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Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Word of God Under Assault - Moses a Victim!

I am indebted to O. Palmer Robertson for his article on "Prophecy Today?" in the August/September 1990 issue of the Banner of Truth Journal. The article goes in a certain direction but the foundation of the article has helped me crystallize my thoughts on treatment being given to the word of Moses by many in the Church today. I have extracted sections of O. Palmer Robertson's article for this purpose:

"Biblical prophecy had its origins in the Old Testament, which is a fact of some significance. Prophecy is not a distinctly New Testament phenomenon, but one which dates back to the most ancient experiences of God's people.

Moses was the fountainhead of the prophetic movement in the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, Old Testament prophecy reached its point of highest glory in its beginning with Moses. Contrary to all concepts of an evolutionary development of religion in Israel, the apex of the prophetic movement found its expression in Moses, the original prophet and law-giver in Israel. He played a most unique role as mediator of the word of God to the people of Israel.

God's people themselves had strong feelings on this matter. They pleaded with Moses: Give us a substitute for this terrifying experience of hearing the thunder of God's voice [Deut. 18:16]. In response to the plea of the people. God provided a prophetic mediator and established the prophetic office. One man would receive the word of God in the mountain and subsequently mediate the word to the trembling people below. In this way prophecy had its origins.

Several significant conclusions may be reached about the nature of biblical prophecy as a consequence of the circumstances surrounding its establishment. The origins of prophecy reveal matters of continuing significance about the essence of the phenomenon.

First of all, the small, simple voice of the prophet substitutes for all the awesome signs of Sinai. The thunderous voice of God, the lightning, the fire, the smoke, the earthquake, the peal of the trumpet growing ever louder - all these frightening phenomena find their replacement in the voice of a single Israelite speaking among his brothers. Despite its relatively quiet tone, every word of the prophet comes as the very voice of God.

Secondly, the origin of the truly prophetic word is not to be found in the subjective experiences of a man. The prophet is not hallucinating when he declares, 'Thus says the Lord.' God's own word has come to the prophet, and finds its vehicle of communication in the chosen man's voice. God, not the subjective experiences of man, originates the prophetic word.

Thirdly, the word of the prophet is not primarily predictive in nature. Moses' main task in delivering the law at Sinai was not to predict the future, but to declare God's revealed will. Not a single prediction is found in the 'ten words', the heart of the revelation communicated through Moses.

The common distinction between the 'forth-telling' of the prophetic word and the 'fore-telling' of the future by the prophet must be understood correctly. From the beginning, the 'telling forth' of God's word was just as much a revelation of the infallible, inerrant and perfect word of God as was his 'fore-telling' of the future. It simply is not the case that the speaking forth of the prophet on various issues of the day was a kind of 'preaching' with diminished authority, while his 'fore-telling' of the future was inspired, inerrant and infallible in its character.

As a matter of fact, the essence of prophetism is always defined in the Bible in terms of this 'speaking forth' of the very word of God, whether or not it involved a foretelling of the future. Occasionally the prophet might predict a future event. Obviously, this kind of insight could occur only by divine revelation. But the essence of prophecy was not determined by the predictive element, but by the nature of the prophet's utterance as being the very word of God

While O. Palmer Robertson does not address it here (because his concern is misuse of fore-telling today) it is blindingly obvious that particulars of events of the past to which Moses would not be acquainted with, such as the first five days and part of the sixth day of Creation (when man did not exist) had to be given to Moses by divine revelation. God, alone, had to be the source of this revelation.

It is my contention (and I am not alone on this) that the revelation contained in Genesis 1 was given to Moses by God at Sinai. The particulars contained in Genesis 2 are what Adam, from his understanding, passed down to subsequent generations. It was known to Moses. Both accounts were 'told-forth' by Moses for our benefit.

As a prophet, Moses (like later prophets) had to 'tell-forth' some extensive amounts of information from God to the people of God. Consider for a moment the particulars of design and furnishing of the Tabernacle which God gave Moses and Moses had to pass on to craftsmen and artisans. Is there not an order in each specification and stage that is rhythmic and reminiscent of the structure of the Creation account in Genesis 1? Added to this is the abundance of regulations for living as the people of God for which an error in transmission by Moses had severe consequences.

Prophets of God were given capacity from the Holy Spirit of God to get it right. O. Palmer Robertson provides some further help here:

"Consider ...:

Exodus 4:14, 15: 'And you shall set the words in his mouth. And I shall be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach both of you what you shall do. And he [that is, Aaron as prophet for Moses] shall speak to the people for you. And it will be that he shall be to you for a mouth and you shall be to him for God.'

'Mouth to mouth': the descriptive phrase underscores the immediacy of the relationship that exists between God's Word and the prophetic word. The divine revelation goes directly from the mouth of God to the mouth of the prophet. The word of the prophet is the very Word of God. God does not communicate his revelation to the prophet 'thought to thought' or 'mind to mind', but 'mouth to mouth'. Prophetism, by definition, is concerned not merely with the reception of the Word of God, but with its communication as well. This description of the mode of communication of the prophetic word underscores the absolute perfections of the prophet's speech in representing God's Word. By a 'mouth to mouth' communication, God's Word is preserved in its integrity as it passes through the vehicle of the prophet.

Moses was the first appointed by God to prophesy as to the event and particulars of Creation occurring before and including the creation of man. Moses conveys the very utterance of God to man on Creation.

Today we are confronted by so-called Evangelicals overturning the very utterance of God on the events of the Creation Week. Unwilling as they are to stand with the faithful of past ages they cower in the face of embarrassment and ridicule from the world. They would sooner run from God than run from man because man is nearer to their heart than God. Oh sure, they would not agree with this assertion for they have an excuse -they are simply "trying to [re]interpret the intention of Moses in Genesis 1". But let there be no doubt they are casting aside the 'Mouth to mouth' Word of God.

They present themselves as false prophets and their number is great. Let the church beware of these wolves.

Sam Drucker

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