Mime-Version: 1.0
Date:         Tue, 17 Oct 1995 08:47:37 +-100
Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      The Scriptures opened, 53
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Genesis 4:13 - Cain's unbelief
2. Habakkuk 3   - The Prayer of Habakkuk, part 1

1.  Genesis 4:13 - Cain's unbelief

Reading  Genesis 1 - 6:8
Text    Genesis 4:13

And Cain said unto the LORD,
    Mine iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven.

Here  we have the words of Cain, after he has slain his brother  Abel.
The LORD came to him, and made known unto him how great an iniquity he
had  committed, in slaying his brother, the righteous  Abel.  "And  he
said,  What  hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's  blood  crieth
unto me from the ground." (Genesis 4:10) Cain understood that he was a
wretched man, who had committed such a sin. Then he says: "My iniquity
is greater than that it may be forgiven". He thinks too low of God. As
if  God  cannot forgive even greater crimes. Cain thinks very  low  of
God.  He  has  no  belief in Him. Mine iniquity is  too  great  to  be
forgiven, he says. Faith would say: LORD, though mine iniquity is very
great,  yet  forgive me, for Thine sake. Forgive  me,  LORD,  a  great
sinner. "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do;  defer
not,  for  thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy  people  are
called  by  thy  name."  (Daniel 9:19) This is  the  language  of  the
believer,  but the unbeliever says: LORD, mine iniquity is too  great.
There  is  no  hope for me. This is the language of  Cain,  and  other
     As  long  as  the  ungodly continue in  their  way,  they  harden
themselves, and flatter themselves in their way. But when  God  comes,
and  makes  known their evil works, they become frightened.  When  the
coming punishment is pronounced, they are terrified much. The sight of
the  coming  punishment drives them in despair. Instead of  hoping  on
God's goodness and mercy, they give up all hope. Mine iniquity is  too
great to be forgiven, they say in their desperation.
     Some  translate our text in a slightly different  way.  They  say
that  it  has  to be: "And Cain said unto the LORD, My  punishment  is
greater than I can bear." (Genesis 4:13) When we take it thus, we  see
that  Cain complains about the greatness of his punishment. After  God
pointed  out  his evil, and made known his punishment, Cain  complains
that  it was too great for him. Such a punishment, that is unbearable,
he  says.  He does not humble himself under God's hand, but  disagrees
with  God.  As  if God is a man, about Whose words any  discussion  is
     Mine  iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven? No.  "The
law  entered,  that the offence might abound. But where sin  abounded,
grace did much more abound:" (Romans 5:20) When sin became more,  much
more  became  grace, to wash the filth of sin away. The  law  entered.
That  means: our iniquities were made known to us. For, that  is  what
the  law  doing.  It says: "You are transgressing me;  so  you  are  a
sinner".  What will we answer? Will we say with Cain: "Our  iniquities
are  too great then that they may be forgiven"? No, we say with  Paul:
Where sin abounded, grace did much more about". The law entered in, to
awaken us from our sleep, to open our eyes for the truth. Without  the
law,  we have no need of grace. But now the law entered, that we might
cry  for  God's grace. Sin abounds in our sight. May God  given  then,
that we also experience that grace abounds much more.

2.  Habakkuk 3 - The Prayer of Habakkuk, part 1

Habakkuk  prophesied  that  the people would  fall  in  the  hands  of
Chaldees.  "For,  lo, I raise up the Chaldeans,  a  bitter  and  hasty
nation,  which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess
the  dwellingplaces that are not theirs". (Habakkuk 1:6)  The  prophet
warns against the sins of the people.

1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.

This chapter gives us the prayer of Habakkuk to God. As can be read in
the  following prayer, the prophet is very impressed by God's majesty.
Such  a high God, as opposed to people made of dust. Isn't that enough
to be terrified?
     The  prayer  of him is "upon Shigionoth". This word can  also  be
found  in  Psalm  7. The word is derived from the root "shagah",  what
means to go astray, to err.

2  O  LORD, I have heard thy speech, [and] was afraid: O LORD,  revive
thy  work  in the midst of the years, in the midst of the  years  make
known; in wrath remember mercy.

The  prophet heard the speech of the LORD, and was afraid. That is the
result of hearing God speak. His speech is terrible, when it is  heard
with  an  opened  ear.  His  speech is nothing  but  truth,  and  that
terrifies us when we are sinners. LORD, I have heard Thy speech, and I
trembled on my feet. The prophet says: "In wrath remember mercy".  So,
God's  speech  was speech of wrath. He said that His  wrath  would  be
poured  out  on the people. When we hear such a speech,  will  we  not
tremble?  Will we not be afraid, when we hear God say,  that  He  will
destroy  us,  or our congregation soon? God, in wrath remember  mercy.
Revive Thy work, O Lord. This people, they are Thine work. LORD,  Thou
have  chosen this people, and now they are Thine. Revive  us  then,  o
God, in the midst of the years.
     The  prophet  Habakkuk  trembles much, for  he  has  heard  God's
speech. It was of destruction, of war, of enemies, of fire and  sword,
of  persecution and violence. Here follows what the holy  prophet  has
heard,  and  why he was so much afraid: "Behold ye among the  heathen,
and  regard, and wonder marvellously: for [I] will work a work in your
days,  which ye will not believe, though it be told. For, lo, I  raise
up  the  Chaldeans, [that] bitter and hasty nation, which shall  march
through  the  breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces  that
are   not  theirs."  (Habakkuk  1:5,6)  Nothing  but  destruction  and
devastation  await  this people. O Lord, prays  the  prophet  for  his
people, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the
years make known; in wrath remember mercy. Should then the whole  land
become one desert? Will all people be killed through the Chaldees?  No
wonder, that the prophet is trembling.

3  God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah.  His
glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.

Here, the prophet, in his prayer, remembers God's glory, when He  gave
the  law  at Sinai. When God gave that law, His glory was visible  and
audible  everywhere. It covered the heavens, and the whole  earth  was
filled  with  His praise and glory. Habakkuk uses Moses'  words:  "The
LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth
from  mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from  his
right  hand  [went]  a fiery law for them". (Deuteronomy  33:2)  God's
majesty  was  visible  at  Sinai. This is it,  which  both  Moses  and
Habakkuk  are referring to. "And it came to pass on the third  day  in
the  morning,  that there were thunders and lightnings,  and  a  thick
cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud;  so
that  all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses  brought
forth  the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood  at
the  nether  part  of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether  on  a
smoke,  because  the  LORD descended upon it in fire:  and  the  smoke
thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked
greatly." (Exodus 19:16-18) If then God's majesty and holiness were so
great, when He gave the law, that the whole people trembled, let  then
nobody  think  that  he  is able to keep that  law  in  own  strength.
Thinking  that  is nothing but deceiving yourself. Let then  everybody
tremble  at  the  sight of God, and not think that God  is  like  man,
winking at sins.

4  And [his] brightness was as the light; he had horns [coming] out of
his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.

When  God  appeared, there was a great brightness, as the  light.  His
majesty  shone  forth;  it  was visible as the  light.  Darkness  will
vanish,  when  God appears. By His light, all works  of  darkness  are
discovered.  Let all sinners then tremble. God's majesty  was  greater
then the sun's. He also had horns out of His hand. Horns are signs  of
power.  That  is  why the prophet continues with "and  there  was  the
hiding  of  his power", namely with those horns out of his  hand.  His
power  is  great, very great, infinite. He is the King of  kings,  and
rules  all.  Every child of God is always safe. No enemy  will  remain
standing  before  Him. They all will fall down before  God's  infinite
power.  The  prophet says that in those horns was "the hiding  of  His
power".  For, when God's power would be visible in its true  and  full
force,  at Sinai, all and everything would be devoured in one  moment.
That  is why the power was hidden somewhat. Yet there was power enough
to let the whole mountain shake and quake, and the people tremble. Let
we  then keep in mind what sort of God we have. We have not such  gods
as  the modern heathen have. Their gods consist of an insurance, which
cannot save; of money which cannot deliver in time of need; of weapons
which  are useless when not God fights for us; of land which does  not
yield fruit without God's blessing. These and many other are the  gods
of the modern heathens, but we have the living God.

5  Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his

Before  earthly  kings  go their servants. But  before  God  went  the
pestilence  and burning coals, as well as His angels as His  servants.
The  pestilence was a punishment God used, when the people  no  longer
obeyed Him. Also burning coals, to set the matter on fire, went before
him. That is our God, in His own nature. Outside Christ, our God is  a
devouring  fire.  Only  in Christ, we are protected  and  safe.  Every
denier of Christ is exposed to God's pestilence and His burning coals.
"The  sinners  in  Zion  are afraid; fearfulness  hath  surprised  the
hypocrites.  Who  among us shall dwell with the  devouring  fire?  who
among  us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14) Those
sinners  speak  of God. They cannot dwell with God, a Devouring  Fire.
They cannot dwell with God, Who is like the everlasting burnings.  Let
we  then  keep  in mind Who God is. Let the truth make its  impression
upon our heart, our will and mind.

6  He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder  the
nations;  and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the  perpetual
hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.

God  stood  there, so that everybody could see Him.  He  measured  the
earth,  when  He decided which part of the earth would  be  for  which
nation.  Every nation got his own part. He stood there, and  His  work
was  visible  for  everyone.  When  there  happens  any  great  thing,
everybody knows: this is God's own work. "He beheld, and drove asunder
the  nations". When Israel entered Canaan, God drove away the previous
inhabitants.  He  drove  asunder  the  nations.  And  even  the  solid
mountains,  which  we  think will never move or  tremble,  even  those
everlasting mountains were scattered. And the perpetual hills did bow,
when  God  showed forth His infinite power. Maybe that the hills  were
called "perpetual", but yet they bowed. Maybe that the mountains  were
called  "everlasting", but yet they were scattered. There is One,  Who
only  is everlasting, and that is our God. "His ways are everlasting",
not  the  mountains. He who has such a God as this  God,  needs  never
fear.  If  all  our  ways  seem to be shut up;  if  all  seems  to  be
impossible, let us trust our God, the everlasting God. He has shown in
the past that His strength is infinite, and that His will always shall
be done. Having shown this in the past, we trust that He will continue
to  help  His  people, since He cannot change. He is everlasting.  All
things  under this sun and moon are temporal and fading, but God  does
never change.

7  I  saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: [and] the curtains of the
land of Midian did tremble.

"I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction", says the prophet. He hereby
refers to the story found in the book of Judges, when Cushan, king  of
Mesopotamia, came against Israel because of their sins. But  the  LORD
sent Othniel to deliver them, warred against Cushan and put "the tents
in affliction", when he prevailed against him. See for this Judges 3:8-
10.  "Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel,  and  he
sold them into the hand of Chushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and
the children of Israel served Chushan-Rishathaim eight years. And when
the  children  of  Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD  raised  up  a
deliverer  to the children of Israel, who delivered them, Othniel  the
son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. And the Spirit of the LORD came
upon  him,  and he judged Israel, and went out to war:  and  the  LORD
delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his
hand  prevailed against Chushan-Rishathaim." The prophet  reminds  the
people  of Israel of this story, to encourage them to put their  trust
in  God, Who has delivered them in the past, and Who will do so in the
future.  He  also  saw that "the curtains of the land  of  Midian  did
tremble".  This  story can be found in Judges 6 and 7. The  Midianites
destroyed the land of Israel, and the people cried unto God, Who  sent
a prophet to preach, and also Gideon to deliver.
     The  prophet had told the people of the Chaldees, who would  come
and  destroy  the land. That can be read in chapter one. The  Chaldees
would come, because of the sins of the people, and terrify and destroy
the  people.  But  now,  the prophet reminds the  people  of  previous
stories of terror and destruction, and of deliverance. He does  so  to
encourage  the  people.  For, the godly saw nothing  before  them  but
darkness  and  fright.  By reminding them of former  deliverance,  the
prophet tries do encourage them. Look people, he says, God has  helped
your  forefather. Shall He then not also help you? Put your trust then
in Him. Cry to the LORD. Forsake the sins, and serve God. Put away the
idols, for there is but one God.

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-053.txt