Chapter 3.

Preliminary Questions

Before going into the distinctive features of each of the separate books which form the Pentateuch, we will take a brief glance in the present chapter at the contents of the entire division, and here a number of preliminary questions may be raised.

1. The Authorship of the Pentateuch.

It has been around this ground that the great battle has been waged between higher criticism in all its forms and the faith uniformly held by the people of God from the beginning, a faith we are assured which the word of God itself leads to. Until the attacks of infidelity, no one ever thought of questioning the universally accepted belief that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. At first it might seem as though the only question were as to his authorship of the book of Genesis, which covers the periods of time from the creation to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. All of this, as having occurred before the birth of Moses, need not necessarily have been recorded by him; but it has been found that higher criticism, another name for infidelity, is never satisfied with assailing one portion of revelation; it reaches out until all has been brought under the blight of its malign influence. Thus when it had claimed that the book of Genesis was made up of various documents and fragments, it passed on to the other books about which there could be in the mind of the believer in the word of God no question that Moses was the author, and here all this was denied. It was said that the book of Exodus, with its varied ordinances and narratives, was composed long after the time in which Moses lived; indeed, it was declared boldly for a long time, until the very stones rose up and cried shame upon them, that writing was an art practically unknown in the days of Moses. It remained for Archaeology to set aside this glaring falsehood, by showing that, so far from this being the case, the age before Moses was a time of intense literary activity and, the remains of this are now open to the inspection of the world.

Likewise, Leviticus and Deuteronomy were supposed to have been written in the interests of a special priestly class, and with a view to enhance the dignity and importance of the Levites and the tribe of Judah. Into all this we have not room to enter, beyond showing how such a question as authorship is bound up with the fuller, deeper one of the integrity of the books which are assailed. If the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, if it is the product of a later age, it is upon its very face stamped as untrue and an imposture, therefore utterly unworthy of belief. Thus the enemy would seek to destroy the foundations, well knowing that if these are removed, the whole superstructure must fall to the ground.

The only possible question as to the Mosaic authorship is necessarily confined to the book of Genesis and the closing chapter of Deuteronomy. If the book is authentic at all, it declares again and again that it was the production of Moses, a contention borne out by the rest of the Old Testament, and substantiated by the infallible authority of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Just here, therefore, we confine ourselves to a thought or two about the book of Genesis.

In claiming the Mosaic authorship of this book, it is not meant that no records were kept before the time of the great lawgiver. There is nothing contradictory to the truth of inspiration or the thought of Moses' authorship in the possibility, we may say probability, of genealogies having been kept, and possibly also narratives more or less full, of persons and events which took place prior to the time of the Exodus. But what historian can write a narrative of former times without making large and liberal use of the material at his disposal? Thus there is no contradiction in the thought that Moses made use of whatever lists and narratives there may have been in existence before him. There is, however, something to be said even upon this side of the subject.

When we see the place of Genesis as introductory to the entire Pentateuch, and indeed to the whole of the word of God, as it has often been called, "the seed-plot of the Bible," we see a divine plan and purpose running through the book, leading up to and connecting closely with that which follows. Genesis is in this way a necessary introduction to Exodus. It has evidently passed under the eye of the person who writes that book. The whole narrative of the patriarchs, from Abraham down, is with reference to the Pentateuch, and in confirmation of the promises of God made to him and fulfilled to his descendants in the land of Egypt. This points most unmistakably to the unity of authorship. It shows us that the entire five books are really one, and that while they are essentially distinct the one from the other, each is a consistent part of this division of Scripture. No thoughtful, careful student who looks beneath the surface can fail to see this. The purpose in Genesis is absolute, and from its earliest chapters to its close, it most evidently is preparatory to the narrative of the book of Exodus.

We thus come back with renewed assurance to the common faith of the people of God from the beginning, that the entire Pentateuch is the product of Moses. It was he whom God chose to be the appointed vehicle for carrying out His purposes and promises made known to Abraham and the fathers, and he is fittingly the historian of that great redemptive work recorded in the book of Exodus, together with the anticipative histories which are absolutely necessary to the right understanding of the narrative of Exodus itself.

We pass now to one scripture which sets its seal upon the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch: "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?" Most significant indeed is this. It is unbelief which has assailed the authorship of the Pentateuch, and unbelief not merely in Moses' writings, but in Him of whom Moses wrote. We have similar confirmation by our Lord in the expression: "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me." Here the Whole Pentateuch is again ascribed to Moses. In the face of this, we cannot afford to entertain the slightest doubt as to the authorship of the entire Pentateuch. It is one harmonious work, the author of which is not only declared upon its face to be Moses, but our Lord confirms that statement.

It will therefore be found that wherever unbelief expresses a doubt as to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, these statements of our Lord have to be explained away. It is said that He simply adopted the general belief of the time and would not destroy the commonly accepted theory that Moses wrote the books. Further blasphemy goes on, however, to declare that as He had emptied Himself of the divine knowledge, He shared in the ignorance common to the Jews as a whole, and Himself believed that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. Yes, He did thus believe, but it was not human ignorance an awful blasphemy — but divine knowledge which declared: "He wrote of Me."

As to the last chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, there is scarcely need for a word. No one conceives it as being in the least contradictory of the Mosaic authorship of the entire book, that Joshua or some other inspired narrator should give us the account of the close of the life of the great lawgiver. This fittingly is put at the close of his last book, and captious indeed would be the criticism that would make evil use of it.

2. The Inspiration of the Pentateuch.

Back of the question as to the Mosaic authorship of the five books ascribed to him, is the more fundamental one of their inspiration. It would be indeed of little value to us whether these books were the product of one author or of many, of one period, or the outgrowth of long lapses of time. What interest could all this have for us if the contents of the books had not upon them the stamp of divine, infallible accuracy, and absolute authority?

It is beautiful to see how a question like this merges into the one we have just been considering. It suggests at once that grace which stoops to use the human instrument, and is a foreshadow of that grace of the eternal Word who was made flesh. Just as in the person of our Lord, when once the truth of His deity is accepted, we cannot be too clear as to His actual humanity; so, too, in inspiration, we have here the human instrument whom God has been pleased to use, Moses or one of the prophets, as the case may be; but it must first ever be granted that God is the absolute author of the revelation which He has been pleased to make to us. We must reserve to another place and time a full discussion of the subject of inspiration.*

{*This will be treated, if the Lord please, in a handbook devoted exclusively to this subject.}

A few thoughts will only be suggested here. The Bible is a complete whole, and is in reality a revelation from God to man, in which each part has its divinely given place; every apparent digression is but a further tributary to the mass of truth which is accumulating in ever greater volume, until the whole bursts forth in the display of the full counsels of God manifested in the Person, work and present position of His beloved Son, together with the unfolding of those purposes kept secret from the foundation of the world, which now by the Spirit of God are being carried out in and through the Church. The thought, therefore, of inspiration must be absolute. The mind must also be freed from all hampering thoughts as to the human instrument who has been used in connection with any part of the work.

As a matter of fact, God could have made use of a number of authors in the composition of the Pentateuch, had He so chosen; but the superintending and ordering of all things by the Holy Spirit is never inconsistent with the most natural and orderly human arrangements. We repeat, however, that our great concern is to see the Mind that is back of it all, and to have that assurance in the absolute infallibility of every jot and tittle of the Word which shall bring us with confidence to dwell upon its slightest statements with the conviction that here we have truth, as much as in the larger and apparently more prominent parts. We need this assurance, in order to approach apparent contradictions and difficult places, not with the suspicion that here we have two parallel and slightly contradictory accounts, or that we see the bias of certain individuals expressing itself in undue emphasis, but rather that all is divinely ordered, and that every element which will go to make up a harmonious picture is here present. Unbelief, as we have already said, has lingered over the opening pages of Genesis, has endeavored to rend asunder the seamless robe of this portion of the book, and to give a portion to one and another of the unknown authors who, they say, composed the contradictory accounts.

Even the unity of authorship would not entirely settle questions like this, for it could be said that he had simply made use of previous documents and woven them together with more or less skill, in which, however, certain elements of contradiction were present. Here inspiration steps in with its "still, small voice," assuring us that the faintest whisper of the Spirit of God is as infallible as the thunderings from Mount Sinai. Unless this is the conviction of the soul, and is acted upon by the student, there can be no assurance that he will gather the true meaning and purpose of the first pages of the Bible. When once absolute inspiration is accepted, every loophole is closed, and we are shut up to the necessity of accepting every word that God has uttered. We will not be unduly occupied with unimportant questions as to how this or that knowledge was gained, or how the author wove together the whole into one consistent narrative. Seeing that God is the Author of all, we will simply, as in all His other works, ask the all-important question, What has He said, and why has He spoken, in just the way He has? What lessons are we to gather from the "two accounts of creation" in the early part of Genesis? What thought is prominent in each? We will, indeed, the more familiar we become with the perfect revelation of God, be less and less occupied with an effort to explain and to harmonize apparently contradictory portions. Our one object will be to assure ourselves that we are giving a place to all that He has said; that we are not leaving out any elements of the inspired Book which He has put into our hands. Harmony is the work of the Spirit of God. It is indeed the master Mind alone which can hold in its divine compass the full reach of His wondrous revelation; and it is only as by the Spirit of God we enter into His thoughts, that we shall be able to apprehend the length and breadth and depth and height of that which is for us, the fulness of God. As we go on to know Him in "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," we shall find increasingly that truths, which seemed not exactly to blend together, now fall into their true place and are in perfect accord one with the other.

A word of illustration may make clearer what we mean. The truths of divine sovereignty and of human responsibility are evidently both revealed in the word of God. If we attempt, with Our poor little logic, to crush them together, we will mar the effect of each. If, however, we reverently bow and own that both are fully true, together with all else that God has revealed, we will find as we go on to know more of Him, of His ways and thoughts, that these truths blend harmoniously together. It is this which the mercy of God has given us in the inspired volume. It is a book which produces exercise by the very startling character of its statements. The very fact that much of what it says is not on its face at once understood in relation to other statements, so far from being a proof that it is not perfect, shows that the imperfection lies with ourselves. At the risk of repetition, therefore, we press this great truth of the inspiration of the Pentateuch. It is of special importance in connection with the introductory book of the Bible that we settle at once and forever this question.

3. The Object of the Pentateuch.

The question of its absolute inspiration having been fully settled, we are left free, indeed shut up to the consideration of but one fact: Why has God spoken as He has in this portion of His revelation? What is the object He has in view? We may not at once recognize this object. Indeed, we may say that it will grow clearer to us as we go on through life to know the Lord; but it is helpful even at the very outset of our systematic study of His word, to catch, if we can, the manifest purpose of the divine Author in taking up and treating the subject which He is pleased to reveal to us in the way He does. We have already anticipated, in part of what we have said as to the Pentateuch being introductory to the whole Scripture and to the New Testament, something of the object for which it was written. Possibly a little of what is now to be said may seem a repetition. At any rate, it will be found to have its place here as well as there.

We open our Bibles at Genesis and ask ourselves, Can we see the object God had in giving us the account He does, no more and no less, of the work of creation: why He has presented certain details of what took place before the flood and omitted all others; why, later on, He dismissed the whole history of the repopulation of the globe by the family of Noah in a few brief summaries, and narrowed the narrative to a single family, and in fact to one individual in each generation of that family. One thing meets us at the very outset. We have here, not a book to answer curious questions, or merely to furnish us with interesting historical information. Every sentence was uttered with a distinct purpose, not to give us lessons in Geology and other sciences, nor to furnish us with a history of the human family in the earliest times, but rather to bring us face to face with the purpose of all revelation, which is to know God and to be brought into harmony with His character and thoughts.

Thus we find that the creation of the heavens and earth is dismissed in one verse, which, however, establishes the stupendous fact that God is God, and Creator of the whole universe. Endless cosmogonies of heathenism have wallowed in a mire of their own ignorance, folly and superstition, and given us grotesque, repulsive, and foolish thoughts. God simply presents Himself in the midst of His immense creation, and declares that He is the Author of it all. The very omission of all detail brings out the sublimity of the scene. Here we stand, with our attention riveted, not upon His marvelous works in heaven and earth, but rather upon Him who has brought them all into being.

So too with the narrative of the six days' work which follows after the statement of the original creation. There is a manifest purpose throughout all this six days' narrative, which is to lead our thoughts on to the great object which God had in view in preparing this earth for the abode of man. All that He pronounces "good" is the prelude to that final declaration that "God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good." Thus, all nature as we know it upon earth, and the sun, moon and stars in heaven, are seen in their relation to man. Evidently, God had a purpose in His creation which reached a climax in that final act. We anticipate a moment the final purpose of God, as accomplished in the book of Revelation. There, at its close, He looks upon "new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" and there we see again, as the eternal climax of all His thought, the Man and His wife. "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them." God is seen there in the eternal repose of a creation which can never be disturbed by sin, in the midst of the work of His hands and of His heart, and there we find Christ as the Centre and the Crown, the embodiment and fulfilment of all His purposes. But this is what is foreshadowed to us in the brief account we have in the first chapter of Genesis. Everything else is omitted. Much that might engage our powers, that would call forth wonder and delight, is left for reverent, patient study, a study which is ever rewarded; and we are shut up to the one great object which God had in giving us the revelation of those six days' work.

Further: we are also here supplied with a divine, perfect key, which shall open the door to all knowledge. We take the first chapter of our Bible, and we fearlessly approach the great problems which Geology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Botany, Zoology have to present. Christ is the key which is to unlock these. They are but parts of the one vast purpose which God has "to head up all things in Christ" (Eph. 1). If we forget this, we will lose the thread of the narrative which God Himself has given us. Little wonder, then, that science has groped in the midst of untold riches of truth poured out before her gaze in nature, and, if at enmity with God, only ended in excluding Him from the very works which cry aloud of His wisdom, power and goodness. Faith gladly holds the key, and ever remembers the manifest purpose of God in His works, which is not to display human skill nor to satisfy human curiosity, but to bring man into the place where he can enjoy all in the presence of God.

When we come to the second great narrative in connection with the origin of man upon the earth, we find quite a different thought. As the first narrative brings out divine sovereignty, so the second accentuates human responsibility. Here, evidently, man is seen not merely as the crown upon a creation which was perfect of itself, but as one who, entrusted with dominion over it all, was himself under authority in an absolute way, but whose tenure of headship over the creation depended upon his subjection in absolute obedience to the One who had made him head. Here, too, all is narrowed down to the one central point. We cannot linger amid the groves of Eden, "the garden of delight," where everything was "pleasant to the sight and good for food." We get glimpses of all this, vistas which speak of entrancing delight, which waited upon obedience, as it would fulfil the purposes of God.

We are, however, hastened to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, from which depends not only the fruit, but the whole destiny of man, as the responsible head of creation. All rests upon his obedience. It must do so. There can be no distinction between man and the beasts of the field unless the immense fact of responsibility is fully accepted. The object of God then in giving us this narrative is seen all the more clearly because it is divested of numberless details which we might desire to look into. We are left with the one great fact of our accountability. It is this which shows us our essential immortality, our God-given faculties, which link us with eternity, and with no passing framework of a creation prophetic still of one that is to come. Here too, without doubt, we have a foreshadow of the accomplishment of the purpose of God to bring man into responsible relationship to Himself, where at last He will, not in a childhood innocency which cannot be tested, but after all the outcome of sin and rebellion, find his home in the midst of the paradise of God, where he can enjoy without stint every pleasure spread before his adoring gaze, because he is now linked with One who is the truly responsible Head of it all, the Christ of God.

Thus is the purpose of the narrative of the third chapter of Genesis evident. Multitudes of questions press in vain for answer here. They cannot be answered until the one great, tremendous fact stands out in all its dark and hideous reality, that man with open eyes rebelled against the commandment of God, and forfeited eternally his place as head of the creation so lately put under his care. How blessed to see that God would not shroud the solemn fact by any multiplicity of details. Doubtless there are hints, suggestions which faith can reverently take up and trace in many different directions. As a matter of fact, we see how the deception of the serpent and the credulity of human affection, where unchecked, have come in; but that which God evidently intends should be emphasized and pressed upon us is this: "By one man, sin entered into the world and death by sin." This, however, thank God, is but the prelude to that other purpose which is put side by side with our fall. The light of the wondrous promise of the woman's Seed is given in connection with the very loss of man's place, and shows the ultimate triumph of God over something more than the mere blind forces of nature — even the malignant and desperate plot of the enemy, who was determined to overthrow the throne of God itself in His universe. Details are not multiplied, but the promise of the woman's Seed, who shall crush the serpent's head, shows us again that God had Christ before His heart; and His one great purpose in the narrative of sin was to show its hopelessness apart from Him who would overthrow all the plotting of the enemy of God and man.

Here, then, we have a skill beyond human thought, which yet we are enabled to apprehend. It is the skill of a divine Author, who would introduce into His narrative only those elements which will enable us simply and rightly to get the point of view which He desires us to take in order that we may understand all the further development of His ways, and the unrepenting, resistless purpose which He has formed to bring in blessing, in the only way in which it can be brought in, through Christ.

We might go on similarly to speak of the meagreness of the narrative of the times before the flood. The brief genealogical table of our antediluvian ancestors can scarcely be called a narrative, save indeed a narrative of birth and of death; but does not this in itself show the one object for which God has given us the record? It establishes the truth of succession, and the inheritance of a nature and responsibilities flowing from our position. These could not have been so clearly brought out were the narrative more diffuse. The sentence, too, upon man, unswervingly carried out, save with one striking exception, emphasizes the truth: "Death reigned from Adam to Moses;" while, standing out clearly even before this, we have the narrative of the offerings of Cain and of Abel, and the sequel which, by its very horror, impresses us with the absolute necessity of a true approach to God by way of sacrifice alone.

These illustrations must suffice to establish the thought that there is a definite purpose underlying the very form in which the inspired record is given to us, a purpose which already we can partially apprehend; and we shall go on to learn more fully its distinctness and unity, as we fall into the current of the thoughts of God as given to us in each portion of His precious Word.

Passing on more rapidly, in the narrative of the flood we again have the evident purpose not to give a world history, but rather to show how judgment must fall upon those who depart from God. So too after the flood, in the history of Noah, we see from the very meagreness of the account of the nations established through his descendants, that God's purposes cannot yet come out in worldwide blessing. They must be narrowed in the line of Abraham, called out from the nations, to the compass of the household of faith; and so, while yet in the first half of the book of Genesis, the unerring skill of the divine Author has by the very omissions, as well as what is dwelt upon, fastened this in our mind — all blessing comes through Christ alone on the ground of His sacrifice, and outside of Him is nothing but death and judgment. These blessings can be enjoyed only by faith which takes God at His word.

We have doubtless here also the groundwork of those great dispensational ways of God as to the world which were to characterize His dealings with man throughout the subsequent ages. Thus, as the sources of a mighty river are found in the comparatively insignificant rivulet rising in some far-off hidden spring, so too the purposes of God have their manifested source in these small beginnings.

Taking up the life of the patriarchs, we see this divine purpose more and more definitely manifested in various details. The history of the life of Abraham, for instance, shows the character of faith; that of Isaac, largely typifies the self-surrender of obedience; while Jacob's varied experiences suggest that chastening of the Lord whose end is for blessing; in Joseph we see how all centers in Christ.

Coming next to Exodus, and endeavoring to trace this divine purpose, we find now the family has grown to a nation; a nation, however, in bondage and subject to judgment. Here evidently the purpose of God is to furnish His earthly people Israel not merely with the history of their bondage and deliverance, but of those principles which underlie it. The constant recurrence to the early part of Exodus, throughout the entire Old Testament, shows the prominent place God would have it to occupy in the minds of His people. Had they but learned the lesson there, they would not again have been delivered over to bondage to be carried captive by their enemies.

The remainder of the book of Exodus shows us still further the working out of the divine purpose. All is centred about the giving of the law, so far as the people's responsibility was concerned, and the establishment of the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices in connection with the mercy of God which would go out to them, in spite of their disobedience and failure. The close of the book of Exodus leaves the people with the tabernacle of God in their midst.

In Leviticus, the principles of holiness which are necessary for the enjoyment of the divine presence are dwelt upon. The purpose of God in giving this book after Exodus is manifest. In Numbers, the thought is widened out. It is not so much access to God, as power in the world. We might say, Leviticus gives us "a holy priesthood," and Numbers, "a royal priesthood." Alas, in the practical walk of the people they failed to show forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and so the narrative is one of sin and failure, and the necessary chastening of divine judgment which results from it.

In Deuteronomy, God's purpose is further seen. He Himself not only gives the history, as in Exodus and Numbers, but goes over it, reviewing it with His people and gathering the special lessons which He would impress upon them.

Thus we see that a manifest purpose is running through the entire Pentateuch. Its object throughout is to show the parallel lines of divine and sovereign grace and human responsibility, each leading, and as we know converging, as they must, on to that Cross which proved the utter failure of man in responsibility, and the grace of God which meets him there. This must still be worked out in the successive books of the Old Testament, but its principles are opened up in the Pentateuch.

4. The Method of the Pentateuch.

We have already anticipated something of this part of our subject in what we have said about the divine purpose which evidently runs through the entire five books. A few further thoughts, however, will not be out of place in connection with the method of presenting the thought of God which we have here. In looking at the significance of numbers, we have already seen that each of the first five has an evident spiritual meaning. We need not be surprised, therefore, to find that where the five great truths which are to be before us in the Pentateuch are brought out, God should put each subject under its appropriate head. There is a method here which corresponds beautifully with God's revelation of Himself.

Man is a reasoning creature, and in proportion as his mental faculties are under control, he will express his thoughts in a systematic and orderly way. They will not only be distinguished the one from the other, but will be presented in a cumulative way, so that the effect of what he has to say will be increasingly greater as his thoughts go on toward the conclusion. On the contrary, where there is indefiniteness and lack of purpose, the thoughts will wander in a loose, aimless way — many useful and true things may be said, but they are disjointed and we never know whether we are at the beginning or the end. No definite conclusion is reached, no great lesson is inculcated, no appeal to conscience, heart, and will, can be made with all the weight of what has been increasing in volume from the beginning to the close of the address. If this is true with regard to human works, shall we expect to find aimlessness, vapidity or deviousness in the revelation of God? If the Holy Spirit has been at pains to make the revelation, inspiring every jot and tittle of it, shall we not do Him the honor to believe that He had a divine purpose at the beginning? that each portion of narrative, type, revelation, individual history, national development, all followed one upon the other in ever increasing clearness and conclusiveness? While this is true of the Pentateuch as a whole, and is sufficient answer to the question why it is composed of five books, we can dwell a little longer upon other thoughts of the divine work.

Great simplicity characterizes it throughout, and this is particularly manifest at the beginning, where the human race is seen in one sense in its infancy. The narrative is brief, clear, and all the more definite because of its vivid, pictorial character. Special truths are connected with the lives of special individuals. No doubt there were men of faith before Abraham, even as Hebrews 11 would show us, but God links with the life of each character of His people some one feature which stands out in special prominence. This method is so admirable that we pause only to admire it. Had He dwelt upon the faith, for instance, in Enoch, and given us further details of his life, or some other antediluvian, our interest would have failed before we reached the special character in whom these traits were to be brought out in their fulness.

Let us notice, too, the beautiful method in which the narrative passes from biography into history. The second half of Genesis is biographical, and of intense interest. Already, however, in Joseph, we find a link with the Egyptians, which shows a broadening out of the narrative, and prepares us for what we find in the opening of Exodus. We do not yet, however, see a nation, but rather a race, a family of Israel, subject now to the oppression of the Egyptians. The narrative goes on in the simplest way, with the biographical details of the life of Moses, linking with the men of faith who preceded him, but with a character of work peculiar to himself, and which necessarily lifts him out of the intense individuality that marked the patriarchal biographies, into headship over a nation.

Thus, amidst the throes of persecution and affliction, a nation is born — beautifully typical of the latter day glory, when a nation shall be new-born in a day, and out of the affliction and bondage of the Great Tribulation, look with faith upon Him whom they pierced and rejected, and find in Him their Deliverer.

So, we find ourselves now in the full flow of a national history, a race no longer of bondmen, but of Jehovah's freemen, who have been raised to the dignity of a nation before Him. It is fitting then that, as such, laws should be given to it, and a great national ideal be established, at which they are ever to aim. Here, as already intimated, we have the parallel lines of divine purpose and human responsibility, and much that needs careful attention if it is to be rightly understood. We speak here of the giving of the law as a historic event. In our detailed examination of the book of Exodus, we will note the distinctive lessons in connection with it. We speak now simply of the method of the inspired narrative, which brings us thus into consideration of the national constitution and the enactment of those laws which characterize the books of Exodus and Leviticus, and, with the explanations already given, Numbers and Deuteronomy as well.

The manner of closing the entire narrative is grand in its simplicity. The wilderness has been traversed, and the people are at last gathered on the banks of the river Jordan, looking forward to soon entering upon the possession of their inheritance. Moses, their aged leader and lawgiver, with eye undimmed and natural force unabated, gathers them about the Lord, to recount His ways of faithfulness, mercy and greatness, and press upon them the lesson, which surely they should have learned ere this, of their own waywardness and the need of a special fear of the Lord, if they were to enjoy the blessings into which they were so soon to be brought.

The time covered by the entire book of Deuteronomy is probably only a few days. It is devoted largely to this review, together with certain special laws adapted to the occupation of the land of Israel's inheritance. It closes with the most solemn and dreadful warnings against disobedience, together with promises for them if they walked in the fear of God. Then, with prophetic eye, sweeping the future beyond the immediate horizon, beyond all the certainty of failure and departure from God and all else, the seer reaches on to that time when God will yet have His way, and they shall be brought in peace and enduring blessing into the enjoyment of that heritage which now was, because of their unfaithfulness, to be but a temporary and partial thing. The prophetic song and the final words of blessing having been spoken by the lawgiver, he lays down his sceptre, committing the leadership to him whom God had chosen, and passes out of sight into a better country, that is, a heavenly.

Thus the method of the book, a blending of biography, history, law, type and prophecy, results in the most complete and resistless argument for the faithfulness and goodness of God. and the blessedness of obedience, with the necessity of faith, together with the glorious truth that mercy will end in triumph, and that in the hands of Him who was separated from His brethren, the true Joseph, the nation as well as all His people in heaven and in earth, will be brought into eternal blessing.