Blogging the Institutes–1.8.6–Was Moses a Fraud?

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

Was Moses a Fraud?

Let’s talk a little more about Moses’ miracles. His miracles are often signs of judgment upon the people. They would have surely provoked opposition from the people if there were sufficient grounds to do so. Yet, the people gave credibility to Moses’ miracles because their own experience of the miracles confirmed them. Now, there was always the possibility of trying to explain away these miracles by claiming they were “magic” (Exodus 9:11). But this objection really doesn’t make sense because Moses explicitly abhorred magic. In fact, he commanded that anyone who was soothsayer or a magician be pelted with stones until he/she died (Leviticus 20:27).

Possibly, it could be claimed that Moses was a fraud and a hypocrite: On the one hand, he condemned magic; while on the other hand, he used it himself. But frauds typically try to boost their reputation with the people. But what does Moses do? He claims that he and his brother are nothing (Exodus 16:7). All he claims to be doing is what God told him to do. Again, let’s consider the facts. What kind of magical incantation could have caused manna to rain from the skies? The manna also sustained all the people of Israel but would turn rotten if anyone of the Israelites gathered too much!

God also put Moses through the ringer. The people regularly rose up in rebellion against him. Others conspired to take him out. The question remains to be answered: could deceptive tricks been enough for him to escape the wrath of the people? No. The sufferings of Moses plainly show that his teaching was true and recognized by all succeeding generations of Israelites.

 

Blogging the Institutes–1.8.4–Moses is a Credible Messenger from God

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.

Moses is a Credible Messenger from God

Some people argue that the Egyptians had a religion about 6,000 years before the world was created. Such an assertion is nonsense. Josephus, in his work against Appion, quotes passages from the Law of Moses to show that these Laws were celebrated throughout the ancient world, although it was not read from the Hebrew Scriptures or known perfectly. God provided evidence for the truth of the books of Moses. For example, Moses records Jacob criticizing his own sons: “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords.Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen” (Genesis 49:5-6). Moses could have let such a comment pass into history unknown by anyone, yet he chose to record this comment saying that some of the founding members of his people were declared detestable!  Can you doubt the truthfulness of what Moses wrote when he would willingly record such a comment? Furthermore, when he records the wicked complaining of Aaron and his sister Miriam, did he speak from his own personal feelings or the Holy Spirit  (Numbers 12:1)? Moses had supreme authority as the ruler in Israel. Even though he held such honor, he did not give his own sons positions of preeminence. He didn’t make them the High Priests. He gave them the lowest positions. Therefore, it should be beyond dispute that Moses’ credibility is established.

Blogging the Institutes–1.8.5–Moses’ Miracles Confirmed Moses’ Writings

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.

Moses’ Miracles Confirmed Moses’ Writings

The miracles that Moses did confirmed the rules he received from God and the teachings he passed along. Let’s recount some of these: Moses was carried up the mountain in a cloud. He remained there 40 days. His face radiated during the giving of God’s law to Israel. Lightening flashed on every side. Voices and thunder thundered through the air. There was the sound of the trumpet which was not sounded by any human voice.  Think about when Moses entered the tabernacle and was obscured from sight by the cloud of God’s glory. His authority was vindicated when God destroyed Korah, Nathan, and Abiran. There was the rocked which gushed water when he struck it. Manna rained from heaven when he prayed.

Don’t all these miracles demonstrate that Moses was a prophet who was called by God? If anyone objects and says that I am taking these debatable points for granted, let me answer this way: Moses wrote about these in the presence of all the people. They could have verified what he was writing. How could he deceive a whole nation to think he accomplished things he never actually did? Is it even plausible to believe that Moses could have accused the people of Israel of being obstinate, and unbelieving and at the same time boast about all the miracles he performed which were verified by the people of Israel when they hadn’t even occurred? It would have been too easy to expose Moses as a fraud. Therefore, his writings have the mark of  recording actual events which happened.

 

If Augustine Watched TV Today

Why is it that one likes being moved to grief at the sight of sad or tragic events on stage, when one would be unwilling to suffer the same things onself?…But how real is the mercy evoked by fictional dramas? The listener is not moved to offer help, but merely invited to feel sorrow

–St. Augustine, Confessions, Book III 2,2

What Sin Is

In vice there lurks a counterfeit beauty: pride, for instance–even pride apes sublimity, whereas you are the only God, most high above all things. As for ambition, what does it crave but honors and glory, while you are worthy of honor beyond all others, and eternally glorious? The ferocity of powerful men aims to inspire fear, but who is to be feared except the one God? Can anything be snatched from his power or withdrawn from it–when or where or whither or by whom? Flirtatiousness aims to arouse love by its charming wiles, but nothing can hold more charm than your charity, nor could anything be loved to greater profit than your truth, which outshines all else in its luminous beauty. Curiosity poses as pursuit of knowledge, whereas you know everything to a supreme degree. Even ignorance or stupidity masquerades as simplicity and innocence, but nothing that exists is simpler than yourself; and what could be more innocent than you, who leave the wicked to be hounded by their own sins? Sloth pretends to aspire to rest, but what sure rest is there save the Lord? Lush living likes to be taken for contented abundance, but you are the full and inexhaustible store of a sweetness that never grows stale. Extravagance is a bogus generosity, but you are the infinitely wealthy giver of all good things. Avarice strives to amass possessions, but you own everything. Envy is contentious over rank accorded to another, but what ranks higher than you? Anger seeks revenge, but whoever exacts revenge with greater justice than yourself? Timidity dreads any unforeseen or sudden threat to the things it loves, and takes precautions, for their safety; but is anything sudden or unforeseen to you? Who can separate what you love from you? Where is ultimate security to be found, except with you? Sadness pines at the loss of good things with which greed took its pleasure, because it wants to be like you, from whom nothing can be taken away.

–St. Augustine, Confessions, Book II 13