for Moses to return. "And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life." (Exod.4:19) "The children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried". When the king was dead, they hoped that their situation would better, but no, it did not become better. They remained in the same slavery. When the king died, they had hope, but their hope was in vain. That is the reason they cried even more. In the 80 years after Moses was born until now, the situation had not bettered. Already 80 years ago, their young boys were killed by the Egyptians. 80 Years of great suppression and bondage; it is no wonder that they cried. Their distress drove them to the prayer. When all was well in Egypt, and they could lead their lives, there was not reason to pray to God. All is well, why should they pray? Yes, this is the way of the people. When all is well, we do not need God. But God knew this; and He gave great suppression and distress. Why? To drive the people to the prayer. For there is written, "and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage." They cried to God because of the bondage. "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." God remembered His covenant. This remembering means that God thought about them to do them well. See another example of this in Noah, when God remembered him in the Ark. "And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;" (Gen.8:1) God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Let we first look at what God spoke to Abraham, when He made this covenant. "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance." (Gen.15:13,14) What God had said had become reality now. Abraham's seed was a stranger in a land that is not theirs, namely Egypt. Also, they shall serve them. They shall afflict them four hundred years. All has become reality now. While God is faithful to His covenant, also the rest of the covenant will be fulfilled: The nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward they shall come out with great substance. It is time now for God to fulfil this. Important for us is to see the following. The causes of God's compassion were not the people, but His faith and the covenant. There was nothing in the people why God wanted to save them from Egypt, but it was the covenant. "God remembered His covenant." All grace comes from one side, namely from God. So, when we pray, let we not rely on anything in us, but only on God's promises. Also we must bear in mind that there cannot be any right prayer without a promise of God. All things, for what we pray, must have a previous promise in the Scriptures. When there is not a promise, we will pray in vain. Why? The hearing of the prayer through God does depend only on these promises. The people in Egypt, when they cried, had a promise. It was the covenant of God with the forefathers. The promise was: they shall come out. It was on this promise that they could plead. "And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." In Hebrew is written: And God knew them. Another part of the Bible will explain this. "And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land." (Exod.3:7,8) Why is this story written in the Bible? Surely not in vain. It is written to show us the deliverance of God. He delivers the people from a situation, in which they were unable to do something by themselves. The people were in bondage, and could not deliver themselves. A higher power was needed, God Himself was the Only, Who could do something here. Let us always remember this. The king of Egypt kept them in slavery, and did not want to let them go. This story is a reflection of the spiritual status of the people. We also are in slavery and bondage of the sins. The sins keep us, and will never let us go. A higher power is needed to deliver us from the sins. God Himself is the Only, Who can save us. In what way will God save us from the sins? The same way as what we have just seen. Pharaoh oppressed the people in his land, and therefore they started to cry and pray to God. When God will save us from sins, He gives that we feel ourselves oppressed by our sins. Then we will start to cry and pray for deliverance. 2. Psalm 105:23-26 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- In this Psalm, the prophet is singing about the great deeds of God. He has a reason of doing so. He wants that the reader of this Psalm will give thanks unto the LORD. See for this the first verse. "O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people." (Ps.105:1) This is the reason he tells the story about the people of Israel. Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His Name, and make known His deeds among the people. We will look at a part of the history of Israel in Egypt. 23 Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. Besides Joseph, also Israel came into Egypt. Of Jacob is written that he "sojourned" in that land. Here, sojourning means being stranger in that land. He sojourned there because Egypt was not his fatherland. Although Canaan was his earthly place, his real fatherland was in heaven, with God his Father. 24 And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies. God increased the people greatly for in His hands are life and death. The peoples are in His hands. He gives them strength when He wants. He made Israel stronger then the Egyptians. 25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants. He turned their heart to hate the children of Israel. No free will here. God turns heart as He wants. He can turn hearts to hate the people, he also can turn our hearts to love the people. God, who created mankind, governs also their will. 26 He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen. In the previous verse, we saw that God turned their hearts to hate His people. That is not all what He did. He also sent Moses and Aaron, His servants. He brought the people in oppression by turning the hearts of the Egyptians to hate them. He also brought deliverance by sending Moses and Aaron. God does with mankind as He wills. "O LORD, how great are thy works!" (Ps.92:5) 3. New Testament, Matthew 3 (part 1) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- About John the Baptist and Jesus' baptism 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, In those days came John the Baptist. Which days? It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Luke 3:1. In those days, Jesus Christ was around thirty years old. John the Baptist was the first who baptized at command of God for there is written that God sent him to baptize. "And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water." (Joh.1:33) So, the baptism of John is commanded by God. The baptism of John is far different from the baptism of the Hellenistic- roman religions. In some of those pagan religions, water had a function in the ritual of initiation, but this was not a baptism. Also there were many washings. There were rituals of washing in the Qumran-community. The difference with the baptism of John was, that John's baptism only happened once, and the washings of the Qumran-community happened daily. Another difference is that John proclaimed the coming of the Messiah Jesus, but the people of Qumran washed according to the oldtestamentic customs. There was another baptism in Judaism. The proselytes were baptized, but not at God's command. This custom of baptizing proselytes is older then John's baptism. John the Baptist came as a preparer of the way of Jesus Christ. He proclaimed the coming Kingdom. Also for the spiritual coming of the Messiah in our hearts, a preparer of the way is necessary. Who or what is preparing our hearts for His coming? It is the law. The law always calls us up to repentance. 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent you! This call occurs often in the Bible. It occurs in the Old Testament. "Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets." (2 Kin.17:13) It also occurs in the New Testament. "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." (Rev.2:5) "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." What is the Kingdom of heaven? It is the setting up and the spreading of the congregation of the LORD, through the preaching of the gospel, during the coming of the Messiah. The word "Kingdom of heaven" is used by Matthew, but the other writers use "Kingdom of God", or "Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet.1:11) or another term. Who will enter the Kingdom of heaven? According to the Scriptures, the poor in spirit, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt.5:3) The persecuted for righteousness, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt.5:10) Who more enter this Kingdom? The people who do God's will, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt.7:21) Who more? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and many others. "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt.8:11) Also, the Kingdom of heaven is taken by force in this times, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matt.11:12) Noticable is the order of words in this verse. There is not written: repent ye and the Kingdom of heaven will come near. No, the order is opposite. Repent ye, because the Kingdom of heaven is already at hand. Not our repentance is the ground of the coming of the Kingdom of God, but God's grace is the ground of our repentance. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. The prophet Isaiah had spoken of John the Baptist. Let we go to Isaiah's prophecy and look at it. He said: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (Isa.40:3) Isaiah is somewhat longer, but Matthew quotes the essential contents. The prophet had spoken this after many prophecies of punishments. He is very consoling here. He spoke of course about Jerusalem of that time, but also of John the Baptist. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness. Yes, John was preaching in the desert, in the wilderness. He preached there to show us the wildness of the man without Christ. Like the desert is waste, also our natural heart is waste. Prepare you the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. This is a picture of a coming prince or king. Before him, the way had to be prepared and to be flattened out. John did not work at the way, so this picture must be taken spiritually. The meaning is therefore: Bar out your heart all crime, all sins, all depravation and all wickedness, and seek forgiving of it in Christ. All this in order that He will come and live in your heart. This is the meaning of the call: Repent you. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. The raiment of John was of camel's hair, and he had a leathern girdle about his loins. Such rough clothing was worn by the prophets in the times of the Old Testament. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:" (Zech.13:4) In this text is written that the false prophets imitated the true by wearing rough garment. Also in the epistle to the Hebrews, when the belief and the sufferings of the believers of the Old Testament are described, he speaks about those raiments: "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;" (Hebr.11:37) This occurred to the believers, who were not accepted by Israel of that time. Also in present times, the true believers are not accepted both by Israel and the surrounding world. Also Elijah wore such clothing: "And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite." (2 Kin.1:8) It is most because of Elijah that John the Baptist wore such raiments, because he had come "in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luk.1:17) There was prophesied of his coming: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD." (Mal.4:5) John the Baptist was this prophet Elijah. Therefore he clothed himself like Elijah. He also did the work of Elijah, namely calling up to turn the hearts back to God. In our times, many Jews still expect the coming of Elijah because of the just quoted prophecy of Malachi. However, they can wait and wait, but he will never come. For he has already come nearly 2000 years ago in the person of John the Baptist. His meat was locusts and wild honey. The locusts were great and many in those lands. There are often eaten by the poor. They belong to the clean food, "Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind." (Lev.11:22) 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, See how spectacular John was. Mark writes: "And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." (Mar.1:5) Why did so many go to him? Did they have spiritual hunger to the word of God? Was the time ready for the coming of the Messiah Jesus? Sure is that many came. This shows their desire to the preaching of God's Word by John. This is far different from many in our times. When God's Word will be preached, many are sleeping, do other things, but do not listen. They have no hunger to God's Word. Their only hunger is to the service of the world and their own desires, but not to God. They will receive the pay on their ungodly works. 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. They came to John and were baptized of him. Was this enough? Surely not. They confessed their sins. It was a general and public confession, which happened before the baptism. Confessing of the sins also happened before the offerings in the Old Testament. "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:" (Lev.16:21) "Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed." (Num.5:7) Confession of the sins also involves turning back to God. "When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them." (1 Kin.8:35) "When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them." (2 Chron.6:26) "And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers." (Neh.9:2) The confession of the sins goes before the forgiving. "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." (Ps.32:5) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 Joh.1:9) We see in the people who came to John, how well they were aware of their sins. They saw their righteousness as filthy rags. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isa.64:6) Many people see their righteousness as worthy before God, but the prophet Isaiah shows us that we must consider our own righteousness as dirty spider's webs. Reader, are you doing like Isaiah said? 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Pharisees and Sadducees were two sects of the Jews. There also were some other sects. The Pharisees had two pillars: Torah and Tradition. Both were godly in their eyes. The Torah had to be explained and to be applied to the present time. It is perhaps because of that reason that they came to John's baptism, for that would make the Torah actual. Sadducees were the rich priests and aristocrats. They only accepted the books of Moses as godly, but not the other parts of the Old Testament. John calls them a generation of vipers or serpents, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt.23:33) What are the characteristics of vipers and serpents? The viper unexpectedly and deadly bites someone, "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward." (Gen.49:17) Their poison is called cruel, "Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps." (Deut.32:33) The serpents kills people, "He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay him." (Job 20:16) Isaiah uses the great contrast between the deadly viper and the sucking child to show the great peace: "And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den." (Isa.11:8) The same prophet says: "They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper." (Isa.59:5) A generation of vipers is deadly. A generation of vipers originates from vipers. This shows us that the Pharisees and Sadducees originated from a family of vipers. So, their forefathers were as deadly as they were. "Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" The wrath to come is the judgement of God: "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thess.1:10) John also says: Who has warned you to flee? How could we flee from the wrath to come? By doing what John says: Repent you; and through the baptism to forgiveness of our sins; and through confessions of our sins. Compare John's saying with another spur to flee: "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence." (Jer.51:6) We see that the wrath is deserved. God will avenge; therefore, we have to flee from the coming wrath. We see that John the Baptist applies his sermon to the present situation. He sees the Pharisees and the Sadducees coming, and at the same moment, makes an application to them. He preached understandable and declared himself very clearly. His words were not liable to more than one interpretation. 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: Fruits meet for repentance. These fruits are good works that match a turn away from the sins and a turning unto God. Without fruits that meet for repentance, the baptism is not real. We can say that we believe in God, but when we not do good works, we are liars. This is shown at many places of the New Testament. An example: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt.7:21) Saying "Lord" to Jesus is not enough. We also need to do the will of Jesus' Father Who is in heaven. (will be continued the next time D.V.) 4. Books -------------------------------------------------------------------------- J.H. Merle d'Aubigne The Reformation in England Dr Merle d'Aubigne (1794-1872) devoted a lifetime to the study of the Reformation. His ability to popularise serious history - with true spiritual insight - remains unsurpassed. Volume 1 From the Introduction of Christianity to Britain to 1530 ISBN 0 85151 486 3 476 pp. Large Paperback Price around $11,00. Volume 2 From 1530 to 1547 ISBN 0 85151 487 1 528 pp. Large Paperback Price around $13,00. 2 Volume Set ISBN 0 85151 488 X Ask your local bookstore or order from: Lindenberg Slaak 4-14 3061 CS Rotterdam tel. 31 104111607 The Netherlands fax. 31 104136682 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament Editor: Teus Benschop - firstname.lastname@example.org No copyrights on this publication - Translated by a Dutchman Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-010.txt .