Date:         Tue, 1 Aug 1995 11:02:56 +0200
Reply-To:     Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
Sender:       Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From:         Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 42
1. Deuteronomy 1:26,27 - Rebels against the LORD
2. Exodus 3            - Moses' call - The LORD's Name - part 1
3. Galatians 2:16,     - Justified, not by the law, but by faith
1.   Deuteronomy 1:26,27 - Rebels against the LORD
Weekly reading: Deut 1:1 - 3:22
Notwithstanding ye would not go up,
but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
And ye murmured in your tents, and said,
Because the LORD hated us,
he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt,
to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites,
to destroy us.
The  Israelites  are standing before the borders of Canaan.  They  had
sent  out spies, who brought back a good report of the land. Also  the
LORD  had  commanded them, saying, go up, and possess  the  land.  You
would  think, that they, having a good report of the land, and  having
God's command to enter it, would make haste to possess that good land,
flowing  of  mild and honey. But what says our text? It is  more  then
unbelievable, but they refused to enter the land. They  would  not  go
up, but even rebelled against the command of the LORD, their God. This
is  perverse  wickedness of that people. The LORD  has  so  abundantly
showed  His  grace towards them, in delivering them out of Egypt,  and
leading them unto Canaan. And now they stand before the promised land,
they  wickedly  refuse to enter it. Yes, they feared the  inhabitants,
they  said. But that the more shows their unbelief, for they  did  not
trust  that the LORD would help them in the battle. According to their
habit in the desert, they also this time rebelled against the LORD.
     But this is not all. They made it still worse. They said that the
LORD hated them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. This
is  more  then wicked! The LORD, in His grace, delivered them, showing
them  mercy. And what is their answer? "He hated us", they say. It  is
unbelievable  how  far a man can go in his ungodly behaviour.  Turning
all  upside down, they say that God's love is hate! They said "Because
the  LORD hated us, he has brought us forth out of the land of  Egypt,
to  deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us". Now,  it
is sure that they are lying. In their obstinacy, they make the LORD  a
tyrant.  His  love, they turn into hate. His benefactions,  they  turn
into  cruelty.  His  grace,  they turn into  evil.  They  pervert  His
goodness.  In  short,  they show who they really  are,  namely  people
unworthy of even the least grace.
     They  said  that  is was the Lord's intention, in  His  hate,  to
destroy  them. It is sure, however, that not God destroyed  them,  but
that  they  did  it  themselves.  By  their  disobedience,  they  have
destroyed themselves, because they afterwards perished in the  desert,
during their journey of nearly forty years.
     Often  you  hear  the  fable, that the Israelites  were  so  very
obedient  in  the  desert. But let we, instead of listening  to  these
fables, or better, to these lies, read our Bible. The Bible abundantly
testified the people's wickedness, and God's great grace. Always  they
provoked  Him to anger, and always God showed His grace. The  goodness
of God appears the better, against the dark background of the people's
sins. That there afterwards entered a nation Israel into Canaan,  that
is  God's grace, and nothing else. It was because of the oath, He  had
sworn to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that they entered the land. God  is
faithful to His oath, and that is the reason why the people afterwards
entered Canaan.
     How  was it possible, that the people so heavily accused  God  of
hating  them,  in bringing them out of Egypt? The cause cannot  be  in
God,  for  He  had, in the preceding time, abundantly  showed  Himself
merciful towards them. What is then the cause? Why did they so heavily
accuse  God?  They  did  it because of their unbelief.  They  did  not
believe  that God would be with them. They saw some dangers,  and  did
not  believe that the LORD would help them. Unbelief is therefore  the
cause  of  their accusation and disobedience. God had often given  the
promise, that He would be their God, but they refused to believe that.
     It was their unbelief, which brought them destruction. It is also
our  unbelief, which destroys us. When we not believe God on His Word,
we  greatly harm ourselves. We also dishonour God, making Him a  liar.
Let we then always believe Him on His Word. This is an impossible task
for  us,  but let we therefore pray for His help. Once a man said:  "I
believe,  LORD,  help  Thou  mine unbelief".  (Mark  9:24)  It  is  so
difficult  to  believe the LORD, that He always  had  to  give  signs,
tokens, etc., to help the people in their belief. Let we then call  on
the Name of the Lord, and ask that He will take away our disobedience,
and  will give us true belief. It is well said, that unbelief  is  the
mother of all evils, but that belief is the mother of all good.
2.   Exodus 3 - Moses' call - The LORD's Name - part 1
In Exodus 3, we find that Moses keeps the flock of Jethro. God appears
to him in a burning bush, and sends him to deliver Israel. The Name of
the  LORD  is  revealed to him. Moses hears what he must  say  to  the
Israelites, and to Pharaoh. Pharaoh will be recalcitrant
    1   Now  Moses  kept the flock of Jethro his father  in  law,  the
    priest  of  Midian: and he led the flock to the  backside  of  the
    desert, and came to the mountain of God, [even] to Horeb.
In the previous chapter, we read that Moses fled out of Egypt. Through
his anger, he beat an Egyptian to death, and therefore he had to go on
the  run. He came to Jethro, who gave him his daughter to a wife,  and
because  thus  his  father in law. He became a shepherd,  keeping  the
flock of Jethro. During forty years, he was a shepherd, and he had the
time to think about himself. He also had the time to unlearn his quick-
tempered character, and to become a very mild man. God, in His wisdom,
was  educating  him to become the later leader of Israel  through  the
desert. There is no better school than this, namely to keep a flock of
beasts  in the desert. God knows how to educate His children, and  how
to prepare them for their later tasks.
     Those forty years of being a shepherd, must have been a trial for
Moses.  Why had he learned so much in Egypt? Was it to spend the  rest
of  his  time  in the desert, with some sheep? Had his life  no  other
goal?  Such questions, and many others, will undoubtedly have come  up
in  his mind. But God's ways are higher than our ways. God had a great
task for Moses, and there was no better preparation for him then here,
in  the wilderness. You see the same in Joseph. He was sold as a slave
to  Potiphar, and then was thrown in prison. He was there in a  humble
state.  Where  was now his God? But it was God's preparation  for  his
later task of being a great ruler over Egypt, and moreover, to provide
food for his father's house.
     Also  John the Baptist grew up, "and was in the deserts till  the
day  of  his shewing unto Israel". (Luke 1:80) God gave also  to  John
upbringing in the deserts, in order to suit him to his later task,  to
become a preacher of the coming kingdom of heaven.
     David  was keeping the flock of his father, to be able, in  later
years,  to  keep the flock of Israel. So also Moses did.  He  led  the
flock of Jethro through the desert, during forty years. Later, he  led
God's   flock,  Israel,  during  forty  years,  through  the   howling
     Let  we  then  learn from these men, that God often  humbles  His
children, to their best. When we are placed by Him in some state,  low
or  higher, let we be content in it. Let we leave to Him the course of
our lives, and we will find rest for our souls.
     It  is  said,  that  Moses, in keeping the flock,  "came  to  the
mountain of God, to Horeb." Why was mount Horeb called the mountain of
God? Not because this mountain was God's property, for the whole world
is  of  Him. But Horeb is called God's mountain, because God, in later
times, gave His commandments there, and appeared on that mountain in a
frightening way. The whole mountain, when God came down on it,  shook,
"and the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the
top  of  the  mount  in the eyes of the children of  Israel."  (Exodus
24:17)  Horeb  is  then called the mountain of God  because  of  God's
glory, which was revealed there more then elsewhere.
    2   And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire
    out  of the midst of a bush: And he looked, and, behold, the  bush
    burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed.
While Moses was leading his flock, the angel of the LORD appeared unto
him.  Moses,  doing  his daily work in a faithful manner,  experienced
God's  grace  in the appearance of the angel unto him.  He  considered
himself  lost, cut off from Israel, and perhaps also cut off from  the
God  of Israel. But look, the LORD had not forgotten him, and sent His
angel.  Let  then those people, who think that they are cut  off  from
God's  house, put their trust in God. He will not abandon  and  forget
them, but the time will come, that he will show His mercy.
     The angel of the Lord appeared unto him. How? In a flame of fire,
out  of  the  midst  of  a bush. That flame of  fire  indicated  God's
holiness and justice. God is so holy, and righteous, that He,  like  a
flame, will devour all sin.
     The bush was burning, but was not consumed. In this fire, we  see
the  state  of the Israelites in Egypt. They were burned  through  the
flame of affliction, but yet they were not consumed. Why? Because  the
Lord was in their midst, and protected them. In this flame of fire, we
also  see  the  state of the present church in the world. Ceaselessly,
she  is  attacked by the whole world, satan, and hell. The  church  is
like a bush, being afire. But while God is in her midst, she may burn,
but will never be consumed.
    3   And  Moses  said, I will now turn aside, and  see  this  great
    sight, why the bush is not burnt.
When Moses saw that bush burning, he saw nothing special. It is common
in  the desert, through the great drought, that a dry bush bursts into
flames,  and it will very soon be consumed. When Moses saw that  bush,
therefore, burning, that was a common thing. But now, behold,  he  saw
something  striking. The bush kept burning, but was not consumed.  How
could that be? Moses didn't know, and said "I will now turn aside, and
see  this  great sight, why the bush is not burnt". All the  time  the
bush  was  burning, the angel of the Lord was present there. But  now,
Moses' attention was attracted, and he went to look at it.
     It  should therefore, also be a great wonder in our eyes, why the
church  is  burning for so many centuries, and still is not  consumed.
Let then the heathen pay attention to it, and say, "Let's look why the
church  is burning and is never consumed". Let also the Jews  say  the
same.  It is sure, that, as soon as the approach the true church,  and
investigate  the  matter, why the church is not consumed  by  so  many
flames  of  hell, - as soon then, when they draw near, they will  find
the Lord speaking to them.
    4   And  when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called
    unto  him  out  of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses,  Moses.
    And he said, Here [am] I.
As  soon as the LORD saw Moses coming, He called unto him out  of  the
midst  of that bush. We see, in this verse, that the LORD is speaking.
He  is  in  the  midst of the bush. Two verses back, we saw  that  the
Person in the bush was called an angel of the LORD: "the angel of  the
LORD  appeared  unto  him". That same angel appears  to  be  the  LORD
Himself.  The  Angel of the LORD is in some degree distinguished  from
the  LORD,  since He is called, the Angel *of* the LORD. But  in  this
verse,  the same Angel is united with God, yea, He is God Himself.  We
see then, that there is some distinction in the one Godhead. Yet, this
distinction  makes not more Gods, but there is only one God.  On  this
verse,  and  on  other like verses, is the Christian doctrine  of  the
Trinity based.
     The LORD called Moses, and said: "Moses, Moses". And Moses, as an
obedient servant, immediately answers, saying: "Here am I". Moses  did
not  belong  to those majority of mankind, who the LORD let  call  and
never  answer  or obey Him. They are called daily, by His  Word.  Also
daily, they refuse to come to Him. But Moses was a faithful servant.
    5   And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from  off
    thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground.
That  place whereon Moses stands is holy ground. Not that some  ground
is  holy  in  itself,  but  the  place was  sanctified  through  God's
presence.  God  was in the burning bush, and therefore the  place  was
holy.  Moses had to put off his shoes from off his feet.  This  was  a
sign  of  homage and reverence. He might also not draw  nigh  thither,
because  God was there. It doesn't become a man to come too  close  to
God,  for  He  is a burning fire, as we see in that burning  bush.  It
becomes  us  then, when we come before the face of the LORD,  that  we
behave  ourselves suitable and reverent. When we have to do with  God,
let  we  always keep in mind, that we are but men, and that He is  the
high and holy God, the King of kings, the highest Majesty.
    6   Moreover  he said, I [am] the God of thy father,  the  God  of
    Abraham,  the  God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And  Moses  hid
    his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
In  the  case  Moses was not sure with Whom he had to do,  whether  an
angel, or any other being, God makes sure Who He is. He is the God  of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He said not: I  *was*
the  God  of thy fathers, but He says: I *am* the God of thy  fathers.
This  speaking of God in the present tense means, that Abraham,  Isaac
and  Jacob  are still alive. They are in heaven now, and the  LORD  is
their God.
     When  Moses perceived that he had to do with the one God  of  his
fathers, he "hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God".  Moses
clearly  showed  that  he had the fear of the  LORD.  That  fear,  all
children of the LORD have it. The wicked, however, draw nigh unto  God
without fear, boast in His Name without reverence, in short, they show
that  they have not the least amount of respect for Him. But Moses,  a
faithful  servant, hid his face in God's presence. We learn  of  this,
that,  the  more  we see of God's holiness, the more  we  abandon  our
looseness, and the more we show a godly fear. That holy God appears in
the  flames of fire, in the burning bush. No wonder, when we meet  God
in such a form, that we will show much fear.
(to be continued...)
3.   Galatians 2:16, Justified, not by the law, but by faith
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,
but by the faith of Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,
and not by the works of the law:
for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
(Galatians 2:16)
We  are "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law".
We  are  knowing that, meaning, it is sure. It is a fundamental  truth
that no man is justified by the works of the law. To know that, is  it
necessary  that  God has taught it you. Many think still  that  it  is
possible to be justified by the law. They decrease the demands of  the
law,  and  give to their own works more merit then they  deserve,  and
then, they think to have kept the law. But we know that we are utterly
unable  to  keep God's holy law. We know that to be true, because  God
has  taught  it to us. We always have tried to keep the  law,  in  our
former lives. We tried it, and sometimes we thought that we succeeded.
When  we did a deed, which seemed to be good, we got hope that we were
able  to  keep  the law. But when we reflected on our  seemingly  good
deed,  we  discovered that we became proud on it.  By  our  pride,  we
wholly  destroyed that good deed. As soon as we did something  in  own
power, we began to despise God, in thinking that we were able to serve
Him.  More  and  more, we learned that a man is not justified  by  the
works  of the law. Our daily transgressions were put before our  eyes.
God  said:  Look, that are your sins. On the outside, they seem  good,
but  the  inside is black of sins. The outward splendour of our  deeds
was  but  a thin layer of hypocrisy. Step by step, we learned that  we
cannot perform our deeds in such a way as the perfect holiness of  God
     It  is  true  that  the  law says, that whosoever  shall  do  the
commandments, shall live in them. That is true. The problem,  however,
lies  in us. We are not able to keep the commandments. The superficial
people deceive themselves, thinking to please God by their deeds.  But
who  take  a look at his own works, will become frightened because  of
its sins.
     We  will  not be justified by the works of the law,  but  by  the
faith  in  Jesus Christ. The righteous shall live by his  faith,  like
that  is  written in Scripture: "the just shall live  by  his  faith."
(Habakkuk 2:4) Knowing then that the law condemns us, and that we will
live by faith, we have believed in Jesus Christ, that also we might be
justified  by the faith in Him. The law has taught us, that  we  never
are  able  to keep it. The law has then revealed our wretched  nature.
For,  when  there  was no law, we also never would know  that  we  are
transgressors.  But now, the law made us known our transgressions.  In
doing  so, the law said: By me is only death for you, sinner! In  this
way,  we  turned  our backs on the law, because it  was  not  able  to
justify us. We turned not our backs to the law to despise it,  but  we
no  longer expected life in it. Only by faith, the just shall live, as
the  prophet  Habakkuk  said. That is why we have  believed  in  Jesus
     "By  the works of the law shall no flesh be justified".  That  is
plain language. No flesh shall be justified by the law. For, all flesh
has  corrupted its way. God, on His throne in heaven, looks down  upon
us,   and   sees  that  we  daily  corrupt  both  ourselves  and   His
commandments. "God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt;
for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." (Genesis 6:12)
     God,  in  His  grace,  offered to mankind,  in  the  midst  of  a
perishing  world,  reconciliation through the faith in  Jesus  Christ.
Everybody then, who is called by God, will say: "I know that I am  not
justified by the works of the law. The only way of being justified  is
by  the  faith  of Jesus Christ. Because I know these things,  I  have
believed  in Jesus Christ, that I might be justified by the  faith  of
Christ.  For,  by the works of the law, I will never succeed,  for  by
mine own works, I will never be justified".
Teus Benschop  |  |  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:         
Institute Practical Bible-education

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-042.txt