Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 15:52:27 +0100 Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 28 Contents ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Weekly reading, Leviticus 18:3,4 2. Psalm 95:10,11 3. New Testament, Matthew 18:1-4 1. Weekly reading, Leviticus 18:3,4 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I [am] the LORD your God. You shall not do after the doing of the land of Egypt, whence you came. Also, you shall not do after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither you go. So, you shall not do after the doing of the place whence you came, nor of the place whither you go. You are, in fact, between two fires. The place which you left was wicked, but also the place whereunto God brings you, is corrupted. Behind, and before you, the sin lies in wait to deceive you; look out! Fire before you, and behind you. Remember the exodus out of Egypt: Pharaoh and his heir behind you, and the Red Sea with its waters before you. At that time, only a miracle of God saved you. Likewise now, when you have danger of sin before and behind you, only a miracle of God can save you. Likewise you cried, when you stood between Pharaoh and his heir, and the Red Sea, so, cry also now, when you are between sins; cry unto God. Let we listen now. Do we hear the people cry? No, we hear nothing. When Israel stood before the Red Sea, they cried. But when they stand between the sins of the two countries, which threaten them, they cry not. Why not? Because they see no danger. Likewise we, often. When we are in danger in our natural, daily life, we cry. But when we are in danger of being seduced by the sins of our country, we are silent; we see no danger, and therefore, we cry not. May God open our eyes, to see the truth. You shall not do after the wicked customs of the Egyptians, nor after those of the Canaanites. When you ask: When we may not do thus, what else must we do then? The answer follows: Ye shall do My judgements, says God, and keep Mine ordinances, to walk therein. Walk not in the ordinances of the Canaanites, nor in those of the Egyptians, but in Mine. Why must we walk in God's commandments? Because "I am the LORD your God". That is the reason. God is our Master, and we are His servants. Therefore, obedience is asked. According to our text, the laws of Israel of old were different of those of Egypt, and of Canaan. And in the book of Esther, we read, that the Israeli laws were even different of those of all the other people: "And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them." (Esther 3:8) Also Moses, the holy servant of God, when he is exhorting the people to keep God's commandments, he recommends the very righteous laws of God: "And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:8) None of the surrounding nations, and of those far off, have such righteous statutes, as the Israelites have. Therefore, we are amazed that those laws are trodden by their feet, later on. This shows the great wickedness of the Israelites, that they despise those righteous laws. How was it possible! A more clear sign of the depravity of our nature, you will nearly not find. And, because we are of the same race, we are as wicked. Whether we see it, or not, the fact remains the same. And when you a thousand times say, that you are not so bad as those people of old--the facts do not change. Such a great wickedness, as that of our forefathers, and as that of us now, is incurable. God's supernatural grace, renewing our hearts, is necessary. But you may ask: how do you know that our forefathers were so bad? Hereon I answer: I know that from Scripture. Did they, according to Scripture, keep God's commandments? No, they kept several statutes, but not those of God. "For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people." (Micah 6:16) They kept the wicked statutes of Omri, and of Ahab. But the statutes of the LORD? Those were rejected. That have our fathers done, and we are of the same race. As our text says, we shall not do after the doings of the Egyptians and the Canaanites. We are too much inclined to do after the customs of our days. When everybody does something, our eyes are blinded, and we do not examine whether it is lawful. We say: Everybody does it, so it must be good. When our father or mother has the habit to sleep long on the Sabbath, and they do not go to the church, their children nearly always follow that wicked example. They walk in the ordinances of their father and mother, but despise God's statutes. He commanded: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8) He said not: Sleep late on the sabbath day, to defile it. When our family has the habit to eat much and nice on the sabbathday, so that they are sleeping in the church, often we follow their wicked example. We keep the ordinances of our family, and despise that of God. He said: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8) He said not: Eat yourself full, like the swines, on My sabbathday, to fatten yourself up for the day of slaughter. When we are grown up amidst of people who lie half naked on the beach, we often follow their example, forgetting that "unto Adam and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21), namely to cover their nakedness. You shall not follow after the fabrications of your own heart, but "Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God." The LORD is not God in general, but especially our God. He says not: I am the LORD God, but: I am the LORD *your* God. Therefore, it is fitting that we obey Him. Those, who not obey Him, show that they do not longer want to have God as their God. As a result, God also will reject them as His people. 2. Psalm 95:10,11 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Forty years long was I grieved with [this] generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. The LORD here says that He was grieved with this generation, forty years long, in the desert. Moses has recorded some instances, whereby the people grieved the LORD exceedingly. One of the worst examples is the golden calf, which they made. While Moses was on the mountain, to receive the two tables of the covenant, they deviated from the Lord. Another example is the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. They rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and therefore the earth opened her mouth and devoured these wicked people. And there are other example enough, recorded by Moses, which show us the stiffneckedness of that people. But now, when we look at our text, it said that the LORD was grieved, not only now and then, but forty years long. Moses has not written that the Israelites were disobedient and rebelled each day, during forty days. They rebelled in the beginning, and also in the end of that period. The question can therefore arise, why the psalm-writer has said this? Is it not somewhat excessive to say that the people grieved the LORD during forty days? Had it not been better, that the Psalm spoke about, let's say, sometimes? The answer is easy. No, the Psalm speaks the truth. They grieved the LORD during forty years, each day. "Forty years long was I grieved with this generation". God was so grieved, because they "do err in their heart". Moses recorded the deeds of the people, which were grievous for the LORD, but the LORD looks deeper. He saw, each day, their erring heart. Maybe, that their external worship was after the rules, but their heart was erring. That was it, what was so grievous for the LORD. He sees "not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) When our outward behaviour is right (as it ought to be), nevertheless, the LORD can be very grieved with us, namely when our heart is erring. When we walk in the outward ordinances of the LORD (which is our duty), but we do not understand them, and we love not the LORD, He will be grieved with us. Therefore, the Psalm speaks about the forty years long. "They have not known My ways". During forty years, they have seen the works of the LORD. During that time, they have seen His ways. And the result? "They have not known My ways". You must be utterly blind, when you are instructed in the Lord's ways during forty years, and when you even then not know His ways. So was it with the people in the desert. It is important for us to keep in mind that we are of the same race. Many, nowadays, say that we are better then the Israelites in the desert. According to their saying, the Israelites were a young nation, but we are now old and adults. Therefore, they sinned in their youth, but we have now learned more, and commit those sins no more. People who say this, show clearly that they also belong to the "people that do err in their heart", (Ps.95:10) Their first error is that they reject Scripture who says that we are not better then our fathers: "Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day." (Ezra 9:7) Even the holy prophet Elijah, who knew his heart, prayed to God, saying: "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4) When even Elijah, a very holy prophet, said that he was not better then his fathers, how much the more must we say it Therefore, who erring think that we are better now, show no more then their blindness. They also make a second error. When they say that we are now adults but the Israelites in the desert were still youths, they compare the age of nations. From that comparison of nations, they jump to a comparison of persons. When the present nation is old, that does not mean that the members thereof, the individual persons, are also adults. We are persons, and we must learn the same things as the people in the desert learned. We also, therefore, make the same errors and commit the same sins. Saying: "we are adults now, but they were young", is boasting in the age of nations. This boasting blinds our eyes for the truth, that we are sinning each day. When we are sinning, we have no idea how grievous this is for the LORD. He, Who is righteous; for Him it is very grievous to see injustice. He, Who is undefiled; for Him it is smarting to see our filth. He, Who is without sin; for Him it is bitter to see His creation sinning each day. Are you, reader, forty years old? How was your behaviour during that time? How was your heart? When you are of the same race as the Israelites were, then you were erring in your heart, not knowing the LORD's ways. Maybe your outward behaviour was acceptable, but your heart grieved the LORD exceedingly. He looks through your mask of outward rites, and knows your heart--that pool of darkness. God, the Father of all light, will shrink from your darkness. Unless He cleanses it through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, He cannot have contact with you. Reading on in our text, we see the result of the erring of their heart. Forty years long, the LORD was grieved with that generation, and said: "It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My ways". Unto whom He sware in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest. The result of erring in our heart is therefore, that we will not enter into God's rest. Maybe, we will enter earthly Canaan, the present state of Israel. But we will, when we are erring in our heart, not enter in God's rest. I mean, maybe your are living in the earthly Israel, that is still something else then the heavenly Israel. Like the sinners in the desert were destroyed before they entered Canaan, likewise the present sinners will be destroyed before they enter heaven. Having read the threats of our texts, what have we to do? We have to listen to the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom of God. Listen to the preacher: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15) The gospel says two things: Repent ye, and: believe the gospel. These two things are required of you. I pray you, therefore, repent ye, and believe the gospel, lest God swears in His wrath that you shall not enter into His heavenly rest. When you reject the gospel, the one means for salvation, there remains no other means. When you not accept this one possibility of salvation, but seeks for another, you deceive yourself. Repent, and believe in Jesus, the promised Messiah. Listen to Him: "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37,38) When He speaks about the rivers of living water, He in fact speaks of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. 3. New Testament, Matthew 18:1-4 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" The disciples here do like we all do: they wanted to be the greatest. Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? They were not satisfied with the entrance in the kingdom of heaven, but they also, being proud, wanted to be the greatest. Herein, we see what we all do, or try to do. Who does not like to be better than the others? Women often get dressed more beautiful then the others. When I say beautiful, I mean, beautiful in their own eyes--not in the eyes of God. For, in His eyes, we are only beautiful when we humble ourselves. Men, who have some power, often like to have more. It is never enough. Our car must be better, newer, faster, then that of our neighbour. Our children must look better then the other children. Our wife must look younger then the other women. Our husband must have a manly appearance. All these things are signs of pride. Who is the greatest? That is our question, wherein we engage. We expend much labour to reach our goals of pride. Also, our soul, we sell therefore. For, what else do we, when we spend our time in vain things, leaving the most important question unanswered: How an I reconciled with God? Yes, we are even worse then the disciples. They were still concerned about the kingdom of heaven, but we do not pursue anything else then our temporal good. Know, however, that these visible things vanish. Leave these things, therefore, and pursue the eternal things. Concerning the pride, reader, "be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5) Be not clothed with a beautiful dressing, but with humility. When the disciples have betrayed their pride, by asking who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus answers them. He calls a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, in order that they can see him well. They Jesus opens His mouth, and gives one of His always valuable lessons. Listen to Him: "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Except ye be converted from your pride, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Become as little children. Little children are not proud. Also you, be not proud. Little children do not seek own honour. Do you likewise. Little children always trust their father and mother. Do you the same in trusting God with your whole power. A little child expects all things from his elders. Likewise you, reader, expect nothing from any person, but from God. The little child says: "Dad can all". Likewise we, let we have an unlimited confidence in the power of God. The need cannot go so high, or God can help us out. Maybe the waters come to our lips, but then it is God's time to help us out. Of course, Jesus Christ is here speaking, not about children in general, but about little children. For we know, that when the children grow up, their sinful nature comes public. Soon, they show their own will. Therefore, we daily need to become again like little children. We daily need to be converted, and to deny our own will. We daily need God's Spirit, in order that we become and keep on being like little children. "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Who is the greatest in the heavenly kingdom? He, who will humble himself as a little child. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:6) David, that holy king, has also written about this. His teachings were, as always, the same as those of Jesus. Jesus taught us humility; also David did so. He said: "LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever. (Psalms 131) He is like a child by his mother. Like a child, he expects all things of God. This unlimited faith, he recommends also the whole nation of Israel: Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth, and forever. Who hopes on the LORD will never be ashamed. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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, 28 -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-028.txt .