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Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
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From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 38
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Numbers 22:35  The LORD's Angel and Balaam
2. Psalm 35,      Prayer for God's help, part 1
3. John 1:11,     Jesus' coming and rejection

1.   Numbers 22:35 - The LORD's Angel and Balaam

Weekly reading: Num. 19 - 22

And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men:
but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak.
So Balaam went with the princes of Balak. (Numbers 22:35)

Balaam,  after having nagged a long time, (as the wicked are  wont  to
do) that he might go with the princes of Balak, God allowed it him. He
is  now  on  the way to Moab, to curse Israel. However, though  Balak,
king  of Moab, has asked Balaam to curse the people, the LORD had said
"Only  the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt  speak",
as  we read in our text. So, Balaam was not allowed to curse, as Balak
willed, but only God's word to speak. We see, first, that it is not in
man's  power to speak what he wills. When God restrains him,  he  will
fall  silent,  Or, when God lays other words in his  mouth,  he  shall
speak  those, and none other. The angel of the LORD said that he  only
would speak God's words, and what was the outcome? We will read it two
chapters further. There, Balaam said, after having blessed Israel: "If
Balak  would  give me his house full of silver and gold, I  cannot  go
beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do [either] good or bad of mine
own  mind;  [but]  what the LORD saith, that will I  speak."  (Numbers
24:13)  We see it, Balaam was totally in God's power. He could not  go
beyond the LORD's commandment. It is also for us a good thing to  keep
that  in  mind.  Too often, we think to arrange our own  matters,  but
here,  we see that only God has the ultimate power over us. Often,  we
forget this, thinking that all things are in our might. But this is  a
gross  mistake, no, a fatal mistake. Thus erring, we forget  God,  and
work our own destruction. Let we then always keep in mind, that we are
governed by God.
     Reading  our text, we see something else. The angel of  the  LORD
said,  that  Balaam should speak only the word, that He  laid  in  his
mouth.  Balak had hired Balaam to curse Israel, but the LORD prevented
it.  The  LORD saved His people from the enemies. We see  how  blessed
those  people  were, for they had the Creator of heaven and  earth  as
their Defender. Blessed are all those, who trust in the LORD, and  who
are  protected by Him. It might be that heaps of enemies come to  slay
them,  but  they will not succeed. Forty years, Israel had dwelled  in
the  desert, surrounded by wild beasts, snakes, robbers, and what not.
But God was their Protector. "He that dwelleth in the secret place  of
the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say
of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will  I
trust.  Surely  he shall deliver thee from the snare  of  the  fowler,
[and] from the noisome pestilence." (Psalms 91:1-3)
     In the text, we see also another thing. The angel of the LORD  is
speaking to Balaam. Does God than also speak to the wicked, you  might
ask?  Yes, surely, for in our text, He does so. We ought to keep  this
in mind. For, not all to whom the LORD speaks, are righteous. Also the
wicked  are governed by Him. So, reader, when you think God  has  once
spoken  to you, or you experience His direction in your life, do  then
not  conclude too hastily, that you belong to the righteous.  Look  to
Balaam,  a  very  wicked  person. God spoke  to  him,  but  he  wasn't
righteous,  neither became so. Not the words of the  Lord,  therefore,
make  you  righteous. Only a renewed heart, a total  conversion,  will
make you belong to God's children. It can go far with wicked. They may
excel  nearly everybody in knowledge of the Torah. They may  shine  in
many  things; they may have heard God's word - yet, when they not love
Him,  when they not are renewed, they stay wicked. When they excel  in
the  Torah, they use it for their own honour. When they do  many  good
things,  their  breasts swell of pride. We have an  example  of  this,
again  in  Balaam. When he prophecies, he not says: "Thus  speaks  the
LORD", but he takes the honour for himself. Hear him speaking: "Balaam
the  son of Beor hath said". Again, "the man whose eyes are open  hath
said".  Moreover: "He hath said, which heard the words of  God,  which
saw  the  vision of the Almighty". (Numbers 24:3,4) Hear him boasting!
He  robs  God  of all His due honour, and takes it for himself.  These
things are the wicked's practices. When reading the Torah, they do  it
but  for themselves, and hope that many will hear how skilled they  do
     "And  the angel of the LORD said", we read. Who is that angel  of
the LORD? It seems to be a being separate from the LORD, because he is
not  called "the LORD", but "the angel of the LORD". Who is he? In our
text,  it appears not whether this angel is a common angel, or someone
else.  But  one thing, we see in our text. The angel says that  Balaam
must speak only those words, which the angel will speak unto him. That
is what our text says: "And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go
with  the  men: but only the word that I shall speak unto  thee,  that
thou shalt speak." (Numbers 22:35) So, the angel of the LORD puts  the
words  in Balaam's mouth. Looking further, some chapters, we will  now
see  who  actually put the words in Balaam's mouth. He who does  that,
will  be the angel of the LORD. Who put a word in Balaam's mouth? "And
the  LORD  put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return unto  Balak,
and  thus  thou shalt speak." (Numbers 23:5) Here is the  answer.  The
LORD  gave Balaam the words in his mouth. So, the being who is  called
in  chapter 22 the angel of the LORD, appears to be in chapter 23  the
LORD himself. Here, again, we come across the doctrine, that the angel
of  the  LORD  is often the LORD himself. A being, separate  from  the
LORD,  called the LORD's Angel, appears to be the LORD himself.  Hence
the  doctrine of a plurality in the one God. The Bible teaches it  us.
Hence  also,  and  from  like places, the Christian  doctrine  of  the
Trinity  originated.  The Trinity is not something,  invented  in  the
early  Church,  but it has its roots in the Old Testament.  Throughout
the  Bible, we hear that there is but one God. Yet, in the same Bible,
we  read about some plurality. So, who wishes to confess these  things
in  one  sentence, will speak about the Trinity, or about  the  Triune
God.  It  is unbelievable, that the Jewish doctrine to firmly  rejects
this  notion. That doctrine wrests all instances, where the  Angel  of
the  LORD  appears to be the LORD Himself, - all instances where  some
distinction in the one God is taught - all these places are twisted to
the  Jewish denial of the Trinity. All means of escape are sought out,
to  maintain  that wrong doctrine. They deem the Word of God  not  too
holy,  to  be  perverted, and to distort it to some  human  invention.
They,  thus  perverting  God's  Word,  attack  Himself.  I  fear   the
punishment, due to such a wretchedness. How dreadful will that be! Let
therefore all people of a sound mind adhere to Moses and the Prophets,
who  clearly  teach  these  things of the Angel  of  the  LORD,  being
separate from the LORD, yet being the LORD Himself.

2.   Psalm 35, Prayer for God's help, part 1

    1 [A Psalm] of David.
    Plead [my cause], O LORD, with them that strive with me:
    fight against them that fight against me.
    2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
    and stand up for mine help.
    3 Draw out also the spear,
    and stop [the way] against them that persecute me:

Here  again  we  have a Psalm of David, the man of God's  heart.  This
time, he had much enemies, who strove with him, and who fought against
him.  As long as the enemies had David before them, yes, so long  they
had the upper hand. But now, look out enemies! David is praying to the
LORD for help. Enemies, when you now continue to strive and fight with
David, you no longer fight with him, but with the LORD Himself. Woe to
such people, who strive with the LORD! In the prayer, we see what will
happen  to that kind of people. Do they strive with anyone?  The  LORD
shall  strive with them also, and He will conquer. Do they fight  with
somebody?  The  LORD also will fight against them, and  He  will  beat
them.  Will  they  persecute David? Surely, they will  find  the  LORD
standing  in their way, in order to stop them. Are they using  several
weapons, to overcome David? They can expect the same things to be used
against  them. God will take hold of shield and buckler, and  He  will
defend David. It is sure, who fights against God's children, will find
God in their way. But one blow, and they vanish.

    Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

These  are  David's words. My Lord, say unto me: "I am thy salvation".
David, being overcome by enemies, asks but a few words of God. Say, my
Lord,  that Thou are my salvation. When David has but these words,  he
will have the belief, that God will also accomplish them. Even when he
is still amidst his persecutors, he needs but God's words, and he will
believe  that  the  salvation is coming  nigh.  The  enemies  will  be
removed, and he will be set in freedom. These things also we have need
of. Being persecuted by sins, our great enemies, we have need of God's
words:  I  am  thy Salvation. Who else will save us from our  enemies,
namely, of sin, world, satan, own wickedness? Like David was unable to
beat  his  enemies  (for, why else does he pray?)  -  like  David  was
unable,  we  also are unable to overcome sin. Pray then: Say  unto  my
soul, I am thy salvation.

    4 Let them be confounded and put to shame
    that seek after my soul:
    let them be turned back and brought to confusion
    that devise my hurt.
    5 Let them be as chaff before the wind:
    and let the angel of the LORD chase [them].
    6 Let their way be dark and slippery:
    and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

Let them be confounded, namely when the have lost to God. Let them  be
put  to  shame,  namely  when they flee before God.  They  seek  after
David's soul, but now, having lost, they flee to save their own  life.
All  who  seek  to  kill  David and all God's other  people,  will  be
confounded. Let them be as chaff before the wind. When the  farmer  is
threshing  the  corn, he divides the chaff and the  corn.  The  chaff,
being  very light, when thrown into the wind, will be taken away,  but
the corn will remain. Let then the enemies of David be blown away like
the light and vain chaff. The wicked often are compared by chaff. They
will  vanish before the wind. But the righteous are compared by  corn,
which  is  useful stuff. The righteous obey God, are  the  pillars  of
society,  help others, and in short, are indispensable. They righteous
are the corn, but the wicked are the chaff. Let the angel of the LORD,
who is pleading David's cause, chase the wicked. Let their way be dark
and  slippery, and let the angel of the LORD persecute  them.  We  can
imagine,  what happens, when you are persecuted on a dark and slippery
way.  Through  the darkness, you cannot well see where you  walk.  And
then,  with a persecuting angel behind you, you will crash  into  each
obstacle  in the way. Worse still, when the way also is slippery,  and
the angel if persecuting you, surely that you will fall. In short, the
angel  of the LORD will destroy the enemies. They will hurt themselves
against  the  obstacles,  and fall down in their  ways.  That  is  the
portion of the wicked.

    7  For without cause have they hid for me their net [in] a pit,
    without cause they have digged for my soul.

Commonly, they digged a pit to catch wild beasts, as lions, and  other
beasts. They also used a net for that purpose. Sometimes, they  spread
the  net  on the ground, in order that the wild beasts got their  feet
entangled therein. Like men catch wild beasts, so have they  tried  to
catch  David. They hid their net and their pit for him, in order  that
he  might be entangled unawares. But what is still worse, they did  so
without  cause. Had David done something wrong? No, he was a righteous
man.  Why then, did they try to take his soul, without cause?  Because
they  hated  him. The ungodly always hate the pious. No  great  wonder
that  they  hated David. On this, and the like passages, but  also  on
daily  experience is grounded the word: "Yea, and all that  will  live
godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12)

    8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares;
    and let his net that he hath hid catch himself:
    into that very destruction let him fall.

The sum of this verse is, that, while the enemy is busy in the setting
op  traps for David, let then an unexpected destruction come upon him.
While  he  is setting up a net for another, let himself fall  therein.
"He  made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which  he
made."  (Psalms 7:15) God often returns the evil one wishes to commit,
upon  his own head. This is so obvious, that there is a proverb, which
says  the  same.  The  ungodly are aiming at the  destruction  of  the
righteous,  and  promise themselves all peace and  prosperity  in  the
matter. But their own ruin is at hand.

    9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD:
    it shall rejoice in his salvation.

When  David will be delivered from his persecutors, his heart will  be
filled  with  joy. Not a joy like the world has, when their  corn  and
wine increases, but another joy. His soul shall be joyful in the LORD.
The love of God, Who gave salvation to him, will fill his whole heart.
The  true thank will originate from the deliverance through the  LORD.
The  persecutors  will be away; they have fallen in their  own  digged
pit.  David will be freed, and therefore his soul shall be  joyful  in
God.  These  things  show us, as in a picture,  what  happens  to  the
sinner,  when he is freed from sin and destruction. The law persecuted
the  sinner,  saying: "I demand a perfect obedience". The poor  sinner
knew, that he had nothing to pay; yet, the law ceased not to persecute
him,  and  to pronounce its curses upon the disobedient. But when  the
LORD  will come, and set the sinner in freedom, that is, when He gives
him  salvation by forgiveness, his soul shall be joyful in  the  LORD.
Then the sinner says: "my soul shall rejoice in His salvation".

    10  All my bones shall say,
    LORD, who is like unto thee,
    which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him,
    yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

All the bones of David shall praise the LORD, that is, David, with his
whole person, with heart and soul, shall say: "LORD, who is like  unto
Thee?".  None  is  like  our  Lord, Who delivers  the  poor  from  his
persecutors. The idols, consisting of wood, stone, or any  metal,  are
dead.  The cannot deliver, for they are nothing. But who is like  unto
our  Lord, the living God? He delivers the poor from him that  is  too
strong for him. None is too strong for our Lord, but we, in ourselves,
being very weak, have many people who oppress us. As long then, as  we
think  that  we  are  strong  enough in  ourselves,  to  overcome  all
adversity, so long we have no need of the Lord. But when our eyes will
be  opened,  and  we find that we are very weak in ourselves  (we  are
taken  from the dust of the earth, and again return to that), we begin
to need God. As long as we work in own strength, we will never rejoice
in  the  Lord. But as soon as He has delivered us from our distresses,
all  our bones will begin to say: "LORD, who is like unto Thee,  Which
delivered  me from my distress?" Yea, our God saves the poor  and  the
needy  from  those that spoil him. Is not sin spoiling us? Surely,  it
does,  for the wages of sin is death. And death will spoil us utterly.
Therefore,  only he who is delivered through the Lord from  sin,  will
understand this prayer of David.

3.   John 1:11, Jesus' coming and rejection

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

The  above  text  is said about Jesus Christ. When He  came  into  the
world, He came unto His own. He came into the world by taking upon Him
the  human  flesh. He became a true man, with a body and a soul.  When
Jesus  came upon the earth, He came unto His own property. His  coming
was not a little and unimportant thing. He came out of heaven, hid His
divine nature behind His flesh, and became man. He came unto His  own,
that  is,  He  came  unto His people. When He came down,  He  came  to
Israel,  which was a nation, chosen by God. Jesus came  unto  them  in
order  to  deliver  them,  not from the Romans,  as  many  erroneously
imagined,  but  from  the power of sin. In the  centuries  before  His
coming,  the Jews had obscured the true meaning of the prophets.  They
had invented a Messiah, who would deliver them from their enemies. Not
the  spiritual  enemies,  as sin, world, devil,  etc.,  but  from  the
Romans. They thought about an earthly kingdom, which the Messiah would
restore. So, when the true Messiah, Jesus, came in the world,  He  did
not  answer their erroneous fictions, and consequently, was  rejected.
Therefore,  we read in our text: "He came unto his own,  and  his  own
received  him not." That is, Jesus came unto Israel, but they received
Him not. They had not need of a Redeemer, for they imagined themselves
to  be righteous in God's sight. So, why then a Redeemer, to save them
from  their  sins?  They had much more need of a king,  a  leader,  to
captain  them in their wars. A Messiah, Whose kingdom was not of  this
world? No, they didn't need that. They wanted a kingdom, here and now.
They  wanted  to  make a new paradise of this cursed world.  Had  they
forgotten,  that the world was cursed by God, because of  Adam's  sin?
God  had  said to Adam: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in  sorrow
shalt  thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;" (Genesis 3:17)  How
was  it possible, that they thought that the curse could be taken away
by  a strong leader? Will not the curse vanish, when sin vanishes? Sin
entered  the world, and brought the curse into it. Therefore, only  by
taking  the  sin  away, they curse could be removed. They  expected  a
Messiah, who would beat the enemies, but they got a Messiah, who would
pay  for  sin,  bear  the punishment thereof, and in  that  way  would
cleanse  the  earth.  But,  when Jesus  "came  unto  his  own,",  they
"received  him not." The teachings of their leaders had  obscured  the
Scriptures  too  much. The people, like a flock,  walked  after  their
blind leaders. Their leaders erred, and made also the people err.
     But,  fortunately,  through  God's grace,  a  few  believed.  The
majority  rejected Jesus, but a few believed in His  Name.  Therefore,
after  having written "He came unto his own, and his own received  him
not",  the  evangelist John continues with: "But as many  as  received
him,  to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to  them
that  believe on his name". (John 1:12) In as many as received  Jesus,
the  truth had prevailed. Many perished, but a few became adopted sons
of  God.  God,  in His grace, saved the believers from their  mistaken
leaders, the priests, Pharisees and scribes of that time. The  priests
trusted  in the outward stones and the brilliance of the temple.  Many
of  the Pharisees and scribes were righteous enough, they thought. But
as  many  as received Jesus, they got the power to become the sons  of
     To  which group do you belong, reader? To those, who rejected the
Messiah? Or to those, who believed in His Name? Do you belong to them,
who  imagine to be righteous in themselves, or to those, who have need
of God's grace? Are you expecting a kingdom with a temporal lustre, or
one  which endures forever? Are you blind for the truth, or  are  your
eyes  opened through God's renewing power? Have you still a  heart  of
stone,  or one of flesh? Are you still running toward destruction,  or
are  you fleeing to your Saviour, Jesus Christ? Has the Redeemer  come
unto you, but you received Him not; or, belong you to the people,  who
receive Him?

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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