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Date:         Tue, 12 Mar 1996 08:24:53 +-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, 74
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

1. Exodus 35:5      - A willing heart accepted
2. Jeremiah 9:25,26 - Circumcision of the heart
3. 1 John 5:5       - The world outdone

1.  Exodus 35:5 - A willing heart accepted

Weekly reading: Exodus 35:1 - 38:20

Exodus 35:5
Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD:
whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it,
an offering of the LORD;

Among  those that say to serve God, are two sorts of people. The first
group,  the true worshippers, serve Him with a willing heart, and  the
second group, the fake worshippers, "serve" Him unwillingly, that  is,
they  are  the  hypocrites that have no desire in God's  service.  God
accepts the willing people, but He rejects the unwilling ones. In  our
text, God commanded the people to bring offerings to Him, to build the
tabernacle in the desert. But attend to His words. He does not  merely
command to bring the material to Him, but He says that they should  do
it willingly. No, more strongly, He only accepts it from them that are
willingly. He even doesn't speak of the unwilling, because they  don't
count. This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying:
    Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD:
    whosoever is of a -- WILLING HEART --, let him bring it,
    an offering of the LORD;
Whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring the offering.  Who  has
an  unwilling heart, let him keep his offering, and let him not lumber
the Lord with that material. The Lord only accepts willing people, but
He rejects the unwilling ones.

God  had  commanded the willing hearted to bring their  offering  unto
Him.  In  the  22nd  verse  you  read that  they  indeed  obeyed.  Not
unwillingly,  but with a willing heart. "And they came, both  men  and
women,  as  many  as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets,  and
earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold".

The  true  worshippers find great delight in God's service. They  come
unto  His  house  with a willing heart. God has touched  their  inward
parts,  and has made them willingly. He has renewed their inner parts,
so that they do His will. But the hypocrites, though they might do the
same  acts as the true believers, yet they do it not with their  whole
heart. They perform the outward acts because it is expected from them.
But  they find no pleasure nor delight in serving God. When they  give
from  their  goods to God, they do so grudgingly, and they  study  how
they  can  give  as less as possible. But those that  have  a  willing
heart, besides that they give of their goods, give also themselves  to
God. Paul, knowing that God only accepts the willing giver, admonishes
the congregation. He says: "Every man according as he purposeth in his
heart,  so  let  him  give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for  God
loveth a cheerful giver", 2 Cor. 9:7.

Knowing  that  God  accepts the person that  gives  offerings  with  a
cheerful  heart,  and  knowing  that  He  rejects  those  that   offer
unwillingly, we now understand why He rejected sometimes the  offering
of  certain  persons, and why He sometimes accepted the  offerings  of
other  persons. We know that God accepted the offering  of  Abel,  but
rejected Cain. We read that in our Scriptures. "And in process of time
it  came  to  pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of  the  ground  an
offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of
his  flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto  Abel
and  to  his  offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he  had  not
respect", Gen. 4:3-5. Knowing that the Lord requires a willing  heart,
and  rejects  the unwilling person, we now understand  the  difference
between  Cain  and Abel. Though they performed the same  outward  act,
namely bringing an offering, yet their hearts were different. And  God
is  a  God Who looks in our hearts, and sees and knows all what  lives
therein.  All our thoughts are opened before His all-seeing  eye.  The
hearts of both Cain and Abel were opened before Him. We may ask how it
was  possible that Abel was willingly, and Cain not. The apostle gives
us a decisive answer. He says that the difference between the brothers
Cain  and  Abel lies in the faith. "By faith Abel offered unto  God  a
more  excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that
he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead
yet speaketh", Heb. 11:4. Abel was acceptable for God only through His
faith. We know that faith is the gift of God. So, God first gave  Abel
the  faith, and by faith was his heart cleansed and purified, and made
willing, and through faith also he was accepted by God. It was through
faith  that Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. And  it
is  also through faith that the Israelites from our text, both men and
women, were made willing. Through faith they gave their offerings, and
were  accepted  by God. The unbelievers, when they serve  God,  do  it
grudgingly, but the true believers do it with a willing heart.

2.  Jeremiah 9:25,26 - Circumcision of the heart

Jeremiah 9:25,26
Behold,  the  days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish  all  them
which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
Egypt,  and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab,  and
all  that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for
all  these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel  are
uncircumcised in the heart.

The  LORD  will  take both the circumcised and the uncircumcised,  and
will punish them all together. The circumcised are reckoned among  the
uncircumcised  heathen.  There  is no longer  any  difference  between
Israel  and  the nations. The name of Israel is called in  one  breath
with the names of the surrounding nations. Egypt, and Judah, and Edom,
and  Ammon,  and Moab; they all are thrown on one heap, and  they  all
will  be  punished.  Maybe that some of them are  circumcised  in  the
flesh,  and some not - that doesn't matter. God will punish them  all.
The  reason  is that, though all these nations are uncircumcised,  and
though   Israel  is  circumcised  in  their  flesh,   yet   they   are
uncircumcised  in  the heart. The circumcision in  the  flesh  doesn't
count if the heart is full of disobedience and enmity against God. The
difference  there was between Israel and the surrounding  nations  has
vanishes. Israel has become, through their unconverted heart, like the
nations.  There is no reason of boasting on some outward circumcision,
because  it doesn't count when you are wicked. You may do all  outward
acts  that  God requires, as circumcision and the like,  but  if  your
heart is uncircumcised, then it is all in vain.

The  LORD, in our text, announces the coming punishment because of all
their great and terrible sins. But He does so not without warnings. In
fact, there have been masses of warnings before, but Israel refused to
listen. God has always send His prophets to His people, but they  have
always  killed them, or at least refused to listen to them. An example
of  such a warning is in the fourth chapter of Jeremiah. In verse four
we  read:  "Circumcise  yourselves to the  LORD,  and  take  away  the
foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem:
lest  my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench  it,
because  of the evil of your doings." Israel was circumcised in  their
flesh,  but because their doings were evil, their circumcision  didn't
count.  Therefore, o people, take away the foreskins  of  your  heart.
That  is,  circumcise yourselves, namely your heart.  What  does  your
outward circumcision avail? Nothing, because your doings are evil. So,
if  you keep the law, then circumcision if fine, but if you break  it,
the outward circumcision is useless. Paul, knowing the prophets, tells
us the same. He says: "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep
the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made
uncircumcision", Romans 2:25. He says that the breakers of the law are
like  the  uncircumcised heathen, and hereby  he  gives  us  the  same
doctrine  as  Jeremiah.  Paul  continues  in  the  next  verse   with:
"Therefore  if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of  the  law,
shall  not  his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?"  Jeremiah
already begun telling that the circumcision and the uncircumcision  is
the  same in the case of disobedience, and Paul continues with  saying
that  it  is  also the same in the case of obedience. The reason  that
these  are  the  same,  he elsewhere tells us. "For  in  Jesus  Christ
neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith
which worketh by love", Gal. 5:6.

In  our  text  the people of Israel are accused heavily, because  they
refused  to  walk in God's ways, and to do God's will. The  reason  of
their  disobedience  is their uncircumcised heart.  One  might  ask  a
question  now. If a circumcised heart is necessary to do  God's  will,
how  then can one get such a heart? Can one give himself such a heart?
Is  one  able to give himself a renewed heart, or is he unable?  Moses
gives  us the answer. He says that God will do that. The renewed heart
is  a  gift of God, says Moses. Listen to him: "And the LORD  thy  God
will  circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to  love  the
LORD  thy  God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that  thou
mayest live", Deut. 30:6. Only with a circumcised heart, one can  love
God  properly. Only then one can love the LORD his God  with  all  his
heart,  and  with  his  entire soul. Only  then  one  can  live  until
eternity. We see then that the renewed heart is a gift of God. This is
the doctrine of Moses, and this also is what we everywhere read in the
New  Testament. The regeneration; the renewed heart; the  circumcision
of  the  heart;  this  all  is  the  work  of  God.  Because  of  this
requirement,  the renewed heart, to serve God and do  His  will,  Paul
says  that the Jew is the one with a renewed heart. "For he is  not  a
Jew,  which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision,  which  is
outward  in  the  flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one  inwardly;  and
circumcision  is  that of the heart, in the spirit,  and  not  in  the
letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God", Rom. 2:28,29.

In  our text, we read: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that  I
will  punish  all  them which are circumcised with the  uncircumcised;
Egypt,  and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab,  and
all  that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for
all  these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel  are
uncircumcised  in  the heart". In later ages, when  Stephen  perceives
that  the  people of his time are as disobedient as their fathers,  to
whom  Jeremiah  spoke, he says: "Ye stiffnecked and  uncircumcised  in
heart  and  ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your  fathers
did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?
and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just
One", Acts 7:51,52.

We see that the people considered it enough when they were circumcised
only  in  the  flesh, and that they neglected the  renewing  of  their
inward  parts.  They  boasted  in their flesh,  but  forgot  that  God
requires  a  pure heart. Let us learn from it. How foolish were  they.
They  gloried  in their circumcision, but didn't seek to be  righteous
for God. Because of that they were under the dominion of the wrath  of
God,  as  we  see in the words of our text. In this world of  sin  and
sorrow, ending soon in death and judgement, how foolish is it for  men
to  glory in their flesh. How foolish also are we when we boast in our
knowledge, in our health, in our money, in our strength, in our power,
or  in  any other thing which leaves us under the dominion of sin  and
wrath of God. And at the end of our life, we should give an account of
this  all; of all our doings. When we have gloried in our flesh,  then
this  will increase our punishment. No, if we glory, let we  glory  in
the  LORD.  Those are the true Israel who worship God in  the  Spirit,
rejoice  in  Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in their own  flesh.
Let  we  prize the this distinction, which is a gift of God, and  will
last forever. Let we seek it diligently.

3.  1 John 5:5 - The world outdone

1 John 5:5

Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

We  have  a struggle here down. Our battle is with the world, and  all
that  is therein. We fight against sin, satan, world, and evil. If  we
were  to  fight  in our own strength, we should soon be defeated.  No,
stronger,  if  we  had  to fight alone, then we should  be  cast  down
instantly. The world is so strong, and we are so weak. Who among us is
able  to  fight against the superior power of the world? We  would  be
cast down at the same moment we took up the sword. Who then is the one
that  overcomes the world? None will beat the world in  own  strength.
There  is but one means to strike down the world, and that is  in  the
power  of  God.  "Who  is he that overcometh the world,  but  he  that
believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Here we have it. Through that
power  which  we  receive through faith, we are able to  overcome  the
world.  Who  is  the  person that outdoes the world?  It  is  he  that
believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

True  faith  then  is  that faith, which rests on  Jesus  Christ,  the
Mediator  between  God and men, the Son of God, our Messiah.  That  is
true  faith.  Every other faith is useless. When one  rests  on  Jesus
through  faith, he will be able to overcome the world. God strengthens
the  believers, as often as he rests in true faith on the Son of  God,
and  He gives him power to fight against the whole world. Let then the
world  show its enmity against the followers of God; let them proclaim
their  enmity.  Nothing  avails them. They  are  unable  do  harm  the
believers,  whenever they fight in the power of God. Who  is  the  one
that  overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the  Son
of God?

There is a war on earth. The world fights against the children of God.
This  spiritual  war  is  very  dangerous.  The  enemy  aims  at   the
extermination  of  all true religion, and employs all  means  to  that
goal.  We  have  a spiritual war with the worldly lusts.  These  lusts
fight  against our soul. "Dearly beloved, I beseech you  as  strangers
and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul",
1  Pet. 2:11. The fleshly lusts seem to be so friendly, but they  have
deadly  weapons under their clothes. They "war against the  soul",  in
order  to  rob  it  of  its communion with God. But  who  is  he  that
overcomes  these fleshly lusts, and all what is in the world,  but  he
that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

One  of  the apostles, having experience in these terrible  war,  once
said:  "I  can  do all things through Christ which strengtheneth  me",
Philip.  4:13.  Through Christ, Which strengthens me,  I  can  do  all
things.  Through Him, I am able to wage the most terrible war  against
the world and all what is in it.

The  regenerated  have a war. Their conflict with the  world  is  very
sharp. They are often cast down, but not for always. Through the power
of  God, the believer, though cast down, will rise up again, and renew
the  battle.  Having gained more experience, and knowing  his  enemies
better, he will fight more powerful, through faith. The faith, that is
the  cause  of  the victory over the world. It is the means,  and  the
instrument, and the spiritual armour by which we overcome  the  world.
Through  that faith, we stick to Christ. Through Him, we look down  on
the  world,  and oppose it. It is the faith in Jesus the Son  of  God,
that  sanctifies  our hearts, and that purifies it  from  our  sensual
lusts.  By  these  lusts, our great enemy the world obtains  sway  and
dominion  over  our souls. We become slaves of the  world  though  our
lusts. But through faith, we overcome the world. This world is  to  be
despised.  We have a better abode than this world, which is  kept  for
the  fire. When the world will vanish away, together with the heavens,
then our abode is still with God. Let we then fight against the world,
which  tries  to seize us in its claws, that we might perish  together
with  it.  When we will not overcome the world, then it will  overcome
us,  to  our eternal ruin. Who is he that overcomes the world, but  he
that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Jesus  said: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that  abideth  in
me,  and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without  me
ye  can  do  nothing", John 15:5. Without Christ, we are outdone.  But
when we abide in the vine, that is in Christ, then we will bring forth
much  fruit. One of that fruits is the overcoming and the  beating  of
the world, together with our fleshly lusts. That is a very good fruit.
Only  through faith, we can bring forth that sweet fruit.  Who  is  he
that  overcomes the world, but he that abides in the vine, that is  in
Jesus Christ?

Who  is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus
is  the Son of God? And "who is a liar but he that denieth that  Jesus
is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son",
1  John 2:22. This denier will be the slave of the world, and its  own
lusts.  He  will make a god of his belly. This unbeliever will  perish
together with the world. But the one that believes, will overcome  the
world, and will be saved. His home is not here down, but with God. Our
conversation  is in heaven; from whence also we look for the  Saviour,
the Lord Jesus Christ.

"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-074.txt