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From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 35
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Numbers 11:1,2, People's lustful complaint, God's anger

Isaiah 40, part 4, Zion, the bringer of good tidings

John 5:39, Search the Scriptures

Numbers 11:1,2, People's lustful complaint, God's anger

Weekly reading: Numbers 8:1-12:16

And [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD:
and the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled;
and the fire of the LORD burnt among them,
and consumed [them that were] in the uttermost parts of the camp.
And the people cried unto Moses;
and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.

In  our  text,  we read about the complaint of the people,  and  God's
anger as a result of that. During the whole journey, they had troubled
God  and  Moses with their excessive longing back to Egypt. Will  they
never learn to obey God, and to reconcile themselves to their destiny?
    "And  [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD". Their
complaint displeased the LORD, says Moses. And this is no wonder,  for
they  had  often complained. The times comes then, and  is  now,  that
there  comes  an end to God's patience with them. Now it  was  enough!
Always  that  disobedient people! They never are  content  with  their
fate.  They  never obey God. Always howling, that the  desert  is  too
waste,  and that the food is not nice enough. On the day,  it  is  too
hot.  During the night, it is too cold. On the day, there is too  much
dust  and  sand. There is too little water. There is but  manna,  that
heavenly  bread.  We see that the people unreasonably complained.  God
took  care  so well for them. They had all what they needed,  and  are
they still howling? No wonder that it displeased the LORD.
    Let  the  present complainers keep this in mind. We  do  not  earn
enough money, they say. We want more. Our food is not good enough. Our
house must be renewed. Our garden must become more beautiful. We  need
a  new  car.  Let  the  present  moaners  keep  in  mind,  that  their
unreasonable complaining displeases the LORD.
    "And  the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled". God  always
hears all things. When here is written that He "heard" it, that means,
that  He  now  turned to action. He heard their complaining,  and  His
anger was kindled. Take heed, people, when God's anger is kindled! His
anger  is  not like that of the people, which has not so much  effect.
God's anger is fiery.
   We know that God always hears all. He knows our discontented heart,
hears  our  displeased  speech. He sees our labour  to  get  a  better
position, while it was better when we laboured to serve Him. All  this
kinds of people are kindling God's anger.
    "And the fire of the LORD burnt among them". God heard their sins,
His  anger was kindled, and therefore His fire burnt among them.  What
kind  of  fire has that been? Moses does not mention it. He only  says
that  is was "the fire of the LORD". It is clear therefore, that  they
knew that the fire came of the LORD. Perhaps the fire came falling out
of  heaven, like the fire on Sodom and Gomorra. Or the fire ignited in
another manner. Anyway, they knew it: this is God's fire to punish our
   This fire may serve as an example of the eternal fire of hell. That
will  also  burn  to punish the complaints of the ungodly,  and  their
other  sins.  God's anger kindles the hellish fire,  to  burn  in  all
eternity.  Let then the fear of the coming wrath of God  make  you  to
flee  it,  and to ask pardon through the only Mediator, Jesus  Christ,
refraining from all sins.
    The fire of the LORD burnt, "and consumed [them that were] in  the
uttermost  parts  of the camp." God's wrath consumed the  sinners  who
were in the uttermost parts of the camp. They complained, and suddenly
God's fire fell upon then, and consumed them. They suddenly came to an
end.  The  one  moment they still lived, and the second moment,  God's
flames consumed them and they died. We, however, may notice some grace
of  God mingled with the wrath. He consumed but the uttermost part  of
the  camp, not the whole camp. Though the whole people had complained,
and though they all had kindled God's anger, yet, but a small part was
consumed.  Herein we perceive God's grace. Unmerited grace! He  didn't
wish  to  bring  them completely to their end. The  consuming  of  the
uttermost  part of the camp was a warning for the rest of  them.  They
still  were alive. They were not consumed. God put some of the  people
to an example for the rest.
    While  we are living in the world, also we see God's anger burning
on  some  places  of  the  earth. Here are wars,  there  are  famines,
elsewhere  are epidemics. Here are catastrophes, there the  nature  is
damaged. It are all signs of God's anger, because of the sins  of  the
inhabitants  of  the world. The world creaks, because its  inhabitants
sin  and  complaint about their state. Only a few serve God,  but  the
others  serve themselves. It may be a wonder in our eyes,  that  God's
anger is not poured out on the whole world. His flames consume but the
uttermost  parts  of the world, not the whole world.  He  shows  still
grace.  Let we, then, use the time of grace to repent. Let  the  fiery
parts  of  the world serve as examples for us. When we not repent,  we
also have to expect God's fire among us.
    "And the people cried unto Moses". The fire of God consumed a part
of  the  camp,  and  then, they cried unto Moses. Of  course  not  the
consumed  cried, for they were dead. But the living rest  cried.  They
exceedingly feared that God's anger also might be poured out on  them.
They  cried unto Moses. Why unto Moses? Did Moses kindle the  fire  of
God?  No, he didn't. Why then, did they not cry unto God? Because they
did not know God. Of course, they daily heard of Him, but they did not
know  them  in  their own experience. God was One far away  for  them.
Through  their  disobedience, they made the distance between  God  and
them very great. That is the reason why they cried unto Moses.
   Also the present people do likewise. When they are in trouble, they
try  all  means to solve it. But crying unto the LORD? No, they  first
try  all  means. In other words, they cry unto Moses. The people  say:
"God  is  good, but we keep Him for the last". Why not directly  cried
unto  God? Is Moses their helper? Can Moses quench the fire? Can Moses
solve your problems? Why not cried unto God, in a true belief. Surely,
you will be helped, when you but cry upon His Name in a true belief.
   "And when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched." Moses
was  a  very  righteous  man. It is like James  said:  "The  effectual
fervent  prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)  Moses
did  an  effectual fervent prayer; he was a righteous  man,  and   his
prayed avails much. Moses prayed and the fire was quenched.
    Moses  prayed,  and the fire was quenched. Likewise  Jesus  Christ
prays to His Father, and He quenched the fire of His wrath because  of
our  sins.  Moses was a sort of mediator between the people  and  God.
Also  we have one Mediator, much better then Moses, who stands between
God  and  us.  That Mediator is Christ, the true Messiah. Through  His
prayer, God's wrath is quenched.

Had  the Israelites learned of this? No, because a few verses further,
they  again complain... Will they then never learn obedience? Have  we
learnt  of  God's  wrath, burning in the world through  all  kinds  of
catastrophes?  Through  famines, wars, and other  disasters?  Have  we
learnt  obedience? No, because we continue in our sins. Will we  never
learn obedience?

Isaiah 40, part 4, Zion, the bringer of good tidings

   9  O  Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into  the  high
   mountain;  O  Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings,  lift  up  thy
   voice  with  strength; lift [it] up, be not afraid;  say  unto  the
   cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Zion, get thee up into the high mountain! Zion must go up into a  high
place,  in  order that many can hear her good tidings.  For  the  same
reason, she must lift up her voice with strength. Let the preachers of
the  good tiding, of the gospel, not mumble, but let they blow on  the
trumpet of the Word! Let everybody hear it, and see it, that salvation
comes  near. "Be not afraid", let not false shame silence you.  Though
the  enemies of the Word attack you, yet, be not afraid. God  is  with
you,  O  Zion,  be not afraid. Lift up your voice with  strength,  and
preach the gospel. Bring the good tidings, though the enemies of  free
grace  rage  against  it. Above all, bring the good  tidings  for  the
afflicted.  After  a  long period of persecution, diffusion,  and  all
kinds of danger, it is now the time of the good tidings.
    The  bringer  of good tidings is here called Zion,  or  Jerusalem.
Zion,  that  is in the first place the mountain. Then it becomes  also
the  city  built thereon. Jerusalem is built on mount Zion,  but  also
Jerusalem is sometimes called Zion. Later, also the inhabitants of the
city  on  mount Zion are called "Zion". We see that Zion becomes  more
and  more  a spiritual name. It was the mount, later the city thereon,
and  yet later, the inhabitants. Even when the inhabitants are  driven
away  out  of their city, they still are called Zion: "But Zion  said,
The  LORD  hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten  me."  (Isaiah
49:14) We see the meanings which Zion, and also Jerusalem, have in the
Old Testament, The New Testament continues in the same track. There we
read  about the heavenly Jerusalem, which is in heaven, which contains
all  the  believers.  This is a more spiritual  meaning  of  Zion  and
Jerusalem, but according to the trend set by the Old Testament.
    For  those among us, who have suffered a long time, let  them  cry
upon  the Name of the LORD in all truth. Surely, also to them will  He
send a bringer of good tiding.

   10  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong [hand], and his  arm
   shall  rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and  his  work
   before him.

For  all those, who are oppressed by their enemies, and for those  who
are  unable to deliver themselves, this may be a good tiding:  Behold,
the  LORD  God will come with strong hand. Are you unable  to  deliver
yourself? Do not worry any longer, because the LORD will come  and  He
will  deliver  you through His strong arm. No enemy will  be  able  to
resist  Him.  He  shall come, He will defeat those  who  keep  you  in
bondage, His arm shall rule for Him.
    When  the LORD comes, He surely will give reward to the righteous.
He  will  also give the due reward to the ungodly. All those who  have
kept  Israel in bondage, are unrighteous. Behold, the LORD comes  with
His  reward. He will punish eternally all ungodly, but will give  life
to His people.

   11  He  shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall  gather  the
   lambs  with  his  arm, and carry [them] in his bosom,  [and]  shall
   gently lead those that are with young.

The shepherd, feeding his flock, was well known. He defended the flock
against  the  wild  beasts; he led them in a good  pasture.  When  one
strayed off, he brought it back to the flock. As the shepherd did,  so
also  will  God do. He will bring His dispersed nation back  to  their
country. He shall gather them, like a shepherd gathers the lambs.  God
shall gather Israel from where they were, and will bring them back. He
will  carry  the lambs in his bosom. Lambs are unknowing animals,  who
are  not  able  to  resist even the most little  enemy.  Likewise  the
Israelites.  They  were  not  able to defend  themselves  against  the
enemies.  They had walked astray, and God went out to bring them  back
to Jerusalem.
    God  still is doing so with His children. Those who fear the LORD,
and who serve Him, will be protected by Him.

   12  Who  hath  measured the waters in the hollow of his  hand,  and
   meted  out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust  of  the
   earth  in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales,  and  the
   hills in a balance?

Who has measured the waters? Nobody. Who meted out heavens? Nobody but
God.  Who  comprehended the dust of the earth? Nobody, but God  alone.
Who  weighed the mountains? Nobody, for there is none as great as  our
LORD.  People  sometimes  think of themselves  that  they  are  rather
clever,  or  that they are pretty mighty, or they have learned  not  a
little.  But  now,  let  all that pride be subdued.  When  we,  little
people,  compare  our  knowledge,  our  strength,  with  the  infinite
knowledge and power of God, we sink away in nothingness. It is a  good
thing  to  compare  yourself with God, in order that  you  not  become
proud. Have you perhaps measured the waters? Have you meted out heaven
with  the span? Have you comprehended the dust of the earth? Have  you
perhaps  weighed  the mountains and the hills? No? Why  then  are  you
always boasting about yourself?

   13  Who  hath  directed  the Spirit of the  LORD,  or  [being]  his
   counsellor hath taught him?

Who  has ever penetrated God's Spirit? Nobody has done. Who has taught
God?  Nobody,  because God has no need of any human  counsel.  On  the
contrary, He gives us counsel. He teaches us about our ways.

   14  With whom took he counsel, and [who] instructed him, and taught
   him  in the path of judgement, and taught him knowledge, and shewed
   to him the way of understanding?

God does not need our counsel. He is wise enough to do all by Himself.
Moreover,  He has an infinite wisdom. Who instructed Him? Nobody,  but
He is instructing us. Let everybody who thinks that he is wise, become
a  fool,  in order that he may become truly wise. God makes all  human
wisdom to foolishness. The true wisdom comes from Him, and consists of
the knowledge how to serve Him with an upright heart.

   15 Behold, the nations [are] as a drop of a bucket, and are counted
   as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as
   a very little thing.

The  nations are but as a drop. With all their armies, with all  their
might and power, they are no more the a drop in God's sight. They  are
counted as the small dust of the balance. The small dust has no effect
on the balance. Likewise has the behaviour of the nations no effect on
God's work. He executes His will, and does all what He wills.

   16  And Lebanon [is] not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof
   sufficient for a burnt offering.

Lebanon  was  well known because of its abundance of wood.  Very  many
beasts lived therein. Now, even this great amount of wood, and when we
sacrifice  all  beasts, they are not sufficient for a burnt  offering.
God is so great, that there is not any offering of the earth, which is
enough.  No  wonder, that the heavenly sacrifice,  Jesus  Christ,  was
needed.  All  the  wood is too little. All the  beasts  cannot  pay  a
sufficient sum. Because God is infinite, all finite sacrifices are not
sufficient. Only an infinite sacrifice will be sufficient, such a  one
as Jesus has accomplished on the cross.

John 5:39, Search the Scriptures

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:  and
they are they which testify of me.

Here  we  have the words of Jesus. "Search the scriptures",  He  says.
Diligently search them, for they contain a great treasure. The Jews of
then  thought  that  the  scriptures pointed  out  the  eternal  life.
Scripture  shows us the way to God, and the eternal life thereby.  The
Jews  were  in  that opinion, which was a very good one.  Outside  the
Scriptures  is eternal death, but in them is eternal life. Of  course,
they  thought not that the Scriptures contained eternal life, so that,
when  you put a Bible in your pocket, that you at the same moment  had
the  eternal  life. So mechanically it does not work.  The  Scriptures
contain  eternal life, because they point out the way to God.  Eternal
life  is the reconciliation with God. The way is, as Jesus said,  that
the  Scriptures are the holy books, "which testify of Me". The  entire
Scripture, both Old and New Testament, point to Jesus Christ, the only
Mediator.  Through  Him  His believers have eternal  life.  Not  those
"believers", who do not His works, but those, who both believe in Him,
and do good works.
      Who  wishes to have eternal life? Everybody, of course.  Do  you
want  to  have eternal life? Search the scriptures, which contain  the
way  to  it.  Search  the Scriptures, but search not  the  television.
Search  the  Scriptures, said God; yet, many search the  dust  of  the
earth,  the  riches of this world, the transient beauty of themselves,
and  all  the  vanishing,  idle rest of the world.  Who  searches  the
Scriptures? But a few do so. Many wish to have eternal life, but  they
don't want to do something for it. Search the Scriptures! Forsake  the
sins, and diligently pay attention to God's will.
      Many  will  agree with Jesus' words, when He said: "for  in  the
Scriptures, ye think ye have eternal life". Many consider the Bible  a
good  thing, which points out the way to become happy. Yet, but a  few
search  the Scriptures. The great rest search all; they search riches;
they  search the internet; they search to become happy in  this  life.
And  when  you  ask  them:  "What is the way to  life",  they  answer:
"Believe  and you will be saved". They err in this respect, that  they
not  search  the  Scriptures, day and night.  When  they  were  really
concerned about their state before God, converted or unconverted, they
would assiduously search God's Word.
     The Bible, consisting of Old and New Testament, testify of Jesus.
How  many,  however, recognise Him therein? They dispute about  words,
sentences,  "difficult"  passages. They already  have  their  theories
about  the origin of the Bible. They diligently learn the language  of
the Bible, yet, they not diligently search the Scriptures. They become
wise  teachers in their own eyes, knowing nearly every vain theory  of
the so-called Biblical scholarship, but when you ask about the essence
of the Scriptures, they fall silent. Search the Scriptures, therefore,
reader.  God  has  hidden the contents thereof for  the  wise  of  the
century,  but has revealed it to the children. He makes the wisdom  of
the  age  to  foolishness, but His children hear  and  understand  His
voice. The Scripture testify of Jesus Christ; they point out the  will
of God; they ask us to walk therein.
     Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of Christ.

Teus Benschop  |  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl  |  editor of the list Chr-Exp

           "A Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel"

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