Mime-Version: 1.0 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 Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 vineyard. 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) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- email@example.com "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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org ---------------------------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/so: s-open-062.txt .