“THE SUPPOSED MISTAKES OF MOSES.”
Some skeptics have much to say about “the Mistakes of Moses.”They say it is a mistake to believe that Moses wrote the Torah, even though God said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and Isael”(Exodus 34:27). Critics refuse to accept the first twelve chapters of Genesis as true history because it disagrees with the theory of Evolution. They would have us believe that the creation story and the flood story are nothing more than Hebrew myths, legends and traditions, probably preserved by Moses and put in the Bible. These are serious charges to make against Moses who was one of the three greateswt men ever to live on this planet. Let us refer to few facts which the critics in their researches seem to have overlooked
Moses fter he was eighty years s of age, emancipated and organized a captive nation, leading an army of six hundred thousand men for forty years through the wilderness of Sinai to the borders of their inheritance, giving them a law so full of these so-called “mistakes” that this one nation, which has partly observed it, has existed for more than thirty-three centuries in a warring and tumultuous world, outliving all the empires, nations, and tongues which then existed on the face of the earth witnessing the downfall of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome; and though scattered for ages, because of their sins, among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other, finding neither ease nor rest, but having a trembling heart, and fainting of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and fearing day and night, having none assurance of life (Deut. xxviii), yet this nation still exists ,as numerous, perhaps, as in its palmiest days. Is such a result due to Moses' “mistakes.”? We are indebted to Moses, a native of Egypt, brought up amid the splendors of the court of the Pharaohs, and inheriting only traditions of tyranny on the part of the rulers, and slavery on the part of the ruled, for the world's first example of a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” This first republic known to history, consisting of the Twelve United States of Israel, established and organized in the desert, on the basis of universal suffrage, the election of officers by the people, representation by elders; selected from the people, with inferior judges, and courts of last appeal, was finally planted in Canaan, the land being divided by lot among all the people, one twelth of whom were selected and appointed to care for the education and enlightenment of the nation; one-tenth of their increase and of the produce of the land being set apart for their support in educational and religious work.
This federated nation, thus established, with an organic law, a written constitution, and a form of government wiser and more humane than any which the world had known; which guarded the rights of rich and poor, small and great, servants ,and masters , rulers and people, wives and husbands, captives and conquerors, protecting even the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and providing for the proper tillage of the soil, and the preservation of trees, seeds, and fruit. This was the pattern upon which all stable governments have been based. And in its sedulous care for the moral and religious character of the people, who were brought under personal subjection to a holy God, whose presence was ever near them, and to a righteous law, in which they were to meditate day and night, and which they were commanded to diligently teach to their children, by the fireside and by the wayside, this law of Moses provided for that moral training, and developed that personal character, which, fitting men for liberty by the exercise of self-government, furnished the only alternative between tyranny and oppression on the one hand, and anarchy and misrule on the other. The germs and types of all successful popular governments are found in the commonwealth of Israel, which exhibits, first a republic, and later a constitutional monarchy, the two most desirable forms of government known; just as the basis of all civilized common law is found in the commandments written on tables of stone, and in the book of law which God gave to IsraeL Was the organization of such a government, based upon such law, another of “the mistakes of Moses”?
One of the peculiarities of the law of Moses was that provision which prohibited the priestly tribe from possessing real estate. They might have a house and garden, but no more. Vast possessions and broad acres were not for them. It is a curious fact that Moses' law, which is supposed to be at the bottom of all the priestcraft in creation, should contain this provision. Such a law never was concocted by priests. Priests in the nature of things, have great influence over men; and when a priesthood becomes corrupt it exercises this influeence for selfish ends. So, great hierarchies are continually accumulating wealth and lands. Indeed, allow them to work unchecked for a few generations, and they would possess a large share of the property of a nation; and in more than one instance revolutions and sweeping confiscations have been necessary to rescue the property of the people from the grasp of the priesthood. To-day, enormous amounts of wealth are in the hands of priests and ecclesiastics. They have not only the spiritual power which would naturally attach to them by virtue of their office, but also the power of enormous wealth, which, under the guise of religion, they have succeeded in accumulating Vast buildings and immense estates in various countries, belong to priestly orders, and these immense properties, protected by government and yet contributing nothing to defray its expense4s, virtually impose heavy tax upon the long-suffering people. Under Moses'law no such abuses were practicable. Corrupt as the Jewish priesthood became they never were, as a body, accused of acquiring vast wealth. The law which made them dependent for their subsistence upon tithes and offerings which were voluntarily brought, and which they had no legal means of collecting, in its operation precluded the possibility of ecclesiastics acquiring vast possessions, and caused them to depend for their influence and their support upon the virtue of their lives, and the generosity which they might be able to inspire in the hearts of those around them. Was this provision another of “the mistakes of Moses”?.
One of the great occasions of complaint among the skeptics is the vast accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few, the poor being meanwhile trodden down, oppressed, and impoverished. Modern civilization presents us with these evils: First, men accumulate, inherit, and possess in perpetuity vast areas of land, for which they have no earthly use; while multitudes of poor men are landless and homeless, and never, until they are laid in the grave, have a foot of soil which they can call their own. Secondly, men who possess wealth, by exacting excessive interest largely increase their possessions, the rich growing richer and the poor growing poorer, until one class are ruined through luxury and arrogance ungodiness, while the other class, through poverty and oppression, are g round in the very dust. Neither of these evils could exist where the law of Moses was faithfully administered. The land of Israel was divided by lot among the twelve tribes, and this land was inalienable. “The land shall not be sold forever, for he land is mine , says the Lord.” The Almighty claimed the land for His own. Every family had a portion of it sufficient for their sustenance; the priesty tribes alone being excluded from this provision. Every child born in the family of Israel was bon heir to land , and not unfortunate, improvident , or thriftless father could permanently alienate their inheritance. In case an Israelite waxed poor, he might temporarily dispose of the land , but no transfer which he effected could e xtend beyond the the next year after Jubilee, which might be ten, twenty or thirty years away, but which could not be more that fifty years distant. Consequently, no Israelite lived to be fifty years old without being the possessor of landed property. This redistribution of of lands under Jewish law, occurring at the Jubilee, furnished the only effective safeguard against the accumulation of wealth, and the ab sorption of land in great estates, which has become the bane and curse of modern civilization. Those reformers who cry out against the accumulation of wealth, and clamor about the right of the landless multitudes to a portion of the soil from which to win their bread, act with strange inconsistency when they deride the law of Moses, which afforded the only practical and effective method of securing that result–taking of interest from among their brethren being expressly forbidden, and the accumulation of lands being prevented by their periodic redistribution. The very results which many of the critics profess to be seeking , were attained with perfect ease under the exercise of that law which they despise, and in obedience to the command of God whom they blaspheme.
Another occasion of complaint is the accumulation of wealth by means of usury; the rich increasing their wealth without labor, and the poor in their poverty being burdened to produce and provide for this increase. But under the law of Moses, Israelites were strictly commanded to lend to their brethren when they were in need, but they were to lend without usury. No Jew was allowed to refuse his needy brother assistance, but he was strictly prohibited from exacting interest an any loan made to one of his brethren. The man who was to abide in God's tabernacle, and dwell in his holy hill; was one who "puts not out his money to usuryk, nor takes rewad aainst the innocent." The whole law of Moses was opposed to vast accumulations, and the effect of it was to produce diligent, thrifty, healthful, and contented people. It is true that the Israelites were allowed to exact interest from the Gentiles around them, but.never from their brethren, the Jews. This prohibition of usury, coupled with the periodic re-distribution of lands, and the woe of God pronounced upon those who added house to house and field to field(Isa. 5:8), tended to preserve~ among the people of Israel a freedom, independence, industry, and self-reliance! such as many who find fault with the law of Moses would be very glad to enjoy.
Divine ordinances are adapted to human needs. If winter lasted two years, the world would perish with hunger ; protracted summer would cause enervation, drought, and disease. But at brief intervals God gives us summer and winter, seed time and harvest, enabling us to live and prosper. So God ordained the weekly rest day; and man̓s physical, mental, and moral well-being largely depends upon his observing it. He who gives his mind no rest, brings up in the mad-house or n the grave. He who gives his body no repose, breaks down beneath the strain, and dies. . He needs a weekly rest as muèh as! an eight-day clock needs a weekly winding. He who winds such a clock once a monty finds it useless. He who wids such a clock once a month, finds it useless. He-who neglects his weekly rest, lays the foundation for physical and mental disaster. Millions are literally working themselves to death to accumulate enough money to enjoy life in years of retirement. It is such an obession many are unable to enjoy life as the years come and go. We cannot eradicate from our constitutions the necessity of periodic relaxation. Moses the man of God said, “The days of our years are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow. For it is soon cut off and we fly away”(Psalm 90:10).
Another fact may be observed is that the Iraelites were law-abiding people. The law of Moses has been the basis of civil law among all civilized nations, and all whoobeyed the law of Moses, and gave heed to its teachings, as a rule, were law-abiding citizens in any civilized land. The most prolific souce of vice, crime,violence, disease, insanity, and pauperism among civllized nations is theuse of intoxicating drinks. Against the crying evil various remedies are proposed, such as total abstinance from all intoxicants, and legal enactments to discourage and prevent their use. Among the other supposed mistakes of Moses are these measures for the prevention of crime. We are indebted to Moses for the establshment of the “first total abstinence Society.” of which history makes record, the Nazarites, who, in separating themselves unto the Lord, separated themselves from wine and strong drink, and everything connected therewith (Num 6:1-4), a body of men among whom may be counted Samson the athlete, Samuel the righteous judge, and John the Baptist, than of whom of those tht are born of women, no greater teacher has arisen.
Moses also furnishes us the first example of stringent legislation against intemperance, and presents to our view a nation which, under his rule, for forty years trod the wilderness, neither drinking wine nor strong drink. And by making habitual drunkenness a capital offence, he expressed vivid sense of the ternble enormity of this madness, which is a fountain of all evils, iniquities, and crimes. And the results of this legislation still abides de in the temperate and orderly orderly character of the Jewish people (Deut.21:18-21; Deut. 29:5,6,18,19) Why are not our prisons crowded with Jewish criminals, our streets thronged with Jewish beggars. Everyone knows this call of people are thosee from whom the Bible has been withheld, or who have never been permitted to peruse and study ,the law of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles. Surely the thousands of criminals who have no Bibles to read, or who have been unable to read them, have not found their way to prison by following the supposed “.mistakes of Moses.” *
* This message is a reproduction of a sermon by H. L. Hastings, a Nineteenth century preacher and taken from a book entitled, “Christian Thought.”
Footnote by Lonnie Branam
From 1500 B.C. till 33 A.D., the law of Moses, as revealed in the 39 books of the Old Covenant, was the most precious body of knowledge in the possession of the human race. However, this religion became invalid when Jesus, the Messiah, died on the cross. Scripture says that Jesus nailed this law to His cross when He died as the Lamb of God for the sins of the entire world. Since this religion is now a dead religion, Jews in general and Jewish and Gentile Christians are under no obligation to observe t. What has happened to the Jewish nation is similar to the condition of a woman whose husband died. She remained faithful to him as long as he lived, but now that he is dead she is free to be married to another man. For 1500 years Israel was married to God through the Old Covenant, but the Old Covenant died when Jesus died on the cross. Thus the apostle Paul said to Jewish Christians in the city of Rome, “Therefore, brethren you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, to Him that was raised from the dead that we should bear fruit to God”(Romans 7:1-6). In accordance with the prophecy of Jeremiah, chapter 31:31-34, God made a new covenant with Israel in 33 A.D. after Christ, God's Son, was raised from the dead. Jewish and Gentile Christians are now married to God through the New Covenant as revealed in the twenty seven books of the New Covenant. The glory of the Old Covenant cannot even compare to the glory that is in the New Covenant. The sixty six books of the Bible contain the most precious knowledge in the possession of the human race.