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Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
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From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 37
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Numbers 16,              Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the rebels
Isaiah 40, part 6,       God, the Only God, incomparable
1 Corinthians 1:26-31,   Not the wise are called but the foolish

Numbers 16, Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the rebels

Weekly reading: Num 16:1-18:32

1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi,
and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab,
and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took [men].
2  And they rose up before Moses,
with certain of the children of Israel,
two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly,
famous in the congregation, men of renown.

In  this  chapter,  Numbers 16, we have the revolt of  Korah  and  his
mates.  They  rose up against Moses and Aaron, saying that  they  also
were  holy,  and therefore also could lead the people. The  very  fact
that they arose against the leaders Moses and Aaron, leaders appointed
by God; that very fact falsified their claim that they were holy. For,
holy men revolt not. Korah, Dathan and Abiram however, not being holy,
but unholy, rose up against their leaders, saying that they were holy.
They also said, in verse three, that "the LORD was among them". As  if
God is a Leader of revolutionaries. They had done better, and they had
spoken the truth, when they said that Satan was in their midst.  Satan
is the revolutionary of the beginning, and the head of all rebellions.
But,  as  always, when men become proud, they imagine  that  they  are
religious,  and  that they are holy, and they stand up  against  God's
   When Moses heard these things, "he fell upon his face", verse five.
He did not defend his own office, but he said that the LORD would make
known,  tomorrow, whom He had chosen, and who were the true holy  men.
Moses defended not his own cause, but he laid it in the hands of  Him,
Who knows all, and Who is the Righteous One. He will make known who is
His true servant.
   The rebels were Levites. They already were chosen to the service of
the  tabernacle  of  the  LORD.  They  were  not  content  with  this.
Therefore, they sought also the priesthood. Pride drove them to  this.
They  were  not content with their own position, but sought  something
higher.  This  always is the cause of revolutions. The people  are  no
longer  content, but they rebel against the rulers. Those  rulers  are
appointed  by  God.  Who  therefore rebels against  those  rulers,  in
reality rebels against God Himself. Undoubtedly, their punishment will
be  the  same  as Korah's punishment: the earth opened its  mouth  and
devoured him and his mates.
    They complained that Moses has led them out of Egypt, a land "that
flows with milk and honey", as they say (verse 13). Also, according to
the  complainers, Moses had not brought them in Canaan, a land of milk
and  honey. What? Had Moses not brought them into that good land, they
say?  Were  they then forgotten, that they had not entered because  of
their   unbelief?   What  an  unthankfulness;   what   a   pride   and
forgetfulness! First, they believed not, and then they  rebel  against
Moses  and Aaron, saying "that they are holy". We see, that people  of
short  memory,  through their spiritual blindness,  forget  their  own
sins,  and begin to complain about others. Moses has not brought  them
into  Canaan,  they say! Had they but believed when they stood  before
the  borders of the land, when they had sent out the spies, then  they
had been already in Canaan. What troubles does the unbelief bring!
    To  decide the matter, Moses said that they had to come with their
censer, and with incense therein, before the LORD, verse 17. Then  God
would  make known who were His true servants, and who not. The  result
is  known.  The  glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.
The ground that was under Korah, Dathan and Abiram, clave asunder. And
the  earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up. They went down  in
the  pit,  and  the earth closed her mouth above them. Away  were  the
rebels;  they were livingly gone down. Moreover, a fire came out  from
the  LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty rebellious  Levites,
who offered incense.

This was God's judgement. In this chapter, a true picture is given us,
of  what  happens  to the disobedient. In Moses' times,  God  directly
punished  them, but in our times, He often delays it. But surely,  the
punishment  will  come. Might the people more think about  this.  That
would  learn much from the examples, written down in the Bible. It  is
better  to subject yourself to the ruling powers than to rebel against
them.   Also   walking   with  banners  through   the   streets,   and
demonstrating, is a kind of rebellion. The matter is so,  because  the
demonstrators skip the normal paths to make their will  known  to  the
government.  In a democratic system, the inhabitants can choose  their
party,  which  is the common way to have influence on the  government.
But  the demonstrators, not being content herewith, take the right  in
own hand, and rebel against the authorities. Let the example of Korah,
Dathan  and  Abiram warn them. Maybe, God will not punish  the  matter
directly,  but the time will surely come. Let the people,  instead  of
drifting over the streets, do some good work, as helping the needy, do
some voluntary work, but above all, do God's will.

Isaiah 40, part 6, God, the Only God, incomparable

20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree
that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare  a
graven image, that shall not be moved.

The  previous verse spoke about the cast image, namely for  the  rich.
The  impoverished makes not a golden image, but one of wood. No matter
how poor one is, he must needs transgress God's commandment! Even when
he must take the bread out of his mouth, an image he will have! How do
they  dare. They must seek a cunning workman, lest the image be  moved
and falls down. How do they dare comparing God with such an image.

21  Have  ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been  told  you
from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the

They are making images as if they have never heard of the one God, who
laid the foundations of the earth. They compare the eternal God with a
shaky image. Truly, these people are dull; they don't know God.

22  It  is  he  that  sitteth upon the circle of the  earth,  and  the
inhabitants  thereof  are  as grasshoppers; that  stretcheth  out  the
heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Here  we  have the answer on the question "Who has created  all  these
things?"  The  answer is: it is God, who sits upon the circle  of  the
earth. The prophet compares God's greatness with the littleness of the
inhabitants  of  the earth. They are but grasshoppers,  compared  with
God, Who sits in heaven. When we look up, we see the blue sky. God has
stretched it out as a blue curtain, and He spreads it out as a tent to
dwell  in.  In truth it may be said, with David, "The heavens  declare
the  glory  of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."  (Psalms

23  That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of  the
earth as vanity.

The  mighty men of the earth think that they will subdue all  nations.
But  they  forget that there is still a God, Who is King of kings.  He
brings  all  proud princes to nothing. Their wars fail; their  economy
collapses; they are brought to nought. Also the judges; they are  made
vanity. They commonly have the might to acquit or to condemn. In God's
sight  however, they are vanity. God is the Judge of judges,  who  has
the  last word in all matters. When God brings the princes to nothing,
and  also the judges, how much more does He annihilate the common man!
Let we keep this in mind. We are less then vanity before God.

24  Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown:  yea,
their  stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also  blow
upon  them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall  take  them
away as stubble.

When the prophet says that the rulers and the high people not shall be
planted, and that they not shall be sown, he means that they not  will
be  confirmed in their office. "Their stock shall not take root in the
earth",  says he; what means the same. They shall not be confirmed  in
their  power. He also uses the picture of the whirlwind.  As  soon  as
God's  wind blows upon them, they will wither. You can see  it  around
you. Yesterday, that man was healthy; he had a fit colour in his face.
But  as  soon  as  God comes, and blows with His  wind  upon  him,  he
withers.  He  becomes sick; he gets an unhealthy face.  In  short,  he
withers  like  the  plants  in the hot sunshine.  And  when  they  are
withered,  they  loose  their  firmness.  When  then  God  sends   His
whirlwind,  they are taken away as stubble. Men is taken  out  of  the
dust of the earth, and he will return to dust.

25  To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy

They had made images, dishonouring God and transgressing His laws. God
cannot  be compared with anyone. "There is none like unto the  God  of
Jeshurun,  [who]  rideth  upon the heaven in  thy  help,  and  in  his
excellency on the sky." (Deuteronomy 33:26)
    I  cannot be compared with anyone, says the Holy One. We see  here
that  God calls Himself the Holy One. That is, He is so holy  that  He
cannot be compared with anyone. He is so Holy, that He has nothing  to
do  with our sins. The people have to keep in mind, that God is  Holy,
and  that they, therefore, ought to be also holy. "I am the LORD  your
God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for
I  am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves". (Leviticus 11:44)  We
often forget that God is holy. We think that He is like a man, winking
at  our  transgressions. But who thinks this,  is  severely  deceiving
himself.  When he continues herein, he runs headlong into destruction.
The greatest part of mankind compares God with a man, thinking that He
will overlook their little sins. In early times, Israel made idols  to
worship God thereby. But now, they make idols in another sense, namely
by  comparing  God with a man. In early times, they  depicted  God  by
images. Now, they distort His essence by saying that He overlooks  our
sins. Will the people never forsake making images?

26  Lift  up  your  eyes on high, and behold who  hath  created  these
things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by
names  by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in  power;
not one faileth.

Lift  up  your eyes on high. Look to the creation, people, and  behold
Who has created these things. Heaven and earth, the whole universe  is
created  by God. Perhaps, when beholding those things, you might  have
any  idea  about His majesty. He counts all the stars by  number.  We,
people cannot count them, even not with the most modern equipment. But
God,  the Creator of them, knows them. He calls them by names, for  He
is  great. He keeps the universe in its state, and governs the  course
of their celestial bodies.

27  Why  sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way  is  hid
from the LORD, and my judgement is passed over from my God?

Jacob  and  Israel are two names for the same nation.  The  Israelites
said:  "My way is hid from the LORD". They mean, that is seems  as  if
God  does not know them. Their life is hid from the LORD. They are  in
fact  as  a  dead one, who lies under the earth. The coming  exile  to
Babel  is  compared with being buried in the ground. They  think  that
they are out of the sight of God there. Moreover, they say, that their
judgement  is passed over from their God. That is, God does  not  give
them the right. But the prophet answers: "Why do you say this, people?
You  are  wrong.  God knows about you. Though the coming  exile  is  a
punishment of your sins, yet, God will not forget you".

28  Hast  thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the  everlasting
God,  the  LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth,  fainteth  not,
neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

God  has  always taken care for His people. Why then should He forsake
you  now?  Do  you not know that God doesn't change?  He  faints  not,
neither is weary. How, people, can you think that God will forget you?
He  is  always  the Same; He changes not. Though you and your  fathers
have despised Him, He will not forsake the works of His hands. He will
punish  you,  that is right, but He will not utterly  destroy  you.  A
remnant  will be left. The prophet, before the coming exile,  comforts
them with God's unchangingness.
    "There  is  no searching of His understanding", says the  prophet.
Gods  ways  are  higher  then  our  ways.  We  cannot  understand  His
directions.  When  all  seems to go wrong in  our  lives,  we  may  be
comforted  by knowing that God governs all. Let we not think  that  we
can  understand God. When it seems that all things end in destruction,
we may know that God leaves over His remnant.

29  He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might  he
increaseth strength.

God gives power to the weak. Are you, reader, tired of this world? Are
you  fed up with your own sins? Have you sinned very long, and do  you
wish to be reconciled with God? "Come unto me, all ye that labour  and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Listen  to
God,  Who will give you power. Are you worn-out? Listen: God increases
strength to them that have no longer any might.

30  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men  shall
utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they
shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;
[and] they shall walk, and not faint.

In these last two verses of the chapter, we see the difference between
the  people who lack the trust of the LORD, and who wait upon Him. The
unbelievers will faint and be weary, but they that wait upon the  LORD
shall  renew their strength. The prophet says: "even the youths  shall
faint". Young people often are full of strength; they are flourishing.
The  prophet  uses  their example. Even those, who commonly  flourish,
when they not wait upon the LORD, even those shall faint and be weary.
The  young  men shall utterly fall. That is the result of not  knowing
the  Lord.  The ungodly and wicked shall utterly fall and never  stand
up.  But  those  who  put their trust in the LORD  shall  renew  their
strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. We know  that  the
eagles  fly very fast. He speedily flies through the ear, and  reaches
enormous heights. Like the fast eagles, so will the believers be.  Who
waits  upon the Lord will not lack strength. "They shall run, and  not
be  weary; they shall walk, and not faint". That is the part of  God's
children.  They  seek strength in their LORD, Whom  they  serve.  They
trust  in  Him, and will never be ashamed. Who trusts in own  strength
shall utterly fall, but we shall stand upright. "Wait on the LORD:  be
of  good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on
the LORD." (Psalms 27:14)

1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Not the wise are called but the foolish

Paul, speaking about the rejection and acceptance of the Gospel, comes
to  the conclusion that the Greek seek wisdom, and the Jews signs, but
that  the  called believe Christ crucified. Christ is a stumblingblock
to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks, but for the called He is power
and wisdom of God.

26   For  ye  see your calling, brethren, how that not many  wise  men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]:

To  prove his saying, Paul points to the congregation. They can see it
with  their  own  eyes. They consist not of many wise  men  after  the
flesh,  not many mighty, nor many noble. It were the simple,  of  whom
the  Christian congregations consisted mostly. They were not  wise  in
the  world's  vain  eyes. They had no power, which  blocks  often  the
belief.  They were no nobles, but simple men. The people of the  world
have  no  time  to engage in these things. The Jews sought  their  own

27   But  God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to  confound
the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound
the things which are mighty;

The wise think that they are wise, but in vain. The powerful think  to
have  much might, but they deceive themselves. To show that,  God  has
chosen the foolish things, to confound the wise and mighty. All  their
wisdom and might must perish in God's presence.

28   And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath
God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things
that are:

God turns all upside down. The proud people will be abased by Him. The
despised things has He chosen. The things which are not has he brought
into  being.  The things which are has He brought to nought.  Let  all
vain glory perish in God's presence. Let all boasting in own flesh  be

29  That no flesh should glory in his presence.

When  a  work  is  accomplished, and we ascribe some  part  of  it  to
ourselves, then we take at the same moment some glory away  from  God.
The  more  we  honour  ourselves, the more we dishonour  God.  In  the
salvation  of  the sinner, all work is done by God, in order  that  He
gets  all the honour. Salvation, merited by our own works, takes God's
glory  away, and gives all glory to ourselves. Salvation however,  out
of  pure  grace,  exalts  God's Name the most.  The  Jewish  doctrine,
therefore, is execrable. Salvation earned partly by ourselves,  highly
dishonours God. They say: "we and God work together." Just as if a man
is  God's equal! Let we therefore reject that doctrine, and adhere  to
the  salvation out of pure grace. Why? That no flesh should  glory  in
His presence.

30   But  of  him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made  unto  us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

Christ Jesus is made unto us, believers, wisdom of God. That means, He
is  the  Source of all wisdom. He brings us back to God, and gives  us
the  fear  of the LORD. The fear of the LORD is the beginning  of  all
wisdom. It is Jesus' work to give us that.
    Further, He is made unto us righteousness. That is, while  we  are
unrighteous in God's sight, Jesus' righteousness is put in our  stead.
Our  sinful natures are counted unto Him, and are punished in Him. But
His  righteousness is counted unto us, in order that  we  are  counted
righteous  before the LORD. That is it, what is also said of  Abraham:
"And  he  believed  in  the  LORD;  and  he  counted  it  to  him  for
righteousness." (Genesis 15:6) Abraham's belief in the Lord Jesus  was
counted to him for righteousness.
    Christ Jesus is also made unto us sanctification. That is, through
His  power,  we  daily are sanctified. We must be transformed  from  a
great  sinner to one who is more holy. That is done through the belief
in  Christ  Jesus.  He is our sanctification; not our  works  are  our
sanctification before God. People may sometimes think  that  they  are
holy,  but they are wrong. Nobody is holy, but he who is and stays  in
    He  is  made  unto  us redemption. For, He delivers  us  from  all
distresses  and  evils of this world, of ourselves,  of  our  enemies.
Through Him, we are in principle delivered from evil, though we  still
daily are attacked by sin. We are delivered in principle, but the full
redemption will be then, when we always will be with Him.

31   That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory
in the Lord.

All  honour  in  our  deliverance is ascribed unto  God,  like  it  is
written:  "Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise [man]  glory  in  his
wisdom,  neither let the mighty [man] glory in his might, let not  the
rich  [man]  glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth  glory  in
this,  that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD  which
exercise  lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness, in the  earth:
for  in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23,24) Let
nobody glory in himself, but let him glory in the Lord. All honour  is
due to Him, for He delivered us from all evil. Let we therefore praise
the  LORD,  Who  filled  our  hearts  with  love.  The  ungodly  never
experience  this, but God's children know what it is, to be  delivered
from  all sin. They say with David the words of "this song in the  day
that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from
the hand of Saul: And he said, I will love thee, O LORD, my strength."
(Psalms 18:1) They are far from ascribing any glory to themselves, but
praise the Lord. I will heartily love Thee, O Lord, my Strength.

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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