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time, as we have seen those needs to be. It is specifically addressed to various groups or classes. The following good analysis of the book is taken from Prof. Moulton's Modern Readers' Bible
"1. A message to God's chosen people. They doubt his love: what better proof could he give than his original choice of them?
A message to priests. These, who should be the Lord's messengers, pollute his altar by offering contemptible gifts such as they would never present to the governor; it is the Gentiles who hold Jehovah in honour. The message (commandment) is that God curses their blessings (Joel, chapter 1:9); and in so doing God is keeping, not breaking, his covenant with Levi. 3. A message to Judah. Judah has betrayed the wife of his youth in marrying the daughter of a strange God. (The meaning is not that Jewish wives were divorced to make these foreign marriages; but that marrying within the nation was like a wife provided by God himself for each Israelite: to marry abroad was thus a sort of adultery). 4. A message to the people: they weary God with their impatience for the judgment: the Messenger of the Lord shall indeed come suddenly, but who may abide the judgment he brings? 5. A message to the whole nation: they are robbers of their God. Let them bring the whole tithe, and see whether this will not bring a blessing such as they will be unable to contain. 6. A message to the people: they are stout murmurers against God, crying that there is no profit in serving God, and that it is the wicked who are happy. But a Book of Remembrance is kept, and a day shall dawn which shall discern between the righteous and the wicked. 7. Conclusion. The original message of Moses (Deut., chapter XVIII:15) shall be fulfilled: Elijah the Prophet shall be sent to heal national disunion before the great and terrible day comes."
Thus the Messenger rebukes their lack of faith and faithfulness, and foretells the coming of days that shall burn as a
furnace when the wicked shall be as stubble, "and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts.” Then the prophecy concludes with comforting assurance that the purpose of God shall be accomplished. And the sacred volume closes with the beautiful prediction:
“But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings."
THE DISCIPLINE OF PROVIDENCE
"Lord thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations."
HE Law and the Prophets provided well for the instruction of the Priest Nation for their office.
But instruction alone was not sufficient to prepare
them for their work. In addition to the teaching that could be given by the words of prophecy, by precepts and laws and sacred ordinances, there was needed the informing discipline of active experience. Truth in abstract forms, in general statements, however excellent such forms may be, is not effective till it is impressed and illustrated in some concrete examples that touch our experience. The wisdom of Moses and the eloquence of the prophets were supplemented, and enforced by all the history of Israel; and that history is an important one of the "divers manners" in which "God spake to the Fathers," and the record of it is a part of the great revelation that comes to us from that ancient people.
Even aside from all that is miraculous in Israel's history, it is the most remarkable story ever written. Judged merely by the outcome, by the influence exerted on the modern world, no other history is equal to it, and only that of Greece and Rome are comparable with it.
Believing as we do, that in this history we have gradual unfolding of God's purpose, the working out in fact what He ordained should be, we have the joy of "thinking God's thoughts after him," and from his providential dealings with this nation learn much of his gracious will. The philosophic problem, how God is sovereign and yet man
free, may or may not interest us; but we can hardly fail to be attracted by the actual outworking of His eternal purpose by the free activities of man. It is not prophecy but history that is amazing. We find that, somehow, that which was foreshadowed by the ritual, and declared by prophecy to be God's purpose, has been actually brought to pass without constraining human freedom, or doing violence to man's instincts or reason. God has wrought his own design, and yet left man untrammeled and unbound.
The task of the true historian is much more than that of telling the story of events. He must go back of actual facts and tell the causes which produced the facts. He must, so far as possible, discover the motives and incentives, the purposes and the intentions which led to the deeds of which he tells.
No power can work without occasion. No deed can be done without fit opportunity, and no result can be achieved without coordination of the various causes and occasions capable of such results.
It is this coordination that is of chief importance. The component parts of a machine are not often marvelous or novel, but the combination, in which each part coordinates with every other to accomplish some definite result, evokes our admiration. So the activities of men are interesting and instructive in proportion to the view we get of their relations, of their coordination for results.
It is in this fitting together of the various forces, time and place and other circumstances that are beyond control of men, that we find most of that element of providence—foreseeingwhich, if it be at all, must be divine, for it is beyond all human reach. If we find evidence in history that over many ages, and by many hands, things have come to pass in such a way as to consistently work out an orderly and definite purpose, we are warranted in the conclusion that events were guided by intelligence and foresight. If this purpose was beyond the power of
man to form, or if we know that men did not consciously have such a purpose, and yet it worked out with all its parts coordinating, its times and places and events, its workers and their tools, its actors and their parts all falling out in due and proper order, we conclude with confidence that there was a plan and purpose, an aim and an intention back of it. We believe that God has such a plan, that “nothing walks with aimless feet," that through the tedious ages of the earth's long history, all things are working toward a worthy goal, evolving that eternal purpose which God involved in his created universe.
Thus we regard the evolution of the natural world, and thus we should expect to find the world of moral and of spiritual things, and in both fields of study the evidence is found in history.
Do we find order and coordination in the realm of nature? the biologist and chemist and psychologist and all the rest say, yes. We can trace the history of things far back, and as we read the record of the rocks and the testimony of all science, we find a clear and wonderful story of order and coordination and progress in obedience to law. So in history we find the same cooperation and harmonious progress of distinct and independent persons, nations and peoples working out a definite result. If we find not only such continuity and coordination, but also find that the results arrived at after turbulent and tedious ages is just what the sacred ritual had foreshadowed and the prophets had foretold, we cannot escape the conviction that the course of history has not been aimless, but divinely guided to accomplish a purpose, to fulfill a program, which God prepared from the beginning
This is indeed the test which Moses prescribed for judging the validity of prophecy. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken.” By this test of history, prophecy must stand or fall.