Last Updated on :
Saturday, November 22, 2014


sp spacer




The Truth About God And The Bible
By Robert Roberts


This answer adjusts itself perfectly to the answer of common sense and science. Commonsense says there must be a Creator, because there is the created. Science says there must be an originating and contriving force at the back of nature, though the nature or seat of this force eludes the knowledge and conception of man. History steps in, and says that what common sense and science say must be -- is really and actually the fact.

We do not speak of history in general, but of a particular history. The Bible contains that particular history, and the visible state of things now in the world corresponds with that history. The general testimony of that history is condensed in the opening statement of the Epistle to the Hebrews:- "God, at sundry times and divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets." If God has spoken, then God exists.

The pith of the argument turns on the nature of the speaking. Was it such a speaking as to make it quite certain it was as real and unquestionable as the speaking that passes between a man and his friend. A study of the facts will justify a very positive answer on this head. It will be found that "the Lord spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:8 ; Deut. 34:10), and that this sublime intercourse took place in connection with events of a character that did not admit of misrepresentation or concealment.

The events were public events -- national events -- events to which multitudes of people were accessory, and of a nature that could not be humanly manipulated. They were events of which a whole people were eye-witnesses, as Moses constantly reminds them. They are well summarised in the words spoken by Moses before his death at the end of the forty years' wanderings in the wilderness. In the course of a long address, he said, "Ask now of the days that are past which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth. . . . whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as thou hast heard and live? Or, hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation. . . . by a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm and great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was showed that thou mightest know that the Lord, he is God: there is none else beside him ". (Deut. 4:32).

In this, we are dealing to a certain extent with a palpable contemporary fact. There is such a nation in the world as the Jews: its records go farther back into the remote dim regions of antiquity than those of any other nation under heaven, with the exception of the inscriptions on Egyptian and Assyrian remains and monuments, which are childish affairs compared with the magnificent writings of Moses. That they are the writings of Moses is proved in several ways. The tradition of the Jews in all generations is conclusive on this point. Such a reputation could not come to exist apart from the fact that Moses at the beginning did write them.

But it is said the Mahommedans are witnesses to the Koran. So they are. And it is said the Mormons are witnesses to the writing of Smith. So they are. But what have we then? We have a book admittedly written by Mahomet, and a book admittedly written by Joe Smith; but when we come to examine the books in the light of facts, we find evidence that Mahomet and Joe Smith are impostors. The authenticity admitted, their undivine character is self-manifest. A similar process applied to the writings of Moses proves them to be divine. Just as the authenticity of the Koran is proved by the universal consent of the Mahommedans, so the authenticity of Moses is proved by the universal consent of the Jews. Then go to the investigation of the book, and its divine character is proved by its very contents.

Take God out of the five books of Moses and they fall to pieces. They cannot be understood on the hypothesis that they were written by a man to glorify himself, his name, or his nation. The evidence of this is on the face of them. If the object of Moses in the operation he conducted in connection with the Jewish nation was to make himself a great leader and make himself a great name, as Manetho says, it would have been necessary for him to conciliate the people by complimentary words, as all popular leaders in all ages have found it necessary to do and have done. Moses did nothing of the sort, but used language and assumed an attitude utterly inconsistent with any human object whatever. We cannot imagine Moses or anyone else speaking thus while practising an imposture for the glorification of himself or the Jewish nation:-

"Speak not thou in thine heart after that the Lord thy God hath cast them (the Canaanitish nations) out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness or for the uprightness of thy heart dost thou go to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand, therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness, FOR THOU ART A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE. Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God in the wilderness, from the day thou didst depart out from the land of Egypt ; until ye came unto this place ye have been rebellious against the Lord." This is only a sample of his style. His writings are all in the same strain. If God sent and was with Moses, this style is explained. If God did not appear to Moses, but Moses, out of his own head, sought to accomplish a personal object, such language is incomprehensible.

While Moses did not glorify Israel, did Israel glorify Moses? Did they accept him as their leader? If this book was written in order to glorify Moses or to glorify the Jewish nation -- if Jewish transactions in their beginnings were merely human performances, with which God had nothing to do, or if this book had been written afterwards to create confidence in a merely traditional Moses, without reference to truth, it would have been carefully shown that, at the beginning and during all his life, Moses was accepted by the people; certainly, every circumstance tending to show rebellious conduct on the part of the people during all the circumstances attending their exodus from Egypt, and their passage through the wilderness, would have been suppressed. Instead of this, the people are described as in a state of continual revolt.

Let Exodus 16:2 be taken as an illustration:- "And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of Israel came unto the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness; and the children of Israel said to them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

Again, when the spies sent before to see the land to which they were journeying took an evil report, we read (Num. 14:1-5; 2:22, 23), "And all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would to God that we had died in the land of Egypt, or would to God we had died in this wilderness. . . . Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. . . . And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me for all the signs which I have showed among them? . . . Because all those men which have seen my glory and my miracles which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times and have not hearkened to my voice, surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers."

Then there is the conspiracy of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who rose against Moses with the support of the entire assembly, and whose rebellion was only quelled by miraculous destruction. Now, if God did truly send Moses, and if His statement to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram be true -- that "The Lord sent me to do all these works for I have not done them of mine own mind" (Num. 16:28) -- then the putting on record such a history is intelligible. But if these things never happened, how came they to be invented? What purpose could be served by the invention? No man invents a lie without an object, and what object could there be in insulting the national character by placing in the national archives such an invention? It is impossible to conceive such a thing.

It is a popular habit to ascribe the Jewish law to the wisdom of Moses as if he were the author of it. This habit is totally at variance with the scriptural representation. God is always kept in the foreground and Moses appears as His servant only. This peculiarity is not confined to the language of Moses, but belongs to the events connected with the organization of the nation. It is particularly manifest in the incident on which Moses based his claim to Israel's submission to the law. He did not, like an impostor, merely report that so and so had happened to him privately, and that the result was this law, which they had to obey. He based his claim to their submission on an open and public event of which they were all witnesses.

"He brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire, and the smoke thereof went up as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly" (Ex. 19:18). The people were afraid at the manifestation. "And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die" (Ex. 20:18, 19). Afterwards referring to this, Moses asks them to remember it: "Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together and I will make them HEAR my word that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth. . . . And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire. Ye heard the voice of the Lord, but saw no similitude: only ye heard a voice. . . . Out of heaven, He made thee to hear His voice that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He shewed thee His great fire and thou heardest His voice out of the midst of the fire" (Deut. 4:10-12, 33, 36).

It was this public demonstration that laid the foundation of the authority, over a rebellious nation like Israel, of Moses, whom they several times sought to destroy. This was the object of it. It is so stated: "The Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee AND BELIEVE THEE FOR EVER" (Ex. 19:9). When the event was over, "The Lord said unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven" (Ex. 20:22).

These things base the authority of the law on the command of God, and never on the wisdom of Moses. And the argument arising from this fact is that such a thing is inexplicable on the hypothesis of the Mosaic writings being writings of a merely human origin, for written with a human origin, they would have been written with a human aim like all other human writings; and the aim would have been to show that the law was due to the superior sagacity of Moses, and to set forth the constant loyalty of the Israelites to it. Of course, the argument is strengthened a hundredfold when it is shown that Moses was the writer.

The nature of the sentiment pervading the law is inconsistent with the idea of the human origin. We know what human nature is in the thousand instances of experience, history, and political institutions. To glorify the leader or the nation, is the tendency of all men in every country and age; and the Jews, as we know them in their speeches and literature, are no exception. But the Mosaic institutions offer a complete contrast to this tendency. Instead of boasting in ancestry and the exploits of their armies, they were taught, for instance, to speak deprecatingly of their origin on the presentation of the firstfruits and to refer their deliverance to God. They were taught to say: "A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation great, mighty and populous. And the Egyptians evilly entreated us and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour and our oppression. And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs and wonders. And He hath brought us into this place " (Dent. 26:5). The deliverance of Israel is never ascribed to Israelitish prowess. The style of allusion is well illustrated in Psalm 44:1-3: "We have heard with our ears, O God: our fathers have told us what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old, how Thou didst drive out the heathen with Thy hand, and plantedst them: how Thou didst afflict the people and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but THY RIGHT HAND AND THINE ARM and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them."

This peculiarity is intelligible enough if God spake to Moses and did all the mighty works by which Israel was delivered from Egyptian thraldom. On any other principle it is unintelligible. Particularly is this the case with certain matters of detail. There are features in the law which could not have originated with men legislating out of their own heads. For instance, Israel was commanded to let the land lie untended and unsown every seventh year; and we read this in connection with it: "And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow nor gather in our increase. Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for THREE YEARS" (Lev. 25:21).

What man or men would have been mad enough to append to a public law a provision beyond all human control (affecting the weather and the crops), and subject to the test of experience once in every seven years? For inventors to have enacted such a law would have been to make the detection of their imposture inevitable, and that in a short time; for once in every seven years it would be found whether, as a matter of fact, the enhanced production took place. Take God out of this law, and its enactment is inexplicable; but if God spake by Moses, it is perfectly intelligible.

So with the attendance at the periodical feasts exacted of all Israel. Three times a year were they all to assemble at the chosen centre. In the natural order, obedience to this would expose their country to the danger of invasion while they were absent, but this assurance was associated with the law. "Neither shall any man desire thy land when thou shalt go up thrice in the year to appear before the Lord thy God" (Ex. 34:24). If God gave the law this is intelligible, because, as with the weather and the crops, so with the matter of human desires, it is in His power to regulate their operation; but if this law was a human invention, it is impossible to conceive how a promise came to be introduced as to affairs beyond human control, and the truthfulness of which was open to test every year.

There is a variety of incidents and other matters of detail to which the same general remarks apply, viz., that their record is inexplicable on any theory short of the narrative being a true one. Prominent among them is the reason given for Moses, who led them out of Egypt, not being allowed to take the children of Israel over Jordan into the Land of Promise and not being allowed to enter there himself. Moses alluding to this reason in his rehearsal on the plains of Moab, says: "The Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua, the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither; encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it" (Deut. 1:37). The incident to which Moses alludes is described in detail in Num. 20:7-13; and expressly referred to in Num. 27:12,14. On the reading of these parts, it will be found that the incident in brief was this: Under the irritation caused by the continual discontent and insubordination of the people, Moses, when directed by God to bring water for them out of the rock, struck the rock twice with his rod, and took the credit of bringing out the water. "Hear now, ye rebels," he exclaimed "Must WE fetch you water out of this rock?" This was an offence to God in standing between Him and Israel, and is thus condemned by God: "Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them" (Num. 20:12).

Let there be read in connection with this matter the account of the death of Moses in Dent. 32:48-52 and 34:1-6: Such a story is intelligible if true: but if not true, for what purpose could it have been invented? Invention is resorted to always with an object: and in a case like this (the leader of a nation), the object is to establish the credit and reputation of the man concerned. But here is an incident having the very opposite effect. Here is an account of the death of Moses, showing his career cut short in punishment for the unfaithful use of divine power in a certain matter. The man who can believe such a story to have been invented, must either have a very poor acquaintance with mankind or a poor capacity for judging of the simplest facts.

The work of Moses was followed by the ministry of the prophets for a thousand years. We have their writings. They constitute an important part of what Paul refers to in his statement that God had spoken at sundry times and divers manners, "unto the fathers by the prophets." God has not left us to guess at Him by the evidence of nature. He has revealed Himself in a manner that has left His palpable mark on the affairs of mankind. In this we may rejoice, as bringing not only the present comfort of a living God who will guide our ways, but the guarantee of the perfect good for all mankind which He has covenanted from the beginning to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and confirmed by all the prophets.

Chapter 4: The Bible Reveals God