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There is in all this transaction, a striking picture of what we have too much access to see a corresponding part of. Now that Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, is in the heavenly mount, having assu. red that he will come again, and erect his tabernacle among men, the general outcry is, · Where is the promise of his coming ? they think that the Lord is slack concerning his promise, and thus they proceed to idolatry. The hour is fast approaching when our Great Mediator will return from the mount, and execute the fierceness of his anger. The intercession of Moses in this passage is most beautifully expressed, see Isaiah lix. 16. and Psal. cvi: 23. ; and the whole history gives us the clearest view of the office of the Son of God, as well as the character of his people in all ages, a stiff-necked and rebellious people. - Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach.' He who redeemed his people by dying for their sins, now stands before God in their behalf; and while wrath is about to burst forth, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The breaking of the tables of the covenant, those stones which were the work of God, in distinction from those which were afterwards made by Moses, was evidently to set before Israel the nature of their rebellion, and their breach of the law of God. For it is plain from the manner in which Moses rehearses the circumstance, Deut. ix. 16. that it was not done hastily or unadvisedly, but he did it doubtless by divine instigation, before the eyes of the people.
Moses then took the object of their idolatry, brake it small as dust, burning it in the fire, and threw the dust of it into the water which descended from Horeb, and made the Israelite3 drink of it. This circumstance compared with the water of purification, and the water that causeth the curse, will remind the reader of Numbers v. 17. 19. The water mixed with the dust of their idol, descending into their bowels, was a fit representation of the curse of the law which they had broken ; while mixed with the water of the rock of Horeb, they were led to see whence justification could only flow. Moses then interrogates Aaron, " What did this people unto thee • that thou had brought so great a sin upon them? It seems not unlikely, that there is in this transaction likewise a figure of the perverting use which Israel afterwards made of the Aaronical worship, before Jesus the Mediator came down the first time from the mount. The account which Aaron gives of the people, is a very just and faithful picture of the human character : • The people
are set on mischief.' It has been justly remarked, that the terms in which Aaron makes his excuse for his transgression, is not a little similar to that of Adam. - The text tells us, verse 4. that Aaron fashioned the idol with a graving tool; but he says,
there came • out this calf,' verse 24. Aaron's iniquity was considered in a very aggravated view by heaven ; and he was also spared by the intercession of Moses. In verse 25. we are told that Aaron had made the people naked to their shame among their enemies. Some think that This nakedness was literal, as we know that it was a cominon practice
in heathen worship to strip themselves naked ; but the text seems capable of a simpler, and more consistent meaning. Naked, in the language of prophecy, is not only applied to clothing, but to ornaments, and particularly the exposing of nakedness is expressive of the effects of idolatry. By an attentive comparison of Ezek. xvi. 36, 37. xxiii. 18. 29. the meaning of the expression may be understood. When we read that Ahaz " made Judah naked,' 2 Chron, xxviii. 19. we cannot suppose he literally stripped them of their clothes, but when it is added, and transgressed against the Lord,' the nature of the nakedness is obvious. A church is naked and exposed to her enemies, when she is despoiled of that which is her glory and covering : • Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk • naked, and they see his shame,' Rev. xvi. 15. Naked is a term sy. nonymous with open and exposed. Thus we read : All things are na• ked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.' Now the open idolatry of Israel, stripped them naked of that which was their covering, and exposed their shame among their enemies.
We are told, verse 26. that Moses stood in the gate, viz. the open place of judgment, Gen. xxxiv. 20. Deut. xvii. 5. Ruth iv. 1. 11. when a very awful scene took place ; a grand separation is made in answer to the call of Moses, Who is on the Lord's side? The tribe of Levi, the priests of God, joined Moses, and at the commandment of God executed his judgment on their idolatrous brethren,-a glori. ous earnest of what shall take place, when the armies of heaven, clad in their white or priestly robes, shall follow the WORD OF GOD, where in righteousness he shall judge his enemies. The Levites were thus consecrated to the Lord for this service of zeal to his cause ; and thus obtained the blessing here promised, and pronounced by Moses, Deut. xxx. 9, &c. The tribe of Levi (joined) thas wiped out the stain of their father's sword, in connection with Simeon, by which he then lost the blessing, Gen. xlix. 5. 7. Moses again exer. cises the office of mediator, interceding for the people. His inter. cession in this case is very remarkably expressed, and has given rise to a very absurd mode of interpretation ; his expression, ver. 32. • and : if not, blot me 1 pray thee out of thy book,' has been compared with Paul's words, Rom. ix. 1, 2, 3. And Moses is supposed to offer to lay down his life, (say some
ne), or (as others suppose), to renounce his title to eternal life, as a ransom and atonement for Í. srael ; in the same manner as Paul is supposed to be wishing himself accursed from Christ, as a propitiatory victim for his Jewish kinsmen. The very idea is highly repugnant to revelation, and, instead of placating the Almighty, would doubtless be an act of high rebellion. Moses had been enrolled in the book of God as his vicegerent in leading the Israelites into Canaan. God had promised his divine presence and support in this great
work. Moses intercedes for forgiveness to them, and if not, but should God's threatening of consuming them, and withdrawing his presence, he prays to be blotted out, or to resign his office. The answer of God to Moses makes this very my
clear: 'Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of • book; therefore go, lead the people to the place of which I have ! spoken unto thee. Behold, mine angel shall go before thee,' &c. God executed his threatenings accordingly : all that generation fell in the wilderness : God awfully visited their iniquity upon their own heads. As we have mentioned Paul's words, Rom. ix. 3. it may be proper to mention, that text should certainly be read, For I once * or formerly wished myself accursed, or anathematised from Christ, as ".well as my brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh.' Paul had continual sorrow for them, because they were now enemies to the gospel ; they were under the influence of the same temper of mind which managed him when he persecuted the church of God. We shall only farther observe on the history in Exodus, that this idolatry, though thus punished, was but an earnest of what often afterwards appeared , God gave them
up to worship the host of heaven.' CHAP. XXXIII.-In entering upon such important portions of scripture as this chapter, we are apt to forget the design of our pages, which is merely to trace a faint outline of the apparent design of the Spirit of God in what is recorded, and not to enlarge. In the intercession of Moses, which we have just been considering, we find him pleading on the Lord's promise to the fathers. This chap. ter therefore opens with the Lord's commandment to Moses, io • depart and carry up the children of Israel to the promised land ;' that an angel, not the angel Jehovah, should be with them to drive out the inhabitants, but that his divine presence should not go among them. There is therefore no farther use for the tabernacle, nor ordir nances of service. The reader will observe, that the Lord calls them not my people,' which is the term of his covenant ; they • shall be to me a people;' but merely, the people whom thou hast • brought.' Such threatenings of withdrawing his presence, we are to consider as language similar to what the Spirit saith to the new testament chouches, I will spue thee out of my mouth.' In the 5th verse, God commands the people to put off their ornaments. We have had frequent occasion to mention these ornaments as being connected with worship. It is remarkable that the Greek Septuagint translates this
passage, • Put off the garments of your glory;' and it plainly appears, that the putting them off was connected with the removing of the tabernacle. In verse 7. we find Moses removing the tabernacle, and pitching it without the camp.
This was not the great tabernack, the pattern of which Moses received in the mount, for it was not yet erected, see chap. xxxvi. The Greek reads this verse, · And Moses took his tent,' &c. It
appears to have been a temporary erection, where the Israelites had been accustomed to worship, above which the pillar of fire and the cloud fiad rested, where Moses inquired of the Lord, and where he had administered justice to the people. The removal of this tent to a distance, was an important prout to them of the Lord's heavy dis
pleasure, and that he was now withdrawing from among them. Moses called it now the tabernacle of the congregation, and all-who sought the Lord went out to this tabernacle, without the camp.
This is the text, to which Paul directly refers, or which, we may rather say, he directly quotes, Hebrews xiii
. 13. Let us go forth • therefore unto him, without the camp, bearing his reproach.' It is remarkable, that those only who sought the Lord went out, or, as
• Let us go forth to him.' This going forth, was a pu. blic “profession of adherence to Jesus Christ, and furnishes a fresh instance of the great design of all God did with Israel, which was nothing else than to teach and preach Jesus Christ to them. Ale though nothing is said on this subject, the words of Moses incline us to believe, that going forth on this occasion subjected them to reproach. And we may lastly observe, that what is here recorded, confirms us in the opinion, that the whole of this part of the history of Israel, is a figure of what took place with their posterity, when they filled
up the measure of their iniquities, and God's tabernacle was removed from their camp; for it was on this occasion that Paul says to the faithful remnant among the Jews, Let us go forth ta him, &c.
The place of God's worship being thus withdrawn, Moses, the leader of the people, and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, leaves also that camp which had been polluted by their idolatry, and proceeds to the tabernacle. When the people observed Moses also leaving them, they stood every man in his tent door, and anxiously looking after Moses, 'to see what would follow until he entered the taber. nacle ; when that glorious symbol of God's presence, that which led those who sought the Lord to go forth, the cloUDY PILLAR, descended and talked with Moses. Here was a grand display of the God of Israel, in opposition to all idols, Jesus Christ himself foreshewing that important time when he should visit and redeem his people, appearing before the eyes of all Israel, as the CLOUDY PILLAR, descending to the door of the tabernacle, and there talking with Moses. Three things are here most wonderful. 1. The CLOUDY PILLAR. Nothing could foreshew the manifestation of God in flesh more gloriously than this appearance. That PILLAR OF FIRE, which had been their guardian and conductor from Egypt, which had appeared on Mount Sinai, in all the splendour of divine majesty, appearing clouded to their wondering eyes, it was a godlike pledge of what took place in the fulness of time, when the only begotten from the bosom of the heavenly father clouded the brightness of his glory in flesh and blood. When Jesus Christ appeared in the likeness of sinful Aesh, this cloudy pillar was seen, and thát, 2. Descending to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Let us think of the everlasting God, whose voice now shook the earth at Sinai, lying a babe from the womb of the virgin ; let us see him going a. bout, hungry and thirsty, weary and destitute, saying, “ The foxes
have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man
• hath not where to lay his head ;' let us see this same persecuted and despised man of sorrows, healing the sick, casting out devils, calming the raging sea, and raising the dead, and above all PREACHING THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR, and we shall then see the clOUDY PILLAR descending ; and, 3. Talking with Moses.
which was made fesh and dwelt among us, of whom, says John,' we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten • of the father, full of grace and truth. When the people saw this CLOUDY PILLAR at the door of the tabernacle, they rose up and worshipped. It is plain here, that they were taught to know, that he who thus appeared was God himself
, the only object of worship. They were yet suffering under divine displeasure for forgetting his words who said, • Thou shalt have no other gods before
ME;' and therefore they worshipped as knowing that he who spake these words, now appeared before their eyes as a CLOUDY PILLAR, at the door of the tabernacle. We must again entreat our readers attention, the most particular manner, to the words of the llth verse : And the Lord, viz, in the cloudy pillar, • spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto I his friends.' We shall afterwards have occasion to notice this nearness and intimacy of communication, as that which distinguished Moses from all succeeding prophets ; at present, we remark, 1. That in this close and intimate communication with Moses, all Is. rael had a grand view of the nearness of that intercourse between God and guilty man, wbich should take place, when in the last days God should speak to them. ' in his son,' Heb. i. 2. This glorious communication should indeed be « as a man speaketh unto his friend,' a revelation of the highest friendship to the children of men. 2. This same Moses, who was thus honoured with intimate commanication with the son of you in the CLOUDY PILLAR, was honour. ed with an interview with the same divine person, when his glory was veiled not in a cloud, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. Our readers will remember a communing which took place on the Holy Mount, of which Peter, James, and John, were witnesses. We shall only add, that it is not improbable, the subject of the friendly communication at the door of the tabernacle, and on the Holy Mount, was pretty much the same, “ The decease which he should ACCOMPLISH at Jerusalem. If any are disposed to doubt this, let them attend to such parts of this conversation as are recorded in the following parts of this chapter, which we shall now proceed to examine.
Moses, in the 12th verse, enters upon the most interesting subject, by what means God would bring up his people to Canaan. He had withdrawn his presence from the camp : there was no more intention of erecting his tabernacle ; God had only promised,' I will • send an angel. Moses knew well his own total unfitness for this great work, and, said he, thou hast not let me know by whom • thou wilt send.' Divine revelation to Adam, Abraham, and all