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Date:         Tue, 16 Jan 1996 18:07:55 +-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, 66
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Exodus 7:3      - Pharaoh's hardened heart
2. Jeremiah 20:7-9 - A despised prophet
3. 1 Timothy 4:7   - Godliness instead of fables

Exodus 7:3 - Pharaoh's hardened heart

Weekly reading: Vaera: Exodus 6:2 - 9:35

Exodus 7:3

And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in 
the land of Egypt.

These are words of the LORD. He says to Moses that He will harden the heart 
of Pharaoh. When Moses will ask Pharaoh to let Israel go to worship God, 
the LORD will harden the king's heart. Because of that he will not let 
Israel go. When Pharaoh refuses to let the people go, the LORD will send 
more and more signs and wonders in that land. God will send His plagues 
in Egypt, destroying the country, to force the king to let go the people. 
The king will refuse, and God will send His next plague. Until Pharaoh 
submits himself. "And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my 
signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt", said our God.
        We see the influence God has on the king's heart. When He wills, 
He hardens it. And when He wills, he softens it. As is written elsewhere: 
"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he 
hardeneth", Rom. 9:18. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, softening 
and breaking and renewing their hearts. But God also hardens whom He will, 
hardening their heart that they might never convert and return to God, 
and never bewail their sins. God has mercy on whom He wills, and He 
hardens whom He wills. God not only has influence on the heart of king 
Pharaoh, but also on our heart. When it pleases Him, when He wills, he 
will give us a new heart. And when it pleases Him, when He wills, he 
hardens our heart. So, we are in all things dependent on God. He does with 
us whatever He wills.
        In Romans 9 Paul is elaborating somewhat on this subject; the subject 
of God's sovereignty. He says (verse 18-21):

"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,
and whom he will he hardeneth.

Thou wilt say then unto me,
Why doth he yet find fault?
For who hath resisted his will?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it,
Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay,
of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour,
and another unto dishonour?"

First Paul says that God is sovereign. Some He hardens and some He has 
mercy on. Then the objector comes and says that God should not complain 
because of our disobedience, because all is going as He wills. When one 
is disobedient, then it is God's will, says the objector. So, if none has 
ever resisted God's will, why then is He always complaining over us? The 
answer Paul gives is that we are nothing more then dust and ashes, and 
that we therefore should not call God to justify Himself before us. The 
potter has power over the clay to make some part to pots of honour, and 
some other part of the clay to pots of dishonour. Likewise God; He has 
power over all creatures to bring some of them to honour, and others to 
destruction. This is a terrible doctrine for the ungodly, but they resist 
and spit in vain. For the godly, on the contrary, this is a very comforting 
doctrine. Because God is eternal, and His election is sure, also their 
salvation is sure. They rest in God. They are assured of their salvation, 
since it is rooted in God's pleasure. If some wicked man were to take away 
the doctrine of God's sovereignty, he would be very inhumane. For he would 
take away the assurance of salvation, and make it all depend on the unstable 
and fickle human will. But, thanks to God, His election is sure, and we are 
assured of our salvation. "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my 
deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the 
horn of my salvation, and my high tower", Psalm 18:2. Yes, God is our Rock, 
in Whom we may trust. He is the unchangeable horn of my salvation. He 
hardens whom He wills, and He has mercy on whom He wills. Thanks to His 
will, our salvation is sure and fixed. He will not change, because He is 
our Rock, our Fortress and Deliverer, our God, our Strength, our High Tower 
and our Horn of Salvation. Who has a God as we have? He is the Maker of 
heaven and earth, and the King of kings. None can resist His will. "Lo, 
this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the 
LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation", 
Isaiah 25:9.

Jeremiah 20:7-9 - A despised prophet

7 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived:
thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed:
I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.
8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil;
because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me,
and a derision, daily.
9 Then I said,
I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.
But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones,
and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

Jeremiah is a true prophet, who, faithfully performing his office, 
experiences reproach everywhere. He begins by saying that the LORD has 
called him to the office of a prophet, and that He has persuaded him to do 
so. "O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived." God deceived 
Jeremiah to become prophet. He persuaded him to take up the office of a 
prophet. An example of this we have elsewhere. "Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! 
behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say 
not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and 
whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak," Jeremiah 1:6,7. God, Thou have 
deceived me in becoming a prophet, says Jeremiah, "thou art stronger than I, 
and hast prevailed". God was stronger then Jeremiah, so God's persuasion 
prevailed Jeremiah's resistance. When called, the prophet was of the opinion 
that he could not speak. But God persuaded him that he was able to speak, 
because God would be with him. And when God is with you, then you can do 
everything. "For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I 
leaped over a wall", Ps. 18:29. When God is with your mouth, then you even 
can be a prophet.
        The prophet, being called to the office of the prophet, trusted that 
God would be with him, and enable him to execute the office. And what 
happened? Was God with the prophet's mouth, so that he could speak the 
truth? Yes, He was. He even was so much with him, that the prophet began to 
speak the truth directly and very clear. He addressed the people, without 
accepting persons. He warned them for their sins. He demanded of them that 
they walked in God's ways and forsook own ways. In short, because God was 
with the prophet, he faithfully performed the office. And what was the 
result? The result was that the people began to deride and mock the prophet. 
Listen to the prophet's own words. "I am in derision daily, every one mocketh 
me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the 
word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily." Yes, 
God promised that he would be with the prophet, that he might be able to 
speak the truth. But God had not said that he would experience, because of 
that same truth, derision and mockery. He cried out violence and spoil. And 
the people laughed at him, mocked him. The truth, as always, incites 
laughter and mockery. Like it was in the days of the prophets, so it is now. 
But few listened; the majority laugh both at God and at His prophets. The 
false prophets, speaking lies and peace where is no peace, have followers 
enough. But the true ones are mocked at.
        The prophet experienced derision and reproach daily, because of the 
Word of God. He proclaimed the truth, and was ridiculed because of that, 
daily. How to escape that ridicule? The prophet thought to escape his 
reproach by no longer speaking the truth. "Then I said, I will not make 
mention of him, nor speak any more in his name." He decided to stop the 
office of prophet. He decided no longer to speak in the Name of God. I 
will not speak any more in His Name. The speaking of the truth was the cause
of all ridicule, so let's be silent.
        Jeremiah decided to be a silent prophet, hiding the truth. But what 
happened? God intervened. God had called Jeremiah to speak, not to be silent. 
So, he should speak, because that was his calling. The LORD urged him to 
speak. He did so by giving His Word in the inner parts of Jeremiah, together 
with the irresistible instigation to speak it out. Jeremiah himself says of 
that: "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, 
and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." The Word of God so 
burned in Jeremiah, that he wasn't able to keep silent any longer. The Word 
so much burned in him, that he could not hide the truth any longer. Either 
he would be burned, or he should speak out, yea, cry out.
        Where are the present Jeremiah's? The present true preachers are 
called by God Himself. And if they objected that the office was too heavy 
for them, they were promised by God that He would be with them. The present 
true preachers don't see in themselves any possibility to perform their 
tasks, but they expect their strength from God only. The false preachers, 
however, walk when not called. They do all in own strength. They don't know 
God, and speak lies.
        Where are the present true preachers? Let them look at Jeremiah, and 
compare their lives with his life. The present called preachers experience 
mockery and derision daily, because the bring the truth. Like Jeremiah, they 
experience enmity and reproach. The truth always evokes such reaction from 
the ungodly. But on the other hand, the truth makes glad the true believers.
        Where are the present preachers, who feel the Word burning in their 
bones? They are not dumb dogs, who cannot bark, and who love the slumbering. 
No, the real prophets are like fire. Their words are two-edged swords. One 
edge of the truth cuts down all wickedness, and the other edge gives life 
and promotes godliness. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and 
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of 
soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the 
thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.
        Where are the present Jeremiah's? Where are the called preachers; the 
true ministers? Let them model themselves on Jeremiah, and let them take this 
prophet as their example. Let them always be directed at God, and give heed 
to His words. Though the derision may flood over their heads daily, like 
Jeremiah, let them yet encourage themselves in God, keeping Jeremiah's 
example in mind. Even better, let them take Jesus Christ as their example, 
the Real True Prophet. He not only was mocked, but even was put to death. 
Yes, let the called ministers follow their Lord and Saviour, wherever He 
might go.

1 Timothy 4:7 - Godliness instead of fables

But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto 

Paul advises Timothy to refuse the fables, but to exercise himself unto 
godliness. The fables fight against godliness. When one is exercising 
himself in the old fables, then he cannot live godly. To do both, using the 
old fables, and live godly, is utterly impossible. Refuse therefore the 
fables, which are used by old wives, according to Paul's words. Refuse 
their fables, but exercise yourself rather unto godliness.
        Which are then the fables, that are so hurtful? Which are the fables, 
that war against godliness, yea, that utterly extinguish all true religion? 
Paul means the fables, that were well known in his time. The Jewish Talmud 
is full of that stuff. The Talmud is full of old wives' fables, profane 
fables; fables which destroy any religion. Instead of exercising yourself in 
the Talmudic fables, I advise you to exercise yourself unto true godliness.
        In other places, Paul says the same. To Titus, he wrote "Rebuke them 
sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish 
fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth." Titus 1:13,14. 
Let us then not give heed to the Jewish fables, that turn from the truth. 
The commandments in the Talmud are hand-made; commandments of men, that 
turn away from the Biblical truth. This is Paul's advice, nay, it is God's 
advice. Look out for the fables, that will deceive you, blind you, and turn 
you away from the sound truth.
        At another place, Paul writes that, in the last days, some Christian 
teachers will fall away from the truth, and turn back to the fables. "And 
they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto 
fables", 2 Timothy 4:4. Looking around us, we see that he was right. Many 
Christian preachers turn back to the Jewish fables, and, still worse, draw 
their hearers with them into destruction. The leave the truth, and turn to 
the fables.
        So, reader, instead of giving our precious time to the hurting 
fables, let us exercise ourselves unto godliness. It is better that we 
exercise ourselves in godliness then that we waste our time in the fables. 
So, live godly, reader. Godliness, what is that? It is a life with God; a 
life according to God's will; a life pleasing to God; a life expressing 
and practising the love of God. Godliness, as opposed to the harmful fables, 
is advantageous to every good work. And what is the root and fountain of 
every godliness? It is Christ, our Saviour. "And without controversy great 
is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in 
the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in 
the world, received up into glory." 1 Timothy 3:16. Godliness, that doesn't 
go together with sin, own lusts, own will, and so on. Because Paul wrote 
that "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live 
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world", Titus 2:11,12. Let 
we then pray God, that also we may be partakers of that grace of God, that 
brings us salvation. And let we pray that we may be protected against the 
deception of the fables, that promote every wickedness. But let we pray God 
that He saves us from the lion that goes about roaring, looking for prey. 
As Peter wrote, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as 
a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour", 1 Peter 5:8. 
That roaring lion, our adversary, tries every means to devour us step by 
step, also using the fables that draw us away from godliness. Therefore, 
reader, I warn you in the Name of our Lord: Refuse profane and old wives' 
fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

"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-066.txt