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Date:         Tue, 31 Oct 1995 09:09:45 +-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, 55
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Genesis 12:1      - Abram's move to another country
2. Proverbs 3:5-6    - Trust in God and not in own wisdom
3. Galatians 1:23,24 - Paul's conversion

1.  Genesis 12:1 - Abram's move to another country

Reading: Gen. 12:1 - 17:27
Text:    Gen. 12:1

Now the LORD had said unto Abram,
    Get thee out of thy country,
    and from thy kindred,
    and from thy father's house,
    unto a land that I will shew thee.

The LORD had said unto Abram that he had to move from his country to
another one. What was the reason that God said these things unto
Abram, and not to another person? In Ur of the Chaldees, Abram's
native country, lived much more people. Why had God chosen Abram to
hear His words, and not another one? Was Abram such a holy person
perhaps? No, Abram was born in a house where they served other gods,
Jos.24:2. And had God not revealed Himself unto Abram, then he would
have continued in the idolatry of his fathers. So, why did the LORD
choose Abram to reveal Himself unto? Was Abram so holy? No, he was not
better then the other people of that place. Was Abram so zealous in
serving God? No, also not. Was Abram so godly? No, also this is not
the reason. What then is the reason that God spoke unto Abram? The
reason lies in God, and nowhere else. God, in His sovereign electing
grace, chose Abram, to speak to him. God chose Abram; one person out
of many; not because any excellency in Abram, but because of God's
    "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country,
and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house". In saying that
Abram had to go out of his native country, God uses not one command;
He commands it three times. Get thee out of thy country. Get thee from
thy kindred. Get thee from thy father's house. Abram should well note
that leaving his country is not an easy thing. Persons are united with
their families, and blood relationships are not easily broken. So,
leaving your country and moving to another one means also moving from
your family, and from your father's house. Abram should then know that
it was not an easy thing God asked of him. He could then consider
these things beforehand, so that knew the coming things. Following the
LORD to another country required of Abram to leave his family. And
also for us, following the LORD means that we sometimes have to break
with our family. When our family, for example, follows the world in
evil things, and we are called to come behind the LORD, then we have
to break with them. Why? Because the world's way, and the LORD's way
are opposite. The one ends in eternal death, and the other one in
eternal life. Follow then God, and leave your country, your kindred,
and your father's house.
    These are things we see in Abram's life. This is Old Testament
doctrine. Also in the New Testament, you will find the same. Jesus
said: "If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother,
and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own
life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26) When we read of
hating your family, in this text, we first should understand what is
meant by that. Hating, in this context, is a Hebrew mode of speaking,
and means "not giving preference to". So, when it comes to a choice
between following God and listening to your father, mother, wife,
children, brethren, sisters, or own life, then we have to "hate" them
all. That means, that we not prefer them above God. We have then first
to obey God, and to do His will. And when there is any one of our
family, who tries to prevent that, then we have to reject him or her.
These things are well expressed in another place, where Jesus said:
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and
he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
(Matthew 10:37) Jesus is doing nothing but repeating the doctrine,
already made known to Abram: "Get thee out of thy country, and from
thy kindred, and from thy father's house". Abram, leave your family,
where they serve the idols, and follow Me, says God.
    Go "unto a land that I will shew thee", the LORD said. He said
not what land it would be. We know that it was Canaan, but Abram stood
still before that knowledge; he didn't know it. He had blindly to
follow the LORD, being content with God's word alone. Go out, Abram,
unto a some land. Going out, and leaving all you have, and not knowing
where you will come, that requires faith and trust of God. When Abram
obeyed the voice of God, his faith became visible. He only knew that
he had to go out, but where he would come, that was still hidden for
    And this is often God's way. He tried our faith by giving us a
command to do something, but not telling us the end. We learn from
this that we always blindly have to obey God's voice, trusting Him
alone, and forsaking any fleshly wisdom. We are inclined, when God
commands us something, to ask more then He has said. This shows our
unbelief. Why is it not enough for us, that God has commanded
something? Why don't we leave Him the result? Why will we not follow
Him with an unlimited trust?
    Let we then follow the example of Abram, who trusted his God. He
is called the father of all believers. And when we say that we are
Abraham's children, let us then do the same things as he did. Let us
then forsake our own will, as soon as God commands it. And God has
already commanded us these things, namely in His Word. Let we then
deny ourselves, leave the idolatry, and follow God in true faith.

2.  Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in God and not in own wisdom

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.

There are people who do the opposite of what here is written. They
don't trust the LORD, but they rely on nothing but their own
understanding. When they encounter some problem, they consult their
own mind. I heard once one say: "trust none but yourself". What a
different advice gives our text! It says not "trust none but
yourself", but: "Trust none but God". Or: "Lean not unto thine own
understanding". This is real wisdom, coming from God. "Trust in the
LORD with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding".
This is the advice the wise Solomon gave us. This man had received the
gift of an extraordinary amount of wisdom. He advises us not to lean
unto our own wisdom, but to trust in the Lord only. And when we trust,
let we not do it half, or mingled with fear or doubt, but let us do it
with all our heart. Trust the LORD in full faith, and reject your own
wisdom as a basis to build on. Our own wisdom is human wisdom, which
differs from God's wisdom. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8) Our own
understanding is earthly, but God's wisdom is heavenly. Our own
understanding is fleshly, but God's wisdom is spiritual and living.
Trusting own understanding leads to death, but trusting in the LORD
gives life. We are wont, as soon as any problem arises, promptly to
take counsel with our own understanding. And there is nothing wrong
with that, for we have not received our own mind to let it be unused.
The problem lies elsewhere; for, when we have taken counsel with our
own understanding, we come to any decision, and we don't ask the mouth
of the LORD. And then, we begin to comply with our own counsel, and we
begin to rely on our own understanding. Here lies our error. We should
do nothing before we have God's word. We should not lean on our own
understanding, but we should trust in the LORD. When some troubles
arise, let we then not lean on our mind, for it often gives counsels
which seem good in our eyes, but which are in fact fleshly, and not
spiritual. Complying with that advice would lead us away from God,
though we don't see it in the beginning. Let us then dare do nothing
in any matter, when we not are assured that we rely on the LORD, and
that we follow His Word. People who are thus disposed are easily
recognisable, since they always search the Word, in order to hear
God's advice. Those people have unlearned in some degree, by
experience, to lean on their own wicked heart, since it always
misleads them. They have learned, through experience, to trust in the
    Solomon continues with "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he
shall direct thy paths." In all the ways you go on this earth, during
your whole life, acknowledge God. Acknowledge Him to be the God, Who
leads you through this present desert. Acknowledge Him, and He shall
direct your paths. When your own wisdom fails, ask God, and He will
lead you in the ways you should go. Acknowledge Him in all things you
intend, in all you propose, in all things you begin. Acknowledge the
LORD in all words you speak, in all things you do, and in all you
refrain from. Doing this, then He shall direct your paths; that is, He
shall lead you in the right ways. To really acknowledge God requires
that you trust in Him and rely on Him, as we have already seen.

3.  Galatians 1:23,24 - Paul's conversion

But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now
preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in

These are words of Paul the apostle. He is proving that his gospel
differs in nothing from the gospel of the apostles in Jerusalem. He
preaches the same as they do. In proving that his doctrine is the same
as theirs, he comes to the words we read in our text. The people in
Judea did not know Paul, but they had heard only of his conversion.
They had heard the people say of Paul, that "he which persecuted us in
times past now preaches the faith, which once he destroyed". When Paul
was still a son of the law, without a renewed heart, he persecuted the
members of Christ. This is always the case. A natural man does not
understand the spiritual things, and he thinks them foolishness. Paul,
before his conversion, did not understand the spiritual things. He
thought that the Christians forsook the law. And, being a zealot for
the law, he thought it best to persecute those "forsakers of Moses".
Yes, he, Paul, was maintaining the law! He thought himself a good
person, who fought for the institutes of the fathers! Also, he was a
member of the sect of the Pharisees, who said they well kept the law.
    Before his conversion, he persecuted the congregation of the
Lord. But after he met Jesus on the way to Damascus, he wholly
changed. Being a zealous persecutor before his conversion, he became a
zealous preacher of the faith after that. We see what grace can bring
about. Grace changes the greatest sinners to holy people. From
thieves, grace makes diligent workers. From murderers, grace makes
caring people. From persecutors of the faith, grace makes zealous
preachers of the truth. Of haters, grace makes lovers. Of wild and
cruel beasts, it makes pleasant people. Who was formerly a wolf, will
become peaceful, as is written: "The wolf also shall dwell with the
lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and
the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead
them." (Isaiah 11:6) This is it, what the prophet Isaiah had
prophesied. Through grace, the animals of prey will dwell with the
defenceless lambs and with the young children. Paul behaved like a
wolf, hunting for Christians. But after he had received grace, he
dwelt with them in peace.
    He also adds in the text: "And they glorified God in me." When
they saw Paul's conversion, they began not to adulate him, but they
glorified God. They knew that this conversion was God's work alone;
not Paul's. They glorified God when they saw the grace in him. They
glorified God since He again had added a sinner to the church, which
should be saved. Whenever the faithful hear that God has made visible
his grace, they rejoice with an exceedingly great joy. When it becomes
known among the children of God, that one is added to the great
multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, which
will be saved, they glorify God. He is the Author of our salvation,
and the Worker of it. To Him must be all glory.
    And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and
under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,
heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto
him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four [and] twenty elders fell
down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. (Revelation

"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-055.txt