Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 10:17:09 -0600 Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 12 Contents ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 sins. 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 God. 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, email@example.com. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org - he will forward your order to a distributor. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament Editor: Teus Benschop - email@example.com No copyrights on this publication - Translated by a Dutchman Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-012.txt .