Mime-Version: 1.0 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 Contents ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 godliness. 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. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 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-066.txt .