EXCURSIONS INTO EXODUS by Dr. Lawrence Duff Forbes
THE MOUNTAIN'S ACCORDANCE
THE MESSAGE ANALYSED
THE MYSTERIOUS ADUMBRATION
THE MAN-CHILD'S APPELLATION
THE MARINERS AFLOAT
THE MATERIAL ANALYSED
THE MISLED ANTISEMITE
THE MIRACULOUS ATTESTATION
THE MAGNIFICENT ANTI-CLIMAX
THE MANUMISSION ACCOMPLISHED
THE MELODIOUS ACCLAMATION
THE MAGNETIC ALLIANCE
THE MALACH ADONAI
The Mountain's Accordance In my book, "GEMS FROM GENESIS". I called your attention to the grammatical phenomenon embedded in the very first verse of our Hebrew Bible where we found the verb , "created", in the singular number, associated with the plural noun , literally "Gods." We speedily recognized, however, that this grammatical monstrosity was Divinely intentional as it saved us from those twin errors of paganism known as polytheism and unitarianism. I shall hope to demonstrate to your satisfaction that our Hebrew Scriptures reveal the Supreme Deity as a unique UNITY. A glorious Being to be imagined neither as a MULTIPLICITY nor as a SINGULARITY but
rather as I said, a UNITY; a unity unique. Accompany me, please, right now, on a wonderful journey to a wonderful locality. Let us project ourselves back through the ages and place our feet in the steps of those Israelites delivered from the tyranny of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Passing miraculously through the Red Sea we go out into the wilderness on our journey to the Awful Mount, the Mount of the Ten Commandments – Mount Sinai. Picture a mountain land which in its highest peaks reaches 10,000 feet above sea level. Here we are in the midst of a wild and rugged confusion of jagged and towering heights like leaping flames suddenly stabbed into immobility and silhouetted redly against the skyline. Deep and winding wadies abound everywhere like great weals laid bare by some giant whip which had bitten deeply into earth's flesh in violent punishment. The wounds seem to be mortal, for all is desolation and silence. Dominating this wild and redly-rugged scene, three groups of mountains may be clearly distinguished commanding the entire peninsular – Serbal on the north west, Musa (Moses) in the centre, and Um Shaumer towards the south east. Three prominent points. I draw your attention to another arresting feature. Were we to accompany the eagle in its flight over this area or to ascend skywards to the vantage point gained by a modern aeroplane, we would discover that the whole Sinaitic mountain area is in the form of a gigantic triangle. On all sides of the triangle, whether from the seashores or the belts of sandy plain, the ascent is only through rugged passes like the gaping jaws of awful monsters.
The northern frontier throws up a garrison of hard red sandstone which, towards the south, is intermixed with igneous rock, granite and porphyry which attaches to the whole a sinister red glow. The Mount is hard and glowing red! And yet in the midst of this impressive and dreadful area there is no other spot in the entire peninsula so abundant in both pasture and water. Isn't this a delightful surprising and refreshing feature? Springs, wells and streams abound, particularly around the Mount of Moses. Yet, in our approach to this awe-inspiring triangle, the aspect of height thrusts itself insistently upon our consciousness. Musa towers up 7,519 feet into the heavens; Um Shaumer proximates 8,000 feet, whilst Serbal's peaks command our respect from 6,342 feet. Have you captured the picture? A wild mountain range in the peninsular between the two arms of the Red Sea. Such is Mount Sinai. What happened here? Our Hebrew Scriptures are eloquent in answer to our query. This rugged landscape is indelibly associated with the Self-Revelation of God to mankind. One can imagine with what confidence our people approached the awful Mount in those days and encamped before it. Had they not but recently witnessed the mighty delivering power of God â€“ the God of Israel, their God, our God? The plagues and miracles of Egypt; the discomfiture of the mighty Pharaoh; the miraculous passage through the Red Sea; the Divine provision of manna in the wilderness. The calm assurance of our God-inspired leader, Moses, would naturally find a counter part in the demeanour of the people he led. Perhaps their self-confidence received somewhat of a shaking upon receipt of the initial Divine instruction to prepare to meat the God of Israel by sanctification and the washing of garments. Perhaps the first motions of disquiet appeared when this instruction was followed by the imposition of bounds beyond which no further approach to the Mount could be made under pain of instant death. The dreadful third day dawned, and the Eternal God Himself descended upon the Mount! This theophany was accompanied by a seven-fold manifestation of fire, smoke, thunders, thick cloud, voice of the trumpet, and quaking of the Mount, so dreadful that "all the people that were in the camp trembled." (Exodus 19:16). It was in such surroundings, and under such circumstances as these that God gave Israel the "Ten Commandments."
How are we introduced to these superlative commandments? Listen carefully to the record to our great Moses:
1 2 3 Now let me give you a literal translation of this Scripture. "And Gods spoke all these words saying, I am the Eternal thy Gods who brought thee from the land of Egypt from the house of slaves. There shall not be to you other gods before me." (Exodus 20:1-3) As with the opening verse in Genesis, so here again, in Exodus and embedded right in the very Ten Words, the noun used for Israel's God is plural. Of course I am aware that an effort has been made to explain this repeated phenomenon by referring to it as "the plural of majesty" but the fact that such a theory collapses when tested under the full weight of Scripture. I am convinced we must seek the solution to this grammatical phenomenon in the direction we are presently pursuing. Admittedly this employment of the plural where reference to the Eternal God is concerned is certainly a startling discovery; particularly in a Book universally acclaimed as being the very antidote supreme against paganism. Moreover the use of the plural by Moses himself – the man universally acclaimed as being Divinely chosen to deliver Israel and all mankind from paganism, – his use of the plural increases our amazement at the phenomenon. However, when it is fully realized that the citadel of man's spiritual understanding and enlightenment is being constantly besieged by the pagan notions of polytheism on the one hand and unitarianism on the other hand, I am persuaded that sober, mature and unprejudiced investigation will convince us that no other grammatical structure could achieve the twin necessities of refuting heathen paganism whilst, at the same time, leading all who will follow gently and gradually to an understanding of the twin wonders of Deity and Redemption. By this means the false is exposed; the true disclosed.
Moses' Affirmation In my last message we journeyed together to the foot of the awful Mount – Mount Sinai. There we heard a new the Divine Declaration: "I am the Lord your GODS which brought you from the land of Egypt." We were struck with the unexpected employment of the plural noun in the Hebrew word translated into English by the word "God." Actually the literal translation of this Hebrew Scripture is: "I am the Lord your GODS which brought you from the land of Egypt." We observed this use of the plural in the very opening words of Genesis (see "GEMS FROM GENESIS") and the phenomenon is observable throughout the Hebrew Bible; for instance we have another remarkable use of the plural in relation to the Godhead in the Book of Malachi where at Chapter 1, verse 6, the Deity is depicted in vocal remonstrance with reluctant Israel as follows:
6 Let me give you a literal translation of these unusual words, and remember, God Himself is here indicated as being the speaker: "And if I am a Father where is my honour? And if I am MASTERS where is my reverance?" Permit me to disclose another little known fact in this same category. As I turn the pages of my Hebrew Bible printed in the new-born State of Israel so recently as 1953 I read therein the words as recorded in the Hebrew text of Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, verse 1:
1 "Remember Thy CREATORS in the days of thy youth." In the Bible there are 2,555 uses of the plural noun , of which no less than 2,310 occurrences pertain to the living and only true God, of Whom it can truly be said that no noun in the singular could ever hope to convey sufficiently either His Power or His Person. Yes, the noun in the plural is as appropriate as the verb in the singular with which it is generally associated. In previous messages we have noted the grammatical monstrosity of this association of the plural noun with the singular verb where God is concerned; now, surely, we begin to observe the perfect harmony in this inharmony: the exquisite concord in this discord.
Our great teacher Moses is one of whom we shall be eternally indebted for his superlative faithfulness in transmitting to us the full and glorious rays of the Great Revelation vouchsafed in him at Mount Sinai; yet I am persuaded that the veneration we rightly accord his consoling is less than the veneration we accord his commanding pronouncement. By which I mean that Moses' affirmation is of even greater importance than Moses' advent! At a time when Israel and all humanity were imperiled by the pagan notions of polytheism on the one extreme and unitarianism on the other extreme, Moses, by Divine provision, issued an affirmation which, properly understood, is a kind of secret weapon against these pagan intruders. Listen again to Moses' superlative affirmation (Deuteronomy 6:4):
How familiar is the call in the ears of Israel! But are we all quite as familiar with its efficacy as a secret weapon against the misleading extremes of multiplicity and singularity to which I have already referred? The perils of polytheism – the notion and worship of any plurality of gods – was a peril perpetually pressing upon Israel; a peril to which they frequently succumbed and which, ultimately, led to their undoing in past ages. If only they had heeded Moses' affirmation! Does polytheism threaten? Then:
The God of Israel is ONE (echad); not a multiplicity. Awakened to the pitfalls of polytheism, do we tend – as most of us humans do – to fly to the other extreme and be trapped by the equally pagan snare of unitarianism? Then –
Hear, O Israel, the GODS (eloheinu) of Israel is one; not a singularity. That there is a difference between "oneness" and "singularity" I shall now hope to indicate. Singularity implies one only; one separate; one alone; one solitary. There is a Hebrew adjective which describes this condition. It is As a point of interest and instruction, the actual adjective,
, in its masculine form, without
afformatives or preformatives, is used only three times in Tenach (namely, Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10; and Psalm 25:16).
Isaac Leeser translates
, in English by the words "only" and "solitary", and the fact that it is
employed in Bereshith, chapter twenty-two to describe Avraham's only son Isaac; and in Judges 11:34 to describe Yiphtach's only daughter, associated with the impetuous vow he made, is sufficient indication of the idea the adjective is intended to convey, quite apart from the fact that the word is the word used in Hebrew grammar to denote the singular number. Never do the Scriptures employ this word for the Eternal God. On the contrary the adjective employed is , and although it is translated by the English word "one" it is derived from , a prime root meaning "to unify" or "to collect." The word could be used in such a figurative expression as "to collect one's thoughts." Even in Modern Hebrew the word has not lost its connotation because in my Hebrew Dictionary printed in Israel in 5709 (1949) the English adjective "collective" is translated by the Hebrew word , derived from "ehod". Of course the word can be used in a sense similar to that of but the important difference is that whereas can contain all that is implicit in , cannot contain all that is implicit
in . The quart vessel can contain the pint content, but the pint vessel cannot contain the quart content. Let me illustrate this. In the days of Joseph as recorded in the forty-first chapter of Bereshith, Pharaoh had two dreams, one about corn and the other about kine, and these two dreams were of such individual singularity as to be separated by a period of wakefulness; yet Joseph referred to these dreams as , ONE. Pharaoh's two separate and distinct dreams, expressed in two separate and distinct terms, and further separated by a definite period of wakefulness, are nevertheless Scripturally declared to be
. Joseph could have declared unto Pharaoh: "Hear, O Pharaoh: (the) dream, our dreams, (the) dream is one." Unity, "oneness", (but not singularity). Is the character of Pharaoh's dream(s). Unity, "oneness", (but not singularity), is the character of Israel's God(s).
The Messages Analysed In our search for "Treasures from Tenach" we have certainly unearthed some interesting and, I believe, valuable deposits. Some of our finds have been most unexpected and quite unusual; moreover, not the least fascinating feature has been the discovery that the treasures we have disclosed are not single delights, solitary and isolated but, whilst each revelation has possessed its own captivating contour, yet all are related and appear as single steps in a golden stairway beckoning us onwards and upwards into higher and more satisfying verities. For this reason, is it not now time to glance backward down the golden staircase and take stock of the steps already accomplished? You will remember that the first step we took (see "GEMS FROM GENESIS") gave us an enticing surprise; we naturally expected the first book of the Bible, known as Genesis, to deal with all the ponderous "ologies" of a created universe. Instead, it dwelt at length upon four human beings, – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The discovery of this unexpected emphasis sent us speeding back into the Garden of Eden to see if we could unmask a reason for this phenomenon; on our way we recovered some property we Jewish people had lost, for we found that the doctrine known as the Fall of Man was primarily and essentially a Jewish doctrine. On arrival in Eden we learn there of man's Loss and God's Legacy – Man's immeasurable loss through Sin; God's loving Legacy through Redemption. It was here, too, you will remember, that we were confronted with the mysterious announcement that the sin question would be settled by the Seed of the Woman, not – mark you – the seed of the man. Though admittedly perplexing, we were willing, nevertheless, to climb this hopeful ladder through the gloomy clouds of human sinfulness and our ascent revealed to us a process of Divine Selection and Divine Interposition. In tracing the process of Divine Selection we not only found the reason for the Genesis emphasis but we also found selection centralised Abraham as being the very crucible of the Divine legacy. Our next discovery was simply staggering. Leaving the patriarchs of Israel we mover among the matriarchs of Israel and found that of every one of them it was recorded that they were barren; thus Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah all became the recipients of Divine interposition to produce the Chosen People who thus became the direct product of miraculous birth!
This illuminating and startling disclosure gave us a clue as to the possible meaning of the Legacy of Redemption through the Seed of the Woman. Stepping still further upwards on this golden stairway of Divine Revelation we found a Jewish expectancy of a union of Deity and humanity and also a Jewish declaration that the Seed of the Woman is Messiah – the Chosen Person. We had to sit down on this step and meditate for a restful moment or two for we were confronted with a pressing problem. Without doubt the Scriptures declare that God Himself is the Redeemer of the World. Without doubt the same Scriptures declare that the Seed of the Woman is to deal with Sin's intrusion into Humanity. But more. The most ancient Jewish tradition affirms that this Seed of the Woman is none other than the long-promised King Messiah! Since Messiah is a man and God is God, here surely is a challenging conundrum! If God becomes a man (and of course He could or He wouldn't be God) who or what sustains creation during what might suggest itself to be a self-imposed confinement of Deity within the obvious limitations of humanity? If, on the other hand, King Messiah is the Redeemer how can such a man be said to have fulfilled the Divine promise that God Himself in His own Person – and none other – is to be the Redeemer? We were addressing ourselves to this inexplicable enigma when we were startled by the blast of the opening cords of Divine Revelation as they sounded out from the very first verse of the very first chapter of Genesis. A grammatical monstrosity was here initiated for we found the Hebrew word for God , to be a plural noun but, lest we should slip into pagan polytheism, this plural noun was associated, discordantly we admit, with the singular verb . Gods (plural) created (singular). Gods created! Henceforth the higher steps of golden discovery challenged us to be both brave and honest, and we wondered if we were either of these when, fortunately, we saw our great Teacher, Moses, beckoning from the steps above. Wisely yielding ourselves to his inspired direction, he lifted us off our stairway and deposited us breathlessly at the foot of the dread Mount Sinai from whence our ears caught anew the majestic Ten Words; but we were simply galvanized when we heard, with every spiritual faculty alert (Exodus 20:1-3):
1 2 3
"I am the Eternal thy Gods"! There it was again – "thy Gods." Somewhat panic stricken we fled back to Moses and begged him to sound forth again that blessed affirmation which we regard as Israel's supreme safeguard. With our understanding re-tuned we heard the voice of Moses repeat that Divinely authorized declaration:
4 But this time we really listened and, wonder of wonders, here was the very same phenomenon: "Hear, O Israel, the Eternal our Gods, the Eternal is One." Determined to press onwards and upwards in this profitable, fascinating and alluring quest, we found that this employment of the plural where the Eternal God is mentioned is certainly a startling phenomenon, but it is also a wealthy find as, if heeded, it will save us from those twin pagan delusions, polytheism and unitarianism which, like Scylla and Charybdis, threaten with destruction all questing mariners who sail philosophical and theological seas. Of course we do not claim originality in our discovery of this use of the plural where God is named. Indeed one can discern innumerable footprints on the golden stairway we presently find ourselves; however, some, perhaps to avoid, perhaps to seek explanation of, this phenomenon have advanced a theory known as "the plural of majesty" whereby it is suggested that, as monarchs, authors, radiospeakers and individuals of similar notability when making an individual reference to themselves, sometimes employ the plural, so God, too, is doing the same thing. This is a notion that many have tacitly accepted without question or investigation. But, my friends, we are persuaded – there! I'm using it myself! – I am persuaded the "plural of majesty" is open to question upon at least two counts; first, according to Dr. Sayce as I understand, the famous Tel el Amarna tablets indicate that the Pharaoh of Egypt was addressed as "gods", yet this alleged Egyptian mode of plurality did not impose itself upon Israel where Israel's kings were concerned, hence it does not appear as a custom accepted but as one rejected by our Divinely-inspired Scripture-writers who all appear to have reserved plurality in designation for the One to Whom it basically and primarily belonged – the Eternal God of Israel. Secondly, it is a demonstrably proven feature of the Hebrew language that where a singular number is deemed inadequate to convey the full concept, a plural is employed. For example, the Hebrew word for "face" is plural, and surely it would take little effort to convince any art photographer of the suitability of the use of the plural where his posing subject is concerned. One face, yes! But several distinct faces of that one face, for there is at least the full face, the left profile face and the
right profile face. Indeed, the root from which the Hebrew word for "face" is derived, means "to turn" (i.e. ) . When I turn – – you see my faces
The Mysterious Adumbration My friends, listen to this bold declaration from our Jewish Talmud: "Three there are who are called by the Tetragrammaton – The Distinguished Name." As you can guess the Name to which reference is made in the Talmudical quotation I have just given you is none other than the Name so frequently pronounced in English as – Jehovah! And the Talmud declares that there are three who possess that Name; moreover the observation is made in comment upon Jeremiah, chapter 23, verses 5 and 6, a passage admittedly Messianic, for it refers to which is, as Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, B.A., Ph. D., declares, "the term used to denote the Messianic King." Our Jewish Zohar is even more explicit as, commenting upon Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4, (our "Shema Yishrael!") it has this to say. "Why is there need of mentioning the Name of God three times in this verse? . . . The first is the Father above. The second is the stem of Jesse through David. And the third is the way which is below (meaning – the Holy Spirit Who shows us the way) and these three are one." That is the end of this extraordinary and little known quotation. I have given you these quotations from unauthoritative and uninspired Jewish writings so that you may see them as reasonably creditable reflections of the truths we have produced, in previous messages, from the authoritative and Divinely inspired Scriptures of Tenach, the Bible, where the plural in association with the singular is a phenomenon we have already illustrated and remarked. We see this arresting feature again in the second chapter of the prophet Haggai, at verse 7, where God is the Speaker and He announces:
7 "I will shake the nations and the Desire of all Nations shall come." Now, this passage is admittedly Messianic and one of our esteemed modern Jewish commentators, Eli Cashdan, M.A., in his valuable commentary indicates that the passage refers to the "establishment of the Kingdom of God." But here is the feature to which I desire to draw your attention, although the poetic title of Deity – the Desire of all Nations – is in the singular, yet the verb , "shall come," is in the plural.
In the Bible the employment of the plural where God is mentioned is certainly a startling discovery, but it is a useful as we shall see, for it opens up to us the otherwise inexplicable mystery of redemption through the Seed of the Woman upon which subject I have already touched and to which theme I shall hope immediately to return. We have already seen that our Jewish Holy Scriptures reveal the Eternal God in a Unity which is both mysterious and unique and which challenges inadequate human language to define it; yet it may be expressed as the Absolute, Perfect, Unique, and Essential Unity of Triune Deity triunely Self-Conscious and in Being eternally within an inter-relationship which is neither tritheism, nor polytheism, nor yet unitarianism. Certainly not "three gods", as a superficial or biased viewpoint might suggest. What word can contain or describe adequately such a unity? I doubt if we possess one. What can adequately illustrate such a unity? I doubt if it can be perfectly illustrated; but I have an idea and would like to share it with you. Lean back and relax while I tell you about it. Do you remember that on a previous occasion I confessed to you that I was passionately fond of music? Well, I am really more than fond of it â€“ I seem to understand it. To me it is uniform in that it is music, but it is multiform in that it speaks so many languages and appears in so many what I call sound-personalities. Of course, each of these separate and distinct sound-personalities is capable of being grouped into various races and families. There is the French-speaking family of sound-personalities; the Germanspeaking family of sound-personalities; the Spanish-speaking family of sound-personalities and so on. But more than this. The various sound-personalities unmistakable reflect the personality of their creator. I say unmistakably advisedly; it is so to me at least, for upon occasions too numerous to mention I have listened to a piece of music the name of the composer of which were quite unknown to me. Yet, before its conclusion I have been able to declare its-creator with an almost monotonous accuracy. The sound-personality of the composition bore a shadowy, yet unmistakable, outline of its creator. There is a personality-affinity between the composition and the composer. If this is so in sound, does all Creation itself supply a shadowy, yet unmistakable, outline of its Creator? Or should I say its Creators, for the plural is used in the Hebrew text of Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, verse 1.
In my "Gems from Genesis" I called your attention to the opening words of Genesis where the noun God (literally Gods) is plural but the verb with which it is associated, "created," is in the singular. Well, what did this "one" "Gods" create? That which we call the Universe, the totality of existing or created things. And note, if you please, we call this totality of things a "universe" and "uni" is itself a word-element meaning "one." Of what does this universe consist? Let me frankly acknowledge my partial indebtedness to Dr. Nathan Wood for my ability to suggest that this universe consists of at least three factors – space, matter, and time, and these three are so much a unity that one cannot conceive the extinction of one without the extinction of all. Take any one of these three factors of unity and each one is three. For instance, space is height, length, and breadth, and again the elimination of any one eliminates all. It is also with the second factor, matter; so obviously energy, motion, and phenomena, a unity in triunity, that any one is the other two, yet each is strictly not the other but is something other than the other. Of time, the third factor, I can hear you all anticipating me by saying "past, present, future"; and of course you'll all be – wrong! It is future, present, past for that is the direction of time-flow as a little reflection will indicate. Once again these three are one yet each is not either of the other two. Into this three-one, one-three Universe Gods (plural) created (singular) man and in doing so said:
26 27 "Let us make man in image of us according to likeness of us and he created, Gods, even the man, In image of him, in image of Gods he created him." I have given a literal translation of the Hebrew text to bring out the extraordinary grammatical counterplay of this unique Scripture.And surely man reflects this counterplay with this three-one, one-three personality which I personally believe to be trichotomous – one man as spirit soul and body. Or if you are a Freudian, the id. the ego, and the super ego. Yes indeed, this universe, and man that inhabits it, is stamped with the shadowy outline of a threeness that is unity, of a oneness that is triune. And even the solar light in which man and his universe is bathed is a unity of threeness – the calorific, the luminiferous, and the actinic, and these three are one!
Stampede and begone ye figmentary armies of polytheism! Dissolve ye solitary unitarianism! This three-one, one-three universe is not a conformable nor comfortable habitation for such as ye! May Israel and all who love the Divine Revelation given to man through Israel exclaim again with enlightened spirit, hopeful soul, and body poised for resurrection –
4 "Hear O Israel, the Eternal our Gods the Eternal a Unity" and we shall also cherish anew Israel's triune blessing: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
The Man-Child's Appellation My friends, Man's tinder-dry imagination is ignited with the fires of many erroneous conceptions the smoke-haze from which has obscured the promising valleys of his spiritual understanding. Only the water of the Word of God can quench those flames and only the forceful wind of the Spirit of God can clear those valleys and restore the vista. Already, I hope through past messages, our fertile valley have been purged of the smoke-haze of polytheism, unitarianism, and tritheism and we may, if we wish, bask in the unadulterated light of that Divine Revelation that shines from the pages of Tenach, our Holy Scriptures, and bids us worship the God of Israel, Whom our Jewish Bible reveals as the Absolute and Perfect Unity of Triune Self-Conscious Deity and, as we have now seen, from this Godhead comes to us the Person and redemptive function of King Messiah, Seed of the Woman. That the Redeeming Messiah is Deity become Man to effect human redemption as the Seed of the Woman is the assured revelation of our Jewish Scriptures and has undoubtedly been recognized by our Jewish sages from time to time. For example, our Jewish Zohar comments on the seventh verse of the second Psalm in these words: "This Son is the faithful Shepherd, and He is the Prince of Israel, the Lord of things below, the Lord of ministering Angels, the Son of the Highest, the Son of the God of the Universe, the gracious Shechinah: He is the King Messiah." I quote Zohar at folio 88, column 384. The (Shechinah) has long been recognized as a title of Deity; one example will suffice. We read in the Talmud these words: "Where it is taught that when ten join together in prayer the Shechinah is with them? In Psalm 82:1 where it is said, 'God standeth in the congregation of the mighty,' " (Berachoth, folio 6, column 1) Deity incarnate! God in human flesh! Does such an idea really come from the Jewish Tenach, the so-called "Old Testament." Well, we have already seen that God's promise of Redemption, as recorded in Genesis, is through the Seed of the Woman. Deity become a Seed of a Woman! Think over these words and now hear then expounded by the Prince of Israel's Prophets – Isaiah:
5 "For a child is born unto us, a son is given to us . . . and his name is Pele, Yoatz, El Gobbor, Aviad, Sar-Shalom." Here is a Divine promise to Israel of a male child. Of course there is nothing remarkable in that. But what is remarkable – and this factor cannot be ignored – is the name prophetically bestowed upon that child. You will notice that I said the name bestowed, not the names bestowed. In Hebrew thought the name is more than a mere distinguishing title; it represents the character or quality of the person bearing it when bestowed prophetically, as in this case, it is doubly important and significant. My friends, if we will expose our hearts without prejudice to the full force of these Hebrew words their impact will be tremendous and challenging, for they all imply Deity – and here is the Jewish promise again of Deity becoming human. Not, mark you, with sudden metamorphosis, but being born into humanity as a male child. The thirteenth chapter of Judges will throw sufficient light on that first word
. There we find
that Manoah and his wife were suddenly visited by One Who promised them the birth of Samson. Their transcendental Visitor was recognized by them as Deity, and they feared death "because we have seen God." (Judges 13:22) It was undoubtedly a theophany; a personal appearance of Deity; and on that occasion the One Whom Leeser's translation describes as a "Divine Being" discloses His Name "Wonderful," or as Judah J. Slotki, M.A., Ph. D. says "ineffable." The next expression applied to the promised male-child is equally impressive. The word
, is in
the masculine participial form which, of course, indicates neither beginning nor ending of action and hence could be interpreted as pertaining to One Whose wisdom is without beginning or ending, the Counseling One from all eternity to all eternity. For reasons which are both within and beyond the immediate text itself, I am persuaded that the next two words bear relationship the one to the other. The word is used of the Eternal Being 204 times in Tenach and is the most primitive word for Deity. On the other hand the word , translated "mighty," in its organic root, has the signification of being pressed firmly into a whole thus imparting strength; in this sense we get the word meaning "man," with the additional idea of power. In Israel today the very Hebrew word, , means "man." Thus, drawing
basic concepts from these two words we receive the idea of Deity manifested as a Man of Strength – a God-Man! Following this is the designation sometimes translated "Everlasting Father" but more accurately rendered Father of Eternity; the One Who is the very Source, the Parent of the Ages. The final expression
, translated "Prince of Peace" will be found to be no exception to
the implications of Deity discoverable in each of the prior appellations. It is almost forgotten these days that , "peace," is a name pertaining to Deity. Indeed the Talmud observes that since
, "Peace" is the Name of God, it is forbidden to greet one another with that Name except in holy places. This injunction is based on the words meaning "God is Peace" and found in Judges chapter 6, verse 24. The words we have examined supply a description of the Man Child so astounding that we are sore taxed to know just what to do with it. To evade its force compels us to assume an interpretation almost as astounding as the phenomenon itself, for some try to apply this Scripture to Hezekiah the son of Ahaz. To dress Hezekiah in the garments supplied by these words is simply fantastic. Hezekiah would appear in them like an infant having his very first walk all dressed up in his father's trousers! Such a sight might be amusing but it would lack conviction in any serious attempt to suggest that the pants pertain to the pickaninny! The attempt to avoid its force is equally suspect. I have before me a translation into English which reads as follows: "And his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-adsar-shalom." This of course, is neither a translation nor is it English. To make a single word of 30 letters out of the Hebrew words of this Scripture seems to me more in the nature of a camouflage than a clarification. Something like a little boy caught just emerging from the pantry, one little hand tucked guiltily behind his back! Has he anything to hide? Oh! Perish the thought! If we are willing to evade or to avoid the powerful words of this Scripture, what happens if we accept them? Well, we shall merely be following in the steps of some of our Jewish sages who, in our Aramaic Targums, wrote of Isaiah 9:5 (6) as follows: "The prophet said to the house of David, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and he shall receive the law upon him to keep it, and his name is called from eternity, Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Continuing for ever, The Messiah; for peace shall be multiplied upon in his days."
I leave it to you, dear friends, shall we evade, avoid, or accept this prophetic Scripture? Personally, I accept it and I yearn for the day when "of peace there shall be no end" but, remember, this cannot be until the Prince of Peace sits upon the Throne of David. Perhaps we can hasten that day by offering Him now the throne of our hearts.
The Mariners Afloat Now let me tell you a parable. Way out on the stormy ocean some sailors in their distinctive uniforms, and one lone female, were being tossed about in a sturdy lifeboat. They had been shipwrecked, but their providential lifeboat gave guarantee of deliverance and security for the rescue vessel was already seeding to their aid. Presently the sailors observed in the distance another lifeboat from the same shipwrecked vessel and in it, too, other survivors were clearly discernable but they wore no uniforms, nevertheless all but one of the occupants of the first lifeboat rejoiced to see the second with its cargo of delivered humanity. However, this one dissentient sailor laboured under the unfortunate delusion that the presence and possession of the second lifeboat with its un-uniformed occupants nullified the validity and efficacy of his lifeboat so, without warning, he jumped into the sea and was drowned! How sad particularly when both lifeboats came from the same ship to which all equally belonged! Why have I told you this parable? To save you jumping into the sea of rejection and drowning in spiritual loss, just because others who wear not our uniform nor travel in our lifeboat, are out on the same ocean awaiting to secure arrival of the Rescuer! Please keep this parable in mind as we ourselves toss about upon the waters of human uncertainties. I assure you ever precious bit of saving material used in the manufacture of our sturdy lifeboat of Revealed Truth is material drawn solely, exclusively, and entirely from our own Jewish sources. And the fact that others, not necessarily wearing our particular uniform, are also waiting the Rescuer in a lifeboat made of the same materials should rather give us heartfelt comfort and cause us to cherish, with added satisfaction, the materials from which our own reliable boat is made, and should place strong restraint upon any initial impulsive tendency to jump overboard! Retaining, for the moment, our parable of, and our position in, our lifeboat let us draw from imagination's fertile supply and give material form and being to some of its uniformed occupants. There, opposite us, sits a seasoned son of the sea his beard already white with the bleaching of the years. My modern Hebrew dictionary would call him a "an old man." Beside him sits a callow youth, a mere lad; my same modern Hebrew dictionary printed in Israel translates both those English words "youth" and "lad" by the Hebrew word , and as I look at his downy chin and immature figure I think of David at the time he slew the giant Goliath and I remember that our Tenach, the Bible, describes that same David upon that same occasion, by the same word which Isaac Leeser translates in English by the word "stripling." A lad, a stripling, a youth. Have you captured the picture of these two extremes of masculinity? Relax over them for a while; we
have plenty of time for such meditation in our lifeboat. What do you suppose to be their family relationships and background? As the sea wind parts and seems to caress each strand of the white beard of the old man, it is so easy – almost inevitable – that we picture him in the role of the venerable grandfather with all his grandchildren gathered round his knees. In like manner we can easily imagine gathered round the knees of the callow youth his children . . . Oh! hold on! you say. We get no such picture of the callow youth, the
. He wouldn't have any
children! He wouldn't even be married yet! Yes! I guess you're right! We would have to widen exceedingly the meaning of the English words "youth" and "lad" as well as the Hebrew word to squeeze into any of them any thought of a marital state – that is, unless we had an axe to grind. By the way. Wasn't there someone else in our boat? Oh yes. The sailor who jumped overboard. But he disappeared; hidden and concealed beneath the waves. Don't you remember? He got some queer notions about the other lifeboat and jumped overboard. By the way, isn't it interesting that the Hebrew word for "disappear" "hidden" "concealed", comes from exactly the same Hebrew root origin as the Hebrew word for "lad"; , a lad; to be hidden, to be concealed, to disappear. Now that's surely interesting! What can be the etymological connect between the sailor beneath the waves and the callow youth in the lifeboat. Well, there is an element of concealment, disappearance, "hiddenness" common to both. With the sailor beneath the waves this element is easy to guess; he himself is concealed, hidden, disappeared, not made public. And the , the youth? Well, we agree that he wasn't married, so he appears as one who is marriageable propensities are potential only. He is just about marriageable but so far his conjugal nuptial attributes are not exercised or apparent; they are hidden, concealed; disappeared beneath the veil of his masculine virginity. Incidentally, in the Arabic, which is closely related to Hebrew, this same root means "ripe and marriageable", so we are quite justified and accurate in our assessment of what the the youth, is – or morally ought to be. And I feel sure that the , David, as he confronted Goliath, would not disappoint us in our assessment of this moral quality of his, , his "youthfulness". My! We nearly forgot! There is a female in the boat, too. Do you ask what she is like? What age? What condition? Well, my friends, she is exactly the female counterpart of the male youth; the only difference between the lad and the "ladess" is that of sex. All that the word "lad" has justifiably conjured to your mind with regard to the male youth can, with equal justification, be assumed of the female youth, the "ladess", if you'll allow me to coin the word.
Of course it would be more accurate to use the feminine form of the Hebrew word which we employ with regard to the lad. The lad is an , the feminine form of which is . My! that was a nasty wave that rocked the boat then, wasn't it? The waves were reasonable calm when we used the masculine word word in its feminine form, . Do you suppose it was because
, but there was quite a disturbance when we used the same
was the word was the word used by our great God-inspired
Prophet Isaiah when he cried prophetically to the "house of David" (not to Ahaz, mark you!):
13 14 "Therefore the Eternal Himself shall give you a sign: behold the
shall conceive, and
bear a son, and shall call His name, Immanuel" (God is with us) (Isaiah 7:13-14). Now, please don't jump overboard! That male youth was a male virgin as the very word and its roots, both Hebrew and Arabic justified us in accepting. Then, the female form of the same word and root surely justifies us in assuming a female virgin unless – as I said before – we have an axe to grind. I respect the honesty of that distinguished Jewish commentator Rev. Dr. I. W. Slotki, M.A., Litt.D., when he says that the Hebrew word "sometimes bears this meaning" of virgin. Anyway the Jewish translators of the Bible, who translated the Septuagint version some 300 years before the Common Era and therefore had no axe to grind, translated the Hebrew word by the Greek word which is correctly translated into English as "virgin." This Greek word is so used by Euripides, born 480 B.C., and by Heraclides in the 4th century B.C. and its Hebrew equivalent is used in modern Hebrew by such modern Hebrew story writers as Micah Joseph Berditchewsky, 1865-1921 C.E., in his delightful little story. Thus, confining myself exclusively and entirely to our own Jewish inspired Scriptures and supporting my observations thereon from our own Talmudical and Cabbalistic writings I have now submitted to you in this and my previous messages, the essentially Jewish concept that the Redemption of Mankind will be accomplished through Deity become incarnate as Man in conformity with the pristine Edenic promise of the Seed of the Woman, whom our Jewish sages and prophets unitedly declare to be the Messiah – Virgin born. Thank you for remaining in the lifeboat. We'll resume our conversation in my next message.
(The reader is advised to acquire the little booklet "THE GIANT GREATER THAN GOLIATH" by Dr. Lawrence Duff-Forbes touching the same theme.)
The Material Analyzed Our discovery of the Divine accent in Genesis (see "GEMS FROM GENESIS") was an admittedly helpful find and it spurs me on to invite you now to join me in the following that accent into the second book of Tenach. The commonly used Hebrew name of this second book of Torah is SHMOT; a word derived and shortened from the Hebrew sentence with which this book begins:
1 "And these are the NAMES of the sons of Israel . . ." The Hebrew word Shmot "names."
The book is better known in English as EXODUS, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew
meaning "exodus from Egypt" or, if you will, WAY OUT. There is quite a spiritual progress in this thought-trend. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, begin with the words which sound forth creation, life; but the last words of the same book, Genesis, sound forth death; here they are "a coffin in Egypt." So far as humanity is concerned what has intervened to cause that which began in life to end in death? We have already found the answer and accent. Sin's entrance was the cause of the disaster; but God's accent is on man's Redemption from sin's disaster. This was both the Loss and the Legacy we beheld in Eden's fateful garden. In Genesis we traced Election. God is selecting, calling out; discarding one line, choosing another, and having selected or elected His people, the next phase is their Redemption. Historically, Shmot portrays the way out of Egyptian bondage; chronologically , it extends from the DEATH OF JOSEPH to the building of the MISHKAN (the Tabernacle; spiritually, Shmot reveals the way out of sin's bondage in soul-liberation to God and His blessed fellowship. This will sufficiently introduce the book and also assure you that we are in for some rich and fascinating finds as we enter its pages together. In my message No. 24 entitled "THE METHOD OF APPROACH" (see
GEMS FROM GENESIS)
I intimated the system
we shall always adopt when we approach any book of the Bible for the first time. I always take you up for a flight in an imaginary aeroplane, so that we can look down and see the whole book at a glance and capture a birds-eye view of it.
And now, if you please, will you kindly fasten your safety belts; we are about to take off. Thank you; now make yourself perfectly comfortable until we gain sufficient altitude to enable us to look down upon the thrilling events packed into the pages of Shmot. My! How clearly we can see its contents from this height, covering a chronological period of 145 years from the death of Joseph to the construction of the Tabernacle. Wandering aimlessly through its pages at ground level we would not have seen how clearly the totality of its message is marked into three definite areas. The first is a very black and gloomy area; then a colourful scarlet area and finally an area in which the scarlet is diffused with a glowing gold. Let us bestow names upon these three chapter-areas. First, the black area which extends from Chapter 1 through Chapter 2, verse 36, and which we shall call – REPRESSION IN EGYPT. Then the scarlet area consisting of Chapter 12, verse 37 through Chapter 18, verse 27 and which we shall designate – RELEASE TO SINAI. The scarlet-golden hue, glowing with the glory of God, cover the third area from Chapter 19 to the end of the book through Chapter 40. To this wonderful section we attach the title – REVELATION AT SINAI. Ah! You are eager to see what is packed into these picturesque areas! Well, we cannot pick out the details very clearly from this height. Let us descend and fly over the terrain and see what each area holds for us. Consult the chart for a rapid flight over the entire content. No wonder the first area is black and gloomy for it is overcast with the sorrow of the sons of Jacob and wet with the tears of Israel. Surely we are glad to leave this section, although we may return to it later for it has tremendous lessons for us. A survey of the second sphere shows its segments tinged with scarlet – the colour ever suggestive of Redemption. As we approach the third section the golden glow of glory illuminates the scene, and we fly over an area dominated by the matchless Mount of Majesty – Mount Sinai. In the aura of that splendour, we discern eight salient features. Our chart reveals the dominant items within the three sections of this wonderful book, Shmot – Exodus. Just as Genesis reveals DIVINE ELECTION, so Exodus reveals DIVINE REDEMPTION. Moreover, it is now possible for us to summarize the salient revelations on Redemption thus far by means of a second Chart. And so, the twelve tribes of Israel, later to be known more frequently as the Jewish people, became God's treasure; a treasure that God took to himself, not only because He loved Israel, but because He loved all the world and desired Israel to be, not a pet, but a pattern. A pattern so definite in outline that sin-bound humanity at large may surely know, through Israel, that spiritual Redemption from sin is an act of God Himself based, not upon man's merit, but upon man's attitude of heart towards the substitutionary sacrifice provided by God Himself in love and grace. May we be among those who apprehend and appropriate this most priceless treasure
among all the many "Treasures from Tenach." Don't fail to capture another treasure in the initial letters in the charts, reading downwards!
Repression in Egypt 1. S ons of Jacob in Egypt (1:1-4). 2. O ppression of Israelites by new Pharaoh (1:5-22). 3. R equest to God for deliverance (2:23-25). 4. R esponse of God through Moses (2 and 3). 5. O verthrough of Pharaoh and the Ten Plagues (4: to 11:10). 6. W ay of Deliverance through blood of the Paschal Lamb (12:1 to 14:31).
Release to Sinai 1. F irst Song of the Bible, sung by Moses (15: 1-21). 2. R ed Sea separates Israel from Egypt (15:22). 3. E xperiences in the Wilderness (15:23-17:7). 4. E ncounter with Amalekites and journey to Mount Sinai (17:8-19:25).
Revelation at Sinai 1. C ommandments from God at Mount Sinai (20:1-19). 2. O rdinances of God for Israel (21:1-23:19). 3. V igilant Escort of Angel with God's Name in Him (23:20-33). 4. E nactment of the Blood-Covenant between God and Israel (24:1-11). 5. N omination of Moses to receive the Tables of Stone (24:12-18). 6. A ppurtenances and Appointments for the Tabernacle (Mishkan) (25:1-31:18). 7. N on obedience of the people through the Golden Calf incident (32:1-40:38). 8. T abernacle set up (33:1-40:38).
Salients of Divine Redemption in Exodus 1. B itter bondage of the people of Israel showed the need of Redemption (chapters 1 and 2). 2. L amb of Sacrifice supplied by God's direction showed the way of Redemption (chapter 12). 3. O mipotence of God over Pharaoh and through the Red Sea showed the power of Redemption (chapter 14). 4. O rderly maintenance of Righteousness and Judgment showed the law of Redemption (chapters 19 to 40). 5. D emonstration of the symbolism and institution of the Redemption (chapter 25 to 40).
(Tabernacle) showed the medium of
The Mislead Antisemite My friends, in my last message I took you up for an aerial survey – a bird's-eye view – of the second book of the Hebrew Bible, known to Tenachists as Shmot and to English readers as Exodus. On that occasion we viewed this whole Book of Exodus at a glance and thus captured its contents. We saw its three distinct areas of revelation which, you will remember, we designated: 1. 2.
Repression in Egypt. Release to Sinai.
Revelation at Sinai.
Come, my friends, embark with me on a fascinating and instructive exploration of these same regions at ground level. Repression in Egypt! No matter where or upon whom its iron hand falls repression crushes the song out of life. Tyranny is an eternal orphan born of unlove between the spiritually dead parents of Fear and Hate. And as I bid you descend to Egypt's ancient sands, I ask you to regard the tyrant Pharaoh "who knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8); nor did he know Joseph's ever-glorious God. Thus, knowing neither, neither did he know God's redemptive plan and purpose. But worse – he was not willing to enquire. Thus his ignorance, entering into a destructive alliance with his own unwillingness, catapulted him against the irresistible tide of the Divine Will to his own frightful detriment. It is an irreparable loss not to know "Joseph" nor Joseph's God, but it is positively suicidal to mix unwillingness with such ignorance. Pharaoh didn't know, nor was he willing to discover, that the Jewish people, Israel, is not so much a nation, nor a race, nor a religion, as a God formed INSTRUMENT; hence, when Pharaoh proclaimed anti-Semitism as a national policy, he entered the arena against God Himself! Driven by the unfounded fear that his Jewish subjects would "take over" Egypt and its economy into their own hands, he enforced a roster of repression through his drivers who flogged unmercifully the embondaged Israelites. The folly of this Pharaoh can be found repeated down the corridors of time and over the wide areas of the earth in spite of the fact that History enters the witness box and gives her irrefragable evidence that the Jewish people have always made valuable, permanent and constructive
contributions of time, talent and treasure to the public interest of the country giving then shelter and citizenship. We discover this folly again in the Pharaoh of Germany – Adolph Hitler. In crushing and destroying the children of Israel in the Germany of our days, Hitler plunged his wanton and insensate knife deep into the bosom of a precious German daughter of culture and enlightenment born into his very own family as a priceless heritage by the Jewish people who formed an invaluable and integral part of his national entity. When Hitler intoxicated his thoughtless nation to follow his insane policy of anti-Semitism he destroyed himself and the State he professed to serve. Hitlerite Germany committed national suicide when she drained the poison-goblet of Jewish-hate placed in her hand by the hate-inflamed Pharaoh of the early half of this current century – Adolph Hitler. Unquestionably, national anti-Semitism is national suicide. Hate is always hurtful, hurting both the hater and the hated; but Jew-hate is not just hurtful, it is perilous because it invokes the operation of a specific Divine principal of God-initiated retribution! Of the Jewish people, God's Revealed Word declares: "I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee" and again history enters the witness-box and points to the poppied fields of ages past studded with the weed-grown tombs of whole nations who have committed national selfmurder by permitting themselves to be inoculated with the deadly virus of Jew-hate. God has declared that every nation that persecutes Israel, the Jewish people, will come under His condign chastisement. This is a spiritual principle. Where is the mighty Assyrian nation today? Where is the swagger of Sennacherib? The pretensions of Pul? The arrogance of Assurbanipal? "The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold" says Byron. Yet Assyria became party to her own self-destruction when she unconsciously aligned herself against this Divine spiritual principle. Be it the bombast of Babylon or the heroics of Hitler, the outcome is the same – Jew-hate will seal the fate of any nation that indulges it. One's ears almost echo again with the menacing bark of Hitler's anti-Jewish utterances like the staccato rattle of his many murderous machine-guns mowing down his helpless Jewish victims in the relentless prosecution of his Satanic vow to destroy Israel utterly from the earth!
But the course of the ages and the sure testimony of God would make no exception for Adolph Hitler â€“ "I will . . . curse him that curseth thee" is a Divine attitude that has never been revoked. Where is Germany today? And where is Hitler today? One is reminded of the words of Shakespeare: "Imperious Caesar! Dead and turned to clay; now stops a hole to keep the wind away!" Yes! The body of Hitler is dead, but he is a patriot indeed who warns his nation that the foul spirit of Hitler still marches on, devilishly beckoning other nations to follow him in self-wreck upon the rocks of hate. May the free world be stabbed awake to this peril of anti-Semitism. One has well said: "AntiSemitism is not merely a Jewish concern; it is the concern of all men who care for justice, decency and kindness, and who value the individual freedom won by centuries of struggle against tyranny and privilege." ("The Folly of Anti-Semitism," Dark and Sidebottom). The menace of xenophobia is recognized and the name of one of America's great national figures is quaintly and effectively employed in this catchy little refrain: "A 'ski' or 'witz' or 'off' or 'cu', when added to a name, Just teaches us the family or the town from which it came; A name like Thomas Jefferson in some lands o'er the sea, Would not be Thomas Jefferson, but Thomas Jefferski; Or Jefferwitz or Jefferoff, or maybe Jeffercu â€“ So do not let a 'ski' or 'off' or 'witz' seem strange to you; I feel the same towards ev'ry name, no matter how it ends, For people with the strangest names can be the best of friends." God has and is preserving Israel for a God-declared SPIRITUAL MISSION to the world at the close of this present age and although Israel is currently suffering, as prophesied, for a major national folly which occurred 2,000 years ago, yet he is being preserved by God for the equally prophesied recognition and repudiation of that folly. But, my friends, we must return to Egypt! Ancient Egypt! At the very words our minds have become an immense auditorium knowing no limitations of time and space. We behold the blue stream of the mighty Nile gently stroking the irregular yellow beaches where the eager desert has pressed its sands ever closer into the cooler contact with the seductive caress of those lazy, gliding waters.
Wonderingly, the sentinal palm-trees strain upwards, tense and listening. Listening to the sweaty groans of the enslaved children as they writhe under the lashes of the task-masters. But this was not travail without terminus; this was travail with a tryst; the future, bursting with history yet to be fulfilled, was rushing to this Egyptian rendezvous with destiny. Egypt! The womb of the Messianic nation! The daughter of Egypt, conceived by the seed of Isaac, was waiting to be delivered of her man-child Israel. Yet, here was nature made unnatural, for it was not she â€“ Egypt, the bearer â€“ who travailed in birth pangs, but Israel, the yet-unborn, which laboured waiting to be brought forth. No wonder the stately palms strained their leafy ears to catch the burning sighs of the sons of Israel, for here was pregnancy itself pregnant; pregnant with the sorrows of the Saviour and the song of the saved! In my next message we shall tune our ears in anticipation of the first recorded song of the Bible, the song that is ever the sequence of salvation.
Moses Arrives! We are currently exploring the second book of the Hebrew Bible known as Exodus and the feet of our imagination must now return to tread the ancestral arena of Egyptian antiquity where, from the lips of a fear-fooled Pharaoh of Egypt, there had gone forth the frightful edict against all new-born Hebrew infants:
"If it be son then ye shall kill him." (Exodus 1:16) In his desperate plan of race-extermination this Pharaoh commanded that all male Hebrew children should be consigned to the waters of the Nile; so, the Eternal God of the Universe, obedient to the dictates of this monarch of mausoleums, entrusted one little infant to the river's ready bosom, not to be drowned but to shake the very nation of Egypt and the Pharaoh who sat enthroned over it! What was the background of this babe born to bathe the world in the beams of Divine revelation? Well, the great patriarch Levi had a son named Kohath whose son Amram (the name means "people of the High one") married his fathers sister, Yochebed ("whose glory is God"). Amram thus became the father of three children; first, a daughter Miriam, then a son Aaron and, three years later, another son Moses. It is this last child, Moses, who now claims our attention, for he it is whom the Eternal God committed to the Nile into the safe custody of the reeds of the river. Fearful of the Pharaoh, Yochabed cushioned the infant upon the receptive waters at the tender age of three months, making for him an "ark of bulrushes." Now I do not believe that this
was a random act of forlorn hopelessness on her part for I suspect the word , ark, is related to the Egyptian word "debet" or "tebet" in which case we have an interesting clue. Such a word was employed commonly in Egyptian parlance for a kind of naos used for the housing of images. On certain festival occasions these shrines containing the Egyptian deities were transported from temple to temple both down the waters of the sacred Nile and overland in solemn procession.
Into to just such a little shrine, as I believe, the trusting mother placed her precious infant leaving his sister, Miriam to see "what would be done to him." (Exodus 2:4)
Sure enough, and again quite in keeping with established Egyptian conditions, the daughter of Pharaoh, namely the Royal Princess, came to bathe in "the waters" – an expression used synonymously with "the Nile" where she discovered the weeping child in the little shrine. Then, the initiative of the watching Miriam contrived that the child's own mother, Yochabed, herself be appointed by the Princess as the infant's own nurse. In adopting the babe, Pharaoh's daughter gave him the name , Moses:
10 "And she called his name Moses, and said 'Because I drew him out of the water' " (Exodus 2:10). As to the origin of the name Moses there are at least three conjectures. Abraham Ibn Ezra thinks it is a Hebrew rendering of the Egyptian name "Monios"; others think it to be derived from the Hebrew verb "to draw out," and this is quite likely. However, since an Egyptian princess bestowed the name, I personally incline to a third suggestion which finds a pure Egyptian etymology. In this name, the initial element, "mu", is an Egyptian metaphorical expression for "Seed", and the second element, "sheh", is a common Egyptian word generally meaning "pond" or "lake", but also specifically applied to the Nile, particularly in its broad expanses. Hence this "seed of the waters", this "child of the Nile", sucked the Hebrew milk of his ancestors at his mother's bosom and the Egyptian milk of knowledge at the palace of the Pharaoh where he took his place with the other royal children. So the Eternal God, the Giver of Life, had planted in the womb of Egypt the seed that would bring forth unto Him that national entity which He graciously designated His "Son," His "Firstborn," for in such wonderful terms of relationship the Eternal alludes to the Messiah Nation, Israel. If you are unacquainted with the words, here they are:
22 "Thus saith the Eternal, Israel is My son, My firstborn." You will find this touching and amazing pronouncement in Exodus 4:22. But to return to Moses. You have heard the expression – "Think of a number!" Well, if I had to think of a number in relation to Moses my mind would leap to the number FORTY. His life was clearly divided into three distinct periods of forty years each. Forty years in Egypt, forty years in Midian, and forty years in the Wilderness (Acts 7:23, 30, 36, Exodus 2:19) where he twice spent forty days and forty night in the Mount of Awe.
There is, I am convinced, great significance in the numbers employed in Scripture but I must resist the temptation to enlarge on this subject now, and must content myself by mentioning that the number forty signifies testing. Moses was tested for forty years as a Prince in Egypt; then for forty years as a shepherd in Midian: and finally forty years as a King in the Wilderness. (Deuteronomy 33:5 Abraham Ibn Ezra) His forty years in Egypt brought him the advantages of good education and also taught him the undoubted limitations of education where Divine spiritual enlightenment is absent. In Egypt he saw the pomp and the poverty of paganism. His forty years in Midian brought him the supreme revelation of the One True God (Exodus 3) for the God of the Universe appeared crowned with thorns before him in the midst of a fire that consumed not. In the fiery thorn-bush Moses heard from One Whom Nachmanides (Rabbi Mosheh ben Nachman 1194- c. 1270 C.E.) declares was God Himself where also Moses "caught a glimpse" of the Shechinah. Moses in receiving the Divine declaration: "I shall be that I shall be" (Exodus 3:14) recognized the God of Israel as the eternal, unconditioned, self-existent God of the Universe able and willing to save to the uttermost all who approach Him in the Way He Himself prescribes. Yes indeed, as in Egypt he saw the negative side, so in Midian he saw the positive side – the Personal Presence of God. And what of his forty years in the Wilderness? Here he learnt the perverseness of man and the patience, perseverance, purpose and power of God. What glorious lessons were these! Is it any wonder that they moulded a man that impressed indefinitely and indelibly human history, human thought and human conduct down the ages? Shakespeare says "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts." Surely of Moses it can be said he played many parts for the Scriptures reveal him at least as prophet, mediator, king, redeemer, voluntary substitute (Exodus 32:32), lawgiver, priest, leader, warrior, intercessor, servant, teacher and prince; and with all his supreme personal characteristics was his meekness, his capacity for much-enduring. Yet, let us not deceive ourselves; for Exodus is a book revealing not only God's faithfulness but man's failure. Pharaoh failed; he came under Divine judgement. Aaron failed; the golden calf incident is sad proof of this. Miriam failed; her leprosy was a salutory reminder. Israel's responsible
leaders failed; the rebellion of Korah is an example. The whole nation of Israel failed; the entire Book is a weary commentary on this feature. Yes, and Moses failed, too; and he was forbidden entrance to the Promised Land as a consequence and removed from this earth by a God-decreed death even whilst "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" (Deuteronomy 34:7). Yet for all that failure, God Himself attended the secret sepulchre of this illustrious son of Abraham. There is a Jewish saying â€“ "From Moses to Moses there is none like Moses." I would be inclined to agree with this dictum were it not for Moses' own prophetic words to the contrary recorded in Deuteronomy 18, where Moses declares: "A prophet will the Eternal thy God raise up unto thee, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall harken." (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) Who is this prophet "like unto" Moses? Has he come? Is he coming? Or has he both come and is coming?
The Miraculous Attestation My friends, found among the papers of Jefferson, after his death, were these words: "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." The Exodus narrative begins with the account of the Bondage of Israel under a tyrant Pharaoh of Egypt. In these moments we have together let us follow the stupendous events associated with a resistance so spectacular that it still grips our attention as we re-enter its record today. What a precious deposit archaeology has brought us! Modern findings have abundantly confirmed the reliability and antiquity of the Biblical record to such an extent that I am persuaded only the strongest blend of blind prejudice and determined scepticism could withstand its evidence. It seems only yesterday that Pride married Scepticism and gave to the world its first born child – Pseudo-Scholarship. This precocious youngster demanded some toys with which to play, so the great manufacturing firm Speciousness, Speculation and Balderdash, Unlimited provided a beautiful bubble-pipe for the bumptious boy and the bubbles he blew were bewitching 'tis true but were as baneful as bacteria in a backwater. One of these soapy sophistries was the suggestion that (the Pentateuch, the books attributed to Moses) was the product not of the man Moses nor of the age in which he lived, but rather of some writers so late as from the sixth to the ninth century before the Common Era; writers who new nothing of ancient Egypt nor its culture and customs. It was a beautiful bubble and many followed it fascinated; but the spade of the archaeologist smote it so severly that it burst leaving only a watery wash of Wellhausenism which the winds wafted away. Truly, modern archaeology abundantly confirms the Biblical descriptions of the customs, conditions and, yea! the general chronology of the age we are about to enter together. From discoveries in the royal tombs of Thebes, the "City of the Dead," we learn that even in ancient Egypt they had their labour troubles where, either with or without just cause, the workers went on strike at the instigation of their labour leaders. What! Strikes in ancient Egypt? Yes, there's nothing new under the sun. (Arbeiter und Arbeiterbewegung, Spielberg) It is therefore feasible to imagine that the Pharaoh of Egypt at first thought he had to deal with a couple of labour leaders, bent on making trouble when Moses and Aaron appeared before him on behalf of the people of Israel.
A gradual disillusionment on this score must have come to him when the true nature of the controversy dawned upon his mind from the very character of the Ten Plagues which smote Egypt as consequences of his stubbornness; for did not the God of the Universe declare "against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement." (Exodus 12:12) Yes, it was against the pagan gods of Egypt that the bolts of Divine retribution were hurled. Pharaoh and Moses were not the prime parties in this encounter. Behind the human actors a spiritual drama of major magnitude was being enacted. Demons defending their unlawful possession of human obeisance; Deity affirming the sole right to such worship. Let this important key serve to unlock this contest to our understanding. If you have read the details of the encounter you will have been impressed with the prominent part played by the rod, or staff, in all the thaumaturgical activities surrounding Moses, Aaron and the magicians of Egypt. There is deep significance in this. Rods tipped with the heads of the various pagan gods and named after them were common, but commanding, features in Egypt. The "holy rod of Amon," the "rod of Khnum," the "rod of AmonRa" are but few among many. This factor even appeared in such Egyptian proper names as "nes-pamedu," "he who belongs to the (holy) rod", and is reproduced in the cuneiform script as "ish-pimattu" from whence, undoubtedly, we derive the Hebrew word , rod, used in Exodus. Now we see why Moses appears before Pharaoh and his thaumaturgists with "the rod of God in his hand" (Exodus 4:20).
See, now, where the successive blows really strike, as we consider the ten plagues the first of which is: 1. THE BLOOD (7:14-25) The Nile was an Idol River, for its water and certain of its denizens were held sacred and worshiped. Thus was the Nile-god humiliated by the plague of blood. 2. THE FROGS (8:1-15) Hekt, the goddess with the frog head, was Divinely exposed in the second plague. 3. THE LICE (8:16-19) This was a blow directed at Seb, the earth god. 4. THE (8:20-32) Although Josephus and others interpret this Hebrew word as referring to "a mixture" of creatures, I am persuaded that a careful study of the Scriptures (Exodus 8:29, 31; Hebrews 8:25, 27) will disclose that a single creature is implied, probably a particular type of beetle, which would be interpreted by the Egyptians as a judgement upon the sacred Scarabaeus. 5. THE MURRAIN (9:1-7) This was a pointed shaft of retribution directed towards Apis, the sacred Egyptian bull.
6. THE BOILS (9:8-12 Here Typhon, the Evil Genius, was discomforted and Egypt's magicians suffered their second defeat. It was also directed against Neit, the goddess of health. 7. THE HAIL AND FIRE (9:13-35) Since hail is practically unknown in Egypt, this judgement directed against Shu, the god of the atmosphere, would have impressed Pharaoh and the Egyptians with the supernatural character of the visitation. This was also a shaft against Isis. 8. THE LOCUSTS (10:1-20) Since the Egyptians paid homage to the god Serapia as the protector against locusts, here was a revealing and severe judgement exposing the impotence and inadequacy of this pagan deity. 9. THE DARKNESS (10:21-29) As I prepared this message for you I had before me the glorious picture in colour of the sun-golden faces of the 1000 foot cliffs beneath which nestled the imposing three-terraced temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the female Pharaoh of Egypt, where the sun-altar can still be seen reminiscent of Egypt's ancient worship of Ra, the sun-god. This ninth plague of supernatural darkness stripped the deity from Ra and left him blind and groping amidst his deluded devotees. 10. THE DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN (11:1 to 12:36) This last and most appalling plague which produced the capitulation of Pharaoh and the liberation of Israel was piercingly purposive. In no other country was primogeniture so important as in Egypt. The first-born of the Pharaoh was attributed with divine rank equal to that of the Pharaoh himself. As Egyptian formula puts it, the first-born "came forth out of the body of the god." When the first-born ascended the throne he was given the title "Sa-Ra-en-Khatef," that is "the son of Ra from his body." This final judgment was thus widespread in its implication. It involved Ra, the sun-god; it involved Horus, the god King; and, since the visitation extended to the first-born of the beasts, it involved Apis, the sacred bull and Hathor, the goddess with the head, horns or ears of a cow. Surely all Egypt was taught a Divine lesson from these miraculous activities. May we who today survey them from afar profit from them here and now. Consider for a moment the two dominant opponents Pharaoh and Moses. Both these leaders possessed similar qualities. Both were leaders of their respective people and multitudes. Both were alike in their courage, Moses to withstand the power and prestige of Pharaoh and Pharaoh to withstand the magnitude and manifestations of the cumulative visitations imposed upon him. Unusual persistence is another commendable quality shared equally by both. We have already noted it in Moses, but is it not equally obvious in Pharaoh? But here is the real lesson we may ask humbly to learn for current application â€“ with both these men God was equally patient.
Do you remember, when God first called Moses, he fought an evasive action against the call and commission of God, advancing all sorts of excuses? How patient God was with him. Yes, towards Pharaoh, too, God exhibited that very same patience. My friends, the warmth of the same sun will melt butter but bake clay. Pharaoh permitted the Divine patience to harden him to self destruction; whilst Moses permitted this gracious quality to melt him to a meekness which was rewarded by such a fulness of the Divine Presence that Moses "wist not that the skin of his face shone." May God bestow upon us all that tendency of heart and willingness of spirit that will reward us all with the shining face from the blessed Presence of Moses' God, your God, my God!
The Magnificent Anti-Climax I want you to come with me to a birth. No births are ordinary, I know, and the birth I ask you to attend is superlatively extraordinary. It is the birth of a book. Again, the ordinary is absent, for this book is unique; it is the only book of its kind ever to appear. Fail to see it and you have failed to see perhaps the supreme wonder of the created universe. This book is so immense that if all the libraries of the world were consolidated into one gargantuan edifice, it would be too Lilliputian to contain it, because its pages are people; its paper, the scroll of historic ages; its ink, the tears, the laughter, the songs, the sighs, yea! the very blood of the sons of Jacob! But, above all – and be this noted! – its author is God. "But now thus saith the Eternal that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou are Mine." (Isaiah 43:1 ff) Yes, God Himself is the Author, Creator and Redeemer of this animated, pulsing volume – the Jewish people and nation. Of such a manual, monogrammed by God Himself, the words of BulwerLytton may well apply: "In you are sent The types of Truth whose life is THE TO COME: In you soars up the Adam from the Fall; In you the FUTURE as the PAST is given – Ev'n in our death ye bid us hail our birth; Unfold these pages, and behold the Heaven, Without one grave-stone left upon the Earth." In preceding messages we have watched the golden sands of Egypt absorbing the tears of a bondaged people and speeding those salty sorrows in heat-evaporated prayers to the Heavens above. We have seen the answer of Heaven, dispatched in human entity from a thorn-crowned God in Midian; we have seen this Moses, Divinely-empowered, topple a tyrant from his tyranny; and now the pains of a judged nation provide the birth-pangs of the new-born Israel – the Messianic Nation. O my dear friends, the lessons to be learnt from such a birth must not be lost upon us. Would God the world would master them! I beseech you, let us not be inattentive.
Come, let us press right through into the very scene and circumstance of the Egyptian Passover, the birth of Israel. The oppressed and terror-stricken Hebrews had been long crying to the God of our fathers for deliverance and, at last, the deliverer was in their midst. How they must have hung upon the lips of Moses as he now begins to instruct them in the WAY OUT. Out of bondage into liberty; from fear to freedom; from ignominy to independence. What, then, is the first Divinely-authorised instruction of our great deliverer, Moses? It will be positively fascinating to hear it because, as the famous Rabbi Nachmanides correctly observes, it was the very commandment ordained upon Israel as a people. Here it is – listen:
2 "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you." (Exodus 12:2) How strange this must have sounded in the Hebrew ears. It was actually the seventh month, known as Abib, and now Moses commands its cancellation and replaces it with the first month known as Nisan, thus changing the calendar, substituting the first for the seventh, and making a new beginning. A sentimental ordinance no doubt, for births do mark new beginnings; but did these Hebrews in Egypt feel that this was surely no time for sentiment! The iron heel of Egypt's taskmasters, pressed upon the throats of slaves, doesn't tend to squeeze poetry from pain-racked people! This is no Shakespearian play, Moses, with poetry preceding performance! Action, not artistry, is what we want! Can't you hear the tramp of Pharaoh's legions? Patience! Patience! Listen, further, to this Moses, please! "In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man . . ." Ah! NOW we're "getting places"! This looks like business at last! A day appointed - the tenth; the men assembled to take to them, every man – well, no need for speculation here; what do men need to blast their way out of Pharaoh's clutches? There is only one answer – WEAPONS! Knives, swords, spears, guns, gas, atom-bombs! This is the way to liberty, of course. But, Moses, where shall we find these weapons? We know we need them and we are willing to fight Pharaoh under your leadership, but with these bare hands? True! They're hard and calloused enough through the toil Pharaoh has place upon us; but are they adequate to pluck the spears from his armies? Are these labour-lean feet so swift and agile that they can out-speed his chariots? What shall we men take? "Ye shall take 'every man A LAMB' "!
What an anticlimax! Can quivering flesh and blood suddenly petrify? Is this witchcraft that has instantly immobilized a multitude? The people stand stunned. So! Sentiment is succeeded by stupidity! First Moses changes the calendar, now he is going to lift the load and lash the legions with a lamb! Is this a leader? Or a lampoon? Dear God, have we been tricked? Is Moses a delivering instrument or a demented idiot? O Israel! Hold back the mounting anger! Remember the Ten Plagues! Patience! Patience! Our way may be weapons, but God's way is first the Lamb. The weapons may follow, of course, but the Lamb must go before. The blood of sacrifice must ever be the Godappointed way to ultimate freedom. Yes, surely, Moses is the deliverer and, because God-appointed, offers no limited liberty such as might be obtained by weapons alone. The larger liberty He offers includes this liberty, too, but with it He presents liberty to enjoy the God of Freedom, the God of Israel, in the sun-bathed blessedness of satisfactory atonement for sin by the blood of the Lamb. Rashi, Abraham Ibn Ezra, and Rashbam are among our great Jewish commentators who recognize and declare that the paschal lamb was in the nature of a sacrifice. Is it any wonder that the lamb became the zodiacal sign for Nisan, the first month of the year? On the left bank of an arm of the Nile in the Western delta in the year 1799 of the Common Era, there was found an irregularly-shaped slab of black basalt now universally known as the "Rosetta Stone" and thought perhaps to have originally stood in a temple built by Pharaoh Necho of the twenty-sixth Egyptian Dynasty. It bore parallel inscriptions in Greek and in Egyptian hieroglyphic and demotic characters which rendered possible the decipherment and release to the world of the mysteries of the ancient Egyptian writing. One of these primitive Egyptian hieroglyphs is in the form of a cross, and its meaning is "saviour," "deliverer." Is it not fascinating to observe that when the ancestral Hebrews in Egypt obeyed the command of Moses to put the blood of the lamb "on the two side-posts and on the lintel" (Exodus 12:7) of their houses, their arm movements, in doing so, would generally conform to the outline of this symbol of deliverance, this sign of saviourhood. Abraham Ibn Ezra well remarks that the mark of the blood was designed as an atonement for those within the house who partook of the paschal offering. Do you suppose that anything like this could have been in the mind of that great Jew, Yochanan, when looking upon that greater Jew, Yeshua, as he walked, cried:
"Behold the Lamb of God the bearer of the sin of the world." (John 1:29) It is highly important that we should find an adequate answer to such a question as this.
The Manumission Accomplished In these "Treasures from Tenach" we are currently exploring the Book of Exodus and the manumission of Israel from Egypt. O, for a tongue like the brush of a Rembrandt that every word might be a colour, choice and apt to paint the kaleidoscopic picture of Israel's exodus from haughty Egypt! O, for the sound-mastery of a Beethoven that every vocal intonation might add to that picture the immortal, hollow and convulsed articulation of smitten Egypt! The Rock of Ages had struck! The Ten Plagues had climaxed their crescendo with the final blow and God had claimed His firstborn! But more, as salutary reprisal, He had claimed the firstborn of man and beast from the very throne itself down to the meanest stall where cattle meet and meditate! "Let my people go!" had been the demand of a just God to a despotic tyrant and Pharaoh's blend of roguery and refusal resulted in rigorous retribution. Egypt reeled under the blows of God! Blows which sent the tyrant and his taskmasters tottering, but which smashed the manacles from the captive people, Israel, and opened before them the doors of freedom – and to freedom's God! O that we might move with the speed of light at 186,272 miles per second, so that we could reach a planet so distant from this earth that we could view the "past" as the "present" it would then be. What a drama of movement the Exodus from Egypt would present to our fascinated gaze. Moses moving with the bones of Joseph (Exodus 13:9); Pharaoh moving with the avenging chariots (Exodus 14:8,9); the liberated Israelites moving with their burden of fear and doubt (Exodus 14:1012); God moving
". . . by day in a pillar of cloud . . . and by night in a pillar of fire . . ." (Exodus 13:21) These movements are currents that are to converge and collide with consequences never to be erased from man's memory! The frenzy of Pharaoh; the fortitude of Moses; the fearfulness of the Israelites and the faithfulness of God are to rendezvous at the Red Sea and build there a moral and spiritual monument upon which is inscribed in letters which should be indelible for all times for all Israelites everywhere: "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Eternal." (Exodus 14:13)
By God's grace there were three movements for Israel – towards, through and from the Red Sea; by God's judgement there were only two movements for Pharaoh and his hosts – towards and in the Red Sea. The waters receding for Israel's safe passage returned to engulf and swallow Israel's enemies. Thus it has ever been down the ages! The frenzy of Israel's enemies has pursued him to the very waters of annihilation but the pledged promise of the God Who keeps covenant, has always parted those waters for Israel's safe emergence and that same Divine faithfulness has ever brought the billows back to engulf and swallow Israel's prospective destroyer. The history of Israel and the Red Sea experience are synonymous in character and duration. Israel had been moving towards, through, and from the Red Sea for over three thousand years and ever with and towards the Blessed God Who met him at the Mount. So it will with Israel today! Let Egypt threaten! Let Pharaoh pursue! Let the mountains of Arab armaments outflank the Israelites and the Red Sea waters of Russian intrigue and intransigence appear an impenetrable barrier to Israel's security and tranquility! The God Who lived in Moses time is just the same today! The very same God Who through His inspired messenger Jeremiah gave His people Israel this precious promise: "For I am with thee, saith the Eternal, to save thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of thee; for I will correct thee in measure, and will not utterly destroy thee." (Jeremiah 30:11 Hebrew) Check this Divine promise with history, ye lovers of truth, and rejoice in a pledge-keeping God! Check this Divine promise with history, ye enemies of Israel, and learn against Whom ye really fight! Check this Divine promise with history, my beloved people of Israel, and stand fast and fearless in the Rock of Israel! Let us not fail to grasp the fulness of the promise I have just quoted – the miracle of Israel's Divine conservation on the positive side is matched by the measure of Israel's Divine correction on the negative side. Neither the one nor the other can happen to the nation of Israel apart from the God of Israel. How well the Messiah of Israel knew this! When His Roman crucifier cried – "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have it in my power to set you free or to crucify you?" This was the Pontius reply Pilate received:
"You would have now power at all over me, if it had not been given to you from above." (John 9:10,11). Power is always in the Palms of the Preserver even though, for the time, it may appear to be in the paws of the puppet. How I long for the fulfillment of the equally prophesied day when that mighty Joshua will take over from Moses and lead Israel into full possession of his possessions, spiritual as well as temporal. "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Eternal." These words are like a rainbow of promise. I see one end of its hopeful beams colouring Ben Gurion's Israel today: let us climb that rainbow back through the threats of Egypt today to the threats of Egypt in the times of Moses. It cannot be said that the date of the Exodus is yet a settled factor. There are two currents of opinion each of which is influenced according as to whether one follows the archaeological conclusions of Professor Garstang or those of Miss Kenyon. Some scholars select Rameses II as the Pharaoh of the Oppression and Merneptah II, his son, as the Pharaoh of the Exodus (1225-1215 B.C.E.); yet the discovery of an inscription by Merneptah in which ismade reference to Israel as a settled people would tend to throw the date back to an earlier Dynasty than the 19th, and point to near the reign of Thotmes III of the 18th Dynasty (c 15550 1335 B.C.E.). Who cares what Pharaoh It was, so long as God has His Moses? Although the Eternal through His prophet, Micah:
4 "And I sent before thee Moses, Aaron and Miriam." (Micah 6:4) Yet surely Moses is the dominating leader as our Jewish Targums infer when they say that Moses was to teach religion and law, Aaron to show the way of the atonement and Miriam to instruct the women. But Moses was more than a teacher. He was a superb leader and dominates the drama now before us. Picture the children of Israel encamped beside Pi-Hahirot; the wanton winds of the wilderness mobilised the sharp-edged sand grains of the desert and sped them, stinging strong, against the fearful faces of the former slaves of Pharaoh.
But the desert dust was not thick enough, nor the wailing winds loud enough, to obscure the dread sound and sight of the pursuing Egyptians. With eyes dilated and hearts terror-thumping in their breasts, the children of Israel watched the approach of Pharaoh and his hosts with horror. Cracking the winds apart with God-bestowed authority came the command of Moses â€“ "Go forward, Israel! Go forward! For whereas ye have seen the Egyptians today, ye shall see them no more for ever!" Obedient to the command, Israel faced the waters whose wisdom was greater than that of Pharaoh for, parting in reverent curtsy before God's firstborn, the waters walled away from oppression to opportunity; from fetters to freedom! Is Pharaoh so blind that he cannot see the scarlet sun spearing from the glinting eyes of the scintillating waters those flashing angers that are more then adequate answers to his spear gleams! The tempo of the tide turns! No longer the Mozartic minuet of lavender-laced curtsy, but the rearing draw-up of pouncing wrath descending, with crushing, pounding, violence, upon the hosts of Egypt. "Ye shall see them no more for ever!" Israel is free! It is time to sing! Yea! "I will sing unto the Eternal, for He is highly exalted; the horse and the rider hath He thrown into the sea. The Eternal is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation." (Exodus 15:1-19).
The Melodious Acclamation Surely song is the twin-sexed servant of sentiment, the convenient courier of the cries of the creature. Possessing a lavish livery, a widespread wardrobe, song sallies forth in many garbs. The sob-soaked sonnet of the sentimentalist; the ballad bellowed from the blustering belly of the bombast; the thin, anaemic lyre of the love-lorn loon; the aeolian aspirations of the altruist â€“ all these, and so many more, advance to the footlights of our attention and pepper the staves of our souls with their quivering quavers and their compelling crotchets. Yet, whether expressed by the melodic motley of the jester or the pulsing delirium of the prima donna, behind the lyric lurks the labyrinthine longings of the human heart, torturous and insistent, real and urgent, even though poured out through the persuasive pipes of Pan. True, song conceived in the dead womb of a darkened spirit may have a touch of bravado in them such as, perhaps, is reflected in these gloriously mournful lines of Neihardt: "And grant that when I face the grisly Thing, My song may trumpet down the gray Perhaps Let me be as a tune-swept fiddlestring That feels the Master Melody â€“ and snaps." Wealthy words, these; rich in colourful contour and lavish in lofty attitudinization, but how povertystricken in assurance! One stands in lifeless desert of these bold words and scans in vain their waterless wastes, their "gray Perhaps", for even a mirage of hope encourage the pushed pilgrim on life's precarious highway. How otherwise is it when the song is born in heaven! It was the poet, Longfellow, who wrote these lines: "God sent His singers upon earth With songs of sadness and of mirth, That they might touch the hearts on men, And bring them back to heaven again." If there is truth in Longfellow's generalisation in regard to song, how impregnable the verity when both song and singer are God-sent? Such melody becomes a sparkling ecstatic liquid able to quench the most ardent, urgent thirst of the spirit of man. It bursts from the human heart in chords of conquest and invites the halls of heaven to echo its harmony.
The first recorded song in the Bible breathes this buoyant atmosphere of hope and assurance. It is exultant in exaltation of the One Who Himself composed the song of the nightingale. Let us for a moment, tune our ears to its stirring melody. If you have followed me in my last message your ears will still be ringing with the roar of the returning waters as they overthrew the hosts of Pharaoh in pursuit of the children Of Israel Divinely liberated under the leadership of Moses. Now let us find this treasure of song in the wonderful second book of the Bible, known in Hebrew as Shmot and in English as – EXODUS. This first recorded song is introduced to us at chapter 15, by the significant word –"THEN".
1 "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Eternal . . ." THEN they sang! Yes, indeed, song succeeds slavery; melody matures with manumission; lyric is launched in liberty! "Thou in Thy love hast lead the people that Thou hast redeemed; Thou hast guided them in Thy strength to Thy holy habitation." (Exodus 15:13). In the sixteenth verse of that same ecstatic song God is described as the "purchaser" of Israel – "this people whom Thou hast purchased." God had liberated the children of Israel from the bondage of ancient Egypt. How much better to be the purchased possession of God than the conscripted chattel of man! Man frequently acquires only to abuse, but God always acquires only to acquit. Among His innumerable Divine interventions on behalf of fallen humanity there are at least three occasions which are epochal; three occasions which open up a new era in human history, and in spiritual knowledge. I would call them THREE LEAPS TO LIBERTY and I would ask you to note how they widen out and increase their scope with each successive Divine intervention: Firstly: A Divine intervention to purchase from bondage the INDIVIDUAL; Secondly: A Divine intervention to purchase from bondage the NATION; and Thirdly: A Divine intervention to purchase from bondage the whole HUMAN RACE.
There is such pattern, such progress, such purpose in this, that I beg you patient and sober consideration of it phenomena. The first epochal Divine intervention of this character was in Eden when God interposed on the occasion of the Fall of Man, a subject which I have already discussed in past messages. (See "GEMS FROM GENESIS
In driving out the now-fallen Man and guarding the Tree of Life from him, God acted in mercy. This is clearly stated in the Scripture itself where we read:
22 "And now lest he send forth his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live for ever." (Genesis 3:22b). God guarded our first parents from the awful fate of immortality in a fallen spiritual state and they went forth from His presence clothed both in the coats of skin with which He covered their nakedness and in His Divine promise of a future Redeemer. The second epochal Divine intervention was the occasion which has more recently claimed our attention – the liberation of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Before considering the third widest epoch, let us pause right here to absorb into our consciousness a most important and consistent principle which we will find inherent and basic in each widening arc of Divine purchase. Our great Moses enunciates this vital principle of Divine purchase and redemption when he declares:
11 "For the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it (the blood) to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life." (Leviticus 17:11). On this very passage of Scripture our great Rashi says: "Every living creature depends for its life on its blood. It was, therefore, chosen to expiate the sins of man which would have brought about his death."
My friends, was there blood shed in Eden on the epoch of INDIVIDUAL intervention? Undoubtedly there was! The coats of skin with which our first parents were Divinely clothed cost blood! Was there blood shed in Egypt on the epoch of NATIONAL intervention? Undoubtedly there was! The paschal lambs would all bleat their plaintive attestation even if the door-posts and lintels kept silence. Then what of the third and widest epoch occasion; is there any reference to the blood where the redemption of the whole HUMAN RACE is concerned? Let the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrew answer this question: "But when Messiah came as the High Priest of good things that have already taken place, He went by way of that greater and more perfect – tent of worship – not made by human hands, that is not belonging to this material creation, and not with blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He once for all went into the real sanctuary and secured our eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:11-12). My friends, reference is made to the song of Moses in the beginning of the Bible; is it any wonder that it receives reference again at the end of the Bible where we read of the redeemed that: ". . . they were singing the song of Moses; and the song of the Lamb." (Revelation 15:3). Yes, truly, we shall never know the full melody of the song of Moses until we sing it in the key of salvation purchased by the blood of the Lamb-Messiah of Israel. May that song be ever yours as it is ever mine.
The Magnetic Alliance We are, I am sure, all familiar with the peculiar phenomenon of magnetism. Doubtless as children, having acquired a small magnet, we have been fascinated by the mystery of the unseen power resident in the magnet; also, we have been spellbound as we have observed the wonder of the manifestation of that invisible force when we have brought it into proximity with objects susceptible to its influence. Even as adults we have found this hidden property of magnetism equally alluring and also very useful. Have you ever been occupied in the task of tacking down some linoleum on a wooden floor when, alas, you have dropped the box of tacks and scattered them over the floor? In these busy days what a strain on time and patience awaits if we were obliged to pick up each spilt tack individually! Fortunately there is a quicker method. A magnet. How tranquil and undisturbed those tacks look as they lie in scattered clusters on the floor. But the magnet now approaches! Presently a mysterious agitation strikes the erstwhile inert tacks. Closer comes the magnet, greater becomes the agitation until, suddenly, the attractive pull of this uncanny influence overpowers all resistance and the tack flies to the magnet and is held, willingly or unwillingly, in a close embrace. Modern engineering employs this mysterious power. Huge mobile electro-magnets are used to raise and transport immense masses of responsive materials. It is quite an experience to see these magnetic monsters approach weights; weight that would pucker the brows of man and tax the strength of muscle to shift yet, when the magnet beckons, they fly obediently to its call. Ever thus has been the relationship between God and Israel. In immediate past messages we have followed the Chosen People in their bondage in Egypt and we have heard Moses sing the song of redemption and deliverance at the completion of their miraculous passage through the Red Sea. Now, the mightiest Magnet of all time was even then was preparing to descend over Mt Sinai and draw the Jewish people in an attractive embrace that the counter-influence of the ages could not nullify. Israel was now destined to come under the magnetic power of the Rock of Ages and to be impregnated with a mysterious, inexplicable, spiritual, property which would bend this people, willingly or unwillingly, towards the One God of the Universe.
An unparalleled sentence which, so far as I know, occurs nowhere else in the Tenach, is found at Exodus, chapter 19, verse 9. Let us demand the obedient attention of our minds in order that the full force and implication of these tremendous words may register fully upon our consciousness.
9 "And the Eternal said unto Moses 'Behold, I am coming to you in the thickness of a cloud, . . .' " What a devastating announcement! "I, the Eternal God, am coming to you!" no wonder the children of Israel were galvanized into immediate preparatory action. Obedient to the command of their great leader, Moses, they washed their garments; they suspended the more intimate domestic relationships; they removed themselves back from the dread mountain rendezvous to the required distance and, thus sanctified, they waited the arrival of God. Suddenly, on the morning of the third day, Mount Sinai leapt with joy. The One Who spoke the whole cosmos into being was condescending to use its rugged summit as a temporary audience chamber. The whole mount quaked and trembled with excitement, it breathed its expectations in exhalations which became visible to the people below. "Now Mount Sinai was altogether on smoke, because the Eternal descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." What a spectacular and glorious phenomenon!
17 "And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; . . ." (Exodus 19:17) God has arrived! Come and meet Him! As Rashi declares "The Divine Presence went forth to meet Israel as the bridegroom goes forth to meet his bride." The Mighty Magnet from the spangled heavens now draws His people irresistibly to Him as they stand before Him in majestic audience, He garlands their bowed heads with the sublime festoon of the Ten Words:
1 "And God spoke all these words, saying . . ." (Exodus 20:1)
Yes, my friends, God spake! I agree heartily with Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel who declares: "If God is alive, the Bible is His voice. No other work is worthy of being considered a manifestation of His will." Beyond doubt Dr. Heschel's words are true. The Law was given by God; and recorded by Moses and accepted by Israel. The first revelation of the Law in its fullest and most perfect form is found in Deuteronomy. It consists of Laws Civil; Laws Criminal; Laws Judicial and Constitutional; Laws Ecclesiastical and Ceremonial and a study of this great deposit of revelation will surely impress us with its theocratic character. How truly the Psalmist declares:
8 "The Law of the Eternal is perfect, restoring the soul: . . ." (Psalm 19:7 (8) Yes, the Law is perfect because it came from a perfect God. But let us be frank as well as wise to admit that the perfect Law was given to imperfect man and for that reason, among others, another Scripture is equally true and understandable when it declares:
"The Law made nothing perfect" (Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 7, verse 19). What, then, are among the objectives of this superb Divine bestowal, the Law? Well, basically, the Law presented a two-fold Divine revelation. In the first place it revealed the righteous character of the Godhead and in the second place it revealed the unrighteous character of man when measured by God's standard. The Psalmist doubtless recognized this Divine canon of man's measurement when he cried: "The Eternal looked forth from the heavens upon the children of men, to see if there were any man of understanding, that did seek after God. They are all corrupt, they are together become impure; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Psalm 14:2-3). This inherent human defect was speedily demonstrated right at the very scene and time of the Law in the appalling incident of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1 to 33:6).
Yes, my friends, the revelation at Sinai was not only glorious but also painful; however, although painful, the pain was mercifully necessary for the Law took us into protective custody to confront us with the need of Divine redemption. Blood - ever the basis of Divine redemption – soon appeared even at the Mount for we read of Moses that he took the blood of sacrifice and cried: "Behold the blood of the covenant" (Exodus 24:8) and this was speedily followed by the establishment of the Tabernacle with its elaborate sacrificial system of approach to God. Yes, there were surely three revelation at Sinai – (a) God's holiness; (b) man's unholiness; (c) and then, restored fellowship with God through blood sacrifice. And this still remains God's Way today, for those ancient sacrifices were symbolic pointers to the one great blood atonement for sin made by Israel's true Messiah-Redeemer nearly 2,000 years ago.
The Malach Adonai In the book of Exodus which we are currently considering, we are introduced to an alluring Being in these words found at Exodus chapter 23, verse 20:
20 "Behold I am send in an angel before thee . . ." Ere the full light of the fascinating revelation immediately confronting us can penetrate and illumine the reception-room of our minds, it will be necessary to clean our windows, for much of the dust of sheer, unadulterated superstition has settled on the window-glass of our understanding. It is most unfortunate that today the English word "angel" produces in the mind picturizations taken more from human superstitious imaginings than from the Scriptures. Let us look at this word for a moment. The word "angel" is the English translation of the Hebrew word
and the Greek word
. The Hebrew root, , means to execute a commission, to perform actively a ministry, hence the basic meaning of the is "messenger." Even human beings acting in the capacity of messengers can be, and are, called "angels" and such human "angels" or "messengers" are employed in Scripture by both God and man. However it is equally true that the Bible reveals to us that there is a creation unseen by us in which exist nonhuman beings great and powerful, who serve God in many ways including that of being God's "messengers" or "angels." An example of human beings as "angels," "messengers" will be found in Numbers, chapter 20, verse 14, where the Hebrew reads:
14 "And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom." It is also interesting to observe that this very chapter, at verse 16, makes reference to the non-human "angel" or "messenger" in these Hebrew words:
16 "And when we cried unto the Eternal, He heard our voice, and sent an angel . . ."
Now it is this particular
, "angel," "messenger," from God that must claim our most close
attention, for He it is Who was the unseen Deliverer of Israel from Egyptian bondage and is now to continue His gracious service as Israel's escort to the Promised Land. There is something distinctive, something remarkable, about this particular
Moses tells us that this specific Being bears the very Name of God! Of Him, God declares , "My Name is in Him." (Exodus 23:21) My friends, an impartial examination of our Hebrew Scriptures will reveal that, in addition to the race of spiritual beings unseen by us and popularly called "angels," in many passages of Tenach "the angel of God," this particular "messenger" with God's Name, God's essence, in Him, is surely a manifestation of God Himself, more technically known as a "theophany." For example, in that immortal twenty-second chapter of Genesis we read of Abraham's obedient offering of Isaac, it is , "the angel of God," Who calls to Abraham , "from the heavens," and Who commends the patriarch for his attitude and continues with these striking words:
"For now I know that thou art a God-fearing man, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me" (Genesis 22:11). Note the words "from Me." The , angel of God, speaks as God and ascribes to Himself the worship due to God alone. We have a further enlightening example of this phenomenon in Exodus, chapter 3, verse 2, where
, "the angel of the Eternal," appears to Moses in the burning bush (verse 2) and declares:
"I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."(v:6) This is an arresting revelation, my friends; and Moses knew he was in the presence of God for in that very same verse we read: "And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." The Great Rabbi Obadiah Ben Jacob Sforno, always one to reject a forced interpretation, admits frankly that it is the Angel Himself who is referred to by these Divine names. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, of equal fame, is in full agreement on this point.
This arresting feature is not alone a Mosaic revelation; Isaiah, among others of Israel's prophets, is equally clear in presenting the phenomenon. At your leisure please examine Isaiah's 48th chapter and observe that One Who claims to be the First and the Last (verse 12) and Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth (verse 13) and Who declares He was even from "the beginning," also affirms that He was sent by , the Lord God, and by , the Spirit of the Lord God. My friends, here is an occasion where we simply must not imitate Moses who "hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." If we love truth we must hide neither our faces nor our minds from the full force of these Tenach Treasures for if we face them bravely we shall look upon God – and live! Who, then, is this strange uncreated angel with the Name of God in Him; this
Messenger of the Covenant as he is elsewhere called; this angel of the Face of God as He is also known; this One Who appears later to Joshua as the Captain of the Hosts of God? I suggest these Scriptures reveal not only a theophany – a visible appearance of God to man but also something else for which I am going to coin a word of my own; I shall call it a "machiachophany"; by which I mean a visible appearance of the God-Messiah-Redeemer. There can be no doubt that our rabbis have recognized this mystery in the Godhead and called this strange Messenger by the name Mettatron () whose Name, they say, is even as the Name of God having the numerical value of 314 even as , the Almighty. There are two streams of revealed truth coursing through the Tenach which, at first, would appear to possess no likelihood of conjoining into one river of verity; yet I am persuaded they do make a junction, a glorious junction, and a junction in human history. The first steam pours out from heaven to earth – God appears, speaks and reveals Himself as "the Angel of the Covenant," ; and they to whom He appears exclaim: "We have seen God!" The second stream spurts from the very earth itself for right in the Garden of Eden flows the Divine Promise of redemption through the Seed of the Woman as we have seen in past messages. (See "GEMS FROM GENESIS"). Where do these two streams of Divine revelation make junction in history? Well, there is One Who makes claim that they unite in His Own Person and He declares of Himself: "Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." (John 8:56)
To this utterance some expostulated: "You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?" (John 8:57) Now listen to the amazing reply this question received: "I most solemnly say to you, before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58 My friends, having made this declaration of His pre-existence we read that "Yeshua made His way out . . . unperceived." (John 8:59). It is my sincere hope that He does not make His way out unperceived so far as we Jewish people ourselves are concerned.