A PROPHET LIKE MOSES.
--DEUT. 18:9-19.--SEPTEMBER 7.--
"This is of a truth that prophet that should
come into the world."--John 6:14.
AMONG THE GREAT ONES of earth, Moses stands out pre-eminent as a leader, lawgiver and ruler. He really combined in himself the three offices, prophet, priest and king. As a king, the representative of the great King, Jehovah, he would be classed as an autocrat whose meekness and gentleness, nevertheless, protected those under his care against any arbitrary use of his power and authority. Although Aaron was the high-priest proper, yet in a still larger sense he performed his services under, and as representative of Moses--and the latter had equal privilege of going into the Holy and Most Holy, and joined with Aaron at the close of the atonement day in giving the atonement blessing to the people. As a prophet, or teacher and lawgiver, he, under the instruction of the Lord, was far in advance, not only of others of his time but, of the many who have sought to copy and to improve upon the laws which he laid down. In all of this, however, he was merely a type of the great Prophet, Priest and King whom God purposed should in due time, accomplish a still greater deliverance for a still mightier host to a still better kingdom of promise,--the Millennial Kingdom. Moses did not take the title of king or priest, although the humbler title of prophet, teacher or representative of God, represented also in his case the kingly and priestly functions that we have seen.
By this time Israel had reached the borders of Palestine on the east of the river Jordan, and had conquered the Amorites and the forces of Og, king of Bashan,--famous in the Psalms,--the giant of the noted iron bedstead. Moses, now one hundred and twenty years old, being forewarned of the Lord that his mission was at an end and that because of his transgression in the matter of striking the rock the second time he could not enter into the land of promise, had called the Israelites to deliver to them a closing message--a valedictory, as it were.
Our lesson is a part of that valedictory address which, we may presume, was delivered in the great teacher's most impressive style, and represented his most solicitous thought in the interests of the people in whose behalf he had sacrificed the honors of Egypt and for whom he had spent his life. For forty years the people had been trained and disciplined in the ways of the Lord, and yet their great leader realized that they needed special guarding against the evils which had degraded the people of Canaan;--the besetments of Satan, and the fallen angels operating through human agents and mediums. Wherever we may look, amongst all the heathen nations, we find that the evil spirits have had much to do with the degradation of the human family. Operating along the lines of man's natural and religious instincts, they have perverted these to sensualities of various kinds and have diverted his worship from God, sometimes directly to themselves and devils, and sometimes to four-footed beasts and creeping things and idols of wood and stone, as the Apostle declare.--Rom. 1:23; Rev. 9:20; I Cor. 10:20.
Those who investigate the matter will find no room, we believe, to doubt our statement that the fallen spirits are at the bottom of all the religious delusions of the world,--their ability to deceive and mislead being correspondingly less in proportion as the gospel of Christ has shined into a heart or a community or a nation.*
The great lawgiver enumerates here eight different forms of spirit-deception and miracle-working; (1) Divination, the receiving of information from occult sources, from the spirits by means of omens, oracles, etc. (2) Augury, the fixing of lucky and unlucky periods and the observance of these which tends to bring the mind into bondage to the evil spirits. At the present time amongst many, Friday is considered an unlucky day, as also certain stages of the moon. (3) An enchanter, one able to exercise superior mental control, known to-day as hypnotism. (4) A witch or sorcerer, one who claims to be able to exercise a power over the affairs of others, and in many cases does so, though not to the degree he has frequently gotten credit for, and certainly never in opposition to divine power. (5) A charmer--serpent charmers, etc., including also those who claim to be able to put spells upon people and animals, to tie magic knots, etc., by a power something akin to hypnotism. (6) Consulters with familiar spirits, amongst spiritualists to-day there are mediums who claim to have their special familiar spirit while others claim a general intercourse with the spirits. (7) A wizard, one who claims to be wise in hidden or occult wisdom--possibly as some suggest, describing one who has general intercourse with the spirits as in contradistinction to one who has intercourse only with the "familiar spirit." (8) A necromancer, one who professes to hold communion with the dead--as do spirit mediums of to-day. Moses declared that all who take part in such proceedings are an abomination to the Lord and that the nations already inhabitating Canaan were being dispossessed and their land given to Israel, in large measure because they had gone over to these doctrines of devils and communion with devils. The Israelites in this respect were to be perfectly free from everything of this kind--were to obtain their information, not from fallen spirits personating the dead or otherwise, but from God through his appointed oracles, laws, commands, etc.
We feel that we cannot too strongly impress upon spiritual Israelites everywhere the necessity of having nothing whatever to do with the present day representatives of these evils. It is not a light thing, therefore, for one who has heard the message of the Lord on this subject, to attend spiritualistic seances, to visit a fortune-teller, or to practice or be practiced upon in any manner by hypnotists, or any other representatives of Satan and the fallen angels and the black arts, or to use any of the various implements of divination now in vogue, such as planchets, etc. In olden times as well as now many of these villainies were practiced by the same individual, as for instance, the witch of
*See pamphlet, "Proofs that Spiritism is Demonism."-- This Office. [R3068 : page 268] Endor was also a necromancer. So stringent were the laws of ancient times that not only the practitioners of these wrongs were condemned to death, but also those who encouraged them by seeking their counsels, etc. Had it not been for these drastic laws no doubt Israel would have come under these debasing influences to a much larger extent than it did, and would have been correspondingly degraded like the heathen nations whose worship is, as the Apostle declares, divergent from the worship of God to the worship of devils, and their instructions instead of being from the Lord are from devils, evil spirits, "seducing spirits."
We have no hesitation whatever in saying that these evil spirits which ever since the flood have been seeking to gain power over humanity through deceptions and through the operation of various occult powers, have enticed them, bewitched them, brought them under the influence of fear and superstition, and into mental slavery so that they can be and are guided by falsehood instead of by the truth. This is one of the ways in which, as the Apostle states, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believed not," and has hindered the light of the goodness of God in the face of Jesus Christ from shining into the hearts of men. As already intimated this same power is still at work even in Christendom, operating through spiritism, theosophy, hypnotism and Christian Science--yea, and we believe also operating deceptively in some who claim to be filled with, and moved by, the holy spirit, producing trance conditions, the vagaries of the "Holy Rollers" and various unseemly things done by people who mistakenly claim that they are filled with the holy spirit, but who are in fact, filled with and controlled by the evil spirits,--for their works they do. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostles were filled with the holy spirit and we may be sure that its character and its manifestations have not changed since their day: we may be sure, therefore, that spirits that cause people to behave [R3069 : page 268] themselves unseemly are "lying spirits."
It was under the teaching of these evil spirits that the people of Canaan first established the valley of Hinnom as a place of torture. This valley outside the city of Jerusalem, now known in the Greek language as Gehenna, had erected in it a brass figure of the god Moloch which, being hollow was heated intensely and then into its outstretched arms were occasionally placed children offered thus in sacrifice. God forewarned his people against this and every form of cruelty and also against the evil spirits which would so seduce them and pervert their minds as to lead them to such horrible and insane practices and beliefs. With Israel, therefore, this valley instead of being a valley of sacrifice, became the symbol of the Second Death in that it was made a crematory for the carcasses of dead animals, and for the bodies of certain vile criminals not deemed worthy of honorable burial. Under the Lord's arrangement, however, no torture was permitted in this valley or elsewhere in Israel--not the living, but the dead were consumed in it.
We are glad that we are living in a day when this Moloch torture is detested, a day in which civilized people, at least, look upon all such practices with abhorrence; nevertheless, the evil spirits operating upon the higher plane to suit the higher conditions of the spiritual Israel, have introduced false doctrines among them to such an extent that for centuries the masses of Christendom have attributed to the Almighty God of love a character and disposition far worse than that of Moloch. These false theories have cast into the fire not only a few sacrifices to satisfy Jehovah, but have made the whole human family to occupy this position, to be subjects of eternal torture--except a comparative few who with sincerity of heart and faith and obedience, lay hold upon Christ in this present life and are thus saved from an eternity of suffering. This doctrine of devils was introduced amongst spiritual Israel during the period which we denominate the Dark Ages; it finds no countenance whatever in the Word of God, neither in the Law nor in the prophets, nor in all the dissertations of the apostles of the New Testament; at very most it claims to base itself upon certain misunderstood parables of our Lord and upon certain misunderstood symbolical figures of speech in the Apocalypse. Yet, so completely have the evil spirits done their work, that the masses of Christendom thoroughly believe that the Bible is the authority and groundwork for that awful doctrine of eternal torment,--this Moloch cruelty ascribed to the God of Love, and now that their minds are becoming emancipated so that they can no longer believe such doctrines, they are disposed to reject the entire Bible, the Word of the Lord, because they think that it is the foundation for this awful, blasphemous error. Thus the fallen spirits again mislead many into new devices--Christian Science, Theosophy, Spiritism, etc., anything, everything to get them away from the simplicity, beauty and grandeur of the divine Word and plan.
THE ANTITYPICAL PROPHET.
Having thus forewarned the people, Moses reminds them that he is only a type of the greater Prophet whom the Lord had previously promised. The previous promise was at Mt. Sinai in Horeb, when God typically represented the giving of the New Covenant and when the people saw the lightnings, heard the thunderings, and felt the tremblings of the earth, which represented the great time of trouble in the end of this age; then they cried out unto the Lord entreating that instead of directly communicating with them he would do so through Moses as mediator. It was there that the Lord intimated that in the introduction of the antitypical New Covenant it would be at the hands of a still greater Mediator than Moses,--that great Prophet whom the Lord would raise up.
Our Golden Text points us to the Man Christ Jesus as this great Prophet! but the people who made this declaration did not fully comprehend the situation. Had they done so they would not a few days after have crucified the Lord. As a matter of fact, Jesus in the flesh was not the great Prophet, though his work in the sealing of the New Covenant with his blood at Calvary was necessary before he could be made alive in the spirit--as the new creature, put to death in the flesh but quickened in the spirit; put to death in weakness [R3069 : page 269] but raised in power; put to death in dishonor, but raised in glory, put to death in the flesh, an animal or human body, but raised a spiritual body on a plane of glory, honor, immortality. This great Prophet that God has promised is not a man, not of the human nature; but is the Lord of glory who has bought the whole world at the cost of his own life and shortly is to be its great Prophet, Priest, and King, to lead, to direct, to rule, to correct, to uplift and to ultimately bring to perfection whosoever wills to be in harmony with God--and the remainder will be cut off in the Second Death. The Apostle Peter brings out this feature of the ultimate end of all who will not obey the great Prophet, in his discourse recorded in Acts 3:23, "It shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear [obey] that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people" --the Second Death.
But still more wonderful than this is the divine plan: from the divine standpoint our glorified Lord Jesus is to be the Head, and the faithful of his Church are to constitute the members of this great Prophet. The Lord God raised up our Lord Jesus as the Head of this Prophet more than eighteen centuries ago, and since then he has been finding amongst the redeemed children of men, those who shall ultimately be counted worthy through him to be reckoned in as joint-heirs of the Kingdom, members of the body of this great Prophet. Although in all a little flock, 144,000, the calling has been so special and the testing or approving and disciplining, so thorough, that it requires the entire Gospel age to find and to perfect these members, and when all shall have been found, and all shall have been raised up by first resurrection power to glory, honor and immortality and joint-heirship with their Lord and Head, then the great Prophet shall have come and then his great work will be before him. Then will come the deliverance of all who are God's people, who desire to sacrifice to him, to worship him and to be separate from sin; all such will have an opportunity for deliverance and for leading and guidance into Millennial Canaan under this great Prophet. Praise God on behalf of the world for such a glorious outlook! praise God for the privilege of our present blessings of invitation and opportunity to become identified with this great Prophet, by faithfulness to him who bought us with his own precious blood!