He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel.
God has revealed Himself to man. Nothing can be more reasonable. Can it be that a supreme intelligence would create intelligent subjects of His government and children of His family, and have no further communication with them? Intelligence creating intelligence, revelation is inevitable. But how did God reveal Himself to man? When I was a very little child, I supposed that He had revealed Himself in a book, and that the self-revelation was limited to the book. I wish to insist that God, in revealing Himself to humanity, does not limit Himself to a book; but that God "made known His ways" unto individuals, "His doings" unto nations, and that His revelation was a revelation chiefly by action, a revelation on the plane of human activity, in vast historic unfoldings, through long centuries, on a colossal scale and with deep incisions. He did not write, He wrought. And man wrote. God wrought deeds to make words possible, to give significance to words; but His revelation was primarily a revelation in action. "He made known His ways unto Moses." Glance for a moment at that wonderful scene recorded in the Book of Exodus, where Moses and Aaron appear before Pharaoh. Pharaoh demanded a sign, and Aaron, in obedience to Moses' command, cast his rod upon the ground and it became a living serpent. At Pharaoh's command his magicians cast their rods to the ground, and they became living serpents. But "Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." And then began a series of marvellous deeds which made the people of Israel and the people of Egypt acknowledge that the finger of God was there. The outcome was that the children of Israel were delivered from bondage and taken into the wilderness, where through many years they were guided by the God who had delivered them. Thus "God made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel." From the Old Testament let us go to the New. Jesus Himself never wrote a book, a sermon, an essay. "He went about doing good." His words were the explanation of the things He did, and the things that God did in nature and in providence. When John sent his disciples to Jesus, they asked the question, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" His first answer was — silence. Then He touched the eyes of the blind man, and he saw; He touched a lame man, and he walked; a leper, and he was cleansed; a deaf man, and he heard; and, pointing to the son of the widow of Nain, who the day before had been rescued from his bier and restored to his mother, He said, "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up; the poor have good tidings preached to them." Thus He made known His ways, His doings to the children of men. As in the time of Moses and in the time of Jesus, so in all history has God manifested Himself as Lord of nature, who works His will on the material and with the forces He has created. And is He bound to any one mode or order of action because of the nature He has created? See the fountain breaking loose upon the top of the mountain, pouring forth its water! Following the laws of nature, these waters work their way through the yielding soil to the edge of the mountain, and then fall over in a succession of fine cascades to the plain below, where, winding their way through the sand, they join the river and pass to the sea. We say that this movement is a work of nature. Is there any other way of doing with the water that springs from the mountain than that which we have observed? Certainly. Even a man can do something other and better with this stream on the mountain. As proprietor of the land he proceeds to dig, regulate, guide, and carry for a mile along the brow of the hill the waters that break from the fountain. He then causes the stream to descend in waterfalls down the mountain-side, and then in artificial channels, crossed by rustic bridges, here and there, expanding into little lakelets, and now confined in narrow limits, he brings the stream to the river and to the Sea. Thus there are at least two ways of using the same elements in nature. Nature does one thing if left to herself. Man's ingenuity and power can make nature do another thing without violating a law of nature. Can God do with His own resources what man can do with God's resources? And why should there not be action in the realm of human history that is not simply a product either of nature or of man? And why may we not encounter in the records of human history marvels of which we are compelled to say, "Lo! God hath wrought this." I once listened to a rendition of a concerto by Rubinstein where Rubinstein himself took part. Before the artist himself appeared, Thomas's orchestra delighted the great audience with Rubinstein's music. Although I did not see him I heard his music. After a little while he came in and took his place at the piano while his own music was going on. After a while he touched the keys himself; and, accompanying his own music rendered by other performers, he swept from the instrument strains of exquisite harmony that held the multitude spellbound. The same artist produced indirectly the music he had composed through the orchestra that rendered it, and directly through the instrument under his fingers. Can God do such things with His universe? Through all the ages His purposes have gone rolling on in harmony with His wisdom, in display of His power, in manifestation of His goodness; but there came a time when on the plains of Palestine One walked the earth, the incarnation of wisdom and love and power, and went about doing good to the children of men. In the light of this law of revelation by action, let us look at the life of Jesus. He came to reveal God to man that He might reveal man to himself. He did not come to startle our race by the wonders that He wrought. He did not come to depreciate nature as a revelation of God by simply showing that there were possibilities beyond nature. He did not come to stifle human research or to put a ban on human science and discourage human culture. He came to set forth before all the ages God's holiness and love, the worth of man and his destiny and possibilities. See Him yonder hanging on that cross between heaven and earth, revealing by action God's loathing of sin, His love of righteousness, and His boundless mercy. By His victory over death, as He emerged from the sepulchre, He demonstrated by action the power of the immortal life. By His ascent from the summit of Olivet into the visible heavens He revealed, as no literary or artistic production could ever have revealed, the fact of a realm of being beyond this. Reappearing in tongues of fire at Pentecost, He made known to men the fact of His presence and power on the earth for the ages to come. Thus "He made known His ways" and "doings" to humanity. In the light of this law of revelation by action let us look at the Scriptures. It is easy for us to fancy what a Divine book ought to be — how perfect and flawless, with no syllable in it that is not exact and Divine; a book completed in heaven and handed down to humanity. But this is not the Bible which we do have. We can easily see what would happen if the law of revelation by action through gradual processes be the Divine way of revelation. First, the Bible would be largely biographical; then, of course, historical; and gradually developed. It must be characterized by an all-pervading unity; there would be progressiveness in the unfolding of truth, and we should expect to get a fuller, larger, and worthier idea of God through Paul than through Moses, and through Paul's last writings than through Paul's earliest writings. If it was to be a revelation by action, it would take ages to produce it and ages to complete it. Its perpetuity would be guaranteed. It would be a trustworthy book if rightly interpreted. The human element would be present in it; for, if God revealed Himself through men, He would recognize the limitations of the man through whom He reveals Himself, and do the best He could with the material in hand, without violating the laws of nature or of man. In the light of this law of revelation by action let us look at the Christian life. When an individual soul receives the Divine truth and lives it out, he makes known to men by action the Divine truth he has received. Horace Bushnell has a great sermon entitled "Every Man's Life a Plan of God."
(J. H. Vincent.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.