Wilderness of Sinai.1. Months and days from Egyptian bondage are fit to be recorded.
2. Days are set by God for the Church's gradual progress to their rest; it fails not (ver, 1).
3. From Rephidim to Sinai, or from straits and trials to some rest and doctrine God removes His Church.
4. The Church's camp and God's mount are sweetly joined together (ver. 2).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
I bare you on eagles' wings.Deuteronomy 32:11, 12). Here is a figurative illustration of an important work. We may apply it to three things in the history of the Christian.
1. To the period of conversion. Then God bears sinners on eagles' wings and brings them to Himself. He stirs up the nest of self-righteousness and carnal security; flutters over them, excites and teaches them to fly towards heaven in their desires and affections.
2. It will also apply to the season of deliverance, and is descriptive of the speed with which God comes to the help of His people, and the security He effects; for the eagle is not only a swift, but a powerful bird.
3. It will apply to their final happiness. He will bear His people on eagles' wings to heaven. It may be He may bear them through many a dark and trying scene, but they shall be brought to glory at last.
(A. Nevin, D. D.)
1. The power with which God had delivered Israel, destroying for them the most formidable nations, raising tempests in the heavens, and the waves of the sea, opening its abyss, and, as it is elsewhere expressed, saving them "through a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm."
2. The astonishing quickness of this deliverance: fifty days had scarcely elapsed since this multitude were slaves on the borders of the Nile employed in making bricks, under the lash of the task-masters; and lo! they were all gathered together at the foot of the mountains of Arabia, having passed, like an eagle, over deserts and seas.
3. The majesty which God had displayed in His intervention. As the eagle which, bearing its young upon its back, flies not near the earth, nor from tree to tree like other birds, but soars majestically at the height of the clouds, see with what brilliant grandeur God had delivered Israel: the Nile is turned into blood, the sun darkened, darkness covers the land for three days, thunder and hailstones rend the heavens, the Destroying Angel passes over Egypt in the terrible night of the death of its firstborn, the pillar of the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night goes before the camp of Israel, the voice of God is heard with power from the heights of heaven.
4. The tender care of the eagle for its cherished young presents to us a touching figure of the conduct of God towards Israel. The eagle broods over its young in its nest in the crevice of some rock, it cherishes them, it nourishes them, it carries them upon its wings, it deposits them tenderly, in such places as it deems good for them, and soon teaches them to fly alone in the sky. Well, such had been the conduct of God towards His people. Read what God Himself says about it in Deuteronomy 32:7-14.
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
A peculiar treasure unto Me.
Homiletic Review.1. A treasure is something searched for. The Holy Spirit is ever diligently seeking after Christians.
2. A treasure when found is carefully guarded. As the apple of His eye God protects those who trust Him.
3. The finding of a treasure is the occasion of rejoicing. "There is joy in heaven," etc.
4. To obtain a treasure we will make great sacrifices. "God gave His only begotten Son," etc.
1. The revelation of the new name of God, "Jehovah," the Eternal, the unchangeable, the self-same.
2. The revelation of the ideal or standard, which the nation is to keep steadily before mind and conscience, as the thing to be aimed at and striven after. This revelation is given most explicitly and clearly in the words of our text: "A kingdom of priests, and an holy nation."
3. The actual legislation which is founded upon these two revelations: — of which legislation the law of the Ten Commandments is the eternal and indestructible substructure — as strong and durable now as when it was first uttered by the voice of God to Israel — as much the foundation of all legislation now as of the distinctively Mosaic legislation then. It was under the operation of these three forces that Israel became and continued to be a nation. It is under the operation of the same or analogous forces that any nation becomes and continues to be a nation. When such forces cease to operate upon a nation, it dies.To prove and illustrate this point must form the remainder of our subject.
1. It is impossible for any of us to overlook the importance of the words which introduce the Ten Commandments. "I am the Lord." — that is, the Eternal — "thy God." They are not an ornamental flourish or accidental prefix. They are the living root of all that follows. Again and again, in the course of the subsequent legislation, the words recur; even in those parts of the legislation which are most minute and temporary, sanitary or ceremonial. The new name, upon which the nation is to be built, is the name "Jehovah," the Eternal; to which is added the old name, "thy God," as a name to be cherished and dear as ever. Now, in this name Jehovah is involved the notion of permanence, unchangeableness; and this notion lies at the root of law, whether laws of man, or laws of nature, or laws of God. But to this tremendous, this oppressive, notion of unchangeableness, there is added the tender grace of the old name, "Thy God" — One with whom every Israelite and every human being may plead, as the Psalmist does, "O God, Thou art my God." It is the blending of the two together; it is the intertwining of the two subtle and mighty spiritual forces, implied in the two names, that made the revelation so potent for its great purpose — the creation of a nation, that should be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. And just in proportion as the hold of those names upon heart and conscience relaxed, the nation decayed and died. For, indeed, it is everlastingly true, as one of our own poets has said, that "by the soul only the nations can be great and free." Any one can see, that a really free people must be a loyal or law-abiding people; and that laws, which are to receive the willing obedience of such a people, must be founded on the immutable principles of truth and justice and morality. Nor can any one doubt that the Mosaic legislation is founded on such principles.
2. But now I wish to speak to you about the second of those three spiritual forces, in the strength of which Israel was to be moulded into a nation. I have already described it as the revelation of the ideal which the nation was to keep steadily before mind and conscience, as the thing to be aimed at and striven after. Our text words it thus: "Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant." The destiny — the calling and election — of the nation of Israel was higher and holier than the destiny of any other nation. It was chosen to bear witness to the kingdom of God and His righteousness, before all the nations of the earth; a kingdom of priests, a royal and priestly race, each member of it uniting in his own person the attributes of a king and a priest: a king, to rule right loyally over his own lower and baser nature; a priest, to offer himself up in willing sacrifice to God. This pattern of righteousness the most choice and elect members of the nation did exhibit. You have only to think over the long list of truly kingly and priestly characters — from Moses to John the Baptist — to be satisfied of this. The fact that the election of Israel was what it was, does not deprive all other nations of an election of their own. On the contrary, the very words of our text, which affirm most strongly the election of Israel, do at least suggest the thought of a corresponding, though inferior, election of all other nations. At this distance of time we have not the data for determining the special calling of Egypt, for example, or of Assyria. But we can discern with very tolerable clearness the election, the manifest destiny, of Greece and of Rome; the call of Greece to catch the inspiration of beauty, and to be the nurse of freedom; the call of Rome to be the schoolmaster of the nations, with its iron rod of law and order. We can discern, also, with perfect clearness, the vast inferiority, even of such a calling and election as this, to the calling of Israel; and can therefore fully justify the language of our text: "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people." But if this principle of a calling and election of nations holds true of the whole ancient world, why should it not hold true of the whole modern world also? So long as national distinctions and national characteristics exist at all, there must exist along with them corresponding national duties and national responsibilities. What is it, then, for England and for us? It may be said, that it is the manifest destiny of England to colonize and subdue the earth — to girdle it with rails of iron and steel, and lines of telegraph wire. It is in words like these, Duty and Justice-in the response which they awaken in our hearts — that we English people find the revelation of our national calling and election of God. As a nation, we are called, in a special sense, to be just and dutiful. And if our children are to go out into distant lands, and among subject peoples, to be models of duty and justice there, they must be nursed and trained in those principles first at home. A "kingdom of priests": — yes — and that title belongs also to us, as well as to Israel; though to us, not as Englishmen, but as Christians. For is it not written: "Unto Him who loveth us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." I need not say that there is no discrepancy whatever between our special calling as Englishmen, and our more general calling as disciples of Christ. On the contrary, the latter must and does sustain and verify the former. Just in proportion as we learn to rule, as kings, over our lower, baser, selfish nature; and to offer ourselves up as priests, living, reasonable, and spiritual sacrifices, in the power and virtue of the one perfect Sacrifice, to God; just in this proportion shall we be enabled to do justice and judgment, and to walk dutifully and uprightly, and so to uphold the true glory of the English name, in whatever circumstances we may be placed — whether at home, or amongst strangers and foreigners in some far distant land. It was so with the heroes of England in the past.
(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)
1. In covenant-making or lawgiving from God there is need of some mediator to be with God.
2. God's call alone can qualify or authorize a mediator between Him and sinners.
3. It is incumbent on the mediator to declare fully God's mind unto His people.
4. A due recognition of God's gracious acts for souls against enemies is a good preparation to receive His law.
5. God's securing providence as well as selecting a people to Himself prepare them to hear His covenant (ver. 4).
6. God's covenanted people are His peculiar treasure in the world.
7. It is God's free grace who owneth all nations on earth to make one His peculiar above another (ver. 5).
8. Royalty, near communion with God, and sanctity are the privileges of God's peculiar ones. Kings, priests, and saints.
9. The words of duty and privilege must be spoken and made known unto the Church (ver. 6).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
II. III. (T. Mortimer.)
III. (T. Mortimer.)
I. GOD'S ASSERTION OF UNIVERSAL POSSESSION IN THE EARTH
3. The animal and vegetable kingdoms.
II. GOD'S ASSERTION EXCLUDES EVERY OTHER BEING FROM UNIVERSAL POSSESSION.
1. It is not man's earth.
2. It is not the devil's.
3. It does not belong to any created intelligence.
III. GOD'S ASSERTION SHOULD AWAKEN CONFIDENCE IN HIS SAINTS AND TERROR IN SINNERS.
1. All forces are under His control.
2. Everything that is not of Him must fail.
3. His possession of the earth will be fully manifest in the end.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
1 Peter 2:9).
(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)
A kingdom of priests
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.1. Command received from God by His ministers — they must go and call them whom they must bespeak.
2. Orderly proceeding to acquaint the people of God's will by their heads is rational.
3. Proposition and exposition of God's words must be made to souls that they may know them.
4. All God's words, and no more but His, Jehovah commands His ministers to speak to His people (ver. 7).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
I. WHEN GOD REVEALS HIMSELF MAN IS SUMMONED TO ATTEND. This is uniformly God's method. First the call, then the revelation. "Hear, O Israel," then, "the Lord thy God is one Lord." "This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him," then the New Testament dispensation. Moses was a type of the ministry of the Son of Man, and an example to Christian ministers in the manner in which he summoned men to God. He spoke —
5. Moses spoke for the people to God.So does Christ combine our poor prayers with the mighty eloquence of His intercession.
II. WHEN GOD REVEALS HIMSELF, MAN MUST BE PREPARED FOR THE REVELATION (ver. 10-15).
1. Man must attend to the herald who proclaims God's coming.
2. Man must be prepared by personal sanctification.
3. Man must be prepared by a ready acquiescence in all that God commands.
4. Man must be prepared at the appointed time. "Be ready against the third day."(1) God has now appointed times in which He promises to reveal Himself to men. The Lord's day. All times of duty and religious privilege. Let no man be unprepared, or plead excuses, or make other engagements.(2) God has now appointed times which He has not chosen to reveal. Death, judgment. We "know not the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh." Hence the wisdom of immediate and constant preparation. "Watch and pray."
III. WHEN GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IT IS IN A MANNER SUITED TO THE OCCASION. It was necessary that He should speak to men who for years had been surrounded by idolatrous associations, and who had become debased by years of servitude, in a most solemn, startling, and impressive form. God has other methods than those employed here. Abraham, Elijah. Bethlehem, Pentecost, Patmos, etc. So in each individual ease. Learn then —
1. To listen when God speaks. Faith has a faculty not only of sight, but of hearing.
2. When God calls obey that call, and be prepared for the public revelation which that call precedes. "God now commandeth everyman to repent" (2 Corinthians 7:1).
3. Receive God's revelation of Himself in His own way,
(J. W. Burn.)
I. COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT.
1. Because of its righteousness.
2. Because of its advantageousness.
(1) (2) (3) 3. Because of its unanimity. "All the people answered together." II. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT RASHLY MADE. 1. Without due consideration. 2. Without earnest purpose, 3. Without hearty concurrence with the will which they promised to obey. 4. Without any realization of their need of Divine help in order that they may keep it. "How easily overween we our own abilities!" III. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT REPEATEDLY AND TERRIBLY BROKEN. Their sin in violating this solemn promise was the more heinous because of (1) (2) (3) 1. Let us heed well our obligation to do all that the Lord commands. 2. Let us be careful in the utterance of religious vows. 3. Let us be humbled by the recollection of the many religious vows we have made but not kept, and seek forgiveness for our failures. 4. Let, us endeavour to perform our vows, looking to God for strength to enable us to do so. (William Jones.)
(2) (3) 3. Because of its unanimity. "All the people answered together." II. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT RASHLY MADE. 1. Without due consideration. 2. Without earnest purpose, 3. Without hearty concurrence with the will which they promised to obey. 4. Without any realization of their need of Divine help in order that they may keep it. "How easily overween we our own abilities!" III. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT REPEATEDLY AND TERRIBLY BROKEN. Their sin in violating this solemn promise was the more heinous because of (1) (2) (3) 1. Let us heed well our obligation to do all that the Lord commands. 2. Let us be careful in the utterance of religious vows. 3. Let us be humbled by the recollection of the many religious vows we have made but not kept, and seek forgiveness for our failures. 4. Let, us endeavour to perform our vows, looking to God for strength to enable us to do so. (William Jones.)
(3) 3. Because of its unanimity. "All the people answered together." II. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT RASHLY MADE. 1. Without due consideration. 2. Without earnest purpose, 3. Without hearty concurrence with the will which they promised to obey. 4. Without any realization of their need of Divine help in order that they may keep it. "How easily overween we our own abilities!" III. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT REPEATEDLY AND TERRIBLY BROKEN. Their sin in violating this solemn promise was the more heinous because of (1) (2) (3) 1. Let us heed well our obligation to do all that the Lord commands. 2. Let us be careful in the utterance of religious vows. 3. Let us be humbled by the recollection of the many religious vows we have made but not kept, and seek forgiveness for our failures. 4. Let, us endeavour to perform our vows, looking to God for strength to enable us to do so. (William Jones.)
3. Because of its unanimity. "All the people answered together."
II. A COMMENDABLE ENGAGEMENT RASHLY MADE.
1. Without due consideration.
2. Without earnest purpose,
3. Without hearty concurrence with the will which they promised to obey.
1. Let us heed well our obligation to do all that the Lord commands. 2. Let us be careful in the utterance of religious vows. 4. Let, us endeavour to perform our vows, looking to God for strength to enable us to do so. (William Jones.)
1. Let us heed well our obligation to do all that the Lord commands.
2. Let us be careful in the utterance of religious vows.
4. Let, us endeavour to perform our vows, looking to God for strength to enable us to do so.
I. THE CALL (ver. 7).
1. The elders represented the people. In dealing with so great a multitude some such arrangement was necessary. So it is in many things — in the nation, the family, the Church.
2. God's commands were faithfully communicated. "Laid before their faces all," etc.: nothing was added and nothing kept back. The will of God was made known so plainly that none could plead ignorance; so particularly that none could plead excuse. The truth was communicated to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
II. THE RESPONSE (ver. 8). "And all the people answered together," etc.
1. Prompt. There was no hesitancy.
2. Hearty. There was no reservation.
3. Unanimous. There was no dissentient voice (Acts 2:1). How grand the spectacle! The mighty multitude aa with one heart and voice proclaimed their submission to God. But, alas! the sequel showed, that mixed with their apparent sincerity and enthusiasm there was much of ignorance, presumption, and self-conceit.
III. THE REPORT TO GOD. "And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord" (cf. ver. 9). Such report was necessary to secure the favour of God and the faith of the people. It tended to —
1. Exoneration of conscience.
2. Relief of the heart.
3. Invigoration of hope.
4. Accrediting of character.
5. Success of ministry, Nothing works more to give a man power with men than the belief that he has power with God.
I. THE PEOPLE WERE CALLED TO SANCTIFY THEMSELVES. There must be separation from what is not of God, in order to fellowship with what is. Self-consecration required (Psalm 26:6; Isaiah 1:16-18; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20).
II. THE PEOPLE WERE CHARGED TO RE READY AT THE APPOINTED TIME (ver. 11). Come into God's presence with humility, prayer, hope.
III. THE PEOPLE WERE COMMANDED TO OBSERVE THE PRESCRIBED LAWS AND ORDINANCES AS TO APPROACH TO GOD. Bounds fixed as to place, action, behaviour (vers. 12-14; see 1 Corinthians 14:10).
1. Because it is so pleasant to know what we have to do. The word "law" comes from the verb "to lay"; it means "something laid down." The "law" is something that God has laid down quite plain for us to do.
2. Because it is a proof that God loves us. Do you remember, whets Peter was so unhappy, Christ said to him: "Peter, feed My sheep, feed My lambs"? Christ said that to show that He trusted Peter again. Therefore, if God, tells you to do anything, be sure God loves you.
3. Because it is practising for heaven. To obey the "law" is to prepare for heaven. There all will be obedience. Sir Henry Lawrence said, just before he died, "I wish this to be on my tombstone: 'Here lies Henry Lawrence, who tried to, do his duty.'" Duty is preparing for heaven. Somebody perhaps will say, "Oh, but it is so difficult to do one's duty — to love the 'law.'" Listen to what a little girl said to her brother: "I tried with all my might to be good, and I prayed and read my Bible, but I was no better. At last I found Christ, and when I found Christ it was all easy; and from that time I have been so happy."
The third day the Lord will come down.1. The Mediator willingly cometh from God to impart His will to His people.
2. The true Mediator is as ready to sanctify His people as God would have Him.
3. Souls must follow their Mediator's command for sanctification (ver. 14).
4. It is the Mediator's care to prepare a people for God at His time, to whom He is sent.
5. Lawful enjoyments in the flesh sometimes must be denied for better attendance on God.
6. Great is the fitness required in souls for receiving rightly the law from God (ver. 15).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(George Breay, B. A.)
Family Treasury.A traveller relates that, when passing through an Austrian town, his attention was directed to a forest on a slope near the road, and he was told that death was the penalty of cutting down one of those trees. He was incredulous until he was further informed that they were the protection of the city, breaking the force of the descending avalanche which, without this natural barrier, would sweep over the homes of thousands. When a Russian army was there and began to cut away the fence for fuel, the inhabitants besought them to take their dwellings instead, which was done. Such, he well thought, are the sanctions of God's moral law. On the integrity and support of that law depends the safety of the universe. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," is a merciful proclamation. "He that offends in one point is guilty of all," is equally just and benevolent. To transgress once is to lay the axe at the root of the tree which represents the security and peace of every loyal soul in the wide dominions of the Almighty.
(R. W. Dale.)
To meet with God.1. Upon Churches preparation, and sanctification God is ready to appear to them.
2. God will keep His day, His third day of appearance to His people.
3. In God's appearance for covenant-making He giveth the discovery of Himself as He pleaseth.
4. Terrible signals God useth sometimes to declare His majesty to men (Psalm 18:9).
5. The law given by Moses differs from Christ's in darkness and deadliness (Hebrews 12.).
6. Suitable affections unto terrible appearances of God may be from nature and grace (ver. 16). It might be a spirit of bondage in some, but of free grace in others.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. God's terrors in the law are not to drive men from Him, but to bring them humbly to Him.
2. God hath appointed a Mediator to bring souls unto Him. They come not of themselves.
3. Upon the Mediator's conduct souls may be bold to approach the terrors of the Lord.
4. Sinners must keep their standing appointed by the Mediator to find grace in the sight of God (ver. 17).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Great is the condescension of Jehovah unto men in giving law and covenant to them.
2. In God's humbling Himself He keeps His distance and place above men.
3. In giving His law to men God calleth the Mediator to be by Him.
4. God withholds no discovery from His Church but that which would be deadly to them (ver. 21).
5. Among the congregation God hath appointed some to office for ministering to Him.
6. Such persons must be sanctified in their special place according to God's will.
7. The more holy the persons and office are, the more deadly is their transgression.
8. Threatenings of death are primarily in grace to give life to souls (ver. 22).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. God seeth need for His ministers testifying and pressing on people His will when men do not.
2. The Mediator's descent to men hinders not His ascent to God again for their good.
3. None but mediators must come so near to God as He appoints them.
4. Such as do, though under pretence of holiness, must perish (ver. 24).
5. The Mediator, as He must, so is He willing to be with God's people at the law-giving.
6. It is Mediator's work to teach all to souls that may fit them to a due reception of God's covenant (ver. 25).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
I. THE GREATNESS OF GOD. All powers of nature under His control.
II. THE NEARNESS OF GOD (see Exodus 4:7-12).
III. THE MYSTERIOUSNESS OF GOD (see Psalm 97:2).
V. THE SOVEREIGNTY AND MERCY OF GOD (see Deuteronomy 5:24).
I. IN THE OPERATIONS OF NATURE. Poets have sung of the sublimities and beauties of nature, and philosophers explain her secrets; but he does the noblest work who brings us face to face with nature's God.
II. THE EVENTS OF PROVIDENCE. Many writers have done well in history and fiction, and have depicted with wondrous skill the varieties of character and incident, and the strange vicissitudes of human life; but he does best who shows us that there is a providence in the affairs of men, and that the Lord our God ruleth over all in righteousness and love.
III. THE ORDINANCES OF THE GOSPEL. Preachers may be learned and eloquent, but it is only as they manifest God's law to the conscience and God's love to the heart that they do us real good. Prayer and praise are proper duties, but unless in them we rise to God they are meaningless and vain.
I. II. III. IV. V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
II. III. IV. V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
III. IV. V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
To meet with God
(George Breay, B. A.)
(H. Cowles, D. D.)