"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your
God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear
in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it
shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear that
prophet shall be destroyed from among the people."—Acts 3:22,23 .
WE AGREE that the time for the fulfilment of this prediction is near, even at the doors; and now one, styling himself "Rev." John Alexander Dowie, heralds himself to the civilized world as being this Prophet. We are not hastily to accept his dictum, and to exclaim, "Verily, this is he of whom Moses, in the Law, and the prophets did write." Nor, on the other hand, are we hastily to decide that he is an imposter, a false prophet, simply because he happens to live in our day. Rather, in view of the fact that we are expecting the fulfilment of this Scripture we should look the subject carefully over, and weigh all the Scriptural testimony, and thus decide as to the truth or falsity of Mr. Dowie's claims. And, doubtless, in doing this, our investigation of the subject from a Scriptural standpoint will prove profitable to us, whether favorable or unfavorable to Mr. Dowie;—whether they prove him the Prophet foretold, or a deceived and deceiving false prophet.
Analyzing our text, we perceive that its expression, "like unto," has the sense of antitypical; hence the Prophet to be expected must be much greater every way than Moses, as an antitype is always far superior to its type. Moses was the Mediator of the Law Covenant, and thus stood between Israel and God, as we read in reference to the sealing and delivery of the Law Covenant: "The Lord our God made a covenant with you in Horeb....The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of fire. I stood between God and you [a mediator, or go-between], at that time, to show you the word of the Lord; for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount." (Deut. 5:2-5.) From this we see that Moses, the typical prophet, was very great, very influential, had a very high office; and this would signify that the future Prophet whom God had in mind, and whose coming was foretold thirty-five hundred years ago by Moses himself, and further pointed forward to by the Apostle Peter in our text, must, as the antitype of Moses, be wonderfully great, wonderfully powerful, a still greater Mediator between God and men, a still mightier Law-giver whose word would be omnipotent, and violation of which would eventually mean destruction;—as it is written "Every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:23.) Even at first glance every unprejudiced mind would say that Mr. Dowie, and every other man on earth, seems far too insignificant, far too small to fill the requirements. Not only too small for the antitype, but far inferior even to the type.
Turning to the record of Moses' words in the Old Testament, we find them in Deut. 18:15-20, and here we see that the particular feature of Moses' work as a prophet and law-giver to Israel, which is here referred to as typical of a greater work to be accomplished by a greater Law-giver and Prophet, was the work which he performed for Israel as the Mediator of the Law Covenant at Mount Sinai, in the district called Horeb, already referred to. At the time of the giving of the Law, Israel witnessed a wonderful manifestation of divine power. "All the people witnessed the thundering and the lightning, and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and [R2858 : page 260] when the people saw it they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." (Exod. 20:18,19.) In response to this their request God appointed Moses to be their Mediator or representative. Moses communed with the Lord in the mount, and received from him the Law, and came to the people and communicated the Law to them, and obtained their assent to the Covenant; and then, as a representative both of God and of Israel, Moses sealed the covenant;—ratified it by taking the blood of bulls and of goats and sprinkling first the book of the Law, or tables of stone on which the commandments were written, as representing Jehovah, and sprinkling, secondly, the people, as binding them. Thus the covenant between God and Israel was established at the hands of Moses, the mediator. It was at this time of the recognition of Moses as the Mediator of that Covenant that the Lord impliedly [R2859 : page 260] taught that the time would come when he would make a new and better Covenant, and establish it in the hands of a new and greater Mediator (the Christ); saying, "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and I will put my words into his mouth."—Deut. 18:18.
The Apostle assures us of this;—that the Law-Covenant was a type, an illustration of a greater and more wonderful covenant, between God and his people in the future. He points out to us that as Moses was a type of Christ, the great Prophet, so the animal-blood he used in sealing that typical Law Covenant represented or typified the blood of Christ—the blood which seals, makes binding, ratifies, the New Covenant. Our Lord referred to the same thing in connection with his death, and the institution of the Memorial Supper, when he said, "This is the blood of the New Covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins."—Matt. 26:28.
We are sure that we are right in this application; because the Apostle, in Heb. 9:19,20, refers us back to the sealing of the Law Covenant, saying, "When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people, according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you." The entire tenor of the Apostle's argument shows us that he understood and taught that the antitype of this was to be found in Christ, in his sacrifice for sins, and not in Mr. Dowie, or any work that he might do. Continuing the same argument, into the next chapter (Heb. 10:16), the Apostle shows that the work of our Lord Jesus in offering up himself, as the ransom-price for mankind, was sealing the New Covenant, the antitypical covenant, which God had promised through Moses, and through all the prophets, saying, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord."
The Apostle evidently understood that the covenant which Moses, the prophet, instituted, typified the better covenant, which the greater Prophet, Christ, would institute in due time. Proceeding to compare these two prophets, the typical Moses and the antitypical Christ, the Apostle says, "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy;...of how much severer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the [New] Covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:28,29.) The Apostle's argument evidently is that if God puts so much dignity upon the typical prophet, Moses, that violation of his covenant would mean death, we might reasonably expect that a severer punishment would come to all those who shall be brought under the benefits of the New Covenant, and who shall then spurn them, not appreciating the fact that they were secured by the precious blood of Christ, the antitypical Prophet.
Continuing the same line of thought, viz., a comparison of the two mediators, and the two covenants, the Apostle draws to our attention the fact that Israel could not endure the terrible manifestations of divine power and justice at Mount Sinai, although they were only typical; and that as the typical Israelites needed and desired to be dealt with representatively instead of directly, through a mediator and not personally,—to be in the hands of the mediator, and not in the hands of God. So, says the Apostle, in respect to the New Covenant, and in respect to those who have apprehended that it was sealed with the blood of Christ, and that it is in operation now, and that we have the benefits of it conferred upon us.—If we should repudiate this New Covenant it would mean that we would thereby repudiate Christ (not Mr. Dowie), as our Mediator, and would fall into the hands of the living God, to be dealt with directly by him, and that without mercy. The Apostle clinches his argument, by saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."—Heb. 10:31.
It would be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, not because God is unjust, but because he is just; and because we are imperfect, and therefore could not hope to meet the requirements of the law of absolute justice. Divine justice would be to [R2859 : page 261] us as a consuming fire, destroying us, because we could not comply with its requirements. It is for this reason that God has appointed for us a covenant of mercy, of which Jesus is the great Prophet and Mediator,—not Dowie. God having appointed this one channel of mercy it is for us to accept it as he proffers it, or, rejecting it, to fall into the hands of Justice, and to meet our desserts, utter destruction. Those who reject Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, will suffer more than those who rejected the typical mediator, Moses; for the latter lost merely the present life, but will have share in the restitution blessings of the next age; while all who intelligently and wilfully reject the Mediator of the New Covenant will die the Second Death. This is in full accord with the statement of our text, "The soul that will not hear [obey] that Prophet shall be destroyed from amongst the people."
Having seen from Moses' own words and their context that this use of the word "prophet" signifies teacher, law-giver, mediator, between the people and God, and that this declaration looked forward to the giving of a greater law at the hands of a greater mediator and prophet and law-giver, we now turn to the words of the Apostle, which precede our text. (Acts 3:19-21.) We find Peter discussing the second coming of Christ, and under the power of the holy spirit explaining to the people that with his second advent would come great blessing, "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord," but that the heavens would retain him until those blessed times of restitution should be due. He connects this argument with the words of our text, showing that Moses' prophecy of the great Prophet, of whom he was but a type, would have its fulfilment at the second advent of Jesus, in the power and great glory of his Kingdom—"whom the heavens must receive, until the times of restitution. ...For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto [antitypical of] me." This leaves no room for question, at the bar of any reasonable mind, that the Prophet like unto Moses, announced for centuries as being the very center of the divine plan for the blessing of all the families of the earth, could not be fulfilled by Mr. Dowie, nor by any other ordinary or extraordinary man, but by him of whom Moses, in the Law, and the prophets did write—the Christ.
The more we will examine the subject the more we will find it to expand, and the more we will appreciate the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine plan. The Prophet like unto Moses, the great Law-giver, the great King, the great Mediator, will be the foretold "Seed of Abraham," in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed—through the divine laws which he will enunciate, and the regulations he will enforce. And this Seed of Abraham, as we have already seen, as the Apostle has most clearly set forth, consists of our Lord Jesus, as the Head, the chief, and all of his faithful elect Church as members—as his body, "which seed is Christ....And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."—Gal. 3:16-29.
In this view of the matter our Lord Jesus was raised up eighteen centuries ago as the "Head" of this great Prophet. He was raised up amongst his brethren, "a first-born among many brethren." He is not ashamed to call us "brethren," although he is the sanctifier and we the sanctified; he is the head over these brethren; and as such he has been raised—how high? Let the Apostle answer: "Far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named" (Eph. 1:20-23); and the promise to his faithful followers is that they shall be counted with him as his "Bride," or, under another figure, as his "body,"—"members in particular of the body of Christ." (2 Cor. 11:2; 1 Cor. 12:27.) They also shall be raised, up, up, up. Already these are raised above the condition of the world, in that they have been favored of God, and called with a high calling, a heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. Already they have been raised up, in the sense of being transformed by the renewing of their minds, that they may prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Already they are reckonedly risen with Christ, and walking in newness of life. And these, the members of the body of Christ, have the promise that they shall be raised up still further in due time—that they shall "have part in the first resurrection," to glory, honor and immortality; that they shall be like Jesus, their Head and Lord, and see him as he is, and share his glory, far above angels, principalities, and powers, and every name.—Eph. 2:6; Rom. 2:7; Rev. 3:21.
Thus we see that the great work which God began in the person of our Lord Jesus, and in the sacrifice which he made for our sins and in his own exaltation in resurrection power, has not been lying idle since; but a work has been in progress in behalf of the world. Jesus personally has exercised the office of High Priest to and for the under priests, his "body," during this Gospel age, selecting, instructing, fitting and preparing them for the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the future in behalf of the world. And we can easily see also that this work of raising up the great Prophet (Head and body) from amongst mankind, to a higher nature, even to be "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4) will soon be accomplished. Then what glory! What [R2860 : page 261] blessing, when this great Prophet, Priest and King shall exercise, in the name and spirit of Jehovah, the authority of earth, to bless mankind, to cause the social uplift which the whole world so greatly needs, but which can come from no other source; to restrain, and ultimately to completely overthrow, the powers of evil, of darkness, and of sin, and thus to purify and cleanse the world and bring in the glorious time promised, when there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more pain, no more death,—because the former things of sin, and its penalty, death, will have passed away! All who remain at that time, after that glorious reign shall have completed its work, will be in full harmony, mentally, morally and physically, in deed and in truth, with Jehovah God, and the righteous laws of his empire—all who would not obey the great Prophet, and thus come into accord, having been destroyed from amongst the people according to the divine declaration.
Hallelujah! What a Savior! What a wonderful and comprehensive plan is this, which our great Creator has mapped out, of which we are, first, the subjects, [R2860 : page 262] and afterward, by his grace, his active agents in bringing to the world of mankind. O, there is a grandeur in the divine plan which Mr. Dowie evidently has never seen—a grandeur to which he is blind, because the Lord hath not revealed it unto him, because, even now, in the dawning of the morning, the god of this world still blinds his mind.
A lesson in connection with this subject which is applicable to all of the Lord's consecrated people, is the lesson of humility. Only as we are in a humble attitude of mind can we get a view of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine plan. Otherwise we would continually find our view of God and of his Word and plan obscured by self. Thus the Lord declares that he resists the proud and showeth his favor unto the humble. Let us, therefore, dear brethren, instead of thinking of ourselves as great ones, on the contrary remember that we are dust, and that as the poet has expressed it,—
"He that exalteth himself shall be abased; he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (Luke 14:11; 1 Pet. 5:6.) Let us seek to be servants of the Lord and of the flock—faithful servants, ready and willing to lay down our lives for the Lord, for the truth, for the brethren.