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 Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 ungodly. 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 possible. 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 feet. 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 .