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Comparison of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah 434
“Launch thy Bark, Mariner"
THE PRESENT TESTIMONY,
SYNOPSIS OF THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE.
In the book of Exodus, we have, as the general and characteristic subject, the deliverance and redemption of the people of God, and their establishment as a people before Him-whether under the law or under the government of God in long-suffering, who provided for his unfaithful people a way of access to Himself
, although they had failed. God's relationship with the people had at first been in grace; but this did not continue, and the people never entered thereinto with intelligence, neither did chey understand this grace like persons who stood in need of it as sinners. We shall proceed to examine a little the course of these divine instructions.
First, we have the historical circumstances which relate to the captivity of Israel—the persecutions which this people had to endure, and the providential superintendence of God answering the faith of the parents, and thus accomplishing the counsels of His grace, which not only preserved the life of Moses, but placed him in an elevated position in the court of Pharaoh.
But, although Providence responds to faith, and acts in order to accomplish God's purposes and control the walk of His children, it is not the guide of faith, although it is made so sometimes by believers who are wanting in clearness of light. Moses's faith is seen in his giving up
a Genesis, Vol. I, No. XII. p. 215, was printed from a paper forwarded by the Author,- his own version, in English, of one written by him in French for the “ Témoignage." This (on Exodus) is a translation from his MS, but since corrected by himself.- Ed. VOL.II. PT.I.
all the advantages of the position in which God had set him in His providence. This faith acted through affections which attached him to God, and consequently to the people of God in their distress, and manifested itself, not in the helps or reliefs which his position could well have enabled him to give to them, but in inducing him to identify himself with that people because it was God's people. Faith attaches itself to God, and to the bond that exists between God and His people; and thus it thinks not of patronising from above, as if the world had authority over the people of God, or was able to be a blessing to them; but it has the feeling of the strength of this bond: it feels (because it is faith) that God loves His people; that His people are precious to Him; His own on the earth; and faith sets itself thus through very affection, in the position where His people find themselves. This is what Christ did. Faith does but follow Him in His career of love, however great the distance at which it walks. How many reasons might have induced Moses to remain in the position where he was; and this even under the pretext of being able to do more for the people; but this would have been leaning on the power of Pharaoh, instead of recognising the bond between the people and God: it might have resulted in a relief which the world would have granted, but not in a deliverance by God, accomplished in His love and in His power. Moses would have been spared, but dishonored; Pharaoh flattered, and his authority over the people of God recognised; and Israel would have remained in captivity, leaning on Pharaoh, instead of recognising God in the precious and even glorious relationship of His people with Him. God would not have been glorified. Yet all human reasoning, and all reasoning connected with providential ways, would have induced Moses to remain in his position: faith made him give it up:
Moses then identifies himself with the people of God. A certain natural activity, and some consciousness of a strength which was not purely from on high, accompanied him, perhaps; however, it is this first devotedness which is pointed out by the Holy Ghost" as the good and acceptable fruit of faith. But it ought to have been more entirely subject to God, and to have its starting-point in Him alone, and in obedience to His expressed will. Thus the Lord acts often. The earnest energy of faithfulness is manifested, but the instrument is put aside for a moment sometimes, in order that the service may depend directly and entirely upon God. There was something analogous even in Jesus, save that there was not in Him either false reckoning, or error, or external providences, in consequence, to deliver Him from them; but the perfection of the energy of life within, acted always in the knowledge of who His Father was, and at the same time submitted to His will in the circumstances in which He had morally placed Him. Moses, fearful even amid faithfulness, and dreading the power which lent him, unconsciously perhaps, a certain habit of energy (for one is afraid of that from which one draws one's strength), and repulsed by the unbelief of those towards whom his love and his faithfulness carried him, for “they understood him not,” fled to the desert, a type of the Lord Jesus rejected by the people whom He loved.
b Heb. xi. 24-26.
There is a difference between this type and that of Joseph. Joseph takes the position (as put to death) of Jesus raised to the right hand of the supreme throne amongst the Gentiles, in the end receiving his brethren, from whom he had been separated. His children are to him a testimony of his blessing at that time. He calls them Manasseh (" because God,” says he," has made me forget all my labours, and all the house of my father"), and Ephraim (" because God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction”). Moses presents to us Christ separated from his brethren; and although Zipporah might be considered as a type of the Church (as well as Joseph's wife), as the bride of the rejected Deliverer, during his separation from Israel, yet, as to what regards his heart, his feelings (which are expressed in the names that he gives to his children), are governed by the thought of being separated from the people of Israel: his fraternal affections are there -his thoughts are there-hisrest and hiscountry are there. He is a strangereverywhere else. Moses is the type of Jesus as the deliverer of Israel. He calls his son Gershom, that is to say, a “stranger there"; " for (says he) I have sojourned in a strange land.” Jethro presents to us the Gentiles among whom Christ and His glory were driven when He was rejected by the Jews.
But at last, God looks upon His people; and He will have not only the faith that identifies itself with His people, but the power which delivers them; and that Moses, who was rejected as a prince and a judge, must appear in the midst of Israel and of the world, as a prince and a deliverer.
Stephen made use of these two examples, in order to convict the consciences of the Sanhedrim of their similar and still greater sin in the case of Christ.
God—who to appearance had left Moses in the power of his enemies, without recognising his faith-manifests Himself now to him when alone, in order to send him to deliver Israel and to judge the world.
Considered as a practical history, God shews Himself to us here as destroying the hope of the flesh, and humbling its strength; and He makes a shepherd, under the protection of a stranger, of the adopted son of the house of the king; and this during forty years, in order that the work might be a work of obedience, and that the strength may be that of God.
God manifests Himself under the name of Jehovah. He had put Himself in relation with the Fathers under the name of God Almighty. That was what they wanted, and this was His glory in their pilgrimage. Now He takes a name in relationship with His people, which implies constant relationship with Him; and in which, being established with Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, He accomplishes in faithfulness what He has begun in grace, all the while shewing what He is in patience and in holiness in His government in the midst of His people. For us, He calls Himself Father, and acts towards us according to the power of that blessed name to our souls. But this name of Jehovah is not the firs which He gives Himself in His communications with the
c Compare Matthew v. and John xvii.