And Moses called all Israel, and said to them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day…
So solicitous was God for the well-being of Israel that, on critical epochs in their history, he reminds them of their privileged condition. Three main thoughts arrest our attention -
I. COVENANTED BLESSING SECURED. God has not stood out for the maintenance of his rights; he has stooped to fetter his liberty - to bind himself to generous deeds.
1. He allows us to hold proprietorship in him. We can claim him to be "our God." The Proprietor of all worlds permits fallen men to assert proprietorship in him! Herein is love! We can call upon him, in justice, to fulfill his self-imposed obligations.
2. A covenant implies reciprocal engagements. It is a deed of grace. God binds himself as a Friend and Defender to us, on condition that we bind ourselves in obedient loyalty to him. Failure on one side releases the other party from his pledge.
3. A covenant includes mutual consent. No covenant is really valid, is not complete, until both parties have sworn to observe it. There may be command, law, decree, proceeding from God to man; but no covenant is really in force until we personally have accepted its terms, and bound ourselves by willing act to observe it. Then, our whole being - property, talent, blood, life, are pledged.
II. MEDIATION PROVIDED. This is a further mark of condescending grace. When two parties are alienated, it is always deemed an advantage to one party to have a mediator chosen from its ranks. God allows a man to mediate between Israel and himself. "I stood between the Lord and you."
1. Such mediation was needful, because of mutual disparity, Man is finite; God infinite. Man is for self; God is self-oblivious. Man is earthly minded; God is purely spiritual. That the two may coalesce in sentiment, purpose, life, mediation of some sort is required.
2. Mediation is needful, because of man's selfish fear. The people were "afraid, by reason of the fire" - afraid for their own interests and pleasures. Were men impelled by wisdom, they would count it the highest privilege possible to approach God. What, though we have sinned; - inasmuch as God has revealed himself as the Source of mercy, and has deigned to visit us, should we not gladly respond to his proposal, and draw nigh? What, though he is dressed in garments of flame; - if we are penitent, the consuming flame will consume only our sin; it will benefit and burnish us. This is our honor and our joy - to come very near to God, and to gain larger acquaintance with him. If renewed, our former aversion is turned into longing desire.
3. This mediation was very imperfect. It served a present purpose, viz. a mediation for communicating truth, a mediation for obtaining favor. It speaks a volume for the character and faith of Moses, that he was not afraid to draw near. Imperfect though he was, he displayed a rare spirit of self-sacrifice. "Pardon, I pray thee, this people! or else, blot out my name from thy book!" Here was a vivid type of Jesus.
III. HUMAN OBLIGATION INCREASED. In the very nature of things, kindness on the one side begets obligation on the other.
1. This obligation is personal. "The Lord hath not made this covenant with our fathers, but with us." God's covenant with men is renewed age after age. It is a covenant with us, if we will accept the terms. Are we willing to be his - wholly his? Then the covenant is settled, "ordered in all things and sure."
2. This obligation is all-embracing and complete. It includes every part of our nature, every moment in our history, every interest we have in life. Attention is demanded. The ear must be reserved for God. Intellect is pledged. We must "learn the statutes and judgments." Active and dutiful service is due. Like the true Son, our intention must be, "I do always the things that please" the Father! - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.