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Date:         Tue, 19 Dec 1995 08:57:47 +-100
Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      ChrExp, The Scriptures opened, 62
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Genesis 41:9 - Remembrance of past sins
2. Isaiah 5:1-7 - The Lord's vineyard

1.  Genesis 41:9 - Remembrance of past sins

Weekly reading: Genesis 41 - 44:17

Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying,
    I do remember my sins this day.
                                            Genesis 41:9

One  of the prophets once said, "And ye shall lothe yourselves in your
own  sight for all your evils that ye have committed." (Ezekiel 20:43)
According to him, the people shall lothe themselves because  of  their
innumerable  sins  against God. And when shall they lothe  themselves?
They shall abhor themselves when God shall have done them well. Or, to
say  it  in the prophet's own words, "And ye shall know that I am  the
LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country
[for] the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.  And
there  shall  ye remember your ways, and all your doings,  wherein  ye
have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for
all your evils that ye have committed. And ye shall know that I am the
LORD,  when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not  according
to  your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house
of Israel, saith the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 20:42-44) When God shall have
brought  back  the Israelites from their exile; back in  their  former
country,  they  shall loathe themselves because of their  sins,  which
were the cause of their exile.
     Something similar we see in the chief butler, one of the servants
of  Pharaoh.  He  says, "I do remember my sins this day."  He  doesn't
speak  of loathing himself, but at least he remembers his former sins.
What were his sins? Scripture is not detailed on that, but with a  few
words  it states the matter. "And it came to pass after these  things,
that  the  butler  of the king of Egypt and [his] baker  had  offended
their  lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two  [of]
his  officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief
of  the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of
the  guard,  into  the  prison, the place  where  Joseph  was  bound."
(Genesis 40:1-3) The chief butler had offended his lord, king Pharaoh,
and  for that he was thrown in prison. But after some time, he was put
back  in  freedom.  After he was freed, he didn't  even  remember  his
former  sins,  nor Joseph. But two full years later, in our  text,  he
again remembers his sins.
     What  was the cause he remembered them? Why was it that he, after
having  forgotten it, suddenly remembered them? It was because of  the
circumstances. When the butler was in prison, he had a  dream.  Joseph
interpreted it, and his interpretation became true. And now, two years
later, also Pharaoh had a dream. The similarity of circumstances,  the
dreams,  made him to remember his own dream. And from that  dream,  he
reflected on his sins, which were the cause of his imprisonment.
     When we view the chief butler's history, we see in short that  he
sinned, was thrown in prison, heard there that he again would  be  set
free,  was freed, forgat the whole happening for two years, came again
in like circumstances, remembered his sins, and confessed them.
     This  all  is  a good picture of what happens in the  life  of  a
person,  when  he  is brought to a stop on his evil ways  through  God
Himself.  Commonly, everybody walks in his own ways and  imaginations.
As  said  through God by a prophet, "For, behold, ye  walk  every  one
after  the  imagination of his evil heart, that they may  not  hearken
unto  Me:"  (Jeremiah 16:12) Commonly, men walk after their  own  vain
imaginations, far from God. But when God wants to make for  Himself  a
holy  people,  He begins to address them through His  word.  He  sends
prophets to them, who warn them, and set the law before them. And when
they  hear,  the become convinced through that law, seeing  that  they
have  done  nothing but transgressed them, sinning  against  the  LORD
their  God. They become convinced, and feel as if they are in  prison.
They  know  their  transgressions,  saying,  "For  I  acknowledge   my
transgressions:  and my sin is ever before me." (Psalms  51:5)  Seeing
always  their  sins before them, knowing that they  are  the  greatest
transgressors on earth, they feel shut up. They are, as transgressors,
under  the  curse  of the law, caught, and unable to escape.  Wherever
they may go, always they take with them the burden of their sins.  The
knowledge  of  their behaviour; the knowledge that they have  terribly
transgressed  against  God; the curse of the law;  the  dread  of  the
coming  punishment; these all weigh them down. Their  future  is  dark
because  of  the  coming judgement of God. They have transgressed  the
law, so what good can they hope yet? All these thoughts make them feel
as if they are thrown and shut up in prison.
     But  then,  all  changes.  He will hear  that  God  is  good  and
forgiving. There rises some hope in his dark and frightened heart. God
is merciful, yes, but is He also willing to forgive the sins of such a
great  offender?  The hope rises and falls within him.  Sometimes,  he
hopes  the  good, but sometimes all is black again. He  will  hear  of
others,  that have received forgiveness. Is it possible that God  will
be  also  merciful for him? Being shaked between hope and  fright,  he
does  not know how the matters will finish. But, when it is God's time
to  free the sinner from his prison, then His heavenly light shines in
the  black  soul  of  the poor sinner. The sinner, noticing  that,  is
filled  with heavenly joy; a joy which rises far above the joy of  the
world. They say with David, "Thou hast put gladness in my heart,  more
than  in  the time that their corn and their wine increased."  (Psalms
4:7)  Having this gladness in their heart, a heavenly gladness, a beam
of  light of God, they are at once freed from their prison. The former
fears  have passed away. All blackness has gone. He experiences  that,
"If  any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old
blackness  and darkness have passed away, and behold, all  things  are
become  new.  The man who experiences this is set in freedom,  through
the grace of God.
     And  then? After he is freed, what then? He does like  the  chief
butler  did,  and forgets his past in a great degree. He  forgets  his
imprisonment;  he  forgets  the hope on deliverance;  he  forgets  his
former  sins; and he forgets his Benefactor, God, the Deliverer.  This
may  continue  for some years, but then the time comes that  he  again
remembers  his history. Circumstances become similar, or he  hears  of
another one experiencing the same. He remembers his sins, and says  to
God,  "O  God,  I remember my former sins. How good and  merciful  are
Thou, forgiving me my sins".
     Also David had such experiences. He said, "Remember not the  sins
of  my  youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy  remember
thou  me  for thy goodness' sake, O LORD." (Psalms 25:7) He asks  that
God will not remember his sins. This means that he himself did so. But
he asks for mercy, because of God's goodness.

2.  Isaiah 5:1-7 - The Lord's vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-7

1  Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his

It was once said through the bride: "My beloved is mine, and I am his:
he  feedeth among the lilies." (Song of Solomon 2:16) The same is said
through  the prophet Isaiah. He calls God "my wellbeloved".  He  says,
"now  will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved". The prophet
is  far  from  serving God in a surly way, but he calls  his  Saviour,
Master  and  Lord "my wellbeloved". Only these servants, loving  their
Sender  and  Master  and God, are the real ones. They  sing  to  their
wellbeloved  God  a  song,  or, in other words,  they  preach  to  the
congregation  a sermon of their wellbeloved God. The people  can  hear
it: "Yes, this man knows Whom he talks about; yes, this man knows God;
he loves his Sender".
     Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved, "touching
his  vineyard". This vineyard is Israel of the prophet's time, and  in
our  times  it  is every true congregation, which is  planted  by  God
Himself. In the next verses the prophet shows us, under the picture of
a  vineyard,  what  good God has done to His people,  how  badly  they
behaved, and what will be the result of this all.

My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

My  wellbeloved owns a vineyard. Not in some arbitrary place. Also not
in  some common fertile place, but he has put his vineyard in  a  very
fruitful hill. He put it there, in that very fruitful place,  that  it
might bring forth an abundance of good fruit. This means that God  has
put  Israel in a most pleasant place, that they might dwell there. God
has  planted His church in a place very plentiful and abundant, in the
expectation  that they will bring forth an abundance  of  good  fruit,
namely  belief and repentance and true worship. If we live in a place,
free  from the oppressing enemies; if we live in a place where we  may
profess  our  true religion without persecutions; if we  have  all  we
need, and if we have time enough to serve both our neighbour and  God;
if we have all these very fruitful circumstances, then God rightly may
expect  a  rich harvest. My beloved has a vineyard in a very  fruitful
hill.  Yes,  He has, and it is our duty to bear much fruit.  As  Jesus
once said, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so
shall  ye be my disciples." (John 15:8) Or in the words of a Psalm,  a
Song  for the sabbath day: "Those that be planted in the house of  the
LORD  shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still  bring
forth  fruit  in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;  To  shew
that   the  LORD  is  upright:  he  is  my  rock,  and  there  is   no
unrighteousness in him." (Psalms 92:13-15)
     Not  only the choice of the vineyard's place was carefully  made,
but  when  the  place of the vineyard was once fixed,  the  winegrower
continued with preparing the ground and everything:

2  And  he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted
it  with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it,  and
also made a winepress therein:

After  the winegrower had chosen the place for his vineyard, he  began
to fence it. He surrounded the place with a fence for safety, that the
wild  beasts  might  not  enter the yard and destroy  all  the  fruit,
together  with  the vines. He put a fence around it,  to  prevent  the
enemies  from entering the yard and stealing all its fruit.  That  was
his  work  around the yard. But also inside, he spent  much  time.  He
"gathered out the stones thereof", so that he left over good and  even
ground;  a land prepared for the vines. He also "planted it  with  the
choicest vine". Not such second-class vines, but the best ones, of the
highest  quality.  He did so in the hope that they might  bring  forth
fruit  of high quality. Good grapes, that was his wish. Having  fenced
the  yard,  having  prepared the ground, and having planted  the  best
vines, he continued "and built a tower in the midst of it". The  tower
is  the place for the guard. He sits high so that he can overlook  the
entire  yard.  Finally, the winegrower "made a winepress therein".  He
expected  much fruit, because his labour had also been  much.  He  had
prepared all, and the vineyard was perfect. Let now the fruit come.

And  he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth
wild grapes.

In  spite  of all the labour, the yard brought forth nothing but  wild
grapes.  So, all the labour had been in vain. Though the yard had  the
choicest vines, yet it brought forth nothing of any value.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray
you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

The vineyard is Israel. God has spent much labour on them. He prepared
them. He gave then a perfect law. He gave them His ordinances. He gave
them  the  temple, and the entire service therein. In short,  God  had
prepared  the vineyard of Israel. But it did bring nothing  of  value.
Only  wild  grapes, which are valueless. "And now,  O  inhabitants  of
Jerusalem,  and  men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt  me  and  my
vineyard." God calls forth all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,  and  all
men  of Judah. They should judge between God and His vineyard. It  was
evident  that  the vineyard, that is Judah, had brought forth  nothing
but sin and apostasy.

4  What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done
in  it?  wherefore, when I looked that it should bring  forth  grapes,
brought it forth wild grapes?

What  could  have been done more to Israel and Judah? What could  have
been  done  more, that God has not done in it? He gave  them  all.  He
prepared  them,  and fenced them. No enemy dared enter  the  land.  He
planted Israel on a fruitful hill, a very fruitful one. So, Israel and
Judah,  where  is  the  fruit? Where is  your  faith?  God  gave  them
watchtowers.  He  gave them capable men to guide them  in  matters  of
religion.  He gave them prophets, and priests and kings. He gave  them
all  they  needed  to  bring  forth fruits of  repentance  and  faith,
righteousness and judgement. Why did they not bring forth grapes, save
the wild ones of apostasy?

5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will
take  away  the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up;  [and]  break
down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

God will take away the hedge of the vineyard. Judah will be robbed  of
her leaders; of her prophets and priests; of her kings. The enemy will
invade, and destroy all. God will break down the wall of Judah, behind
which  they  were safe. The wall will be thrown down,  and  the  enemy
shall  tread down all. All religion will be rooted out. The good vines
will  be burned. The foxes will eat up and devour all. The temple will
be  destroyed.  And for what reason? Because they brought  forth  wild
grapes. Judah chose to serve the idols rather then the LORD. Therefore
a great ruin awaits them.

6  And  I  will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged;  but
there  shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.

The yard will lay waste. Nobody shall work in it. It will differ in no
respect from a wilderness. And God will command the clouds, that  they
do not rain upon it, in order that the yard may dry out and wither.

7  For  the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,  and
the  men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgement, but
behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

The parable of the vineyard should be explained of the house of Israel
and  of  the  men of Judah. They were God's vineyard and His  pleasant
vines.  And  the  fruit?  They should have executed  "judgement",  but
instead of that they oppressed the poor cruelly. Another fruit  should
be  "righteousness", but instead of that everywhere the cry was  heard
of the people that were badly dealt with.

The  real fruits of true religion are judgement and righteousness. So,
where  these are not found, there is no religion any more. If we  deal
falsely, oppress the weak, pervert justice, lie, rob the people,  then
we  have  lost all true religion. God has once taught us His  worship,
but  now  we have forsaken that. He once taught us to deal righteously
with  our  neighbours, but now? There is nothing left over.  Maybe  we
have  the name of God and Christ in our mouths, but They are far  from
our  hands. "They profess that they know God; but in works  they  deny
him,  being  abominable, and disobedient, and  unto  every  good  work
reprobate."  (Titus 1:16) As a result of our sins,  God  will  utterly
uproot  all  of  us. The unfruitful vines are good for the  fire.  The
vineyard is destined for the wild beats of the field.

If  these  things are so, then it really becomes time  to  better  our
lives.  "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may  be
blotted out." (Acts 3:19) When you spring from a good family, a  godly
family,  a  family  that has always professed true religion,  but  you
don't walk in their footsteps, what does it avail you when your father
was  a faithful man? Look to Abraham. He had a son called Ishmael. But
this man was a mocker (Genesis 21:9), and the faith of his father  did
avail him nothing. "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance,
and  begin  not  to  say within yourselves, We have Abraham  to  [our]
father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to  raise
up  children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the  root
of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit
is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Luke 3:8,9) Remember then that
you  once were planted on a very fruitful hill. God expected much good
fruit  of  you.  But  now, you are fallen from your first  profession.
"Remember  therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent,  and  do
the  first  works;  or else I will come unto thee  quickly,  and  will
remove  thy  candlestick  out  of  his  place,  except  thou  repent."
(Revelation 2:5)

"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  --  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-062.txt