Then the LORD said to Moses, "This is what you are to tell the Israelites: 'You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven.
I. THE OBJECT Or WORSHIP. The true God, not gods of silver, or gods of gold (ver. 23). The God who had talked with them from heaven had appeared in no visible form. "Ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice" (Deuteronomy 4:12). Let the sole object of our worship be the invisible, spiritual, infinite, yet revealed God. God's revelations of himself lay the basis of right worship. God has spoken. How reverently should we hear!
II. THE PLACE Or WORSHIP. "In all places where I record my name" (ver. 24). God records his name by making a revelation of himself, as at Bethel, Peniel, etc. Whatever places he chose for the building of his altar, till the time came for the erection of a permanent sanctuary, there would he meet with them. Religion is now set free from places (John 4:23). Wherever two or three are met in Christ's name, there will he be in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).
III. THE ALTAR OF WORSHIP. To be built of unhewn stone - i.e., of natural materials (ver. 25). It was the altar of propitiation. Man is viewed as one whose sins are yet unexpiated. His art, in that state, would have polluted the altar. Art came in afterwards (ch. 25. etc.). Nothing of man's own avails for propitiation.
IV. THE MATERIALS OF WORSHIP. Animal sacrifices (ver. 24). For purposes of atonement - as symbols of personal consecration (burnt offerings) - as pledges of peace and renewed fellowship (peace offerings). Not in the first, but in the other meanings of sacrifice, we are still summoned to bring them in our worship - "spiritual sacrifices" of self-surrender (Romans 12:1), of the broken spirit (Psalm 51:17), of praise and thanksgiving (1 Peter 1:5).
V. THE MANNER WORSHIP (ver. 26). Reverence and decency. - J.O.
1. The end for which God reveals Himself is, that we should worship Him.
Ye shall not make Me gods of silver.
II. GOD'S ABHORRENCE OF IDOLATRY. Our loftiest conceptions, embodied in the most costly and precious material forms, must fall short of Infinite perfectness.
III. GOD'S LOVE OF SIMPLICITY. Altars of earth, and altars of unhewn stone. The simplest is often the purest and the divinest. Man's superb altars lead to degrading conceptions of the Infinite.
IV. GOD'S RESPECT TO APPEARANCES. "Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon." Let all things be done decently and in order, is the injunction of two economies.
V. GOD'S SUPERIORITY TO SPLENDID STRUCTURES. In all places where God's name is recorded there He will come, and there He will bless.
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
2. God's revelation of Himself should be kept in perpetual memory by acts of public worship.
3. God, having made a spiritual revelation of Himself, should not be worshipped under any symbolic form.
I. PUBLIC WORSHIP INVOLVES COST.
II. PUBLIC WORSHIP CAN DISPENSE WITH ELABORATE RITUAL.
III. PUBLIC WORSHIP CAREFULLY EXCLUDES ALL IDEA OF MERIT ON THE PART OF THE WORSHIPPER.
IV. PUBLIC WORSHIP IS NOT CONFINED TO SET PLACES.
V. PUBLIC WORSHIP DOES NOT DEPEND ON THE MATERIAL OR INTELLECTUAL QUALIFICATIONS OF THE WORSHIPPER.
VI. PUBLIC WORSHIP MUST BE CONDUCTED WITH PROPER DECENCY.
VII. PUBLIC WORSHIP, WHEN PROPERLY CONDUCTED, IS UNIFORMLY ATTENDED WITH A BLESSING.
1. The Divine presence.
2. The Divine benediction.
(J. W. Burn.)
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