Date:         Tue, 20 Dec 1994 09:47:30 CET
Sender:       Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From:         Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 10
   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
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."
"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
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
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
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
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
   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
   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
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The Reformation in England
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   Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament
             Editor: Teus Benschop  -
      No copyrights on this publication  -  Translated by a Dutchman
          Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands

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