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Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 39 To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Numbers 23:21 The LORD's favour towards Jacob 2. Psalm 35, Prayer for God's help, part 2 3. John 1:36, Jesus, the Lamb of God 1. Numbers 23:21 - The LORD's favour towards Jacob ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Weekly reading: Numbers 22:2 - 25:9 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. Numbers 23:21 Though the above text is uttered by Balaam, yet, it is God's Word, for God gave this word in Balaam's mouth. We see that the almighty God can, when He wills, make use of a heathen sorcerer. That does, of course, not imply that we may do so, for God was clear enough, when He forbade that. "There shall not be found among you [any one] that (...) useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch," (Deuteronomy 18:10) Having said this in advance, let us now look to the text itself. "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel:" These two sentences say the same, namely that God forgives all iniquity and perverseness that was in Israel. And we know, there was very much iniquity among them. Read but the accounts of their journey through the desert, or any other sacred history of them. Always and always, the prophets had to warn, lest the people departed from the true worship of the LORD. But look now to our God. He forgives their sins. Were they full of iniquity? He has not beheld that. Were they perfectly in perverseness? He has not seen it. Not that our God cannot see it, but when is said "He has not seen iniquity", that means that He has forgiven it. Our LORD is full of grace. Mercy and truth is with Him. Happy are those, who belong to Him, who are accepted by Him as His people. Also David teaches that they are blessed, whose sins are forgiven: "Blessed [is he whose] transgression is forgiven, [whose] sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." (Psalms 32:1,2) Yes, our LORD is full of mercy, and He forgives the sins of His beloved people. That is it, what Balaam has told us. Unfortunately enough, he himself was a stranger of that forgiveness. He was full of iniquity, as appeared afterwards, but his sins were not forgiven. He was an instrument in the hand of the LORD to bless the people, but he himself was cursed by his own sins. We see, then, that it can be, that someone serves God, to do something for Him, and yet is a stranger of Him. Balaam executed God's command to bless, but he was a sinner, and was condemned thereby. Also in our times, there are many like him. They preach the Word, but they don't know the Lord. Let, therefore, everybody examine himself, whether he possesses true grace or not. These things are also taught by our Lord Christ Jesus. When speaking about the day of judgement, he said that many would come for Him, and say that they had done much for Him. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matthew 7:22) But it matters not if you have done thousands of wonderful works, for also Balaam did so. What will Jesus say to those false believers? "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:23) The Word continues, saying: "The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." When it is said, that the shout of a king is among them, what is meant thereby? We know, that at the time Balaam uttered these words, there was not an earthly king among Israel. Saul was the first king, but he lived many centuries later. Who is then that king, whom Balaam means here? The answer is not so difficult. It is the LORD, Who was their King. So, then we understand it thus: "The LORD his God is with Him, and God's shout is among them.". God's shout is among them, but what does that mean? Was God's voice always audible among them? Yes, when God gave the Ten Commandments from mount Sinai, they heard God's voice. But later on, they only heard Moses speaking. What is then meant with "God's shout is among them". It means that God's Word was among them. Moses had given them the Torah, what was the Word of God. The preaching of that Word, the explanation thereof, that was the shout of the LORD. Also Isaiah is comparing the preaching of the prophets with a shout, namely with a trumpet: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Isaiah 58:1) Who knows that the LORD is with him, hasn't to fear. "In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." (Psalms 56:11) Those, then, who fear a coming evil, let them know that they, at that moment, not trust in the LORD. For, when they trusted, why do they fear? Let everybody then check his (supposed) faith, namely, when it is tried in distress. When you see the danger coming, unavoidable, and you fear, where is then your faith? But when you trust in the LORD, even amidst the most terrible dangers, and there is a continual rest in your soul, then your faith is true. The LORD forgives the iniquity of Jacob, and he pardons the perverseness in Israel. The LORD their God is with them, and the preaching of the Gospel is among them. 2. Psalm 35, Prayer for God's help, part 2 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- (continuing last week's issue) 11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge [things] that I knew not. 12 They rewarded me evil for good [to] the spoiling of my soul. These false witnesses, who rise up against David, are, according to the Hebrew word, violent, unrighteous and cruel accusers. They charge David with things which he hasn't done. So they have also done with Jesus. When He stood before the court, they accused Him of things which He had not done. But in the case of Jesus, God governed it thus, that Jesus might bear the sins of His people. His people had sinned, but Jesus carried their sins away, in order that they might be acquitted. David continues, and says: "They rewarded me evil for good". He did well, but they thanked him by doing evil. Yes, even worse, they rewarded his good deeds with the spoiling of his soul. That means, they tried to kill him. That is the world's habit, to reward evil for good. No, moreover, that is our habit, when we reward God with our daily sins. God gives us all good: food, clothing, health, and what not. And what is our thank? We reward Him evil for His good. 13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. 14 I behaved myself as though [he was] my friend [or] brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth [for his] mother. After having said that they rewarded him evil for good, David continues. He did not so towards them. For, when they were sick, he mourned, wearing sackcloth. "I humbled my soul with fasting", he said. When someone earnestly prayed to God for something, he also fasted. David, praying for the health of his enemies, did so in fasting. When we live our daily life, we often forget God. But when fasting, we give less attention to the temporal things, in order to free ourselves to give more attention to the heavenly things. Fasting, in short, is a good means to stir up ourselves to pay more attention to the spiritual things. This means has always been used. Both in the Old and New Testament, we often hear about fasting. Also in the old church, it was a common habit. But in the present times, fasting is forgotten, to our great disadvantage. But, to return to David, he humbled his soul with fasting. This is an example for us to imitate. "My prayer returned into mine own bosom". What does this mean? It can mean, that David, after having prayed to God for the recovery of his enemies, experienced God's favour in his inner parts. God shone somewhat into David's heart, to let him know that his prayer was accepted. We know, that God's people experience when their prayer is heard by God. But "my prayer returned into mine own bosom", can also mean something else. It can mean, "my prayer kept returning to me". What means, David felt himself pressed to pray, and after he had done so, he again felt himself pressed, and so on. That is, he could not refrain from praying. Through the influence of God's Spirit, the Author of all true prayers, he could not refrain from praying. Concerning this, Paul said that we are unable to pray rightly, but that the Spirit does so for us. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26) So, that can be meant by "My prayer returned into mine own bosom". When David says that he behaved himself as though his enemy was his friend or brother, he again shows that he sought the best for him. But they rewarded him evil for good. See then the difference between David en the enemy. David did only good, and he did only evil. 15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: [yea], the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew [it] not; they did tear [me], and ceased not: 16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth. When they were in adversity, David mourned. But when David was in adversity, in his turn, they rejoiced. Their heart was full of joy when they saw David in distress. "Yea, we have him. He is come to an end", they said. That are the wicked. They rejoice in other's adversity. The joy of the world, that is a vain joy. The worldlings are so wicked, that they turn all upside down. Commonly, when one sees his neighbour in prosperity, he will be glad with him. But the wicked, when they see another in prosperity, they envy him, and mourn. When then comes the time, that they see him in adversity, they rejoice. When we then once come in David's circumstances, let we pay attention to Paul's words. "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." (Romans 12:14,15) So, bless them which gnash upon you with their teeth; bless, and curse not. 17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions. 18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people. "Lord, how long wilt thou look on", and let them continue in their unjust behaviour? "Rescue my soul from their destructions", for they try to kill me, when they have the opportunity. It is God, Who can and will rescue souls from destructions. Many times, He has saved David from his enemies. He also saved his soul from destruction, that is from hell. "Rescue my darling from the lions", for those wicked are no less than lions. Like a lion tears and devours his prey, so they sought to tear me, and to devour me. David continues with "I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation, I will praise Thee among much people". When he is rescued from the destruction, he then will thank God. He thanks because of his deliverance. When we look through this Psalm, we see David in the midst of the dangers, then he asks for deliverance, and then he will praise the LORD. These three things are important to keep in mind. First, David was in distress. Secondly, he will be delivered. Thirdly, he will thank God therefore. These three things have a natural order. When one is in the midst of dangers, he will pray to God for help. God will then come, and rescue him. As a result thereof, one's heart is so filled with joy, that he thanks God in the great congregation. That is also the way, wherein one is delivered from his sins. The burden of sins becomes unbearable to him, and therefore, he starts praying to God for deliverance. God, then, coming, rescues him from a sure destruction. The heart of the sinner will then be so filled with gladness, that he will thank the LORD among much people. (to be continued) 3. John 1:36, Jesus, the Lamb of God ---------------------------------------------------------------------- And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! John 1:36 John the Baptist was preaching at Jordan. He said: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". When his hearers tried to repent, they experienced that they could repent somewhat, but not enough. All what they tried, and with all what they did, they succeeded not. "Repent ye", said John. They tried, but the experienced that sin every day came back. "Repent ye", said John. And they thought by themselves: "Yes, we try, but succeed not". "Repent ye, for the law demands obedience!" "Yes, but we cannot!", they said. "Repent ye", said John, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". The kingdom of heaven was near, so when they did not repent, or when they succeeded not, they would be shut out in the outer darkness. But the law is unrelenting. "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh". In this way, John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Christ. He, of course, also preached forgiveness, but yet, his main task was preparing the way for Christ's coming. How is the way prepared for Him? By letting men know, that the law demands obedience, and that they are unable to give that. Then it is the time to preach Christ, namely when they are convinced of His necessity. When you always hear "repent ye", and you daily experience that you cannot, wouldn't you be glad when you hear about forgiveness in Jesus Christ? Of course, you would. Having prepared the way, and seeing Jesus coming, John says in our text: "Behold the Lamb of God!" Jesus is the Passover-lamb. That lamb was slaughtered then, and behind its blood at the door-posts, the people were safe. Jesus is the Passover-lamb. Yes, moreover, He is the Lamb of God. God gave His Son to pay for the sins of the believers. Jesus is the Lamb of God, who came down from heaven, and took upon Him the human flesh. When He died at the cross, he accomplished His atoning work. "Behold the Lamb of God", who died for our sins. That was it, what John did. He pointed out Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Reconciler for his hearers. Look to the Lamb of God, about Whom Isaiah said: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7) "Behold", reader, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world". (John 1:29) He takes away the sins of the world. Not of the whole world, but only of those who believe in Him. Who not believe with the mouth only, for that is but appearance. He takes away the sin of those, who believe in Him with a true faith; a faith which is visible in the good works which follow after. "Behold, the Lamb of God", said John. Another John, who wrote the book Revelations, also saw the Lamb of God. He saw a throne, four beasts, elders, and in the midst the Lamb of God. "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth". (Revelation 5:6) He saw the Lamb as it had been slain, namely to merit redemption of the transgressions. Look then, reader, when the burden of sins become too heavy, to the Lamb of God, Who was slain for all those, who believe in Him. Listen then to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, Who says: "Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". (Matthew 11:28) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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 Institute Practical Bible-education Web: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/ipb-e/ipbe-home.html ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-039.txt .