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BY S. P. JACOBS
This is God's family administration from Adam to Moses. It is based on the sacredness of the family, and on the supremacy of parental authority. Parental responsibility is imposed alike by the law of nature and by the decree of God. It can not be ignored ; neither can it be bartered away with impunity. The head of the family is at once father, priest and prince.
This dispensation comes first in order and in time, because the family is fundamental in society. The family begins society. As the bud unfolds into flower and fruitage, so the family advances to future church and Kingdom of God (Mark i: 15).
The Patriarchal dispensation has in itself the vital germ of far future Christianity. It is the primary edition of Christianity, with its alphabet and simple rudiments. It introduces God's plan for the recovery and progress of humanity: 4t Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible
things, as silver and gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers ; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ: who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world" (j Pet. 1: 18-20, R. V.).
In harmony with His plan of self-revelation, God placed man on the summit of creation, that through him He might form, of things already made, spiritually significant creations higher and still higher, as man would be exalted in God higher and higher.
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The Scotch author of note, Mr. Macdonald, wisely remarks: " The whole of divine acts and arrangements from the beginning form parts of one system; for, as antecedent creations reached their end in man, so man himself, in his original constitu2
tion, prefigured a new and higher relation of the race than the incipient place reached in creation " ("Introduction to the Pentateuch/' Vol. II., p. 451).
In man and tlirough man God would ever continue his self-revelation. And this revelation can not be frustrated even by sin.
Prof. Patrick Fairbairn, D. D., rightly declares: "The fall of man is consequently to be understood, and is expressly represented, merely as a kind of interruption or break in the march of providence toward its aim, in nature akin to such events as the death of Abel and the flood in after times; while the Divine plan not the less proceeded on its course, only with special adaptations to the altered state of things" ("Typology of Scripture/' Vol. I., p. 93).
What man at first failed to realize through the creative power of God's eternal Son, he may obtain now through His redemptive power. This wonderful plan of redemption the Patriarchal dispensation introduced but did not develop.
Under this dispensation spiritual progress was amazingly slow. The fault, however, lay with man.
For more than two thousand years men worshiped God as Elohim, Creator (Gen. 1: 1). The idea of God as Redeemer and Saviour was less prominent. But this dispensation of the Patriarchs deepened in man the sentiment of Divine authority, the thing then needed.
Such was the moral obtuseness and the whelming corruption of the race, as that after sixteen cen-
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turies of patient forbearance it became necessary for God to destroy the world with a flood, and continue His plan through Noah and his family.
This terrible judgment was salutary. Its vivid
recollection continued through the centuries. Better progress was made. Less than five centuries passed away when God would come into closer relations with mankind. He received Abram, and through him the race he represented, into holy covenant with Himself.
Corresponding to this new relation, God assumed a new name, and changed Abram into Abraham. He also ordained circumcision to attest Abraham's righteousness (Rom. 4: 11) and symbolize his holiness (Deut. 10: 16): "I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect" [Heb. perfections], that is, altogether perfect.
That Abraham might have adequate power for this, God gave an additional revelation of Himself, as indicated in the additional name Shaddai. ElShaddai is the Creating Almighty God pouring forth abundant blessings, physical and spiritual, through laws natural and supernatural (Gen. 17: 1-11).
The omnipresence of God as Ruler of the universe subordinating all world-forces to spiritual ends, became the prominent feature in the Divine charac5
ter. In that spiritually imperceptive age, faith must have for its support direct manifestations of Divine almightiness.
During the next four hundred years God was worshiped as El-Shaddai, that is, God-Almighty going forth. Shaddai, from Shadah, to shed or pour out. It is quite evident that God, as entering personally into men and saving and sustaining them from within, was not apprehended during the first twenty -five centuries. It was only in the climax of suffering under the Egyptian bondage that spiritual aptitude to accept this inward revelation was begotten.
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And God's revelation to Moses at the time of their deliverance from bondage, while it opened a new era in the history of the world, it also exposed to view the narrow limits of Divine revelation in foregoing times: "I am Jehovah; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob as God- Almighty;
but by my name Jehovah I was not made known unto them" (Ex. 6: 2, 3).
This makes it clear that in Elohim from creation to the call of Abraham and in El-Shaddai from the call of Abraham onward *to Moses, we have the measure of Divine revelation to men during the Patriarchal dispensation. The term Jehovah implies Divine revelations and activities beyond the spiritual horizon of those times.
THE PATRIARCHAL DISPENSATION — CONTINUED. — EQUATION OF PRIVILEGES.
Viewed from the Apostolic age of multiplied manuscripts, the helps to righteousness in the Patriarchal age seem meager indeed. Viewed from the present age of marvels in mechanical appliances of steam and electricity for the production and com7
munication of intelligence, the complete absence of the same for twenty-five hundred years in Patriarchal times, seems nothing short of a calamity. To go back there would be indeed a calamity.
Present privilege is the result of about six thousand years of experience. In comparing the first and last dispensations, we must note what is peculiar to each and what is common to both.
1. The Patriarchs had no inspired Scriptures.
2. They had no written or inscribed law. Having a law written tends to preserve its purity. It 'facilitates its correct communication to others.
Over against these obstacles must be placed the following advantages:
i . The extreme longevity of men in the Patriarchal age. Five men span the distance of twenty-five centuries from Adam to Moses with over four hundred years surplus.
Methuselah was contemporaneous with Adam two hundred and fifty years and with Shem ninety-eight years; and he, with Isaac fifty years; and he, with Levi thirty-four years; and he, with Amram four years? and he, with Moses seventy-one years. Connected with this fact, consider the peerless memorizing
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of the Orientals (Gen. 18: 19), characteristic to this day; and the lack of any written law is largely compensated.
2. In the absence of any inspired Scriptures, the Patriarchal age had its inspired men. Prophets of God date from the beginning. A personal presence adds influence. The warm word of the speaker is preferred to the cold letter of the writer. It is but reasonable to believe that the Holy Spirit could present the will of God with more force through chosen
prophets than through inanimate manuscript. Is not this implied in Christ Jesus forbidding the publication of His Gospel until it could come from flaming lips of fire-swayed men (Acts 1 14, 5) ? This oral communication of Divine law is implied in " Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips ; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food " (Job 23: n, 12; see Gen. 18: 19).
This proves that before the day of writing there was a Divine law apart from the law of nature; and that this Divine law was revealed through inspired men.
The Patriarchal dispensation was not a dispensation of natural religion merely. It was a positive institution as truly as the Christian dispensation is. Christ declares a line of holy prophets from the time of "righteous Abel " (Matt. 23: 35). He declares that they apprehended His incarnation and sacrifice for human redemption (Matt. 13: 17). Through the bleeding sacrifices and prophecies the Patriarchs looked forward to Christ yet to come just as we now look back through the sacraments and promises to Christ
having come. History is prophecy reversed, facing the other way. Calvary shines its light back through the prophecies to the first transgression, and forward through the promises to the end of time.
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3. The Patriarchal age had the ministrations of the Holy Spirit.
(a) He was in the prophets. ' * For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost " (2 Pet. 1: 21). They "were moved" [Gr. being carried\ up into the spiritual and eternal by the Holy Spirit, to reveal to men the will of God.
(J?) In that day the Holy Spirit strove with men: "My Spirit shall not always strive with men" (Gen.
4. They had the sacrifices for sin. Through these the Patriarchs by faith accepted Christ unto righteousness. ' * By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous " (Heb. 11: 4).
The sacrifice for sin kept vividly in faith the promised Redeemer who should bruise the serpent's head" (Gen. 3: 15).
Through this faith, Abel was justified; Enoch was translated after having walked with God three hundred years; and Noah condemned the antediluvian world and "became the heir of righteousness" (Heb. II: 1-7). Through this faith, Abraham became the father of believers: "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached the Gospel unto Abraham" (Gal. 3: 8). Abraham actually received Christ (Gal. 3: 16). This Christ himself affirms (Jno. 8: 56). And all the antediluvians might have accepted Christ unto salvation from sin; otherwise God could not have destroyed them " bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly .... making them an example unto those
that after should live ungodly " (2 Pet. 1 : 5, 6).
5. They had circumcision.
About twenty-five years after Abraham had been justified, his faith advancing a stage, he was sealed of
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God (Gen. 17: 10-13). This seal was circumcision. "He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had being yet uncircumcised " (Rom. 4: 11).
As a "sign," circumcision indicated purity of heart and of life: "Ye are complete in him . . in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2: 10, 11). This purity is not a new significance attributed to circumcision from the latter standpoint of increased Gospel light. It has been the spiritual
meaning of circumcision from the first. Common, urisanctified speech was known as " uncircumcised lips" (Ex. 6: 12). A pure heart is styled a circumcised heart. "The Lord thy God will circumcise [purify] thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live " (Deut.
After Abraham received circumcision, all self-proprietorship (Gen. 12: 10-13) and all religious scheming to help on God's cause (Gen. 16: 1-6) were abandoned for the simplicity of faitfi (Gen. 17: 1-22) which sees God's word fulfilled even through miracle, Hagar being sent away.
While the record presents a higher plain of living by Abraham, it also indicates a new and distinct state of personal experience. "I am the Almighty God, walk before me, and be thou perfections" (Gen. 17: I). This Hebrew plural implies completely, altogether perfect. Walking before God implies perfect conduct. "Be perfections" implies perfect purity
of heart and perfect adjustment of mind toward God.
To emphasize and perpetuate this purity of heart
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and life, God now ordained the rite of circumcision as its symbol or "sign," as noted above.
That circumcision signified spiritual purity is affirmed by the standard theology of Christendom. A few quotations will suffice:
Dr. Adam Clarke says: "The circumcision made in the flesh was designed to signify the purification of the heart from all unrighteousness, as God particularly showed in the law itself. See Deut. 10: 16; see also Rom. 2:25-29; Col. 2: 11 " ("Commentary on Gen.,"
Dr. D. D. Whedon declares: "Circumcision is a
symbol of purification. It shadows the cutting and
severing of all sensuality from the spiritual man "
("Commentary on Rom.," 2: 29).
McClintock and Strong declare of circumcision: " It is a well-known and readily understood symbol of purity" (" Biblic. Theol. and Eccl. Cyclop.," Vol. II., p. 350).
6. The Patriarchs had personal manifestations of God.
In addition to all the foregoing benefits of the Patriarchal dispensation, there were remarkable revelations of God "in person. "The Lord appeared unto Abraham" (Gen. 17: 1). "The Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre as he sat in the tent-door" (Gen. 18: 1). "And when Jacob went on his way the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and
he called the name of the place Mahanaim," — two camps (Gen. 32: 1, 2). Jacob was alone at the ford Jabbok and "there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day, " etc. ' l And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Gen. 32: 24-30).
" God appeared unto Jacob at Bethel" where He had shown him the atonement in the symbol of a
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* ' ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven : and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it" (Gen. 27: 12; Jno. 1: 51; Gen.
Still more so of Moses: "And the angel of the
Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the
midst of a bush. . . . He said, I am the God of thy
father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he
was afraid to look upon God " (Ex. 3: 2, 6).
" The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire" (Ex. 13: 21). "And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them. And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel" (Ex. 14: 19, 20).
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever" (Ex. 19:9); "in fire" (v. 18); with "the voice of the trumpet " (v. 19). This increasing revelation of God more and more impressed the people with the personality, majesty and holiness of God.
The Patriarchal dispensation produced men and women of rare character. The Apostolic Scriptures cite them as models for all time. A few of them appear in the roll-call of God's nobility in the early ages (Heb. 11: 1-24). Abel, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, and Moses represented righteousness, holiness, immortality, patience, and all-conquering faith as possible to the weakest and certain to the faithful.
Then, there is that mysterious Melchizedek, at
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once King of Peace and " Priest of the Most High God." He received tithes from Abraham, and was not heard of again for a thousand years, when, like a comet, he suddenly shot across the path of David, forecasting the coming Christ (Psa. no: 4), and
instantly disappears for another thousand years (Heb. 7: 4-10).
And there is Job, mystery of grace for rajah and for beggar. If Melchizedek symbolized Christ (Heb. 5: 6), Job stands through all time for bottomless patience, boundless faith, and endless endurance. Surviving the fiery ordeal from Satan, Job seems to be living in a spiritual storm-centre. With him it was a time of cyclones.
Earthly forces being now exhausted in making known to him the might of God, Job is exalted to apprehend the climax of influence and of force for the universe. It is in the world-creation style of the Patriarchal age. "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said . . . Canst thou bind [restrain] the sweet influence of Pleiades ? Canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?" (Job 38: 31, 32).
To give an idea of His infinite supremacy, God puts before Job the Pleiades whose brightest sun shines with a brilliancy equal to twelve thousand suns like ours. This, too, notwithstanding the immense
distance of seven hundred years of light-travel at the rate of one hundred and ninety-two thousand miles a second. This brightest sun of Pleiades, Alcyone, is twelve thousand times greater than our Sun, who equals one million and two hundred and fifty thousand globes like the Earth, making Alcyone fifteen billions of times larger than the Earth! Around this thoughtsurpassing sphere our Sun, with his suite of worlds, and multi-million other sun-systems revolve!!
Such cosmic dimensions and rule index Divine majesty and grace, infinitely overmatching Satanic
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rule which is limited to this Earth (J no. 12: 31; 16: 11).
" Canst thou guide Arcturus and his sons?" Now the thought is one of speed. Did you ever try to guidi a furious, runaway team ? More. Could you control a runaway engine going one hundred and fifty
miles an hour ? This is nothing! Look at Arcturus. Stupendous world outshining our Sun five hundred and sixteen times, "with his sons" — as 1830 Groombridge * * thought to have a speed of two hundred miles per second — a velocity that all known matter in the universe by all its combined attraction could not give to the star. Neither could all that attraction stop the motion of the star, or bend it into an orbit!! " (" Recreations in Astronomy," H. W. Warren, p.
Accepting Divine grace on this stupendous scale of
power in Pleiades and of speed in Arcturus, Job defied
detracting men, destructive cyclones, demons and
death itself; and counter-matching Divine love and
Divine wrath (Job 13: 1-16), exhibited purity, force,
and height of character a marvel till now.
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