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priests you please, he is profane; in other words, every prophet and priest is profane." But the word is never used in the Old Testament to indicate a class or succession of prophets.
And as the reference to an individual, that is, the Messiah, is most natural and obvious, so was it anciently the interpretation of the Jews. Peter and Stephen quote it as an acknowledged prophecy of the Messiah, which they would not have done, had it not been received as such by the people at large; and if it was received by the body of people as a prophecy of the Messiah, this was the interpretation of their Rabbis, whom, in such matters, they implicitly followed. It was only when the Christians had begun to employ this passage against the Jews, that they abandoned the ancient Messianic exposition.
2. The expression “from among their brethren," is full of significancy. It indicates that this prophet shall spring from the race of Israel, and shall be a man like themselves-who shall not dismay them by the awful display of Deity, but shall communicate to them the will of God, as a man speaks to his fellow men. This was indeed the substance of their petition; and how perfectly it was fulfilled in the “word made flesh,” who came not as God descended upon Sinai, with thunders and lightnings, and the sound of a trumpet, but in the likeness of sinful flesh, eating and drinking, and conversing familiarly with men, need not be stated. The Scriptures dwell with great force and beauty upon the fact that Christ was a partaker of the nature of those whom he came to redeem, and was thus constituted one of their brethren. "For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2: 11.) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that, through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham; wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, thąt he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted. (Heb. 5: 14–18.) “We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4: 15.) The union of deity and humanity in the person of our Lord is the highest mystery of the gospel; and it is revealed not to feed our idle curiosity with curious metaphysical speculations, but as the foundation of our confidence in him as an all-perfect mediator, “ able to save to the uttermost them
that come unto God by him." Were he not God, his mediatorship on the one side would be profitless were he not man, it would be unavailing on the other side. But now he is "GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH :" He who is "God over all, blessed for evermore," is "the first-born among many brethren." In his wonderful person the great gulf which sin had fixed between a holy God and his sinful creatures is bridged over, so that these can, through him, "come boldly to the throne of grace, that they may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
3. The expression "like unto thee," whatever else it may include, means that the promised prophet, shall, like Moses, be a mediator between God and his people, communicating to them his will in such a manner as they shall be able to bear. In this respect, the analogy between Moses and the Messiah is very striking; while between Moses and the prophetic order, as a class, it holds good only in a certain very limited degree. All the prophets were interpreters of God's will to men, and, so far forth, they might, perhaps, in a lower sense, be called mediators. But Moses' office differed from theirs, and agreed with that of Christ in two important respects.
First, in the extent and directness of his communication with God. With regard to the extent of the communications which Moses received directly from God, nothing need be said. It must be evident to all that they were far greater than those which any other prophet before Christ received. Of the directness of these communications, the Scriptures also frequently speak. Of Moses, it is said, (Ex. 33: 11.)-"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." Again we read, (Ex. 34: 28-35) that Moses "was with the Lord in the Mount for forty days and forty nights," conversing with him, and that the consequence of this continued vision of God was, that when he came down from the mountain "the skin of his face shone," so that, when he conversed with the children of Israel, he was obliged to put a veil over his face. To no other prophet of the Old Dispensation was such a continued vision of God vouchsafed.* The declaration that Moses saw God "face to face," would not of itself alone have so much weight, because it is said of the patriarch Jacob, and of some others, that they saw God "face to face." But in Num. 12: 6-8, God expressly contrasts the mode of his revealing himself to other prophets, with that in which he reveals himself to Moses: "And he said, hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house.
The author does not, however, mean that Moses saw God in his spiritual For in this manner "no man hath seen God at any time." On the exact import of the expression "face to face," he would not attempt to decide.
With him I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” Here Moses is expressly declared to be unlike the other prophets, as holding a higher and nearer relation to God than they, and in exact accordance with their words is the declaration at the close of the Pentateuch, added by a later hand which brings to view both the extent and the directness of Moses' communications with God. The passage is the following: “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his sevrants, and to all his land; and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel." (Deut. 34: 10–12.)
Secondly, that Moses was, like Christ, the Mediator of a covenant between God and man. In this respect the Messiah is like Moses, in contradistinction from all the other prophets, Moses being the Mediator of the old, as Christ of the new dispensation; an honor conferred upon no other messenger of God who has appeared from that day to the present.
In both of these respects the Messiah was a prophet like Moses, and unlike the prophetic order as a class; and, if it be objected that Christ was also unlike Moses in both of the above particulars, since he saw God in a far higher sense than Moses, and introduced a covenant of a far nobler nature, the answer is at hand: This is as it should be, for the antetype must always surpass the type, as the substance does its image.
4. The very solemn mạnner in which God speaks of the consequences of disobeying that prophet, forcibly impresses upon our minds the idea of a prophet of no ordinary rank, but one possessing supreme authority, under God, over his church. And in this respect also, the correspondence between Moses and Christ is most striking. Each of them was appointed by God to be the ruler of his house, and was faithful to him that appointed him. But there was this difference, that “ Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant;" “but Christ as a Son over his own house." (Heb. 3:5, 6.). Implicit obedience to Moses was, as we have seen, commanded, as to him whom God had set over his house; and “he that despised Moses' law, died without mercy.” Accordingly, that our Lord might be, in this respect, like unto Moses, and that the prophecy, “Unto him shall ye hearken,” might be fulfilled in his case, God twice, by a voice from heaven, proclaimed him his beloved Son, whom all should hear. And it is worthy of especial notice that, in the latter instance, this declaration was made in the presence of Moses and Elias, the former the mediator of the Sinaitical covenant, which
up to this time had remained in force, and the other the prophet whom the Jews had expected as the forerunner of the Messiah ; by which most significant act God directed the attention of the three apostles who were with him on the Mount, and through them, of his church, from both Moses, their ancient lawgiver, and Elias, the forerunner of Christ, to Christ himself, as henceforward the Supreme Lawgiver and Head of the Church. And the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in allusion to the two dispensations, says: "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God." Heb. 10:28, 29.
Since, therefore, that interpretation of the prophecy which refers it to the Messiah, accords both with the testimony of inspiration and with the context; while the non-Messianic interpretations disagree with both, it is to be received, without hesitation, as the only true interpretation.
But there is one difficulty, (and the only real difficulty), which remains to be considered. At the close of his life, when Moses was about to leave the people, whose leader he had been for the space of forty years, he repeated this prophecy, which he had received from the lips of Jehovah near the commencement of his ministry, in such a connexion as has been supposed by many, to be inconsistent with its reference to the Messiah ; and this connexion, with the objections drawn from it to the Messianic interpretation, has been briefly stated above. Moses, after recounting the superstitious observances of the Heathen nations whom the Israelites were going to dispossess, adds, “But as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet,” &c. As if he had said, "The knowledge which the Heathen nations seek by their acts of divination, God himself will give to you by the prophet whom he shall raise up unto you. Therefore he does not suffer you to practice these acts." And, immediately after this promise, Moses utters a threatening against false prophets, and gives the signs by which a true may be distinguished from a false prophet. On this Hengstenberg justly remarks: “If the foregoing had no relation to the true prophets, it will be difficult to perceive any just connexion of ideas in the passage.” Moved by this difficulty of the context, some, who find here a promise of the Messiah, have still felt compelled to understand w'a collectively; "but, at the same time, have regarded the promise as completely fulfilled only in Christ, by the mission of Christ, in whom the idea of the prophetic order was completely realized.” So Calvin and several others.
But here we must carefully bear in mind, what has been al-
ready sufficiently dwelt upon, that the promise, as originally made to Moses on Sinai, could have had no such reference to false prophets. It was neither intended to guard the people against resorting to observers of times and diviners, nor to encourage them by the promise of another prophet, or succession of prophets, who should stand in Moses' stead. It was simply, a promise of a Mediator, which came in naturally, as we have seen, with the request of the people, that God would not address them directly, as he had done, but through Moses. And this original reference of the prophecy is its true reference. If Moses afterwards made a new application of it, then the question is with that application, and not with the true import of the prophecy itself; unless, indeed, one would reason from Moses' application of it, to its original reference; a thing not allowable here, because the original reference of the words is fixed by their connexion.
Did Moses, then, make a true and legitimate application of the prophecy? That he had but an imperfect understanding of its import, we may readily admit; for all the prophets pondered the meaning of their own words, uttered under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow? That Moses had any definite information of the time when that prophet should arise, whether immediately upon his decease, or after a long interval, we are not warranted to say. But, inasmuch as he was now speaking to the people in God's name, and as God's ambassador, we must take his word, as having the divine sanction, and containing nothing calculated to deceive or disappoint the people, although they, as well as Moses, might have had a very inadequate conception of their deep import.
How, then, could Moses, under the divine direction, cite this prophecy of a great prophet, who was to arise at a distant age, as a reason why the Israelites should not resort to the superstitious observances of the Heathen ? The answer is obvious. The greater included the less. The promise of a future prophet, who should reveal to them the whole will of God, was a pledge that God would not, in the mean time, leave them without sufficient light and direction. The argument of the apostle Paul : " He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?" is perfectly applicable here. God, who promises to his people a future Messiah, how shall he not, until that Messiah comes, give them all the light and knowledge which they need, so as to make a resort to Heathen soothsayers and necromancers unne cessary? Shall the people of God, from the midst of whom that