Exodus 33:3
Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) A land flowing with milk and honey.—See Note on Exodus 3:8.

Lest I consume thee.—Comp. Exodus 32:10; Leviticus 10:2; Ps. 88:21, 31, &c. “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). His near presence, if it does not cleanse and purify, scorches and withers. The conduct of Israel in the wilderness was such as continually to provoke Him to destroy them; and but for His amazing compassion and forbearance, the result here glanced at would assuredly have followed.

Exodus 33:3. I will not go up in the midst of thee — By my own special and gracious presence, as hitherto I have done, but I will depart from thee. In pursuance hereof, God removes his tabernacle without the camp. I will only make good my promise to thy fathers, and send an angel to accomplish it, but I will show no particular and further kindness to thee. Lest I consume thee in the way — Lest thy sins should be aggravated by my presence and favour, and thereby I should be provoked utterly to destroy thee. So God shows that their perverseness makes this severity necessary for them, and that he, even in his judgment, remembers mercy to them.

33:1-6 Those whom God pardons, must be made to know what their sin deserved. Let them go forward as they are; this was very expressive of God's displeasure. Though he promises to make good his covenant with Abraham, in giving them Canaan, yet he denies them the tokens of his presence they had been blessed with. The people mourned for their sin. Of all the bitter fruits and consequences of sin, true penitents most lament, and dread most, God's departure from them. Canaan itself would be no pleasant land without the Lord's presence. Those who parted with ornaments to maintain sin, could do no less than lay aside ornaments, in token of sorrow and shame for it.See Exodus 3:8.

For I will not go up in the midst of thee - The covenant on which the original promise Exodus 23:20-23 was based had been broken by the people. Yahweh now therefore declared that though His Angel should go before Moses, He would withhold His own favoring presence. The nation should be put on a level with other nations, to lose its character as the people in special covenant with Yahweh (see the note at Exodus 33:16). Thus were the people forcibly warned that His presence could prove a blessing to them only on condition of their keeping their part of the covenant Exodus 33:3. If they failed in this, His presence would be to them "a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24; compare Exodus 32:10).

3. I will not go up … lest I consume thee—Here the Lord is represented as determined to do what He afterwards did not. (See on [28]Ex 32:7). I will not go up in the midst of thee by my own special and gracious presence, as hitherto I have done, but I will depart from thee. In pursuance hereof God removes his tabernacle without the camp, Exodus 33:7. I will only make good my promise to thy fathers, and send an angel to accomplish it, but I will show no peculiar and further kindness to thee.

Lest I consume thee in the way; lest thy sins should be aggravated by my presence and favour, and thereby I should be provoked utterly to destroy thee. So he shows that their perverseness makes this severity necessary for them, and that God even in his judgment remembers mercy to them.

Unto a land flowing with milk and honey,.... Abounding with all the necessaries and good things of life, a description of the land of Canaan frequently made, see Exodus 3:8,

for I will not go up in the midst of thee; would not grant them his presence in so near, visible, and respectable a manner as he had before done, though he would not utterly forsake them: the tabernacle was before in the midst of the camp, that is, that which was erected until the large one, ordered to be made, was finished, but now it was removed without the camp, Exodus 33:7.

for thou art a stiffnecked people; See Gill on Exodus 32:9,

lest I consume them in the way; in the way to the land of Canaan, and so never get there; the meaning is, that the Lord being in the midst of them, their sin would be the more aggravated to be committed in his presence, before his face; and the glory of his majesty would require that immediate notice be taken of it, and just punishment inflicted; so that by this step God both consulted his own honour and their safety.

Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. a land flowing, &c.] See on Exodus 3:8.

in the midst of] v. 5, Exodus 17:7, Exodus 34:9, Numbers 11:20; Numbers 14:14; Numbers 14:42.

a stiffnecked people] Exodus 32:9.

lest I consume thee, &c.] in consequence of some outburst of wilfulness or rebellion on thy part.

Verse 3. - Unto a land. Ver. 2 is parenthetic, and ver. 3 coheres with ver. 1 - "Go up hence, thou and the people, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham - unto a land flowing," etc. On the milk and honey of Canaan, see the comment upon Exodus 3:8. For I will not go up in the midst of thee. At length there was an end of ambiguity - God's purpose was made plain - the people had shown themselves unfit for his near presence, and he would withdraw himself. So it would be best even for them; since, if they were about to show- themselves as perverse in the future as they had in the past, his near presence could only lead to their entire destruction. Some day they would so provoke him, that he would consume them in the way. Exodus 33:3Moses' negotiations with the people, for the purpose of bringing them to sorrow and repentance, commenced with the announcement of what Jehovah had said. The words of Jehovah in Exodus 33:1-3, which are only a still further expansion of the assurance contained in Exodus 32:34, commence in a similar manner to the covenant promise in Exodus 23:20, Exodus 23:23; but there is this great difference, that whereas the name, i.e., the presence of Jehovah Himself, was to have gone before the Israelites in the angel promised to the people as a leader in Exodus 23:20, now, though Jehovah would still send an angel before Moses and Israel, He Himself would not go up to Canaan (a land flowing, etc., see at Exodus 3:8) in the midst of Israel, lest He should destroy the people by the way, because they were stiff-necked (אכלך for אכלך, see Ges. 27, 3, Anm. 2).
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