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Date:         Tue, 19 Sep 1995 10:17:26 +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, 49
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Deuteronomy 30:6   - Circumcision of the heart
2. Psalms 119:49,50   - Hope on God's word
3. 1 Corinthians 11:1 - Followers of Christ's followers

1.  Deuteronomy 30:6 - Circumcision of the heart

Reading: Deut. 29:9 - 30:20

Deuteronomy 30:6

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy
seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all  thy
soul, that thou mayest live.

Three things we read in our text.
    1. What the LORD will do.
        He will circumcise your hearts and the heart of your seed.
    2. To what purpose the LORD will do it.
        To love the LORD with all your heart and soul.
    3. What the result will be.
        That you may live.

The first point of attention is: What the LORD will do.
     "And  the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the  hart
of  thy seed". The outward circumcision was visible in the flesh,  but
that  was  not enough. Also the inward circumcision is necessary,  the
circumcision of the heart. It was commanded to the people,  that  they
should circumcise their hearts. "Circumcise therefore the foreskin  of
your  heart,  and  be  no more stiffnecked." (Deuteronomy  10:16)  The
people   were   circumcised,  but  were  also   stiffnecked.   Outward
circumcision   and  being  stiffnecked  easily  go  together.   Inward
circumcision is necessary, to put off that stiffneckedness. We are not
able to circumcise our hearts. Only God can. And He will do, according
to  His promise: I "will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of  thy
     Also  the other prophets speak of the circumcision of the  heart.
Jeremiah,  for example, says: "Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,  and
take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants
of  Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn  that  none
can  quench [it], because of the evil of your doings." (Jeremiah  4:4)
Also  in Jeremiah's time, they were outwardly circumcised. But at  the
same  moment,  their evil was raised to such a height, that  the  LORD
threatened  that His fury would come forth like fire,  when  they  not
amended their lives.
     The  LORD will circumcise your hearts. This is like a renewal  of
the  heart.  The old heart, the uncircumcised one, is circumcised,  so
that  it  becomes  holy. This is the work of the  LORD,  as  our  text
clearly  says.  The circumcision of the heart is also called  rebirth.
"Jesus  answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say  unto  thee,
Except  a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."  (John
3:3)  One  needs to be born again. That is God's circumcision  of  the
heart.  Both  Old Testament and New Testament teach the  same,  namely
that   God's  intervention  is  necessary,  to  give  us  a   renewed,
circumcised heart.

The second point is: To what purpose the LORD will do it.
     God  will circumcise your heart. Why? That you may love Him.  The
LORD  thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy  seed,
"to  love  the  LORD thy God with all thine heart, and  with  all  thy
soul".  So,  we are not able to love God with an uncircumcised  heart.
Only  with  a circumcised heart, a heart born again, we can love  God.
Boys  are  born uncircumcised. Likewise are the people  born  with  an
uncircumcised  heart.  We  are then unable to  love  God,  when  there
happens no change in us. When the LORD not performs His renewing  work
in  our inner parts, we are unable to love Him, and thus hate Him.  He
commands us: "Love Me with all your heart and all your soul". But  we,
when  we are still natural, are unable to do that. He commands us,  as
we  see,  to do the impossible. Besides commanding us to love Him,  we
have need of being circumcised by Him.

The third point is: What the result will be.
     God will circumcise your heart. Then you will love Him. And then?
"That  you may live". Life without loving God is not life. It  is  but
death.  When we wish to live, we have to love God with all our  heart,
and with all our soul. And when we wish to love Him, our heart must be
circumcised.  So  we see, that nothing is left us. Whenever  there  is
one, who truly loves God, it must be that the preceding work of God is
done in him. The result of God's work in someone is, that he begins to
love  God. When we meet one, loving God, and walking in His paths,  we
call him righteous. He or she is righteous, we say. But from our text,
it  appears that God already has done something to his heart.  He  has
renewed his heart, so as to enable him to love God. God is the  First,
not we. All honour is God's; not ours. Who wishes to live has need  of
the  circumcision of his heart; a work what only God can perform. Away
then with all self-righteousness. It is insufficient, and will not  be
accepted by God. Only he, who has a renewed heart, can love God;  only
he  or  she will live eternally. He will, together with all the  other
righteous, praise God for His goodness. He was the first to give us  a
new heart. All praise is due to Him.

2.  Psalms 119:49,50 - Hope on God's word

Remember the word unto thy servant,
upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction:
for thy word hath quickened me.

A  poet  has written this Psalm. He much adheres to God, and  all  his
hope  is  on Him. That can be seen throughout the Psalm. Also  in  our
text,  he  does  nothing but putting his hope in  God,  from  Whom  he
expects his whole salvation. Listen to the poet, when he says:
    Remember the word unto thy servant,
    upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
He  speaks about a "word" of God, directed to His "servant", that  is,
directed  to himself. Remember, O God, the word Thou have once  spoken
to  me.  What kind of word was that? It was a word, speaking of  hope.
For, the poet continues: the word, "upon which Thou hast caused me  to
hope".  So,  this word was a promise given to him. He  hoped  on  that
promise. That means, that he had not yet received it. He was still  in
need,  and  put  his  hope  in  God, Who had  promised  to  help  him.
"Remember",  O  God,  Thy promise. We see that it  was  not  a  recent
promise, but that it was given sometime, or even a long time ago.  All
the  time,  the poet had hoped on God's word. But until  now,  he  had
still not received the promise. This waiting on God and His word  made
him  adhering to God. All his hope was on God. His eyes were upon God.
"Behold,  as  the  eyes  of servants [look] unto  the  hand  of  their
masters,  [and] as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress;
so  our  eyes [wait] upon the LORD our God, until that he  have  mercy
upon  us." (Psalms 123:2) The eyes of the servant are upon God,  until
He remember and fulfil His promise given. He continues speaking of his
hope and of the promise, when he wrote:
    This is my comfort in my affliction:
    for thy word hath quickened me.
He speaks of his afflictions. So, we understand that he was oppressed.
That it was so, also appears from the rest of his Psalm. We see there,
that  he was greatly afflicted. Read for example the next verse.  "The
proud have had me greatly in derision: [yet] have I not declined  from
thy  law."  (Psalms  119:51) And in other places: "The  bands  of  the
wicked have robbed me." (Psalms 119:61) "The proud have forged  a  lie
against me." (Psalms 119:69) "Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt
perversely  with me without a cause." (Psalms 119:78)  In  short,  the
poet  was greatly despised, cried out for a liar, was robbed, and much
more.  But  what  do  we read? When he speaks of that  affliction,  he
immediately connects with it, that he was comforted therein.  He  says
of the promise received of God: "This is my comfort in my affliction".
Look, we see, that, however great the affliction might be, and however
numerous  the  enemies might be, yet, his comfort remained  with  him.
God's  Word has comforted him, for he had hope on God, that  He  would
once fulfil His promise. God's Word "has quickened me", he says.
     We  understand now how happy those people are, whose hope  is  on
God,  and not on the fading things of this world. Many put their  hope
in  their money. When there is money enough, they think that they  are
able  to overcome many evils. Money however is fading, but God  stands
forever.  All what is under this heaven is uncertain, and will  vanish
soon. All who trust herein are greatly deceiving themselves. But  God,
and His word, stand forever. "[As for] man, his days are as grass:  as
a  flower  of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth  over
it,  and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But
the  mercy  of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting  upon  them
that  fear  him,  and  his  righteousness unto  children's  children".
(Psalms 103:15-17)
     If  the  enemies are continually attacking us, and  when  we  are
afflicted  in a high degree; if all sorts of evil run over  our  head;
all  this matters not if we but have put our trust in God. And how can
we  do  that? Not without having formerly received His promises.  For,
without  promises, we have nothing to rest on. But when we  have  once
heard His voice, then we may say with the poet: Remember the word once
given  unto  me,  o God. Thou have caused me to hope thereon.  However
great the afflictions may be, yet, Thine promise is my comfort. It  is
Thine word, which has quickened me.
     How  happy are God's people. For, they have God as their  Father,
Who  cares for them. The more appears their happiness to us,  when  we
compare  it  with the world. The world does not know God. They  assail
the  godly,  and even God Himself. They have no hope. They  see,  when
they  at least are not spiritually blind, that this world comes to  an
end. Their future is but darkness, at least, when they are not blinded
by satan, who deludes many. The future of the world is dark. But God's
people,  maybe attacked in this ruined world, have yet their  hope  in
God;  their future is not dark, but full of hope. And it is sure, that
they  will  not be ashamed. Yes, the promise will not be fulfilled  at
once.  We  see that in our poet. He asked that God would remember  His
promise;  so  it  was given long ago. We see it in  Abraham,  who  had
received the promise of land, and of seed in multitude. How many years
did  it  take  before  God gave it? It was centuries  after  Abraham's
death. The promise then, will not be fulfilled at once. Though  it  is
not fulfilled now, it yet gives trust, gladness and hope. It makes  us
adhering to the Lord, in Who only is our life.

3.  1 Corinthians 11:1 - Followers of Christ's followers

    Be ye followers of me,
    even as I also am of Christ.

This  are the words of the apostle Paul. "Be you followers of me, even
as I also am of Christ". Brethren, he says, look to the example I give
you  in  my conduct, and do the same. Follow me, says Paul, as far  as
you  see  me following Christ, and not further. He not only _preached_
the truth to the people, but he also gave an example though his way of
_living_.  That  is the way a good pastor does it. Not preaching  good
things,  and living a bad life, but both his words and his deeds  will
be according to Scripture. "Follow me", says Paul, "likewise I also am
a  follower  of Christ". A good shepherd goes before his  flock.  They
follow him, trust him, and look at him. Likewise will a good minister,
that  is, a pastor, go before his congregation. They look at him,  and
follow  his  conduct,  like  he also that  of  Christ.  "Brethren,  be
followers  together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye  have  us
for an ensample." (Philippians 3:17) Christ suffered greatly on earth.
Likewise  will  a  good pastor do, since he follows Christ.  The  same
applies to the congregation. Also they will suffer greatly, since they
follow  their  shepherd and Christ. Be Christ's  followers,  brethren,
says  Paul. Did Christ pray whole nights to God? Do you the same.  Was
Christ always busy in doing good? Do you the same. Has Christ "learned
obedience by the things which he suffered"? (Hebrews 5:8) Yes, and the
same  will the ministers do, together with their congregation. Through
suffering, they have to learn obedience.
     We see here, that the minister of Christ teaches the people, both
through his words, and through his life. A bad teacher however,  maybe
that he speaks good words, but his life you shall not follow. Why not?
Because  he  does not follow Christ. Such teachers were  on  earth  in
Christ's  time. "All therefore whatsoever they bid you  observe,  that
observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and  do
not."  (Matthew  23:3) The spiritually blind,  who  not  are  able  to
discern  between good and evil, will follow the bad conduct  of  their
minister,  that they together may perish. But the people of  God  will
take  heed,  and  follow a bad minister only so  far,  as  he  follows
Christ.  But  a  good minister may say, with Paul, "brethren,  be  you
followers of me, even as I am Christ's follower".

Teus Benschop  --  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl
Listowner of chr-exp@nic.surfnet.nl
"A Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel"
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-049.txt