1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, Yahweh hath not appeared unto thee.
This touches a crucial point in the whole case. Moses knew his brethren. He knew their indisposition to adopt any such views as he should have to lay before them. He had had experience of it 40 years before, when "He supposed his brethren would have understood," but they did not...
...Their treatment of Moses afterwards, during the exodus and sojourn in the wilderness; their treatment of the prophets for a succession of later centuries, and their rejection of the Lord Jesus himself, as well as the present unbelieving and unreasonable attitude of the Jews throughout the world, all attest the inaptness of the race of Israel to receive and place themselves in subjection to any proposal involving on the part of the proposer a profession of divine commission, and requiring on their part faith in the divine assurances and obedience of the divine commandments. The idea is well expressed in the parting memorial song that Moses, by God's appointment, left them, in which he says that they are-
"A perverse and crooked generation, a foolish people, and unwise . . . They are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. Oh that they were wise and understood this, that they would consider their latter end."
In view of this inveterate national propensity in the wrong direction, the fears of Moses that they would not believe him were well founded; and the fact that they did receive him, nevertheless, and have, as a nation, boasted in his name ever since, is one of the inexplicable facts of history, if the cause of their belief be left out of account. That cause comes immediately into view in God's answer to the expressed fears of Moses:...v2-4
Visible Hand of God Ch10
The First Sign
2 And Yahweh said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
What if it be a strange thing to turn a rod into a serpent and a serpent back again into a rod: is it impossible? Impossible to man, granted; but where is the man having the least glimmer of the resources of the universe, or the least acquaintance with the subtle constitution of nature, who would declare such a thing impossible in the abstract? A man can only say it is a thing he never saw happen, or heard of any other living person having seen happen. He can only say he cannot do it, and does not know how it could be done.
He might even go as far as to say he does not believe it could possibly happen without the intervention of a higher exercise of power than is ordinarily at work in nature. Further than this, a man in reason could not go, unless indeed he were to add, as he might easily add, if he were a reflective student of nature, that it would be presumptuous in him to set bounds to the possible transmutations of nature in view of what he sees at work every day in the field.
Does he not see any year an immense production of food substance from the soil, which, when produced, is a combination of subtle materials derived from the earth, the atmosphere, the rain, sun, etc.? Does he know how manure and loam and water are transformed into grain and garden stuff?
He does not know. He is familiar with the fact, and some mistake familiarity for understanding. If our supposed critic is a wise man, he will not perpetrate this confusion. He will allow to himself that the chemical (or whatever other adjective he may use to qualify the process) operation by which muck is changed to bread, is to his mind inscrutable, although an every-day occurrence.
But let him follow the bread and the fruits of the field. What becomes of them? "Eaten, of course," you say: but what becomes of the stuff eaten? Eaten by cows, they turn into cow; eaten by horses, they turn into horse; eaten by men, they turn into man; and suppose some of the men are serpents (which they are), then they turn into serpent.
Now, here is the mould that you would sweep out of your house; water that you would prefer rather to be outside your house than in; air that you cannot see; and light that enables you to see all things, but that cannot itself be seen-I say, here are all these things (much more unlikely than the vegetable fibre of a rod) turned into a serpent: and why are you to say that a rod cannot be turned into a serpent? The one serpent is made by the slow transmutation of substance, and the other by the quick transmutation of substance. Are we going to make a difficulty of the quickness? If so, to whom is it a difficulty? To us? Granted.
The work would be a great difficulty to us-quick or slow; for we cannot do it slow if we had got a million years to do it in. It is not man that makes the grain by slow agriculture. He but supplies the conditions by which God does it by means of the nature He has given things.
But to God? Shall you say the quickness is a difficulty to Him? If so, can you object to be charged with presumption and extremest folly in measuring the eternal by the mortal? - the possible by what you have seen? - the power of God by the weakness of man?
Visible Hand of God Ch 10
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
Voice is sometimes used in scripture in the sense of the signification, or the thing signified by a sign; as in Exod. iv. 8. Moses was to do certain signs before the people, to convince them that he was sent by Yahweh to deliver them. "If," said he, "they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, they will believe the voice of the latter sign."
The voices, though not expressed in words, were, that he whose power turned his flesh leprous as snow, and restored it instantly; and changed the water of the Nile into blood, had sent Moses with power to deliver them. The sign was one thing, the voice of the sign another. Voice also is sometimes used for law, -- as "If thou shalt be obedient to his voice," i.e. to his law. It is also used for proclamation; as in Ezra i. 1, "Cyrus caused a voice to pass through all his kingdom;" that is, he made a proclamation through all his kingdom.
10 And Moses said unto Yahweh, O my Yahweh, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
He was a man of the right stamp for the divine purpose, but not a man of such characteristics as would have led him to contrive and execute a scheme of national liberation. It is easy to glean his character from the whole narrative. It justifies the description that he was "a meek man"-a man of quiet disposition, with no liking for the stir and bustle of public life. He lacked the personal energy and ambition that would lead to patriotic initiative. This is shown by the way he viewed the divine proposal that he should go to Egypt as Yahweh's instrument to effect Israel's deliverance.
It was not altogether wonderful that he should thus be diffident. He was eighty years old: he had been a long time out of public life: his early expectations had all quieted down. Disappointment, and adversity, and delay, had sobered him thoroughly, added to which he was naturally meek, quiet, and of slow speech. He was the last man for the execution of the work on human principles.
But for a work to be done on divine principles, he was the very man. This work required modesty of self-estimate, a deep sense of Yahweh's greatness, a disposition to be scrupulously faithful in the carrying out of divine instructions, and a capacity for unbounded patience and magnanimity with those with whom he might be called upon to deal. These qualities, in some degree natural to him, had been matured and perfected by forty years' banishment, and the unexciting monotonies of sheep-tending in the solitudes of a desert country.
Visible Hand of God Ch 9
22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith Yahweh, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
Son of the covenant
Now the testimonies of the covenant show us that men become Christ's in two senses,-in a special, and in a general sense. Individuals, whether Jews or Gentiles, become Christ's in a special sense in believing the gospel of the covenant and being baptized before "the door is shut;" the Twelve Tribes become his in a general or national sense when they are grafted into their own olive after the shutting of the door.
When the door shuts it closes against all both Jews and Gentiles who would inherit the land for ever in a personal sense; that is, as deathless occupants of the land. While the Jewish nation in Abraham and in Christ is immortal, the generations of the nation, though of patriarchal life, are subject unto death until "the end" come. The eternal life, then, of the covenant is first personal, then national; and when the thousand years' dispensation is superseded by a still more perfect economy, it will be both personal and national to every dweller upon the earth.
But in all this, it may be objected, perhaps, "the Israelites are everything, and the Gentiles nothing." Well, this is somewhat mortifying to Gentiles, who have been accustomed to think everything of themselves, and contemptuously of the Jews! But remember what the Scripture saith to Gentiles, "Be not wise in your own conceit." God thinks more of the despised sons of Abraham than of all the world besides; for "they are beloved for the fathers' sakes," and his own Son was born a Jew.
But his love to Israel, "whom He hath created for himself," flows from his love to that world, which will inhabit the earth for an eternity which begins when the thousand years of the covenant dispensation shall have passed away: a world, redeemed from Adam's race, in which all present distinctions, civil, ecclesiastical, and social, will be merged into the "all things new."
"Salvation," recollect, "is of the Jews;" therefore it is through them that God will save the nations from all the evils that afflict them. Hence it is written,
"Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people." And again, "God be merciful unto us (Israelites) and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us"
-for what reason?
"That his way may be known upon earth, His saving health among all nations. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for thou, O God, shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth."
But the blessings of the covenant are by no means confined to Israel; for the gospel of the covenant reads,
"In thee, Abraham, and in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;"
"A father, O Abraham, of many nations have I constituted thee."
This shows that the nations as well as Israel will be sons of Abraham, and consequently brethren of Christ their king; for even he is descended from a Gentile, that is, from Abram. From these promises is revealed the purpose of God, which is this, that from the beginning he has determined at a certain period of the world's history to organize a confraternity of nations, of which Israel's should be the First-Born, which of course would make the father of the Jewish nation the father of all the rest, and the king of Israel and his nobles, the king and princes of the earth.
It is to the time, when this great work shall have been accomplished, that all those glowing predictions of the prophets concerning human affairs are to be referred; while all the evil denounced happens to the nations in the time antecedent to the era of blessedness. The nations will be Christ's when they are brought into federal relationship to Abraham after his resurrection from the dead.
Gentile settlers may then inherit the land with the Jews, as it is written,
"Ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, who shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be, that in what tribe the stranger (or Gentile) sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God."
How different this to the settlement of the land under Joshua. Then the Gentile was to be exterminated from the country; but under Christ, they will be entitled to all the rights and privileges of native born citizens.
This comes from their becoming sons of the covenant after the door is shut.
The Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained - Herald 01/1856
31 And the people believed: and when they heard that Yahweh had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Thus was the first part of the work successfully accomplished. Israel's faith was the natural starting point. Apart from this, nothing could be done. Without faith, Israel could not have taken that part which it was necessary for them to perform in the departure from Egypt; and without faith on their part, it would not have been fitting that God should perform works of power on their behalf. Even a human benefactor would be liable to hold his hand if he found scornful unbelief (or even indifference) among those on whose behalf he was exerting himself. How much more to be feared, and worshipped and trusted is the Creator of heaven and earth.
It may seem as if the term "faith" were misused in this connection. It will only seem so, because of the inaccuracies of modern speech. Faith is commonly understood to be a blind trust-that is, a trust not having anything actually seen to rest on. It is supposed to exclude sight altogether. This is only partly correct. As regards the particular objects on which faith may act-that is, "things not seen," which it confidently anticipates, it is true that faith and sight cannot coexist, but as regards the reason why this faith is exercised, it is not true.
Abraham believed in the promises of God, because God gave Abraham a reason for believing them in appearing and speaking to him. The apostles believed in the Lord's resurrection, because the Lord gave then a reason for believing by doing the same things after his resurrection. Multitudes believed in the testimony of the apostles, because they had a reason for it, first, in the fact of earnest men giving such a testimony in the teeth of all disadvantage, and secondly, in the wonderful works of power by which the truth of their testimony was divinely attested.
Many believe in our day because of the reason there is for it, in a variety of facts which compel it as a logical result. In every case, faith has its foundation in facts justifying it. It acts on "things to come," and therefore on things not seen, but it acts on them by reason of facts past that enable it so to act. It is not a blind or unreasonable sentiment. On the contrary, its eyes are open, and it can formulate the laws of its operation to a nicety. It is precisely akin to the faith of secular usage.
One man has faith in another in commercial matters. His faith acts on the future, but it is derived from a past experience. Without that past experience a man does not know whether to have faith or not. To some people, this will appear a degrading comparison, but reflection will show its justice. The cases are exactly parallel so far as the action of the mind goes. The difference is in the objects calling it into exercise.