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Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 35 To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 sins. 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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | editor of the list Chr-Exp "A Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel" More info? Send mail containing: review chr-exp Subscribe? Send mail containing: subscribe chr-exp Send that mail to: email@example.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-035.txt .