X-Nupop-Charset: English Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 10:44:39 +0100 Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: The Scriptures opened, 51 To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Deuteronomy 32:10 - God's instruction in the desert 2. Jeremiah 7 - Jeremiah's sermon to disobedient Israel 1. Deuteronomy 32:10 - God's instruction in the desert ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Reading: Deut. 32 Deuteronomy 32:10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Moses, telling God's grace towards the children of Israel, says that God found them in a desert land. He speaks of their journey of forty years through the desert. God found Israel in the desert. We know that God had already found them, earlier, when He led them out of Egypt, through His manifold wonders. Moses, making his history short, touches only on the main points. God then, found them in the wilderness. They did not find God, or choose Him as their God, but God did all. The initiative came from Him. Not Israel found God, but God found Israel. Grace from one side, we see. God found them in a desert land, in a waste howling wilderness. In that wilderness, God's hand daily supported them. He gave them heavenly food, and drink of the rock. It was a great wonder, to keep such a numerous nation alive in that waste howling wilderness. The burning heat on the day, and the cold in the nights; the wild beasts and the robbers; the snakes; the lack of water and bread; all these things will cause a nation to perish within a few days, when they are in the wilderness. But now, God defended them, fed them, protected them, led them, and brought them to the borders of the promised land. Rightly says Moses that God led Israel about, and that He kept them as the apple of his eye. The apple of the eye, that is the most important part of the eye, and it is kept the most safe. So also God kept His people, to protect them against all dangers. "He instructed him", says Moses. Some say, that God instructed them through the law, and the explanation thereof. Though that is true, of course, it is not what is meant in this verse. "He instructed him", that is written between phrases like "He led him about", and "He kept him as the apple of His eye", and "He found him in a desert land, in the waste howling wilderness". The instruction, which God gave to the people, is then connected with their journey through the desert, and with the wonders, wherewith God saved them. They were instructed while they went through the waste howling wilderness. The instruction consisted hereof, that they daily experienced God's power in keeping them alive. They daily saw God's hand, and experienced that He was able, as it were, to keep them alive amidst of a thousand deaths. He instructed them, and taught them His power, when He gave them the heavenly bread. He also instructed them, and showed them His goodness in not making an end to such stiff-necked people. They were instructed by experiencing His grace. The instruction happened in the practice of life. So, this instruction is not a sitting down, and a listening to the reading of the Torah and its explanation. No, this instruction, Moses speaks of, is not a passive listening, but an active experience. God's words became noticeable in their daily life. There is no better instruction then having experienced something. You may tell someone of God's justice and of God's grace. But when one experiences His justice, he will never forget it anymore. And when one experiences God's grace; that will become a thing written in his memory and heart forever. Many places in the Scripture repeat God's grace in finding Israel in the desert, keeping them alive in the howling wilderness, in leading them about and instructing them. - It is the LORD, your God, "Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, [wherein were] fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where [there was] no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; (Deuteronomy 8:15) - It is the LORD, your God, "Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; (Deuteronomy 8:16) - In their prayer to God, the Levites say: "Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, [so that] they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. (Nehemiah 9:20,21) - The Psalmist, praising God since He is good, and His mercy endures forever, retelling the history of Israel, says: "They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he delivered them out of their distresses. (Psalms 107:4-6) In these texts, it appears that God gave His spirit, to instruct the people, see Nehemia. According to Psalm 107, they experienced that God is a Helper in distress, when they cried to Him when they were hungry and thirsty, and when God delivered them. It is possible to speak of God at a distance, but that has not much value. As long as God is far of us, we babble of Him, imagine to know him, and boast of our knowledge of Him. But now, let God come closer. Instantly, when we experience His majesty, our mouth falls closed. A sudden silence will there be, as soon as God draws near. All our prattling of him vanishes, as soon as we see Him. When looking around, it seems that everybody knows God. Book after book appears. But this all is work at a distance. Let once God come in our sight; let He once make Himself known to us, and all our imagined knowledge vanishes. Then it is time for God to speak, and to instruct us; to remove our wrong concepts of Him out our minds, and to fill it with true knowledge of Him and with His love. 2. Jeremiah 7 - Jeremiah's sermon to disobedient Israel ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Next follows a sermon of the prophet Jeremiah. God publicly warns the people, and admonishes them to true conversion. They have to forsake all hypocrisy. The example of Silo is set before them. God forbids the prophet to pray for the people. He rejects their offerings and requires obedience instead thereof. He speaks of their abominations in Tofet, in the valley of the son of Hinnom. 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Already in the beginning of the sermon, it is clear that Jeremiah is speaking nothing but God's words. That requires attention, for not a mere man is going to speak, but God Himself. 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all [ye of] Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. The place of the sermon is the gate of the temple, the Lord's house. This public place is used, so that many may hear the words of God. God will not speak in the hidden. Everybody who enters in to worship God, will hear it, so that they cannot say later on, "We have not heard it. 3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. "Thus says the LORD", people! These are not Jeremiah's words, but the Lord's. Listen then the more. "Amend your ways". So, there was much wrong in them. For, when you have to amend your ways, those ways must be erroneous. People, forsake your sins, and only then you may dwell in this place. Only when amending your present sinful ways, you may stay here. If not, you will be driven away. 4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, [are] these. The false prophets and priests made the people rely on the temple. They said: "People, you see that God's temple is here. So, God Himself is here. Fear not. As long as God is here (whereof the temple is a visible sign) you need not fear". Using these lies, the false prophets allowed the people to continue in their vices. Why should they amend their ways? Wasn't God here? Weren't they the chosen people? "The temple of the LORD are these buildings." The false prophets made the people rely on some stone, gold, silver and wood, instead of on the living God. According to them, God would never forsake His chosen people. So, why should one amend his ways? But now, Jeremiah says: Trust ye not in these lying words. 5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; 6 [If] ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Having the temple standing here will not cause you to dwell in this place. Only a throughly amending of your ways will do it. If you really amend your ways, says God, then I will cause you to dwell here. I gave this place to your father for ever and ever. But if you continue in your sins, that "ever and ever" will be shortened, and you will be driven away. Don't then amend your ways with words, but with deeds. Execute justice; oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. Don't shed innocent blood. Don't serve idols which but hurt you. Then you will live here. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. They trust not in God, but in lying words. Trusting God would profit, but the lying words of the self-made prophets don't. 9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? People, says the prophet, you commit all these sins, and after having done so, you enter God's house to stand before His face. It that going together? Sinning and standing before God? No, of course not. God and sin have nothing to do one with another. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense unto Baal, serve idols, and then enter God's house? You serve other gods and your own lusts, and then enter My house. What is that? Even worse is what they say: "We are delivered to do all these abominations". We are delivered out of Egypt; we are God's people; God is gracious so as to forgive sins. When God forgives our sins, that means that we may continue in these abominations, they think. We are delivered from evil, so God is propitious to us, and we have no need of repentance. We are delivered to do all these abominations. This is the mode of reasoning of sinners. 11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen [it], saith the LORD. The people, who were no more or less then robbers, gathered in God's house. By doing so, they made the temple a den of robbers. Robbers came together in their den, to discuss the next theft. So also the people gathered in God's house, discussing their vices. Is this house, which is "God's house" now made by you the "robber's house"? Behold, I have seen it, says the LORD. I have seen your former sins, and I have also seen this one. Your heap of sins increases. 12 But go ye now unto my place which [was] in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. People, do you trust in this place; in this temple? Look now unto the former holy place, to Shiloh. It is utterly destroyed now. They also trusted in that place. They also committed the greatest crimes while going to that place. Look, and see that Shiloh is destroyed. Though I dwelled there, that could not prevent their destruction. The destruction of Shiloh is an example of your future destruction, if you not amend your ways. 13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; 14 Therefore will I do unto [this] house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. You have continued in your sins, people. I have sent My prophets to you; I have spoken to you; I have tried to convince you with all My strength. But you heard not. I called you, but you answered not. You paid no attention to My voice. Because you have done all this, I will now bring destruction on this place. Look to Shiloh. It is annihilated. So also will I annihilate this place, wherein you trust. This temple of stone will not save you. I will give it over to the enemies, who will burn it. Let Shiloh be your example. Trust no longer in this house, but amend your ways. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, [even] the whole seed of Ephraim. Ephraim (that is Israel) was already carried away. Now Judah will follow. God will cast them away, out of His sight. There is no greater punishment than being cast out of God's sight. It is like death. 16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. The prophet was a man, who loved his people. Though they not ceased sinning, yet the prophet ceased not praying for them at the throne of God's grace. He always made intercession for them, that God might spare them. But now, God forbids the prophet this prayer, so that the total destruction may come upon them. As long as one is praying, God will delay the end; but now, God forbids praying. 17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. They don't serve the idols in the hidden, but they do so publicly. Neither shame nor fear keeps them back. The whole family helps. The children gather wood for the fire that the father kindles; and the women prepare the dough for the cakes of the idol. The whole city is defiled. Everybody joins in the same vices. They forsake God. 19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: [do they] not [provoke] themselves to the confusion of their own faces? God said, "They provoke Me to anger by their idolatry". But now, He says: "No, not Me, but they hurt themselves". 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched. God's anger will be poured out on Jerusalem and the other cities. No thing will be spared. No beast, no trees, no fields, nothing. All will participate in the same destruction. And the cause? Their constant idolatry. 21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: 23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. The people were zealous enough in performing the outward rites of bringing offerings. That was not the problem. But, while offering, they forgot the main point: Obedience. "Obey My voice", said God. That is much more important than the killing of beasts, what you call offerings. "Walk in My ways", said God. "That is what I ask of you". When you do this, it will be well unto you. 24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels [and] in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. God spoke, and they hearkened not. God commanded, and they were disobedient. God gave them a good, nay a perfect counsel; but they walked in the counsels of their own evil heart. God said: "Go forward, follow Me, walk in My ways". But they went backward, away from God. In short, they were against God in all things. 25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending [them]: Look, what an efforts God has spent on them. From the beginning until now, He has sent all His servants, the prophets. It was nearly His daily work, so to speak. But though God spent much labour to them, yet they forgot their Maker. 26 Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. God stood and called them. But they hearkened not. They did not incline their ear. They were stiff-necked. They followed not the law of God, but their father's example. Having that example daily before them, they became accustomed to that. It was then easier for them to make it worse then their fathers. 27 Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. The prophet is told that they will not listen to him. When he speaks all these words to them, they will not hearken. Like they have done with God, they will do with God's servants. When God called, they gave no answer. When the prophet will call them, they also will not answer. 28 But thou shalt say unto them, This [is] a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth. When a nation does no longer obey God's voice, nor receives His correction, then their end is near. When they don't accept God's truth, but walk in their own vanities, then they will soon come to an end. 29 Cut off thine hair, [O Jerusalem], and cast [it] away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. Cutting off your hair, and lamenting, that are signs of great mourning. Why should they mourn so much? Because God has rejected and forsaken them. They were God's people, but now they are nothing. They have broken the covenant, and God has rejected them. No wonder, since they have rejected God. 30 For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. Commonly the people do evil in the hidden. Some shame restrains them from doing it publicly. But the children of Judah, rejecting the law, did evil in God's sight. No shame or fear restrained them. Worse still, they polluted the temple by putting their abominations there. 31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which [is] in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded [them] not, neither came it into my heart. It came so far, that they burned their children, which God had given them. God gave them sons and daughters, and they passed them on to the idols. God gave them children, that they might be brought up to live in the service of God, that God might be praised. But the people had shaken off all human feelings, and burned their sons and daughters in the fire. 32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. 33 And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray [them] away. When the enemy comes, he will put and end to all. Have they killed their children in Tophet? Also the enemy will kill all the people. Have they put and end to the lives of their children in Tophet? Also their own bodies will be buried there, till the place is full. Then the beasts have food, eating their dead bodies.We see what a terrible results the forsaking of God has. May we be kept back from doing the same. 34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate. At the moment, everybody feasts, is glad, marries, and does all what his heart desires. But then, it will be all over. The land will lay desolate. No voice will be heard anymore. What has sin brought into the world! And what still brings it! This is the end of the sermon in Jeremiah 7. Silence. No voice anymore. The land shall be desolate. Let we then, having this as an example before our eyes, amend our ways, and return to God. -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-051.txt .