Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THOSE SELECTED FOR THIS VISION. That Moses himself went up was a matter of course. It was good for him to be there for the strengthening of his own faith. He himself would rejoice in the assurance thus given that the promise of the people was accepted. As to those who went up with him, it is clear that in the revelation something was being done to prepare them for official positions afterwards. They got this glorious sight not because they deserved it more than others, but because they needed it more. Moses required helps in order that he might be a mediator between God and the whole nation, and so these men, the seventy elders in particular, needed help in acting as mediators between Moses and the people. Doubtless it was intended that they should go down again among the people and be witnesses as to what they had seen. Would it not give an elder greater influence in after days if the people took knowledge of him that he had been with Moses in the mount? Notice, that in spite of this great revelation, Aaron soon fell away into the great transgression of the golden calf, and a little later Nadab and Abihu perished before the Lord for their disobedience. And may we not say that their sin was all the greater, just because they had been favoured with a privilege which they had failed to profit by?
II. THE VISION ITSELF. "They saw the God of Israel." There is a mysterious yet most instructive reticence as to exactly what it was that they saw. As to what shape and form were seen nothing is said; and even concerning the circumstances nothing more is ventured than an indication o! the sapphire work on which he stood. And since we find this reticence of description it behoves us to put corresponding restraint on our conjectures: we may infer that the purpose of this vision was to give a plain and encouraging contrast between what was now seen and what had been seen before. When God's people are at peace with him - and there was a symbolic peace at this time - then there is a cessation of such terrorising manifestations as we read of in ch. 19. When we see all that strange mingling of terrible darkness, light, and sound, which make up the thunderstorm, we know that Nature is striving to recover her balance. That balance recovered, the body of heaven resumes its clearness; nay it often appears in even more than its accustomed beauty. All the dark and frowning appearances of God, all things that shake and confuse the soul, are meant to lead on to a calming and attracting revelation of God such as this revelation to Aaron and his companions but feebly typifies. First, the presence of God is made known amid thunder, lightning and smoke, and everything trembles to its centre at but the touch of his feet: then there is the change to where he is lifted clean above the polluting earth. Instead of disturbance there is unruffled peace, the beauty and profundity of the cloudless heaven. Thus by this outward symbol should we think of the quiet, untroubled heart where dwells the reconciled God. The more complete that reconciliation, the more settled the peace which we have with God, the more may the state of our hearts be indicated by the language which is here employed.
III. THE EXPERIENCES OF THIS CHOSEN COMPANY DURING THE VISION.
1. They were made to feel unmistakably God's benignity towards them. He did not lay his hand upon them. That they were not swiftly stretched in death upon the mountain side is spoken of as if in itself a subject of congratulation. The negative must come before the positive. The thought of complete salvation from danger must precede the thought of positive growth and enrichment. It was scarcely credible that men should see God and live. How dependent we are for our conclusions on narrow experiences, sometimes on most superstitious fears! The day is coming when, if we only accept all purifying ministrations, we shall not only see God and live, but also wonder that so long we should have been able to live without seeing him.
2. This benignity is particularly experienced in their being allowed to eat and drink before God. It is in the companionship of the table that social intercourse is commonly supposed to reach its perfection. This eating and drinking before God indicated that a certain composure of mind had been attained, and that the company had some real enjoyment of the position in which it was placed. There is a setting forth of the Divine blessing which ever rests on true fellowship of the saints. As many as are right with God personally are drawn together for united enjoyment as well as for united service. There is no place where the hearts of men are really one but when they are gathered before him who has the sapphire work under his feet. There, and there only, do we find the secret of that penetrating harmony which dissolves and utterly destroys all discords. - Y.
1. Declarative. It gave a view of the character of God.
(1) To some extent of his essential character. The blue of the sapphire symbolised his holiness, while in the deep, clear ether was mirrored his untroubled purity, his superiority to earthly passion and disturbance, his perfect blessedness, his transcendency over creation, etc.
(2) More especially of his gracious character. The idea suggested was that of a God at peace with Israel - reconciled. The vision would be read in its contrast with the previous revelation. The terrors of the law-giving were now laid aside; all is sweetness, beauty, mildness, serenity, love. This vision of God as a God at peace with Israel, is mediated by the offering of sacrifice. It is so also under the Gospel. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19).
2. Symbolic of privilege.
(1) The "nobles," though in God's presence, suffered no harm. "Upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand" (ver. 11). He might have done so, for they were by nature sinners. But they were safe, as sprinkled with blood of atonement, and as in presence of a God of mercy. Though sinners, we are permitted in Christ to draw nigh to God. He will not harm us; he will welcome, accept of, and bless us.
(2) Though in God's presence, they "did eat and drink" (ver. 11). They had this freedom before him; this feeling of confidence. It is only the revelation of God as a God of grace which can inspire this confidence. Their eating and drinking was symbolical of the privilege of every pious Israelite, sheltered from his sin in God's mercy, and taking confidence from his word of grace. Much more is it symbolic of the privilege of Christians, in whom perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
3. Prefigurative of future blessedness. The goal of the kingdom of God is the feast of perfected bliss in glory, where the saints shall eat and drink and see God with no intervening veils, and in the full beauty of his love and holiness.
4. A warning. These seventy elders ate and drank in God's presence, yet at last perished in the desert. Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire. Cf. the warning (Luke 13:26, 27). Lessons -
1. The vision of God in Christ disarms fear.
2. Let us try to see God, even in our eating and drinking (1 Corinthians 10:31).
3. Those sheltered by Christ's blood are safe. Note the following - "
(1) There are those who eat and drink, and do not see God.
(2) There are those who see God, and cannot eat and drink.
(3) There are those who eat and drink, and see God" (Rev. W.B. Robertson, D.D.). - J.O.
1. THE VISION OF GOD (1, 2, 9, 11). -
1. It is for the called alone. God manifests himself only to the repentant and the believing.
2. These are commanded to approach. This is our warrant for confident boldness of access: he has called us.
3. The vision is bestowed upon those from whose midst the mediator has gone into God's immediate presence and who wait his return (ver. 2).
4. It is given as they go upwards into the mount where the Lord's will is declared (9). The heart which seeks after holiness admits the light in which God will by-and-by be manifested.
5. The vision is sure: "they saw the God of Israel."
6. For the called the vision of God is not destruction, but safety and joy. We meet the unveiling, not only of infinite holiness, but also of infinite love. The vision of the Divine glory was a wonder and delight; and the place of vision became a place of feasting.
II. THE RATIFYING OF THE COVENANT. -
1. It was made with a willing people: "all the words which the Lord hath said will we do."
2. It was made with a people who were in possession of God's testimonies: he "told them all the words of the law," he "wrote all the words of the Lord." God's light must reveal sin and need before it may manifest his salvation.
3. God and his people are bound together by the blood of accepted sacrifice. The blood of sprinkling is peace and power to the saved. - U.
I. OBSERVE HOW CLEARLY THESE TERMS HAD BEEN STATED. Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. All the way to Sinai the people had the opportunity of seeing the power of Jehovah; at Sinai something of his glory had been manifested; and now in these words and judgments the character and will of Jehovah were made known. It is observable that at their first approach to Sinai the people had expressed their willingness to be obedient to God (Exodus 19:8). But he does not seek to bind them. down by a formal contract until he has made clear the laws under which he would have them to live. it is well for us to bear in mind that God distinctly and emphatically states all things of practical and present importance. We indeed may have a very imperfect understanding of his statements; but the statements in themselves are perfectly plain, only requiring that our minds should be brought into a right state of humility, and concentrated upon the study of God's holy commandments with the requisite degree of attention.
II. OBSERVE ALSO THE WAY IN WHICH THESE TERMS HAD BEEN ACCEPTED. The people answered with one voice. There was a remarkable unanimity. Are we to take it that there was a complete, universal, cordial shout of acceptance? There is no reason to suppose otherwise, no reason to suppose but that a profound impression had been made on every mind. Not the slightest word appears to indicate discord. But of course, although there was no discord in the expression, there was great diversity in the state of mind which underlay the shout of acceptance. The emotion finding vent in this unanimous acceptance could be traced back in a few instances to a thoroughly awakened conscience, desiring to live a thoroughly righteous life, and be in true and complete conformity to the will of God; for there were men of David's spirit long before David's time. But in how many was there nothing more than the inconsiderate shout of those who, after all God had said, had yet not the slightest knowledge of his will! And yet with all these profound differences the superficial enthusiastic agreement evidently served a purpose. For not only was there a word, but also a highly significant and impressive deed. Notice that all the preparations in the way of altar, pillars, offerings, etc., made so carefully by Moses, are not said to have been made by God's commandment. The most we can say is, that they were not out of harmony with his will. They were a visible representation, a kind of writing out of the great contract into which the people thus entered. There stood the altar signifying the presence of God, and there the pillars signifying the twelve tribes, and there was the blood with its principle of life joining together, in a glorious unity, Jehovah and his people. The great and lamentable differences underneath are neither forgotten nor underrated; but for the time they are not regarded. The unity of feeling thus seemed was made to serve a great symbolic purpose. These people, by word and deed, by the erection of these pillars, and by the acceptance of the sprinkled blood, took part in a great historic act, and declared that they were the people of God in a way the consequences of which they could not afterwards escape.
III. Observe this very remarkable thing - THAT GOD SHOULD HAVE ACCEPTED THEIR ACCEPTANCE. He knew how much and how little it meant, and yet he did not point out the rashness of the utterance, he did not interfere with the symbolic actions by which Moses more deliberately set forth the adhesion of the people. We are bound, therefore, to conclude that in whatever ignorance and sudden enthusiasm the people might subscribe to this covenant, yet that subscription was right. The laws that God gave from Sinai are the laws for men to live by. The constitution of God's kingdom was by this great symbolic act solemnly introduced into Israel, and made the constitution of Israel also. Every nation, if it is to be anything more than a mere crowd, must have a constitution. Some constitutions grow, and like all things that grow, they occasionally branch out in unexpected directions. Other constitutions, men meet together to determine and formulate, like that of the American republic. But here is a constitution which comes down out of heaven from God; and in a great historic act, the nation into which it comes accepts it. Hence those born under that constitution were bound to accept it also. There was no nation on the face of the earth that had such securities, privileges, and prospects as Israel had under these laws from Sinai. The government was neither a despotism nor a democracy. The people were neither under an arbitrary will which might capriciously change, nor did they depend upon their own fluctuating opinions. God, if we might use such an expression, was bound by these laws, even as the people were themselves. - Y.
I. THE RATIONALITY OF THE COVENANT. God desires from his people "reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). He would not have them enter it in haste. Vows made under the influence of sudden impressions are not to be trusted. Once committed to his service, God will deal with us with strictness (Exodus 23:21). But he does not wish us to commit ourselves till we have carefully considered the nature of the step we are taking, and the magnitude of the issues involved (cf. Luke 14:26-34). See this illustrated in the history of the covenant with Israel. The covenant was entered into -
1. With great deliberation. It was not forced on Israel. The negotiations connected with it were intentionally drawn out and prolonged, just that the people might have the opportunity of pondering well the character of the proposed engagement. Alike in the events of the exodus, and in the miracles of the desert, they had had abundant experience of the character of the Being with whom they were allying themselves. Arrived at Sinai, preliminary proposals were made to them, and an opportunity given them at the outset of saying Yea or Nay (Exodus 19:3-9). Their acceptance of these proposals was followed by the giving of the law, which drew from them a new promise to do whatever God should speak to them (Exodus 20:19; Deuteronomy 5:27). An interval ensued, during which Moses was in the mountain (Exodus 20:21). On descending, he recites to them "All the words of the Lord, and all the judgments" (ver. 3); and once again they promise full obedience. Even then the matter is allowed to stand over till the morrow, when Moses appears with the written book in his hand, and they are asked, finally, if they adhere to what they have said (ver. 7). Greater precautions against rash committal could scarcely have been taken.
2. After careful instruction. Pains were taken fully to inform the people of the terms of the covenant, before asking them to enter into it. The law was uttered by God's own voice. The "judgments" were recited to them by Moses. They were read a second time from the "book." Their assent to the covenant was thus sought to be made an intelligent one. If we engage ourselves to God, he would have us do it with "understanding."
3. Amidst impressive solemnities. These - the reading of the words from the book, the sprinkling of the blood, etc. - were of a nature adapted to arouse the minds of the people to a just sense of the momentousness of the transaction. From the whole we learn that if dedication is the result of an act, it should be of a calm, sober, thoughtful act; it cannot be done too solemnly or too intelligently. Our religious life should have a rational basis.
II. THE BOND OF THE COVENANT. The nucleus of the transaction is the people's promise - "All the words which the Lord hath said will we do" (ver. 3) - "All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient" (ver. 7). There is a tone of rashness - of self-confidence - in this promise, as given by Israel, which forewarns of subsequent defection. The people evidently had but little knowledge of their own hearts. They had little perception of the spiritual requirements of this law. They had not learned to distrust themselves. Their surrender to the Divine will was not thorough or heartwhole. (See on Exodus 19:8.) It remains true, however, that surrender of the will to God, in the spirit of obedience, is an indispensable condition of being received into covenant with him. "The idea of the servant of God is complete only when he who is bound to God also binds himself to God's will, following God perfectly." (Oehler.) This is as true of the Gospel as of the law. The obedient will is implicit in faith. The end contemplated in salvation is obedience. We are made free from sin that we may become servants of righteousness (Romans 6:18). The recognition of this - the acceptance of the obligation - is involved in conversion, in saving faith, in the new birth, in the coming to Christ, or however else we may express the change from death to life. If we no longer speak of the promise of obedience as the "bond" of the covenant, it is only because that which the Gospel primarily demands of us, viz. faith, goes deeper than such a promise, while implicitly containing it. The object of spiritual trust is, ultimately, God himself, and in the Gospel, Christ, as the sent of God to be the Saviour of the world; but such trust invariably involves the yielding up of the will to God, and is on its practical side, an energy of holiness. The true believer is, of necessity, a doer of the will of the Father. "Faith, without works, is dead" (James 2:17-26). (See further, on Exodus 19:5.) It is, however, well that this implicit element in faith should also be allowed to become explicit in distinct acts of consecration or of self-dedication to God. This brings us very near to what we have in this covenant with Israel. See below.
III. THE CEREMONIAL OF RATIFICATION.
(1) Moses "builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel" (ver. 4).
(2) Young men of his appointment sacrificed burnt-offerings and peace-offerings unto the Lord. (ver. 5).
(3) The blood of the sacrificed animals was divided: half was put in basins, and half sprinkled on the altar (ver. 6).
(4) The words of the book of the Covenant were next solemnly read in the audience of the people; and the latter renewed their assent to them (ver. 7).
(5) The blood was then cast upon the people out of the basins, and the Covenant was declared to be concluded (ver. 8). Two points here claim our attention.
1. The ratifying of the Covenant with sacrifice; and
2. The action with the blood.
Both were significant.
1. The sacrifices. The burnt-offering was primarily a symbol of self-surrender (cf. Psalm 51:16-19). The idea embodied here, therefore, was, that in the institution of the Covenant, what was required was the unconditional surrender of the offerer, with all that belonged to him, to God. The peace-offering symbolises reconciliation and fellowship. But the offering of the sacrifices had also a propitiatory reference. This is plain from the sprinkling of the blood on the altar. It is sprinkled there as atoning for the people's sins. It was through the blood of propitiation that peace was made, that reconciliation was brought about. This teaches several things. It shows
(1) That Israel was viewed by God as sinful.
(2) That it was not on legal grounds, but as an act of grace, that they were being admitted into covenant.
(3) That the covenant embodied grace as well as law.
(4) That God. would deal graciously with Israel, if they sincerely endeavoured to keep his law, notwithstanding many defects and failures.
(5) That their attitude under the law, in seeking to fulfil its righteousness, ought to be an evangelical, not a legal one, i.e., they ought to draw their motives, their encouragement, and their hope, not from the thought of their self-sufficiency to keep the law, or from the idea that they were actually keeping it in such a way as legally to entitle them to the blessing, but from the conviction of God's mercy to them, which, as it was the foundation of their national existence, so was it the real ground of their standing all along.
2. The sprinkling of the blood on the people. It is, as Keil remarks, the one blood which is sprinkled on the altar and on the people; and it is not sprinkled on the people, till it has been presented and accepted on the altar. Applied to the people, the blood had the effect of formally cleansing them from sin, and of consecrating them to God's service. God thereafter claimed them as his special property. Redeemed life is his. Made free from sin, we become servants of God (Romans 6:22). - J.O.
I. READINESS OF THE WOULD-BE RECIPIENTS. Moses had declared the Divine will. The hearers might have been indifferent, or they might have been disheartened by the stringency of the injunctions. In either case, through their imperfect condition, more perfect light must have been delayed. For a little, however, they were rapt out of self; and though, it may be, the momentary enthusiasm did not pierce clouds which years only could disperse, yet they were ready for the moment to gain a glimpse, at any rate, of the Divine glory. "All the words which the Lord hath said will we do:" such was the utterance of the people's disposition at the moment. Temporary inclination, however, is not everything; at best it only marks out the way along which effort may compel habit. For a nation to speak with "one voice" is something; but it needs discipline and training to secure the "one heart" as well. The first step towards securing this has next to be taken: -
II. READINESS CONFIRMED AND ACCEPTED. A record needed to impress the memory; a sacramental symbol to impress the imagination.
1. The record. "Moses wrote all the words of the Lord," and, when he had read what he had written, the people confirmed their previous promise (ver. 7). A written reminder of the covenant as accepted by them was all-important; a dying enthusiasm goes hand in hand with a waning memory; only a record which will revive the memory can avail to rekindle the enthusiasm. Our own experience illustrates this. The diary, the marked Bible - what a suggestive eloquence they have, not only to remind of old times, but to re-awaken old feelings!
2. The sacramental symbol. Burnt-offerings, the outward sign of dedication and obedience; peace offerings, the outward sign of gratitude and thanksgiving. Half the blood sprinkled on the people and half on the altar, symbol of the union between man and God so long as his commands were thankfully obeyed. So long as man is in the flesh he needs such sensible and visible emblems. His senses are a function of himself; to lay hold of them is to lay hold of him through them. The Bible is our record of what God requires of us; but baptism and the Lord's Supper give outward expression to the teaching of the Bible. Each confirms the influence of the other; we need both to support our resolutions.
III. THE PARTIAL REVELATION. The people had expressed their willingness to obey; and, further, they had openly confirmed that expression. Time, however, was needed to test and strengthen their resolution: they could not be admitted to the full blaze of light merely because, in partial darkness, they had for a little gazed towards its dawning. A few are selected to represent the multitude (vers. 1, 9-11); and even of these few, not all are admitted to equal nearness. Enough is revealed to help faith, more would probably have only injured its growth. [illustration: Plants are kept from too much light until they are firmly rooted.] Faith, here, needed rooting: until that was accomplished an economy of reserve was necessary. Concluding considerations. -
1. The honest promise of obedience is accepted by God as of moral value. He encourages sincerity by glimpses of the reward in store.
2. Only obedience tested by difficulty can win the realisation of the beatific vision. The people must share the life-long training of Moses before they can enjoy with the like freedom his privilege of intimacy with God. Willingness to obey brings knowledge; but full knowledge comes with full obedience. - G.
1 Peter 2:5). Consider -
I. THE NATURE OF CONSECRATION. Consecration, as a Christian duty, involves three ideas - separation from evil, devotement to God, and ceaseless pursuit of holiness in heart and life. It has its ground in the fact of redemption, and in the sense of God's mercies. The consecrated heart then becomes a sanctuary in which God dwells by his Holy Spirit; while this sacred indwelling in turn becomes a new source of obligations to holiness. The holiness we are to aim at is a holiness like God's own - nothing lower (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Consecration, if never so complete as the Christian could wish, may always be perfect, at least in aim, in spirit, in intention, in desire. We are expected, like Caleb, to follow the Lord fully. The Divine ideal is the absolute consecration of him who said - "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (Hebrews 10:9; John 4:34). "I would rather," says Spurgeon, "my child had a perfect copy to write by, though he might never equal it, than that he should have an imperfect copy set before him, because then he would never make a good writer at all." The Scriptural idea of consecration comes out in the light of the usage of the cognate word - "sanctify." God himself is the fountain of sanctity or holiness. The whole Mosaic ritual was a grand apparatus for impressing this thought of God's holiness upon the minds of his worshippers. Everything to be used in his service, as contaminated by sin, required to be purged with blood (Hebrews 9:21). To this, in special cases, succeeded an anointing with oil (Exodus 30:25-32). Thus purged and anointed, the sanctuary, person, sacred vessel, or whatever it might be, was regarded as completely sanctified; in other words, as separated from common uses to the service of a holy God. The High Priests and Levites of the Old Covenant were all thus specially sanctified to God. But these things were only shadows; we have the realities corresponding to them under the New Covenant. If a man is really in Christ, he is already, by God's act, through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, and the holy anointing of the Spirit, a consecrated person, and ought to regard himself as such. This is the Divine side of the matter. There is clearly, however, a vast difference between the consecration of a mere utensil, say the golden candlestick, or the pots and vessels of the sanctuary, and the consecration of a living, moral, intelligent being. A material thing is sanctified simply by the act of setting it apart to sacred uses; its nature admits of nothing more. But the consecration of a moral being implies an act on his own part, as well as on God's, else the consecration has no reality; it is such only in name and form. The essence of it lies in a free, cheerful, self-dedication of the person (cf. Romans 12:1). Here, then, are two sides of this subject, the Divine and human - the ideal and the real - which two sides are constantly reappearing in Scripture, sometimes apart, sometimes blending together, sometime, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened (1 Corinthians 5:7). In short, God's consecration gives us a standing and an ideal; but it is only as we consciously accept this standing and ideal as our own, and seek to give them reality by self-dedication, and the strenuous pursuit of holiness, that our consecration becomes truly effectual. God's consecration of us becomes, so to speak, the ground of our own consecration of ourselves, and of constant striving after that perfection which is implprocess, and a work of God's grace constantly going on within us.
II. ADVANTAGES OF CONSECRATION. We come back to the old point that consecration, regarded as a duty, is a personal act whereby, out of a sense of God's mercies, and specially his grace in redemption, a believer solemnly dedicates himself and all that he has to the service and glory of God. Such consecration, with the surrender of the obedient will, is already, as seen in the previous homily, implicit in every exercise of saving faith. Great moral advantages, however, accrue from making one's consecration to Christ a distinct solemn act, again and again to be repeated, each time, we shall hope, with more perfect self-surrender; and the remembrance of which is to go along with us in the discharge of every duty. This corresponds pretty nearly to the meaning of the Israelitish covenant. Consecration is the basis of acceptable service.
(1) Consecration of self precedes all other consecrations; as of time, substance, talents, service, etc. It is only where self is consecrated, that the consecration of anything else is acceptable. What St. Paul says of charity, that without it all special gifts and acts, even feeding the poor, or giving his body to be burned, are valueless, we may say with equal truth of self-dedication. It is self God wants - the love, reverence, devotion, service of self; not a mere share of self's possessions. On the other hand
(2) the consecration of self includes all other consecrations. If we are God's, then all is God's that is ours. Our time is God's; so is our money, our talents, our influence, everything we have. Let Christians ask, whether, in this view of the matter, consecration is in their case being carried out into all its legitimate results. Not that God desires a gift;" but he desires "fruit that may abound to our account" (Philippians 4:17). Consecration secures nobler service; it is likewise a source of immense strength in the active pursuit of holiness. In any course of conduct, we know the value of a definite purpose and aim. Most of all is it important to have as the clear, definite motto of our lives - "To me to live is Christ." We know then exactly what we are living for. Consecration invests a man's whole being with a sanctity from which evil shrinks back repelled. The same sanctity spreads itself over all he has and does. He feels that he must be holy "in all manner of conversation." Even on the bells of his horses he sees something written, "holiness to the Lord." He has "holy garments;" and his great business is to watch and keep his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (Revelation 16:15). His body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and he dare not desecrate with worldly pollutions the place where God dwells. He has definitely separated himself from evil; and he must not return to it. Consecration resolves questions of casuistry. How often do we find good people, or people who wish to be good, puzzling and perplexing themselves with questions of this kind - Dare I read this book? Should I go to this party? May I engage in this amusement? Can I take this profit? Unless we greatly mistake, most of these difficulties would disappear with more perfect consecration. A truly consecrated man carries in his breast a principle which easily guides him through all such cases, and makes many things right and pure to him which others would stumble at, while it leads him to discountenance and condemn much that they would pass unnoticed. Finally, consecration is absolutely essential to success in prayer. The heart that has not said - "All for Christ," is in no fit state to approach God's throne to supplicate blessings for Christ's sake. There must be iniquity hidden away in that heart somewhere; and "if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). But the consecrated man, as a true priest of God, has free access to the holiest of all. He asks what he will, and it is given him. Prayer, indeed, is no prayer, unless it is the outcome of a heart which is the seat of deep consecration, and where the Lord is habitually sanctified. Only to such prayer are the promises yea and amen. From all this, it is manifest that consecration pertains to the deepest essence of religion. Yet many feel as if sometimes they could almost close with Christ, were it not for this very matter of consecration. Their hearts are still clinging to something which God requires them to forego; and clinging to this, they rightly judge that they cannot be Christ's disciples. Let them reflect that for this something they sacrifice eternal life. - J.O.
1. He alone ascends (ver. 12). Aaron and his sons, with the seventy elders, were left behind. Their privilege was great as compared with that of the body of the people. Yet even they are not permitted to enter the cloud - to draw nigh into God's immediate presence. The limitations and imperfections of the legal economy are stamped on these arrangements. How superior the standing of Christians, who are all permitted to draw nigh; who have now the privilege, formerly possessed only by Moses, of beholding with unveiled flee the Divine glory in the ecstasy of immediate vision (2 Corinthians 3:18).
2. The design of this ascending was primarily to receive the stone tables (ver. 12). These were to be written by God's own finger. God took every pains to impress upon the minds of the people that the law they had to deal with was his law. Its perpetuity was symbolised by the rock tablets.
3. Moses made arrangements for the conduct of business in his absence (ver. 14). His absence would be a trial of the faith and disposition of all parties.
4. The fire still burned on the summit of the mount (vers. 16, 17). This, notwithstanding the vision of ver. 10. The economy was outwardly and characteristically one of law; interiorly, one of grace. Even Moses had to wait seven days for the summons (ver. 16). - J.O.