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Date:         Tue, 23 May 1995 13:46:33 +0200
Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 32
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Leviticus 26:3,4      Obedience and reward
2. Isaiah 40, part 1,    Comfort ye, comfort ye My people
3. Romans 4:2,3          Abraham's faith

1. Leviticus 26:3,4 Obedience and reward

Weekly reading: Lev.26:3-27:34

If ye walk in my statutes,
and keep my commandments,
and do them;
then I will give you rain in due season,
and the land shall yield her increase,
and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

God promises, when ye walk  in His statutes, then  He will give you  the
fruit  of  the  field.  "If  you  walk  in  My  statutes,  and  keep  My
commandments, and do them". God's  statutes and commandments have  to be
kept by you. Human  statutes may be  necessary to maintain  society, but
God's commandments are more,  much more important.  When there arises  a
conflict between those two sorts, then you have to obey God's. When yo u
keep  My  commandments, says  God, "then  I will  give  you rain  in due
season." We see that rain and dry  season, growth and infertility, heath
and coldne ss, these all  come from  God. He gives  it according  to His
will. When  you walk  in God's commandments,  then He will  give you the
fruit of the field.  Therefore, when the  field gives crop  failure, you
ought earnestly to seek the  cause of it. When  you have done that,  you
will find  that you have been disobedient to  God. For, He promised that
He would give a good yield in the case of obedience, so when  there is a
bad harves t, there must be disobedience. Some  say, that the cause of a
bad crop i s too little rain, and not their disobedience. But the answer
is easy, for God said  that He would "give  you rain in due  season", in
the case o f obedience. So, when  the rain is withdrawn,  there is cause
enough. The story may be well known  of the man, who served God.  He had
glasshouses. It began hailing seriously. When the  shower was over, they
looked to the damage  of the  glass. This man,  who served  God, had  no
damage, but the glasshouses of  his neighbours, on both  sides, were all
damaged. This it, what is meant in our text. When you obey God's  voice,
your field (or glasshouses) will yield their fruit.
   The text says, that in the case of obedience, you will prosper. Man y
draw a wrong conclusion of this. They turn the cause and the result, and
say: So, when I prosper, that means that I am obedient. Of course, thi s
is a  wrong  conclusion.  The text  does not  say  this. There  are many
wicked,  who prosper in  this life, for  no other end  than to aggravate
their punishment. God makes  His sun  shining on both  good and  wicked,
because He is good.  He sometimes gives  the goods of  the earth to  the
reprobate, to see if they will acknowledge Him, the Giver. When they d o
not so, they abuse  the goods, which  were given to  them with no  other
purpose then to serve God with them.
   Let us keep in  mind, that God  gives us the  crop, the fruit  of the
field. Therefore, to throw away  food is the same  as if you throw  away
God's blessing. When you throw away His  blessing, it is as if you  say:
"I don't n eed His gifts,  therefore I throw  them away". Then  God will
answer: "Because you abuse My gifts, I will no longer give them to you".
Hunger and death will  be the result,  as we see  in many places  of the
   Of course, when God gives  us the fruit of  the field, He does  so in
order that  we may  acknowledge Him  as the Giver,  as is  already said.
Therefore, we see  that, while  earthly goods  are given,  yet, we  must
climb higher with  our thoughts.  Under the  picture  of earthly  goods,
God's grace is offered us.  We have to keep  this in our minds,  when we
read in the Scriptures about  such earthly prosperity. He  does not give
us His gifts, in order that we  may enjoy them, and no more.  The beasts
do so; they eat and lay down. People however, do not so. When they  eat,
they ought to thank God. The beast-like people, to call them so, eat, do
not thank God, fatten themselves  up, and throw the  remainder away. But
the pious use their food, in order  that they are the better capable  of
serving God, and to do their other duties. They use the food as a means,
but the world makes the final goal of their meals.
   Moses has written this promise here, and in other places, he says the
same. See an example: "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt  hearken
diligently unto the voice of  the LORD thy God,  to observe [and] to  do
all his co mmandments which I command  thee this day, that  the LORD thy
God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And  all these
blessings shall come on thee,  and overtake thee, if  thou shalt hearken
unto the voice of the LORD thy God." (Deuteronomy 28:1,2)

2. Isaiah 40, part 1, Comfort ye, comfort ye My people

1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

By comparison with the previous  chapters of Isaiah, we  see an enormous
difference. There, he spoke about  coming punishments, about the  coming
exile to B abylon. These judgements are now accepted by some, as a well-
deserved punishment for their sins. This can  be seen, in particular, in
the previous chapter, the  last verses. There,  the prophet spoke  about
the coming judgements:  "And of  thy sons  that shall  issue from  thee,
which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuch s
in the palace of the king of Babylon." (Isaiah 39:7) The next verse, w e
see  that Hezekiah,  the  king,  accepted  his  due reward:  "Then  said
Hezekiah  to Isaiah,  Good  is the  word  of the  LORD  which thou  hast
spoken." (Isaiah 39:8) He said: "The Word of the LORD (namely concerning
future exile) is good". The  judgement-preaching of Isaiah has  achieved
its  goal.  That goal  is  that  they would  be  humbled  by the  coming
distresses.  More preaching  of  coming  punishments  is  not necessary.
Therefore, it is now the time to comfort the people.
   "Comfort ye, comfort ye  My people".  To comfort is  in its  original
meaning,  in the Hebrew,  a word  which means to  sigh deeply.  From the
deeply  sighing comes forth  the meaning  of comforting. The  LORD sighs
deeply,  for now, finally,  they have  accepted His judgements.  He also
sighs deeply as an expression of His  compassion for the people, because
of their coming distress in those judgements.  He deeply sighs, and will
now comfor t them. In  spite of the  future miseries, there  will yet be
perspective.  It is true  that many  will go into  exile, yet,  there is
still future for many. An extra comfort  is it, that God calls them  "My
people".  Though they  will  go into  exile,  and though  they  will be,
because of that exile, no longer God's people, as it may seem; yet,  God
calls them: My people.
   Prophecies always have, besides the first and direct application, and
besides the first fulfilment,  also other applications  and fulfilments.
For example, then God says, "Comfort My people", this can be applied t o
all centuries, and all times. Also when He says: "You are My people", we
know that, also in present times, He says this to His elect. Therefore ,
we may say that this prophecy of Isaiah has more then one fulfilment. He
speaks in the future tense.  The original text has:  Comfort ye, comfort
ye My people, *will* your God say. It is clear that he speaks about  the
future. This verse may,  therefore be explained  of all instances,  when
God comforted His people. The chief instance was, when Jesus Christ came
in the flesh, on the earth. His coming was a very great comfort for  all
God's people. He was God, and spoke many words of comfort. Rightly is it
therefore said: Comfort ye  My people, will  your *God* (namely  Christ)
say.  Also after  that time,  when the  messengers  of good  tiding went
through the world,  preaching the  Kingdom of  God,  they comforted  the
people. They do so until the present day. Therefore, when there are some
of us in  need, misery or mourning about  their sins, let them listen to
the prophet. He spoke  about future comfort.  Let them, then,  put their
trust in God.
   The prophet has spoken,  in the previous  chapters, about the  coming
punishments, because of  their sins.  Also in  present  times, the  true
prophets  do so.  Therefore, it  may be  that  there are  some, who  are
afraid, seeing that their due  reward, eternal destruction, comes  nigh.
Israel of  old saw a dark future, namely exile and banishment because of
their sins. Maybe, there are also among us, who see such a dark  future.
The sword of Damocles hangs  above their heads. Every  hour, they expect
God coming as the Judge. Let those people listen to the prophet, who  is
comforting you. He, of  course, is not  comforting the sinners,  but "My
people", that is, the prophet consoles God's people. How important is it
for  us,  then, to  belong  to  that  people.  Through  the  belief  and
repentance, you belong  to that  happy people,  and you  surely will  be

2 Speak ye  comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare
is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of
the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.

The comfort is spoken to Jerusalem in two ways. First is said "Speak  ye
comfortably to Jerusalem", what is in the  original: "Speak to the heart
of Jerusalem". Like two beloved speak heart  to heart, so also Jerusalem
is comforted by the  messengers of good  tiding. Secondly, Jerusalem  is
comforted by the public proclamation: "Cry unto  her". The tiding of the
comfort is made known in  two ways, namely in  the heart of the  people,
and in the public. This is important to notice. When we hear the message
of forgiveness for sins being proclaimed through  God's messengers, that
cannot comfort us. For, who assures us that this message is also for us?
Therefore, we need  that it  is said  also  to our  heart. When  we  are
assured  in our heart  of the remission  of our sins,  we are comforted.
These  people  are  known,  who  during  years   heard  the  message  of
forgiveness, but never were comforted.  Until God spoke it  to their own
heart.  When  they  heard  that  voice,  in  their  heart,  they  became
exceedingly glad. They  were glad,  because they  now  knew, that  God's
message of comfort was directed to them, personally.
   "Cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished". This warfare can be
understood as several difficulties,  which have  happened to Jerusalem .
When  the time  of comfort  is there,  these  distresses will  end; "her
iniquity is pardoned". When their iniquity is  pardoned, the punishments
will also end. The prophet,  speaking about the future,  means that when
the return from their exile,  it is because their  iniquity is pardoned.
Jerusalem will then have received of the LORD's hand double for all he r
sins. This means, the  punishment is now  enough, God is  satisfied with
   When you a re walking with the burden of  your transgressions on your
neck,  you will look  forward to  the time  that your  iniquity will  be
pardoned. It will happen,  when you have  received double of  the LORD's
hand  for your  manifold sins,  as the  prophet  says. When  God pardons
before you feel the trouble  thereof, surely you will  sin again, hoping
that God again will forgive. But this is not the way. In order  that you
may be k ept from future sinning, God makes  the sin heavy for you. When
it is enough, when you have learned enough about your wicked nature, and
your inability to save  yourself, then he  will forgive the  iniquities.
Then you will be comforted in your heart and in the public.

3. Romans 4:2,3 Abraham's faith

If Abraham were justified by works,
he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God.
For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

If Abraham were justified by works, he could glory in himself. He coul d
say: "I am so righteous, that I have deserved God's favour. God must b e
happy with such a good  servant as I am".  If Abraham were justified  by
his  own  works, he  could  say  such  things.  "I  belong  to  the  few
righteous", he could then say. He could then glory in himself, like th e
present  Jews do.  But the  more one  glories  in himself,  the more  he
withdraws that glory from God. Compare these  two sayings. The first is:
"I am righteous, and I  serve God". The second  is: "I am a  sinner, yet
God is favourable towards me". The first  saying is glorying in oneself,
the s econd saying  is glorying  in God.  If  Abraham were  justified by
works, he has something to glory, but not before God. The more we  glory
in our own  deeds, the  less honour  God receives.  While the  Scripture
everywhere  gives the most honour to God,  we must follow that, and also
give the m ost honour to Him. Therefore, away  with that boasting in own
power. Let  the ungodly boast therein, and  dishonour God, but let we do
it better. Let  all glory  be taken  away from  the flesh,  and let  all
honour be  given to God!  On the dunghill  with that human  pride, which
everywhere prevails. Let we subject  ourselves, and our inborn  pride to
God. May H e speedily come, and subject all the wicked, who withdraw the
glory from  Him. If Abraham  were justified by works,  he could glory in
himself. But what  says  the Scripture?  Abraham  was not  justified  by
works, but he believed  in God, and  that belief was  his righteousness.
Listen to the Scripture: "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it
to him for righteousness."  (Genesis 15:6) Of  course, Abraham was  very
righteous.  I think, no I'm  sure, that he was  much more righteous than
any of us. Yet, this righteous was not his righteous before God, but his
belief was counted to him for righteousness. If Abrahams righteous works
were not counted before God as any merit, how much less those of us! Let
then all glory be given  to God, by a  righteous life, and by  belief in

Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Bible to Israel
Editor: Teus Benschop  -  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl
Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands

file: pub/resources/text/ibp-e/so: s-open-032.txt