Exodus 19:25
The people were expecting a revelation - a vision of the hitherto unseen Jehovah - it came, but not as they expected; no 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: -


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.


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.

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.)

1. God's terrors in the law are not to drive men from Him, but to bring them humbly to Him.

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.)

1. Great is the condescension of Jehovah unto men in giving law and covenant to them.

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.)

1. God seeth need for His ministers testifying and pressing on people His will when men do not.

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).


IV. THE HOLINESS OF GOD (see chap. Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:1, 2; Revelation 4:8; 1 Peter 1:16).

V. THE SOVEREIGNTY AND MERCY OF GOD (see Deuteronomy 5:24).

(W. Forsyth.)

(ver. 17): — The essence of religion is to realize the presence of God. Therefore we should hail as our highest benefactor the man who does for us as Moses did for Israel. "And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God."

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.

(W. Forsyth.)

(ver. 21): —






(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

To meet with God
"The people stood at the nether part of the mount"; they listened with this very end in view: they came out of the camp to meet God, as God had commanded they should do. When you come up to the house of God keep this in view. There is, in the present day, as there was in the days of the apostle, such a thing as having "itching ears," looking to man, instead of an humble and reverent desire to meet God. Brethren, be much in prayer; and when you leave your closets to attend public worship, say, "I am now going to meet with God." As you enter His house, reflect, "This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven"; oh that I may meet my Saviour; oh that His love may be shed abroad in my heart; oh that I may understand more of God's plan for the salvation of sinners; oh that I may get my heart warmed by close communion with my God, and have my soul lifted up above the cares and pleasures of this sinful world! Were all our congregations to assemble thus, oh what a savour, and unction, and blessing we should experience!

(George Breay, B. A.)

The windows of Somerset House that face the Strand are all double-cased, so as to deaden the roar of the traffic outside. It would be impossible to do mental work unless some such system were adopted. There is but one way to be "in the world and not of it"; it is to be shut in with God, away from the din of its cares, temptations, and strifes. Outside, confusion, hurly-burly; inside, quiet, peace, under the shadow of the Almighty.

When we think of Moses coming so near to Jehovah in His majesty, wielding the terrific agencies of flood and storm and fire, of darkness and lightning and the voice of trumpet exceeding loud — Mount Sinai rocking beneath His feet, and Moses alone drawing near the Awful Presence and talking with God face to face there — what shall we say of the possibilities of communion between man and his Maker? Whatever speculations we may have as to the means and methods by which the thought of God was borne to the mind of Moses, and the thought of Moses to the mind of God, the great fact of communion of mind with mind — thought meeting thought — of command from the superior party, received and obeyed by the inferior — is on the outer face of the whole history and admits of no question. God can speak to man so that man shall know the voice to be His, and comprehend perfectly its significance. Relations of obedience, confidence, and love on the part of man toward his Maker, are established, and God meets them with appropriate manifestations of His favour.

(H. Cowles, D. D.)

The association of Aaron with Moses in the mount intimates evangelical instruction. It was the design of God, not only to declare the condemnation of sin, but to point out the way of justification and life. Their ministry united, the people cannot perish. It was in the presence of both that the words of the covenant were pronounced, showing that the functions of each were concerned in that dispensation. Moses would declare the law to the people; Aaron make reconciliation for sin. Infinitely glorious the surety of the everlasting covenant, our Divine Redeemer, of whom Moses in his prophetical office, and Aaron in his priestly, were but imperfect types. In Him was every qualification to mediate, and every right, that none need despair of redemption who trust in Him.

(W. Seaton.).

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