So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.
vision, only a voice (cf. Deuteronomy 4:12). The fact was the law was not a final, only a preparatory revelation; it is related to the Gospel as John Baptist was related to Christ. "A voice crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Consider in this view: -
I. THE STRENGTH OF THE LAW.
1. It was a voice - a Divine voice. In spite of the confusion not unmixed with disappointment, none doubted whence it came. It gave a Divine authority to the commandment even when given through a mediator.
2. It was adapted to the condition of those who heard it. A revelation must be fitted for those to whom it is addressed. (Illust. a highly-finished picture is of small value to the half-blind; they can better appreciate a rough sketch in coarse, bold outline.) The animal, or natural man, as exemplified in the character of Israel in the wilderness, could not have understood anything more spiritual; its religion is obedience. The natural man can only be reached by such sensual methods as his nature can respond to. Through them the spiritual nature, which is cradled in the natural, may be educated and fostered, prepared to receive in due course that higher revelation which befits it.
II. THE WEAKNESS OF THE LAW.
1. It was only a voice. As the spiritual nature grows (cf. infants attaining consciousness) it craves for something more than this. It needs not a voice only, but a presence. From the first we find Israel longing after a "similitude." Even Moses (Exodus 33:18) beseeches that God will show him his glory. Later the cry grows ever more distinct through psalmists and prophets, itself a continuous preparation for the fulfilment ultimately reserved for it.
2. Evidence in the law itself (cf. second commandment). A fence to guard an empty shrine, but a shrine kept empty only in preparation for some coming inmate. A preparation for the Incarnation. The Pharisee comes to worship the fence; the idolater ignores it; both illustrate the weakness of the merely "vocal" revelation.
III. CONTRAST WITH THE GOSPEL. Christ is "the Word made Flesh;" the express image of God. Not a voice only, but a person. The more perfect revelation indicates a fuller development in those to whom it is addressed, but we must remember that a fuller development implies also a greater responsibility. [The offence which we condone in the child, is unpardonable in the man. Mistakes made by the half-blind are no longer excusable when a man can see.] If Israel fell and was rejected, must not our far greater privileges be followed, if profaned, with deeper ruin? (Cf. Hebrews 12:25, 26; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12.) - G.
1. Great is the condescension of Jehovah unto men in giving law and covenant to them.
1. God's terrors in the law are not to drive men from Him, but to bring them humbly to Him.
To meet with God.1. Upon Churches preparation, and sanctification God is ready to appear to them.
2. God will keep His day, His third day of appearance to His people.
3. In God's appearance for covenant-making He giveth the discovery of Himself as He pleaseth.
4. Terrible signals God useth sometimes to declare His majesty to men (Psalm 18:9).
5. The law given by Moses differs from Christ's in darkness and deadliness (Hebrews 12.).
6. Suitable affections unto terrible appearances of God may be from nature and grace (ver. 16). It might be a spirit of bondage in some, but of free grace in others.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
2. God hath appointed a Mediator to bring souls unto Him. They come not of themselves.
3. Upon the Mediator's conduct souls may be bold to approach the terrors of the Lord.
4. Sinners must keep their standing appointed by the Mediator to find grace in the sight of God (ver. 17).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
2. In God's humbling Himself He keeps His distance and place above men.
3. In giving His law to men God calleth the Mediator to be by Him.
4. God withholds no discovery from His Church but that which would be deadly to them (ver. 21).
5. Among the congregation God hath appointed some to office for ministering to Him.
6. Such persons must be sanctified in their special place according to God's will.
7. The more holy the persons and office are, the more deadly is their transgression.
8. Threatenings of death are primarily in grace to give life to souls (ver. 22).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
2. The Mediator's descent to men hinders not His ascent to God again for their good.
3. None but mediators must come so near to God as He appoints them.
4. Such as do, though under pretence of holiness, must perish (ver. 24).
5. The Mediator, as He must, so is He willing to be with God's people at the law-giving.
6. It is Mediator's work to teach all to souls that may fit them to a due reception of God's covenant (ver. 25).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)I. THE GREATNESS OF GOD. All powers of nature under His control.
II. THE NEARNESS OF GOD (see Exodus 4:7-12).
III. THE MYSTERIOUSNESS OF GOD (see Psalm 97:2).
V. THE SOVEREIGNTY AND MERCY OF GOD (see Deuteronomy 5:24).
I. IN THE OPERATIONS OF NATURE. Poets have sung of the sublimities and beauties of nature, and philosophers explain her secrets; but he does the noblest work who brings us face to face with nature's God.
II. THE EVENTS OF PROVIDENCE. Many writers have done well in history and fiction, and have depicted with wondrous skill the varieties of character and incident, and the strange vicissitudes of human life; but he does best who shows us that there is a providence in the affairs of men, and that the Lord our God ruleth over all in righteousness and love.
III. THE ORDINANCES OF THE GOSPEL. Preachers may be learned and eloquent, but it is only as they manifest God's law to the conscience and God's love to the heart that they do us real good. Prayer and praise are proper duties, but unless in them we rise to God they are meaningless and vain.
I. II. III. IV. V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.) (George Breay, B. A.) (H. Cowles, D. D.) (W. Seaton.).
II. III. IV. V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.) (George Breay, B. A.) (H. Cowles, D. D.) (W. Seaton.).
III. IV. V. (J. S. Exell, M. A.) (George Breay, B. A.) (H. Cowles, D. D.) (W. Seaton.).
(J. S. Exell, M. A.) (George Breay, B. A.) (H. Cowles, D. D.) (W. Seaton.).
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(George Breay, B. A.)
(H. Cowles, D. D.)