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6. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
7. And Moses came, and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him.
8. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.
9. And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and be. lieve thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.
10. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
11. And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
12. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, say. ing, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
13. There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.
Very solemn, and full of awe and wonder, is the whole of this account of the preparations for the delivery of the law, and of the covenant from Mount Sinai. Here, for the first time, the Almighty manifested himself in his glorious majesty to the thousands of Israel; for, although, we are expressly assured that they “saw no similitude, yet we are also told, (ver. 11,)“The Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.” The great intention of the Almighty, in this wonderful and supernatural manifestation, appears to have been to impress the minds of the Israelites for ever with two inexpressibly important truths, the inconceivable majesty of the Godhead, and consequently the absolute need of a mediator between God and man. For the purpose of teaching most powerfully the first of these great doctrines, Moses was directed to tell the people, that if any one attempted to draw near, or “to go up into the mount, or even to touch the border of it,” he should surely be put to death. Not only were bounds set to the mountain which the people were forbidden to pass, but even with this precaution, such was the danger that some might still “break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish," that the Almighty sent down Moses, after he had partially ascended the mount, to caution them a second time against such dangerous familiarity. These remarkable restrictions would, doubtless, impress the minds of the Israelites more forcibly than words possibly could, with the nature of Him with whom they had to do, and would teach them to approach the Almighty with reverence and godly fear. While every thing having been transacted through the hands of Moses, would habituate them to the necessity of that great and wonderful provision which the love of God had originated, and which in the fulness of time was to be made manifest, of a Mediator to go between God and man, even the man Christ Jesus.
How impossible is it, to read the awful and solemn account of this transaction, the thunderings and lightnings, the sentence of death awarded to all who even ventured to approach the mountain, upon which the
glory of God was resting, without raising our hearts in gratitude to our heavenly Father, for the far gentler and more merciful dispensation, “the better covenant,” under which we live. To know that we have a God whom we may always approach; who, although in the heaven of heavens, despises not the prayer of the lowest suppliant upon earth; who delights to see his children, not standing at the awful distance of condemned criminals, or terrified slaves, but drawing nigh unto Him through the blood of Jesus, and touching as it were, not merely the borders of the mount, which was forbidden upon the pain of death to the Israelites, but even the very hem of the Saviour's garment. How merciful, how tender is the character under which our heavenly Father has thus vouchsafed to reveal himself to us. Surely, if a prayerless Israelite was a thing unknown, a prayerless Christian must, under such encouraging circumstances, be a wonder even to himself. That a throne of grace, without any limits, any boundaries, any restrictions, should be for ever open to us; that He who sits upon that throne, should not only invite, but command as, to make known to him all wants, all trials, all disappointments, all sorrows; that a Mediator should stand continually before that throne, equally ready to present every faithful petition, and to ensure its acceptance; and yet that any can continue to remain at a distance, and gaze in silence, without even one faint wish to draw near, with no heart, no thought, no words for prayer, surely this must astonish the very angels of heaven themselves. Look once more at your privileges, and see if there be such a heart in
you as to reject them. All you need, all you can ever want, or wish, or desire, lies ready for you in the treasury of God; prayer, faithful, persevering, heartfelt
prayer, in the name and for the sake of Jesus, will bring it down; and can you refrain? Can you continue all your days, “poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked,” when sight, and clothing, and wealth, are all offered you in the one great gift, which the Father never refuses to them that seek it, namely, his Holy Spirit? Then remember that God has threatenings as well as promises: and that when the apostle has thus beautifully recounted our superior privileges, saying, “ Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, *** and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,” he immediately adds, “ See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven,” “ for our God is a consuming fire,”
[Here may be read from ver. 14, to the end of the chapter.)
CHAP. XX. 1—21.
1. And God spake all these words, saying,
2. I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondagc.
3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serce them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6. And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in pain.
8. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
10. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, ! and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12. Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
13. Thou shalt not kill.
The solemn preparations for the delivery of the law from Mount Sinai, and for the Almighty to enter into a special covenant with his chosen people,