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Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 41 To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Numbers 30:2 - Pay your vow 2. Leviticus 13:1-28 - The plague of leprosy 3. 2 Corinthians 2 - The minister a sweet savour of Christ 1. Numbers 30:2 - Pay your vow ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Weekly reading: Numbers 30:2 - 36:13 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:2) "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth". So, if you promise something, you must do it. If you not do it, you break your promise. You said something to do, but you break your word. Then you are a liar. But if you perform your vow, you do what you were obliged to do. There is not any merit then, for you did but your duty. "If a man swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth". So, what is said about the vow applies also to the oath. There is a difference however, for the oath is stronger than the vow. When vowing, you don't call upon the Name of God, but when you swear, you take God as a Witness, that you speak the truth. Breaking an oath is therefore worse then breaking a vow. When you break the vow, you make yourself a liar. But when you break the oath, you make God a liar. Now, this latter is worse then the first. When a man "swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond", what does this binding his soul mean? This can best be explained when we look to the common function of a bond. Something is bound with a bond to keep it in its place. Likewise a soul is bound with the bond of a vow, to keep it in its place; that is, the soul is bound to perform what he has promised. The bond keeps it in its place, that is should do what it promised. It is a good thing, yes, even necessary, to promise the LORD that we shall obey Him. Or, to promise that we will love Him. This will urge us the more to do so, and if we forsake it (what happens daily) to condemn ourselves the more. These things help us to show who we really are, namely bond-breakers. There are examples in Scripture of men who vowed vows. See Jacob. "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God." (Genesis 28:20,21) He said: "If God give me all my needs, then He will be my God". Sometimes, it happens that one promises something to do, but he does so rashly, and thoughtlessly. It can be that one promises something to do, what the law actually forbids. What then? He has vowed it to do. If he does it, he transgresses the law. But on the other hand, if not does it, he breaks his vow. So, in either case, he transgresses the law. Herein, you see that a man can bring himself in such a situation, that he always must sin. Whatever he does, he will sin. When he keeps his vow, he sins, but also when he breaks it. An example of this can be found in Jephthah. He vowed a vow unto the LORD, that, when the LORD gave him the victory, whatsoever came forth of the door of his house, he would offer it up for a burnt offering. Now, this vow was done too rashly and thoughtlessly. For, his daughter was the first, who met him at his house. When Jephthah would keep his vow, he had to offer his daughter up for a burnt offering. Now, since it is forbidden to kill, he would transgress. But on the other hand, when he would break his vow, he also would transgress. In that case, he had to choose the least offensive sin, that is, he had to break his promise. The LORD also swears. But since there is nothing higher than Him to swear by, He swears by Himself. We are assured that He never will break His words. He says in Psalm 89:34-37: My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and [as] a faithful witness in heaven. The LORD, our God, has sworn unto David (and He will not lie) that his seed shall endure forever. There will always be one of David's seed, who sits upon his throne. Now, since there are no common kings of David's line, we have yet one King, but one much better. The Messiah is sitting upon David's throne, and will reign forever. The Lord has sworn (and He will not lie) that David's seed will endure forever. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, is now ruling over His church. His throne shall be established forever. 2. Leviticus 13:1-28 - The plague of leprosy ---------------------------------------------------------------------- This chapter deals with the plague of leprosy. A leper was unclean, and could not stay in the midst of the congregation. In verse two, the text says: "When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh [like] the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests". When one seemed to have the plague of leprosy, he was to be brought unto the priest. It was the task of the priest to discern between clean and unclean. They had to do so in all matters, including leprosy. The people had to reject the unclean things, but to accept and pursue the clean. Leprosy was more an uncleanness than an illness. It could be very infectious. That is why the leper could not dwell among the people. Also they might be infected, and become lepers. In its contagiousness, leprosy well portrays sin. Also sin is an uncleanness. Also sin is very infectious. Sin, allowed to dwell among the people, will infect them all. Like the leper was expelled, we must drive out also sin. Leprosy was a plague often inflicted immediately by the hand of God. Miriam's leprosy, and Gehazi's, and king Uzziah's, were punishments of particular sins. We see that Miriam's leprosy, as is said, was a punishment for her pride. "And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, [white] as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, [she was] leprous." (Numbers 12:9,10) Since then leprosy could be a plague sent by God, it is no marvel there was care taken to distinguish it from a common distemper, like we see that is done in our chapter, by the priest. If "it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean", verse 3. If it is not leprosy, "the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab", verse 6. As is said, the judgement of leprosy was the task of the priests. Leprosy is a figure of the pollutions of a men's minds by sin. Sin is the leprosy of the soul, and like common leprosy defiled the whole man, so also moral leprosy, sin, defiles the whole conscience. One, having sinned, well knows that, and he feels himself ashamed. His conscience, which was at rest before, is now disturbed. That is the result of sin, which defiles conscience. A priest could not cleanse one from his leprosy. He only could observe that one was a leper, and pronounce him unclean. It is the same with the law. Through the law can but observe, that he is a leper. The law has not the power to clean one from his sins. Only God can do that. When He forgives, He cleanses one from his leprosy. Our whole chapter, Leviticus 13, is filled with rules for the priest, to guide him in his judgement of the leper. "If you see this, then it is leprosy. If you see that, then it is another disease. If it is leprosy, then you shall pronounce him unclean, but if it is some ulcer, he is clean". We see that the judgement was not easy. Likewise is it a work of great importance, and of great difficulty, to judge of our spiritual state. We all have cause to suspect ourselves, being conscious of sores and spots; but whether clean or unclean is the question. We all are full of spots. But, are we clean or unclean? That is the question. Are our sins forgiven? Then we are clean. Are they not forgiven? Then we are unclean. The priest must take time in making his judgement. When it seemed to be a leprosy, the priest could not judge immediately. "The priest shall shut up [him that hath] the plague seven days", verse four. Applying this to our spiritual leprosy, on sin, it teaches all, both ministers and people, not to be hasty in censures, nor to judge anything before the time. It would be a bad thing to acquit a real leper, and to condemn one who is clean from it. If one was brought unto the priest, and it appeared that he was clean, he nevertheless had to wash his clothes. "If the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it [is but] a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean", verse six. Why was it, that he had to wash his clothes? For, he has never been unclean. It is, because the person was suspected to be a leper. This suspicion was already enough ground for some defilement, so that he had to wash his clothes. So also, who not has sinned in reality, but has given some suspicion, he is in some degree unclean, and must wash his clothes, nay, himself, in the blood of Christ, to become clean. 3. 2 Corinthians 2 - The minister a sweet savour of Christ ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 Corinthians 2: 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. Paul, here, is speaking about the task of the true ministers of the gospel. "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ". When he says "we are", he means "all the true ministers, including myself". They are not only a sweet savour unto God, because many are saved through the preaching of the gospel, but also in those that perish. That may sound harsh in our ears, that the ministers of the gospel are also a sweet savour in those that perish. Yet, it is so, for Scripture says it. But in the first place, the ministers are a sweet savour unto God in them that are saved. For, in the believers, God's grace and mercy is revealed. The grace and mercy, which are in God, become then public. When one is saved, God is honoured because of His goodness. Secondly, the ministers of the gospel are also a sweet favour for God, because the ungodly perish. How then? Because in the damnation of the wicked, God's righteousness becomes public. When there were no ungodly, God's righteousness would always be hidden. In that case, only a part of God's virtues would become evident. But now, in them that perish, and in them that are saved, God's whole nature, to speak so, becomes visible, and will be praised. Paul continues with "To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life". What does this mean? Let's first look to the "savour of death unto death". The gospel is a deadly savour for the unbelievers. Why? Is then the gospel deadly in itself? No, surely not. The gospel, seen in itself, it the good message of life. Why is it then a deadly savour to the unbelievers? Because, since they reject the gospel, since they reject that good message, they cause their own judgement to be heavier. The ungodly, when they had never heard any gospel, could not oppose that. But now, when they have heard God's Word, and they believe not, they oppose and resist it, and thus their sin is greater. The true ministers are also "the savour of life unto life". How so? Because by their preaching of the gospel, they spread the good savour of God's mercy. All those that hear that, and believe it, will smell that savour. That gospel is aiming at their life. The message of Christ crucified is a source of life for all that believe in Him. Through Christ, they receive eternal life. They are passed from death unto life. Then it is said: "And who is sufficient for these things?" This means, who is able to be a sweet savour of Christ? Who is able to be a savour of death unto death, and a savour of life unto life? The answer is: nobody is able to do that in own strength. It is, as Paul says in the next chapter: We are not sufficient of ourselves to do such things as preaching the gospel, "but our sufficiency is of God", 2 Cor.3:5. "We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God". Some corrupt the word of God by giving it some human colour. With that new colour, it sells better, they think. The distort the Word of God, so that it can please wretched men. The pure Word is too hard for the people, so they soften it, that is, they corrupt and pervert it. Since a man does not like to spend his life in the service of God, the false gospel- preachers corrupt the Word, in order to make it light digestible. Now, says Paul, we are not as many, who corrupt the Word. "But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ". We keep the Word pure, and do not make wax of it, so as to disform it to man's pleasure. Paul speaks it "as of God", that is, his Word is inspired by God. Many of the false prophets of that time poured out their own inventions, the dreams of their own corrupted heart. And also in our time, the world is full of this sort of people. But the true ministers speak according to Scripture, and do not deviate from it. Let we then check to what kind of minister we are listening. Does he corrupt the Word, to please his hearers? or does he speak the truth, regardless of what the people think? Does he deceive you with his own fancies, or, rejecting his own and your dreams, does he speak the pure Word? Take heed then, for with a corrupted Word, you'll never reach heaven. Listen only to those ministers, sent by God, who preach you the truth, and who not cease, day and night, to warn you, and to exhort you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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-041.txt .