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MOSES WROTE OF CHRIST
“For had ye believed Moses ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.”—John 5:46
Moses as both writer and prophet has the endorsement of Christ and the apostles. It is doubtless true that Moses wrote a large share of the Pentateuch,—the first five books of the Bible,—but we are nowhere told by any Bible writer that he wrote all of them. Hence, it cannot be against either the genuineness or authenticity of these books, because one of them contains a record of Moses’ death and burial, written, of course, by some one else, after Moses died.
It seems as applicable now as in the Saviour’s day that the disbelievers in Moses are of necessity disbelievers in Christ. To reject Moses after Christ has endorsed him, is not characteristic of a believer in Christ, though there are those in our day who inconsistently reject Moses, overlooking or ignoring the endorsement. They seem to see no connection whatever between the gospel and Moses’ writings. For this reason the Jews rejected Christ, though they trusted in Moses, while these of our day reject Moses though claiming to trust in Christ. Verses 45 and 46 make a clear distinction between trust and belief, and make the latter more important. To believe Moses, according to this statement of Jesus, involved an intelligent view of the meaning of his words. The Jews trusted in Moses and accepted the letter of his writings: but had they believed Moses, that is, if they had seen the spirit, or deeper meaning of his writings they would have accepted Christ.
This statement of our Saviour is equivalent to saying that in the deeper sense
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Moses was a gospel writer. There is, it may be safely said, more gospel in Genesis than in Matthew. In this Matthew is not belittled. The full gospel covers all the ages until the whole world is saved. This fullness of the gospel was given in Genesis, in the sense that the undeveloped seed contains all that can be produced from it. The fulfillment of the gospel is like the process of development of what was before hidden in the seed. Matthew records the beginning of the fulfillment of the types and prophecies of the great plan of the ages. He tells an important, and fundamental part; but still not the whole which the seed contains.
The depth of Moses’ writings, then, is the cause of their modern rejection, as it was also the cause in part at least of the Jewish rejection of Christ.
The Jews boasted of being Moses’ disciples, and yet their ignorance was the ground of their inconsistency. The same inconsistency exists now. Does it not have the same cause? It is better doubtless to say inconsistency, than guilt, as ignorance is guilt only to the extent that it may be avoided, and it is not best for mortals to Judge the motives. Jesus did not say they were guilty, though He spoke of their ignorance, their inconsistency, and their low moral state,—not having “the love of God” in them. His words were not intended so much to blame, though severe, as to reprove and enlighten, by showing their low condition. Verse 39 is not a command to “Search the Scriptures,” as is commonly inferred from this rendering. It was a statement of fact designed to reprove them. Other versions read in substance thus: “Ye search the scripture, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me and yet ye will not come to me that you may have life.” In the light of this statement their ignorance and consequent inconsistency of action were clearly reproved.
The moral state of the soul has much to do with the ability to receive truth, especially the deeper truth of the word. Jesus said, “If ye will do his will, he will know of the doctrine.” Then loyalty of heart is one of the conditions of clearness of perception and understanding. Truth not understood has no saving or exalting effect. This makes stony ground hearers. There is no depth of earth. But Jesus says, the good seed, sown “in good and honest hearts,” brings forth fruit.
The mission of Jesus among the Jews was that of a Divider and Reaper. He did not come among them to make proselytes from the Gentiles, but to prove and develop the qualities of the good and honest among them. These He called His “sheep;”—”My sheep hear my voice.” These accepted of Jesus because they were in such a moral state that they could appreciate His teachings. The Divinity, the Father, in Him had an attraction for them, and thus they were drawn to Christ by the Father dwelling in Him; and in John 6:44, Jesus asserts, what from this standpoint appears a necessary fact, that no man can come to Him without the drawing of the Father. How then can any person be drawn to Christ who rejects His divinity? It should be observed that this was the point at issue when Jesus made this statement. Jesus had just asserted that He “came down from heaven;” while the unbelievers declared Him to be Joseph’s son. They used this as proof that He did not come down from heaven, as some are still doing. And Jesus said, “Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” They rejected the divinity of Jesus for the same reason that they could not see him in Moses’ writings—the subject was too deep for them. Let us beware lest we fall after the same manner of unbelief. (Heb. 4:11.)
The method by which Moses wrote of Christ, was not direct statement, but was by figure, type and allegory. Even in his most direct words he did not say Christ, though that was what he meant. “Her seed shall bruise thy head,” which all admit refers to Christ and his work, and is therefore gospel,—it will be observed is highly figurative. When a prophet like unto Moses was promised, it was based upon a comparison, and, but for later developments, none could have applied it to the Lord Jesus. When the promise was given of blessing to all nations through Abraham’s seed, the language was perhaps as direct as nay; but no one could have guessed from the wording of the original promise that the “seed” meant Christ. In the letter it was Isaac, and in the broadest literal sense included the fleshly descendants; but the Spirit in Paul takes the cover off and shows us that the seed meant Christ, and in the broadest view includes them that are baptized into Christ.—Gal. 3:16,29. Though the Old Testament did not say Christ, the New Testament shows that it meant Christ. What it meant was represented or typified by what it said. In this way we see that the gospel was covered or veiled by the Old Testament writings. The gospel was in the Old Testament as the kernel in a shell; and no one can understand those writings and say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Spirit.
One who denies the authority of the New Testament writings has no means of proving that Christ is the seed. They should, to be consistent, reckon the seed, the covenant, the circumcision and everything else on the plane of the flesh, for that is all that the Old Testament teaches. But if the New Testament writings are discarded there is no proof that Christ has ever come, or that LIFE and IMMORTALITY have ever been brought to light. The promises and threatenings of the Old Testament are PURELY of an EARTHLY and TEMPORAL CHARACTER. Of course we refer to the letter of those writings.
The manner of the unbelief of the Jews was that of failing to see the spirit of their sacred writings. To them the truth was veiled, because of the veil upon their hearts. The carnal or fleshly state of mind is to the spiritual as the letter of the word is to its spirit, because only the mind in the spiritual state can discern the deep or spiritual things of the word. The more spiritual the degree of mind the greater its ability to understand the deep things of God. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14. The same thing is true of all writings that have a surface and a deeper meaning, whether in the Old Testament or in the New.
“Light is sown for the righteous,” and the love of God shows itself in the love of truth and righteousness. Spiritual truth is the test of spirituality; and the truth of God is a mine in which may be found jewels of all grades, adapted to all degrees of spiritual development, and in which the most advanced may dig with the assurance of finding inexhaustible treasures. “The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3:6) is a statement by Paul, showing the upward and downward tendencies of feeding on the two phases of truth. He draws a contrast on this principle between the law and the gospel and between the letter and the spirit of the old Testament writings, and shows that the bondage of the Jew was in reading the Scriptures with veiled hearts. They knew what the word said, but its spirit was hidden from them. “The same vail remains untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament. … But when it shall turn to the Lord the vail shall be taken away;” that is, when the real truth, the gospel, in those writings is seen, it will no longer appear dark, but it will bring light and glorious liberty. “Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” The effect of seeing and feeling the fullness of God’s love for all the world as seen in the Mosaic writings can only be beneficial in making the mind like the mind of God. May the Lord anoint our eyes that we may see and be free indeed.
The above, clipped from an Exchange, we can most heartily endorse, but it is truly amazing that the writer of the above cannot go farther in the same direction and see that Moses wrote of Jesus as the ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Moses wrote of the RANSOM in every sin-offering enjoined, the life of the beast which typified the man Christ Jesus being given as a propitiation [satisfaction] for the sins of the people whose sins it bore, and to make atonement for which its blood was shed.
Moses wrote of the RANSOM when he told of how God clothed the guilty pair expelled naked from Eden, with coats of skins to cover their nakedness instead of their own scanty fig-leaf covering. Therein Moses told of the uselessness of man’s effort to cover himself with garments of righteousness that would not endure, and the need that God should do it for him; nay, more, of the fact that God would provide a covering, but at the cost of the LIFE OF ANOTHER.
Moses wrote that the one who would “bless” all the families of the earth must first redeem them with his own life, in that touching narrative of the offering of Isaac, in whom centered the promise, a sacrifice upon the altar.
Moses wrote that the New Covenant must be ratified, made operative, sealed, with the blood of the covenant, i.e., by the death of him who ratified it, by ratifying the typical covenant with blood representative of his own, as the Mediator of that typical covenant and type of Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant.
Moses wrote not only of the value of the blood of the Lamb of Passover, but of the necessity that all who would be of the first-born spared, must be under that blood of sprinkling AS WELL as have
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the Lamb within. Thus he wrote that we must not only recognize Jesus as God’s spotless Lamb, but must recognize the value of his death as our ransom price, and must sprinkle it outside—publicly declare the same.
Moses wrote of the ransom work of Jesus, and, in fact, described his whole mission, in the types of the Day of Atonement. There he puts the sacrifice of Christ in the fore-front, and makes it the centre and basis of all the blessings coming to the people, which he here shows to be the fruitage, result or consequence of the ransom-sacrifice. The blood (evidence of shed life, i.e., death) was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat to make an atonement to God FOR the sins of the people. The penalty of man’s sin was death; hence the death of the animal (typical of Jesus) making satisfaction for man’s sin. As a result of that giving of his life (typically) a ransom for all, the priest was granted the right to go forth to the people who were lying in the dust and, pronouncing their sins cancelled, bid them arise from the dust and again enjoy communion with God.
And Moses wrote further of Christ and the results of his ransom in the typical Jubilee year, for at that time, when the priest came forth from the sacrificial work of the Day of Atonement, he caused the trumpet to blow announcing the JUBILEE begun—the times of RESTITUTION of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.
And what unbiased mind can ignore the fact of a coming restitution, if all “the promises and threatenings of the Old Testament are purely of an EARTHLY character.” All the promises of the New Testament which mention anything more than blessings of earth and human nature, apply to and limit those superabundant blessings to the “Seed” specially selected during this age to be the instruments made use of in blessing all the families of the earth with the restitution (restoring to a former condition or estate) of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets. And what unprejudiced mind cannot see that this and this alone would be the work of Christ as expressed in the declaration: He came to seek and to save (recover) that which WAS LOST.
— November, 1884 —