Lectures Introductory to the Pentateuch.

Exodus 1-18

There is hardly a book of the Old Testament that stands out in more decided contrast with the book of Genesis than the one which follows it most closely. And this is the more striking, because God employed the same inspired writer to give us both, as well as others. One of the most salient features of the book of Genesis is the variety in which the Holy Spirit has set forth the various principles on which God deals, the ways in which He manifests Himself, the special foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus, and this not only in respect to man but Israel and even the church in type. Consequently for this various development of the truth there is no book in scripture so remarkable as the very first of the Pentateuch: In fact, in a general way we may say that all the other books take up special truths, which are at any rate in the germ presented there. As for the second book, Exodus, there is one grand idea which pervades it — redemption The consequences of redemption, as well as the circumstances in which it was accomplished, are brought before us in a very full and complete manner, as we shall see. Further, not only the consequences of redemption, but that which may be the result when man, insensible to the grace which has wrought redemption, turns back on himself, and attempts to gain a footing by his own resources and faithfulness before God. How God deals with him thereon we shall also see before we have done with the book of Exodus. In making these few remarks, I believe we have touched on the principal topics which will come before us, and nearly in the order in which God has presented them.

First of all then we have a sketch of the chosen people in the land of Egypt.1 But a king is seen who knew not Joseph, and the afflictions which the Spirit of God had predicted long before to Abraham begin to thicken on his seed there. Nevertheless God is faithful, and the very efforts to destroy are met by His good hand, who produces faithfulness even in those that might have been supposed most of all subservient to the cruel designs of the king. This occupies the first chapter.

In the second, growing out of these circumstances and of the edict which doomed to death every man-child of Israel, appears the deliverer, — the type of an infinitely greater one. It is Moses, a man of whom the Spirit of God has made the largest use not only in the Old Testament but in the New, as in so many forms shadowing forth the Lord Jesus. His parents’ faith is not spoken of here, it is true, but, as we know, in the New Testament. The fact is here named that they hid him; and when they could no longer do so, or it may be, when they had no longer faith to proceed as before, they committed him to an ark of bulrushes in the river, when the daughter of Pharaoh takes up the child and adopts him as her own. Thus Moses was learned, as we are told, in all the learning of the Egyptians. In such a position he had the finest opportunities for assuaging the hard lot of the Israelites, and it might be for accomplishing that which was so dear to his heart, their deliverance from thraldom. This he entirely declines. Undoubtedly it must have been a far greater trial to his spirit than the relinquishment of any personal advantages. It exposed him necessarily to the reproach of folly from his brethren. For no race ever was more apt to find matter for blame than they, none quicker to see their own advantages or to speak out whatever they did see. But God was working not only for a design according to His own heart, but so that the manner in which that design was to be accomplished should bring Him glory. This Moses in measure understood; for faith always sees it, and holds to it just so far as it is faith. There may be, I grant you, the mingling of that which is of nature along with faith; and from this it appears to me that Moses was far from being exempt, either in his first appearance as one engaged for God with His people here below, or afterwards when God summoned him to accomplish the great work of which he had a certain anticipation, no doubt vague and dark, in his soul.

On this enterprise then we behold him going forth, when he was come to years of discretion. He sees an Egyptian maltreating an Israelite. This kindles all his affections on behalf of his brethren. Undoubtedly the affections were there; but this calls them out, and he acts accordingly, looking, it is said, this way and that way — by no means an evidence of singleness of eye. Yet here was just the situation. It was impossible for the Spirit, on the one hand, to blame the love that prompted the hand of Moses; it was impossible, on the other, to vindicate the act. God has just left it, as He always knows how to do — left what was of Himself to tell its own tale, whilst that which was not of Himself is before the spiritual judgment of those who have confidence in Him. And is there anything that more beautifully shows the character of scripture than this? In any other book there would be a kind of apology, if not an elaborate argument, a discourse on the matter, to vindicate God from all participation in what was far from being according to His own holiness.

Nothing shows the difference between God’s word and the way in which even men of God may handle, or feel it necessary to handle it, more strikingly than this. God is content to speak of things as they are without a word on His side to explain or account for it, or in anywise to soften matters for man. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Accordingly the tale is told with all simplicity. The self-same principle applies to hundreds of passages in the Scriptures; and therefore it seemed well to make a few remarks in a more general shape. We must distinguish between the statement of a fact in the Bible and any sanction given to it. This may help our appreciation of the word of God in all such cases. We are bound ever to refuse the thought that the record of facts in scripture implies that they are according to the full mind of God. The truth is that He speaks of good men and bad men; that He mentions not only what was excellent in the good, but such distressing and shameful things as draw out His own chastening it may be for a long while to come. God, in short, states things exactly as they are. He counts on faith in His own people; but they will always reckon that whatever there may be of good is from Him — whatever may be wrong is surely not so. It is an easily settled principle after all, and it accounts for much on which men’s minds otherwise are apt to stumble.

Moses then flees from Egypt, but not so much in fear of Egyptian enmity; against this he might have looked to God to sustain him, no matter what might be the pressure on his spirit. It was the unworthy dealing of his brethren which broke up all hope for the present. The man who was in the wrong too, as is always the case, had the bitter feeling against him who loved both, and would willingly have set them at one with each other; it was he who taunted Moses with the words, `’ Who made thee a ruler and a judge?” The Israelite’s own proud spirit was ready to insinuate pride in others. Moses then bends to the blast. The time was not yet come evidently for the deliverance of such a people. He retires from the scene to the land of Midian, and there is put through the necessary discipline for the mighty work he was yet to accomplish. Moses had certainly been hasty; and the Lord judged it. But he was right in the main; and the Lord accordingly left not to another but to him the due accomplishment of Israel’s deliverance when the fulness of time was come.

There, in his retirement, he receives from Jethro his daughter a stranger given him to wife, who bears him a son, the name of whom tells whither his heart turns. “I have been a stranger in a strange land,” is the word of comment that is made upon him. He was called Gershom, which means this — “a stranger here.”

In due time the unforgetting heart of God shows His remembrance of Israel. (Chap. 3) Abroad Moses was discharging his duty long enough for such thoughts to have passed away from him, as we might have supposed. But not so. At the back side of the desert in Horeb, the angel of Jehovah appears to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. “And he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” We are never to suppose that the manner of the revelation of God is an unimportant consideration. No doubt He is sovereign; but for that very reason He is sovereignly wise, and displays Himself invariably in such a sort as is most appropriate to the object in hand. Hence it was in no casual sort or merely arresting attention by its wonders that Jehovah here appears in the burning bush. It was meant to be an image of that which was then presented to the spirit of Moses — a bush in a desert burning but unconsumed. It was no doubt thus that God was about to work in the midst of Israel. Moses and they must know it. They too would be the chosen vessel of His power in their weakness, and this for ever in His mercy. Their God, as ours, would prove Himself a consuming fire. Solemn but infinite favour! For, on one hand, as surely as He is a consuming fire, so on the other the bush, weak as it is, and ready to vanish away, nevertheless remains to prove that whatever may be the siftings and judicial dealing of God, whatever the trials and searchings of man, yet where He reveals Himself in pitifulness as well as in power (and such it certainly was here), He sustains the object and uses the trial for nothing but good — no doubt for His own glory, but consequently for the very best interests of those that are His.

Hence, when He calls Moses to draw near, He first of all proclaims Himself the God of his fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This was the first announcement that was meant to act on the soul of Moses, and of course in due time on Israel. The time was coming when they should no longer be a family but a nation; and if God was about to reveal Himself after a special sort, He at the same time particularly brings before them His association with their fathers. We must never forget the ways in which God has acted before if we are to appreciate what He is doing now: and, in point of fact, our value for and intelligence of these things will be found to go together. It is by confounding the scriptures that men misunderstand them: if we would indeed enter into the real force of God’s word, it must always be by distinguishing the things that differ. Hence it is to be observed that first God draws particular attention to His being the God of the fathers. This of necessity would recall to Moses the special manner in which He made Himself known to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob as the Almighty God. We shall find this set out in express terms in a later chapter; but the substance of it seems conveyed on this first occasion when He directs attention to His being the God of promise, coupling consequently the names of the fathers with Himself.

God was now about to present Himself as the unchanging One that could and would accomplish His word according to the relation in which He and His people stood. Was it to be in view of His grace or their desert? Whether all were to be fully made good now, or whether only to a partial extent, — whether even the partial accomplishment was to be opposed and weakened, and useless as far as this could do it by Israel’s own folly and sin, all this would afterwards appear. In point of fact, as we know, there could be no such thing as a complete fulfilment apart from Christ. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus, the promised Seed, must come, if there was to be the making all the promises of God yea and amen in Him. If this furnish the direct reason why there could be no such fulfilment, the moral hindrances from the state of Israel — from man fallen — were quite as real, though necessarily indirect. Nevertheless God would give at least a partial accomplishment in him that was the type of Christ. How this was arrested is a most instructive lesson, but it will be found later on in this book.

However Jehovah does declare in full His deep interest in the people. And what a proof is this of never-failing goodness in God! For there was not one quality in the people which could in anywise move the heart towards them except their misery — not one worthy moral feeling, not one generous emotion, not the smallest care for the glory of God. Nay, they were ever ready to turn aside to reproach Himself, to slander His servants, and to abandon His will. All these things we learn in due time as they were known to Him before He began. Nevertheless God expresses in the most affecting manner His tender interest in them even as they were. There is nothing therefore that can hinder a soul from being the object of the most real love to God except the persistent rejection of Himself. There is nothing too low or too hard in man to hinder the power of God’s grace except the wilfulness that will not have Him at all.

The Lord then brings before Moses His care, saying, “I have surely seen the afflictions of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of the taskmasters, for I know their sorrow;” but He does not add, their cry to Him. We may say then, as a prophet did later, that they groaned; but they did not groan to God. It was but selfish sense of suffering. They groaned only because of their wretchedness; but there was no looking out to God — no counting on His mercy. Nevertheless, says He, “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Moses soon brings forward his difficulties and objections. Jehovah however meets all at first with quietness, and at the same time breathes comfort into the ear of His anxious and hesitating servant.

But what a lesson it is! Is this the man once so ready to smite Rahab and deliver Israel? The very same. Full of courage when God’s time was not come, he feels the obstacles when it is. It is often so! Moses thus replies, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name?” Is it not humbling? What a state! God’s people do not even know His name! “What shall I say unto them?” says Moses. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM. And he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” There is great force in these words. It was not merely what God was going to perform. Man probably would have preferred “I shall do;” but God takes His stand upon these weighty words, “I AM THAT I AM,” the self-subsisting, ever-being One. In truth, on Him hangs everything. All others are merely beings that exist; God is the only one who can say “I AM.” What exists was called into being, and may pass out of it, if God so please. I say not that they do, but that they may. Surely God is evermore and evermore God. This is what describes Him in His being at least. I am not now speaking of His grace, but of His own essential being — “I AM.”

Accordingly, as a message to Israel, surrounded by the vanities of the heathen — those imaginary objects of adoration whose rôle really was that of demons taking advantage of man’s superstition and folly, it was a fine and an admirable name for those who might ask it: “I AM hath sent me.”

But there is more than this; for God takes care to utter another word: “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you.” He is still more explicit. “Jehovah the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you. This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” How infinitely gracious of God, that the name taken for ever in connection with Israel is not that which relegates every other creature into its own nothingness, which makes all to be merely the consequence of His word and of His will! He loves and cherishes the name in which He has bound up the objects of His choice with Himself.

It reminds one of that which the Gospels tell us. When here below Jesus never proclaimed Himself as the Christ on the one hand, or as the Son of God on the other, though truly both, and always accepting and vindicating either when He was thus confessed by others. For we know that Jesus was the Head of the kingdom, and that “Christ” is the title in which He takes His rights over Israel and their land, which will be in force in the day that is coming. And, what is more striking still, He does not even take His stand upon His being the Son of God, though this was His eternal name. It may be said that it belongs to Him more strictly and personally in the highest sense than any other; for He became the Christ, but He is and will be (as He always was) the Word, the Son, the only begotten Son of the Father. There was no becoming here. This is what He is from everlasting to everlasting. But for all that He does not assert it. What name does He take then? What does He Himself delight in? The chosen name that Jesus habitually puts forward is “Son of man.” “Whom do ye think that I, the Son of man, am?” Where all was morally glorious, there is nothing finer than this. For, as we know, “the Son of man” is not merely the title in which He linked Himself with man here below, but the name of sorrow and suffering, of shame and rejection — it is the name undoubtedly of glory, and this of a richer and fuller sort, according to the counsels of God, than anything connected with His place as the Christ, the object of Jewish hope and promise; for it opens the door into His reign for ever and ever over all peoples, tribes and tongues under the whole heaven, nay, as is known, over all the universe of God the Creator. Nevertheless it was the name of suffering first, if of such high and widespread glory afterwards.

So with Moses, Jehovah seems to be speaking according to the grace, as far as this could be unfolded then, which afterwards shone in the blessed Lord here below. In the latter case, naturally, it was more connected with His own person as known in the Godhead. For we must ever remember that He who showed Himself then as Jehovah was, no doubt, the One whom we know as the Son of God. When revealing Himself as Jehovah their God then, He delighted to take a name which in some way linked Himself with His people. This was the more touching, because He knew right well how these very men were about to disgrace Him. He knew how they would depart from all that was before His own mind, seeking in self-confidence that which would give an apparent momentary importance, but be sure to bring a blot for ages on His character as well as ruin to themselves, — for so lies the Jew now. The actual wreck of Israelitish hopes is the result both of their assuming legal condition in the first place, and next of their rejection of the grace of God that came in by Jesus Christ our Lord, and was proclaimed by the Spirit sent down from heaven.

There is another important point to note in the chapter. Jehovah shows from the very first how all the consequences of His raising and sending Moses to Pharaoh were before His own mind. He was surprised by nothing. It is of course as simple as necessary for those who know God, but none the less delightful to find it stated clearly. The same thing pervades the New Testament. It is sweet to see these analogies; because in one respect there can scarcely be two volumes more different than the Old Testament and the New Testament; but just as clearly there is everywhere the same mind, and the same source — God Himself dealing with a different subject, but the same God no matter what He deals with. Just so is it in the New Testament. The gospel of John, for instance, discloses the end from the beginning; but that is because here we have Jesus known as the One who is before the beginning. He is the sent One, but a consciously divine person. Consequently in perfect harmony with this all things are known (and no testimony needed by Him), what God is no less than man, with as absolute a comprehension of the future as of the past or present.

Here then Jehovah says, “I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.” In truth their wages were of long date, never having been paid. It is mere folly to suppose there was any, the smallest, infringement of what was right and becoming.2 It is a matter, perhaps, too well known to need many words, that every woman was simply to ask of her neighbour, etc., vessels of silver and of gold, with raiment, which were to be put on Israel’s sons and daughters. It was to spoil their oppressors by divine authority, and no question whatever of deceit or dishonesty. The impression of “borrowing” given in the Authorized Version is by no means necessary, nor does the connection justify it. There is no such thought as that they had no right involved in the matter. There was nothing the people and even at last the king of Egypt were not disposed to concede: later on in spite of all their own interests in the retention of the children of Israel, they were willing and desirous that they should go, and that they should not go away empty. Their proud will was broken, although their hearts were by no means with God. There was no kind of communion, I need hardly say: nevertheless they bowed to that which they had so stubbornly opposed before. And then Moses speaks, and says, “But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, Jehovah hath not appeared unto thee.”

Then follow signs of a miraculous kind in proof of Jehovah’s mission of His servant. (Ex. 4) The attention of Moses is drawn to what was in his hand — a rod which, when cast on the ground, became a serpent. The word is somewhat vague, and probably has a wider meaning and not so definite as serpent. It is the same word that is used for sea monsters generally. It is commonly known that what is translated “whales” in Gen. 1:21 means the huge creatures of the deep; so that it is not quite correct to restrain it to a “serpent” here, as it is certainly erroneous to call it “whales” there. It properly expresses a monster which might be, I presume amphibious, not certainly confined like a fish, still less like a whale, to the waters, nor confined to the land like a serpent. But, however this may be judged by others, it would appear that, although not specifically a serpent, it was meant here to embrace a creature with such qualities. The point of this wonder was the change of power (which a “rod” means in scripture) into something Satanic. The rod is the symbol of authority; it may also represent chastening. But then no chastening is right unless it flow from just authority; and hence the connection between the two ideas in this emblem. The rod of power then taking Satanic form seems to be meant by the sign first committed to Moses. Such was exactly the state of things in the land of Egypt.

But there was more; and hence a far more personal test. Moses was told by Jehovah to put his hand in his bosom. Undoubtedly the place was significant, as well as the effect; for when he took it out again, his hand was leprous as snow — the well-known type of sin, at least in its defiling character if not in the powerlessness to which it reduces man. Throughout the word of God there are two standing types of sin. Both appear to be used in the New Testament, as is familiar to us, if one of them is more prominent in the Old. Paralysis, or palsy as it is called in our version, is the type of the effects of sin as thoroughly destructive of human strength — of sin in its plunging the guilty into a state of weakness — “without strength, as it is said in the Epistle to the Romans. Leprosy is the type of it in its defilement. These are the two forms more particularly in which it is presented.

But, on the other hand, when Moses put his hand into his bosom again at the word of God, it became as his other flesh.

If they would not hearken to these two signs, there was a third which would affect the river. We all know what the Egyptians thought of the Nile. That which ought to have been for refreshment as well as for purifying becomes the sign of death — life no longer in the body. Such is the known significance of blood symbolically in scripture.

All this evinces the absolute command of all circumstances by God, but in His servant’s hands, and in favour of His people. Let them know that God would work according to what belongs exclusively to Him. There could be nothing more thorough. Look at authority in the world, or at that which pertains to man, or at the resources of nature: a man brings the vouchers of One who was sovereign over every domain. This seems to be conveyed in these three signs. At the same time remember this caution here, my brethren; and it seems to be a wholesome thought ever to bear in mind. We must not assume in such points that we have ascertained the whole of the truth, even though we may have got some true elements. Confident as we may be that we are taught of God, it does not necessarily follow that there may not be another side of truth which we have yet to learn more fully. In fact it is one of the blessed features of the word of God that we can never assume to possess an exhaustive view of scripture. For scripture savours of God’s own infinity, however He may come down to us, and adopt the language of men, as we know He has done. It is owned that of course human language is the finite; but then He who comes down into the finite is Himself infinite, and we must never lose sight of this, although put now in its most general shape. It is indeed a most important truth to hold fast, and no less full of consolation and blessing for our souls.

Let us be thankful then for all that which commends itself to us as true and of God, but never assume that we have apprehended the whole truth. “Now we know in part.” Let us depend on God to bring out the truth for our intelligence in the measure which fits His glory, and as He pleases to accomplish more fully the purpose for which He has revealed it.

Then Moses finds another difficulty. He says, “I am not eloquent” — one wonders that he took so long to find it out. “I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” If God sent him, what had that to do with the matter? The real difficulty is always this, — one thinks about oneself, instead of the Lord. It is astonishing what a difference it makes when one can afford and has made up one’s mind to drop self. It is clear that God must be the best judge. If He chooses a man that is slow of speech, who can say Nay? Nevertheless let none suppose that this is said in the smallest disrespect of Moses — not so, but for our own profit and instruction, and to guard us lest we should enact the same part with even less excuse; for God has set before us the wavering of a servant so faithful for the express purpose of guarding ourselves from the like or other failures.

The upshot is that at last the Lord is really displeased with His servant’s facility in objecting. “The anger of Jehovah was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother?” Great humiliation! He might have been the simple and happy instrument of God in the mighty work; but Aaron is brought forward to share it. “I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.”

Thus we find the junction of Aaron with Moses, which has many important consequences, and some of them of a serious character, as this book records.

Another fact is mentioned before we close the chapter, and one of deep and grave practical instruction. God was going to put honour on Moses, but there was a dishonour to Him in the house of Moses already. God could not pass over that. How came it that Moses’ sons were not circumcised? How came it that there lacked that which typifies the mortifying the flesh in those who were nearest to Moses? How came it that God’s glory was forgotten in that which ought to have been ever prominent to a father’s heart? It appears that the wife had something to do with the matter. Accordingly mark how Jehovah deals in His own wisdom. There never is a hindrance but through flesh; there is no difficulty brought in to distract a faithful man of God from obedience, but God accomplishes the end, only in a far more painful ‘way, and often by the very one who obstructed. What a safeguard then to be childlike and subject to the Lord! How many sorrows are thus escaped! But no escape would God allow from that which was so repugnant to the feelings of Zipporah. In fact she at last was obliged to do what she most hated, as she said herself in her son’s case. But more than that, it endangered Moses; for God had the controversy with him — not with his wife. Moses was the responsible person; and God held to His order. It is said that Jehovah met and sought to kill him. The consequence was that his wife had to take a sharp stone and execute the work herself. It must be done, and with incomparably greater pain and shame to herself than if done in God’s time and way. Let us remember this.

Now that God was vindicated in the household of Moses, his mission could begin. (Ex. 5) Public work can only rightly follow when all is well at home. So Moses and Aaron go in and tell Pharaoh the message of Jehovah; and Pharaoh, with the insolence natural]. to him, replies, “Who is Jehovah, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto Jehovah our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.” But the result of their interference is that the tasks are increased, and that the children of Israel groan yet more, quick enough to resent it too, as if, instead of being deliverers, Moses and Aaron were themselves the more immediate causes of the troubles which thickened on the people. This is described in the rest of the chapter.

But Jehovah, in the beginning of Ex. 6, speaks to Moses once more when he returns,3 and says, “Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.” We come to greater precision here. Carefully remember that this does not imply that the word “Jehovah” was not known. We have no real reason to doubt that men heard it from the beginning. As a word “Jehovah” occurs frequently in the book of Genesis, in a way which shows not only that the writer knew the term, but that it was in use from the beginning. What then is the true meaning? That God now takes this name as the revealed character according to which He was going publicly to act on behalf of the children of Israel. Observe, as illustrating what is here meant, that when our Lord came, as scripture says, He declared the Father. What an absurd inference it would be that the term “Father” had never been known before? This clearly is not conveyed anywhere, but that God had not before revealed Himself in that relationship as He did then. It is so precisely with the term “Jehovah.” Thus, in Gen. 22, when Isaac was taken from under the sentence of death, Abraham calls the place “Jehovah-Jireh.” The word therefore must have been well enough known: only God did not yet take it as the form and ground of His dealings with any people on the earth; now He does with Israel. It was not enough to be the almighty shield of the children as of the fathers: no matter what their weakness and exposure in the midst of jealous and hostile and wicked Canaanites, He had been the protector of the wandering patriarchs. It was what was involved in the formula of His revelation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But now He goes farther, showing Himself the unchangeable and eternal God, the God who was indeed as a governor true to the promise He had made of old. Accordingly this is precisely what is involved in the name of Jehovah. Here He was ready for His part to accomplish. There might be unreadiness on their part, but He at any rate was able to make good all He had promised. And thus fittingly He, as Jehovah their God, pledges before them His own unchangeable character to accomplish His promises. Whether it would come to a result or not depended on altogether different circumstances — not on any failure in Him.

This then is brought before Moses and Aaron, and soon after we find the message given, “Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.” They were not to be in anywise cast down by the first replies. They must not be disheartened even by the growing troubles of the children of Israel. They had this warrant to go on in the name of Jehovah.

Then (Ex. 6:14-27) the genealogy is given, which calls for no remark, save only to notice how grace cannot but assert itself. For Moses was not the elder brother but Aaron, and in the genealogy the order of nature is maintained, as, for instance, in verses 20, 26, “These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom Jehovah said, Bring out the children of Israel.” But the moment we come to spiritual action, it is always “Moses and Aaron” — never “Aaron and Moses.” How slow we are to learn the perfectness of the word of God! Yet nothing is like it for simplicity and accessibility. Our difficulty is that the very familiarity of men with it hinders their taking notice of what is under their eyes. There it is: when our eyes are opened, we see how unique its character is. And this has an amazing effect upon the spiritual man, who nourishes himself on the sound words of God, because we are all apt otherwise to be careless and to use words lightly. If it is a great thing to enjoy the profit of good company, there is no company or converse like that of God. This is the way in which the Lord gives us simplicity, and at the same time a depth entirely beyond ourselves. How good the Lord that speaks to us about the things not of grace only but of nature! Do we as Christians quarrel with such matters? We acknowledge them, owning nature in its place; and quite right. It is all a vain thing to deny that which is right according to the order of nature. Always avoid onesidedness. There is nothing more dangerous in the things of God. Give nature its place, and what belongs to it; but always maintain the superiority of grace in order to do so. And take care that, not only knowing and enjoying it, we walk suitably to grace: else it loses its character. Grace is then no more grace, but only a vain pretension — the flippant use of words without power.

In Exodus 7 begins the great struggle, and wonders upon wonders awfully fall on the devoted land of Egypt. Observe, as to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, that this was in no-wise the case before the pronounced infidelity of Pharaoh. God never compelled a man to be au unbeliever. In short, unbelief in the first instance is never the consequence of judicial hardness on God’s part. Is there no such thing then as hardening? Does not scripture mean that there is? Undoubtedly hardening there is. It is an equal error to suppose that God hardens a person when He first sends a testimony as to deny that He does harden after His testimony has been refused. The fact is, both are true, and this is just another instance of the importance of not taking up particular views of scripture, but of being guided and formed in our thoughts by all scripture.

God then sent a testimony to Pharaoh, as He does to everyone in some form or another. But man left to himself invariably refuses the testimony of God. He knows it is God; he has the consciousness that he is doing wrong in refusing it; yet he does refuse because he does not like and dare not trust God, whose word interferes with everything that he likes. Hence man gives himself up to unbelief, and then God may either at that or a later time, according to His own wisdom, seal up a person in a judicial hardness which is a distinct positive act on God’s part. I hold therefore most strongly that hardening is not merely on man’s side, and in the judicial sense not on man’s at all, though no doubt the result of man’s sin. God hardens because man refuses His word. Thus the hardening is a judicial act on God’s part, which comes in after man has proved himself an unbeliever, and has persisted in it. It was so with Pharaoh, and his is a typical case, the permanent warning in the New Testament, as it is the first specified instance in the Old It is the one which the apostle Paul quotes for this purpose. Consequently it is the standing witness of this solemn truth. And remember that this is not a mere exceptional fact. It is commoner than people imagine. It will be on a great scale in Christendom shortly (2 Thess. 2), as I have little doubt that it may be in many individual cases now, and has always been so. Thus it was when our Lord Jesus was here, and the presence of the Spirit, instead of preventing, confirmed it. Hence, whether on a great scale or in individual dealings of God, nothing can be more certain than that there is such an action on His part. At the same time it is never God who makes man an unbeliever. Hardening is a judgment which comes when man persists in unbelief in the face of distinct and repeated testimony from God.

The ten plagues follow (Ex. 7-11), on which one or two general remarks may be made. They were particularly suited in the wisdom of God to humble Egypt. It was not only an infliction on the land; it was not only a deep pain and anguish to the natives, and this with increasing intensity; but it was a solemn contest between Jehovah and the gods of Egypt. The plagues were calculated to smite them most acutely in what constituted their religion. For instance, take the Nile: we know the boastfulness of Egypt in that river which they supposed to be the great earthly emblem of God. On the other hand it is well known what all these ancient nations thought of the light of the sun, and how preternatural darkness (with light for Israel in Goshen) must have struck them. Again, bodily cleanliness was no small part of heathenism which could do nothing for the soul: more particularly was it so with Egyptian heathenism. It is plain that the infliction of lice or gnats, if either be the meaning of the term — at any rate a loathsome insect which made life almost intolerable to man and beast — was particularly humiliating to Egypt. Thus a few of those points are merely touched without entering into details; for it is evident that this would keep us longer than is suitable in what I propose for the present. In these repeated strokes we find then God dealing with the gods as well as with the men and habits of Egypt. The controversy was with their opposition to the true God, as well as with their oppression of His people.

Even rationalism does not in every case venture to deny the supernatural character of the phenomena related in Ex. 7-12. Some of the most sceptical are compelled to admit that the ten plagues were all actual and historical events. Their effort is to strip and reduce them to the uttermost by exalting circumstances, which bear a somewhat similar appearance either ordinarily or occasionally, to a measure of correspondence. Thus, alongside the first plague (Ex. 7:15-25), they put the fact that Ehrenberg in 1823 saw the inlet of the Red Sea, near Sinai, stained a blood-red colour by cryptogamic plants. Did this kill the fish in the sea or make the waters to stink? Did it affect every pond and stream, nay every vessel of wood and stone? They cannot deny that there is all possible difference between the reddish tint of the Nile for some weeks in June, without one of these consequences as compared with so severe a blow in or about January on the river of their pride and idolatry, which had seen the cruel death of Israel’s male children.

Again, after that plague of blood bad run its course in vain for seven days, that of frogs rose up from the streams, rivers, and ponds, and the land was covered with these actively disgusting objects, as the waters had shocked and sickened them before. (Ex. 8:1-15) How humbling this second judgment must have been to a people who included frogs among their sacred animals — to see them, an object of detestation, crowd their houses, and beds, and ovens, and kneading-troughs! Never do these animals annoy the Egyptians at the beginning of the year; still less do they come and go at the command of a man like Moses.

The third and fourth plagues (in our version, lice and swarms of flies, Ex. 8:16-32,) may be open to discussion as to their specific character; but there can be no doubt that they dealt with man and beast with increasing intensity and the more distressingly if they interfered with personal cleanliness, and made the killing of what they venerated needful in self-defence. The rationalist counts at least the first of these “a natural phenomenon of the country,” the wonder being its origination by Aaron and the exemption of the Israelites. He is thus more incredulous than the magicians who said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” — not a mere combination of unusual circumstances with a natural phenomenon.

The fifth plague (Ex. 9:1-7) was a very heavy pestilence which at Moses’ word fell the next day on the cattle of Egypt, not on those of Israel. This was the sharper a blow as immediately before Pharaoh went back even from his promise of three days’ absence, Moses had pleaded the inexpediency of their sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes. How many victims fell now! It is well known what the ox and the sheep were in their eyes.

Then came the sixth judgment (Ex. 9:8-12), a boil breaking forth with brains on man and beast in all Egypt, and notably on the magicians who could not stand before Moses. Such a purulent eruption baffled their scrupulous avoidance of impurity. The vanity of their divinities was as manifest as of their own arts of healing.

Next, the seventh plague (Ex. 9:13-35), hail with thunder and consuming fire, drew from Pharaoh the confession of his sin and a promise to let the people go, broken by him as soon as Jehovah heard the intercession of Moses. Perversity alone could in this see phenomena ordinary in Egypt, let the time or other circumstances be what they might.

The threat of the locusts to eat what remained from the hail brought Pharaoh’s servants to their senses; but on the demand of Moses that all should go, old and young, children and cattle, to keep their feast to Jehovah (not a word of three days now), they are driven out from before the king, and the eighth blow falls all over the land. The powers of the air were at the command of Jehovah and against Egypt. (Ex. 10:1-20)

So still more solemnly in the preternatural darkness of the ninth plague. (Ex. 10:21-29) The sovereign who derived his name from the sun availed nothing for all the land of Egypt, while the darkness which might be felt was made visible in its source by the light which all the children of Israel had in their habitations.

It is sad to hear a so-called orthodox antagonist of rationalism weaken the tenth infliction (Ex. 11) by the remark that “it must not be inferred that none of the first-born remained alive in the land, or that none besides the first-born died.” And it is rank infidelity to say that “the eternal (?) laws of nature are sufficient to effect whatever he intended to bring about in the history of redemption.” It is to deny God’s word, if not God Himself.

At last in Exodus 12 comes the grand decisive stroke, where there was no appearance of second causes, and the hand of God made itself felt in an unprecedented way. Murrain and even hail were not such uncommon visitors in Egypt, still less so were other plagues. It was impossible to deny the peculiarity of some of the plagues. At the same time all were so distinctly according to His word, and fell one after another with such alarming frequency and tremendous force on them, that they confessed the hand of God. The very magicians themselves owned themselves defeated; for whatever they might do with their enchantments at first, they were soon silenced. But at length comes the last plague inflicted, the slaying of the first-born in the land, and with it the line of demarcation still more evident between the friends and foes of Jehovah. Even in the third and fourth plagues we find God marking off His people. At first they may have been involved in a general way, but gradually a separation is made more and more plain. Now it was undeniable. Another plague might, if not must, be the destruction of the nation. Israel must leave now. Pharaoh had scorned Jehovah’s call for the homage of His first-born Israel; and from the beginning had been warned that if he refused to let him go, “behold, I will slay thy son, thy first-born.” (Ex. 4:22) Heads of houses did fall afterwards at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s host; but the ten plagues were in the way of preparatory chastenings, not the figure of so wide and indiscriminate a judgment.

But the question which was decided that paschal night affected the Jew not less than the Egyptian. God was there as a Judge, dealing with man’s sin. How then could Israel escape? This was what had to be set forth: a slain lamb becomes the sole means of security4 — the sprinkled blood of the lamb. There were other requisitions on God’s part which showed that this had another and an infinitely more solemn character than the preceding plagues. Not a fact only but a type, still it was a type not of an earthly woe but of a judgment before the eyes of God — judgment of sin. Hence there were not merely insects, or the elements brought in, but God employing a destroyer for the first-born of man and beast. Here man had to face death, and that in what was dearest to him — his first-born.

As to the difficulties raised in Bishop Colenso’s chaps. 20, 21, the small number of priests for their work, they are imaginary and prove great inattention to the facts in Scripture. Thus Aaron and his sons had no such duty in the Passover, as we find in the extraordinary temple celebration recorded in 2 Chr. 30:5. In Egypt it was essentially a family feast, and so probably in the wilderness: certainly not one word then ties it to the presence or action of the priests. Its family character appears in the New Testament also. The Israelites who were not circumcised in the wilderness could not have found work for Aaron and his sons; for that rite was the basis for all the rest, and yet it was certainly neglected there and then.

Hence the Passover is brought before us of which the New Testament makes great account — the type of Christ the Lamb of God sacrificed for us, with the striking accompaniment of leaven absolutely excluded Leaven represents iniquity in its tendency to extend itself by assimilating what was exposed to its action This ordinance then means the disallowance and putting away of all evil that belongs to man in his fallen state. The flesh of the lamb was to be eaten not raw or sodden, but roast with fire, the strong and evident sign of fierce unsparing divine judgment It must and ought to be so; for herein Christ’s death met our sins and God’s judgment. Thus and thus only was the Israelite to eat of the lamb, sanctified by and to this holy feast, eating of its roast flesh that night and leaving none till the morning, or, if aught remained, burning it with fire. It was a matter between God and the soul, outside the domain of sense and nature. It was apart from all common food. All the congregation of Israel might and must eat it, but no stranger — unless circumcised, no foreigner, no hired servant, but only he who was bought and circumcised; and when eaten, bitter herbs must accompany it — repentance on our part, the fruit of the truth applied to us by grace. “And thus then shall ye eat; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is Jehovah’s passover.”

On the other hand the feast of the Passover did not comprehend in its type the full result of Christ’s work in comfort and blessing. There was no communion. As it is said of this feast elsewhere, “Every one went to his own tent;” so although it was here the house of the Israelite in the land of Egypt, still communion is not seen. In a certain sense what was set forth is yet more important, as it lies at the bottom of communion, without which there could be none according to God’s holy nature.

In short, the Passover was the judgment of sin before God. As He never loses sight of its need, so we never can make light of it without loss to our souls. Much as one rejoices through the mercy of God in that which is built upon it and is its complement, sweet and precious as it is to follow by the way of resurrection into heavenly glory itself, never forget for a moment that what stands alone in depth of suffering and in efficacious value before God is the death of Christ. This then is brought before us here with the utmost possible care; as the Spirit of God gives immense scope to the allusions elsewhere. Indeed, it is one of those feasts that are never to cease while souls are to be saved. Peculiar to the land of Egypt as the only feast that could be celebrated there, it was laid down specifically for the wilderness (Num. 9); and when Israel shall enter the land again, even when the time of glory arrives for the world, still there will be the feast of the Passover. So will it be for earthly people, when gathered back to God’s land here below. Thus the Passover has, above all, a fundamental and a permanent character beyond all other feasts. Hence therefore the children of God may surely gather what its antitype must be to God Himself.

But the subject is so familiar to us that we need not enlarge upon the minutiæ of this feast. I will only add, that in Exodus 13 we find another thing — a character stamped on the firstborn brought into connection with the Passover.5 They belonged to God henceforth after a special sort as the consequence of deliverance from Egypt. But besides this complete devotedness we see also the ordinance of the unleavened bread in this connection, that is, unfeigned purity of heart by faith.6 The two things are here put together as flowing from the sense of a divinely wrought deliverance. This is remarkably evinced in the character now given them, as well as their preciousness with God. He who delivered them claimed them as His own. If the firstborn of an animal could not be sacrificed, it must like man’s firstborn be redeemed. “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn.” This, as well as the connected eating of unleavened bread, is founded on the Passover.

But Exodus 14 brings before us another order of ideas. Though there can be no stable foundation without the sacrifice of Christ, in itself it does not give, but only lays the basis for, the full blessing of grace in redemption. Without it there is nothing good, righteous, or holy, as far as we are concerned; without it there is no adequate dealing with sin; without it there is no vindication of the majesty of God. Nevertheless peace is impossible if we have only that which answers to the Passover. The soul must enter into what is beyond, if we are to have real rest and enjoyment and communion. Hence we find here that God permits the full power of the enemy to be arrayed against Israel. They never were in greater alarm than after they had partaken of the paschal feast; but that alarm was used of God to show the total inability of Israel to cope with the difficulty. It was for the purpose of having the full power of Satan brought out against His people that He might demolish it for ever. And so He does. Pharaoh, his host and his chariots, — all the flower of Egypt — were there drawn up and ready to devour the poor children of Israel. Destruction in one way or another seemed to be inevitable. The sea was before them; they were hemmed in on every side, with Pharaoh and his host behind them: how was it possible to conceive a door of deliverance there? God there and then was about to accomplish a deliverance without precedent, which remains the bright and strong ground for counting on such a God. Thus, whatever difficulties might rise before Israel, no matter what their source or character, the day of the Red Sea is always, whether in the Psalms or the prophets, the point to which the heart of an instructed Israelite turned. It was there that God showed, not merely what must be in order that He should be able righteously to abstain from judging (and hence destroying) a sinful people, but what He is in defence of His people against all their foes, were they the mightiest.

Accordingly then this is the great truth taught in Ex. 14; and it is here that God takes the place properly of Saviour-God. Salvation always means a great deal more than that my sins are judged in the death of Christ. Salvation means that I am brought consciously to know God in the triumph of redemption by Christ for me. Hence it will be found that in the doctrine of the New Testament there is never the allowance of such a thought as that salvation is only the beginning of the blessing. People not imbued with scriptural truth are often apt to talk of salvation in a slighting or at least superficial way. They speak of a person perhaps as “not happy; but at any rate he is saved.” Never do we meet with language like this in the New Testament. Salvation means known conscious deliverance. It is not merely a good hope of being delivered, but that the person himself by grace has no doubt about it. Of this people often lose the true force by an unscriptural phraseology. Indeed the denial of salvation as a present status is part of the current coin of Christendom, and the truth is opposed in one way or another by the parties who otherwise oppose each other. Arminianism naturally resists it, as its doctrine causes salvation to turn largely on man’s deserts; while Calvinism would consent to salvation in “the purpose of God” or some jargon of the kind, while meanwhile the object of it may have no comfort, nor solid footing whatever for his soul. Far removed from both is the truth and the language of scripture; and to scripture we must hold.

Thus in Romans 5 salvation is very clearly referred to, and put in full contradistinction to what God has wrought for us by the blood of Christ. The apostle says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us: much more then, being now justified by his blood” (it is evidently the same grand truth as the Passover), “we shall be saved from wrath through him.” It is clear that salvation here is not simply that a person is purged from guilt, but the real application of Christ’s work in all its fulness; only that we have it not yet for our bodies. “We shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (this was the beginning), “much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life.” It is plain therefore, that salvation requires and involves not only the death but the life of Christ; that salvation supposes not merely guilt removed through His blood, but ourselves maintained, and to be brought through all difficulties, past, present, and future. Thus it is a complete deliverance from all that can be brought against us; not a going through the world with hope of protective mercy, which is the notion of man, but a complete victory over the foe present and future.

The type or principle of this we have here for the first time when Moses says “this day” and speaks about the salvation of Jehovah; and again, later on in the chapter, “Jehovah saved Israel.” How beautiful the accuracy of scripture! We might have put in that Jehovah saved Israel on the night of the paschal lamb; but nowhere then is such an expression heard. No; they were sheltered, but in the true sense not yet “saved.” Salvation means the known destruction of their foes, God having risen up in the majesty of His power, and manifested it completely in their favour. Here they were clearly on the simple ground of grace; and immediately afterwards we have the triumphant song of Moses and the children of Israel — “I will sing unto Jehovah, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. Jah is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation.” This last phrase then is not merely a casual expression; it is the purposed and suited language of the Holy Ghost. We are meant to take notice that now we can speak of “salvation,” not before. (Ex. 15)

But there is more than this. There are some weighty consequences of this wonderful work of God, and one of them is this: “He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation.” It has been often remarked, and very justly, that although Genesis is so prolific of the various counsels and ways of God, there is the more marked an absence of the special truth of Exodus in it. Thus, although we have sacrifice as such, covenant and other kindred dealings of God, redemption in its full import at least is never brought before us in that book. I am not aware of anything of the sort. By redemption I mean not merely a price paid to purchase us that we may belong to God (this indeed is not the proper import of the word), but rather in its precise meaning this too that God has broken the power of the adversary, ransoming and freeing us for Himself. Such is redemption. I arrant you that to the Christian both these truths are made good. He is bought with a price, as we are often told in scripture, and we know it. But the effect of the purchase is that we become the bondmen of the Lord; the effect of redemption is that we become the freemen of the Lord. As ever, man is quick to put the two things in opposition. He cannot understand how a person can be both a freeman and a bondman. But the truth is certain, and both clearly revealed. The reason why a man finds it hard to put the two truths together is that he trusts himself and not God, and this because he wants to be free from the restraints of His will and word. It wants but little thought and reflection for a person to understand that each of them is not only quite just, but that they are both thoroughly compatible and harmonious. Can we not comprehend brethren, that we were under the power of an enemy of God? In the face of this, when enslaved to him, redemption was the putting forth of God’s own power in Christ in a way suitable to His majesty and holiness, in which not a single claim was left unsettled, not a single requisite was not answered, not a single sin of man but was judged, yet all and every quality in God was honoured, and we are brought out triumphant and free. Thus we are made to be the Lord’s freemen; and what should do it if Christ’s redemption could not? He did indeed accomplish it, but at all cost to Himself.

But there is more than this in the work of Christ which broke the power of Satan, “that by death he might destroy him that had the power of death.” He has perfectly annulled his power, and met all on God’s part needful for us; but there is another thought. It is of all consequence that we should feel that we are immediately responsible to God according to the new, intimate, and holy relationship which is ours in virtue of redemption. We are bought with a price. (And what a price!) Thus we belong to Him — we are not our own, but His. These two truths combine in the Christian; but there is this difference between them — that the world also is “bought,” and every man in it; whereas it would be false to say that every man in the world is “redeemed.” If we are subject to scripture, we must say that there is no such thing as universal redemption; but we must confess the truth of universal purchase.7 Christ’s blood has purchased the whole world with every soul and every other creature in it. Therefore in 2 Peter 2, for instance, we hear wicked heretics spoken of as denying the Lord (
δεσπότην), not that redeemed, but “that bought them.” The Sovereign Master made them His property: they are a part of that which He purchased to Himself by blood. They do not own it themselves; they treat the Master’s claims and rights with indifference and contempt, as every unbeliever does. The believer is not only bought by the precious blood of Christ, but delivered from the power of the enemy, just as Israel was in type here. The two things are therefore as clear as they are also harmonious. The effect of the one is that the enemy has no longer the slightest claim to us, or power over us; the effect of the other is that the Lord has a perfect right to us in every particular. Let us own the grace and wisdom of our God in both.

What Christ has done is the right thing as well for us as for the glory of God; but then there is another result which should be noticed as the consequence of redemption, and so, beginning to appear in this chapter, it is brought out more fully elsewhere. It is now, after redemption, that God reveals Himself as “glorious in holiness.” He never did before. No one could be expected to believe this (if he did not look into the Bible and bow to the truth), that God could have written a whole book and never once have spoken of holiness before this. That God should not have touched on the matter in a book so fertile of truths as Genesis would hardly be credible to a mere theologian. But when we begin to be subject to the truth, instead of getting up technical theology, when we look into that which is divine, not the mere science that man has made of it to the utter havoc of its bloom and beauty, — when we search into the word of God, we then see and enjoy its perfection. Holiness in Scripture is as much made to depend on redemption as God’s being able righteously to come and dwell in our midst. How could He do this till sin was gone? And how till redemption could sin be gone for God to have a holy resting-place in the midst of men?

Here then having the typical redemption of Israel from Egypt — the greatest and fullest type of it in the Old Testament, immediately after (without even allowing a single chapter to intervene) we hear of God glorious in holiness, as well as of a habitation prepared for Him. This again is not an immaterial expression by the way, but bound up with the truth now first brought before us: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Jehovah, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the sanctuary, O Jehovah, which thy hands have established. Jehovah shall reign for ever and ever.”8

Thus the dwelling of God amongst His people is revealed immediately after we have the express type of redemption. Now in Christianity this has a most blessed antitype. Not that there will not be the dwelling of God in the midst of His people by-and-by; but the peculiarity of our calling is, that we wait for none of our characteristic joys: we have all in Christ now by the power of the Spirit before we go to heaven. We have in principle everything while we are on the earth. We have what belongs to heaven while we are here. We wait for nothing except Christ Himself in actual person to take us above. Of course by many this will scarce be understood. Hope undoubtedly has its full place; for we suffer still, and Christ Himself is gone to prepare a place for us, and is coming again to receive us to Himself, and that we may be glorified together. But what else is there that we have not? All the promises in Him are Yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. I grant you that my body is not yet changed, nor yours; but then we have got infinitely better than even the body changed for us if alone; we have Christ Himself, and this risen and in God’s presence on high. Therefore the change in the body is the mere consequence of what we have already; whereas Christ in heavenly glory as the fruit of redemption and of God’s righteousness is the hinge of all that will glorify God and secure the blessing not of the Old Testament saints and the church only but of Israel, the nations, man, the earth, heaven, and all things for ever, around the mighty centre of all. In Him is concentrated the full power of the change that will follow in due time, as He is the firstfruits of that glorious harvest.

So it is with all other truths; and amongst the rest with this, that God, instead of waiting to have us in heaven, and taking up His abode in our midst there, makes us to be His habitation while we are here — a proof of His love and of the perfectness of Christ’s redemption incomparably greater than waiting till we are actually changed and taken to heaven, because here He deigns to dwell with us spite of all we are. We are here in the place where we may, alas! think, feel, speak, and act unworthily of such a habitation; and yet in the face of all He here deigns to dwell in us. If He thus dwells in us, is not this one of the capital truths which we are called to make good in our faith and practice day by day? When we come together as His assembly, should we not remind ourselves that we are not only members of the body of Christ, but God’s habitation through the Spirit? When held thus in faith it becomes a most practical test for souls; for nothing should be said or done in that assembly but what is suitable to God’s dwelling-place.

In the latter part of the chapter there is another topic. After the triumph the children of Israel are led by Moses into the wilderness where there was no water. A most astonishing thing it might seem at first sight, that after having been thus blessed, the first thing the people find is a wilderness where there is no water; and that, when they do come to water, it is so bitter that they cannot drink it. “Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” But the resource was at hand. “He cried unto Jehovah; and Jehovah showed him a tree which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There he made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them.” God was showing that the privileges and power of redemption in Christ are one thing, and the necessary practice that follows from redemption another. But we are now in the place where all this is put in fact to the test; and the only power to sweeten what is bitter is by bringing in Christ. Else we find either no water whatever, or the water brackish and undrinkable. Thus we have to make death and resurrection good in our practice, learning the reality of the wilderness and the utter want of all power of refreshment in the place and circumstances through which we are passing. We owe everything to Christ.

After this is proved, abundant refreshment is given. How truly of the Lord! “They came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.”

But there is another lesson also. Whatever may be the refreshment by the way, the Lord sets forth in a full and distinct manner the need of absolute dependence on Christ in another form for support all the wilderness through. Here comes in that most remarkable type of Christ personally given as the bread of life for the people of God to feed on. This is in Exodus 16.9 It has been well remarked that it is as connected with this we have the Sabbath introduced, type of the rest of God. This is alone marked out and secured for us by Him who came down from heaven. Christ Himself is the manna of the people of God. Elsewhere we see Christ, not humbled, but heavenly and in heaven the food for the people viewed as in heavenly places. But it is well to note at the end of the chapter the omer of manna laid up before Jehovah for the generations of Israel, which Aaron laid up before the Testimony. It is Christ the hidden manna, Christ in His humiliation never to be forgotten by our hearts.

The force of this is made still more manifest by what follows. In Exodus 17 we have not Christ given from above, the bread of God for us while we are in the world, but the rock smitten with Moses’ rod when the waters flow abundantly. It was the last place where man would have looked for refreshing streams. But the rod of God smites the rock, and the people drink of the waters it gave out.10 But the name of the place was called Massah and Meribah, because of Israel’s strife and tempting of Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us or not? Immediately after they came into conflict at Rephidim with Amalek, the proud enemy of Israel. Joshua (who always represents Christ acting by the Spirit) fought and won, while Aaron and Hur held up the heavy hands of Moses on the top of the hill. “And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” The bearing of this on the Christian is most evident. The free gift of the Spirit of God to us in our thirst and weariness depends simply on Christ suffering for us — Christ coming under judicial dealing, the rod of God as applied to that rock. As then the living streams flowed, so the Holy Ghost, we know, was not given till Christ was glorified as the result of redemption. But then what follows this is not the Sabbath, but conflict with the enemy. Amalek has to be fought. And here comes in another principle of immense importance. For the believer it is not prowess or wisdom that secures the victory. It is entirely dependent on the uplifted hands of the Mediator on high. Here Moses was but the type, and consequently there is feebleness. On either side Aaron and Hur support his arms when heavy, and thus victory is secured for the people of God. Whatever may be the power, there is no taking them out of the place of dependence. They are made to feel the necessity of dependence on the one who is not in the fight, but outside it, and above it all. They must fight; but victory turns on the one who is pleading for them on the hill. Need I add that we have a better than Moses, who requires neither Aaron nor Hur to support His arm in interceding for us? Nevertheless it remains true, that although the victory is assured, the fight must be maintained to the very last. “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: For he said, Because Jah hath sworn that Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”11 This is a war which must be without intermission maintained by His people; but it is Jehovah’s war. What shall man do to us?

That any difficulty should be raised about the name “Meribah” being used twice on those two contrasted occasions where man behaved equally ill, God equally in grace, only proves the disposition to cavil, especially as on the first occasion their chiding gained them a specific name, which was not given the second time.

The last of these chapters that I would now notice is the typical picture of the scene of glory; and there too is seen the Gentile in singular prominence — Jethro eating bread with the elders of Israel. Thus there are all the great elements of the future kingdom. We have the type of Christ; we have Israel in their proper place and order; we have the Gentile represented there. This will be found in the reign of glory that is coming But it is well to direct our attention to the order of the millennial day, foreshown in the regulations made by the legislator for the due administration of justice among the people called to be the display of Jehovah’s will in earthly righteousness. The Gentile will unfeignedly rejoice for all the goodness Jehovah will have done to Israel, delivering them from the hand of all enemies from first to last. The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness when His judgments are in the earth, and will then know with Jethro that Jehovah is greater than all gods, for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly [judgment came] upon them. And He shall be fling over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Jehovah, and His name one. None but God could have drawn the picture. It is only to be read in the light of Christ and of God’s revelations about Him: all then is clear and plain. And there cannot be a more affecting feature than that the very people to whom these living oracles were committed are those who see least in them, unless it be those apostates from Christianity, who borrow but exceed the unbelieving thoughts of the Jews, and then vaunt their destructive system as critical and rational. What beauty can they trace in that which has been occupying us? It must be so because of their rejection and scorn of Christ, whereas the whole secret of entering into the mind of God is that we know and have believed His Son — that we have received Him as indeed the Saviour of the world, as was confessed by the Samaritans when they heard Him themselves. The Holy Ghost can then lead on in the growing discernment of His image impressed on each incident which is made to be the means of setting forth His glory in the written word. How far does Christendom, more than the Jews, own either salvation by grace, the gift of the Spirit, or the kingdom when Christ appears in glory?

May the Lord then grant us unfeigned and growing confidence in all that which He is!

In the next part of the book of Exodus is a change of the greatest magnitude; but we shall find also that God never forgets His own people. Although circumstances may alter, He abides alone wise and alone good. May we delight in all He has given us!

Exodus 19-40

“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” Up to this point all the dealings of God have been the simple application and outflow of His own grace. This is all the more striking too, because even after the redemption of the people from Egypt there are grievous faults, unbelief, complaints, and murmurs; nevertheless, not a blow, not a single answer on God’s part save in tender mercy towards a poor and failing people. All changes now.

The reason is manifest. They left the ground of the grace of God, which they had in no wise appreciated. Their conduct proved that His grace had not at all entered into their hearts. It was a perfectly righteous thing therefore that God should propose terms of law. Had He not done so, we should not have had duly raised the solemn question of man’s competence to take the ground of his own fidelity before God. Not a soul that has been since brought to the knowledge of God but what at least ought to have profited — in point of fact, must have profited by this grave lesson. It is true that God had taken every care to show His own mind about it. From the time that man fell, He presented grace as the only hope for a sinner. But man was insensible, and therefore, inasmuch as his heart was continually taking the place of self-righteousness, God’s law put him thoroughly to the test. This accordingly was proposed. Had there been any true understanding of their own state in the sight of God they had confessed that, however righteous the obligation to render obedience to the law, they being unrighteous could only be proved guilty under such a proof. The test must have brought inevitable ruin. But they had no such thoughts of themselves, more than real knowledge of God.

Hence therefore, no sooner does God propose to them that they should obey His law as the condition of their blessing at His hands, than they at once accept the terms: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” The result soon appears in their ruin; but Jehovah shows that He knew from the first, before any result appeared, their inability to stand before Him: “Lo,” says He to Moses, “I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” But in this chapter, and indeed in the next still more, the people entreat that God’s voice should not speak to them any more.

Then (Exodus 20) are uttered those wonderful ten commandments which are the great centre of divine communications through Moses — the fundamental expression of God’s law. On this, being so thoroughly familiar to all, I of course do not enlarge. We know from our Lord Jesus its moral summary and essence — the love of God, and the love of man. But it was presented here for the most part in a way that betrayed the condition of man — not in positive precepts but in negative ones — a most humbling proof of man’s estate. He loved sin so well that God had to interdict it. In the greater part of the ten commandments, in short, it was not “Thou shalt,” but “Thou shalt not.” That is, it was a prohibition of man’s will. He was a sinner, and nothing else.

A few words on the law may be well here. It may be looked at in its general and historical bearing, more abstractly as a moral test.

First, God was dealing with Israel in their responsibility as witnesses of Jehovah, the one true self-existing God, the almighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His relationship was with them as they then were, redeemed from Egypt by His power and brought to Himself indeed, but only after an outward sort, neither born of God, nor justified. They were a people in the flesh. They had been wholly insensible to His ways of grace in leading them out of Egypt to Sinai. They lost sight of His promises to the fathers. They stood in their own strength to obey the law of God, as ignorant of their impotence or of His holy majesty. Accordingly we may regard the law as a whole, consisting not only of moral claims but of national institutes, ordinances, statutes, and judgment) under which Israel were put. These consequently were to form and regulate them as a people under His special government, God suiting them to their condition and in no way revealing His own nature as He afterwards did personally in the Word made flesh in the New Testament as a full display of His mind, and in the Christian individually or the church corporately as responsible to represent Christ, like Israel in relation to the tables of stone. (2 Cor. 3) Hence we can understand the earthly, external, and temporal character of the legal economy. There were believers before it and all through; but this of course wholly distinct from Judaism. It was now a question of a nation, and not of individuals merely, thus governed — of one nation in the midst of many which were to behold in it the consequences of fidelity or the lack of it toward the law of Jehovah. The Old Testament proves, and indeed the New Testament also, how utterly Israel failed, and what the consequences have been alike in the justice and in the grace of God.

But, secondly, the law is a test morally and individually. This always abides; for the law is lawful if a man use it lawfully. Christianity teaches its value instead of neutralising it. It is false that the law is dead. It is not thus that the believer, even if a Jew and therefore under law, was withdrawn from its condemning power. By the law he died to the law that he might live to God. He is crucified with Christ and nevertheless he lives, yet not himself but Christ in him. He underwent death to the law by the body of Christ that he should belong to another — Him that was raised from the dead in order that we should bear fruit to God. But it is as far as possible from the truth that “the discipline of the law comes in to supply the deficiencies of the Spirit, and curb the still remaining tendencies to sin.”12 Such was no doubt the doctrine of those whom the apostle censures as wishing to be law-teachers, understanding neither what things they say nor whereof they stoutly affirm. It is not Christianity to talk of “deficiencies of the Spirit,” any more than of “still remaining tendencies to sin;” still less to call in the discipline of the law to mend matters. Is it not known that for a righteous man (which assuredly the believer is) law is not in force, but for lawless and insubordinate, the ungodly and sinful. They that are of Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. It is a question of mortifying our members which are on earth, on the ground of our being dead, and of walking by the Spirit, even as we live by Him, and of those not in anywise fulfilling flesh’s lust. Thus, if the law be the power of sin, grace is of holiness. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, we find that God was pleased to give subsequently and separately, but yet in connection with the ten words, certain ordinances which concerned Israel in their worship.

All the people then saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the voice of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, and stood afar off, asking that not God but Moses should speak with them. He accordingly drew near into the thick darkness; for so God dealt with Israel as a people in the flesh. For the Christian it is not so. The veil is rent; and we walk in the light as He is in the light. Yet even then Jehovah, while warning against making gods of silver and gold, deigned to direct them to make to Him an altar of ground for burnt-offerings and peace-offerings: if of stone two prohibitions instruct His people. It must not be of hewn stone, as their work would profane it; neither must the Israelite go up by steps, as thereby his nakedness would be manifested. Grace covers through the expiation of Christ, as it flows in virtue of God’s work and in maintaining God’s order.

In the beginning of Ex. 21 we find the type of the servant. There cannot be a more striking illustration of the truth that Christ is the continual object of the Holy Ghost than that, even in these temporary ordinances, God cannot refrain from looking onward to His Son. No doubt it was connected with the earth, and what was in itself anything but a condition suitable to the mind of God. It is the condition of a slave; nevertheless even there God has Christ before Him. If a Hebrew servant were bought, he was to serve for six years, — in the seventh to go out free for nothing “If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.”

Such was the choice of Jesus — not to be merely a servant here on the earth for a time — He has chosen of His own gracious will to be servant for ever. No doubt He cannot but be a divine person, the Son, as He is also the exalted Lord; but He is nevertheless by His own grace the servant for ever. Even in glory we shall know Him thus. What is He doing now? He gave a sample of it before He went up on high. When the time was come, He took a basin of water and a towel, and washed His disciples’ feet. What they knew not then, they were to know hereafter, as we know it now. Intimacy with what is unseen and heavenly is quite as much the portion of a Christian and even more characteristically so than the knowledge of what passes around us now. We ought to know heaven better than the earth. We may know and ought to judge what is passing in the world, though it be through an imperfect medium; but we know heaven and heavenly things from God. It is not merely as having the word that reveals heaven; but we know it from Him who comes from heaven and is above all, and testifies what He has seen and heard; we know it through the Holy Ghost who has come down from it, and hence should know it better than the earth, and the things of the world which ensnare the flesh. But looking onward to the day of glory that is coming, when the Lord will be publicly manifested, and we manifested with Him, changed into His glorious likeness, it might have been thought that surely His service will cease then. But not so: it will take a new shape. He is the servant of His own choice for ever. As He will never cease to be God, He will never cease to be man. In His love He is become a servant for ever; and He loves to be so.

After this follow the general institutions of the law, which mainly insist on retribution. Advantage must not be taken of the weak or subject; violence cannot go unpunished, any more than dishonour where we owe reverence; responsibility for what is allowed, were it but a mischievous brute; restitution must be made, and this double, fourfold, or even fivefold, according to the wrong; neither a witch nor an offender unnaturally could live; neither stranger nor widow nor orphan must be vexed or afflicted; neither poor must be burdened, nor judges reviled; but God is to be honoured with the first of the fruits, and of the sons, as well as of the cattle. Israel are to approve themselves as holy men to God. False report and testimony are forbidden, were a multitude to lead the way; as on the other hand there must be no partiality to the poor man’s cause, nor a refusal to help an enemy, nor falsehood, nor bribery, nor oppression. The seventh year was to be enjoyed as the land’s Sabbath, even as the seventh day by each Israelite, who must avoid naming false gods, but keep the due feasts thrice a year to the true God, not offering blood with leavened bread, nor letting the fat remain till the morning A prohibition occurs of a peculiar kind, and is repeated not only in a later part of this book, but also in Deuteronomy: “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” God would guard His people from an outrage in comeliness, were it even about a dumb or dead animal; as Satan triumphs in all that is abnormal and unnatural in the superstitions which usurp the place of the truth, and are bound up with idolatry. His angel is promised, not only to keep and lead Israel, but to bring them in, spite of the doomed Canaanites, who should be driven out: they should have no covenant with them or their gods. (Ex. 21-23) These points do not call for particular remarks.

Along with them there is the greatest possible care for the maintenance of one true God an immense principle. No doubt the time was not yet come for God to reveal Himself as He is. Into that wondrous knowledge we are brought by the Son come down here below; and above all by the Holy Ghost, now that Christ is gone up on high For in point of fact, when God was only known as the one God, however true this may be, He could not really be known as He is. Now we do so know Him. We know Him better than even His earthly people will know Him by and by. The knowledge of Israel in the millennium will be genuine, for they shall be all taught of God. But there is now an intimacy of acquaintance with the God and Father of the Lord Jesus which none on earth can ever know as a Christian ought to know it. The reason is manifest; for the proper knowledge of the Christian is such knowledge as the Son, speaking according to His own communion with His Father, communicates to us.

Now the Lord Jesus will not be dealing then as Son, though then as evermore the Son of God. He will not undertake to unfold His Father’s words to men in the millennium. He will reign as the great King — King of kings and Lord of lords, but still as King. It would not be suitable to such a position that there should be undue familiarity. The very notion of a king and a kingdom puts the subjects at a greater distance. A certain reserve becomes requisite to majesty; whereas such considerations disappear in the nearness of relationship He is pleased to enter into with us. It is true He was born King of the Jews, and He never can cease to be really so; but it is not so that we know Him. The Son of the Father, He brings us into the knowledge of the true God — as the Son knew Him in heaven, as the Son still of course knew Him on earth. And the Holy Ghost completes this wonderful circle of divine intimacy. If I may venture on such an expression without irreverence, it is the introducing us into the family circle of the heavens — the Father made known in the Son by the Holy Ghost. This I maintain to be peculiar to Christianity in all its fulness. When God the Father shall have accomplished His present purpose here below, then will be caught up to meet the Lord those among whom the Spirit is thus making known God; and after that the ordinary dealings of God will resume their course through this world. No doubt all was advancing as regards the world; but that which was brought to us now was before the world, and altogether above the world in its own nature. How greatly blessed then is the Christian, and what the manner and measure of the worship and the walk which become those to whom grace has given such a knowledge of God!

At the end of these communications a call is given Moses to come up to Jehovah. (Ex. 24) “And he said unto Moses, Come up unto Jehovah, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship ye afar off.” There is distance, even though they are called to this place of distinction. “And Moses alone shall come near Jehovah, but they shall not come nigh, neither shall the people go up with him.” And there the solemn compact into which Israel had passed is renewed. All the people answer when the words and judgments are pronounced, “All the words which Jehovah hath said will we do.” They promise obedience, but it is obedience of the law. Now we must always bear in mind that, though in the Christian walking aright the righteousness of the law will surely be fulfilled, never has Christianity either a legal principle or a legal character: not a legal principle because it flows from the known grace of God to the soul; not a legal character because it is consistency with Christ risen from the dead, not merely with the Ten Command meets. But inasmuch as Christ differed from Moses, as grace differs from law; as that which suits God the Father known in heaven, though manifesting Himself upon earth, differs from a process of mere dealing with the first man according to righteous claim; so it is with the Christian man: while faithful to Christ, as he knows Him, he will never do anything which the law could possibly condemn. Against the fruits of the Spirit there is no law, as the apostle so emphatically says to the Galatians. But then the fruits of the Spirit can never be attained by the law; nor are they even contemplated by a legal measure.

In short therefore the children of Israel stood on the ground of man in the flesh; and man in the flesh, as he is a sinful being, can neither deny nor accomplish his obligation to do the will of God. As surely as God is, man’s conscience bears witness to Him. If the true God deigns to give a law to man, it must be an unimpeachably wise and worthy law adapted to the condition of man, as far as a law possibly can be; and such is God’s law — holy, just, and good. But the difficulty is this, that man being a sinner is as far as possible from ability to meet God’s law; for how indeed can there be any real stable bond between a bad man and a good law? There lay the insuperable difficulty once; but now grace perfectly meets it, and meets it in a way which evinces alike the goodness and the wisdom of God.

Law is essentially incapable of helping, because being only a claim on God’s part, and a definition of His demands, it can only condemn him whose condition makes due obedience impossible. It is evident that law as such, first of all, has no object to present to man. It can press duty to God and man on pain of death, but it has no object to reveal. Secondly, it cannot give life; and this is another necessity of man. In addition to atonement, these are the two urgent wants of fallen humanity. Without life it is impossible for one to produce that which is according to God; and without a worthy object, nay without a divine object presented, there can be nothing to draw out divine affections. As divine life alone can have affections according to God, so a divine object alone can either act on those affections or minister to them. Now this is exactly what grace does in Christ. He who has wrought expiation for our sins is our life, and at the same time He is the object whom God has revealed to our faith. This shows the essential difference between law and grace, which last means God giving in Christ all that man really needs for His own glory.

Undoubtedly there is another measure of responsibility. A few words on this subject may not be amiss for any souls that have not adequately considered the matter, as there is hardly anything on which men are so much at fault as this question. Some seem on the very verge of denying it altogether, in their one-sided zeal for the grace of God; others who stand stoutly and so far well for the responsibility of man misuse this truth so as apparently to swamp God’s grace. Scripture never sacrifices one truth to another. It is the peculiar property and glory of the word of God that it communicates not merely a truth here and there, but the truth; and this in the person of Christ. The Holy Ghost is the only power for rightly using, and applying, and enjoying the truth; and therefore He is called “the truth” no less than the Lord Jesus. He is the intrinsic power by which the truth is received into the heart, but Christ is the object. Where Christ is thus received in the Holy Ghost, a new kind of responsibility is created. The measure of it for the Christian is based on the fact that he possesses life, and that he has Christ Himself, the object which shows him the position in which he stands, and consequently the character of the relationship that attaches to him. His relationship is that of a son, not merely of one adopted into that place with no more reality than he obtains in human things. We are adopted sons; but then we are more than that. We are children, members of the family of God. That is, we are children as having God’s own nature. We are born of God, and not merely adopted as if we were strangers to Him. Every Christian has a nature that is intrinsically divine, as we are told in 2 Peter 1.

Thus, it is plain, nothing can be more complete. We have a nature which answers morally to God whom we imitate as well as obey in light and love, in holy and righteous ways, in mercy, truthfulness, and humility. We have the position of sons, a relationship which the Lord Jesus had in all its perfection, and in an infinitely higher sense, in which no creature can share it along with Him. Still Christ does bring us into His own relationship as far as it is possible for the creature to possess it. Hence, as duty is ever measured by responsibility, that of the Christian is according to the place in which grace has put him. It is certain therefore that all the common-places about the law as the rule of the Christian’s life are practically a denial of what Christianity is. Those who reason from Israel to us, without intending it, ignore the relationship of the Christian, and set aside the bearing of redemption on our walk: so serious is that error which to many seems a pious thought, and I am sure taken up by them with the desire of honouring God and His will. But sincerity will not serve in lieu of His word; and our own thoughts and desires can never be trusted as a standard of principle or of practice. God has revealed His mind, and to this, if wise, we must needs be subject. In divine things there is nothing like simplicity; by it we enjoy a wisdom far higher than our own and real power to strengthen and guide the heart.

In Israel’s case it was not so. First of all they promised obedience; but it was the obedience of the law. Secondly, when the blood of the victims was shed, it was sprinkled on the book as well as on the people (verses 7, 8). What was the meaning of the blood? Not atonement. The prime idea in blood seems always to be the life given up, i.e., death, in acknowledgment of the guilt of the one concerned. This is true, no doubt; but unless it goes farther than this, it is a declarative sanction of God’s punishing in case of failure to meet His demands. The grace of God applies the blood of Christ in a totally different way; and this is what is referred to in 1 Peter 1:2. He describes the Christian in terms which at once recall Exodus 24. He says that we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. The Israelites were elect as a nation according to the sovereign call of Jehovah — the known God of their fathers. Ignorant of God as well as of themselves, they dared to take their stand on His law. Accordingly they were severed by the ordinance of circumcision and other rites. They were sanctified from the nations by this fleshly separation to obey the law under its solemn and extreme penalty. The blood threatened death on every one who transgressed. The Christian position is altogether different: we are elect as children “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit,” meaning by this the separating power of the Holy Ghost from the very first moment of our conversion. This vital separation to God, and not practical holiness, is what is here called sanctification of the Spirit — the most fundamental meaning of it indeed anywhere. But practical sanctification there is, and amply insisted on elsewhere; but it is not the point here, and if we attempt to bring practical sanctification into this verse, we destroy the gospel of grace. Nobody doubts the good intentions of such as interpret it thus; but these are not enough with the word of God.

We must take care that we receive the sense which God intends, otherwise we may err seriously, to His dishonour and to our own hurt and that of others. Let us then bow to God instead of forcing our own meaning on scripture. What for instance would be the meaning of our being practically sanctified to obedience as well as to have the blood of Jesus sprinkled upon us? It simply proves that he who expounds unwittingly sets aside the gospel. Practical sanctification for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus! What do people mean by restricting themselves to a sense of sanctification which necessarily involves in it so portentous a conclusion? Evidently the language of the Spirit of God is as unambiguous, and the construction as plain and simple as possible.

Take a case in illustration. A man hitherto has been altogether indifferent to the word of God. He hears it now; he receives Jesus as the gift of God’s love with all simplicity. Perhaps he has not peace at once, but at any rate he is thoroughly arrested; he desires earnestly to know the gospel from the very first. If the Spirit of God has thus wrought in him, he is separated to God from what he was. This is here called “sanctification of the Spirit.” For, as we said, the sanctification is “to obedience;” and this is the very first desire implanted in a soul from the moment that there is a real divine work in him. Such an one may be very ignorant, no doubt; but at any rate his heart is made up to obey the Lord — his desire is Godward. It is not a merely legal way of escaping the dreadful doom that he sees is the just portion of those that despise God. The truth has touched his conscience by grace, and God’s mercy, however dimly seen, is enough to attract his heart to obey. Thus he is sanctified by the Spirit unto the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. He would now obey, because he has the new nature through receiving the name of the Lord Jesus, and would enter into the grace of God that sprinkles the guilty with the blood of Jesus. He would obey like Jesus, not under compulsion like a Jew, and is sprinkled with His blood in remission for his sins, instead of having the blood sprinkled on him as a menace of death in case of disobeying the law. The Christian loves to obey, and is already forgiven through faith of Jesus and His blood. This I believe to be the true meaning of the passage, and especially of the term “sanctification of the Spirit” here; though it is frankly and fully allowed that this is not the only meaning of “sanctification” in scripture.

The sanctification here in question then applies from the start of an effectual inward work even before a soul knows pardon and peace, but there is also room for the practical power of the Holy Ghost in subsequent work in heart and conscience severing us more and more by the truth to the Lord. The latter is practical sanctification, admits of degrees, and is thus relative. But in every soul there is the absolute separation of the Holy Spirit from conversion. Thus there are plainly two distinct senses of sanctification: one absolute, in which a man is severed once for all from the world to God; the other relative, as being practical and hence differing in measure in the after career of each Christian. “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Here it seems in substance the same thing as in 1 Peter 1:2. “Sanctified” in this sense is clearly before justification; and so the apostle puts it. It is of no use to decry the plain meaning of the scripture because the Romanist theologian perverts the fact more fatally than the Protestant. If the Spirit of God here puts “sanctified” before “justified,” our plain duty is to learn what is meant, not to wrest His word because of Popish misuse of it — a misuse due largely to the common ignorance of the primary force of sanctification. Why should souls be driven from the truth by prejudice or clamour? It is not to be allowed that God’s word makes mistakes: man does, but is it with the Spirit of God? Does not He mean what He says? When He says they were washed, He is referring to the water of the word used by the Spirit of God to deal with man. This looks more at evil; “sanctified” to the good which attracted the heart now. But these are not the only things. “Justified” is not when the prodigal son returns to his father, but when the best robe is put upon him; then he is, according to 1 Cor. 6, not washed and sanctified alone but “justified.” It is the application of the full power of the work of the Lord Jesus. It is not always immediate on conversion It may be, and, if you please, ought to be, soon; but still it is far from being always so; and in fact there is and perhaps must be always an interval more or less before comfort or peace is enjoyed. It may be ever so minute, but there is habitually a dealing of Christ between the touch that stays the issue and the word which declares with no less authority than love, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Very often it is not so little a while, as many of us know to our cost. But it remains always true that there is this difference. And it seems well to remark it, because it is of considerable practical and also doctrinal importance, contrasting as it does the place of the Christian with that of the Jew. The tendency of some to insist on the whole in an instant is a reaction from the popular unbelief, which, if it allow peace at all, allows it as a matter of slow, laborious and uncertain attainment. But we must not be driven into any error, even the least to avoid the greatest; and it is certainly an error to swamp in one all the ways of God with the soul.

In the latter part of the chapter we have clearly the legal glory. This does not take them out of their condition of flesh and blood and all that pertains to it. It is in no way the glory which is the hope of the Christian.

Exodus 25 introduces us to a new order of figures, not only earthly ordinances, but that which appertains to the tabernacle. Undoubtedly in itself it composed a worldly tabernacle; but this does not hinder these figures from typifying what was to be for the most part of a heavenly character.

After the call to the people to bring their offerings, we find the use to which they were to be applied First and foremost stands the centre of Levitical worship — the ark. We must remember that they are but shadows, and not the very image of the thing. In none of these types can one find the full truth of Christ and of His work. They are only a faint and partial adumbration of the infinite reality, and could not possibly be more. Hence they have the imperfection of a shadow. In fact we could not have the full image till Christ appeared and died on the cross and went to heaven. As Christ is the true and perfect image of God, so is He the expression of all that is good and holy in man. Where will one find what man should be but in Christ? Where the faultless picture of a servant but in Him? And so one might go through every quality and every office, and find them only in perfection in our Lord Jesus. There indeed is the truth. The legal ordinances and institutes were but shadows; still they were types distinctly constituted; and we should learn by them all.

In these shadows13 we may see two very different characters or classes, we may say, into which they are divisible. The first and foundation of all the rest is this: God would disclose Himself in some of them to man, as far as this was possible then; secondly, founded on that and growing out of it, man would be taught to draw near to God. Impossible for such access to exist and be enjoyed till God had drawn near to man and shown us what He is to man. We can see therefore the moral propriety and beauty of this distinction, which at once separates the shadows of the latter part of Exodus into two main sections. The ark, the golden table, the golden candlestick, the tabernacle with its curtains, the veil, the brazen altar, and the court, form the first division of the types, the common object of them all being the display of God in Christ to man.

Of these the highest is the ark. It was the seat of Divine Majesty in Israel; and as all know (and most significant it is), the mercy-seat was pre-eminently that throne of God — the mercy-seat which afterwards we see with blood sprinkled on it and before it — the mercy-seat which concealed the law destructive to the pretensions of man, but maintained it in the place of highest honour, though hidden from human view. Was this nothing? Was there not comfort for any heart which confides in God, that He should take such a seat as this, and give it such a name, in relationship with a guilty people on the earth?

Next came the table,14 and upon it a defined supply of bread. For what was presented there? One loaf? No such carnal thought entered as if God had need of bread from man. The bread that was set on the golden table consisted of twelve loaves — in evident correspondence with the twelve tribes of Israel, but this assuredly in connection with Christ, for He is ever the object of God’s counsels. It is God displaying Himself in Christ; but those who had this connection with Christ were Israel. Of them He came, and He deigned to have the memorial of them on this table before God.

In the candlestick another truth comes before us. It is not God who thus deals with humanity, of which Israel was the chosen specimen, and the one remembered before Him; but in the seven candlesticks, or rather the candelabrum with its seven lights, we clearly see the type of Christ as the power and giver of the Holy Ghost in testimony for God. This is in connection with God’s sanctuary and presence. Now, in all these things it is the display of what God is to man; God Himself in His own sole majesty in the ark, — God Himself associated with man, with Israel, in the show-bread, — God Himself with this light of the sanctuary or the power of the Spirit of God.

All this was plain, but in the tabernacle we have more than this. (Ex. 26) Christ is set forth in various ways by the curtains — Christ in His human purity and righteousness — Christ in what was heavenly — Christ in His glory whether Jewish or extending over Gentiles also, with His judicial title asserted. The goats’ hair would seem to speak of Christ in His prophetic separateness; the rams’ skins dyed red point to His absolute consecration to God; as the power which kept out all evil would appear to be meant by the badgers’ or tachach skins, which covered the tent above. The reference is to the fine linen and blue, etc., with the various coverings of goats’ hair and badger skins. All these, I have no doubt, have their own proper significance, as manifesting the character of Christ here below.

Next (verses 15-30) follows the account of the acacia boards with their tenons and bolts, the sockets of silver and the rings of gold.

Then we have the veil and screen. Now we know what these mean. Scripture is positive that the veil is His flesh, but then it is as manifesting the Lord as man here below. As long as this was the case only, man could not come to God. When the veil was rent (namely, by Christ dying as a man), man could go into the presence of God, — at least the believer. I do not mean man as man, but that there was no bar to man. The way was now open into the presence of God.

In the brazen altar it is the same side of truth, but there is this characteristic difference. (Ex. 27) Not less than the ark, the golden throne of God in the most holy place, it shows us God’s righteousness; but with this difference between them — that gold is the righteousness of God for drawing near where God is; brass is the righteousness of God for dealing with man’s evil where man is. Such is the line which divides them. It is the display of God in both cases — the one in the presence of God where He manifests Himself; the other in dealing with man and his wants in this world. Hence we find, for instance, the righteousness of God in Romans. If we consider with any care Romans 3, it is the righteousness of God presented to man as a sinful being in this world. But if I look at the passage where it is said, “He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” it is evident that we are brought into the very presence of God. Thus 2 Cor. 5 corresponds with the ark rather than the brazen altar. Everything has its beautiful and perfect answer in the word of God; but then all is useless to the soul, except just so far as one sees and receives the Lord Jesus Christ.

Next, from the latter part of Exodus 27 we have a change evident, and of more weight.

The last two verses are, I think, transitional. They prepare the way for types which, instead of displaying God in Christ to man, set forth rather man drawing near by the appointed channel to God. They are occupied with the provision of light where God manifested Himself, and in order to the due service of those who entered the sanctuary. “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.” It may be added here, as some have found an apparent inconsistency in comparing the passage with 1 Sam. 3:3, that the Hebrew means not “always” in the absolute sense, but continually or constantly. It was from evening to morning” and of course uninterruptedly for that time. “In the tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before Jehovah.” This is greatly confirmed by what follows.

In Exodus 28, 29 is given the prescribed ceremonial in consecrating the priesthood. And what was the object of the priesthood? Clearly it was for drawing near to God. This is the new division brought in and what might seem at first sight a notable irregularity, as has been observed before, is simply an effect of the perfect arrangement of God’s mind. Doubtless to a superficial glance it appears somewhat unaccountable, in the midst of describing the various parts of the sanctuary, to interrupt the course of it by dragging into the very midst of it the consecration of Aaron and his sons. But if there be two separate objects in these types — first, God displaying Himself to man; and, secondly, man in consequence drawing near to God — the way of all is clear. The priesthood undeniably consisted of that class of persons who had the privilege and duty of going into the sanctuary on behalf of the people. And the vessels of the sanctuary described after the priesthood are those which preserve the same common character of presenting the service due to God approached in His sanctuary. Now, let me ask, what mind of man could ever have thought of a decision so excellent, though surely far below the surface? As the foolishness of God, says the apostle, is wiser than man, so (may we not say?) the seeming disorder of God is incomparably more orderly than man’s best order.

Thus it will always be found in the long run. We may have absolute confidence in the word of God. Our only business is to learn what He is, what He says, and, more than that, to confide in Him; and when we do not know what He means, always to take the ground of faith against all adversaries. We may be ignorant, and unable to expose them; but we may rest perfectly sure that God is never wrong and man ever untrustworthy. The habitual means whereby God gives proof that He is right, graciously enabling us to understand is by His word. There is no other means of knowing the mind of God; the power for understanding is the Spirit of God; and the object in whose light alone it can be understood is Christ. But the written word of God is the sole instrumental means and the revelation of it all.

Then, after the priesthood has been fully brought before us, we have the various portions of their dress. A few words will suffice here before passing on. A remarkable provision is that the ephod of the high priest, which was the most important part of his costume, had the names of the children of Israel twice over. One inscription was in the shoulder-pieces. There were the names in a general way — six on one shoulder, six on the other. Besides this their names were written on the breastplate. There the names were all found together on his heart. He who cannot appreciate the blessedness of such a place, with the great high priest bearing up thus the names of God’s people before God, must be very insensible to the highest favours. But God, who showed how He would continually remember those He loved, and who could not have a high priest without having their names in honour and love before Him — that blessed God has given us much more. He ordered that there should be the Urim and the Thummim connected with the high priest’s breastplate; that is the means of divine guidance for the people. The Christian has it also, and in a far better way. The Jew had it after this outward sort, all being comparatively external in Israel. We have it intrinsically by the Holy Ghost Himself. It is in vain for any person to pretend that it was better to have the Urim and Thummim, for which one had to seek the priest from time to time when wanted, than to be indwelt always by One who knows all the truth. May Christians believe and use for God the portion each has in Christ!

But besides, when the high priest went into Jehovah’s presence, there was the sounding of the bells between the pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet on the skirts of his garment. Such is the effect, it is to be observed, “when he goeth in” and “when he cometh out.” Under this falls the Christian testimony now, as the result of the entrance of Christ into heavenly places; and under this will fall the future fruit-bearing portion and testimony of Israel in the day when Christ will appear in glory from the heavens. The bells give their sound when the high priest goes in and when he comes out. When Christ went into the presence of God, what a mighty effect did not the Spirit produce! The church comes under that now. When Christ returns the Spirit will be poured out once more on all flesh, and Israel will be brought into the blessed position of bearing fruit in testimony for God. But, again, Aaron with the golden plate (engraved “Holiness to Jehovah”) always on his forehead, bears the iniquity of Israel’s holy things that they may be accepted; an important consideration, especially when we know the seriousness and the facility of iniquity therein. Is it not true that there is scarce anything in which we feel more the need of gracious care than in the holy things of God? We know His tender mercy in the smallest matters; but in that which so nearly concerns His honour, it is indeed a truly merciful provision that the Great High Priest bears the iniquity of holy things, where other wise defilement would be fatal. The coat of fine linen embroidered means personal righteousness in ways, set off with every beauty of grace. Aaron’s sons were to have coats, priests’ girdles, and bonnets for glory and for beauty. It is Christ put on us. Then follows the ritual required in the act of consecrating Aaron and his sons.

In the hallowing of the priestly family the following points are observable. First, they were all washed in the water, Aaron and his sons. “He who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” Christ is essentially apart from sin and sinners; we by grace are set apart. Further, our Lord says, “For their sakes I sanctify myself (i.e. on high), that they also might be sanctified by the truth.” Then Aaron is duly clothed; as in the priestly character Christ appears before God for us. Then the high priest alone was anointed; as we know Christ could be and was sealed of God the Father without blood, the Spirit thus attesting both the absolute purity of His person and the truth of His Sonship as man. Aaron’s sons were then clothed, and girded for priestly work. The blood of the bullock for a sin-offering was put on the horns of the altar; the blood of one ram for a burnt-offering was sprinkled round about upon the altar; and the blood of the other ram for consecration was put on Aaron’s right ear, and that of his sons, on their right thumb and right great toe. It was necessarily so with the high priest taken from among men, after the witness already given to Christ’s exceptional place. So Christ entered by His own blood — entered in once for all — into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption that we might have a common place with Him by blood and in the Spirit’s power. Grace binds us with Christ as Aaron with his sons. As no sacrifice was absent here, so we enjoy all the value of Christ and His work.

But after the form of hallowing the priests, the Spirit prescribes in the end of Exodus 39 (ver. 38-46) the sacrifice of the daily lambs which presented the continual acceptance of the people of God, with the renewed and most express assurance of His dwelling among them. Exodus 30 resumes the account, for a reason already explained, of the various vessels of the sanctuary which had to follow the priesthood, and pursue the truth meant by it, namely, the means of access to God.

Among the vessels of the sanctuary the altar of incense stands first (verses 1-10). Who does not know that this was to secure the people always being acceptable before God! It is the type of Christ interceding for us, and along with this the high priest’s work that the manifestation of the Spirit be not hindered.

In verses 11-16 is introduced the ransom money of the people, rich and poor alike, as an offering to Jehovah, their atonement money for the service of the sanctuary (for this is the great point here), the link of all with the priests who actually entered on their behalf.

But there was another requisite next set forth. The brazen laver judged sin by the word of God, just as the brazen altar judged it sacrificially. We need “the washing of regeneration” and generally the washing of water by the word. This follows here. The former in its scriptural usage is not merely, I apprehend, that we are born of God, but goes beyond new birth. It is the putting the believer into an entirely new place before God, which is a different thought from his receiving a new nature. As being a position, it may have so far a more external sound, but it is a real deliverance, which grace now confers on us in Christ Jesus, not merely the communication of a life which hates sin, but the putting one according to the new place of Christ Himself before God. With this goes also the action of the Spirit of God in dealing with us day by day according to such a beginning. This we need, — the application of the word of God by the Spirit to deal with every kind of impurity. Just as in the type the priests had not only to be washed completely in the laver in order to be consecrated; but whenever they entered into the presence of God, they washed their hands and feet. We have what answers to it. Let us not forget it.

Then we have the holy anointing oil, which also had to do with fitting the priests for drawing near to God. It was the power of the Spirit. It was not merely a new nature or a new position, but it was a corresponding power of the Spirit of God. For the bare possession of a new nature or place would not enable us to do the will of God. It would make us feel what ought to be done, but gives not of itself the power to do it. The Spirit given to the Christian is of power, love, and a sound mind. A new nature finds its great characteristic in dependence — in weakness, or sense of weakness certainly; but the Holy Ghost gives the consciousness of power, though no doubt exercised in dependence. The new nature accordingly has right affections and gracious desires; but there is power in the Spirit through Christ Jesus. God “hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The last of these types is the holy perfume. Here it seems to be not so much what we have by Christ, but that fragrance in Christ Himself of which God alone is the adequate judge, and which rises up before Him in all its perfection. How blessed for us! It is for us, but it is only in Him before God.

In Ex. 31 we have all this closed with two facts — the Spirit of God empowering man to make a tabernacle according to the pattern, and the Sabbath-day connected with the order of the tabernacle. It has been remarked by another, and it is perfectly true, that in this book when we meet with any dealing of God, of whatever kind it may be, the Sabbath-day is always introduced. For instance, in the earlier half of Exodus, where we have God’s dealings in grace, the Sabbath-day is brought in, marked out by the bread God provided for His people, the manna — the figure of Christ come down from heaven to be the food of the hungry on earth: then followed the Sabbath at once. Next, when the law was given, in the very centre of its requirements stands the Sabbath-day. Again, in these various figures or institutions of good things to come, the Sabbath re-appears. Thus it is evident that, no matter what the subject may be, the Sabbath has always a place assigned to it. God therefore makes much of the sign. The reason is that He would impress on His people that all His dealings, varied as they may be, are intended to keep before their minds that rest to which He was steadily working, and into which He means to bring His own in due time. Therefore whatever the work introduced meanwhile — whether of grace, as the effectual working of God, or whether of law as proving the inefficiency of man — He always holds out His rest, to which He would also direct the eyes of all who love Him.

Exodus 32 reveals a sad interruption after the wonderful communications of God to His servant. Here at least the people are at their work — earnestly at work in dishonouring God — striking at the very foundation of His truth and honour to their own shame and ruin. Poor people! the objects of such countless favours, and of such signal honour on God’s part. They, with Aaron to help them, aimed a blow at the throne of God by making a golden calf. It is needless to linger on the scene of the rebellion. Jehovah directs the attention of Moses to the camp, saying, “I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation.” He wanted to prove and manifest the heart of His servant. He loved the people Himself, and delighted in Moses’ love for them. If the people were under the test of law, Moses was under the test of grace.

“And Moses besought Jehovah his God and said, Jehovah, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and [not merely Jacob, but] Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.”

See the ground Moses took — the unqualified promises of God’s mercy, the grace assured to the fathers Impossible for Jehovah to set aside such a plea Nevertheless Moses comes down with the two tables in his hand, the work of God. He hears the noise, which Joshua could not so well understand, but which his own keener and more practised ear fails not to interpret aright; and as soon as he came near, and saw the confirmation of his fears — the calf and the dancing — his “anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.”

At once we find him reproaching Aaron, the most responsible man there, who makes a sorry excuse, not without sin. But Moses took his stand in the gate and said, “Who is on Jehovah’s side? Let him come unto me.” Thus he who rejected every overture for his own advancement at the expense of the people now arms the Levites against their brethren. “And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” Yet we know on the best authority that Moses loved the people as not another soul in the camp did. There is hardly a subject on which men are so apt to make mistakes as the true nature and application of love. Moses loved Israel with a love stronger than death; yet he who thus loved them showed unsparingly his horror of the leprosy that had broken out among them. He felt that such evil must at all cost be rooted out, and banished from amongst them. But the same Moses returns to Jehovah with the confession — “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”

Jehovah however stands to His own ways, and says to Moses, “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And Jehovah plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.” Nevertheless Moses persists in his plea with Jehovah, who does not fail to try him to the utmost by adopting the language of the people. They had denied God, and attributed their deliverance merely to Moses: so Jehovah takes up these very words, and says, “Depart and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it.” He reproaches them once more with being a stiff-necked people; He will not go up in the midst of them, lest He should consume them in the way. The people thereon mourn; and Moses has recourse to a remarkable act. He takes and pitches the tabernacle, it is said, “without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the Congregation.” After this follow two things worthy of all heed, — a nearness of communication between Jehovah and His servant never enjoyed before, and more than that, — a blessing secured to the people never vouchsafed before.

From this moment a new plea is urged: the faultiness of the people is used as a reason why God should go up — the very reason which righteousness made a ground for refusing to go with them, lest His anger should burn against such a stiff-necked people. But, argues Moses, for this very reason, we most of all want Jehovah’s presence. Astonishing is the boldness of faith; but then its pleading is grounded on the known grace of God Himself. Moses was near enough to God in the tabernacle, outside the camp, to get a better view of His grace than he ever enjoyed before. And so it always is No doubt there was large and rich blessing and of the most unexpected kind when God sent down the Holy Spirit here below, and His church was first seen. But is it a fact that the church at Jerusalem had the deepest enjoyment of God in apostolic times? This, one may be permitted to question. I grant you that, looking at the Pentecostal saints, in them we see the most powerful united testimony that ever was borne in this world; but it was borne in what was comparatively not the severest trial — in earthly things chiefly, — the superiority of those who had been newly created in Christ to the wretched selfishness of human nature. But is that the highest form of blessedness? Is that the way in which Christ was most glorified?

When the earliest phase of things passed away — when not merely there was the unbelief of the Jewish people but the unworthy sights and sounds which Satan introduced among that fair company — God, always equal to the occasion, acts in the supremacy of His own grace, and brings out a deeper understanding of His truth more difficult to appreciate; not striking the people of the world perhaps in the same way, but that which I think has a more intimate character of communion with Christ Himself than anything that was found before. It will scarcely be affirmed that what we discern in the church, while limited to the circumcision, had the same depth and heavenly character stamped upon it, as what was found when the full grace of God broke all barriers and flowed freely among the Gentiles. It is in vain to argue that the fruit of the teaching of Peter or of James had the same power with it as the fruit of Paul not very long after, or of John latest of all. I grant you this — that, looked at as a whole, distressing failure was setting in just as it was here; yet as here the very failure isolated the truehearted, but isolated them not in want of love but in the strongest possible manifestation of divine charity and sense of God’s glory. Assuredly Moses in the tabernacle outside had not less love for the people, nor more loyalty to God, than within the borders of Sinai when the ten commandments were uttered.

In the scene which follows we have the magnificent pleading of Moses still more touchingly, and, I am persuaded, in advance on what went before. This is not the time to enter into details; but hear what Moses says to Jehovah now: “See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.” What can be more lovely, more according to Christ, than this? He uses all the personal confidence that God had in him on behalf of the people. That is the bearing of it all. “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thine.” He will not give up his love and desire for Israel. God may treat them as the people of Moses, and say, “They are the people you have brought up: they are your people.” “Oh no,” says Moses, “they are Thine; and Thou art their only hope.” He will not be put off. Jehovah loves to surrender to Moses, as of old to Jacob with far feebler forces. Faith, hope, and charity abounded in the mediator; and if the people were to be blessed, from God he drew on every spring of the blessing for His own glory. Mark the answer of Jehovah: “And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Moses wanted` nothing apart from the people; even if he went out of the camp, it was to gather so much more of blessing for the people that he had left behind. “And Jehovah said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou has spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by thy name.” He asked to see His glory. This was impossible yet. It awaited the coming of a greater than Moses. But at any rate His goodness is caused to pass before him, which in Exodus 34 he sees.

But here we must take care. It is a great mistake to suppose that the proclamation of divine goodness in this scene is the gospel. They greatly err who in this sense quote “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin,” and stop there. God does not stop here. He immediately adds, “and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” There is no doubt that it is the goodness and mercy of God; but it is to a people still under the government of the law. This is the peculiarity. What we find here then is not law pure and simple, but law with mercy and goodness and long-suffering in the government of God — His condescending love and patience mingled along with law. Hence we see its character and the reason why it appears here. Without it the guilty people never could have been spared, but must have perished root and branch, as it was in consequence of this change that a new generation of the people of Israel entered into the land at all. Had He dealt on the ground of pure law, how could it have been? They were guilty, and must have been cut off.

Now this mingling of grace with the law is the kind of system which Christians have accepted as Christianity. No real believer ever takes the ground of pure law. They take a mingled system; they mix up law and grace together. This is what is going on every day now in Christendom. It was the state in which the children of Israel were put here, and was a very great mercy for them in a certain sense. It is no less a misfortune for the Christian, because what those in Christ are called to is neither law, nor the mingled system of law interspersed with the gracious care of those under it (who must have been consumed had law reigned alone), but pure grace in Christ without the law. At the same time the righteousness of the law is fulfilled so much the more in those that “walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

In answer to Moses who advances in his demands, yet withal no less suiting them to the divine glory than to the people’s wants according to the light then vouchsafed, God makes a covenant different from what went before. (Ex. 34:10) Moses had prayed Him as Adonai to “go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.” Thus he avails himself of the special affection God had shown him to put himself with the people, and to secure God’s presence going with the people, who otherwise could never enter the land. It was bold faith, working in unfeigned love of the people, and with a deep sense of what God is spite of all demerits; yet its highest petition is based on revealed grace, and is therefore the very reverse of human presumption.

The Lord accordingly hearkens in grace, and undertakes for Israel against the Canaanites, warning them against a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and insisting on His own sole worship, His feasts, His firstlings and firstfruits; on His sabbaths, on the absence of leaven and unseemly ways, the fruit of Satan’s wiles among the heathen.

This is pursued to the end of the chapter, and in a very interesting way. We have a figure to which the apostle refers (2 Cor. 3), confirming what has just now been stated. For the first time the face of Moses shines after communications with God. There was no such effect when it was merely the ten commandments or the ordinances connected with the people and the land; but after the communications of heavenly shadows and the mercy of God which intermixed itself with the law, Moses’ face shines, and the people of Israel could not bear it. The glory of God, or at any rate the effect of seeing His goodness, was brought too near to them. He had to put a veil on his face. The apostle uses this to show that, as the veiled Moses speaking to the people of Israel is the most apt possible figure of the actual state in which they were placed (that is, not law simply, but with gracious care for the people mingled with it), so the condition of the Christian is in marked contrast. For our position the true image is Moses not when speaking to the people, but when he goes up into the presence of God. In him unveiled there we have our figure, not in Moses veiled, still less in Israel The Christian in his full place is nowhere set forth by the Jew. Certain things which happened to Israel may be types for the Christian, but nothing more. As far as this figure is concerned, then, our place is represented by Moses when he takes off the vail and is face to face with the glory of God Himself. What a place for us, and for us now! Surely this is a wondrous truth, and of the greatest possible importance. We should remember that we are heavenly now (1 Cor. 15) as truly as we ever shall be. More manifestly we shall be heavenly at the coming of Christ, but not more really than at present. I speak of our relationship and title. “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” By and by we shall bear the image of the heavenly. This is another thing, and only a consequence when the due moment arrives. For the soul the great change is a fact; it remains for the body when the Lord comes.

The rest of the book of Exodus consists of the people’s response, and the actual accomplishment of the directions that were given in Exodus 25-30, and calls for no lengthened remarks in such a sketch as this. But we may refer to Exodus 35 as the witness to the zeal of the congregation for the construction and service of the sanctuary, opened by the law of the sabbath stated here for the last time in the book. Whatever be the work of God, His rest remains for His people. The utmost alacrity in answer to the call for material, useful and ornamental, common or costly, is shown by all. “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought Jehovah’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto Jehovah. And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them. Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought Jehovah’s offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair. And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastplate: and spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto Jehovah, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which Jehovah had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses” (verses 21-29).

Nevertheless, here as everywhere God maintains His right to call, and gives the requisite gifts. “And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; and to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Abisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work” (verses 30-35).

Exodus 36 shows us the chosen workmen engaged in their allotted tasks, and even begging Moses to check the over-abounding supplies of Israel’s liberality. The work is described with as much minuteness, in the execution as in the plan, throughout Exodus 36-39 till Moses, inspecting all and seeing that they had done it as Jehovah had commanded, blessed them.

It is of great interest to observe that the silver paid in by the children of Israel, a bekah or half shekel each, was applied to the production of the silver sockets of the veil, and the hooks of the columns. Now if gold represents God’s righteousness which we approach within; and if brass or rather copper means, when thus symbolically viewed, His righteousness as applied to man outside in His immutable judgment, what is the force of silver in this connection? Is it not His grace shown in man, even in the man Christ Jesus? Thus the redemption price was the basis; and on hooks made of the silver expiation money were suspended the hangings of the court which separated the sanctuary service of God from the world. The judgment of One who could not bear sin was represented in the copper sockets of the boards which gave immutable stability; but grace in redemption was that on which all hung and shone in the chapiters and fillets also, the ornament of the work. Both unite in Christ and His atoning death.

The last chapter records, first, Jehovah’s call to Moses to set up the dwelling of the appointed tent on the first day of the first month (i.e., in the second year, ver. 17), with all its parts and vessels in due order; secondly, the obedience of Moses according to all that Jehovah commanded him. It is remarkable that on this occasion the tabernacle and all within it were anointed with oil. Thus, whatever sin on our part may call for, we have here the whole scene of creation, all things in heaven and all things on earth, claimed in the power of the Spirit in virtue of Christ’s person and title, just as He was in fact anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power apart from blood-shedding.

Finally, when the work was finished and all duly set up, a cloud covered the appointed tent, and the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling. And Moses was not able to enter because the cloud dwelt thereon, and the glory filled the tabernacle. Thus solemnly did Jehovah mark His dwelling-place in the midst of His people redeemed from Egypt; and He deigned to guide their journeys through the desert also by the same sign; for when the cloud was taken up, they journeyed; and if not taken up, they abode till it was. But cloud by day and fire by night, the token of is presence was ever before all Israel (verses 34-38).

1 To argue against the increase of Israel in Egypt from the data of the Pentateuch is the more unreasonable as the record does not give it as an ordinary ratio, but from the direct blessing of God according to His appearance to the fathers, and the more striking, because He kept them comparatively few till the descent into the house of bondage, and there multiplied them in the face of the hottest persecution long before they were led out in triumph. (Compare Deut. 26:5)

Apart from the power of God accomplishing His word, the objectors seem to be ignorant that doubling the population in fifteen years or less is by no means without example. Mr. Malthus, who had no bias in favour of the Bible, will be allowed to speak on this subject. (Essay on the Principle of Population, ii. p. 190, 5th edition. 1817.) There was nothing incredible to his mind in the rate of increase assigned to Israel in Goshen, supporting it by a reference to Dr. “Short’s New Observations on Bills of Mortality, p. 259, 8vo. 1750. Speaking of America, he remarks (ib. pp. 193-4), “In the back settlements, where the inhabitants applied themselves solely to agriculture, and luxury was not known, they were supposed to double their number in fifteen years. Along the sea coast, which would naturally be first inhabited, the period of doubling was about thirty-five years, and in some of the maritime towns the population was absolutely at a stand. From the late census made in America, it appears that taking all the states together, they have still continued to double their numbers every twenty-five years; and as the whole population is now so great as not to be materially affected by the emigrations from Europe, and as it is known that, in some of the towns and districts near the sea coast, the progress of population has been comparatively slow, it is evident that in the interior of the country in general the period of doubling from procreation only must have been considerably less than twenty-five years.” In a note he adds “From a return to Congress in 1782, the population appeared to be 2,389,300, and in the census of 1790, 4,000,000; increase in nine years, 1,610,700; from which deduct ten thousand per annum for European settlers, 6 per cent. for 4.5 years, which will be 20,250; the remaining increase during the nine years, from procreation only will be 1,500,450, which is nearly 7 per cent.; and consequently the period of doubling at this rate would be less than sixteen years. If this calculation for the whole population of the States be in any degree near the truth, it cannot be doubted that in particular districts the period of doubling from procreation only has often been less than fifteen years. The period immediately succeeding war was likely to be a period of very rapid increase.” Thus, even supposing with Ussher, Clinton, and others that the 430 years date from the call of Abram, and that just half this period, or 215 years, can strictly apply to the stay in Egypt, the objection is utterly irrational.

Nothing can be conceived more captious than to take Gen. 15:16 as limiting the Israelites who sojourned in Egypt to just the fourth succession in family birth, or to assume that they had no children beyond those named for special reasons.

2 The remarks of Dr. D. (Introd. O. T. i pp. 236, 237) seem to me the wantonness of incredulity, which, irritated by the divine authority of Scripture, yields to the merest calumny. “If the words in Ex. 3:20-22 be taken literally or historically, they represent Jehovah as commanding an immoral thing. Hence this method of interpretation must be abandoned. The writer, giving expression to his own moral consciousness, represents the Deity as directly enjoining the people to do a thing dishonest in itself. This shows the imperfect development of the divine to which the author's age had attained,” etc. The rationalist never suspects himself.

3 The attempt to eke out proofs of diversity of authorship from alleged contradictions and confusion is not only futile, but evidence of incapacity to discern what is excellent and full of instruction. Dr. D. says (Introd. O. T. i. 65) that “the Israelites did not listen to Moses at first for anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. (Ex. 6:9, 12) But in Ex. 4:31 they believed and rejoiced when he announced deliverance to them. It may be said that the elders were the persons spoken to in the latter case, not the people; and that they were induced to believe in him by the signs he wrought. But if the heads of the people were convinced of his divine mission, the people groaning under their burdens would be ready to follow them.”

“According to Ex. 6:2, etc., Moses received his divine commission to deliver the people out of bondage in Egypt. But in Ex. 3:1, etc., he received it in Midian. It was not first received in Midian and afterwards repeated in Egypt, because the former call is followed by Moses and Aaron going in to Pharaoh and asking him to let the Israelites go for the purpose of holding a feast in the wilderness. Had Moses not visited the king to ask for the thing he was called by God to effect, we might suppose that the call was repeated; but since he did so a second call was unnecessary! The two calls are in reality the narrations of different writers, giving a somewhat different version of the same thing. The one represents Moses as asking for a temporary release of the people (Ex. 5:3, etc); the other for their entire deliverance (Ex. 6:11; Ex. 7:2; Ex. 9:35; Ex. 11:10).”

The fact is that all is clear and consistent but progressive; and the petty pretence of Elohistic and Jehovistic documents manifestly fails; for Exodus 3 is characterised by the use of Jehovah in a way exactly similar to Exodus 6. Elohim in both reveals Himself or is spoken of as Jehovah. When the signs were wrought at first, the people and Moses asked leave of absence for three days only. When the king haughtily refused, and increased their oppression, God gave His servant a still fuller revelation of Himself for the people, now utterly cast down, and a commission in Egypt more peremptory — armed not with signs only but judgments on their oppressors — and the demand now was for an absolute departure of Israel. If the prince of the world made their burdens heavier, the assurance of deliverance becomes more distinct, and the temporary release vanishes. The second call in Egypt is therefore not only a fact but necessary as an introduction to new dealings after Pharaoh despised Jehovah’s claim according to the first call in Midian.

4 Bishop Colenso (part i. ch. 11) has heaped together objections to the account of the Passover as weak as they are malicious. His main point seems to be that “in one single day, the whole immense population of Israel, as large as that of London, was instructed to keep the Passover, and actually did keep it.” For this the text not only gives no ground but furnishes its unequivocal disproof. On the face of it the prescribed mode required the lamb to be taken on the tenth day of the month of Abib and kept till the fourteenth, in the evening of which it was killed. “This night” and “that night” can in no way invalidate these directions, nor is their own meaning doubtful. Besides there may have been notice given long before the tenth of Abib. Every one knows the habit in Hebrew, and indeed other languages, for the speaker to throw himself forward into the chief event in question, even if there had been no express preliminaries which evince the futility of the statement. All the other elements are exaggerated by the objector, the number of the lambs requisite, as well as the degree of haste, which affected scarce anything but their bread, as otherwise they stood ready for their move, which they were fully expecting.

5 It is a fair question, which has perplexed translators and commentators in ancient as well as modern times, what is meant by the Hebrew word translated “harnessed” (with the marginal alternative “five in a rank”) in verse 18. Bishop Colenso (part 1, chap. ix.) will have it to mean “armed,” in flagrant inconsistency with the context, because it is so taken elsewhere; and this in order to urge the impossibility of 600,000 “warriors.” But even Gesenius and Knobel take the word otherwise, and so do Onkelos and Aben Ezra, as Dr. McCaul has shown. It is unwarrantable, therefore, to reason on what is so precarious. The men might be “girt” or “in regular order” without all being armed, and very far indeed from being all “warriors”

6 It is alleged by Dr. D. (Introd. O. T. i. 65,) that “according to Exodus 12:16, etc., the feast of unleavened bread was introduced before the exodus; but from Ex. 13:3, etc., we learn that it was instituted after that event at Succoth.” The latter statement is perfectly fictitious. Not a word implies that the feast was instituted in Succoth, the mention of which is severed by three important verses (17-19) from the close of all that refers to the feast. It is evident that there is an addition of consequence in Exodus 13 to what Jehovah had prescribed in Exodus 12. No date or place is named. It may have been, and probably was, after the sons of Israel left Egypt, as it throughout supposes the feast already instituted. Here too there is no excuse for a different author or document, as the codicil of Exodus 13 is Jehovistic equally with Exodus 12, and adds the fresh thought of the sanctification to Jehovah of all the first-born in Israel, whether of man or of beast. The males were to be His, and must be either sacrificed or redeemed. The tenor of Dr. D.'s statement is the more remarkable, because the reference to Succoth occurs in a distinct clause that follows where is only Elohim, after which we have Jehovah once more as before.

7 The Authorised Version does not distinguish as it evidently ought between
ἀγοράζω or
ἐξαγοράζω on the one hand, and
λυτρόω on the other, meaning “I buy,” and “I redeem.” God makes both true in Christ of the believer; but purchase is unlimited, as an examination of the Greek Testament will convince any soul who reads the word of God with a subject spirit; while redemption has its defined objects.

8 The unbelief expressed in Dr. D.'s Introd. to the Old Testament here for instance is astounding. The author boldly says, “The Song of Moses in the fifteenth chapter was not written by Moses himself It is a Palestinian production. If any part of it was sung at the time the Hebrews passed over, it was probably the words of the first verse . . . Allusions are made in it to a time considerably after the song is said to have been first sung; for example in the seventeenth verse . . . Here the temple on mount Zion seems to be meant. If so, the poem was not prior to Solomon's time” (i. p. 226)! Thus, as it is an axiom with these men, that there can be no prediction of events which God alone could foresee, and as this song clearly anticipates what was not realised till the reign of David's son, it must be as late as his days at least; and Ex. 14 is pronounced to be later still, because the hand of the Jehovist appears in it, not in the fifteenth! Can there be more absurd trifling than the sentence that Exodus 15 (“the poem as we now have it”, is Elohistic as contrasted with Ex. 14?

9 It is alleged that there is “a double description of the manna in Exodus 16:11, etc., and Numbers 11:7-9. In the former it is said that it fell from the air, was white like coriander seed, and melted if the sun shone upon it; in the latter, that it could be pound (sic) in mills, or beaten in mortars, or baken in pans, and prepared in cakes. Thus two (?) writers appear. Had one and the same author described this extraordinary food of the Israelites, he would not have presented such varying accounts. Kalisch (Commentary on Exodus, p. 213 et seq.) can only explain the fact by assuming that two sorts of manna are meant; what he calls air-manna and tree-manna. He omits to notice the true cause of diversity in the description — difference of authorship. The tamarix manifera or tarafa shrub yields the substance in question by the puncture of an insect, the coccus maniparus, Exodus 16:9-26 is Elohistic; Numbers 11 is Jehovistic.”

“There is also a double account of the miracle of the quails in Exodus 16 and Numbers 11. The former represents them as a boon given by God to satisfy the people’s hunger, and convince them of their dependence on the covenant God. (Verses 4, 12) The gift of manna to the people is also connected with that of the quails. Both were granted together in the second month of the first year after the exodus. The latter account is very different. The quails are brought by a wind from the sea, and the eating of them produces a plague among the people. Because the people lusted, this food was sent in anger to destroy them. The book of Numbers does not contain the least hint that quails had been previously sent to the people; but the narrative leaves the impression that this was their first and only bestowal, a year after the time specified in Exodus 16 at Kibroth-hattaavah, after the people had become tired of the manna. Is it not probable then that the writer in Exodus puts two different facts together which were separate in time; viz., the sending of quails and manna? It is no explanation to assert that there is nothing improbable in supposing that the Israelites twice murmured for flesh, and that God twice sent them quails. The manna of Numbers 11 renders this supposition extremely improbable. Part of Exodus 16 is Elohistic; Numbers 11 is Jehovistic.”

First it is not the fact on the ground of rationalistic theory that one is a whit more Elohistic than the other: Jehovah is the term used in Exodus 16 as certainly and exclusively as in Numbers 11. Next the difference of description is not only not inconsistent, but most natural in the circumstances respectively. When first given, its appearance to the eye, and its novelty suggesting its name, are dwelt on; later not only is it more minutely compared, but the methods of using it are given, in connection with the lusting after the old food of Egypt. But both accounts concur in representing it as “air-manna,” not as the exudation from a tree, which is medicine, not food.

But as to the second point, it is plain that not the writer but the rationalist is guilty of confusion, and loses the profit of the two accounts, which are alike circumstantially and morally distinct. Not only are they represented as happening more than twelve months apart, but the truth conveyed depends on the deepest possible difference. In Exodus 16 the people murmured before the law was given and God gave them freely quails in the evening as well as manna in the morning. Guilty they were, but He acts only in grace till Exodus 19, 20. Then, when the people who had voluntarily accepted legal conditions murmured once more for flesh, tiring of the manna, they were dealt with according to the law under which they stood, and judgment fell on them from God, instead of the grace they had originally known. If we had not the two facts, resembling each other on the surface but contrasted in principle, neither the believer could have had so profound a lesson, nor the rationalist have so fully displayed to his shame his ignorance of God. Psalms 105:40, 106:14 16, might be profitably compared by friends or enemies of the Bible. The one will find the amplest confirmation of Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 as distinct accounts illustrating sovereign grace and creature-responsibility; the other can hardly avoid seeing a further and independent proof of his ruinous unbelief. The psalmist sets forth at full length the distinction which pseudo-criticism would destroy; and this too in such a way as to prove that they are but cases out of many facts which fall under the principles already indicated.

10 ”Another duplicate account,” says Dr. D. (Introd. O. T. i. 63), “is in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20:1-13 of the water brought out of the rock, and the origin of the name Meribah. As the same name could not be given twice, both must have grown out of one. It has been ascertained that Exodus 17:2-7 is Jehovistic; while Numbers 20:1-13 contains portions of different documents.” A more unintelligent criticism it is impossible to conceive. The point of both histories is absolutely lost for those who fail to see a contrast in them, instead of both having grown out of one. We have apostolic authority for believing that the rock is Christ. In Exodus the rock was by divine direction smitten — smitten by Moses' rod of judgment. The gift of the Spirit is from Christ after He was smitten, and suffered for us. In Numbers, on the contrary, Moses was told to take the rod (i.e. Aaron's rod of priestly grace from before Jehovah), and he and Aaron to speak to the rock before the eyes of the people, when it should give forth water. But there they failed. For whilst Moses took the rod, Aaron's rod as Jehovah commanded him, he smote the rock twice with his rod. Thus they failed in faith to sanctify Jehovah before Israel. Smiting was as wrong now as it was right before, and so consequently was the application of Moses' judicial rod. The repetition of the work of humiliation is uncalled for. Had Moses only spoken with the rod of the priesthood in his hand, the sign of grace which brought forth fruit out of death, all had been according to God's mind and the provision of His mercy to bring a weak and faulty people through the wilderness. It is not true that there are different documents in Numbers 20:1-13 any more than in Exodus 17:2-7: “Jehovah” characterises both as any one can ascertain.

11 Is not this literally, Because the (or a) hand (is) on the throne of Jah, war (is) from Jehovah with Amalek from generation to generation? The Authorised Version gives the sense.

12 Dr. P. Fairbairn's Typology, ii. p. 190.

13 Dr. Fairbairn's “Typology” is here, as in general, poverty itself. He considers that distinct meanings to be attached to the materials, colours, etc., can have no solid foundation, and are “here out of place”! Even the force of the silver redemption-money he thinks disproved by the fact that the sockets of the door were made of brass. This is the way to lose all but a minimum of truth.

14 Dr. Fairbairn views Christ's whole undertaking as symbolized already in the furniture and services of the Most Holy Place, and therefore considers the things belonging to the Holy Place as directly referring only to the works and services of His people. The consequence of such a division is indeed lowering in the extreme.