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.
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.
Who are all of us here alive this dayI. 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.
III. THE TEXT IS APPLICABLE TO ALL THOSE NOW ASSEMBLED. "We are all alive here this day."
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.
IV. IT IS HIGHLY PROBABLE THAT THE TEXT IS NOW APPLICABLE TO SOME HERE FOR THE LAST TIME.
(J. Burns, D. D.)
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