But God did not lay His hand on the nobles of Israel; they saw Him, and they ate and drank.
1 Peter 2:5). Consider -
I. THE NATURE OF CONSECRATION. Consecration, as a Christian duty, involves three ideas - separation from evil, devotement to God, and ceaseless pursuit of holiness in heart and life. It has its ground in the fact of redemption, and in the sense of God's mercies. The consecrated heart then becomes a sanctuary in which God dwells by his Holy Spirit; while this sacred indwelling in turn becomes a new source of obligations to holiness. The holiness we are to aim at is a holiness like God's own - nothing lower (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Consecration, if never so complete as the Christian could wish, may always be perfect, at least in aim, in spirit, in intention, in desire. We are expected, like Caleb, to follow the Lord fully. The Divine ideal is the absolute consecration of him who said - "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (Hebrews 10:9; John 4:34). "I would rather," says Spurgeon, "my child had a perfect copy to write by, though he might never equal it, than that he should have an imperfect copy set before him, because then he would never make a good writer at all." The Scriptural idea of consecration comes out in the light of the usage of the cognate word - "sanctify." God himself is the fountain of sanctity or holiness. The whole Mosaic ritual was a grand apparatus for impressing this thought of God's holiness upon the minds of his worshippers. Everything to be used in his service, as contaminated by sin, required to be purged with blood (Hebrews 9:21). To this, in special cases, succeeded an anointing with oil (Exodus 30:25-32). Thus purged and anointed, the sanctuary, person, sacred vessel, or whatever it might be, was regarded as completely sanctified; in other words, as separated from common uses to the service of a holy God. The High Priests and Levites of the Old Covenant were all thus specially sanctified to God. But these things were only shadows; we have the realities corresponding to them under the New Covenant. If a man is really in Christ, he is already, by God's act, through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, and the holy anointing of the Spirit, a consecrated person, and ought to regard himself as such. This is the Divine side of the matter. There is clearly, however, a vast difference between the consecration of a mere utensil, say the golden candlestick, or the pots and vessels of the sanctuary, and the consecration of a living, moral, intelligent being. A material thing is sanctified simply by the act of setting it apart to sacred uses; its nature admits of nothing more. But the consecration of a moral being implies an act on his own part, as well as on God's, else the consecration has no reality; it is such only in name and form. The essence of it lies in a free, cheerful, self-dedication of the person (cf. Romans 12:1). Here, then, are two sides of this subject, the Divine and human - the ideal and the real - which two sides are constantly reappearing in Scripture, sometimes apart, sometimes blending together, sometime, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened (1 Corinthians 5:7). In short, God's consecration gives us a standing and an ideal; but it is only as we consciously accept this standing and ideal as our own, and seek to give them reality by self-dedication, and the strenuous pursuit of holiness, that our consecration becomes truly effectual. God's consecration of us becomes, so to speak, the ground of our own consecration of ourselves, and of constant striving after that perfection which is implprocess, and a work of God's grace constantly going on within us.
II. ADVANTAGES OF CONSECRATION. We come back to the old point that consecration, regarded as a duty, is a personal act whereby, out of a sense of God's mercies, and specially his grace in redemption, a believer solemnly dedicates himself and all that he has to the service and glory of God. Such consecration, with the surrender of the obedient will, is already, as seen in the previous homily, implicit in every exercise of saving faith. Great moral advantages, however, accrue from making one's consecration to Christ a distinct solemn act, again and again to be repeated, each time, we shall hope, with more perfect self-surrender; and the remembrance of which is to go along with us in the discharge of every duty. This corresponds pretty nearly to the meaning of the Israelitish covenant. Consecration is the basis of acceptable service.
(1) Consecration of self precedes all other consecrations; as of time, substance, talents, service, etc. It is only where self is consecrated, that the consecration of anything else is acceptable. What St. Paul says of charity, that without it all special gifts and acts, even feeding the poor, or giving his body to be burned, are valueless, we may say with equal truth of self-dedication. It is self God wants - the love, reverence, devotion, service of self; not a mere share of self's possessions. On the other hand
(2) the consecration of self includes all other consecrations. If we are God's, then all is God's that is ours. Our time is God's; so is our money, our talents, our influence, everything we have. Let Christians ask, whether, in this view of the matter, consecration is in their case being carried out into all its legitimate results. Not that God desires a gift;" but he desires "fruit that may abound to our account" (Philippians 4:17). Consecration secures nobler service; it is likewise a source of immense strength in the active pursuit of holiness. In any course of conduct, we know the value of a definite purpose and aim. Most of all is it important to have as the clear, definite motto of our lives - "To me to live is Christ." We know then exactly what we are living for. Consecration invests a man's whole being with a sanctity from which evil shrinks back repelled. The same sanctity spreads itself over all he has and does. He feels that he must be holy "in all manner of conversation." Even on the bells of his horses he sees something written, "holiness to the Lord." He has "holy garments;" and his great business is to watch and keep his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (Revelation 16:15). His body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and he dare not desecrate with worldly pollutions the place where God dwells. He has definitely separated himself from evil; and he must not return to it. Consecration resolves questions of casuistry. How often do we find good people, or people who wish to be good, puzzling and perplexing themselves with questions of this kind - Dare I read this book? Should I go to this party? May I engage in this amusement? Can I take this profit? Unless we greatly mistake, most of these difficulties would disappear with more perfect consecration. A truly consecrated man carries in his breast a principle which easily guides him through all such cases, and makes many things right and pure to him which others would stumble at, while it leads him to discountenance and condemn much that they would pass unnoticed. Finally, consecration is absolutely essential to success in prayer. The heart that has not said - "All for Christ," is in no fit state to approach God's throne to supplicate blessings for Christ's sake. There must be iniquity hidden away in that heart somewhere; and "if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). But the consecrated man, as a true priest of God, has free access to the holiest of all. He asks what he will, and it is given him. Prayer, indeed, is no prayer, unless it is the outcome of a heart which is the seat of deep consecration, and where the Lord is habitually sanctified. Only to such prayer are the promises yea and amen. From all this, it is manifest that consecration pertains to the deepest essence of religion. Yet many feel as if sometimes they could almost close with Christ, were it not for this very matter of consecration. Their hearts are still clinging to something which God requires them to forego; and clinging to this, they rightly judge that they cannot be Christ's disciples. Let them reflect that for this something they sacrifice eternal life. - J.O.
I. DIVINELY REVEALED.
I. THE SACREDNESS OF BLOOD. This is taught both in Old and New Testament.
Behold the blood of the covenant.I. He sprinkled THE BOOK in his hand. It was the Bible of his day, and yet it needed sprinkling. And we hold our Bibles — do they need sprinkling? The Bible is the transmitted mind of God — it is perfect truth, it is essential holiness — must it be sprinkled? Human words are all unclean. The mind of God must pass to men through the organs of the human voice — and that humanity mingling even with the revelation of God, wants washing. The materials of which the book is made are human. And again and again with our defiled hands we have soiled it — and we never open the book but it is a sinner's hand that touches it. Our Bibles need the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.
II. And he sprinkled THE ALTAR — for he had reared it. The altar was a holy thing — dedicate, consecrated, yet for the manhood which was associated with it, it needed the sprinkling of the blood. And we have our altars. You rise in the morning, and you set up your altar on your bedside-and when you rise from your knees, how many wandering thoughts, what coldness and dulness of soul, what mixture of motive, calls out for mercy. The altar of the bedroom — it must be sprinkled. You come down, and you gather round the family altar. But is there no one there, in that little assembly, whose heart is wrong with God? Does the worship of the family all go up in purity? Is it not a dull thing — that family prayer each morning — a mere routine? And does not it want the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus?
III. Moses sprinkled THE PEOPLE. There is no part of man that does not need that sprinkling.
IV. The sprinkling of the blood was the token THAT WHATEVER IT TOUCHED BECAME COVENANT. We have our covenanted Bibles and our covenanted altars; we ourselves are in covenant with Christ. Do you know that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is on you? And all that you must recognize if you would obey God. You must not rely upon "All the words that the Lord hath spoken we will do." But you must go as a sprinkled and covenanted people, or you will not go at all.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
II. THE CHRISTIAN COVENANT IS A COVENANT OF BLOOD. The blood of the eternal Son of God, shed on Calvary, sprinkled on the high altar of heaven and on all who approach with penitence and faith.
III. THE COVENANT WHICH CHRIST HAS INSTITUTED WITH HIS PEOPLE IS THE MOST SACRED COVENANT WHICH GOD EVER MADE WITH MAN.
IV. THE LORD'S SUPPER is a memorial and a solemn public ratification of this Divine blood covenant. It sprinkles us afresh with the blood of the great atonement.
(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)
1. Revealed faithfully.
(1) (2) 2. Revealed intelligently. (1) (2) (3) (4) II. ACCEPTED BY MAN. 1. Unanimously. 2. Heartily. 3. Specifically. 4. Speedily. III. PERMANENTLY EMBODIED. A written revelation is — 1. Necessary. 2. Advantageous. 3. Important. IV. ARRANGEMENTS CAREFULLY AND IMPRESSIVELY PREPARED. 1. Altar and pillars — representing God and people. 2. Young men — symbolizing strength and earnestness that should be exerted in keeping covenant engagement. 3. Sacrifices. (1) (2) V. RATIFIED WITH BLOOD. In conclusion — 1. Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant. 3. That He has instituted a "perpetual memorial of His precious death until His coming again" (1 Corinthians 9:25). (J. W. Burn.)
(2) 2. Revealed intelligently. (1) (2) (3) (4) II. ACCEPTED BY MAN. 1. Unanimously. 2. Heartily. 3. Specifically. 4. Speedily. III. PERMANENTLY EMBODIED. A written revelation is — 1. Necessary. 2. Advantageous. 3. Important. IV. ARRANGEMENTS CAREFULLY AND IMPRESSIVELY PREPARED. 1. Altar and pillars — representing God and people. 2. Young men — symbolizing strength and earnestness that should be exerted in keeping covenant engagement. 3. Sacrifices. (1) (2) V. RATIFIED WITH BLOOD. In conclusion — 1. Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant. 3. That He has instituted a "perpetual memorial of His precious death until His coming again" (1 Corinthians 9:25). (J. W. Burn.)
2. Revealed intelligently.
(1) (2) (3) (4) II. ACCEPTED BY MAN. 1. Unanimously. 2. Heartily. 3. Specifically. 4. Speedily. III. PERMANENTLY EMBODIED. A written revelation is — 1. Necessary. 2. Advantageous. 3. Important. IV. ARRANGEMENTS CAREFULLY AND IMPRESSIVELY PREPARED. 1. Altar and pillars — representing God and people. 2. Young men — symbolizing strength and earnestness that should be exerted in keeping covenant engagement. 3. Sacrifices. (1) (2) V. RATIFIED WITH BLOOD. In conclusion — 1. Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant. 3. That He has instituted a "perpetual memorial of His precious death until His coming again" (1 Corinthians 9:25). (J. W. Burn.)
II. ACCEPTED BY MAN. 1. Unanimously. 2. Heartily. 3. Specifically. 4. Speedily. III. PERMANENTLY EMBODIED. A written revelation is — 1. Necessary. 2. Advantageous. 3. Important. IV. ARRANGEMENTS CAREFULLY AND IMPRESSIVELY PREPARED. 1. Altar and pillars — representing God and people. 3. Sacrifices. V. RATIFIED WITH BLOOD. In conclusion — 1. Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant. (J. W. Burn.)
II. ACCEPTED BY MAN.
III. PERMANENTLY EMBODIED. A written revelation is —
IV. ARRANGEMENTS CAREFULLY AND IMPRESSIVELY PREPARED.
1. Altar and pillars — representing God and people.
V. RATIFIED WITH BLOOD. In conclusion —
1. Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant.
(J. W. Burn.)
II. THE PEOPLE INFORMED. Let the leaders of God's host plainly point out the path. The need of our age is not speculation but declaration of things revealed by those who have been on the mount with God, have beheld His glory, and have received a message for dying men. The people would know what God has said, not what men imagine or guess. How about our Father in heaven? What are His purposes of grace? What are the conditions of blessing? These are the burning questions of our age and of all ages. If any one has been on the mount and heard the voice, let him come down and tell us what he knows. The world is waiting.
III. RATIFICATION OF THE COVENANT. Deliberation is always demanded before pledges of acceptance and obedience are made. No act of human life is more solemn than that of covenanting with God. Before men begin to build, they should count the cost. Many who run well for awhile afterwards halt and turn back because they started under the impulse of a sudden and ill-considered emotion. Christianity is righteous principle put in practice.
IV. SEALING THE COVENANT. Remember the hour, the spot, all the circumstances attending your public avowal of faith in Jesus Christ, and your covenanting with God and with His people. How have these vows been kept? How have the conditions of blessing been fulfilled? God has never failed you. Have you failed Him? Oh, these covenants! How many have been broken! These vows! How many have been slighted! We should frequently go back to the altar "under the hill," and recall the sealing blood.
V. NEW VISIONS OF GOD. This doubtless was a far more distinct vision than the former, when the law was given amid clouds and darkness and tempest. That was a display of majesty; this is of love. The language of the former was: Obey and thou shalt live. The language of the latter is: Love and confide. A little while before the vision was of a Law-giver. Now it is of a Saviour, inspiring confidence and peace. The mercy-seat appears. God's glory is seen in the face of Jesus Christ, typified by the sapphire stone and, as I suppose, by the dimly outlined form of the world's Redeemer.
(J. E. Twitchell.)
S. S. Chronicle."The Bible is so strict and old-fashioned," said a young man to a grey-haired friend who was advising him to study God's Word if he would learn how to live. "There are plenty of books written now-a-days that are moral enough in their teaching, and do not bind one down as the Bible." The old merchant turned to his desk, and took out two rulers, one of which was slightly bent. With each of these he ruled a line, and silently handed the ruled paper to his companion. "Well," said the lad, "what do you mean?" "One line is not straight and true, is it? When you mark out your path in life, do not take a crooked ruler!"
(S. S. Chronicle.)I. WHAT OCCURRED? The Law had been given, amplified (chaps. 21.-23), and endorsed by the people (Exodus 24:3). Necessary now to uncover that atonement which is ever the ground of God's dealings with man. Hence the altar. No soul was to touch it, for the atonement is the creation of God. Still man had a part in these covenantal transactions, hence twelve pillars = twelve tribes. But sacrifice on the altar — the burnt offering = life surrendered — and the peace offering = communion with God and one another. The sacrifices were slain by young men = the flower of Israel. The Levitical priesthood not yet. Every age has its own special service for God. The blood was preserved. Now the blood stands for life. Half disappeared in fire on the altar. Gone! = forfeited life of the sinner. Half thrown back upon the people = life restored to man. How Israel ascended to a higher plane of life (ver. 9). In the only possible way — representatively. Then came the vision of God (ver. 10). Then the banquet (see Song of Solomon 2:3, 4).
II. WHAT DID IT MEAN?
1. Salvation has its ground in God and God alone. Calvary potentially before the Christian era, actually since, the Divine ground of salvation.
2. Forfeited life is given back to man on the ground of Christ's atonement. Life, capacity, faculty, are all given back now to be man's very own.
3. Now again to be given back to God in consecration. Being now my very own (in the sense just hinted), I give my own to God. This self-surrender is vital. The surrender is to be complete in intent and purpose. And the obligation presses now. Delay is disloyalty.
4. There will then be peace. With God; with ourselves; with men.
5. Life will move on a higher level (vers. 9, 12, 13). (Emphasize the meaning in the words "And BE there": "And Moses went up into the Mount of God.") Valley men have no idea of the bracing atmosphere, the brilliant light, the wider view, the grander visions, to be found on the mountain-plateau. It is so in Switzerland; so with the mountains celestial.
6. There shall be visions of God (ver. 10). Bushnell says: "So gloriously has my experience of God opened His greatness to me, I seem to have got beyond all physical images and measures, even those of astronomy, and simply to think God is to find and bring into my feeling more than even the imagination can reach. I bless God that it is so. I am cheered by it, encouraged, sent onward, and, in what He gives me, begin to have some very faint impression of the glory yet to be revealed."
7. And banquetings and satisfactions of soul (ver. 11). As the body has its nutriment, so the soul. No more "husks." High thought befitting immortal man. Manna: "Hidden manna." Here on earth. At the marriage supper of the Lamb. Thereafter to all eternity.
(H. T. Robjohns, B.A.)
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