Deuteronomy 5:1
Then Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and ordinances that I declare in your hearing this day. Learn them and observe them carefully.
For the Last Day of the YearJ. Burns, D. D.Deuteronomy 5:1-5
The Abrahamic Covenant RenewedD. Davies Deuteronomy 5:1-5
The Promulgation of the LawBp. Hall.Deuteronomy 5:1-5
The DecalogueR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 5:1-21
Reminiscences of HorebJ. Orr Deuteronomy 5:1-33

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.

The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
God was ever wonderful in His works, and fearful in His judgments — but He was never so terrible in the execution of His will as now in the promulgation of it. Here was nothing but a display of grandeur in the eyes, in the ears of the Israelites, as if God meant to show them by this how dreadful He could be. In the destruction of the first world there were clouds — in the destruction of Sodom there was fire; but here were fires, smoke, clouds, thunder, earthquakes, and whatsoever might work more astonishment than was ever in any vengeance inflicted. And if the law, were thus given, how shall it be required? If such were the proclamation of God's statutes, what shall be His tribunal? The trumpet of an angel called to the one — the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God, shall summon us to the other. Of the one, Moses, who alone witnessed it, saith, "God came with the multitude of His saints"; in the other, thousand thousands shall minister unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand shall stand before Him. In the one, Mount Sinai only was in a flame, — all the world shall be so in the other. In the one there were thunders and fires; in the other, a fiery stream shall proceed from Him, whereby the elements shall melt with fervent heat — the heavens and earth shall be dissolved — they shall flee away, and have no place. God would have Israel see that they had not a Governor whose commands might be neglected or trifled with; and therefore, before He gives His people a law, He shows them that He can command heaven, earth, water, fire, air, by the mere signification of His will — thus teaching them that it was a fearful thing to displease such a Legislator, or violate such statutes — while they beheld the elements examples of that obedience, which man should always yield to his Maker. O royal law, and mighty Lawgiver! How could they think of having any other God, that had such evidence of the Divine power of the God of Israel? How could they think of making any resemblance of Him, whom they could not see, but whom they knew to be infinite? How could they dare to profane His name, who proclaimed Himself to them by the incommunicable name of Jehovah? How could they refuse to observe His sacred day, when they saw Him command those luminaries by which days and years are measured? How could they refuse to render honour and fear to those who derive their authority from God, when they saw Him able to assert His own and maintain that of His vicegerents upon earth? How could they think of killing, when they were so strongly affected with the fear of Him who thus manifested Himself able to save and to destroy? How could they think of the flames of impure desires, who beheld such fires of vengeance? How could they think of stealing from others, when they saw who was Lord of heaven and earth, from whom their neighbour derived all his possessions? How could they think of speaking falsely, when they heard the God of truth speak in so tremendous a voice? How could they think of coveting what was another's, when they saw how weak and uncertain a right they had to what was their own? Lord, to us was this moral law delivered, as well as to them. The letter and ceremonial is passed away; the spirit remains, and shall remain to the end of time. There had not been such state in Thy promulgation of it, if Thou hadst not intended it for eternity. How should we, who comply with human laws to avoid some trifling forfeiture, how should we fear Thee, O God, who art able to cast both soul and body into hell!

(Bp. Hall.)

Who are all of us here alive this day
I. THIS TEXT APPLIES TO MANY THIS DAY TO WHOM IT WAS NOT APPLICABLE LAST YEAR. Thousands have been born in the course of this year.

II. THE TEXT APPLIED TO MANY LAST YEAR TO WHOM IT IS NOT NOW APPLICABLE. They were then alive, but now they are inhabitants of the tomb, and their souls have entered the eternal state. Of these, many classes might be specified.

1. Some who were expecting it. Aged, infirm, afflicted, who were daily awaiting their dismissal.

2. Some who were reckoning on many years to come. Young, healthy, hearts full of life; but they perished as the flower. "Their sun went down while it was yet day."

3. Some, we fear, died unprepared. Aliens to God; strangers to repentance, faith, and holiness.

4. Many, we trust, died in the Lord. Race ended; warfare accomplished; crown received; forever with the Lord.


1. And it is wonderful that we are so. Amidst so many dangers, diseases, and death.

2. Is entirely owing to the goodness and patience of God.

3. We are alive under increasing responsibilities. Many blessings have been given to us this year, for all of which we must give an account: talents, time, opportunities, Sabbaths, sermons, etc.

4. Being alive should fill us with hearty gratitude to God. Our lips, hearts, and lives should show forth His praise.

5. As we are alive, let us now resolve to live more than ever to God, and for eternity.


(J. Burns, D. D.)

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