Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 08:28:29 +-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, 59 To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Genesis 28:14 - Jacob's seed a blessing 2. Ecclesiastes 10:16,17 - The bad and the good kings 3. Philippians 1:21-24 - Christ, the Christian's life and death 1. Genesis 28:14 - Jacob's seed a blessing ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Weekly reading: Gen. 28:10-32:3 And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 28:14) These are the words of the LORD unto Jacob. When Jacob was on the journey to Haran, he came on a certain place, and tarried there during the whole night. He laid himself to sleep there, because the sun was set. In his sleep, he dreamed. What did he see? He saw in his dream a ladder set up on the earth. The ladder was so high, that its top reached to heaven. While Jacob, in his dream, saw that ladder, and was paying attention to that vision, he saw that the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. From the earth, they ascended to heaven, and from heaven they descended down to the earth. But this was not all Jacob saw. At the very top of the ladder, he saw the LORD standing there. While Jacob, in this vision, was beholding this all; the angels going up and down, and the LORD standing above all and everything, he heard the voice of God. "I am the LORD God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon you lie, Jacob, will I give to you, and also to your seed". In that vision, the LORD continued, saying: "Jacob, your seed will multiply exceedingly; it shall be as the dust of the earth in multitude. You shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south". But the LORD still continued. He not only promised multitudes of descendants to Jacob, but He also said that the same seed would be a blessing for the whole world. "And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed". These words of God, declared in that vision to Jacob, are the subject of our present consideration. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. "And in thee", that is Jacob himself. "And in thy seed", that are the descendants of Jacob. So, both in Jacob himself, and through his descendants, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed". What a great promise is that! The blessing would go through Jacob and his seed, to all the inhabitants of the earth. It pleases God to use Jacob and his seed, that in them all families of the earth may be blessed. Before we continue, and see when this blessing has happened, we should look to what a blessing is. What does God mean here? What is the blessing, wherewith the earth will be blessed? A real blessing consists in the grace and favour of God. When one, for example, has much riches, but without God, then that is not a blessing. When you ask such a one whether he is happy, he will answer, that the riches of this earth don't make one happy. For, when one has all what he desires, but lives without God, he has in fact nothing. A real blessing is coming from God, and will be experienced in His favour and paternal grace. "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." (Proverbs 10:22) Later on, the nation of Israel descended from Jacob. God has richly blessed them; He gave them the ministry of His Word, the ministry of the offerings wherein they saw God's forgiving work. He gave them a land to dwell in, that they might serve God in expressing their thank. He gave them all they needed, and peace from all their enemies round about. He protected them, and they were safe in the charge of God. Many of them were accepted, through the forgiving of their sins, as children of God; they called Him their God and Father. But is this all? Is with this blessing of Israel the entire promise fulfilled? It was written, that "in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed". When Israel only was blessed, then the rest of the earth still was not blessed. So, there remained still somewhat to come. The faithful, as often as they read these words, knew that there was still a blessing of the nation to come. Also they would be brought to the knowledge of God, as their Redeemer, Protector and Father. In the time of the Old Testament, these things had not happened yet. The blessing of God extended itself over the Jews only. The heathens still were outside the covenant; they were strangers of God and His Word. They lived in the darkness of all kinds of idolatry; in fear of evil spirits; in ignorance. Every nation had its own gods, but they all were strangers of God. Justly was it said through one of the prophets of that time: "All people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever." (Micah 4:5) Every nation walked in the name of their gods, but yet there was the promise of the LORD to Jacob, that in his seed all families of the earth would be blessed. So, there was a change to come. From the idolatry they would turn to the true God. Throwing away their images of wood, stone and gold, they should turn to the LORD. And we see that these things have happened. The knowledge of God has spread itself over the whole earth. No, I say it wrong. Not the knowledge has spread itself, but God has done it. God has blessed all the families of the earth, with the knowledge of His Name, and the knowledge of His grace. The message has reached the utmost ends of the earth, and Isaiah's words are fulfilled: "From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, glory to the Righteous." (Isaiah 24:16) We hear singing of Psalms from the uttermost parts of the earth, to the glory of God, the only righteous One. How is this blessing brought to the heathens? How did the knowledge of God reach the uttermost parts of the earth? According to the promise, expressed in our text, it was through the seed of Jacob. "In thee (that is Jacob) and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed". It is well known that this blessing has not reached the uttermost parts of the earth through the Jews. Not the Jews have gone out to preach, and have told everybody of God's grace. Though they are Jacob's seed, according to the flesh, it appears that they are not meant here. Because the blessing did not come to "all the families of the earth" through them. Only through preaching of the gospel of Christ, the knowledge of God was spread. Through Christ, God's blessing came to all families of the earth. Has Christ then fulfilled that promise? Yes, because He was the Seed of Jacob. He came forth from the Jews, the descendants of Jacob. From these facts, it appears that the text means, "And in thee and in thy Seed (that is, in Christ) shall all the families of the earth be blessed". Christ is given of God to all the nations, that they might be blessed in Him. The servants of God go through the whole world, that they do His will, in bringing the gospel of grace to the uttermost parts of the world. Formerly, the knowledge of God was confined to Israel only, but now, the whole world has become filled with that knowledge. They serve God from all parts of the world, and they receive His blessing through Christ, the Seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 2. Ecclesiastes 10:16,17 - The bad and the good kings ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! Ecclesiastes 10:16,17 In these verses, the preacher spoke of two types of lands. Of the first land, he says: "Woe to thee, O land". But of the other, he says: "Blessed art thou, O land". Two types of lands, the one of which is in woe, and the other is blessed. What is the reason of the difference between those two countries, or between the same countries seen in different times? On one time, the land is in calamity, and on the other time, it is in prosperity. The reason of this difference lies in the rulers. There are rulers, bad ones, who bring a land to poverty; but there are also rulers, good ones, who bring it to prosperity. "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child". "Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles". Two types of ruling kings will bring about two types of countries. The king who brings his land to its end, as far as depends on him, is called "a child". We may understand this as "a child in years", but also as "a child in wisdom". When a young man is made king - no, when a child is made king, he is too young to be able to rule the people. A land is heading for its end, when they make a child to their king. When God is going to punish Israel, He does so by making children their rulers, as Isaiah wrote: "And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them." (Isaiah 3:4) The good king is of another sort. He tries to rule his land according to God's will, and is in all his doing a blessing for his people. That king is a "son of nobles"; well educated, having asked wisdom of God to rule the people, as Solomon did. Blessed is that land, which has such a king. Israel, when they had Solomon as their king, lived in peace and prosperity. Why? Because God loved Solomon, and made him a wise king, "a son of nobles". "And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about." (1 Kings 4:29-31) Even the queen of Sheba, after she had come to see and hear wise Solomon, knew that it was because God sought to do Israel well. "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built", she said: "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgement and justice." (1 Kings 10:4,8,9) Not only the kings influence a land, but also the under-rulers, the princes are important. For, they execute the king's commands, and also they themselves must decide in many matters regarding the land. According to our text, woe is to that land, whose princes eat in the morning. "Woe to thee, O land, when ... thy princes eat in the morning!" What is wrong with eating in the morning? There is something wrong with, for it brings woe on a land. How must we see this? Should the princes be hungry, instead of eating in the morning? No, but that bad princes make it their main task to eat in the morning. They take much time for it, have nice meals, and spend their whole energy therein. After they have well eaten, and are satisfied, they try to do their work, but through their fatness they are unable to do it. Woe to that land, whose princes eat in the morning. What sort of princes does a blessed land have? "Blessed art thou, O land, when ... thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!" Here we see the difference between the types of princes. The bad ones eat in the morning, but the good ones eat in due season. The bad ones eat to make themselves unable for their task, but the good ones eat "for strength", to do their work the better. The woe- princes eat and drink in the morning, so that they are under influence during the whole rest of the day; but the blessed princes eat for strength, and not for drunkenness. These things you not only find here, but also in several other places of Scripture. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgement of any of the afflicted." (Proverbs 31:4,5) The kings are forbidden to drink wine, and the princes should not use strong drink. The reason is that this functions as poison; it makes them unfit for their task. They "forget the law", and "pervert the judgement". Also Isaiah tells us the same. "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them!" (Isaiah 5:11) The good king should deny himself in a great measure, and take care for the people. God has entrusted him with the people, and he should perform his task as good as he can. Let then the king ask for wisdom, as Solomon did, and God will give it to him. Let the king keep in mind, that without God's help, he cannot do anything. Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! All these things said of kings, apply also to rulers of lower ranks, and even to fathers and mothers. What value does a drunken father have for his wife and children? He is valueless, nay, hurtful. Let then all fathers and mother ask for wisdom, to bring up their children in the fear of the LORD. Woe to those children, who have a child as their father. Blessed are they, when their father is a son of nobles. More blessed still are they, if their father is a son of God; that means, if their father is serving God in truth. 3. Philippians 1:21-24 - Christ, the Christian's life and death ---------------------------------------------------------------------- For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:21-24 Listen to the words of a man, exercised through many strifes, and strengthened through many graces. Listen to the words of a man, who spend his whole life in the service of Christ. We have here Paul's words before us. When he is alive, he spends his life in the service of Christ. But when he dies, it is but gain for him. Listen to his words: "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Christ is his gain, both in life and in death. In his life, he did Christ's will. Doing His will was his life. For the wicked man, to die is eternal loss, but for Paul, to die is but gain. Christ was his all, both in life and in death. If Paul, and all the other godly persons, die, then they will go to Christ, their Lord. They will have the reward of their diligent labour on earth. Paul continues with, "But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour, yet what I shall choose I wot not.". It can also be read in this way: "But if to live in the flesh, if that is to me a fruit of labour, yet what I shall choose I wot not." It can be understood thus: If it is useful to continue to live in the flesh, even then I don't know what to choose. Even if Paul may expect many fruit on his labours, while he is in the flesh, he still does not know if he desires that. "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." He is in a strait between two possibilities. His desire is to depart, for then he will be with Christ, his Master in heaven. For that he longs. Christ, his Desire, is in heaven, and he also wishes to be there. It is better to depart from this life, and to be with Christ, then to continue this sorrowful life on earth. But for the congregations, it is better that he still remains here for some time. To abide in the flesh is more needful for them. For, then they receive God's blessing through the ministry of Paul. As a good shepherd, Paul cares more for his flock then for himself. Though his wish is to depart, and to be with Christ, yet it is more needful to stay here beneath, and to be useful for the people. He denies his own wish. His desire is in heaven, where Christ is, but he judges it better to deny himself, and to stay here. Every good shepherd will deny himself. He seeks the best for his congregation. All own wishes, he sets aside. The real shepherd cares much more for his people, then for himself. To abide in this flesh is better. Though Paul was a good shepherd, yet Christ was still better. He cared so much for His people, then He even offered up Himself for them. He payed for their sins, so that they should not die, but live eternally with Him. Listen now to Jesus' words. He says: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:11-15) The difference between the hireling and the real Shepherd, Jesus, is that the hireling, as soon as danger come up, flees; but Jesus not only stays, but even lays down His life for the sheep. The hireling will lose his hired sheep, but Jesus will keep them. He will lose none. He cares for His sheep. Paul, being Christ's servant, and being taught by Him, shows Christ's image in some degree. Also he cares more for the sheep then for himself. Following Christ's example, he is a good shepherd. Having the example of Christ before his eyes, he cares for the sheep. And when danger comes, he does not flee, but defends his flock. Christ is the main Shepherd of all His sheep. When He cares for them, they are safe. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- firstname.lastname@example.org "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 Written by Teus Benschop -- email@example.com ---------------------------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-059.txt .