And the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,…
Leviticus 1:1. "And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation." This is the foundation on which the whole of positive religion is built up, the Divine voice speaking through a mediator, at an appointed place, and in a distinct, authoritative manner. Notice -
I. THE DIVINE VOICE. "The Lord," Jehovah, that is, the God of revelation and covenant.
1. The beginning of all true religion is the gracious manifestation of God. It is a very different spiritual structure which is built upon this foundation from that which is raised on men's own thoughts. Compare the corruptions of traditionary religions, heathenism, with the Old Testament revelation; the vague and doubtful attempts of religions philosophy to provide an object of supreme reverence. The name Jehovah betokened a progress in special revelation. The Elohistic worship of the earliest ages, while resting, no doubt, on direct communications of God's Spirit, without which there can be no living intercourse between the creature and the Creator, was elementary in its character, suited to the childhood of the world - God revealed first as the God of creation, the object of reverential obedience in the sphere of natural life and the simplest laws of righteousness. As the relations of mankind to one another grew more numerous and complicated, the idea of religion enlarged; the object of worship was the God of a people, the God of families, the God whose name was distinctly named, as distinctly as the people's, between whom and a certain portion of mankind there was a direct covenant, involving gracious vouchsafements on one side, and faithful service on the other. This is the connection between the Book of Exodus and that of Leviticus, which the very opening words remind us is very close. In the former book we are in the presence of Jehovah. In this we are listening to his voice, a voice which speaks clearly and fully what are the ordinances of his will.
2. The invitation and summons. "The Lord called unto Moses." We must notice here the two elements of law and grace combined, which is the very essence of the book. All the regulations of the Mosaic economy were based upon the fact that Jehovah was in close fellowship with his people. Just as a made road brings the points between which it lies nearer, by opening the means of intercourse, so sacrifices were a token of covenant relation, and a perpetual call of Jehovah to his people to approach him. The Lord called that he might bestow his special grace on those who obeyed his call. He called with the voice of command and authority, that his people might henceforth know fully and without possibility of mistake what they had to do. So still there is a gracious call of the gospel, which invites freely and universally, but it is at the same time the proclamation of a new law of righteousness, as in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the whole revelation of duty in the Christian Church. Notice -
II. THE FACT OF MEDIATION. "The Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him." The Law was given by Moses. "It was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator," through the instrumentality of an appointed servant, who should be between Jehovah and his people. Moses united in himself remarkably the three elements of the office - the prophetic, as echoing the voice of God; the priestly, as the medium of offered service; the kingly, as the legislator and ruler, both proclaiming and administrating the Divine Law. We see also represented in the case of Moses the union of the two qualifications for the fulfilment of the office of mediator - the personal merit and the Divine appointment. Moses stood apart from the people in his character and personal eminence. He was anointed to his office, and manifestly favoured of God with special communications. In all these respects he is the type of the perfect Mediator. Jesus Christ was in himself able to be between God and man. His mediation is fact, history.
III. THE FACT OF MEDIATION WAS BASED UPON THE FACT OF COVENANT, THE RELATION BETWEEN THE PEOPLE AND JEHOVAH, THE GOD OF REVELATION, MUTUAL PLEDGE, AND PROMISE. The whole structure of the ceremonial law was built up on reciprocal obligation. Living intercourse between God and man is the spiritual reality which binds together all the details of this book of the Law. A development, therefore, of the first and greatest commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," etc. The acceptableness of religious worship lies in the fellowship of love.
IV. THE PLACE OF MEETING BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. "Out of the tabernacle of the congregation," or "the tent of meeting." A temporary provision, afterwards superseded by a more permanent and elaborate structure, but in its external features betokening the dispensational character of the Law. The central fact was a gracious manifestation of God, a meeting-place inviting to intercourse, an appointed form of worship, the stepping-stone to a higher communion. "God dwelleth not in temples made with hands." The tabernacle was subsequent to the covenant. The life of fellowship preceded the act of fellowship. The people are God's before they receive the Law. There are three elements in the tabernacle, representative of universal and abiding truth.
1. The Lord speaks out of it. Positive revelation the foundation of positive religion. The soul waits upon God. Gracious messages the beginning of Divine work in and for man. There were gropings of natural religion worth nothing in themselves. The Spirit of God calls the spirit of man to a higher life. The true faith rests on the Word, honours the ordinances, seeks the place where God speaks in the most distinct and emphatic manner. This finds illustration both individually and in the history of God's people.
2. Tabernacle of the congregation. Fellowship an essential fact of the religious life. Man a moral being, only as he is in society. As it is the fruit of religion, so it is the seed from which springs the true life, both of nations and individuals. The tabernacle or temple the center of the Hebrew national existence. The tent of meeting also the palace-chamber of the Great King. Jehovah's throne amongst his people the true source of all power and centre of all authority. All places of worship, as meeting-places of the congregation or Church, witness to the presence of Jehovah, of Jesus Christ, the Lord, in the midst of his people, and to the kingdom of God in the world. No doctrine of the Church consistent with this fact of Jehovah speaking out of the tabernacle of the congregation but that which recognizes the position of all believers as the same. "Where two or three are gathered together," etc.
3. The place of meeting was both the center to which offerings were brought and from which blessings were taken. A true religion must embrace both the passive and the active elements - Mind, heart, will. Christianity did not abolish sacrifice and offerings, lifted up the lower into the higher, the local and temporary into the universal and perpetual. No material edifice, no priestly caste, no mere prescription of rites, can limit religious service. The temple of the Jews was destroyed, but in place of it we possess the risen glory of Christ, the spiritual presence of the Living One, the communion of saints, the ceaseless offering up of spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The Law which was given on the mount from the lips of Jesus requires a higher righteousness than the righteousness of legalists. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,