Date:         Tue, 3 Jan 1995 10:17:09 -0600
Sender:       Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From:         Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 12
     1.    Weekly reading, Exodus 10:1,2
     2.    Psalm 44:5-8
     3.    New Testament, Matthew 3 (part 3/3)
     4.    From the editor
     5.    Books
  1. Weekly reading, Exodus 10:1,2
  Exodus 10:1,2
  And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his
  heart, and the  heart of his servants, that  I might shew these  my signs
  before him. And that thou mayest tell in the ears of  thy son, and of thy
  son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have
  done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.
  We are now at the time of the plagues  upon Egypt. De previous plague was
  rain,  hail and  thunders. Through  the  prayer of  Moses,  these plagues
  ceased. "And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders
  were ceased,  he sinned  yet more,  and hardened  his heart,  he and  his
  servants." (Exod.9:34) The  king Pharaoh promised to  let the children of
  Israel go, but when the plague ceased, he hardened his heart. Did Pharaoh
  harden his heart by himself? Yes,  he himself sinned, but the real  cause
  of  this  hardening was  God,  as  is  written.  In many  places  of  the
  Scripture,  there is written  that God  hardened the heart  of Pharaoh. I
  will show you the passages:
  -  Exod.4:21  I (the LORD) will harden his (Pharaoh's) heart.
  -  Exod.9:12  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh.
  -  Exod.9:35  And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened;
  -  Exod.10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart.
  -  Exod.10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart.
  -  Exod.11:10 The LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart.
  -  Exod.14:4  And I (the LORD) will harden Pharaoh's heart.
  -  Exod.14:8  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
  -  Exod.14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians.
  The  LORD, Who has  created all creatures,  has also created  the will of
  mankind. Therefore, He  does with the will  as He wants. He  can make the
  will  willing, and He can make the will  unwilling. At this time, He made
  Pharaoh, king of Egypt, unwilling to let the people of Israel go. That is
  meant with: "for I have hardened his heart". We see therefore, that a man
  does not have  a free will. It  is not in the  power of man to  steer his
  will, but it is only in the power of God. Let us  keep this in mind; this
  knowledge will  save us from being arrogant, proud  and haughty. Like God
  gives us all days the things we need to live, He also makes us willing or
  unwilling. He gives the life to the  people, and they live. He also gives
  the will  to the people and they will. He  gives the unwillingness to the
  people, and they will not.
  Why is it that God hardened the heart of  Pharaoh? The LORD Himself gives
  the answer. It  is "that I  might show these My  signs before him".  When
  Pharaoh would  let the  people  go already  after the  first petition  of
  Moses, there  was no  possibility to show  these signs. When  Pharaoh was
  willing, this war of  God had been unnecessary. But now  God had hardened
  his heart,  to give proof  of His  power. The stiffneckedness  of Pharaoh
  opened the possibility  to show Gods power  in doing more and  more signs
  and wonders  in that  land. Compare  it with  one who  throws a  stone to
  something. When you throw a stone upon  a soft thing, for example upon  a
  piece of land, you will see nothing. But when you throw a stone to a hard
  rock, you will see the fire spattering  around. When God would do a sign,
  and Pharaoh's heart  was soft, you would  see nothing. But now,  with his
  stony heart, you see the signs and wonders of God spattering around.
  Some deny that God hardened  Pharaoh's heart, saying that Pharaoh himself
  hardened  it. Why  are they denying  this? Perhaps  to give proof  of the
  haughtiness of their own  hardened heart. I consider them  to be servants
  of the idol "free will". While they are denying the Scripture, let we not
  do this. Clearly  is written here, that  God hardened his heart:  "I have
  hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants". Who even  then denies
  this, he  gives proof  of his  ignorance and  hardened heart through  his
  God made  the possibility to show these His  signs before the people. Why
  dit God want to show His signs? Did  He want to be a tyrant, showing  His
  great power? No, God is not like many earthy rulers, who are haughty, who
  do not seek anything  else but showing their  own power. God is  not like
  them,  but He had  another reason. He showed  His signs to  give proof to
  Israel,  that He is  the only and  true God. Nobody else  is God. You can
  read this reason  in verse two, where  is written: "And that  thou mayest
  tell in  the ears of thy  son, and of thy  son's son, what  things I have
  wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that  ye may
  know how that  I am the  LORD." The fathers  had to tell these  things to
  their  sons and grandsons.  They had  to tell the  power of God,  and the
  great things and signs which He had done among them. The fathers had seen
  these  things, and  had diligently to  tell them  to their  children. The
  children had to  know that God is the only  LORD, and nobody besides Him.
  Have you  ever heard these wonders among the heathens? Yes, everybody has
  myths and other  dreamed up stories, but  have you ever heart  about real
  things? No,  only the  LORD is  God,  who did  these great  things.  This
  consideration had to  give them reason of thanks. They had to be thankful
  to God for His deliverance out of Egypt.
  The Psalms 44 and 105  show us that the people have done this.  They have
  taught  their children about God's signs,  and they have been thankful to
  God, and  gave Him  the honour. In  Psalm 105,  for example, we  see that
  always is written: He did this, God did that, the LORD  gave this. Always
  is given the honour  to God, who showed  His mercy. What was the goal  of
  all those wonders and deeds  of God? Read it in the  Scripture. "And gave
  them the  lands of  the heathen:  and they  inherited the  labour of  the
  people;" (Ps.105:44) To  what goal did He this?  "That they might observe
  his statutes, and  keep his  laws. Praise ye  the LORD." (Ps.105:45)  The
  goal  is observing His statutes  and keeping His laws,  and also praising
  the LORD.
  2. Psalm 44:5-8
  Psalm 44:4-8
  Thou art  my King,  O God: command  deliverances for Jacob.  Through thee
  will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them  under
  that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my
  sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them
  to  shame that hated us. In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy
  name for ever. Selah.
  The prophet confesses God as his King, saying: "Thou art my King, o God".
  That means that he submits himself to God, and  that he is God's servant.
  He  says: "Command deliverances  for Jacob". God has  only to command the
  deliverances, and they will be there.  "For he spake, and it was done; he
  commanded, and  it stood fast."  (Ps.33:9) The prophet  knows that Israel
  will not push  down their enemies through  their own power,  but "through
  Thy  Name will we  tread them  under that  rise up  against us".  Let the
  enemies come up against Israel, but in the Name of God will we tread them
  down. "All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I
  destroy them." (Ps.118:10) He  will not trust  in his bow, neither  shall
  his sword save  him. But  Thee, o Lord,  has saved us  from our  enemies.
  However,  this  faith  in God  is  not  something, what  we  can  give to
  ourselves. Imagine, a  great army comes up unto you, and you have nothing
  to defend  yourself against them. No weapon, no  sword; in this time, you
  would not  have any tanks  or planes  or navy. Would  you rely on  God? I
  think no. Also  in this times, nearly  everybody trusts in his  sword and
  relies on his bow. But the prophet did not. This was only possible in the
  grace of God.  God gave him that faith. We  people rely on everything but
  The prophet boasted in  God all day long.  For, what will anybody do  him
  when God is at  his side? "For by thee I have run through a troop; and by
  my God  have I  leaped over  a wall." (Ps.18:29)  Let the  people of  God
  praise His  Name forever,  for He  is worthy  to receive  all praise.  He
  delivers His people, and therefore they praise His holy Name.
  3. New Testament, Matthew 3 (part 3/3)
  John baptizes Jesus.
  The previous times, we saw  John the Baptist preaching. The Pharisees and
  Sadducees  came to his  baptism, and  John directed  his speech  to them,
  saying  things about  their bad  behaviour and  lack of  good fruits.  He
  warned them and said that the day of judgement would surely come.
     13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to  be baptized
     of him.
     14 But John forbad  him, saying, I have need  to be baptized of  thee,
     and comest thou to me?
  Jesus came  unto John  to  be baptized  of  him. But  John,  knowing  his
  unworthiness,  forbad Him. He knew his  unworthiness. You can see this in
  verse eleven, where he says: "He that cometh after me is mightier than I,
  whose shoes I am  not worthy to bear."  (Matt.3:11) Previously, John  had
  said by words that he was unworthy, but here, he shows it with his deeds.
  He had  not spoken vainly words, like the  feigned always do. The feigned
  speak about  their unworthiness, but when a great prophet would come unto
  them, to  be baptized, I  think that they  would be the  first to baptize
  him. John not.  He forbad Him,  saying: "I  have need to  be baptized  of
  Thee, and  come Thou to me?" Here, John means Jesus baptism with the Holy
  Ghost and  with  fire. John  knew that  he  needed the  Holy Ghost.  For,
  without  that Ghost, the  outward baptism is  of no eternal  value. A man
  needs  to receive,  besides the  baptism  with water,  also a  new heart.
  Giving a new heart is the work of the Holy Ghost. Reader, always remember
  this. Also you and I need to be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Ghost and
  with fire. Ask for it.
     15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus
     it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
  Jesus said unto  him: Suffer it to  be so now.  That means, cease  now to
  prevent me  from being baptized.  So, also  Jesus wanted to  be baptized.
  Why?  Not because of any sins, because He had no sins. Jesus wanted to be
  baptized "for thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness". Fulfilling
  all righteousness means  to do all, what  God has commanded, to  show Him
  all obedience. There  are more places from  which is clear that  Jesus is
  obedient  to God. Jesus says  from Himself: "Think not  that I am come to
  destroy the  law, or  the prophets:  I am  not come  to destroy,  but  to
  fulfil." (Matt.5:17) He  does not destroy the law, but  fulfils it. There
  are  many other places. "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law
  is  within my heart." (Ps.40:8) "Jesus saith unto  them, My meat is to do
  the will of him that sent me,  and to finish his work." (Joh.4:34)  It is
  meat for Jesus to do  the will of God. That means that He  lives on doing
  God's will. When Paul speaks about Jesus Christ, he says that  he "became
  obedient unto death, even  the death of the cross." (Philip.2:8)  This is
  total obedience, to  be obedient unto death; not a normal painless death,
  but even the terrible death of the cross.
  "Then he  suffered him". John  ceased keeping Jesus  from being baptized.
  John  was the least so  he had to obey.  He baptized Jesus  with water in
  Jordan. Let we do the  same. We, people, are also the least, and  also we
  have to obey God's commandments.  When God for example says: "Cease  from
  being proud", then we have to obey.
     16 And Jesus,  when he was  baptized, went up  straightway out of  the
     water: and,  lo, the  heavens were  opened unto  him, and  he saw  the
     Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
  When Jesus was  baptized, He went up  straightway out of the  water. This
  means that  He was baptized  by immersing in  the water. Also  baptism by
  sprinkling is possible. In  the Old Testament, you  can read examples  of
  sprinkling  with blood.  "And the  clean person  shall sprinkle  upon the
  unclean on the  third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day
  he shall  purify himself,  and  wash his  clothes, and  bathe himself  in
  water, and shall  be clean at even."  (Num.19:19) In this verse,  you see
  both: sprinkling and bathing. "The blood  of bulls and of goats, and  the
  ashes of an  heifer sprinkling the unclean,  sanctifieth to the purifying
  of the flesh."  (Hebr.9:13) The baptism is  a picture from, among  other,
  this Old-testamentic sprinkling and bathing.
  The  heavens were  opened  unto Jesus,  and John  saw the  Spirit  of God
  descending like a  dove, and lighting  upon Him. How  could John see  the
  Spirit of God, while He  is invisible? God is a Spirit,  and is therefore
  not  visible. You can  take is thus:  The Spirit was seen  when He gave a
  visible sign of His  presence. Here, He was seen, as  is clearly written,
  "like a dove".  John saw the dove, being accompanied by such Godly signs,
  that he knew that this was the Spirit of God.
  The Spirit descended  like a dove. The Spirit of God chose this form of a
  dove  to show the blamelessness, mildness,  friendliness and sincerity of
  Jesus Christ. Doves are taken as an example of sincerity: "Behold, I send
  you forth  as sheep  in the  midst of  wolves: be  ye therefore  wise  as
  serpents, and harmless  as doves." (Matt.10:16). Doves  are also taken as
  an example of undefiledness: "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my
  undefiled." (Song 5:2)
  Here you see the fulfilling of  what is prophesied in the Old  Testament:
  The  coming of the  Spirit on  the Messiah. "And  the spirit  of the LORD
  shall rest upon him, the  spirit of wisdom and understanding, the  spirit
  of counsel  and might,  the spirit of  knowledge and  of the fear  of the
  LORD;" (Isa.11:2) "Behold my servant, whom  I uphold; mine elect, in whom
  my soul delighteth; I have  put my spirit upon him: he shall  bring forth
  judgment to the Gentiles." (Isa.42:1). The Spirit of God came  upon Jesus
  to  prepare Him for the great task  of preaching the Word of God. Also in
  present times, God's  servant cannot preach  without this Spirit.  Jesus,
  their Shepherd and  Leader and Saviour had received  the Spirit, and also
  Jesus' servants, the preachers of the Word, need the same Holy Spirit.
     17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom
     I am well pleased.
  While the Spirit of God  was upon Jesus, a  voice was heard from  heaven.
  "Lo, a voice".  This "lo"  shows us  how suddenly  and unexpectedly  this
  voice was.  "This is My beloved Son, in  Whom I am well  pleased". God is
  pleased in Jesus, His Son.  Why? Because He is His Son, and does  all the
  will of God.
  In this two  verses, you can  clearly see the  three Persons of  God. The
  first Person is God  the Father, speaking from heaven. The  second is God
  the  Son, being  baptized and coming  out from  the water of  Jordan. The
  third  is God the Holy  Ghost, coming down  from heaven like  a dove. The
  Scripture  says, on the one hand, that there is  one God, and no more. On
  the other  hand, the  Scripture testifies  that there are  three Persons.
  Therefore, to let the Scripture stand, we need to confess the doctrine of
  the  Trinity. Reader,  do not  follow the  Jewish doctrine,  which biased
  emphasizes that there  is one God. Do  also not like other  heretics, who
  biased emphasize that there are three Gods. Both doctrines emphasize only
  a part of the Scripture, and forget the rest. Do you not so, but read the
  whole Scripture. The Scripture says that  there is one God; it says  that
  there are  three Persons. So, we cannot do  anything else but confess the
  Trinity. This is not  idolatry, but this is  reading the Scriptures,  and
  submitting our understanding unto the Word of God. I  say: submitting our
  understanding, because nobody can understand  the Trinity. How can one be
  three? Mankind cannot understand this, but nevertheless, it is the truth.
  May God give that we all, though not understanding it, believe it.
  4. From the editor
  You  can order  the books,  which are  described in  this and  subsequent
  issues of "The Scripture Opened" by several ways.
  -  Order from your local or another bookshop.
  -  Reply the  description of  the book  (Author, Title  and ISBN)  to the
     editor,  He  will forward  your  order  to a
     bookshop, which will send you your desired book of books.
  The possibility of ordering by e-mail is given to make it easy for you. I
  hope, of course, by doing this, to promote the reading of good books.
  5. Books
  John Calvin, Letters of John Calvin
  John Calvin wrote  to kings and princes,  Reformers and friends, nobility
  and  common  people  alike his  letters  reveal a  man  of  deep pastoral
  concern, consistent  and exemplary evangelistic zeal, with a humble sense
  of the final authority of God and his Word.
  ISBN 0 85151 323 9
  264 pp. Paperback.
  Price around $11,00.
  Ordering:  ask your  local bookstore  or  reply this  description  to the
  editor, -  he  will  forward  your  order  to  a
     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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