Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 11:00:55 +0100 Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 23 Contents ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Weekly reading, Lev.10:1,2 - Strange fire 2. Psalm 141:2 3. New Testament, John 4:19-26 - The Samaritan woman 4. Books 1. Weekly reading, Lev.10:1,2 - Strange fire ------------------------------------------------------------------------- And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. What is happening here, in our text? The fire of the LORD went out, and devoured Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, and they died. God's fire killed them. Why that? What have they done? They "offered strange fire before the LORD"; that was their fault. What does that mean, strange fire? This will be explained. Nadab and Abihu took either of them his censer, put strange fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered that unto the LORD. They took strange fire, but God had commanded that the fire had to be taken from the ever-burning fire on the altar. That ever-burning fire was God's fire. Nadab and Abihu however, took strange fire. That means, they took not fire from the ever-burning fire, but from elsewhere. God had commanded that the priest, when offering, had to take it from off the altar, like is written: "And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them." (Num.16:46) "And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small." (Lev.16:12) So, this priests were not accurate in their work, but took (for whatever reason) strange fire. This was their fault, and therefore they were killed by God's fire. One may ask if this was such a great sin? The priest had done all according God's commandment, except the origin of the fire. They took a censer, used incense, and offered. Only the fire was strange. Is this such a great sin? The answer will be this: Though is might seem a little error in humans' eyes, yet, God judges otherwise. God does see it otherwise. He is a holy God. He had given a clear command, but the priests transgressed it. God does not tolerate that His service will be defiled or neglected. That the priests took strange fire, and not exactly followed God's commandments, show us that they did the service of God in an unholy way. They thought that it was not necessary to do all so precisely. Just some offering, and all was well, thought they. But let we learn from this that God is holy, and that also we have to be holy. "I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy." (Lev.11:44) God's people will be holy, for He is holy. Just in the beginning of the tabernacle-service, God showed that all had to be done exactly according to His will. Human inventions were to be rejected. When God had allowed this error, just in the beginning of the service, where had been the end? When God allowed this error, more errors would follow. The priest would forget that the tabernacle-service was holy. Therefore, to remind the people of His holiness, God punished this sinner. Today, the tabernacle is not there, neither the temple. Is it possible that we, in our times, do sins like that of Nadab and Abihu? Yes it is possible, even without a temple. Some examples will show you that. - When we use other ceremonies than God expressly has commanded, we do the same sin. For example, God commanded that the people must be baptized in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. When some people use other names, they sin, and will be devoured by God's fire, either in this life or in the times hereafter. - Another like sin is when some people use other offerings than God has commanded. While the temple is destroyed now, the people have invented their own offerings, instead of them. Praying and learning is the new offering. They have invented that the new offerings have the same value as the old, as the burnt-offerings for example. But we know that these self-invented offerings are an abomination in the sight of God. He has commanded to offer offerings according to His commandment, and not according to our distorted will. You will answer: Yes, but we have no temple, therefore we do it without the commanded offerings now. I know it, nevertheless, we cannot be without offering. How must this be solved, will you ask? The answer is that we now have the eternal offering of Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the cross. Therefore, the old offerings have ceased and the temple, while it has lost its function, is destroyed. Rejecting the eternal offering of Jesus Christ will deprive you of your offering, and also of your expiation of your sins. Rejecting Christ is rejecting God's offering. See in the priests Nadab and Abihu what will happen to the people who invent their own way of offering. - Spoiling the purity of the worship of God is another like sin. Adding something of ourselves unto the worship is the same as taking some strange fire and offering by that. All things which are invented by ourselves, are like strange fire. All what we do in the service of God, must have a solid foundation in the Holy Writings, lest we add strange fire. 2. Psalm 141:2 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. A Psalm of David. This man says: LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. He cries unto the LORD his God, and asks if God will hear him. Therefore, he asks if his prayer might be set forth before God as incense, and the lifting up of his hands as the evening sacrifice. These offerings were pleasant in the eyes of God, and David asks if also his prayer may please Him. "Let my prayer be set forth" before thee. He says not: I set my prayer before thee, but he uses the wishing voice: "let my prayer be set forth". This shows us that David was not able to make his prayer pleasing God. Therefore he asks if it might be done by someone who as able to do that. He wishes it, but is not able to do it by himself. We see herein how we have to pray unto God. Not in a self-assured manner, for we do not find in the Scripture that godly men have prayed in that way. Only the ungodly pray so. We ought not to pray proudly, but we must do it like David. "Let my prayer be set forth before thee". Let my prayer be set forth "before thee". David prayed not to some man, but unto God. God, who dwells in the high, and looks down lowly. When we pray, we will keep in mind that we pray unto God, which will give us the necessary reverence. Not reverence as for a tyrant, but reverence as for a high God. Yet, he takes notice of His chosen, and though He lives in heaven, He comes unto us. Let my prayer be set forth before thee "as incense". What does that mean, that the prayer was as incense? David refers to the daily offering of the incense. The smell of the incense was sweet before God, like is written: "And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning." (Exod.30:7) The burning of the incense was pleasant before God. David asks if his prayer might be as pleasant in God's eyes as the burning of the sweet incense. He asks therefore if God will hear him, like he also had done in the first verse of this Psalm: "Make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee." (Ps.141:1) "The lifting up of my hands" as the evening sacrifice. It was common among the men to lift up their hands when praying unto God. The Word of God contains many examples thereof. "I will lift up my hands in Thy name." (Ps.63:4) Another example is there in the book Job: "If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;" (Job 11:13) This shows us what the lifting up of the hands means. It is like the lifting up of one's heart unto God. The outward lifting up of the hands shows the inward preparing of one's heart unto God. In great longing for God, one stretches out his hands to Him. Compare this with an example of the common life. A woman will stretch out her hands in longing for her husband, her beloved. When she stands before him, she stretches out her hands, and hangs on his neck. This clearly shows how much she longs for her beloved man, to be with him. Likewise must it be in our prayers unto God. With a great desire to be with God we will pray unto Him. There are more examples in the Bible. "If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;" (Ps.44:20) They have not forgotten their own God, the LORD, neither have the stretched out their hands to a strange god. Strange gods aren't worth the longing of us. At this moment, a question will arise. How is it with us? Do we stretch out our hands unto strange gods, or only unto the one God? Many stretch out their hands to the worldly goods, in great desire to have them. These are their strange gods. Some long not for God, but for a wife or husband. They long to another, but not to God. These are the strange gods, for God has said that He must have the first place in our lives. Some stretch out their hands to the goods of their neighbour, and embezzle them. These are the strange gods. There are still more examples in the Scripture. Look unto Solomon, who stretched out his hands: "And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven." (1 Kin.8:22). Let the lifting up of my hands be set forth before thee "as the evening sacrifice". Each evening, the priest offered the evening sacrifice, according to God's commandment: "The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even." (Exod.29:39) Because the evening sacrifice was instituted by God, when the priests did so, it was pleasant in the sight of God. David asks if his prayer might be as pleasant as the evening sacrifices. In other words, O God, let my prayer please Thee; hear my voice. Both the incense and the evening sacrifices were valueless without fire to burn it. David compares his prayer with the incense, and his lifting up of the hands with the evening sacrifice. But, as we just said, they were without any worth when there was not fire. Was David's prayer his fire? No, for he compared it with the incense. Was his stretching out of his hands the fire? No, for he compares it with the evening sacrifice. So, we ask, where is the fire? Of course, we must take this in comparison. The prayer was compared with the incense. Likewise we ask, what could be compared with the fire? The fire of David's prayer was the grace of God's Spirit. Without this grace, our prayers are but words, cold and without any value. I think, reader, that you experience how cold your prayers are. Therefore, God's fire is necessary. Ask for His grace. The Jewish teaching is that now the prayers are the new offerings. The service of the temple has ceased, and therefore God accepts our prayers as the new sacrifices. This however is absolutely false. This teaching cannot be derived from David's saying in our text. Though David says: "let my prayer be set forth as incense", this does not mean: let my prayer be instead of incense. Neither does the second part mean that the lifting up of his hands come instead of the evening sacrifice. Saying this is inventing something what the text not says. Let my prayer be "as" incense, and the lifting up of my hands "as" the evening sacrifice. That means, let my prayer be pleasant in God's eyes, like the offerings are. Further, there is another reason why the prayers cannot come in the stead of the sacrifices. When that had been the case, then the sacrifices had to be stopped already in David's time. But we know that is was quite otherwise. In David's times, the great temple of Solomon was still to be built. So, the sacrifices were far from holding up in his time. David's prayer needed the fire of God's Spirit, otherwise it could not be set forth before the LORD as incense. Incense which is not burning has not the sweet smell as burning incense has. Likewise, our prayers, sent up unto God in our own power, that is, without fire, have no smell before God. They are absolutely unacceptable before Him. The fire of the Holy Spirit is necessary. Our prayers have to be done with a believing heart. When we pray our prayers in own strength, then we use strange fire to let them smell. Our prayers, done without belief, are a stench in God's nose. The following will happen unto the users of strange fire, that is the prayers in own strength: "And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD." (Lev.10:2) Therefore, let us do like David the prophet, and say: Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. 3. New Testament, John 4:19-26 - The Samaritan woman ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Jesus has just said to this Samaritan woman, that she has had five husbands, and that her present husband was not hers. Therefore, she answers: Sir, while Thou have said my wicked life, which Thou could not know, therefore I perceive that Thou are a prophet. She knew well that prophets know more than common people, for God does reveal some things unto them. This woman was an adulterer, and Jesus knew her ungodly life. Perhaps this woman shamed herself for her wicked life, and she quickly changed the subject. She changed the talk from her evil life to a religious question. She begins to speak about the place for worship. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. The Samaritans say that we ought to worship on this mountain, mount Gerizim, but the Jews say that it must be done in Jerusalem. Say me, which mountain is the true? Are we right, or the Jews? 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Jesus says: Woman, believe me, the hour comes, but is not at this moment, that the special place of worship is neither on this mount, nor at Jerusalem. So, be no longer concerned about the place of worship. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. This is Jesus aswer on her question: Where must we worship? Our fathers said here, and the Jews say at Jerusalem. The answer is that the Jews are right. The true religion was given to the Jews, not to the Samaritans. The Jews knew what they worshipped, but the Samaritans worship what they know not. Ye worship ye know not what. That is, you have not a clear, expressed command for your worship on mount Gerizim. The Jews however, have God's expressed command, that Jerusalem is the place where He must be worshipped. The salvation is of the Jews. They have God's Word, which describes the way of true salvation. The Samaritans, though having the books of Moses, were yet later; the salvation is not of them. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Woman, be no longer concerned about the place, here or in Jerusalem. For the hour comes, and even is now, that the true worshippers shall worship the Father no longer using the special rites connected to the temple in Jerusalem, but in spirit and in truth. Those are the people who the Father seeks. Be concerned, not about the place where, but about the way how. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. I just said that you ought to worship the Father in spririt and truth, isn't it? Now, I'll say why. The reason is that God is a Spirit. Therefore, He must be worshipped in Spirit and in truth. God is not bodily. For when He was bodily, He would be connected to one place, here or in Jerusalem. You, woman, have too low ideas about God. Just as if He is a man, and can but be in one place at once. No, it is quite otherwise. He is a Spirit, and fills the whole earth. He can be worshipped wherever you are; but remember: in Spirit and truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. I know that Messias comes. All problems, which we now have, will He solve. When He is come, He will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. Jesus says unto her: I that speak unto you am the Messiah, which is called Christ. I will tell you all things, for therefore I am come. I will tell you all things, namely those who are necessary for the true religion, the salvation of people, and for the true worship of God. I will tell you how to worship God, namely in Spirit and in truth. I told you just that God is not so bodily as you thought, but that He is a Spirit. The woman went back unto the city, and said to the people: "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29) 4. Books ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stephen Charnock, The New Birth This re-publication of Stephen Charnock's masterly study is of first-rate importance. He explains what regeneration is, how it takes place, and why it is so urgently necessary. ISBN 0 85151 500 2 544 pp. Cloth-bound. Price around $23,00. Ordering: ask your local bookstore or reply this description to email@example.com - Your order will be forwarded to a bookshop. When ordering by reply, include your full name, address, ZIP- code and state and/or country. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament Editor: Teus Benschop - firstname.lastname@example.org No copyrights on this publication Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands End of The Scriptures opened, 23 -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-023.txt .