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Date:         Tue, 24 Oct 1995 09:08:17 +-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, 54
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Genesis 11:1-8 - Confusion of the language
2. Habakkuk 3     - The Prayer of Habakkuk, part 2/2

1.  Genesis 11:1-8 - Confusion of the language

Reading: Genesis 6:9-11:32
Text:    Genesis 11:1-8

In  our  text we find that there was but one language over  the  whole
earth.  The  people journeyed, and when they found a good place,  they
began to erect a tower and a city, lest they would be scattered abroad
over  the whole earth. But God prevented that idea by confusion  their

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

All  the  inhabitants of the earth descended from Adam, and after  the
flood  from  Noah.  No  wonder  then that  everybody  spoke  the  same
language.  Everybody  could understand everybody.  The  thousands  and
thousands  of  languages we have now weren't there. But one  language,
which  was spoken by everybody. Which language that have been  is  not
expressed, but there are grounds to think that is has been the  Hebrew
one.  The  most important reason for this is, that the  names  of  the
first people are Hebrew names. Adam, for example, means "man", and  is
connected with "red earth". And Eve, that means "life". Also Cain  and
Abel, and many other names are Hebrew.

2  And  it  came to pass, as they journeyed from the east,  that  they
found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

There is said that "they" journeyed from the east, and that they found
land  in Shinar. It is not expressed who that "they" were, but it  can
be that they were the descendants of Ham, of whom Nimrod was the head.
For, in Genesis 10:9,10, we read that they dwelt in Shinar. "He was  a
mighty  hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even  as  Nimrod
the  mighty  hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his  kingdom
was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."

3  And  they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick,  and  burn
them  throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they  for
4  And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top
[may  reach]  unto  heaven; and let us make us  a  name,  lest  we  be
scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

They  wish  to build a city to dwell in, and also a tower,  whose  top
will  be  unto heaven. And why do they wish to build such a  city  and
tower?  Because they fear that they will be scattered abroad upon  the
face of the whole earth. It was God's command to the people, after  He
had  created them, that they should multiply and replenish  the  whole
earth. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and
multiply,  and  replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have  dominion
over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every
living thing that moveth upon the earth". (Genesis 1:28) This was  the
commandment,  that  they should replenish the earth,  but  the  people
refused  to  do so. They rather choose to dwell together.  Instead  of
obeying  God,  they  do  their  own  will.  Not  only  that  they  are
disobedient, but they also are proud. The top of their tower  must  be
so  high,  that  is reaches unto heaven. It was not enough  that  Adam
wished to be like God, knowing good and evil. They also add thereunto,
that they wish to dwell in heaven. We see then in the sons of Ham, the
people of Nimrod, disobedience and pride. "Come on", they say, "let us
build  a tower, a city, and make us a name". Come on, let us not  obey
God's  voice,  and  provoke Him. Come on, let  us  do  our  own  will,
neglecting God's.

5  And  the  LORD came down to see the city and the tower,  which  the
children of men builded.

In  the  previous  verse, we read that their tower should  reach  unto
heaven. But in this verse, it appears that the tower was so much lower
then  heaven,  that the LORD had to come down. Let then  no  man  ever
think  to be able to approach God. The LORD came down, to see the  low
work of the people.

6  And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one
language;  and  this  they  begin to  do:  and  now  nothing  will  be
restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

God  came  down to have a look at their work. They had begun to  build
the  city  and  the tower. And God also knew that they  would  not  be
docile,  so  as to obey God's voice. They had imagined  to  build  the
city, and they wanted to finish it at all costs.

7  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they
may not understand one another's speech.

They  had  said: "Come on, let us build". But God's answer was:  "Come
on, let us go down". The people may design what they will, but without
God's  approval, all their plans will end up in nothing. Come on,  let
us  build,  they  said. No, says God, let us confound their  language.
When they no longer could understand one another, they were unable  to
build.  Here  you have the confusion of the language, as a  result  of
man's  sin. The disobedience of the people was the cause of  the  many
languages we now have. All confusion which is on the world now, is the
result  of  this.  All  study of language, and  all  difficulties  the
different languages give us, are the result of the disobedience of the
people.  But on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, God gave  the  people
the  gift  of  the  Spirit, which includes the gift of  speaking  many
languages.  What  was perverted by man in the beginning,  is  in  some
measure  repaired by the Spirit. For, only through  the  gift  of  the
languages, one is able to bring the Word of God to the nations.

8  So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of  all
the earth: and they left off to build the city.

In  the  beginning the LORD had commanded the people that they  should
replenish the earth. They refused. But now, God uses acts of power  to
make  the  people obey His voice, namely to replenish the earth.  They
were  scattered abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.  If
they not willingly obey God's will, then they shall do it unwillingly.
But  one  thing  is  sure,  and  that is,  that  God's  word  will  be

The King of the earth showed again His power. The LORD is the Ruler of
this  world, and we do best to subject ourselves to Him. Let we,  with
the  Psalmist  "say unto God, How terrible [art thou  in]  thy  works!
through  the  greatness  of  thy  power  shall  thine  enemies  submit
themselves  unto thee." (Psalms 66:3) Through the greatness  of  God's
power,  the people who built the city, submitted themselves unto  God.
They  were  His enemies, for they refused obedience. But nevertheless,
they  had to submit themselves unto God, through the greatness of  His
power. And so it will be unto this day. It may be that the people  for
a  time,  shorter or longer, refuse to obey. But the time  will  come,
that  they will experience God's power. Nothing but submission is then
left to them. The enemies will submit themselves unwillingly, but  the
children  of  God will do so willingly and with joy. Their  King,  the
LORD, the Creator of heaven and earth; their LORD is King forever.

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

In  part one we read the beginning of Habakkuk's prayer. After he  had
heard  the word of God, of destruction and coming calamity, he feared.
Then he asks that God might keep alive His own work, instead of wholly
to  destroy it because of their sins. He begins to remember the  great
works of God of old, beginning from Egypt.

8  Was  the  LORD  displeased against the rivers?  [was]  thine  anger
against  the rivers? [was] thy wrath against the sea, that thou  didst
ride upon thine horses [and] thy chariots of salvation?

It  is  said that the LORD was displeased against rivers and the  sea,
and  that His anger and wrath was against them. Why? Because  the  Red
Sea  was  split when Israel went through it. Also Jordan, that  river,
gave  a  free  access by opening its waters. Was the  LORD  displeased
against  the waters, that they dared not to stream on? They gave  free
way.  God's strong wind caused the Red Sea to heap up its waters.  Was
that  strong  wind a sign of God's strong and heavy wrath against  the
waters?  Using  these  words  the prophet describes  God's  miraculous
works.  He also says that God "didst ride upon Thine horses". A  rider
steers  his horse to direct it where he wills. So God, like  a  rider,
governs  all  elements to have them do His will.  Waters,  wind,  sun,
fire, light, clouds, darkness, they all obey His voice. These are  His
horses, whereon He rides, and which He steers in such a way, that they
do His will. "Thy chariots were salvation". Chariots are used in wars.
God's  chariots  were salvation. That means, that  God  fought  before
them, giving them salvation. In the case of their passage through  the
Red  Sea, God's chariots were the strong wind, the pillar of a  cloud,
the  pillar of fire, and the waters. These chariots brought  salvation
to Israel, and destruction to the Egyptians.

9  Thy  bow  was  made quite naked, [according] to the  oaths  of  the
tribes,  [even  thy]  word. Selah. Thou didst cleave  the  earth  with

The  bow means God's power. "Thy bow was made quite naked", which  can
mean  that God's power was visible everywhere. God did all these great
things,  according "to the oaths of the tribes", through  His  "word".
God  had sworn in former times, that He would bring the people out  of
Egypt  into  Canaan. He did all these things to keep His oath  to  the
tribes. God also "did cleave the earth with rivers". This can best  be
explained  with the words of Numbers. "And Moses lifted up  his  hand,
and  with  his  rod he smote the rock twice: and the  water  came  out
abundantly,  and  the  congregation drank, and their  beasts  [also]."
(Numbers 20:11)

10 The mountains saw thee, [and] they trembled: the overflowing of the
water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, [and] lifted up his hands
on high.

The  mountains  saw Thee, and they trembled. These are the  mounts  of
Sinai.  When  God  came down on its top, the whole  mountain  trembled
much,  and smoked. "The waters passed by", namely Jordan, or the river
which  followed them in the desert, which sprang from the  rock.  "All
did  drink  the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual
Rock  that  followed them: and that Rock was Christ."  (1  Corinthians
10:4)  The deep uttered his voice, says the prophet. This can  be  the
Red  Sea,  which separated itself in two parts, which  much  noise  of
waters.  The  deep lifted up his hands on high, or, it lifted  up  its
sides  on high. And we know that the path through the Red Sea had  two
sides  of waters. The sea lifted up its sides on high, to make  a  way
through for the people.

11 The sun [and] moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of
thine arrows they went, [and] at the shining of thy glittering spear.

The  sun and moon stood still in their habitation, namely when  Joshua
commanded it. "Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the  LORD
delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and  he  said
in  the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and  thou,
Moon,  in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the  moon
stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is
not  this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the
midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." (Joshua

12 Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh
the heathen in anger.

He  marched  through the land, driving out the former  inhabitants  of
Canaan,  to  make place for the children of Israel.  He  did  so  with
indignation, for the sins of the former people had reached their  top.
He threshed the heathen in anger, to drive them away as chaff from the
threshing-floor. All who remain heathen, and not join  the  people  of
God through faith and obedience, will be driven away like chaff before
the wind.

13 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people,
    namely  for the salvation of Israel, when God delivered  them  out
    of the slavery of Egypt.
[Even] for salvation with thine anointed;
    With  Joshua,  God's anointed; God went forth for  the  salvation,
    together  with Joshua, who was a type of Christ, the real Anointed
    of God. Both went forth for the salvation of their people.
Thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked,
    God  wounded the heads of the kings of Canaan; the most  important
    people  of  the  land, who came with their armies against  Israel.
    But  God  wounded  their heads; the princes of the  house  of  the
    wicked.  These  wicked people were the former inhabitants  of  the
By discovering the foundation unto the neck.
    The  land  was discovered from the foundation unto the neck.  This
    may  indicate that the land was well purified of the  enemies;  at
    least they lost their power.

14 Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages:
they  came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing [was]  as
to devour the poor secretly.

First it is said that God struck with his (the anointed's) staves  the
head  of his villages, indicating God's victory over the enemies. Then
we  read that Habakkuk says, that "they came out to scatter me".  Note
that  he  says,  that  they  came to scatter  "me".  We  see  that  he
identifies  himself with his forefathers. What they  did  against  the
forefather, was also done against the prophet. "Their rejoicing was as
to  devour the poor secretly". In the times of the judges, the  people
often  had to hide themselves before the enemies, who came to  destroy
the land. They delighted in devouring the poor in the secret.

15  Thou  didst walk through the sea with thine horses, [through]  the
heap of great waters.

Yes,  God  walked through the sea, through the Red Sea, when  He  went
before  the people, and made a path for them. The heap of great waters
did  not  flow over them, because their path was kept dry. The waters,
and all other elements, they obey the will of God. Sun and moon, water
and  drought,  ground  and  air, light  and  darkness,  fertility  and
barrenness,  clouds and rain, hail and storm, spring and  autumn;  the
whole  nature obeys God's voice. He uses all elements for the  benefit
of His people.

16  When  I  heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the  voice:
rottenness  entered into my bones, and I trembled in  myself,  that  I
might  rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the  people,
he will invade them with his troops.

Here,  the  prophet  returns to the beginning of his  prayer.  In  the
second  verse,  he  had already spoken of the approaching  destruction
through the Chaldees; and now he again speaks of that. From the second
verse until this one, he has interrupted his fear of the Chaldees,  to
recount the mighty works of God in the past. He said, "O LORD,  revive
thy  work  in the midst of the years, in the midst of the  years  make
known; in wrath remember mercy." (Habakkuk 3:2) He prayed this, asking
for  grace  and mercy for his people. "Revive Thy work,  O  LORD",  he
said.  He  called it God's own work. Revive that, O LORD; it is  Thine
own  work.  After that, the prophet had recounted God's own work.  And
now the prophet returns to the beginning: his prayer for mercy.
     But in this verse, we see a remarkable change in the attitude  of
the  prophet. In the beginning, he trembled when he thought about  the
coming  destruction. But now, his fear is away. He now says,  that  He
may  "rest  in  the day of trouble". How can one rest in  the  day  of
trouble? Should we not be restless, when troubles come nigh? Should we
not  cry, when we see all being destroyed round about? When the  whole
earth  is  turned upside down, will we then rest? "When he  cometh  up
unto the people", the prophet continues, "he will invade them with his
troops". Yes, the enemy will come up unto the people, and will  invade
the  lands  with his invincible troops. And the prophet will  rest  in
that day, the day of trouble? Yes, the prophet will rest then. For, he
has  fallen  down before God. He accepts His judgement, for  he  knows
that  God is true and righteous. He has accepted the coming judgement,
because  he  and  his  people have deserved that by  their  sins.  The
prophet will rest in the day of trouble. How? Because he rests in God.
And  when one rests in God, then, no matter how great the trouble will
be,  he  will have rest. When one has God as his Protector, it matters
no  longer  how  much  enemies  there  will  be,  and  how  great  the
destruction will be. For, when we have the LORD as our God, why should
we fear any longer? "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can
man do unto me?" (Psalms 118:6) Habakkuk may, through faith, know that
the  LORD is on his side. Why should he fear then? "Behold, God is  my
salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my
strength  and my song; he also is become my salvation." (Isaiah  12:2)
Poor  people then, who, being without any protection of God, fear  the
coming destruction. They have nothing before their eyes but death. How
happy  are  those, whose God is our LORD! Enemies? "I will not  fear".
Destruction? "God is my LORD, what shall men do to me?" Wars? "God  is
my Protector, why should I fear?"

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be]
in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall
yield  no  meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and  [there
shall be] no herd in the stalls:

Habakkuk had heard God's words, regarding the coming Chaldees, and  he
had  believed them, and had feared. In this verse, he is giving a list
of  the  future destructions. Not a complete list, of course,  but  he
mentions  some  important things. All the fields, and all  the  beasts
will be destroyed. The figtree shall not blossom, and there will be no
fruit in the vines. Also, the labour expended on the olive will be  in
vain,  for it will not give its product. Further, the fields will  lay
desolate, and no meat will be yielded. The flock will be cut off  from
the fold, and no herd will be found in the stalls.

18  Yet  I  will  rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in  the  God  of  my

Though all these evil will come over us, says the prophet, yet I  will
rejoice  in  the LORD. See, that is the fruit of faith. He knows  that
God  is  his God, Who will protect him. How great then the destruction
may  be,  yet  he knows himself safe in the LORD; in the  God  of  his
salvation. Even when the whole world will be burned down, "I will  joy
in  the God of my salvation". He has no joy in the devastation, but he
rejoiced in the LORD. He does not as the servants of the world do, who
rely  on  their prosperity. But as soon as their aids fail them,  they
begin to become desperate. With Habakkuk, and with all faithful, it is
otherwise.  Maybe that all aids will fail them, yet  they  rejoice  in
their God; in the God of their salvation.
     When  there  is prosperity, the difference between the  believers
and  unbelievers is not so well visible. But when circumstances become
difficult  and hard, then one's faith will become visible.  While  all
the  rest  will lay struck down by the evils, then the  faith  of  the
believers shines forth, and can be seen at a distance. While everybody
is black of fear, the faithful delight in God. Their hope is not fixed
on  this lower part under the moon, which will soon vanish, but on the
high God, Who will sit on His throne for always and ever.

19 The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds'
[feet],  and  he  will make me to walk upon mine high places.  To  the
chief singer on my stringed instruments.

The  LORD God is my strength, says Habakkuk; not the fig trees, vines,
olives and flocks are my strengh. The LORD God is my strength, so what
matters  it when all other things vanish? God is my strength,  and  he
will  make  my  feed  like  a hinds' feet.  I  will,  when  evils  are
everywhere,  not sit desperately in a corner, but my  feet  will  walk
swiftly like the hinds'. When the Chaldees come, God will save me from
them,  so that I may escape in freedom. God will make me to walk  upon
mine high places. Perhaps he means with these high places, some strong
places.  Or, that he, after the Chaldees have been on the  rampage  in
the land, may return on his high places, the mounts of Judah.
     At  the end, he hands his prayer over to the chief singer, to  be
sung  and  to be played on his stringed instruments. Maybe, when  this
prayer will be repeated always in the public services, God may use  it
to  give hope and strength to the other, weaker believers. It  can  be
that their faith is not so strong as Habakkuk's. When they then see an
example of strong faith, through God's grace, they can get thence some
more hope on God.

"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
This issue written by Teus Benschop -- t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl

file:/pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-054.txt