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Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters
Moses, the Type of Christ
A PROPHET OF THY BRETHREN, LIKE UNTO ME
I WISH that Moses had either told me less or had told me more about his mother. It is very tantalising to be told her remarkable name and to be told no more. Was 'God-thy-glory' the remarkable name that Moses gave to his mother as often as he looked back at all that he owed to her, and as often as he rose up and called her blessed? Or was her very remarkable name her own invention? Was her striking name her own seal that she had set to her own vow which she made to her own God after some great grace and goodness of her own God? Or, again, did the angel of the Lord visit that daughter of the house of Levi on some Jabbok-like or Annunciation-night, and so name her as the sun rose upon her prayer? I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, wrote Paul to young Timothy, and which faith dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice. And I call to remembrance also how God-her-glory dwelt in her husband's hut among the brick-fields of Egypt, and was nothing daunted, or dazzled, or seduced by all the state, and wealth, and power, and pollution of Egypt She stayed her great heart on the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, till she saw in her sleep a bush burning but not consumed, and till she, too, sang her own Magnificat. And then, one after another, she bore and suckled three such children as Miriam, and Aaron, and then the son of Pharaoh's daughter-bore and suckled all three on the same strong milk, till she weaned them from milk and put them on the marrow of lions. The oak has its roots round the rock, and men like Moses have their roots round their mother.
Neither do we know much about the mother of that Prophet like unto Moses. All that we know about the Virgin Mary might have been excellently gathered up of the angel into the remarkable name of Moses' mother. Mary said as much herself when she was with Elizabeth in the hill-country. My soul doth magnify the Lord, she said, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. How both those young mothers nursed their sons for God, and how they are now getting their wages from God, as they look upon their sons in their glory together, every mother among us must think continually. And no mother can think of Moses' mother, and of the mother of that Prophet like unto Moses, without asking of God, night and day, that their sons also may all in their measure be like Moses, and like that Prophet like unto Moses. And He went down, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them; but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to he called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. In the old Hebrew, says Albert Bengel, the whole is ascribed to the mother.
Glancing at the Alexandrians among his accusers, Stephen, the witnessing deacon, said to them that Pharaoh's daughter took Moses up and nourished him for her son. And Moses, he added, was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Now, the very opposite upbringing was appointed to our Lord. For his detractors never ceased to cast it up to Him that He had never learned letters like Moses: which was quite true. But the fact was, the letters of that day had nothing realty to teach the child Jesus, else He would have diligently learned them. He did learn them as far as they were worthy to be called letters, and to be learned. You may be sure there were no children in all Israel at that day whose fathers and mothers taught them more diligently both when they sat in the house, and when they walked in the way, and when they lay down, and when they rose up, than Joseph and Mary taught both the letter and the spirit of Moses to Jesus and to His brothers and to His sisters. And then, as He grew up He had nature to observe and to study and to learn, and man, and, best of all, Himself. He had the carpenter's shop, and the carpenters,-an excellent school for a future preacher; and He had the sky and the sea and the mountains. The foxes in their holes, the birds in their nests, the lilies of the field outstripping Solomon in all his glory, the hen and her chickens, the mustard seed in Joseph's garden, the wheat seed in the fields around, and spring-time, and summer, and harvest, and winter-that He was at school of His Father in all that, every sermon of His in after years is the abundant proof. But, best of all, He had Himself. If 'Know thyself' was ever said with any fitness to any man, it was surely said with supreme fitness to the Man Christ Jesus. For He was the Mystery of Godliness Itself. He was God manifest to Himself first in the flesh. He was The Word of God. In Him were hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge. Now, all our young preachers are to be as like Moses as they possibly can, and as like their Divine Master as they possibly can. They are all to be classical scholars, like Moses, if we can help it. But, above all, they are to be Christian men. Pascal went to hear a great preacher in Paris, and found a man in the pulpit. And that made all the difference to a man like Pascal. And we want to rear up true and genuine men for all our pulpits, men who shall set themselves resolutely to all learning, but who shall on that account be all the more men, and all the better men. It is not what the preacher has learned in the schools-it is not the preacher's literature-that impresses Pascal; it is the preacher himself. And what our examiners are bent upon is not conic sections, or even Chaldee, in our candidates for the ministry; it is habits of work, and discipline of mind, and seriousness of purpose, and the ability, and the determination, and the perseverance to go on to old age, bringing out every Sabbath day to their people things new and old. Paracelsus denounced those doctors of medicine and those ministers of religion in his day who roasted pears all day.
Very much what the burning bush was to Moses-that His baptism at the Jordan must have been to our Lord. He that dwelt in the bush called Moses to the work of his life that eventful day on Horeb; and, so far as we can gather, our Lord received and accepted His full and final call also at the Jordan. So far as we can see, our Lord had the great seal of His Messiahship set upon His heart that day. And with that there came that unparalleled outpouring and indwelling of the Holy Ghost which made Him without measure equal to all His high call. Never did mortal man set out to such a task as that which was set to Moses at the bush. But what a far greater call was that which came to our Lord at Bethabara for our salvation! Look into your own heart and you will see there what Jesus Christ was called, and baptized, and anointed, and sworn in that day to do. You will never wonder and stand amazed and aghast at His awful task by studying it in any book-not even in the New Testament. But you will so stand, and so fall down, every day and all your days, if you only begin to study all the call and all the offices of Christ in yourself. As He so studied His call; as He saw more and more what was in the heart of man, and what came out of the heart of man. He sometimes seemed inclined to repent of and to resign His awful call, and to despair of His terrible office. And you will not wonder at that; you will expect that, when you look into yourself as He looks into you. But lie went through with His call. He did not throw it up. He finished it. And lie is finishing it still tonight in you and in me. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they, bowed their heads and worshipped.
And Moses was in the mount with God forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from the mount, that Moses st not that the skin of his face shone. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him. On reading that we instinctively pass on and remember this. And He was transfigured before them. And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. There are some things there that go far down beyond onr utmost depth At the same time, there are some things there that speak very plainly to us, and speak no parable. Did you ever happen to pass a looking-glass as you rose off your knees after an unusually long or unusually close season alone with God? Then you must have been startled and delighted to see that your plain, dull, old, haggard face was for the moment positively youthful and beautiful. Well, that was a ray or two of the identical same light that shone through Moses' skin of his face, and through our Lord's very raiment. Another thing. Moses neither ate bread nor drank water on the mount. And every meal you miss when you are in the Mount with God gives a new fineness, transparence, translucence, and fore-glow of glory to the skin of your face also. Then, again, you must often have seen two young lovers just parting, and as one of them passed you, you turned and looked after him for his face so shone out upon you. It was the light of heaven that filled his heart coming out at his face. All our lovers are so transfigured when they are still young. And it is only when they become old and cease to love that they become gross, and sodden, and stupid, and full of earth in their faces, and void of heaven. In paradise, Dante tells us, the more they love the more they shine. In heaven you will recognise and discover the great lovers of God and of man by the greater splendour and by the more exquisite beauty of their faces, and of their raiment, and even of the very street of gold they walk upon. What Moses said to Jesus on the New Testament mount about his ancient exodus from Egypt, and about the far greater exodus which should so soon be accomplished at Jerusalem-what would we not have given had Peter, James, and John but told us! But Peter was asleep as usual; and thus it is that we are left without a conversation we would have given-what would we not have given?-to have overheard.
Another thing in which Moses was a type of Christ was in the way he was envied and hated and detracted; and that, too, of his brother and sister, and of those he was serving with all his might, in season and out of season. For this is the diabolical distinction and supremacy of envy, that it boils up not in the hearts of enemies but of friends; in the secret hearts of brothers and sisters and bosom friends. The Athenians put it on Plato's tombstone-'Here lies a man much too great for envy.' Well, Moses was a much greater prophet than Plato, and yet he was not too great to Miriam and Aaron for envy. And Jesus Christ was a far greater prophet than Moses and Plato put together, and yet Pilate saw it in their evil faces, and heard it in their evil voices, that it was for envy His own had delivered Him. Some of you will be thankful from the bottom of your heart that you read so much about such envy in the Bible. It makes you feel somewhat less lonely. But all that does not satisfy you. You sometimes wish that such envy had been far more in the Bible than it is. In your absolute agony, in your absolute madness, in your absolute despair, you will sometimes have the blasphemous wish that another Bible Character than either Aaron or Miriam or the elders of Israel-that He, with all His humiliation, and with all His agony, and with all His abandonment and darkness, had just had one of your days and nights of such envy. You feel as if you could then have had more hope in drawing near Him and of opening up your hell to His heart.
Another thing in which Moses and Christ are type and anti-type to one another is their consummate meekness under all envy and all detraction and all other ill-usage. It is a translation that is also an exposition and an illustration when Luther renders the Hebrew for meekness into the German for plagued; plagued and trampled on. For never were two servants of God so plagued, and so trampled on, and so ill-used in every way as Moses and Christ; and hence their never-equalled meekness. The divine use of envy, and detraction, and insolence, and ingratitude, like all that through which first Moses and then Christ were passed, was to give meekness her perfect work in them both. And as they were, so are we in this world. All that cruelty, and injustice, and impudence, and insolence, and unthankfulness that fill some men's and some ministers' lives so full-it is all because God has it in His plan for them to make them meek like Moses and meek like Christ. Learn of Me, our Saviour says to all such men, and ye shall have My peace of mind, and My inward rest and repose in yourselves also. Aaron and Miriam and all the people of Israel were to Moses what Jeremy Taylor calls 'the instruments of his virtue' And so were all the bad men around our Lord. And so are all such men that are ordained and permitted to be round about us. May we all make as good a use of our instruments of virtue as Moses and Jesus made of theirs!
Those forty years of Moses in the land of Midian were great and fruitful years for Israel and for us. But those thirty-three years of Jesus Christ in Galilee and Jewry were far away and out of sight the greatest and the most fruitful years this world has ever seen, or ever again will see. All eternity itself-past, present, and to come-holds no such years for us as those thirty-three years of Jesus Christ. For during those thirty-three years God became man. God entered into man, and man entered into God, till God and man became for ever One. All through those supreme years the soul and the body of the Man Christ Jesus were being built up into an everlasting temple of God. All down those splendid years the soul and the body, the mind and the heart of Jesus Christ were being refined and transfigured, and made transparent and transpicuous, till he who saw and handled the Man Christ Jesus saw and handled The Very Word of Life. He in those happy days who saw and handled the Man Christ Jesus saw and handled Almighty God Himself. Hence at His baptism, His Father said: This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And, again, at His transfiguration-Hear ye Him. And thus it was that henceforth and as often as He opened His mouth and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you-all the ancient oracles fell dumb, Urim and Thummim themselves ceased to shine and seal, and Moses answered again and said, Send, O Lord, by the hand of Him whom Thou wilt send. As Peter, now for ever awakened out of sleep, had it in his great address-Moses said truly to the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. For unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
And, to crown all, and to come to his nearest and his best to Christ, Moses in Israel's terrible extremity fell down before God and said, Blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written, if Thou wilt not otherwise forgive Israel their sins. And, both for their sin and for his own sin, God took Moses at his word, and for a season and to some extent He did blot Moses out of the book which He had written. What a sad end was Moses' end, after such a great and such a noble life! And what a sad end was that of a far greater than Moses after a far greater and a far nobler life! And it was sin that did it to them both: actual sin to Moses, and imputed sin to Christ. But what is sin, do you ask? Well, sin passeth, like salvation, all understanding. Only look for yourselves at Moses shut out of Canaan, and look for yourselves at Christ shut up to Gethsemane and to Calvary, and you will see something of what sin deserves. And then stop and consider what you owe to Him who blotted Himself out of God's book for you and for all your sins. Let this cup pass from Me. But if not, then blot Me out of Thy book. Receive, O sinner, on the spot where thou sittest, receive and ever after keep fast hold of Him and of His salvation.
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Whyte, Alexander. Entry for 'Moses, the Type of Christ'. Alexander Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wbc/m/moses-the-type-of-christ.html. 1901.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29