of authorized magic! "Do this external act, and that inward benefit will surely follow." "Offer this lamb, and cease to think about that black sin for which the lamb is the official price." Yes, even this: "Go and do it again, but don't forget to bring another lamb!" Is it any wonder that at length Malachi, after lashing the priests of his late day for their laziness, cynicism, and greed, cries out in Jehovah's name, "Oh that there were one among you that would shut the doors [of the Temple], that ye might not kindle fire on mine altar in vain!" Mal. 1:10.
All along the course of Hebrew history we find prophets and psalmists protesting against this sinful perversion of ceremonial religion. See for example I Sam. 15:22; Ps. 40:6-8; 50; Isa. 1:10-17; Micah 6:6-8.
And yet it would be a mistake to say that the prophet stood for pure and spiritual religion, and the priest for merely external, formal religion. Some of the greatest of the prophets, as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, were priests. And how far the prophets could become professional declaimers and deceivers may be seen, for example, from Micah 3: 5-8.
The Hebrew prophets, notably Amos and Hosea, are sometimes represented as the "inventors" of "ethical monotheism," that is, of religion as consisting in the worship of one God, who is the moral ideal of man and demands moral living in man. But in fact, that is precisely the basis of all genuine Old Testament religion, from the very beginning. See Heb., ch. 11. And, particularly, that is the basis of the entire Law, even of the ceremonial law. For that Law must not be judged by its sinful abuse, but by the principles of righteousness, holiness, repentance, and fellowship that underlie every article in the sanctuary, every sacrifice on the altar, every rite prescribed and observance commanded. At their best the priests were allies of the true prophets, and external religion as centering in the Temple was for the time a fitting expression of Israel's personal and national faith. If it had not been so, then such psalms as Psalms 24, 42, 65, 84, 122 could never have been written, preserved, and used.
QUESTIONS ON LESSON XIV
1. What ground had Israel for "glorying"? See Rom. 9:4, 5.
2. Give illustrations to show that individual as well as national religion in Israel expressed itself externally, and that spiritual as