And the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
Too wide a field lessens the thoroughness of observation. Hence it is allowable and advantageous to distinguish in thought what is in reality inseparable, in order, by fixing the attention upon certain parts, to acquire a better knowledge of the whole. Such a method recommends itself in dealing with the attributes of God. To attempt to comprehend them all in one glance is, if not impossible, at least of little result in increasing our acquaintance with His character. Let us observe how the hints in this chapter present us with the greatness of God in varied aspects.
I. THE HOLINESS OF GOD DEMANDS A SACRIFICIAL OFFERING FROM ALL WHO WOULD SEEK HIS FAVOUR. The offerings here spoken of were spontaneous free-will offerings. They indicated a desire on the part of man to draw nigh to Jehovah, and they also manifested a sense of disturbance wrought by sin in man's relations with his Maker. Once man walked with God in uninterrupted harmony. Then transgression chased innocence away, and shame drove man to hide himself from the presence of God. among the trees of the garden. The consciousness of sin renders an offering necessary, under cover of which ("to make atonement for him") we may venture to an audience with the Holy One. Thus can fellowship be resumed. The Antitype of these sacrifices, Jesus Christ, is now our peace. He was "once offered to bear the sins of many." "By one offering he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified." The old cry, "How shall man be just with God?" is still uttered, and the response comes, "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
II. THE MAJESTY OF GOD REQUIRES THAT THE REGULATIONS FOR APPROACH WHICH HE HAS APPOINTED BE STRICTLY OBSERVED. The condescension of God in manifesting himself to the Israelites might be fraught with danger if it led to presumption and to holding in light esteem his awe-inspiring attributes. Instructions are consequently given relating to the minutest details; everything is prescribed. God is pleased with the free-will offering, and it will be accepted if the precepts are adhered to; but it must in no wise be supposed that the sincere expression of affection can excuse wilful neglect of appointed rules. The love of an inferior for his superior must not prevent the exhibition of due respect. God will be had in reverence by all that arc about him. Nor is it open to man arrogantly to pronounce that a consecrated way of access through Jesus Christ may be set aside as unnecessary. Christianity may have broadened the road. of approach, but it remains true that there is still an appointed road. To refuse honour to Christ is to treat God with disrespect. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him." Christless worship, thanksgiving, and prayer, must be shunned.
III. THE HONOUR OF GOD EXPECTS AN OFFERING TO CONSIST OF the BEST THAT MAN POSSESSES. If poor, a turtle-dove would not be rejected, but for a rich man to offer the same would be treated as an insult to God. And the offering from the herd or flock must be "a male without blemish." Strength and beauty combined are requisite to satisfy the searching eye of the High and Lofty One. We see these requisites embodied in the Lamb of God, the perfect Sacrifice, "holy, harmless, undefiled." He knows little of God who imagines that he will be put off with scanty service, mean oblations. We ought to ask, not what is there can be easily spared, but how much can possibly be laid upon the altar. Let us not mock him by indulging in our own pleasures, and then giving to him the petty remnants of our poverty! Let us strive so to act that the firstfruits of our toil, the chiefest of our possessions, the prime of our life, the best of our days, shall be devoted to purposes of religion! Bestow upon God the deepest thoughts of the mind, the strongest resolutions of the will, the choicest affections of the heart.
IV. THE PERFECTION OF GOD NECESSITATES ORDERLY ARRANGEMENT IN ALL THAT CONCERNS HIS WORSHIP AND SERVICE. There is an appointed place for the offering, "the tabernacle of the congregation." The wood must be laid "in order upon the fire" (verse 7), and the different parts of the victim must likewise be placed "in order upon the wood" (verse 8). To constitute a chaos round about the throne is to derogate from the homage a king inspires. It intimates his powerlessness, his want of intelligent forethought and present control. Law reigns everywhere throughout the dominions of Jehovah. The heavenly bodies speak of the symmetry he loves, and plants, animals, and minerals teach the same grand truth. "Order is Heaven's first law." "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." In the worship of the sanctuary order and decency are of pre-eminent importance. Whatever shocks a devout mind is likely to be offensive to him all whoso ways are perfect. Arrangement need not degenerate into formality. The Sunday dress, the preparation for God's house, and the quiet attitude therein, are all important adjuncts to the spiritual education of the young. Be it observed further that order means economy of space and time. Those who have no room nor leisure to be orderly do least and retain least. The laws of God are ever synonymous with the true interests of man.
V. THE PURITY OF GOD OBLIGES THAT THE OFFERING BE CLEANSED FROM DEFILEMENT. Those parts of the victim naturally subject to defilement are to be washed in water, "the inwards and the legs." One might deem this a superfluous proceeding, since they were to be so soon burnt upon the altar. But this would mean an extremely erroneous view of the solemnity of a sacrifice. Those who have not time to serve God properly had better not try it at all. He who counts it a trouble to read and pray has little conception of the insult he offers to God. Before we bow before the Lord to render our tribute of adoration and praise, it were well to purify our hearts, to hallow the desires that may have become impure, to call home our wandering thoughts, and to loose the dusty sandals from the feet which have been treading in the ways of the world. The Almighty desires no part to be absent from the offering. The affections, the strength, the time, the money, that have been lavished on unworthy objects are not in themselves sinful, they are unclean and require the sanctifying influence of the blood of Christ, and the water of the Word, and then they are fit to be rendered unto God. and consumed in the fire that testifies his acceptance of the worshipper. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,