The Prophet Like Unto Moses
“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” — Deuteronomy xviii. 15— 19.
MAN, the creature, may well desire intercourse with his Creator. When we are right-minded we cannot bear to be like fatherless children, born into the world by a parent of whom we know nothing whatever. We long to hear our father’s voice. Of old time, or ever sin had entered into the world, the Lord God was on the most intimate terms with his creature man. He communed with Adam in the garden; in the cool of the day he made the evening to be seven-fold refreshing by the shadow of his own presence. There was no cloud between unfallen man and the ever-blessed One: they could commune together, for no sin had set up a middle wall of partition. Alas, man being in honour continued not, but broke the law of his God, and not only forfeited his own inheritance, but entailed upon his descendants a character with which the holy God can hold no converse. By nature we love that which is evil, and within us there is an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, and consequently intercourse between God and man has had to be upon quite another footing from that which commenced and ended in the glades of Eden. It was condescension at the first which made the Lord speak with man the creature; it is mercy, unutterable mercy, now if God deigns to speak with man the sinner.
Through his divine grace the Lord did not leave our fathers altogether without a word from himself even after the Fall, for between the days of Adam and Moses there were occasional voices heard as of God speaking with man. “Enoch walked with God,” which implies that God walked with him and had communion with him, and we may rest assured it was no silent walk which Enoch had with the Most High. The Lord also spake to Noah, once and again, and made a covenant with him: and then he, at still greater length and with greater frequency, spake with Abraham, whom he graciously called his friend. Voices also came to Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and celestial beings flitted to and fro between earth and heaven. Then there was a long pause and a dreary silence. No prophet spoke in Jehovah’s name, no voice of God in priestly oracle heard, but all was silent while Israel dwelt in Egypt, and sojourned in the land of Ham. So completely hushed was the spiritual voice among men that it seemed as if God had utterly forsaken his people and left the world without a witness to his name; yet there was a prophecy of his return, and the Lord had great designs, which only waited till the full time was come. He purposed to try man in a very special manner, to see whether he could bear the presence of the Lord or no. He resolved to take a family, multiply it into a nation, and set it apart for himself, and to that nation he would make a revelation of himself of the most extraordinary character. So he took the people who had slaved amongst the brick kilns of Egypt, and made them his elect, the nation of his choice, ordained to be a nation of priests, a people near unto him, if they had but grace to bear the honour. Though they had lain among the pots, with a high hand and an outstretched arm he delivered them, and with gracious love he favoured them, so that they became for beauty and excellence as the wings of a dove that are covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold. He divided the Red Sea and made them a way of escape, and afterwards set that sea as a barrier between them and their former masters. He took them into the wilderness, and there fed them with manna which dropped from heaven, and with water out of the rock did he sustain them. After a while he began to speak to them, as he had never spoken to any nation before. He spake with them from the top of Sinai, so that they heard his voice out of the midst of the fire, and in astonishment they cried, “We have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.” But the experiment failed. Man was not in a condition to hear the direct voice of God. On the very first day the people were in such terror and alarm that they cried out, “This great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more we shall die.” As they stood still at a distance to hear the words of God’s perfect law they were filled with great fear, and so terrible was the sight that even Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” The people could not endure that which was commanded, and entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more. They felt the need of some one to interpose— a daysman, an interpreter, one of a thousand was needed to come between them and God. Even those among them that were the most spiritual, and understood and lowed God better than the rest, yet confessed that they could not endure the thunder of his dreadful voice, and their elders and the heads of their tribes came unto Moses and said, “Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.”
The Lord knew that man would always be unable to hear his Maker’s voice, and he therefore determined not only to speak by Moses, but, ever and anon, to speak by his servants the prophets, raising up here one and there another; and then he determined, as the consummation of his condescending mercy, that at the last he would put all the word he had to say to man into one heart, and that word should be spoken by one mouth to men, furnishing a full, complete, and unchangeable revelation of himself to the human race. This he resolved to give by one of whom Moses had learned something when the Lord said to him in the words of our text, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” We know assuredly that our Lord Jesus Christ is that prophet like unto Moses by whom in these last days he has spoken unto us. See Peter’s testimony in the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and Stephen’s in the seventh chapter of the same book. “This man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house,” yet did he bear a gracious likeness to Moses, and therein his apostles found a sure argument of his being indeed the Messiah, sent of God.
The subject of this morning’s discourse is the Lord’s speaking to us by Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man, and our earnest aim is that all of us may reverently hear the voice of God by this greatest of all prophets. Men and brethren, this is the word of God unto you this morning, that very word which he spake on the holy Mount, when the Lord was transfigured and there appeared with him Moses and Elias speaking to him, and out of the excellent glory there came the word, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” This is my message at this hour— “Hear ye him.” He saith to you all this day, “Incline your ear and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live. Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.”
Our meditation will run in this line: first, we will think for a moment upon the necessity for a Mediator; secondly, upon the person of the Prophet-Mediator whom God hath chosen; and, thirdly, upon the authority with which this Mediator is invested, by which authority he calleth upon us this day to hearken to God’s voice which is heard in him.
I. We begin by considering how urgently there existed THE NECESSITY for a Mediator. I need but very short time to set this forth. There was a necessity for a Mediator in the case of the Israelites, first, because of the unutterable glory of God, and their own inability to endure that glory, either with their eye, their ear, or their mind. We cannot suppose that the revelation of God upon Sinai was the display of all his greatness: nay, we know that it could not be such, for it would have been impossible for man to have lived at all in the presence of the infinite glory. Habakkuk, speaking of this manifestation, says, “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was fall of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand”; but he adds, “there was the hiding of his power.” Despite its exceeding glory, the manifestation upon the mount of God at Horeb was a subdued manifestation, and yet, though it was thus toned down to human weakness, it could not be borne. The unveilings of Jehovah’s face no mortal eye could bear. The voice with which God spake at Sinai is by Moses compared to the voice of a trumpet waxing exceeding loud and long, and also to the roll of thunder; and we all know the awe-inspiring sound of thunder when it is heard near at hand, its volleys rolling overhead. How the crash of peal on peal makes the bravest heart, if not to quail, yet still to bow in reverent awe before God! Yet this is not the full voice of God: it is but his whisper. Jehovah hath hushed his voice in the thunder, for were that voice heard in its fulness it would shake not only earth, but also heaven. If he were for once to unveil his face the lightning’s flame would pale to darkness in comparison. The voice of the Lord God is inconceivably majestic, and it is not possible that we, poor creatures, worms of the dust, insects of a day, should ever be able to hear it and live. We could not bear the full revelation of God apart from mediatorial interposition. Perhaps when he has made us to be pure spirit, or when our bodies shall have been “raised in power,” made like unto the body of our Lord Jesus, we may then be able to behold the glorious Jehovah, but as yet we must accept the kindly warning of the Lord in answer to the request of Moses, “thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live.” The strings of life are too weak for the strain of the unveiled presence; it is not possible for such a gossamer, spider-like thread as our existence to survive the breath of Deity, if he should actually and in very deed draw nigh to us. It appeared clearly at Sinai, that even when the Lord did accommodate himself, as much as was consistent with his honour, to the infirmity of human nature, man was so alarmed and afraid at his presence that he could not bear it, and it was absolutely necessary that instead of speaking with his own voice, even though he whispered what he had to say, he should speak to another apart, and afterwards that other should come down from the mount and repeat the Lord’s words to the people.
This sufficient reason is supported by another most weighty fact, namely, that God cannot commune with men because of their sin. God was pleased to regard his people Israel at the foot of Sinai as pure. “Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.” They had abstained for awhile from defiling actions, and as they stood outside the bounds they were ceremonially clean; but it was only a ceremonial purity. Before long they were really unclean before the Lord, and in heart defiled and polluted. The Lord said of them, “O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” He knew that their heart was not right even when they spoke obediently. Hot many days after the people had trembled at Sinai they made a golden calf, and set it up and bowed before it, and provoked the Lord to jealousy so that he sent plagues among them. It is quite clear that after such a rebellion, alter a deliberate breach of his covenant, and daring violation of bis commands, it would have been quite impossible for God to speak to them, or for them to listen to the voice of God, in a direct manner. They would have fled before him because of his holiness, which shamed their unholiness; and because of their sin, which provoked his indignation, because of the wandering, and instability, and treachery of their hearts, the Lord could not have endured them in his presence. The holy angels for ever adore with that threefold cry, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth and be could not permit men of unclean lips to profane his throne with their unholy utterances. Oh no, my brethren, with such a sense of sin as some of us have, and as all of us ought to have, we should have to cover our faces, and cower down in terror, if Jehovah himself were to appear. He cannot look upon iniquity, neither can evil dwell with him, for he is a consuming fire. While we are compassed with infirmity we cannot behold him, for our eyes are dimmed with the smoke of our iniquities. If we would see even the skirts of his garments we must first be pure in heart, and he must put us in the cleft of the rock, and cover us with his hand. If we were to behold his stern justice, his awful holiness, and his boundless power, apart from our ever-blessed Mediator, we should dissolve at the sight, and utterly melt away, for we have sinned.
This double reason of the weakness of our nature, and the sinfulness of our character, is a forcible one, for I close this part of the discourse by observing that the argument was so forcible that the Lord himself allowed it. He said, “They have well spoken, that which they have spoken.” It was no morbid apprehension which made them afraid, it was no foolish dread which made them start, for wisdom’s own self in the person of Moses, said, “I do exceedingly fear and quake.” The calmest and meekest of men had real cause for fear.
God’s face is not to be seen. An occasional glimpse may come to spirits raised above their own natural level, so that they can for awhile behold the King, the Lord of hosts; but even to them it is a terrible strain upon all their powers, the wine is too strong for the bottles. What said John, when he saw, not so much absolute Deity, but the divine side of the Mediator? “When I saw him I fell at his feet as dead.” Daniel, the man greatly beloved, confesses that there remained no strength in him and his comeliness was turned into corruption when he heard the voice of God; and Job said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now’ mine eye seeth thee; therefore I abhor myself in dust and ashes.” No, God knoweth it is not silly fright nor unbelieving fear; it is a most seemly awe and a most natural dread which takes hold of finite and fallible creatures in the presence of the Infinite and Perfect One. These frail tabernacles, like the tents of Cushan, are in affliction when the Lord marches by in the greatness of his power. We need a Mediator. The Lord knows right well that our sinfulness provokes him, and that there is in us, in the best here present, that which would make him to break out against us to destroy us if we were to come to him without a covering and a propitiation.
We must approach the Lord through a Mediator: it is absolutely necessary. God himself witnesses it is, and therefore in his mercy he ordains a Mediator, that by him we may be able to approach his throne of grace. May the Holy Spirit make this truth very plain to the consciousness of all of us, and cause us to sing with the poet:
“Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three
Are terrors to my mind.
“But if Immanuel’s face appear,
My hope, my joy begins;
His name forbids my slavish fear,
His grace removes my sins.”
II. This brings us to consider THE PERSON of the appointed Mediator, and in my text we obtain a liberal measure of information upon this point. Read these blessed words, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren.” Dwell with sweetness upon this fact, that our Lord Jesus was raised up from the midst of us, from among our brethren. In him is fulfilled that glorious prophecy, “I have exalted One chosen out of the people.” He is one of ourselves, a brother born for adversity. He was born at Bethlehem, not in fiction, but in fact: where the horned oxen fed he in a manger lay, as any other babe might do, wrapped in swaddling bands, and dependent on a woman’s loving care as any other babe might be. He was like ourselves in his growth from infancy to manhood, increasing in stature as we do from our childhood to our riper age. Though the holy child Jesus he was yet a child, and therefore he was subject to his parents. And when he came forth as a man, his was no phantom manhood, but true flesh and blood; he was tempted and he was betrayed: he hungered and he thirsted; he was weary and he was sore amazed; he took our sicknesses, and he carried our sorrows; he was made in all points like unto his brethren. He did not set himself apart as though he were of an exclusive caste or of a superior rank, but he dwelt among us; the brother of the race, eating with publicans and sinners, mingling ever with the common people. He was not one who boasted his descent, or gloried in the so-called blue blood, or placed himself among the Porphyro-geniti, who must not see the light except in marble halls. He was born in a common house of entertainment where all might come to him, and he died with his arms extended as a pledge that he continued to receive all who came to him. He never spoke of men as the common multitude, the vulgar herd, but he made himself at home among them. He was dressed like a peasant, in the ordinary smock of the country, a garment without seam, woven from the top throughout; and he mixed with the multitude, went to their marriage feasts, attended their funerals, and was so much among them, a man among men, that slander called him a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. In all respects our Lord was raised up from the midst of us, one of our own kith and kin. “For this cause he is not ashamed to call us brethren.” He was our brother in living, our brother in death, and our brother in resurrection; for after his resurrection he said, “Go, tell my brethren;” and he also said, “My Father, and your Father; my God, and your God.” Though now exalted in the highest heavens he pleads for us and acts as a High Priest who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. God has graciously raised up such a Mediator, and now he speaks to us through him. O sons of men, will ye not hearken when such an one as Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of man, is ordained to speak of the eternal God? Ye might be unable to hear if he should speak again in thunder, but now he speaketh by those dear lips of love, now he speaketh by that gracious tongue which has wrought such miracles of grace by its words, now he speaketh out of that great heart of his, which never beats except with love to the sons of men— will ye not hear him? Surely we ought to give the most earnest heed and obey his every word.
Moses was truly one of the people, for he loved them intensely, and all his sympathies were with them. They provoked him terribly, but still he loved them. We can never admire that man of God too much when we think of his disinterested love to that guilty nation. See him on the mountain there as Israel’s advocate. The Lord said, “Let me alone that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a great nation.” That proposal opened up before Moses’ eye a glittering destiny. It was within his grasp that he himself should become the founder of a race, in whom the promises made to Abraham should be fulfilled. Would not the most of men have greedily snatched at it? But Moses will not have it. He loves Israel too well to see the people die if he can save them. He has not an atom of selfish ambition about him; but with cries and tears he exclaims, “Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.” He prevailed with God by his pleading, for he identified himself with Israel. Moses did, as it were, gather up all their griefs and sorrows into himself, even as did our Lord. True Israelite was he, for he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and cast in his lot with the people of God. This is just what our blessed Lord has done. He will not have honour apart from his people, nor even life, unless they live also. He saved others, himself he could not save. He would not be in heaven, and leave his saints behind. He loved the people and so proved himself to be one chosen out of their midst, a brother among brethren.
Mark well that, while thus our Lord is our brother, the great God has in his person sent us one who is lifted up above us all in the knowledge of his mind. Thus saith the Lord (v. 18.), “I will put my words in his mouth.” Our Lord Jesus Christ comes to us inspired by God. Not alone cometh he, nor of his own mind; but saith he, “The Father is with me: I do always the things which please him: the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Both in word and work he acted for his Father, and under his Father’s inspiration. Men and brethren, I beseech you not to reject the message which Jesus brings, seeing it is not his own, but the sure message of God. Trifle not with a single word which Jesus speaks, for it is the word of the Eternal One: despise not one single deed which he did, or precept which he commanded, or blessing which he brought, for upon all these there is the stamp of deity. God chose one who is our brother that he might come near to us; but he put his own royal imprimatur upon him, that we might not have an ambassador of second rank, but one who counts it not robbery to be equal with God, who nevertheless for our sake has taken upon himself the form of a servant that he might speak home to our hearts. For all these reasons, I beseech you despise not him that speaketh, seeing he speaketh from heaven.
The main point, however, upon which I want to dwell is, that Jesus is like to Moses. There had been no better mediator found than Moses up to Moses’ day; the Lord God, therefore, determined to work upon that model with the great prophet of his race, and he has done so in sending forth the Lord Jesus. It would be a very interesting task for the young people to work out all the points in which Moses is a personal type of the Lord Jesus. The points of resemblance are very many, for there is hardly a single incident in the life of the great Lawgiver which is not symbolical of the promised Saviour. You may begin from the beginning at the waters of the Nile, and go to the close upon the brow of Pisgah, and you will see Christ in Moses as a man sees his face in a glass. I can only mention in what respects, as a Mediator, Jesus is like to Moses, and surely one is found in the fact that Moses beyond all that went before him was peculiarly the depository of the mind of God. Once and again we find him closeted with God for forty days at a time. He went right away from men to the lone mountain-top, and there he was forty days and forty nights, and did neither eat nor drink, but lived in high communion with his God. In those times of seclusion he received the pattern of the tabernacle, the laws of the priesthood, of the sacrifices of the holy days, and of the civil estate of Israel, and perhaps the early records which compose the book of Genesis. To whom else had God ever spoken for that length of time, as a man speaketh with his friend? He was the peculiar favourite of God. From the first day of his call, when he was keeping his father’s flock at the back of the desert, right to the day when God kissed away his soul on the top of Nebo, he was a man greatly beloved, to whom God manifested himself as to no other. Hear the Lord’s own words to Aaron and Miriam. “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches: and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” In this our Lord Jesus is like to Moses, only he far surpasses him, for the intercourse between Christ and the Father was very much more intimate, seeing that Jesus is himself essential deity, and “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Cold mountains and the midnight air continually witnessed to his communion with the Father. Nor these alone, for he abode with the Father. His language was always spoken out as God was speaking within him; he lived in God, and with God. “I know,” said he, “that thou hearest me always.” Instead of having to point out when Christ was in communion with the Father, we have rather, with astonishment, to point out the solitary moment when he was left of the Father, even that dread hour when he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Only for that once the Father had left him, and even then it was inexplicable, and he asked the reason for it; though he knew himself to be then suffering as the Substitute for man, yet did his desertion by God come upon him as a novelty which utterly overwhelmed him, so that he asked in agony why he was forsaken.
Moses, to take another point, is the first of the prophets with whom God kept up continuous revelation. To other men he spake in dreams and visions, but to Moses by plain and perpetual testimony. His Spirit rested on him, and he took of it to give thereof to Joshua, and to the seventy elders, even as Jesus gave of his Spirit to the apostles. Sometimes God spake to Noah, or to Abraham and others; but it was upon occasions only; and even then, as in the case of Abraham and Jacob, they must fall asleep to see and hear him best: but with Moses the Lord abode perpetually; whensoever he willed he consulted the Most High, and at once God spake with him, and directed his way. So was it with Christ Jesus. He needed not to behold a vision: the spirit of prophecy did not occasionally come upon him, and bear him out of himself, for the Spirit was given him without measure, and he knew the very mind and heart of God perpetually. He was always a prophet; not sometimes a prophet, like him of old, of whom we read, “The Spirit of God came upon him in the camp of Dan”; or like others of whom it is written, “the word of the Lord came to them.” At all times the Spirit rested upon him: he spake in the abiding power of the Holy Ghost, even more so than did Moses.
Moses is described as a prophet mighty in word and deed, and it is singular that there never was another prophet mighty in word and deed till Jesus came. Moses not only spoke with matchless power, but wrought miracles. You shall find no other prophet who did both. Other prophets who spake well wrought no miracles, or only here and there; whilst those who wrought miracles, such as Elijah and Elisha, have left us but few words that they spake: indeed, their prophecies were but lightning flashes, and not as the bright shining of a sun. When you come to our Lord Jesus you find lip and heart working together, with equal perfectness of witness. You cannot tell in which he is the more marvellous, in his speech or in his act. “Never man spake like this man,” but certainly never man wrought such marvels of mercy as Jesus did. He far exceeds Moses and all the prophets put together in the variety and the multitude and the wonderful character of the miracles which he did. If men bow before prophets who can cast down their rods, and they become serpents, if they yield homage to prophets who call fire from heaven, how much more should they accept him whose words are matchless music, and whose miracles of love were felt even beyond the boundaries of this visible world; for the angels of God flew from heaven to minister to him, the devils of the pit fled before his voice, and the caverns of death heard his call and yielded up their prey. Who would not accept this prophet like unto Moses, to whom the Holy Ghost bare witness by mighty signs and wonders?
Moses, again, was the founder of a great system of religious law, and this was not the case with any other but the Lord Jesus. He founded the whole system of the Aaronic priesthood and the law that went with it. Moses was a law-giver: he gave the ten commandments in the name of God, and all the other statutes of the Jewish polity were ordained through him. Now, till you come to Christ you find no such law-giver; but Jesus institutes the new covenant as Moses introduced the old, the sermon on the mount was an utterance from a happier Sinai, and whereas Moses gives this and that command, Jesus gives the like in sweeter form and in diviner fashion, and embodies it in his own sacred person. He is the great legislator of our dispensation, the King in the midst of Jeshurun, giving forth his command which runneth very swiftly, and they that fear the Lord are obedient thereunto.
Time will fail us, or we would mention to you that Moses teas faithful before God as a servant over all his house, and so was Jesus as a Son over his own house. He was never unfaithful to his charge in any respect, but in all things ruled and served to perfection as the anointed of the Father. He is the faithful and true Witness, the Prince of the kings of the earth. Moses, too, was zealous for God and for his honour. Remember how the zeal of God’s house did eat him up. When he saw grievous sin among the people, he said, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” and there came to him the tribe of Levi, and he said, “Go in and out, and slay ye every one his men that were joined to Baal-peor.” Herein he was the stern type of Jesus, who took the scourge of small cords, and drove out the buyers and sellers, and said, “Take these things hence: it is written, My Father’s house shall be a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves”; for the zeal of God’s house had eaten him up.
Moses, by divine grace, was very meek, and perhaps this is the chief parallel between him and Jesus. I have said, “by divine grace,” for I suppose by nature he was strongly passionate. There are many indications that Moses was not meek, but very far from it until the Spirit of God rested upon him. He slew the Egyptian hastily, and in after years he went out from the presence of Pharaoh “in great anger.” Once and again you find him very wroth: he took the tables of stone and dashed them in pieces in his indignation, for “Moses’ anger waxed hot”; and that unhappy action which occasioned his being shut out of Canaan was caused by his “being provoked in spirit so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips,” and said, “Hear now, ye rebels; must I fetch you water out of this rock?” Divine grace had so cooled and calmed him that in general he was the gentlest of men, and when his brother and sister thrust themselves, into his place and questioned his authority, it is written, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” In his own quarrel he has never anything to say: it is only for the people and for God that his anger waxeth hot. Even about his last act of hastiness he says, “God was angry with me for your sake,” not for his own sake. He was so meek and gentle that for forty years he bore with the most rebellious and provoking nation that ever existed. But what shall I say of my Master? Let him speak for himself. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest: take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Our children call him “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” The man Jesus is very meek above all men that are upon the face of the earth. He has his indignation—
“Like glowing oven is his wrath,
As flame by furious blast upblown,”
for he can be angry, and the wrath of the Lamb is the most awful wrath beneath the sun; but still to us, in this gospel day, he is all love and tenderness; and when he bids us come to him, can we refuse to hear? So meek is the Mediator that he is love itself, incarnate love; so loving, that when he died his only crime was that he was “found guilty of excess of love can we be so cruel as to reject him? O brothers and sisters, do not refuse to listen to the voice of this Tender One by whom God speaketh to you.
Our Lord was like to Moses in meekness, and then to sum up all,— Moses was the Mediator for God with the people, and so is our blessed Lord. Moses came in God’s name to set Israel free from Pharaoh’s bondage, and he did it: Jesus came to set us free from a worse bondage still, and he has achieved our freedom. Moses led the people through the Red Sea, and Jesus has led us where all the hosts of hell were overthrown, and sin was drowned in his own most precious blood. Moses led the tribes through the wilderness, and Jesus leads us through the weary ways of this life to the rest which remaineth for the people of God. Moses spake to the people for God, and Jesus hath done the same. Moses spake to God for the people, and Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us. Moses proposed himself as a sacrifice when he said, “If not, blot my name out of the book of life but Jesus was an actual sacrifice, and was taken away from the land of the living for our sakes, being made a curse for us. Moses, in a certain sense, died for the people, for he could not enter into the land, but must needs close his eyes on Nebo. Those are touching words, “The Lord was angry with me for your sakes”: words which in a diviner sense may be fitly applied to Jesus, for God was angry with him for our sakes. Right through to the very end our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is a prophet like unto Moses, raised up from the midst of his brethren. O my hearers, hear ye him. Turn not your ear away from this Prophet of prophets, but hear and live.
III. I close with that point, and if my words are very few let them be weighty. Let us think of THE AUTHORITY of our great Mediator, and let this be the practical lesson— Hear ye him. Men and brethren, if our hearts were right, the moment it was announced that God would speak to ns through Jesus Christ there would be a rush to hear him. If sin had not maddened men they would listen eagerly to every word of God through such a Mediator as Jesus is; they would write each golden sentence on their tablets, they would hoard his word in their memories, they would wear it between their eyes, they would yield their hearts to it. Alas, it is not so; and the saddest thing of all is that some talk of Jesus for gain, and others hear of him as if his story were a mere tale or an old Jewish ballad of eighteen hundred years ago. Yet, remember, God speaks by Jesus still, and every word of his that is left on record is as solemnly alive to-day as when it first leaped from his blessed lips. I beseech you remember Christ cometh not as an amateur, but he hath authority with him: this ambassador to men wears the authority of the King of kings. If ye despise him ye despise him that sent him: if ye turn away from him that speaketh from heaven ye turn away from the eternal God, and ye do despite to his love. Oh, do not so.
Note how my text puts it. It saith here, “Whosoever shall not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” My heart trembles while I repeat to you the words, “I will require it of him.” To-day God graciously requires it of some of you, and asks why you have not listened to Christ’s voice. Why is this? You have not accepted his salvation. Why is this? You know all about Jesus, and you say it is true, but you have never believed in him: why is this? God requires it of you. Many years has he waited patiently, and he has sent his servant again and again to invite you. The men of Nineveh sought mercy in their day, and yet you have not repented. God requires it of you. Why is this? Give your Maker a reason for your rejection of his mercy if you can: fashion some sort of excuse, O ye rebellious one. Do you despise your God? Do you dare his wrath? Do you defy his anger? Are you so mad as this?
The day will come when he null require it of you in a much more violent sense than he does to-day; when you shall have passed beyond the region of mercy he will say, “I called you and you refused, why is this? I did not speak to you in thunder. I spoke to you with the gentle voice of the Only Begotten who bled and died for men: why did you not hear him? Every Sabbath day my servant tried to repeat the language of his Master to you: why did you refuse it? You are cast into hell, but why did not you accept the pardon which would have delivered you from it?” You were too busy. Too busy to remember your God? What could you have been busy about that was worth a thought as compared with him? You were too fond of pleasure. And do you dare insult your God by saying that trifling amusements which were not worth the mentioning could stand in comparison with his love and his good pleasure? Oh, how you deserve his wrath. I pray you consider what this meaneth, “I will require it of him.” You who still harden your hearts, and refuse my Master, go away with this ringing in your ears, “I will require it of him! I will require it of him.” “When he lieth dying alone in that sick chamber I will require it of him: when he hath taken the last plunge, and left this world, and finds himself in eternity, I will require it of him: and when the thunder wakes the dead, and the great Prophet like unto Moses shall sit on the great white throne to judge the quick and the dead, I will require it of him, I will require it of him.”
My Master will require of me how I have preached to you, and I sincerely wish it were in my power to put these things in better form, and plead with you more earnestly; but, after all, what can I do? If you have no care for your own souls, how can I help it? If you will rush upon eternal woe, if you will despise the altogether lovely One through whom God speaks to you, if you will live day after day carelessly and wantonly, throwing away your souls, oh, then mine eyes shall weep in secret places for you; but what more can I do but leave you to God? At the last I shall be compelled to say “Amen” to the verdict which condemns you for ever. God grant that such a reluctant task may not fall to my lot in reference to any one of you, but may you now hear and obey the Lord Jesus, and find eternal salvation at once, for his dear name’s sake. Amen.