TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE
Assumptions of Destructive Criticism
S.E. WISHARD, D.D.
LOS ANGELES, CAL.
JOHNSON & HANEY
BIBLE INSTITUTE PRESS
By S.E. WISHARD, D.D.
* * * * *
"In the defence and confirmation of the truth"
Los Angeles, Calif.
This booklet is sent out To all Sabbath-school teachers, To the young people of the Christian churches, And to all believers in the living Word.
* * * * *
The work of the destructive critics has been widely disseminated in current literature. Magazines, secular newspapers, and some religious papers are giving currency to these critical attacks on the Word of God. The young people of our churches are exposed to the insidious poison of this skepticism. It comes to them under the guise of a broader and more liberal scholarship. They have neither the time nor the equipment to enter the field of criticism, nor is this work demanded of them.
While abler pens are meeting and answering the questions raised by destructive critics, something may be said that will clear away the fog produced by them and enable young Christians to come directly to the truth.
Hence this booklet is an attempt to "give God a chance" to have his say. The testimony presented is on the divine plan of giving, "Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line," "lest we forget."
There has been no attempt to cover the whole ground of destructive criticism in the brief compass of this booklet. It will be enough to permit God to answer; hence, in the following pages he speaks for himself. We are content that his voice shall be heard.
I. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM 9
II. SHOULD REPLY BE MADE? 17
III. WAS MOSES A LITERARY FICTION? 25
IV. WERE CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES MISTAKEN? 39
V. THE ATTACK ON THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS 59
VI. ASSUMPTIONS CONCERNING THE BOOK OF ISAIAH 73
VII. GOD'S REPLY TO THESE ASSUMPTIONS. 87
VIII. THE HISTORICITY OF THE BOOK OF JONAH 101
IX. RADICAL EXPOSITION 111
X. GOD HIS OWN INTERPRETER 119
I. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us." Eph. v. 1, 2.
"Be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men." 1 Thess. v. 14, 15.
"He that believeth shall not make haste." Isa. xxviii. 16.
"The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." Psa. cxi. 7, 8.
"My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Isa, xlvi. 10.
The attitude which God's people should assume toward destructive criticism has been questioned. It should certainly be a position of calm patience, that can deliberately weigh valid testimony, and abide by the decision of intelligent judgment. The history and life of the Church for nearly two thousand years should go for something. They are not to be swept away by the bluff, the egoism of what claims to be the only "Expert Scholarship."
There is no occasion for a panic. Truth that has been, and has builded noble, goodly life, is truth still, and ever will be. It is not a time for denunciation. The assumptions of the destructive critics are so enormous, so radically revolutionary, so directly aimed at vital truth, that one's heart is stirred. There is danger of yielding to the heat of a righteous indignation. It is not well to lose one's intellectual and moral poise, even in a contest involving the honor of God and the welfare of immortal souls. But "he that believeth shall not make haste."
The lovers of the Book that has safely passed through every storm of antagonism that the Prince of Darkness could evoke, need not now be moved to hasty utterance. The eternal foundations of truth, like him who laid them, are "the same, yesterday, to-day and forever." The Book, with all its precious doctrines, is here to stay. It can not be destroyed. Fire has not burned it, water has not quenched it, the edicts of tyrants and popes have not been able to break its power. The Church of God can calmly rest on "the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." (1 Peter i. 23.) Hence we may calmly move on undisturbed in our work.
Further, our attitude should be marked by an intelligent understanding of the question involved. It is not a question of fair, honest criticism, for the purpose of a deeper knowledge of God and his truth. All reverent and helpful study of the Word of God is critical, and is the kind of criticism that the Book challenges. Our Lord invites it, and urges us to "search the Scriptures," which testify of him.
It is assumed by the rationalistic critics that we have entered a new era, that the Bible has never been studied until within recent years. This is an assumption unworthy of scientific scholarship. Critics who have not sought to destroy the Word of God, but, by thorough investigation, to determine its claims, have been at work on the Scriptures in all the past, seeking to know the mind of the Spirit. There is, and ever has been a legitimate study of the Bible. Hence, there are absolutely no grounds for the assumption of the rationalists. The Church of Christ is not opposed to the application of the best methods and best scholarship in the investigation of revealed truth. Indeed, the Protestant Church has ever been the mother of the highest education, and has had an open ear to the call of God—"Come, let us reason together."
It is well to understand that the poorly-concealed purpose of the school of higher critics is not to press the just and holy claims of God's Word on the human conscience, but to eliminate the supernatural from it. The Christian Church should understand this. If atheistic scientists can construct a universe without God, by evolutionary processes, and the critics can construct a Bible without the supernatural, "the wisdom of this world" will have pretty thoroughly disposed of God.
In the attitude of the Church toward destructive criticism, sometimes called historical, or constructive, we must not fail to discover its bearing on the character of Christ. For the final conflict of all skepticism of every grade and quality is in reference to the person and work of Christ. The elimination of the supernatural from the Bible would be an invalidation of Christ's claims and testimony. It would place him before the world as a false teacher, a fraud, a charlatan. Loyalty to the Word, and to the Incarnate Word, demands, therefore, that we should clearly understand the end to which this rationalism is drifting. For Christ's testimony concerning the Old Testament Scriptures, which will be presented later in this discussion, is so thoroughly in conflict with the modern critical assumptions that it must be disposed of by those claiming expert scholarship. In the attempt to accomplish that feat, they put our Lord under such limitations as would rob him of his character as Teacher and Redeemer.
The "experts" are logically driven to one of two conclusions: either that Christ did not know the facts of the Old Testament Scriptures, which he believed and was sent to teach, or, knowing the facts, he deemed it not important to teach them.
The first assumption puts our Savior on the basis of a fallible human teacher, and nothing more. The second assumption contradicts all the professions of the critics. For they affirm to-day that the professed discoveries of the mistaken views of the Bible are of the utmost importance, and as honest men they are in conscience obliged to make them known, while claiming that Christ did not make them known.
Shall we assume that these views, which they deem so important to-day, were of no importance when the Church of Christ first took form? We may ask, what estimate should we have of Christ, who, knowing his people were in error as to the authorship and origin of the Scriptures, would leave them in darkness for more than eighteen hundred years? Is it to be assumed that he would wait through the long centuries for the coming of critics to enlighten his people? That is what we are logically asked to accept at their hands. It is thus made clear that the issue of this conflict, as in all the past, is narrowed down to the person and character of our Savior. It is well to face the issue calmly, and with a clear understanding of what is pending. Did Christ know truth? Was he honest? Hence, the attitude of the Church should be taken in view of the trend of modern critical discussion.
II. SHOULD REPLY BE MADE?
"If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psa. xi. 3.
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess. v. 21.
"Buy the truth and sell it not." Prov. xxiii. 23.
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 3.
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle." 2 Thess. ii. 15.
"I am set for the defense of the gospel." Paul, Phil. i. 17.
It is a question among earnest Christian men, who are busily engaged in the work of the Master, as to whether we should turn aside long enough to make reply to the destructive critics. It is affirmed that, as the Word of God has already passed through all the attacks that have been made upon it, it will defend itself in the future as in the past—that our duty is to preach the gospel. Certainly the victories of the gospel are a noble defense of its truth and power to save. There should be no respite from this work. But there are vast multitudes of people that permit the critics to do their thinking for them. They are not well informed concerning the Scriptures, and consequently are not prepared to repel the attacks of skepticism, nor to reply to the specious arguments or positive assumptions of the critics. These multitudes are in danger of casting aside the Word of God, and missing the offer of eternal life.
The fact of the increased activity of the enemies of the truth must be known to Christian people. Their organized and persistent use of the press has gained for them a wide hearing. Shall the Christian people deny themselves this instrumentality of getting a hearing for God and his truth before the world? Would not silence be construed by the world as meaning that the cause dear to the heart of God's people is indefensible?
It should be known to all lovers of the truth that the skepticism widely sown by the destructive critics has entered the Protestant Church and many of our institutions of learning.
"Read the utterances of representative men and teachers in her communion, who deny the Incarnation, repudiate vicarious sacrifice, make light of the story of the resurrection, and refine the risen Son of God into nothing more than the spirit and essence of truth; or, at most, the disembodied ghost of a man who called himself a Messiah, mistaken in his claims, but authoritative in his morals." (Rev. I.M. Holdeman.)
The author of this statement refers also to the fact that there are "modern professors of theology who convict the very prophets whom they hold up as exemplars of righteousness, of absolute literary fraud, and deliberate piracy." They "demonstrate with cool precision that the higher critics of to-day are better informed concerning the mistakes of Moses than was he who claimed that Moses wrote of him, and prove to their own satisfaction and the belief of many followers that Jesus Christ, our Lord, was limited in intelligence, and would, if he were here to-day, deny some of the statements he once so unqualifiedly made."
We may not shut our eyes to the fact that many of our colleges are more or less infected with this rationalistic criticism. Some of our theological professors have substituted the theory of evolution for the Scriptural doctrine of creation by the Word of God. Our young men preparing for the work of the ministry are under the influence and instruction of some of these teachers here in our own country.
It is a matter for thanksgiving that we have literary and theological institutions into which the destructive critics have never entered—institutions that stand for the Word of God as given by the Holy Spirit, and believed in by God's servants in the past and to-day.
We do well to recognize the further fact concerning the effort to eliminate the supernatural from the Bible, that the work of the rationalists has permeated the literature of the day. In this age of reading fiction, that form of literature has become a convenient vehicle for taking everything out of the hands of Providence. It has become easy to leave God out of his universe and supplant him with the heroic in man. Hence, the literary appetite, ever craving the human instead of the divine, turns away from the truth that confronts the conscience of the reader with God and his claims.
For the defense of truth we have the example of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself. Much of the work of the prophets of the Old Testament was devoted to the exposure of the "New Thought" of their times. Moses dealt thoroughly with the new theology that asserted: "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." The heresy was ended as suddenly as it was introduced.
The Epistle to the Galatians was Paul's reply to the Judiazing teachers who would substitute ceremonials for the doctrine of justification by faith. His Epistle to the Ephesians was a constructive work, in answer to Jewish prejudice and teaching, in which he set forth the unity of Jews and Gentiles in one Church, which is the body of Christ. In his Epistle to the Corinthians he answered their false views of marriage. He shamed their partisan spirit, in which some claimed to be of Paul, some of Apollos, some of Christ. He labored most earnestly to convince them of their false views concerning the resurrection, and dealt faithfully with the errorists concerning the inquiry that was coming to the Church through their magnifying and perverting the use of the gift of tongues. He showed them a more excellent way.
There should be no turning aside from preaching a full and free gospel, nor should there be any halting in its defense, or against the effort to eliminate the supernatural from the Word of God. The critical work that logically leaves us a Savior ignorant of the Scriptures, or, if knowing them, afraid to meet Jewish prejudice by correcting their mistakes, should be kindly, candidly, and manfully met by those to whom the truth has given life.
III. WAS MOSES "A LITERARY FICTION"?
"God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.... Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt!' Exod. iii. 4, 10.
"And afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go." Exod. v. 1.
"Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.... And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses.... And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children" Exod. xii. 21, 35, 37.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel." Exod. xxxiv. 27.
"And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee" Deut. xxxi. 24-26.
We turn now to the assumption that Moses was not the author, under God, of the Pentateuch. The destructive critics do not agree among themselves as to the origin of the Pentateuch. Dates and authors are variously adjusted among those claiming to be experts. There is, however, agreement on one point, that Moses did not write the Pentateuch. It is affirmed that his name has been attached to it to give it authority, because many of the events recorded and much of the history took place during the period of Moses' life and in connection with his influence. But the critics place the record of those events almost altogether after the exile, between nine hundred and a thousand years after the time of Moses.
It was once affirmed that writing was not used in the days of Moses, and therefore he could not have written the five books that claim him as their author. But the fact now brought to light, and conceded by the critics and all well-informed scholars, that writing antedated Moses by many centuries, has swept out of existence that objection. But the question is still raised as to the Mosiac authorship of the Pentateuch. It is said in reply:
First—The Holy Spirit declares by the mouth of Stephen that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds." Acts vii. 22.
Writing was long known to and practiced by the Egyptians, hence the man trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians was competent to write the Pentateuch.
Second—The Pentateuch very definitely claims Moses as its author, not once or twice, but many times, all through these writings.
"The Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." Exod. xvii. 14. This was not the law, parts of which even some of the critics concede that Moses wrote. It was God's judgment against Amalek. But it was written in a book. What book? The inspired Scriptures say it was written here in Exodus xvii. 14. And again it was repeated in Deut. xxv. 19, and that Moses wrote it.
In the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus Moses has given an account of God's call to him, to Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders, to come up to Horeb. Moses was called into the immediate presence of God, while the others remained at a distance. After his interview with Jehovah it is written: "Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord.... And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord." Exod. xxiv, 3, 4.
In the thirty-fourth chapter of Exodus God is represented as giving definite instructions to Moses concerning worship, at the conclusion of which "the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel." Exod. xxxiv. 27.
We turn to the positive statement in Deuteronomy xxxi. 9. The chapter opens with the declaration that "Moses spake these words unto all Israel," giving an extended account of what the words were. In the ninth verse it is stated: ... "And Moses wrote this law and delivered it unto the priests and unto all the elders of Israel." What became of that writing of Moses? Was it lost? Or is the statement false? And did some later writer forge the statement, attributing the writing to Moses, to give weight and authority to the forgery? To ask the question is to answer it. "Moses wrote all the words of the Lord."
In the twenty-fourth verse in this same chapter in Deuteronomy it is stated that "Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book." Yet the critics teach that this book, Deuteronomy, was not written until after the exile, almost a thousand years after the events narrated. Does not critical credulity make larger demands than are laid on faith?
The summing up of the book of Numbers, of what had been said and written in the book, is stated in the last chapter and last verse, namely, that "these are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel." Again and again it is affirmed in the Pentateuch that God commanded Moses to write, and that he did write, but the critics affirm that the hand of Moses had nothing to do with producing the books of the Pentateuch—that they were written after the exile!
Not only does the Pentateuch distinctly teach the Mosaic authorship of the five books of Moses, appropriately so called, but all the Old Testament saints entertained the opinion which the Jewish people and the Christian Church hold to-day, that God spake to Moses, and that Moses committed to writing the messages that God gave him and commanded him to write, embracing the story of God's miracles, his instruction and dealing with them in the wilderness.
We find the critics contradicted in the Scriptures from Joshua to Malachi. To Joshua God said: "As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee." (Joshua i. 5.) Eight times in the first chapter of the book of Joshua God accredits Moses with having received and having given the law to Joshua and the people.
The Pentateuch is the book which God, speaking to Joshua, calls "the law which my servant Moses commanded thee" (Joshua i. 7), and it was so accepted by Joshua. Was he mistaken? or the critics? He had long enjoyed most intimate relations with Moses, and knew what Moses had written by the command of God.
David affirms that God had "made known his ways unto Moses, and his acts unto the children of Israel" (Psa. ciii. 7). We have seen that the man Moses was competent to write, and did write, what God had made known to him (Deut xxxi. 24). The Psalms are illuminated and set aflame with the faith of Israel, that Moses said and wrote what is ascribed to him in the Pentateuch.
Ezra, Nehemiah, and the prophets down to Malachi reiterated the same belief, sung and taught it to their children. Were they mistaken?
The finding of the Pentateuch during Josiah's reign, which had been lost in the rubbish of the temple during the wicked reign of Manasseh and Ammon, is evidently referred to in 2 Chron. xxxiv. 14, 15; "Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of Jehovah by the hand of Moses. (Margin, R.V.) And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan, I have found The Book of the law of the house of the Lord." Four times within seven verses it is called "The Book." It was read before the King, who humbled himself, and prepared himself and the people to observe the Passover as it had been prescribed in "the law of Moses." Josiah commanded them to "kill the Passover, and sanctify yourselves and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses" (2 Chron. xxxv. 6). This took place long before the exile, which the critics insist was the beginning of Israel's literature, and after which they say the Pentateuch was written.
Ezra testifies to the existence of the Mosaic law before his time. His testimony establishes the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Ezra vii. 6: "This Ezra ... was a ready scribe in the law of Moses."
After the return from captivity Ezra describes the building of the altar in these definite terms: "Then stood up Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God" (Ezra iii. 2). Was Ezra deceiving the people?
There are several things to be noted here:
1. There was a written law of Moses, the man of God, then in existence. It was not a written law of Ezra which the priests palmed off as the written law of Moses.
2. There was a priestly order, according to the written law of Moses the man of God, not according to the invention of the exiles returning from captivity, under the pretense that Moses wrote it.
3. The altar was built according to the written law of Moses the man of God. These records by Ezra effectually bar the door against the critical conjecture that the Pentateuch, in which the written law of Moses the man of God is found, was fabricated after the exile.
The definite law for the place of building the altar, by which the priests proceeded in the days of Ezra, is recorded by "Moses the man of God," in Deut. xii. 5-7: "Unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither shalt thou come; and thither shall ye bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices and your tithes and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds, and your flocks; and there ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee."
It is Ezra, not the critics, who informs us that this was "written in the law of Moses the man of God." We will be pardoned for accepting the testimony of Ezra. He does not mean to forsake his faith in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, for he writes in chapter vi. 18: "They set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses."
In the eighth chapter of the book of Nehemiah, that great servant of God affirms his faith in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, which was also the faith of all the people of his time. In the first verse in this chapter he informs us that "all the people gathered themselves together, as one man, into the street that is before the water gate, and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel." Ezra was not to make a book and call it the book of Moses, as some of the critics teach, but to "bring the book of the law of Moses," a book in their possession already made, and with which they were already familiar—"The Book of the Law of Moses."
"The Book of the Law of Moses" was the Jewish title given to the Pentateuch at that time, and is so recognized again and again. Nehemiah viii. 14 affirms again: "They found written in the law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month." Nehemiah quotes this "command of the Lord by Moses" from Lev. xxiii. 39-42, which was a fraud on the part of Nehemiah, if Moses was not the author of the book. Again he says in the thirteenth chapter of Nehemiah and first verse: "On that day they read in the book of Moses, in the audience of the people"; but it was not the book of Moses if he had not written it, but the book of another one of the "unknown" so frequently found (?) in Scripture by our critics.
The book of Moses in which this last reference from Nehemiah is written is the command that the "Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever," and is recorded in Deut. xxiii. 3, 4.
But our critical friends inform us that Deuteronomy was not written until after the captivity. Hence, the logic of their position is, that Nehemiah attributes to Moses what he did not write, and proves himself to be either ignorant of the truth or practicing a fraud upon the people. We prefer the testimony of Nehemiah to that of the latter-day critics.
It should be repeated that the prophets and inspired writers down to Malachi reiterated their confidence in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. And he, the last messenger of the Old Testament to Israel, gave them this message from God: "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him" (Mal. iv. 4). Indeed, the entire testimony of the Old Testament is in harmony with the positive statements made in the Pentateuch, that Moses was commanded to write, and that he actually and positively "wrote all the words of the Lord" (Exod. xxiv. 4). There is not a word, syllable, hint, or shadow of a hint assigning these five books of Moses to a later date or author.
The presumption, or guess, of the critics carries no weight in the face of the testimony of the entire Old Testament that God commanded Moses to write, and that he did write, the five books attributed to him.
IV. WERE CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES MISTAKEN?
Christ said to his apostles:
"Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." Acts i. 8.
"I speak the truth in Christ and lie not." Paul in 1 Tim. ii. 7.
"Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." The Apostle John in Rev. i. 5.
"We know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him," Nicodemus, in John iii. 2.
"If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?" Christ, in John viii. 46.
"I am the way, the truth and the life." Christ, in John xiv. 6.
The opinions and testimony of the apostles are certainly worth something. They had three years of instruction under our Lord, and the promise from him that the Holy Spirit should guide them into all truth. (John xvi. 13.)
A study of the writers of the New Testament proves that they are in absolute harmony with the writers of the Old Testament as to the Mosaic authorship of the five books of the Pentateuch. Luke ii. 22 informs us that the mother of Jesus, "when the days of her purification were accomplished according to the law of Moses," brought the child "to present him to the Lord." This was done, according to Leviticus xii. 2-6, and accredits that book to Moses, and not to some imaginary author.
The Apostle John informs us that "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John i, 17). If he has misled us in reference to Moses and the law, can we trust him in reference to grace and truth by Jesus Christ?
When Peter made his address to the people who were surprised at the healing of the cripple, he said: "Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren," (See Acts iii. 22.)
This saying of Moses is recorded in Deut xviii. 15, the contents of which book are introduced to us in these words; "These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red Sea" (Deut. i. 1), referring to the whole books spoken by Moses, the learned man, mighty in words and deeds, but not recorded, the critics say, until after the exile, about a thousand years! This you are asked to believe on the basis of the professed or assumed acumen of the critics!
Further, in his great speech before the Sanhedrim at his martyrdom, Stephen quotes Moses as having received full and complete directions from God concerning the tabernacle. (Acts vii. 44.) In the twenty-fifth chapter of Exodus, the book in which Moses was commanded to write and did write, these directions are recorded. We accept Stephen's testimony, added to that of Exod. xxv., rather than the testimony of the critics.
When Paul was writing to the Corinthians of the blindness of the Jews (2 Cor. iii. 15) he said: "Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts."
Moses must have written something if he was read. What has become of his writings? Is it not the Pentateuch which the Scriptures everywhere call the writings of Moses? Undoubtedly, yes.
In Paul's missionary sermon at Antioch in Pisidia, he declared to his audience that through Christ "all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts xiii. 39).
Why does Paul refer to the ceremonial of the Jewish ritual as the law of Moses? It must be answered that Paul was a Jew. He was familiar with the Jewish scriptures. He had read the following passages and believed them, and was grounded in the truth which they declare, that "by the hand of Moses" they were given to the people.
To satisfy the reader that they were "given by the hand of Moses" the following Scriptures are furnished:
1. "Aaron and his sons did all things which were commanded by the hand of Moses." (Lev. viii. 36.)
2. "That ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses." (Lev. x. 11.)
3. "These are the statutes and judgments and laws which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses." (Lev. xxvi. 46.)
4. "These were they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites, all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, which Moses and Aaron did number, according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses." (Num. iv. 37.)
5. "These ... whom Moses and Aaron numbered, according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses." (Num. iv. 45.)
6. "According to the commandment of the Lord they were numbered by the hand of Moses." (Num. iv. 49.)
7. "They kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord, by the hand of Moses." (Num. ix. 23.)
8. "And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses." (Num. x. 13.)
9. "Even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses." (Num. xv. 23.)
10. "That no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the Lord, that he be not as Kora and his company, as the Lord said to him by the hand of Moses." (Num. xvi. 40.)
11. "And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." (Num. xxvii. 23.)
12. "These are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." (Num. xxxvi. 13.)
13. "By lot was their inheritance, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." (Joshua xiv. 2.)
14. "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses." (Joshua xx. 2.)
15. "The Lord commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle." (Joshua xxi. 2.)
16. "And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." (Joshua xxi. 8.)
17. "And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, ... according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses." (Joshua xxii. 9.)
18. "And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses." (Judges iii. 4.)
19. "Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses, thy servant." (1 Kings viii. 53.)
20. "There hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant." (1 Kings viii. 56.)
21. "So that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses." (2 Chron. xxxiii. 8.)
22. "To kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the Lord, by the hand of Moses." (2 Chron. xxxv. 6.)
23. "Thou ... madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst unto them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant." (Neh. ix. 14.)
24. "Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron." (Psa. lxxvii. 20.)
Paul was familiar with these statements of the Jewish Scriptures. He believed them. (2 Cor. iv. 13.) He believed that God gave "the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses" (2 Chron. xxxiii. 8), who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. (Acts vii. 22.) Hence he called the Scriptures "The Law of Moses."
Some of the critics will concede that many things were done by Moses, but not recorded until after the exile. Think of it! The laws, statutes, and ordinances which were vital to the life of the Jewish nation, which had been given at Sinai, and were announced with the sanctions of life or death, were not recorded by God's appointed leader, whom he had trained in all the learning of the times, but were left for almost a thousand years to uncertain tradition!
Paul had not forgotten the above statements concerning Moses' personal connection with the giving of the law. Before Felix he was arraigned, and testified "what the prophets and Moses did say." (Acts xxvi. 22.)
To the Jews at Rome "he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the laws of Moses and out of the prophets." (Acts xxviii. 23.)
In his Epistle to the Roman Christians he says (quoting from Lev. xviii. 5): "For Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby." (Rom. x. 5, R.V.)
To the Corinthian Christians he says: "It is written in the law of Moses. Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox when he treadeth out the corn." (1 Cor. ix. 9.) Here again he quotes from Deut. xxv. 4, and repeats the quotation in 1 Tim. v. 18. But the critics deny that it was written until after the exile, at least nine hundred or one thousand years later.
The Apostle James adds his testimony to that of Paul, while addressing the assembly of the apostles at Jerusalem, saying: "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Acts xv. 21.)
We have learned in these quotations from Matthew, Luke, John, Stephen, Peter, and Paul, their repeated testimony, their unvarying faith that Moses both spoke and wrote the scriptures contained in the Pentateuch. We have seen that their faith was founded on twenty-four inspired declarations that these five books were given "by the hand of Moses." These statements are found in the books themselves, from Leviticus to the Psalms. If inspired testimony is worth anything, the case is closed, and the critics' case goes out of court, more than disproved.
WAS CHRIST MISTAKEN?
The reader will be interested to know what Christ has to say of the critics' denial of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. For he who "spake as never man spake," he of whom the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him," this same Jesus had some very positive opinions on the subject before us. He has spoken clearly and definitely. We may not turn away from his testimony.
1. After healing the leper, our Lord said to him: "Go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them." (See Matt. viii. 4, Mark i. 44, Luke v. 14.)
Our Savior here quotes from Lev. xiv. 2-8. Moses had been commanded to write the words that God had given him. (Exod. xxxiv. 27.) "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord" (Exod. xxiv. 4), hence our Lord quotes the passage in Leviticus from Moses.
2. The Pharisees, always captious and controversial, sought to entangle the Savior in a discussion on the subject of divorce. Replying, "He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives." (Matt. xix. 8.) Our Lord here quotes from the Mosaic law (Deut. xxiv. I-4), recognizing Moses as the author of the same.
3. He rebuked the scribes and Pharisees also for turning from the word of God to the traditions of men. "For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother." (Mark vii. 10.) This quotation is from Exod. xx. 12, and Deut. v. 16. They had made the command of Moses of no effect, had violated the law which Christ taught had been given by Moses.
4. The Sadducees came to him with their controversy concerning the resurrection. They presented to him an unanswerable argument, as they supposed, against the doctrine, questioning as to whose wife she should be in the resurrection, who has had seven husbands in this life. Christ replied (Mark xii. 26, 27): "As touching the dead, that they rise; have ye not read in the book of Moses how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living."
This quotation by our Lord is from Exod. iii. 6, and he calls the book from which it is made "the book of Moses." Did Christ know whether it was the book of Moses or of some unknown author who had so artfully palmed it off under false colors as to deceive the entire Jewish nation?
Or, as certain of the critics teach, did Christ know that the pretense that it was the book of Moses was a fraud, but, in view of public opinion, was unwilling to expose the deception? To ask these questions is to uncover the animus of the critical assumptions which logically attack the character of Christ himself.
Christ knew who was the author of the book, and knowing, he affirmed that it was "The Book of Moses."
5. In our Lord's parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Dives is represented as pleading that some one be sent from the dead to warn his brothers, lest they also come into this place of torment. The reply to his request was: "They have Moses and the prophets.... If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke xvi. 29, 30.) "Moses and the prophets" was the name for the Jewish Bible. If Moses did not write the Pentateuch, the name of their Bible was false, and the Savior indorsed a falsehood. We believe "the faithful and true Witness," and reject the critics who dishonor his character.
6. After Christ's resurrection he walked and communed with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. He instructed them concerning the Messiah's death, and, "beginning at Moses" (Luke xxiv. 27), informed them that it was God's plan, foretold in the Old Testament. He appeared to his apostles and declared to them that "all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and the prophets." (Luke xxiv. 44.) The critics deny Moses' authorship, but Christ affirms it, using the language that means the Pentateuch. We believe him.
7. In our Lord's conversation with Nicodemus he recognizes Moses in connection with the book of Numbers. He refers to the historical incident, if our critical friends will leave us any Biblical history, in Numbers xxi. 8, 9. He says: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up," (John iii. 14.)
Recurring to the passage in Numbers, we learn that, in the dire distress of the people for their sins, God commanded Moses to make a brazen serpent, and lift it up before the people, that they might look and live.
Certain of the critical school consent that Moses, was connected with the event, but did not record it. Indeed! And what proof that he failed to make the record? It was personal to himself. It was symbolically prophetic of the crucifixion of Christ, as our Savior used it, an event toward which all prophecy moved. And we have already learned that nine times it has been stated in the book of Numbers that the acts, precepts, and statutes of this book were done and given by "the hand of Moses."
8. To the Jews, seeking to murder their Messiah, he said; "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me." (See John v. 45, 46.)
When and where did he write of Christ? He wrote of him in the five books which are ascribed to Moses by all the Old Testament Scriptures, and by Christ and his apostles. He wrote of him in Gen. iii. 15, when God promised that "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." He wrote of Christ in Gen. xii. 3, when God promised Abraham: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." He wrote of the Messiah when he recorded Jacob's prophecy in Gen. xlix. 10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come." Moses wrote of Christ, when under divine direction he instituted the passover, as recorded in the twelfth chapter of Exodus.
He wrote of Christ in the Levitical ritual, when under God's instruction he set up the system of types, for the tabernacle and the temple service, which taught the fundamentals of the New Testament gospel—redemption by the blood.
The whole tabernacle and its furniture was necessary to complete the symbolism that should represent the Messiah. The altar, the laver, the shew bread, the golden candlestick, the mercy seat, and the officiating high priest. For "Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle," and received positive direction as to how he should construct it, that redemption should echo from every part of the service. Beautiful and glorious was the service that proclaimed "Christ and him crucified." Christ's testimony here is twofold: That "Moses wrote," and that he "wrote of me," of Christ, the witness of these things.
9. It was at the feast of tabernacles, in the year 29 A.D., that the Jews attacked the Savior in a fierce controversy, because he healed on the Sabbath day. He was teaching in the temple when they charged him with violating the Sabbath.
To that charge he replied: "Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keepeth the law." (See John vii. 19.) He affirms in most positive terms, that can not be twisted into the shadow of a negation, that Moses gave them the law. The interrogative form of his statement is rhetorically the strongest possible affirmation.
10. Once more, in the twenty-third verse of the same chapter, Christ refers to the fact that their children received circumcision on the Sabbath day, that "the law of Moses be not broken."
The sum of Christ's testimony to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is before us. Ten times our Lord asserts in the passages quoted that the law given in the Pentateuch was the "law of Moses." He affirms that in that law "he wrote of me." From Genesis to Revelation there is continued affirmation by prophets, apostles, and by Christ, who can not lie, that the five books of the Pentateuch are the books of Moses, under the guiding hand of the Spirit of God.
A recent writer, who has gone over the testimony of the Bible itself against the critics, says: "We find in them (the writers of the Old Testament) more than eight hundred quotations from, or references to, the first five books of the Bible, and not a hint is given that Moses is not their author," but he is everywhere recognized as the author, under God.
Witnesses multiply with every restudy of the book, proving the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of The Book. "What shall we say, then, to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"
V. THE ATTACK ON THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS.
"The Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock." Lev. i. I, 2.
"And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon." Lev. ii. 2.
"And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, ... he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about," Lev. iii. 1, 2.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, ... let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering." Lev. iv. 1, 2, 3.
"His truth endureth to all generations." Psa. c. 5.
Having considered the critical assault on the Pentateuch as a whole, attention should be called to the special criticisms on the book of Leviticus. A prominent representative of the school of critics affirmed in his recent lectures at Long Beach, California, that the Hebrews had no literature until their connection with the Babylonians while in captivity, that their literature was developed during their agricultural life while in Babylon. He affirmed that the sacrificial ritual of the book of Leviticus had its roots in the heathen sacrifices growing out of their false conception that their deities must be appeased by the shedding of blood. The Levitical ritual was, therefore, never written nor given by Moses. If this gentleman and the critics that hold with him are correct, we must conclude with them that Moses never saw or heard of our book of Leviticus.
In reply let it be said:
1. The denial of the existence of Hebrew literature prior to the exile is thoroughly answered and set aside by the records discovered on the Egyptian monuments and writings before and during Israel's bondage. Many of the critics have found this criticism untenable, and have abandoned it. They have been obliged to concede that Egyptian and Babylonian literature existed long before the time of Moses. The best scholarship of to-day affirms that "the discovery and first use of writing is certainly as old as the time of Abraham." (See Schaff-Hergoz, Enc. Art. Writing.)
2. If the Bible itself is not a fraud, writing was constantly in use in the time of Moses. See:
(1) Exod. vii. 14: "The Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book."
(2) Exod. xxiv. 4: "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord."
(3) Exod. xxxiv. 27: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words."
(4) Exod. xxxiv. 28: "And he (God) wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant."
(5) Num. v. 23: "And the priest shall write these curses in a book."
(6) Num. xi. 26: "They were of them that were written."
(7) Num. xvii. 2: "Write thou every man's name upon his rod."
(8) Num. xvii. 3: "Write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi."
(9) Num. xxxiii. 2: "And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeyings by the commandment of the Lord."
(10) Deut. vi. 9: "Thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house and upon thy gates."
(11) Deut xi. 20. Repeats the last reference cited.
(12) Deut. xvii, 18: "When he (the king) sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, he shall write him a copy of this law in a book."
These are a few out of the many passages in the Pentateuch in which God has commanded his servant to write, and in which it is positively stated that his servant did write. One of two things is certain, either the whole Pentateuch is a fraud, having stated repeatedly that writing was commanded and practiced, or the book is true, and the fraud must be charged to the belated critics.
The reader will see very clearly that the purpose of such criticism is to eliminate the supernatural from the Bible, as has been said, and destroy its certitude.
It is too late in the day for the Professor's criticism, that Hebrew literature had its first development during the exile. "Stephen full of the Holy Spirit, looking steadfastly into heaven," read the record of history concerning Moses differently. Stephen could not have heard the Chautauqua lecturer's statement, for he affirmed that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds."
3. Consider now the assumptions of the critics in the face of the claims of the book of Leviticus. In the first verses of the book it is written: "And the Lord called upon Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying." Then follow God's specific directions concerning
(1) The burnt offering;
(2) The meat offering, and
(3) The sin offering, occupying the whole of the first three chapters. The fourth chapter is introduced in the same explicit language.
(4) The sin offering.
This definite direction of God to Moses extends to the sixth chapter of the book. Here again the same formula of speech is employed, God speaking to Moses gave directions concerning
(5) The trespass offering.
In the eighth chapter we have God's direct communication to Moses, and Moses' response in such phrases as the following, and all in a single chapter: "And the Lord spake to Moses, ... and Moses did as the Lord commanded him, ... and Moses said unto the congregation, ... and Moses brought Aaron and his sons, ... as the Lord commanded Moses, ... and Moses brought Aaron's sons, as the Lord commanded Moses." Ten times in this single chapter it is recorded that God spake to Moses, and Moses obeyed God.
And yet our critic would have us believe one of two things; God either took the heathen sacrificial ritual, veneered it with some sort of divine approval, and handed it over to his people for their use, or by some sort of evolution the book of Leviticus came up out of the heathen method of appeasing their malevolent deities!
Let the facts be summarized. In every one of the twenty-seven chapters of the book of Leviticus God is represented as commanding Moses, and Moses is represented as doing the thing which God required of him, and several times in many of the chapters. In the eighteenth chapter nineteen definite things are done by Moses, the seventeenth verse asserting that all this was done "as the Lord commanded Moses."
The following references are absolutely unanswerable by the critics, viz.:
Lev. i. 1: "The Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him."
Lev. iv. 1: "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying," etc.
Lev. vi. 1; "And the Lord spake unto Moses."
Lev. viii. 1: "And the Lord spake unto Moses."
Lev. viii. 36: "Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses."
Lev. ix. 6: "And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commanded that ye should do."
Lev. xi. 1: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron."
Lev. xii. 1: "And the Lord spake unto Moses."
Lev. xiii. 1: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron."
Lev. xiv. 1: "And the Lord spake unto Moses."
Lev. xiv. 33: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron."
Without further repetition of this phraseology, the reader will find the same in the following references, viz.: xv. 1, xvi. 1, xvii. 1, xviii. 1, xix. 1, xx. 1, xxi. 1, xxii. 1-17, xxiii. 1, xxiv. 1, xxv. 1, xxvii. 1-34.
Here are twenty-five positive statements that God spake to Moses, or commanded Moses. Does language mean anything? Is there any escape from the truth, except by a denial of the entire Word of God?
God and Moses are the active agents in every chapter in the book of Leviticus. And this fact is definitely stated in the last verse of Leviticus: "These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses."
You might as well attempt to blot the sun from the heavens at high noon as to eliminate from the book of Leviticus the one great and divinely-appointed personality, Moses, the lawgiver, the leader the actor, and under God the author of the book.
A further word concerning the date of Leviticus. When was it written? As already stated, the critics place the time of the writing after the exile, between nine hundred and one thousand years after the decease of Moses. Something additional should be added to what has already been said on the subject.
The reader of the English Bible will see that Leviticus immediately follows Exodus by the connective "and." The same Hebrew connective unites Exodus with Genesis, and Numbers with Leviticus. The natural, grammatical, and logical inference is, that the author of Genesis is the author of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.
In addition to this fact we have the testimony of some of the prophets who lived before the exile, that they were familiar with what the critics call "the priestly code," which is elaborated in Leviticus.
Professor Stanley Leathes adduces forty-five allusions to the books of Moses in the book of Amos. (See Bible Student and Teacher, October, 1906.) Amos' prophetic work was "in the northern kingdom, between 807 and 765 B.C., during the reign of Jeroboam II, when the kingdom of Israel was at the height of its splendor." (See Schaff-Herzog, Enc. Art. Amos.) This was more than two hundred years before the restoration from the exile, long before the captivity, which the critics designate as the beginning of the literary period.
Professor Leathes affirms that "there is apparent acquaintance with and reference to each book of the Pentateuch in this prophecy." He shows that Leviticus is referred to in nine passages in Amos. The reference in Amos iv. 5 to "a sacrifice in thanksgiving with leaven" is an allusion to the law of thanksgiving in Lev. vii. 13.
In giving God's message to Israel in a time of great backsliding, Amos said to them: "Though ye offer unto me burnt offerings and meat offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts." (Amos v. 23.)
This is an allusion to the law of burnt offerings and meat offerings set forth in the first chapter of Leviticus. But the critics inform us that there was no law concerning these offerings until several hundred years after Amos ceased to prophesy!
Again, enumerating the sins of the people, Amos charges them with giving the Nazarites wine to drink. "Ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not." (Amos ii. 12.) This was a violation of the law of God as found in Num. vi. 2, 3, showing at least that the Pentateuch, of which Leviticus is an important part, was known to Amos, long before the period to which Leviticus has been assigned by the destructive critics.
Hosea adds his testimony to that of Amos and Ezekiel. Again and again he refers to the law of sacrifices as taught in Leviticus. "They shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices." "They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn incense upon the hills." (Hosea iv. 13, 19.)
Concerning Ephraim, God says by the prophet Hosea: "I wrote for him ten thousand things of my law." (Hosea viii. 12, R.V.) He refers to the law as given to Moses in all its length and breadth.
The critics demand large credulity from us. They ask us to accept their position that the Bible itself was mistaken as to its authorship, that Christ and his apostles were mistaken; or at least did not tell the truth when they assigned the Pentateuch (Leviticus included) to Moses. They then ask us to believe that the Bible is not only unimpaired by the mistakes which the experts claim to have discovered, but is really much improved by the discovery!
It passes rational comprehension that we are permitted to expunge from the Word of God, on the ground of literary criticism, the positive and repeated statements of inspired men, and of the Son of God, and yet assume that we have an unimpaired revelation!
We rather turn to the glorious array of witnesses to the integrity of the Bible that God has furnished—the book itself, Moses and the prophets, all the New Testament writers and the "Teacher sent from God." From these witnesses we rest in the unshaken belief that "God spake all these words" (Ex. xx. 1) and that "Moses wrote all the words of the Lord" (Ex. xxiv. 4), including Leviticus.
VI. ASSUMPTIONS CONCERNING THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for me?" Jer. xxxii. 27.
"God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God." Psa. lxii. 11.
"Great is our Lord, and of great power; his understanding is infinite." Psa. cxlvii. 5.
"He revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and that the light dwelleth with him." Dan. ii. 2.
"Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" Acts xv. 18.
"The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men." Psa. xxxiii. 13.
"Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." Ex. iv. 12.
"And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." Isaiah vi. 9.
The critics claim to have discovered, on literary and other evidence, that the Church of Christ, in all its branches, has been mistaken in all the past concerning the author of the book known as the Prophecies of Isaiah. They assume that all the foremost scholars of the world, and the faith of God's people, have been misled. Our critical advisers profess to have discovered that there were at least two, and probably many more prophets, whose writings compose the book. They refuse to recognize Isaiah alone as the author; and for several reasons:
First—Because of the change of style of composition from the thirty-ninth chapter to the close of the book.
Second—On the ground that the theme is more exalted than in the first thirty-nine chapters. Hence, it is assumed that these last chapters could not have been written by Isaiah.
Third—On the ground that Cyrus is mentioned by name, in the forty-fourth and forty-fifth chapters of the book, as the restorer of Jerusalem. Hence, our critics conclude that this part of the book must have been written after the event, as the prophet (it is assumed) could not name Cyrus before his birth.
Fourth—The critics assume that the prophet must prophesy out of his immediate surroundings, whatever that may mean. They furnish their troubled disciples the comforting assurance that these discoveries do not diminish the value of the book, but render it more accurate and interesting as a literary work. The professor already quoted, a fair representative of the critical school, in his recent lectures, referred to on a preceding page, distinguished the authors of the book as "Isaiah and the Great Unknown Prophet." Other critics multiply, somewhat indefinitely, the number of "The Unknowns." Our critic regards the change in style and theme from the thirty-ninth chapter to the end of the book as valid proof of at least the dual authorship of the book.
This assumption instantly raises the question as to who is the author of prophetic themes. Is it the prophet himself or the Holy Spirit? Does the prophet himself bring forth the prophecy of his own foreknowledge? Or, is the Holy Spirit the inspirer of themes new and old? Happily God has settled the question for us. He declares by his Apostle Peter "that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation"; that is, of the prophet's own disclosure. "For prophecy came not of old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter i. 20, 21.) It is, therefore, bold assumption to affirm that God could not give to the same prophet new and more exalted themes in his progressive revelation of truth. It is a limitation of God himself to the critic's notion of what should, or should not be. This would eliminate the divine element of the book by a sweep of the critic's pen. It is an assumption too groundless to need a reply.
Further, as to the change of style. Nothing is more natural or reasonable than the fact that a change of theme should produce a change of style. A more exalted theme must quicken the imagination, set the emotions aflame, stimulate all the mental and moral powers of the author. A historical statement, a commonplace theme, can be dealt with in a commonplace style, while new and uplifting truth awakens new powers in the writer. Milton's Paradise Lost was entirely different from his ordinary prose composition. Dr. John Watson's sermons were on a higher level than his books of fiction. Writers who do much of their literary work on the level plain on which the people move, frequently rise to mountain peaks of sublime composition when the occasion and theme demand it.
The style in the later chapters of the book of Isaiah is just what we would expect from the prophet when the Holy Spirit opened to his enraptured mind the theme of redemption through a suffering Messiah, in the fifty-third and following chapters of the book.
The objection to conceding the authorship of the entire book to Isaiah, because the prophet mentions Cyrus by name before his birth, is made in the face of the fundamental fact already stated that God inspired the writer, and is therefore the author of prophecy, "declaring the end from the beginning." (Isa. xlvi. 10.) He knows all the future and whom he will choose to accomplish his glorious purposes. To deny this fact is to deny all prophecy. If God can not foretell future events and the instruments for their accomplishment, there can be no prophecy, and God's omniscience is impeached. Isaiah prophesied in the seventh chapter and fourteenth verse: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Matthew affirms that this prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. (Matt. i. 22, 23.) He also declares in the same connection that the announcing angel foretold that the name "Jesus" was to be given to the Messiah at his birth. These preannouncements must be cast aside if the critic's dictum is accepted. Shall we discredit Isaiah, the announcing angel, and Matthew on the ground of the critic's literary acumen?
Further, the student of the Word will remember that when Jeroboam was bringing disaster upon Israel, God sent his prophet to declare: "Behold a son shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee (the altar at Bethel) shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee." More than three hundred years after this prophecy was given, according to Usher's Chronology, Josiah was born and did the precise things that were predicted concerning him. (See 1 Kings xiii. 2 and 2 Kings xxiii, 15, 16.) The omniscience of the Holy Spirit can predict the name of the instrument as readily as the event which is to be accomplished.
Again, undoubtedly the prophet must speak out of his own environment. He can speak only where he is. But who is to decide how many and what allusions he must make to custom or incident in order to satisfy the critic, as to his time and place in history?
The tailor who decides that he must have twenty yards of cloth to make a suit of clothes, when ten yards are sufficient, will shortly be wanting customers. The critic who has decided how many and what kind of synchronous events must be furnished by the prophet, in order to secure his credence as to authorship, will be left without a prophet or a Bible.
The erection of an arbitrary law, by which to interpret history or prophecy in the Bible, is contrary to all the treatment which secular literature receives from these same critics.
From these strained, forced and unphilosophical methods of dealing with prophecy, we turn to the testimony of the inspired book itself. The book of Isaiah is distinguished by a phraseology peculiar to this prophet. He speaks of God as "The Holy One of Israel." This title, as applied to God, is used only seven times in the entire Old Testament; once in 2 Kings, three times in the Psalms, twice in the prophecies of Jeremiah, and once in Ezekiel, but never in the minor prophets. But Isaiah uses this title as applied to God, twenty-two times, running through the entire book from the first to the sixtieth chapter.
The reader will be interested to note how the repeated use of the phrase—"The Holy One of Israel"—attests the unity of the authorship of the entire book. Hence the passages ("line upon line, line upon line") are here presented to give their unequivocal testimony to our Sabbath School teachers.
1: Isaiah I:4—"They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger."
2: Isaiah v:18, 19—"Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: that say ... let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it."
3: Isaiah v:24—"Because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel."
4: Isaiah xii:6—"Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee."
5: Isaiah xvii:7—"At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel."
6: Isaiah xxix:19—"The poor among man shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
7: Isaiah xxx:11—"Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us." (The language of a rebellious people.)
8: Isaiah xxx:12—"Wherefore, thus saith the Holy One of Israel, because ye despise this word ... therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall."
9: Isaiah xxx:15—"Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved."
10: Isaiah xxxi:1—"They look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord."
11: Isaiah xli:14—"Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, I will help thee saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."
12: Isaiah xli:16—"Thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel."
13: Isaiah xli:20—"That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it."
14: Isaiah xliii:13—"I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior."
15: Isaiah xlv:11—"Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come, concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."
16: Isaiah xlvii:4—"As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel."
17: Isaiah xlviii:17—"Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go."
18: Isaiah xlix:7—"Thus saith the Lord ... Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee."
19: Isaiah liv:5—"For thy Maker is thine husband; The Lord of hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called."
20: Isaiah lv:5—"Nations that knew not thee, shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel."
21: Isaiah lx:9—"The Isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee."
22: Isaiah lx:14—"And they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel."
The reader will notice that this phrase, as applied to God is a characteristic of Isaiah. We have not found it in any of the minor prophets, and but twice in the prophecies of Jeremiah, and once in Ezekiel. But Isaiah uses it more than twenty times, running from the first to the sixtieth chapter. He uses it ten times before reaching the fortieth chapter, and twelve times in the chapters following, which the critics have assigned to some unknown author or authors. Shall we be asked to conclude that the unknown authors adopted Isaiah's style, his phraseology, from the fortieth chapter to the end of the book? For what motive? To conceal themselves? The assumption is too large. If the first thirty-nine chapters of this book are accepted, as the prophecies of Isaiah, by every law of fair criticism the whole book must claim this prophet as its author.
VII. GOD'S REPLY TO THESE ASSUMPTIONS.
"Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" Rom. ix. 20.
"At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." Deut. xix. 15.
"Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Rom. xv. 4.
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1 Cor. x. 11.
"My people shall know my name, therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak, Behold, it is I." Isaiah lii. 6.
In the New Testament we have in the Gospels and the Epistles God's teachings concerning the Old Testament. The writers of the New Testament had the promise of our Lord that "The Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John xiv. 26.)
In the fulfillment of this promise they have given us the testimony of God, the Holy Spirit, on all the subjects of which they have written. What, therefore, is their testimony concerning the author of the book of Isaiah? Did that prophet write the book, or is it a patched book from various authors?
Matthew, the inspired author of the book that bears his name, quotes from Isaiah xl. 3: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (See Matt. iii. 3.)
The critics inform us that this prophecy was not given by Isaiah, but by some unknown prophet, and was bound up with Isaiah's prophecies, and labeled as his. Matthew informs us that it was a prophecy concerning John the Baptist, and was given by Isaiah himself, and not by another. He says (iii. 3), referring to John the Baptist: "For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight." (R.V.)
Again, in Matt. viii. 17, the author of this gospel quotes a passage from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. The critics have handed this fifty-third chapter over to the Unknown prophet or prophets. They affirm again that the theme and literary style of this chapter are such that Isaiah could not have written it. They base their affirmation on their own literary discoveries, their ability to detect the footprints of some other prophet, though they do not inform us who that prophet is. They are sure that it was not Isaiah, for they have already placed him under such limitations that, according to their critical decision, he could not write the chapter. Of course, their conclusion is reached by practically denying the Holy Spirit's agency—logically denying that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter i. 21.)
The inspired author of the gospel of Matthew had a different conception of the Holy Spirit's agency in giving prophecy to the world. He had not discovered the limitations of the prophet, which the critics profess to have found. Hence, in giving the history of God's gracious and miraculous work of casting out demons and healing the sick, he declares (Matt. viii. 17), without a shadow of a mistake, that Christ wrought these miracles, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases." (See also Isaiah liii. 4.)
As Matthew is on the witness stand, the reader will be interested to hear his testimony further. In his gospel (xii. 17-21) he testifies that Isaiah wrote the forty-second chapter of the prophecy that bears his name. Matthew quotes the first four verses of the chapter, in explanation of the fact that Christ found it necessary during his ministry to retire from the public excitement which his teaching and miracles had produced. He says that Christ pursued that course "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Behold my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my Spirit upon him and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory, and in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
This quotation is from Isaiah, forty-second chapter, and first part of the chapter. The reader will remember that the critics deny this testimony of Matthew. This forty-second chapter which he (Matthew) assigns to Isaiah is a part of the book which they affirm has come to us from some unknown source.
It is worthy of repetition that three times Matthew, the inspired author of the first gospel, has affirmed without equivocation that the passages which he quotes were "spoken by Isaiah the prophet." The critics say "No." Which will the reader believe?
The author of the third gospel, describing our Lord's visit to Nazareth, says: "As his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah, and when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke iv. 16-19.
Luke informs us that it was "the book of the prophet Isaiah" from which our Savior made this quotation. We turn to the prophecy and discover that the passage is found in the sixty-first chapter and first and second verses of the book. But the critics who are correcting our Bible for us (?) inform us that their same literary discovery holds good here—that this part of the book was not written by Isaiah. They assume to hand over this part of the book, knowingly, to the "Great Unknown" and unknowable prophets. The testimony of Luke contradicts the critics. He gives Isaiah full credit as the author of the statement. The reader will doubtless accept the fact that the inspired writer, the author of Luke's gospel, obtained his information at first hand, from God himself, who inspired the record.
Again Luke contradicts the critics when he puts on record Philip's interview with the eunuch, as we find it in Acts viii. 30-33. When Philip joined himself to the eunuch, by direction of the Spirit, he "heard him reading Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah liii. 7), and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?" ... Now, the passage of the Scriptures which he was reading was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before his shearer, dumb, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: his generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth," (R.V., Acts viii. 30-33.)
Our critics have robbed Isaiah of this passage. It was written, so their literary skill claims to have discovered, by some prophet who has successfully concealed himself, and finally disappeared from sight, leaving no hope that his name will ever be discovered.
Luke informs us that he knew who the prophet was that penned that touching description of the coming Messiah, and that his name was Isaiah. This question he has settled.
Turning to the gospel of John, we are furnished the testimony of one of whom our Lord said, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of woman, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." This witness comes before us, therefore, indorsed by Jesus Christ himself, "The faithful Witness." We ask him, therefore, to speak for himself as to who is the author of that part of prophecy which the critics are attempting to wrest from Isaiah.
When the priests and Levites came to ask him, "Who art thou? That we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?" he replied, "I am the Voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet." (See John i. 22, 23, R.V.)
This was his testimony, first concerning himself. We believe him. And this was his testimony, secondly, concerning the author of the prophecy which he quoted: "Isaiah the prophet."
Again we believe him, and as confidently, concerning the second statement as the first. And the Apostle John was so confident of its truth that he put it on record.
The passage quoted (Isaiah xl. 3) belongs to that part of the book which our critic and his fellow critics have decided was predicted by some stray prophet, unknown to the world, to the Jewish people or the church. We prefer the statement of John the Baptist, and its indorsement by John the Apostle.
The reader will now recall that we have already heard Matthew's corroboration of the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Isaiah's claim to this prophecy. (See Matt iii. 3.)
In the gospel of the Apostle John he puts on record his personal testimony concerning the author of the book bearing Isaiah's name. Explaining the amazing unbelief of the Jews, he says (xii. 37, 38): "But though he (Jesus) did so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake:
"Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (R.V.)
The reader will see that this inspired writer of the fourth gospel is quoting from Isaiah liii. 1, thus testifying to Isaiah's authorship.
Our literary critics have decided that this chapter was forbidden ground to Isaiah, that, if we are to believe them, he had no connection with this prophecy.
We are asked to believe that the author of this fifty-third chapter, the most minute and tender prophecy concerning the Messiah's sufferings for his people, and rejection by them, has dropped out of sight! We are asked to believe that the name of the prophet who gave this dramatic picture of what was to take place on Calvary seven hundred years later, has been lost in the fog of the passing centuries! We are asked to believe that the name of the author of the first thirty-nine chapters, the less important part of the book, has been preserved, but oblivion has overtaken the author of the book from the fortieth chapter to the end.
The assumption is an affront to the intelligence of the ordinary reader of the Bible. It is an impeachment of the honesty of the authors of the gospels, which the unshaken faith of God's people can never concede.
The reader can now sum up the testimony of Matthew, Mark (see i. 3, R.V.), Luke, John, and John the Baptist, all of whom with one voice contradicts the critics. We also prefer, with these witnesses, to discredit the men who are picking out clauses, verses and chapters here and there, and guessing them off to authors of their own invention, who have never been known or heard of.
It is not sufficient for the critics to say that these New Testament authors knew better, but deferred to popular sentiment, based on tradition. That can not satisfy our estimate of them as God's divinely appointed teachers, chosen to make record of the momentous truth on which the salvation of a lost world hangs. Men, ready to lay down their lives for the truth, were not the men to play fast and loose with the Word of God, in deference to a supposed popular sentiment.
Further, our critical friends have assumed to decide for the prophets that they must prophesy out of their immediate surroundings in such a marked way, with such continued reference to the events of the period, that the prophecy must be located in that period. If the critic cannot find these particular local earmarks, he must push the prophecy to a point of time with which he can make it synchronize, and which will satisfy his literary judgment. By this law of determining dates, the critics claim that the book of Isaiah is a composite work, produced by different authors and at different times.
On this assumption the latter part of the book of Revelation was not a revelation to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. The first part of the book may be adjudged as his. But presently the matter of the book passes into a realm beyond the time and circumstances that belong to that period, hence may not claim him as its author. An assumption that sets aside the claims of Scripture, as to authorship, in order to harmonize the book with one's literary and critical judgment, may be dismissed on its own lack of merit.
The proposed law above referred to, as a method of locating prophecy as to time, or determining the author, is arbitrary, and an absurd attempt to destroy all the testimony of inspired writers, who have settled the question of authorship and the date of prophecy.
VIII. THE HISTORICITY OF THE BOOK OF JONAH.
"According to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher." 2 Kings xiv. 25.
"The word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it: for their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah i. 1, 2.
"So Jonah arose and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." Jonah iii.. 3.
"And he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah iii. 4.
"So the people of Nineveh believed God." Jonah iii. 5.
"And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not." Jonah iii. 10.
"The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonas." Matt. xii. 41.
The book of Jonah has been attacked by the destructive critics. Its historicity has been denied. The critics, though certain of almost all of their objections to the Bible, have not all decided whether it is "based on history, or is a nature myth." Keunen has discovered (?) that it is "a product of the opposition to the strict and exclusive policy of Ezra toward heathen nations." Objection is made to the historical statements of the book on various grounds. The objector interposes this difficulty: "Can we conceive of a heathen city being converted by an obscure foreign prophet?"
This objection is of kin to that which can not conceive that by a creative act of God the universe was brought into being, or the inspired statement that "the worlds were framed by the word of God." It is the presence of the supernatural everywhere that is beyond the conception of the critics.
Again, they interpose the difficulty: "How could the Ninevites give credence to a man who was not a servant of Ashur?"
Without presenting the multiplied difficulties that rationalism has supposedly discovered, they may be summed up in their statement substantially, that the book of Jonah is not historical. Whatever else it may be, whether legend, myth or allegory, it is not history.
We turn again from the fancies of "Expert Scholarship" to the testimony of the Bible concerning itself. We discover that the prophet Jonah is referred to several hundred years before the critics have permitted him to live. It is written in 2 Kings xiv. 25 that Jeroboam the Second secured the restoration of certain territory, "according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher."
The name of Jonah, of his family, and the place of residence of his family, are definitely stated. The work is accomplished "by the hand of his servant Jonah," and the date of its accomplishment, is so precisely recorded that these statements could have been disproved had they been false. Hence, there was a person named Jonah.
Our Lord has settled the questions of the personality and work of Jonah, if anything can be settled for unbelief. He has affirmed the historical certainty of the two important events which critical assumption declares impossible. The critical Jews were demanding a sign from our Lord. He had wrought many miracles, but they wanted something beyond what he had given, a miracle for their special benefit. He declined to gratify them. Of that generation he said: "There shall no sign be given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt. xii. 39-41.) As Jonah was miraculously preserved for three days and nights and was brought forth, as by a resurrection, so was the Son of man to be brought forth from the tomb. His resurrection was to be the crowning miracle, the sign forever confronting his nation, Jonah's deliverance from apparent death was such a miracle as convinced the Ninevites that he had a message from God for them, so Christ's resurrection was to become the keystone of the arch on which the whole structure of the redemptive system should rest. "He was raised for our justification." (Rom. iv. 25.)
The reader will mark that our Lord referred to the miraculous preservation of Jonah, and his deliverance, as a historical event, recorded in the first and second chapters of the book of Jonah, not as a myth or allegory, but as a historical fact. "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." As the one, so the other. As certainly and literally the one, so certainly and literally the other. If Jonah's preservation and coming forth from the fish that God had prepared was only a legend, then was Christ's death, burial, and resurrection a legend. And in consistency with their critical theory some of the rationalists have reduced them both to legend. For as one was, so was the other to be. The statement is plain, definite narrative, from which there is no escape.
Others of the critical school hold to the historical verity of Christ's burial and resurrection, but assert that he made use of the assumed legend concerning Jonah, as we might illustrate any fact in history by a familiar statement from fiction. To such an assumption we reply that our Lord was dealing with tremendous realities, such as could not be belittled by turning for support or illustration to a fictitious story. He quoted from Old Testament history to illustrate and enforce New Testament truth. On another occasion he said: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." Shall we hand over to legendary literature the great historical fact of the twenty-first chapter of Numbers—God's deliverance of the people from the fiery serpents—by one look at the uplifted brazen serpent by the hand of Moses? We may as well reduce one passage to fiction as the other. "As Jonah ... three days and nights, so the Son of man. As the serpent was lifted up, so the Son of man shall be lifted up." This comparison has a definite meaning. The apostle uses it in his Epistle to the Romans, fifth chapter and twelfth verse. "As by one man sin entered into the world, ... so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned." As certainly as sin entered into the world by one man, so certainly it resulted that death passed upon all men. As Christ's remaining in the grave three days was not a fiction, so Jonah's three days and nights in the great fish that God had prepared was not a fiction.
Our Lord further certifies to the historicity of the book of Jonah by his reference to the great prophet's preaching. The critic's objection is thus stated: "Can we conceive of a heathen city being converted by an obscure foreign prophet?"
Of course, the objection to the record of that mighty moral movement comes from those who have counted God out of Jonah's preaching. If they can eliminate the divine power from that event, they can easily hand the whole record over to what they are pleased to call the "folk lore of the Bible." Here, as ever, the critic must rid the Scriptures of the supernatural.
But our Savior knew that "power belongeth unto God" (Psa. lxii. 11), and he put on record the repentance of the Ninevites, saying, "The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah." (Matt. xii. 41.) But if the book is not history, our Lord's statement is false, for he says the Ninevites did repent.
There is no rational possibility of denying our Lord's positive statement without impeaching his veracity.
His words authorize the following conclusions:
I. There was a prophet whose name was Jonah, as is stated in 2 Kings xiv. 25. He was not a myth or figment, but a prophet whose personality is authenticated by Christ himself.
2. There was a city of Nineveh. The skepticism of other days denied the existence of Nineveh. So completely was the prophecy concerning the destruction of Nineveh fulfilled that the enemies of God's Word refused to believe that the city had ever existed, until the excavations of the last century revealed the hidden ruins. But the word of God was true, and in God's time Nineveh was revealed.
3. God sent this same prophet Jonah to Nineveh to preach. Christ tells us what took place under "the preaching of Jonah." It terminated in a great awakening and reformation for:
4. "The men of Nineveh ... repented at the preaching of Jonah."
Did the Savior know what he was talking about? Did he know the truth of the statement he made? Or, knowing (as is assumed) that there were no such events, did he resort to fiction in order to assert the certainty of his own resurrection? If the latter, then we must correct his statement concerning Jonah, and read: "As Jonah has been fictitiously represented to have been three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so, fictitiously, shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Our Sunday-school teachers, with the words of Christ before them, will be able to give the critics important information. They can report the certainty of the historical facts.
IX. RADICAL EXPOSITION.
"Among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." (R.V.) 2 Peter ii. 1.
"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith." 1 Tim. vi. 20, 21.
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them." 1 Tim. iv. 16.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." 2 Peter i. 19.
The destructive critics have pushed their work far into the field of both prophecy and exposition. They have relegated to the domain of mythology the clear and unequivocal historical statements of Scripture. Where the intrusion of their mythological theory was too large a demand to make on our credulity, they have attempted a radical exegesis in proof of their assumptions.
They claim to have discovered that the Church in all the past has misconceived the first prophetic promise given to man. That promise was given to our first parents immediately after the fall. God said to the serpent (Gen. iii. 15): "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Our critics have two objections to the interpretation that has always been given and maintained by Christian scholars and by the Church as a whole. First, that "the seed of the woman" does not refer to the Messiah, but to the human race, which is to bruise the serpent's head. Second, that the serpent engaged in seducing Eve, and here placed under the curse, does not refer to Satan.
In replying to the objection that the Messiah is not referred to in the passage, let it be said that the pronoun is a pronoun referring to a person. It is so translated in the Revised Version. "He shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel." It is not the human race, but he, an individual person. This person was not to be the seed of the man, but of the woman.
The announcing angel said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke i. 35.) The child to be born was to be literally and truly "the seed of the woman," and that was the Messiah, the only person of the entire human race of whom that could be said.
We are not left, however, to an exegetical statement alone, although that is absolutely unequivocal. The promise was repeated to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to David. The seed of the woman was to be the Messiah, the Christ, triumphing over the power of Satan. The race has not triumphed over Satan, but has been a failure.
The Holy Spirit has settled the question in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, iii. 16: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many (or, the human race), but as of one, and to thy seed which is Christ." On the human side, our Savior was of the line of Abraham, and David, but was singularly and literally "the seed of the woman," being the Son of God.
He called himself the Son of man only in the sense that he was born of her who was of the race of man. He ever claimed God as his Father, and in a different sense from that in which men can claim God as Father. His claim to be the Son of God was the claim to be equal with God, which no created being dare make.