Noted biblical writers on dispensational lines - mostly of the persuasion known to the world as "Plymouth Brethren"


The Importance of Accuracy

In the Study of Holy Scripture

The following is the substance of a LECTURE delivered on November 18th, 1879, before the “Walthamstow Church Sunday School Association.” It is published at the request of those who heard it.

It was delivered from very brief notes, and has since been written from those notes, with some additions.

It is sent forth with the prayer that Jehovah, whose ‘word it was designed to honour, may pardon all that is amiss, graciously accept all that is in accordance with His will, and use it, for the glory of His great name, and for the honour of His holy Word.

April, 1880.

Webmaster's Note - All Greek characters have been omitted - the sense is usally retained, although checking on Dr. Bullinger's Greek becomes difficult!


"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." The last five words of this declaration are represented by only one word in the Greek, (Theopneustos), which means, literally, " God-breathed." All scripture is God-breathed - God-inspired.* When, therefore, we are dealing with Scripture, how important it is that we should be most accurate in noticing each single word which God has inspired, however small, or apparently unimportant. inspiration must be regarded by us as a fact, a great, grand, and blessed fact to be believed and received, and not a system to be constructed or described. It is a fact which (as Gaussen says) is denied in its existence, in its universality, and in its plentitude. Some deny that there is any such thing at all, some deny that the whole of Scripture is inspired, admitting only certain parts so to be; while others, granting that the whole is inspired, deny that it is fully so, admitting it as regards the sense, but not the words. With these I do not propose to deal. I am addressing those who, I trust, are depending on the faithfulness of God’s word of promise for their salvation, and who extend the same confidence to all the other "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth’
* I am aware of the alternative renderings proposed; e.g., "every (portion of) Scripture being God-breathed is profitable," etc; or "every Scripture which is God-breathed is profitable," etc; but these renderings do not affect the real point at issue.

In fact, we may divide people into two great classes with regard to their treatment of the Bible :—
1. Those who put the Bible above everything.
2. Those who put something above the Bible.

The first say "the scripture cannot be broken." "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." They have respect to the "jot and tittle," and thus treat the Scriptures as Christ and His apostles treated them. The second say that they, although they are only human judges, are lawfully entitled to sit in judgment upon Scripture, and actually do put something above it. The Jews put their Targums and Talmud above it, and "make void the Word of God by their tradition."
Romanists put the Church and Tradition above it.
Philosophers and Scientists put poor human reason above it.
Mysticists, and others such as the Swedenborgians, Mormons aeid Shakers, etc., put new revelations above it, professing to have received them from heaven.

As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we say, with one of old," Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth "—" The law of the Lord is perfect."
The command to disciples or learners is, "Search." "Search the Scriptures." (John v. 39). Let us see what we may learn from noting accurately the meaning of the word here translated "Search "—(ereunao). It means to trace out, to track, to follow or scent out as a dog or a lion; hence, to notice a word, follow it out, see how it is used elsewhere, trace it and track it out in all its usages, and thus learn the mind of the Spirit and the will of God. There is another word used in Acts xvii. 11, where it says of the Jews of Berea "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily whether these things were so." The word here is (anakrino), and it means to divide up; hence, to estimate carefully, judge of or sift, and it shows us how, if it be an apostle speaking, or even an angel from heaven, we are to go to the Word of God, compare it with what He has said, and judge of it accordingly. Then will it be true of us, as it is written of them - " Therefore many of them believed"! Here we have at once, at the outset, a beautiful example of what we may learn by observing accurately the very words that are employed.

"Thy word is Truth." It will bear any amount of investigation or searching, because it is Divine. No human mind can ever "by searching" exhaust the fulness of the word of God. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." If we study a book written by man, a mind of equal power can exhaust it and fathom it. When it has done this, there is nothing more it can do. But the Bible is "God-breathed," infinite wisdom has indited it, and who then can ever say he has exhausted it? There is just the same analogy between Divine and human works. God’s works will bear any amount of investigation, whether by microscope or telescope. The higher the power the more shall we see and learn. Not so man’s. His works are like his words. A lens of higher power than that used by the engraver or the photographer makes manifest the coarseness of the material and of the work; and the higher the power the more are the imperfections and defects made manifest. We cannot bring study too close, or accuracy too exact, or investigation too searching. "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times." "Every word of God is pure?’ They are not "the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth," and hence, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

In this respect the Bible may be likened to a sun-dial. Earthly lights may bring out the beauties of its structure, its carving, or inlaid work, or its decoration: but they cannot show us the one thing for which it exists - they cannot tell us the time of the day! No earthly light can do that, no candle, lamp or gas, not even the most brilliant electric light. Nothing but HEAVEN’s LIGHT can show us the hour. So it is with the Word of God. Mere human learning and knowledge can bring out its beauties of language and throw light upon its geography, history or antiquities; but they cannot tell us the one thing which it was given to reveal - "the mind of God"! The wisest "natural man" cannot discern the true time - the meaning of God’s word. Nothing but heaven’s light - the Spirit of God - can reveal it. " He that is spiritual discerneth it." Happy they who can say, " Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God."

The prayer of the disciple now is:-"Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."(Ps. cxix.18).
The promise is: - " I will instruct thee and teach thee." (Ps. xxxii. 8). The performance is : - "Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the scriptures." (Luke xxiv. 45).

I wish now to proceed to show by example, as I have already done by precept, how important it is that we should be accurate in our reading, and study and teaching of God’s word. I propose first to give some examples where difficulties are thereby removed, and then some which are profitable for "instruction."
Instead of seeking, at random, for examples, it will serve a double purpose if I take some, just as they are presented to us in an article on "Stephen" by Dean Stanley in Dr. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, because I am not aware that they have been hitherto noticed as a whole.
Speaking of what is called, and known as,
Stephen’s Speech
which is contained in Acts vii., Dean Stanley says
"No less than twelve of his references to the Mosaic History differ from it, either by variation or addition." *
"1. - The call of Abraham before the migration to Haran (Acts vii. 2) not, as according to Gen. xii. 1, in Haran."
"2. - The death of his Father after the call (vii. 4), not, as according to Gen. xi. 32, before it."
"3. - The 75 souls of Jacob’s migration (vii. 14), not (as according to Gen. xlvi. 27) 70."
"4 - The godlike loveliness of Moses (vii. 20), not simply as according to Ex. ii. 2 the statement that he was a goodly child."
"5. - His Egyptian education (vii. 22) as contrasted with the silence on this point in 1x. iv. 10."
"6. - The same contrast with regard to his secular greatness, ‘mighty in words and deeds’ (vii. 22. compare Ex. ii. 10)."
"7. - The distinct mention of the three periods of 40 years (vii. 23, 30, 36) of which only the last is specified in the Pentateuch."
"8. - The terror of Moses at the bush (vii. 32), not mentioned in Ex. iii. 3." "9. - The supplementing of the Mosaic narrative by the allusions in Amos to their neglect of the true worship in the desert (vii. 42, 43)."
"10. - The intervention of the angels in the giving of the law (vii. 53) not mentioned in Ex. xix. 16."
" 11. - The burial of the twelve Patriarchs at Shecham (vii. 16), not mentioned in Ex. i. 6."
"12. - The purchase of the tomb at Shechem by Abraham from the sons of Emmor (vii. 16), not, as according to Gen. xxiii. 15, the purchase of the cave at Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite."
"To which may be added
13. - The introduction of Remphan from the lxx. of Amos v. 26, not found in the Hebrew."

"It is significant as showing the freedom with which he handled the sacred history, and the comparative unimportance assigned by him and by the sacred historian who records his speech to minute accuracy. It may be said that the whole speech is a protest against a rigid view of the mechanical exactness of the mspired records of the Old Testament."
* As though the Holy Spirit could not make an additional revelation at a subsequent time without its being called a "difference," a "mistake," or a "discrepancy "!

You will perceive at once why I have selected these examples. Here a distinct issue is raised. Our subject is " The importance of accuracy." Dean Stanley gives examples in order to prove the "unimportance" of "minute accuracy." Let us take then, in his own order, his own words
"1. The call of Abraham before the migration to Haran (Acts vii. 2) not, as according to Gen. xii. 1, in Haran." But Acts vii. 2 does not refer to Gen. xii. 1. It refers to Gen. xi. 31; and Acts vii. 4, refers to Gen. xii. 1. By a comparison of the two portions of scripture, it is clear that "the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran." So far from being inaccurate, Stephen draws particular attention to the fact, and adds (v. 4), "Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran."
That is exactly what is said in Gen. xi. 31. They "went forth from Ur of the Chaldees to go into the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there." The Holy Spirit by Stephen has told us why they started from Ur, and shows us how earthly relationships may hinder a perfect obedience to God’s call. Until his father Terah, an idolater, died, the obedience was not complete. Special stress is laid on his death both in Gen. xi. 32 and Acts vii. 4; "and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him unto this land," etc.
And hence Gen. xii. 1 begins, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee" (go for thyself, no longer have regard to thy family, but go for thyself) "out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house" (the first call was simply "Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred" Acts vii. 3. Now it is added, with special reference to the previous hindrance "and from thy father’s house ") unto the land ( "THE land ") "that I will show thee." * (Stephen indicates this second start by the use of the word "removed." (Acts vii. 4.) to lead to another abode, or to change one’s dwelling.)
And, as though to draw special attention to the half obedience to the "call" of which Stephen speaks, when he stopped at Haran, he emphatically adds, (Gen. 12:5) - "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came" Not, as before, in 11:31 - "they came into Haran and dwelt there"!
But if Moses does not record the call mentioned by Stephen, in Gen. 11:31 or 12:1 he does in Gen. 15:7 - "I am Jehovah who brought theee out of Ur of the Chaldees". The same fact is recorded in Neh. 9:7. Thuis the mere English reader, by noticing accurately the words employed, would have not only corrected Dean Stanley's mistake but learnt some valuable lessons as to obedience.

"2. - The death of his father after the call (5:4) not, as according to Gen. 11.32, beefore it"
This is answered above. But we may remark that if the Holy Spirit mentions a fact in one place, and the reason of it in another, we ought not to be asked to regard it as a difference, an example of free-handling or of inaccuracy, and a protest against exactness.

"3. The 75 souls of Jacob's migration (7:14) not (as according to Gen. 46:27) 70."
It is neither Stephen nor Moses who is inaccurate here. It is the Dean who is free-handling the scripture. He makes them say something which they do NOT say, and then says there is a discrepancy.
Compare accurately what they DO say and notice what is put in italics.

Moses (Gen. 46:26-27)
"All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s Sons’ wives, all the souls were three score and 8!X, and the sons of Joseph which were born him in Egypt were two souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were three score and ten." (Compare Ex. 1. 1-5).
STEPHEN (Acts vii. 14).
"Then sent Joseph, and called his Father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, three score and fifteen 8011/8."

Surely, if two persons are speaking of two different things. it is not inaccuracy if the numbers are different. But observe the accuracy. Stephen says all the "kindred" whom Joseph called were ‘75. Moses says those who "came out of his loins" were 66, and adding Jacob, and Joseph, and his two sons, makes 70, viz. : - " The house of Jacob." We could make a fourth numerical arrangement, but it would not necessarily be inaccurate. It is clear that Stephen includes what Moses excepts - and Moses excepts what Stephen includes. Is it not the critic who is himself inaccurate?

"4. The godlike loveliness of Moses (vii. 20), not, simply, as according to Ex. ii. 2, the statement that he was a goodly child."
As this is a point which involves the original languages, it will be merel.y necessary to point out that, in Ex. ii. 2, the Hebrew word is rendered in the Septuagint by the very word used by Stephen, (asteion), as it is also in Heb. xi. 23. The margin of Acts vii. 20 says "fair to God," the English of Ex. ii. 2 says, "goodly," i.e., God-like. Where is the inaccuracy?

"5. His Egyptian education (vii. 22) as contrasted with the silence on this point in Ex. iv. 10."
Stephen says that Moses was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (vii. 22).
Whatever may be the silence of Ex. iv. 10, or any other chapter and verse, Ex. ii. 10 tells us that Moses was "brought unto Pharoah’s daughter and he became her son." Is not this epiivalent to his being educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians? Ex. iv. 10 speaks only of his want of eloquence, but neither then, nor now, has eloquence ever been the necessary consequence of education. The contrary, indeed, is proverbially the case.
The spiritual mind will have no difficulty in discovering a great spiritual truth in the positive contrast and lesson taught by Ex. iv. 10. Notwithstanding all his proficiency in the learning and wisdom of the Egyptians, he had not the wisdom which God required for His service. It had to be all unlearned at the "back-side of the desert," and then Moses was taught of God. He confessed," I am not eloquent, but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."

"6. - The same contrast with regard to his secular greatness, ‘mighty in words and deeds’ (vii. 22. compare Ex. ii. 10)."
But why compare a verse which is silent? Why not compare Heb. xi. 24, where it says, "By faith Moses when he was come to years" (when he became great)? Here we have the corresponding equivalent.
To say that the Holy Spirit, the author of the book, may not in one part give particulars which He has not recorded in another, is to deny the power of doing that which is allowed even in the case of human composition and of a human author.

"7. - The distinct mention of the three periods of 40 years (vii. 23, 80, 36) of which only the last is specified in the Pentateuch."
The last is specified in Deut. xxxi. 2, and xxxiv. 7, when his age at his death is given as 120 years (i.e. 3 times forty). The second is specified in Ex. vii. 7, "And Moses was fourscore years old" when he "spake unto Pharoah." The third is implied in Ex. ii. 11.

" 8. - The terror of Moses at the bush (vii. 32), not mentioned in Ex. iii. 3."
No ! but it i8 mentioned in Ex. iii. 6, three verses further on. "And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God."

This is an example of the importance of accuracy in studying the scriptures, or even in reading them, which, if attended to here, would have saved Dean Stanley from charging on Stephen and the Divine record a mistake which he has himself created, and which, in a school-boy, would be deservedly punished as gross carelessness.

"9. - The supplementing of the Mosaic narrative by the allusions in Amos to their neglect of the true worship in the desert (vii. 42, 43)."
If these verses be read accurately, it will be seen at once that Stephen does not supplement "the Mosaic narrative by the allusions in Amos." He leaves the Mosaic narrative altogether, and pointedly quotes another scripture, introducing it by the words "as it is written in the book of the prophets." It has yet to be shown that the giving of additional information,. by a quotation from another book, is a freehandling of the sacred history.

"10. - The intervention of the angels in the giving of the law (vii. 53) not mentioned in Ex. xix. 16."
No! but if Dean Stanley read the Pentateuch carefully, and had not been possessed with the idea of the "comparative unimportance assigned . . . to minute accuracy," he would have found that Moses does mention it in Dent. xxxiii. 2, if he does not in Ex. xix. 16. Dent. xxiii. 2: "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them." It is also mentioned in Psalm lxviii. 17 : "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angel8: the Lord is among them, as In Sinai, in the holy place." To which may be added the following passages, though of course they were not before the mind of Stephen.
Gal. iii. 19 : "It [the law] was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
Heb. ii. 2: "For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast and every transgression," etc.

"11. - The burial of the twelve Patriarchs at Shechem (vii. 16), not mentioned in Ex. 1. 6."
If we are accurate, we shall notice that special terms are employed, which denote an exceptional fact. "They [i.e. our fathers] were carried over into Sychem and laid in the sepulchre." The word carried over" is significant, It is (Greek), and implies that they were transferred. We are told positively, in Ex. xiii. 19, that the bones of Joseph were thus "carried up:" and may not the Other patriarchs have first been deposited in Egypt or Hebron, and afterwards transferred to Sychem, where the Rabbinical traditions - traditions mentioned by Wetstein and Lightfoot - report them to have been buried?

"12. - The purchase of the tomb at Shechem by Abraham from the sons of Emmor (vii. 16), not, as according to Gen. xxiii. 15, the purchase of the cave at Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite."
The conclusion is as gratuitous as the mode of reasoning is peculiar, to infer that the statement in Acts vii. 16 refers to that in Gen. xxiii. 15. Who can prove that Abraham did not buy a "sepulchre . . . of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem"?
Shechem was the place where God at first appeared to Abraham in Canaan (Gen. xii. 6, 8), and here he built an altar. Is there any ground for doubting the inspired words of Stephen that Abraham afterwards bought a "sepulchre" there? and that Jacob in after days followed his example and bought not a "sepulchre" but "a parcel of a field" Gen. xxxiii. 19, or "a parcel of ground" Josh. xxiv. 82, of the children or descendants of [a younger] Hamor, tthe father of [another and younger] Shechem? Probably it was the "field" containing or surrounding the "sepulchre" itself which Abraham had originally bought.
It is clear that accuracy demands that the two statements cannot refer to the same event, or include the same purchase from the same descendants.(t "The name Hamor was probably the official name of the princes of Bheehem." Wordsworth, Comm. in loco.)
It is also inconceivable that Stephen could have made any such blunders as have been frequently alleged by many, when we consider that he was speaking in the presence of the Sanhedrin - which comprised the most learned men in the whole nation; men who were "Masters in Israel," who knew every word of the law and the prophets by heart, and even the very number of words and letters in each book! I say it is inconceivable that in the presence of such men, who sought his life, his mis-statements should have gone uncorrected, if he had been guilty of making the alleged inaccuracies. On the contrary, we read "they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake." In our day, men are found who are "able" to deny that he spake by the Spirit, and to question the wisdom and truth of his words. This is an ability which has been reserved for modern cavillers and critics to manifest.

Dean Stanley, at the close of these twelve examples of inaccuracy, says, "To which may be added

13. - The introduction of Remphan from the lxx. of Amos v. 26, not found in the Hebrew."
Nor is the word "Ethiopia" found in the Hebrew! Nor is the word "Syria" I "Rempham" (Acts vii. 43) is the accurate equivalent for the Hebrew Chiun (in Amos v. 26), just as "Ethiopia" is the equivalent for the Hebrew "Koosh ;" as "Egypt" is the equivalent for the Hebrew Mitzraim; and as "Syria" or "Mesopotamia" is the equivalent for the Hebrew Aram, in the Septuagint and English versions!
So much then for the examples furnished by Dean Stanley.

There is one other statement in Stephen’s address which sceptics have stumbled at, and at which Christians have been perplexed. I allude to the periods of 400 and 480 years mentioned in Acts vii. 6; Gen. xv. 13; Ex. xii. 40, and Gal. iii. 17. These are generally treated as though they referred to the same period of time, and hence it has been assumed that there is a " discrepancy." Critics, first of all, create the difficulty themselves by their inaccurate reading, and then resort to such means of getting rid of it that "they make the word of God of none effect" by their very attempt to explain it.

If attention be paid to the exact words, it will be found that these two periods, while they have the same termination, do not commence at the same point of time. The 400 years commence at the birth of Isaac as the "seed" of Abraham. "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." (Rom. ix. 7). Acts vii. 6: " And God spake on this wise that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years."
Here, of course, the period embraces the whole sojourning, bondage and evil treatment, of the people from the birth of Isaac, "his seed," and is a reference to Gen. xv. 13: "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them and they shall afflict them four hundred years."
Here, again, the period covers the whole strangership, servitude and affliction of the people from the birth of Isaac, "thy seed."
The 430 years commence from the call of Abraham (Gen. xi. 81; Acts vii. 2), from the promise made to him, and from his sojourning, and his descendants then "in his loins."
Exodus xii. 40: "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years."

Oh ! what difficulties have been raised, and objections urged against these words, and what shifts have been resorted to on the part of commentators, by going to the ends of the earth and referring to the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint - because they failed to notice accurately what is really said.
It is objected, "They were in Egypt only 215 years, and, therefore, Ex. xii. 40 must be wrong." But stop! it does not say so! What is the verb (Greek)." What is the nominative to it? "the sojourning!" The words "who dwelt in Egypt" form a relative clause defining who the people were. And the verse says that "the sojourning" of these people "was four hundred and thirty years?’ And so it was."

(* See what difficulties men invent, and then labour to remove.
HARTWELL HORNE (Introduction vol. ii. p. 265) says, "In Exodus xii. 40, we read, ‘The sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years.’ But this is not true!" He reads it as though it said "The children of Israel dwelt in Egypt 430 years," but it does not say so, and, therefore, the Book is true.

Dr. Adam CLARK says (Comm. Ex. xii. 40), "The statement in this verse is allowed on all hands to be extremely difficult," and quotes Dr. Kennicott, who asks, after having noticed some of the proposed solutions - " Can the difficulty be removed without having recourse to such absurd shifts? Certainly it can." In trying to remove it, he avoids an "absurd shift," but falls into the fatal error of exalting the lxx. and the Samaritan Pentateuch above the Hebrew Original which, if done in this case, may, nay ought to, be done in every other.

DEAN ALFORD (Comm. Acts vii. 6, 7) referring to this and the other alleged discrepancies, stigmatizes such attempts as the present to reconcile and elucidate them as the "unworthy effort of squaring at all hazards the letter of God’s word in such matters" (vol. ii. p. 65), and speaks of those who do so as persons "who from motives however good . . . handle the word of God deceitfully." (p. 69.) He says, on this very difference of the 400 and 430 years, " The shifts of some commentators to avoid this plain fact are not worth recounting~: but again, the student who would not handle the word of God deceitfully should be here end everywhere on his guard against them." (p. 69). Referring to another matter he says (p. 72), "The fact of the mistake [I] occurring where it does, will be far more instructive to the Christian student than the most ingenious solution of the difficulty would be, if it teaches him fearlessly and honestly [!] to recognize the phenomena presented by the text of scripture, instead of wresting them to suit a preconceived theory."

Thus the modern student is "fearlessly" to make the "mistake," to charge it home upon the word of God, and then "honestly" to recognize the phenomenon he has himself created! How much better to humbly believe God’s word, and patiently wait for the solution of whatever may appear difficult.
Finally, DEAN ALFORD says of himself and other "humble searchers after divine truth" that "they will feel it to be their duty to caution the student against all crooked and disingenuous ways of handling the word of God." Certainly, if those ways are the ways of himself, Dean Stanley and others, who handle the word of God so freely as to charge it with containing those mistakes, which by their own inaccuracy they themselves have made!

** The period of their bondage in Egypt has been hitherto merely assumed, by deducting the figures which are known from the whole. There is no other ground whatever and no other data for concluding that bondage to have been 215 years. The known numbers are as follows : - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . YEARS.
(1.) From the first call of Abram to the birth of "his seed" (430 minus 400) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
(2.) " Isaac was threescore years old when she [Rebecca] bare them." [Esau and Jacob]. Gen. xxv. 26 .. .. .. .. . .60
(3.) "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years," Jacob said when he
stood before Pharaoh in Egypt. (Gen. xlvii. 9) .. .. .. .. .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130

Therefore their "sojourning" before going to Egypt was.. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220

And their sojourning in Egypt therefore was (430 minus 220 =) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210 years.

Of the details of these 210 years we have no particulars, beyond the general facts given in Ex. vi. 16-20 and vii. 7, viz., that - (1.) Levi, who must have been about 45 when he went down to Egypt, died there at the age of 137. (2.) Kohath, his son, went down with him and died there at the age of 133. (3.) Amram, Kohath’s son, must have been born in Egypt, and died there at the age of 137. (His wife Jochebed (Levi’s daughter) Moses’s mother we know was born there. Num. xxvi. 59). (4.) Moses the son of Amram was born there and was 80 years old at the Exodus. Thus, while there is ample room for the 210 years, the word of God was fulfilled which He spake to Abraham (Gen. xv. 16), "In the fourth generation they shall come hither again." The only other facts are that Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years; and that Joseph, who, dying in Egypt at the age of 110, must have lived there 71 years after his father’s coming down. (Gen. xli. 46, 53; xlv. 6 and 7; 1.22, 26).

Where did they sojourn? Heb. xi. 9 answers: "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country?’ And Ex. vi. 4 also answers: "The land of Canaan,the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers?’ They sojourned in Canaan - they dwelt in Egypt - and the whole period covered by both was 430 years. The Exodus was 400 years from Isaac’s birth, when Abraham was 100 years old (Gen. xxi. 5). Abram was 76 years old at the departure from Haran (Gen. xii. 4), and we must believe, therefore, that he was 70 years old when he first started from Ur of the Chaldees and commenced his "sojourning" five years before.**(See note above)

We have only one more passage to consider, in which this period is mentioned, and that is Gal. iii. 17: "The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect."

Here the statement is clear that "the law" was given 430 years after "the promise." "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made," and, lest there should be any mistake as to our thinking of Isaac or Jacob, he adds: "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (v. 16). Therefore, the promise referred to is that which was made to Abraham, and "confirmed before of God in Christ." And this was 430 years before tht givingof the law, viz., in "Ur of the Chaldees (Acts vii. 2, and Gen. xv. 7), where the God of glory first appeared to him. This "promise" was repeated in various forms several times, the first recorded repetition being in Gen. xii. 2,3. "The God of glory" did not appear without speaking, for in Neh. ix. 7, 8 we find it distinctly stated: "Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; and foundest his heart faithful before Thee, and madest a covenant with him to give him the land . . . to give it I say to his seed!"

This must now suffice for the alleged inaccuracies of Stephen’s address. We will now pass on to a few other illustrations which show how difficulties are removed by carefully noting the exact defining words; and then we will take a few which serve to bring out some hidden beauties which are thus brought to light.

The seventy weeks of Dan. ix. 25: "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks," etc.

Now, accurate attention to the words used, will save us from being led into error as to the starting point of the seventy weeks: "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem." There were .four commandments or decrees that went forth, Viz. : -
1. Cyrus to Ezra (1. 1), B.C. 536.
2. Darius to Ezra (vi. 1-12), B.C. 519.
3. Artaxerxes to Ezra (vii. 7-11), B.C. 468.
4. Artaxerxes to Nehemiah (ii. 1-5), B.C. 455.

Unless we note the defining words we shall be at a loss to discover to which of these decrees reference is made.
(1.) Cyrus’s decree to Ezra (i. 1) is confined exclusively to the building of the temple : and mention of this, and "the house," "the altar," the " house of the Lord," etc., is made in chaps. i. - v. no less than 22 times. True, their enemies "wrote a letter against" them (iv.) accusing them (falsely,* we may well believe) of rebuilding "the rebellious and bad city," and so their work was stopped "until another commandment shall be given."
This, then, cannot be the decree referred to in Dan. ix. 25, quite apart from any difficulty of fitting in the date.

(2.) Darius’s decree to Ezra (vi. 1 - 12). In this chapter, twelve times do we find this decree confined to "the house," "the temple," "the house of God." This, then, cannot be the decree.

(3.) Artaxerxes’s decree to Ezra (vii. 7 - 11). This decree is confined particularly to the permission that was given to "the people of israel and of his priests and Levites in my realm which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem." It declares what they were to carry with them "for the house of their God which is at Jerusalem;" but there is not one word about building, either the temple or the city. This, then, cannot be the decree referred to.

(4.) Artaxerxes’s decree to Nehemiah (ii. 1 - 5). This is declared specially to relate to Nehemiah’s request, "That thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that / may build it" (ii. 5). "So it pleased the king to send me" (v.6). Consequently we read now nothing of the temple, for that was already built. Many also of the people were there, but there was no city. We read nothing now but of building "the city," its " walls," its "gates," and its "houses." We read of nothing else. This, then, must be the decree referred to in Dan. ix. 25,*
whatever may be the difficulties created or removed. * It should be noted that Daniel’s prayer had been about "the city," - see Dan. ix. 16, 18, 19, 24, 25. ) Those who have theories must be prepared to correct them, those who have them not, will be prepared to learn.t
(t There can be little or no doubt that the 20th year of Artaxerxes was B.C. 455. It was so original put in our English version. But Bishop Lloyd, at a subsequent revision, altered it to B.C. 445, to make it agree with a theory of his own, and it so stands at the present moment in our Bibles. But Petavius, Vitringa, Kruger, Hengstenberg, Tregelles, and others, all agree with Ussher’s date, and make it 455 B.C. It may be well to add here, to make this part of the subject complete, that there are 3 periods in Dan. ix., viz. : - 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week, making in all 70 sevens or hebdomads (as the word means). After seven weeks and "threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off" (Dan. ix. 26). Therefore, at the end of (7 x 7 =)49 years + (62 x 7 = )434 years. which together make 483 years, Messiah was to be cut off. This brings us to A.D. 29 inasmuch as 455 + 29 make 484 or rather 483 years, allowing one year for the adjustment of the two eras (it being only one year from Jan. 1 B.C. 1 to Jan. 1 A.D. 1). All the best authorities agree in making the Crucifixion A.D. 29; but we need go no further here than our own Bibles, for the date of our Lord’s birth is given, at the beginning of the Gospels, as "Before the account called Auno Domini the fourth year," or "The fourth year before the common account called Anno Domini." In Luke iii. 23, it is stated that Jesus at his baptism was "about thirty years of age." His ministry is on all hands allowed to have been about three years, and y.t at the close of the Gospels the date of the Crucifixion (or "cutting off of Messiah ") is given as A.D. 33. But if He were born four years before AD. this would of necessity be A.D. 29. )

It is difficult to imagine how any should have missed the plain, and apparently unmistakable, language of verses 26 and 27. For the restoration and rebuilding of the city having been foretold in v. 25, its destruction is also foretold in v. 26. The agents are "the people of the prince that shall come." As the destruction of Jerusalem was by the Romans, "the prince that shall come" must also be a Roman. Moreover, " the prince" is the nominative to the verbs "confirm," &c., in v. 27, expressed by the pronoun "he - " "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week."
Could any have referred this to the Messiah, if they had noticed that this "covenant" is mentioned again in other passages as having been made and broken by "the prince of the covenant." Dan. xi. 22, (who is the same as "the vile person" xi. 21, and "the little horn" viii. 9, 23-25)? By him the covenant is made and afterwards broken, xi. 28, 30, 32. This cannot be the Messiah, nor is it the Messiah who causes "the sacrifice and oblation to cease" in the midst of the last week (which is still future), as is clear from viii. 11-13; xi. 31; and xii. 11, where it is also connected with the setting up of the "abomination of desolation." Let those who doubt read carefully and accurately the passages referred to in this paragraph. The 26th verse describes the present dispensation from the crucifixion of Christ to the rise of the Anti-Christ, while the 27th verse describes the last week (or 7 years of Anti-Christ’s actings), divided as it is into two parts of 1260 days, and 3 1/2 years or 42 months.

David’s numbering of the people. - 2 Sam. xxiv. 9; and 1 Chron. xxi. 5. - Through not accurately noticing what the numbers given in the two accounts respectively define, it has been assumed that they refer to the same thing, and hence, being different, they have been treated as a discrepancy, and as a difficulty which does not really exist. In the one account Israel is said to number 800,000, and in the other 1,100,000, while Judah is given as 500,000 and 470,000. Now, compare the two accounts and employ the principle which is the subject of our lecture, to this illustration.

2 Samuel 24:9
"There were in Israel eight"And all they of Israel were hundred thousand valiant men a thousand thousand and an that drew the sword; and the hundred thousand men that drew men of Judah were five hundred thousand men."
1 Chron. 21: 5
"And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew the sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword."

In taking a census, of course, more may be done than merely counting heads, and, in this case, distinctions must have been made between the totals, and the various numbers which made up those totals. As to Israel, there was, consequently, a smaller number of "valiant" men; and as to Judah, it is clear that not all the "men of Judah" "drew sword :" there were at least 30,000 who did not, either from old age or some other cause.
Accuracy, in a case like this, ought not to come in to explain a difficulty; it ought to have prevented its ever being made.

David’s purchase from Araunah or Oman, affords an illustration similar in character. In the one account David, it is said, gave "fifty shekels of silver;" in the other account, he gave "six hundred shekels of gold." Without looking to see what was purchased in each case, it is assumed that it was the same, and the sacred history is either ridiculed or too ingeniously explained. But notice the nature of the purchase.

2 Sam. xxiv. 24 : -
"So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."
1 Chron. xxi. 25 : -
"So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight."

No person would see a discrepancy if they heard that a friend had given so much for a farm, and so much for the live and dead stock. All could distinguish between a house, and its fixtures or furniture. But yet many see no difference, till it is pointed out, between "the threshing-floor and oxen," and "the place." The difference is clear, even in English, but it is still more so in the original. "The threshing-floor" (Hebrew), was a very small spot (Ruth iii. 2) - a place made smooth and even (as the word means), for a particular object. "The place is (Hebrew), and means a possession, a region or district (Judg. xviii. 10, xix. 16; Ruth iv. 10; Gen. xii. 6, xviii. 24, xix. 12-14, xxix. 22, xxiii. 17), just as we still use the English "place." In this case it consisted of Moriah, which contained about eight or nine acres, on which grew that which was threshed in the "floor."
Once more, a difficulty created by inaccuracy, is avoided and explained by carefully noting even the English words.

The thirty pieces of silver. - Matt. xxvii. 9, 10: - "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy, the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver."
It is urged that this passage is not written in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, but in Zech. xi. 12, 13. Well, it does not say that it is! It says that it "was spoken by Jeremy, the prophet." Can it be proved that it was not "spoken" by him? True, it was afterwards written by Zechariah, but surely we are not required to believe that every prophecy spoken was put into writing, nor is there any great demand on our faith in being asked to believe that a prophecy originally spoken by Jeremiah should have been afterwards written by Zeohariah.* (* There was a saying amongst the Jews that "the spirit of Jeremiah rested on Zecljariah" and it is a curious fact that in the Apostolical Constitutions (an ante-nicene work), other words recorded in Zechariah are ascribed to Jeremiah. Indeed, in Zech. vu. 7, it is said "Hear the words which the Loin hath cried by the former prophets." )

The murder of Zacharias. - Matt. xxiii. 35, 36: - "That upon you may come all the righteous blood 8hed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar," &c.

Now, in 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21, we read: "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest . . . ana they conspired against him and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord."
It is hastily and inaccurately assumed that our Lord referred to this event; and either He - the Son of God - is charged with a grievous mistake, or the sacred history is convicted of a serious blunder.
But let accuracy again come to our aid. Let us reverently conclude that if our Lord says he was the "son of Barachias," be could not have been the same man who is spoken of as the "son of Jehoiada."
If He says he was slain "between the temple and the altar," it could not be the same event as that which took place "in the court of the house of the Lord." This is clear from the English, but it is still more so from the Greek: for in the former case it is vaóc (naos), the holy place, and in the latter it is icpóv (hieron), the temple. Two words which are never confounded in the Scriptures.
If He began with "Abel," the first martyr, it is not probable that He would end with a murder which took place B.C. 840, when there were many worse in those 840 years.
Let us ask, then, was there another Zacharias? Yes, there was. He, of whom we read in Zechariah i. 1, who is, there, and in i. 7, called "the son of Berechiah." He lived some 850 years later than the other, and he was next to the last of the prophets. True, his death is not mentioned in the sacred history. but the Lord here tells us how he died. There is every reason, therefore, for believing the truth and the accuracy both of the sacred historic record and of the Lord’s own word.* ( * While actually referring to this in the past tense, there would, doubtless, be in the Lord’s mind another Zacharias, the son of Baruch, one of the "wise men and scribes," whom He said (v. 34) He would send. His murder occurred some 34 years later and immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem, thus filling up with the last drop the cup of Jewish iniquity. (See Josephus, Wars, iv. 5, 4).)

These examples must suffice for illustrating how assumed difficulties may be removed by carefully attending to the exact words of Holy Scripture. There are some cases, of course, where this will not suffice, and recourse must be had to the exactness of the words in the Hebrew or Greek. I have chosen these from the English version as being more to our purpose, and therefore, of greater interest to us.

We will now take a few other illustrations, not for the purpose of removing difficulties, but in order that our minds and our hearts may be impressed with the fact that every word of importance has its place, and that not one such word is without its design, its meaning, and its lesson, which no other word could equally supply. Take the use of names in scripture, whether human or divine. We use them, or think they are or may be used, indiscriminately, but I have long believed that, whether we should ever discover the reason or not, there is infinite wisdom displayed in the use of the commonest names, and that we could not transpose or alter any one of them without marring the perfection of the Word.

God Himself has many names and titles. He has given many of His people two names. Perhaps they all have a "new name" given by Him - " My new name " - at their new birth I Whether this be so or not, let us look at Jacob and his new name" Israel." Jacob was the birth-name, and means a supplanter or deceiver. Esau asks, "Is he not rightly named Jacob P" (Gen. xxii, 36). It set forth his natural character. Israel was the God-given name, and means "a prince or prevailer with God." It set forth the new nature, or what he was as grace had made him. "Jacob "expressed his relation to God by creation; "Israel" his relation by covenant. Jacob was the human side - Israel the divine side of his character.

This is true in all similar cases. You will find a great precision and meaning in the use of these names, and it ie important that you should accurately notice which is used. For example, "Fear not, thou worm Jacob" (Isa. xli. 14) strikes us at once. We see that "Israel" would not be rightly used in this case.

"Hear ye this, 0 house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel?’ Isa. xlviii. 1.
"But now saith the Lord that created thee, 0 Jacob, and he that formed thee, 0 Israel." Isa. xliii. 1.
Gen. xlv. 26,28: "Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not," when they told him that Joseph was alive, but, "when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived; and ISRAEL said, It is enough, Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die."

The significance of this is so apparent that I need not stop to enforce it. Then look at Simon the son of Jonas. The Lord calls him, and gives him a new name, he calls him "Peter." * It was the divine name setting forth a new-covenant relation to Christ - what he was as grace had made him. Hence, when the Lord would recall to his mind what He was before He had called him and dealt with him, He always uses his old name of "Simon."

Luke xxii. 31 : "SIMON, SIMON, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: f - but I have prayed for thee" etc.
(f Satan "sifts" to get rid of the wheat. Christ "fans"to get rid of the chaff. )

Mark xiv. 87: "And He cometh and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, SIMON, sleepest thou, couldest not thou watch one hourP"
Luke xxii. 62: " Peter went out and wept bitterly."
John xxi. 16 : "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?"
When the question had been repeated a third time, we read "Peter was grieved."

* (Petros) a stone, a rolling stone, here to-day and gone to morrow. Very different from (petra) a rock, geologically a rock in situ. .ln Matt. xvi. 18: "Thou art pétros, and upon this petra I will build my church." Peter was weak and changeful, but Christ was the rock - the foundation laid in Zion.

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