For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest,…
I. GOD'S REVELATION TO US IS IN THE FORM OF A COVENANT. Just as when a king gives forth a proclamation, he is bound by the fact that he gave it forth, so God, out of all the infinite possibilities of His action, condescends to tell us what His line is to be, and He will adhere to it. He lets us see the works of the clock, if I may so say, not wholly, but in so far as we are affected by His action. What, then, are the terms of this covenant? We have them drawn out, first, in the words of Jeremiah, who apprehended, when he was dwelling in the midst of that external system, that it could no be a final system; and next, by the writer of this letter quoting the prophet; who, in the midst of the vanishing of that which could be shaken, saw emerging, like the fairy form of the fabled goddess out of the sea-foam, the vast and permanent outlines of a nobler system. The promises of the covenant are, then, full forgiveness as the foundation of all, and built upon that knowledge of God inwardly illuminating and making a man independent of external helps, though he may sometimes be grateful for them; then a mutual possession, which is based upon these, whereby I, even I, can venture to say, God is mine, and, more wonderful still, I, even I, can venture to believe that He bends down from heaven, and says: "And thou, thou art Mine!" And then, as the result of all — named first, but coming last in the order of Nature — the law of His commandment will be so written upon the heart that delight and duty are spelt with the same letters, and His will is our will. If these, then, be the articles of the paction, think for a moment of the blessedness that lies lived in this ancient, and to some of us musty, thought of a covenant of God's. It gives a basis for knowledge. Unless He audibly and articulately and verifiably utters His mind and will, I know not where men are to go to get it. And then, again, let me remind you how here is the one foothold, if I may so say, for confidence. If God hath not spoken there is nothing to reckon upon. There are perhapses, probabilities, if you like, possibilities, but nothing beyond. And no man can build a faith on a peradventure.
II. JESUS CHRIST IS THE EXECUTOR OF THIS COVENANT. The depth of the thought is only reached when we recognise His divinity and His humanity. He is the ladder with its foot on earth and its top in heaven. Because God dwells in Him, and the Word became flesh, He is able to lay His hand upon both, and to bring God to man, and man to God. He brings God to man by the declaration of His nature incarnate in humanity. And, on the other hand, He brings man to God; for He stands to each of us as our true Brother, and united to us by such close and real bonds as that all which He has been and done may be ours if we join ourselves to Him by faith. And He brings men to God, because in Him only do we find the drawings that incline wayward and wandering hearts to the Father. And He seals for us that great covenant in His own Person and work, in so far as what He in manhood has done has made it possible that such promises should be given to us. And, still further, He is the Mediator of the covenant, in so far as He Himself possesses in His humanity all the blessings which manhood is capable of deriving from the Father, and He has them all in order that He may give them all. There is the great Reservoir from which all men may fill their tiny cups.
III. NOTE THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD WHICH SEALS THE COVENANT. The blood shed establishes the covenant; and the blood sprinkled brings us into it. If Jesus had not died there would have been no promises for us, beginning with forgiveness and ending in wills delighting in God's law. It is "the new covenant in His blood." The death of Christ is ever present to the Divine mind and determines the Divine action. Further, that sprinkling, which introduced technically and formally these people into that covenant, represents for us the personal application to ourselves of the power of His death and of His life, by which we may make all God's promises our own, and be cleansed from all sin. It is "sprinkled." Then it is capable of division into indefinitely small portions, and of the closest contact with individuals.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,