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"shall behold him but not nigh,” which words not only denote an illustrious character who should arise among this people, but that the time of his coming was then far distant.
· He is called a Star, because his light and influence would be refulgent in a dark age; and a SCEPTRE, because the power of his doctrine should be universally diffused. The Moabites were the inveterate adversaries of ancient Israel, and therefore they are here made to prefigure the enemies of the Messiah and of his church. By the children of Seth, the son of Adam from whom Noah was descended, must be understood all mankind. Here however a difficulty occurs in reading the English version, “ he shall destroy all the children of Seth ;" which is contrary to what is uniformly delivered of the Messiah, that “ he was the desire of all nations,” and that " in him all the families of the earth should be blessed.” But this objection vanishes by considering the original text, where the word rendered “ destroy.' means also to “ rule” or “have dominion;" and so the passage means strictly this,” he shall rule over all the children of men :" which is perfectly consonant with what is declared in all the prophecies concerning the kingdom of Christ.
Moses, just before his departure, gave this promise to the chosen people : "the Lord thy "God will raise up unto thee a prophet from "the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like
"unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deut. xviii, 15). This was afterwards repeated in the name of JEHOVAH; “I will " raise them up a prophet from among their “ brethren like unto thee; and will put my " words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto " them all that I shall command him. And it “ shall come to pass that whosoever will not "hearken unto my words which he shall “ speak in my name, I will require it of him.” . (verse 18, 19).
Here is the express description of a particular person to arise amidst this people, resembling Moses in his power and authority as a prophet and legislator, with a denunciation of the divine judgment against all who should prove disobedient to the “word of God spoken by him.” Now it is evident that the particulars of this declaration never met in any one of the judges, kings, or prophets who were raised up for the government and direction of Israel at different periods before the coming of Christ. None of them per. formed such wonders as were wrought by Moses, nor did any one assume the right of altering the law delivered by him, much less of establishing any new ordinances. But Jesus Christ resembled Moses in all those particulars which distinguished him as prophet, king, and lawgiver. He wrought numerous miracles in the sight of multitudes, and that by the confession of the priests
themselves. He took upon him to punish the sacrilegious profaners of the temple, without applying to the Sanhedrim; he publicly pardoned a woman, who by the Mosaic statutes had incurred the penalty of death; and he not only delivered new laws, but entirely anulled the ceremonial ritual and the symbolical services instituted by Moses.
How the threatening which closes the prophecy has been fulfilled, the history of the destruction of Jerusalem and the present condition of scattered Israel, without a temple and without a sacrifice, destitute of authority, and even strangers in every land, will strikingly demonstrate.
That the Messiah should be a divine person, possessing all the attributes of deity, was the general belief of the ancient Jewish church, grounded upon the persuasion that he was no other than the angel of the covenant, or the Lord of Hosts who appeared to the Patriarchs, as well as to Moses in the bush, and who led Israel through the wilderness. This belief was also supported by various prophecies, in which he is thus described ; “thy throne, O " God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of "righteousness is the sceptre of thy king“ dom” (Ps. xlv. 6). “ The Lord said unto “ my Lord, sit thou on my right hand until I "make thine enemies thy footstool” (cx. 1). Still more lofty and explicit is the delineation of the Redeemer by the evangelical prophet;
unto us a child is born, unto us a son is « given, and the government shall be upon « his shoulder; and his name shall be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, “the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (ix. 6). Again, pointing the attention of the people to the period when “ death should be “ swallowed up in victory,” he declares “and 6 it shall be said in that day: lo! this is our “ God, we have waited for him, and he will " save us; we have waited for him, we will be “ glad, and rejoice in his salvation" (xxv. 9). The prophet Jeremiah is very particular not only in marking the line in which the Messiah should come, but also in expressing his essential divinity,“ Behold the days come, saith “ the Lord, that I will raise unto David, a “ righteous branch, and a king shall reign " and prosper, and shall execute judgment " and justice in the earth. In his days Judah s shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; " and this is his name whereby he shall be “ called, The Lord, or JEHOVAH, OUR Righ" TEOUSNESS" (xxiii. 5. 6).
The royal descent of the Messiah was intimated in the predictions of Jacob and Balaam, but the particular family in which he should come is declared by the Psalmist in many of his divine compositions. It was also promised unto him by the Almighty, that “his throne" should be established for ever"(2 Sam. vii. 16); and in the last words of David the same truth
forms his great consolation, “ there shall be a righteous ruler over men, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springeth out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow” (2 Sam. xxiii. 4, 5). The proper comment upon these words will be found in Psalm lxxxix. 3, 4. “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David, my servant. Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations."
That the Messiah was to be born of a virgin of the royal lineage, is avowed in plain terms in the prophecy of Isaiah to Ahaz; « Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, hear ye now, O house of David, is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also ? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name IMMANUEL."* . * The literal meaning of this is “God with us," some have observed that the word rendered a virgin, signifies only a