Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Exodus 27

Verses 1-8

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Exo . An altar of shittim wood.] It was known also by two other names: 1st, as "the brass altar," so called since it was overlaid with brass; 2d, the "outer altar," because of its position without the tabernacle in the court, to which all the members of the house of Israel had free access. To this altar great importance and high honour was attached, as being the meeting-place between God and the worshipper.

2. Its horns.] Karnoth = symbolical of power, protection, and help, as well as of glory and salvation, and designed to emphatically signify the whole purpose of the sacrificers.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE ALTAR OF BURNT-OFFERING

I. The situation of this altar reminds us of the spirit in which guilty man should draw nigh to God. This altar of burnt-offering was placed in the court of the Tabernacle intimating the circumspection with which man should draw nigh unto God. Before he must venture into the Tabernacle he must recognise the holiness of God, and his own sinfulness, and purify himself from guilt and sin. Lamb, or ram, or goat, or bullock, must be sacrificed and consumed. In our day some presume to worship God, to serve God, without any deep recognition of sin, or any deep sorrow on its account. Let us come before God with a living sorrow for sin, and a burning desire for purity. Before we bring thank-offerings or sacrifices of praise, or dare to mix in the fellowship of saints, let us bring the sin-offering and the burnt-offering. Let us penitently trust in Christ the Lamb of God. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (Jas ).

II. The material of this altar reminds us of the fact that sin debases everything, and that as we leave sin behind the glory of life increases. The altar was overlaid with brass, and all the vessels were of brass. The precious metals so freely used elsewhere are wanting here. This altar recognising sin, recognises also the debasing dishonouring power of sin: yes, sin makes whatever it touches common and unclean. It debases our nature, our relationships, our work, our pleasures. As we pass, through the grace of Jesus, into the enjoyment of God's fellowship and presence, everything grows more precious and beautiful. At the door of the Tabernacle is silver and embroidery, and within the shrine the drapery is more costly still, and all the vessels pure gold. As Christ frees us from sin, all becomes fairer and rarer. "For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron" (Isa ). With perfect purity we find ourselves in the city which is "pure gold like unto transparent glass."

III. The uses of this altar reminds us of the thoroughness with which we ought to dedicate ourselves to God. The burnt-offering symbolised the fact that its offerer thus yielded his life unto God. Thus must we die unto the world and to sin, that we may live unto God.

IV. The ornaments of this altar remind us of the perfect security of those who have repented and believed. There was a horn at each corner of the altar. "The horns are a symbol of power, of protection and help; and at the same time of glory and salvation."—Kalisch. Let us fly to take hold of the horns of the altar.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

We observe, 1st. The incorruptibility of our Saviour's human nature being seen in the shittim-wood, the omnipotence of the divine nature is apparent in the brass of the altar. Its characteristic is endurance. The fire of a justice infinitely pure in itself, and altogether uncompromising in its requirements, must not consume it.

For, 2dly. The altar of burnt-offering being four-square, and having projections or pinnacles at every corner, it is implied thereby that the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ shall one day be efficacious and applicable to the whole world.

3dly. Did the altar of burnt-offering, under the seven-fold sprinkling of the oil of dedication, become the Holiness of holinesses to Jehovah? the most sacred of all the furniture that graced the Tabernacle or stood before the seat of mercy?—See from this particular the pertinency of our Saviour's question to the blinded and ignorant teachers of His day. "Whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?" (Mat ). They had perverted the original intention.

Hence, 4thly. The sacrifices of the altar, whether daily, weekly, monthly, or annually offered, pointed the nation of Israel to one greater sacrifice, in which all the mystic ordinances of the Tabernacle should finally be concentrated and embodied.

The altar was a very conspicuous object in the court. It stood in the centre, and on entering, was right before the worshipper, who could not fail to be impressed with its square and massive form, its bright and bloodstained exterior, its blazing and smoking fire, and its white-robed and ministering priests. If the type of the crucifixion was so very conspicuous in the court, how much more so should the crucified Christ Himself be in the New Testament Church. As the pious Hebrew on entering the gate leading to the sacred precincts could not miss seeing the brazen altar, so believers when visiting the house of God, should ever behold Jesus as its greatest attraction. The minister who does not make the Cross the grand theme of his preaching, need not expect to lead sinners to the Saviour. As the altar was the most prominent of the holy vessels in the Tabernacle court, and as the Cross is the principal object held up by faithful servants of God in the Christian sanctuary, and around which the thoughts and affections of His people cluster, so Christ will be the chief attraction of the New Jerusalem; and if we are among the number of His saints, its gates will open to admit us when we die, and as we enter, we will behold right before us, and in the very midst, heaven's greatest and grandest sight, for the first scene that will burst upon our wondering and admiring gaze will be "the Lamb that once was slain;" and the first wave of celestial melody that will greet our ears and transport our hearts, will be that of praises to Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.

W. Brown.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Mosaic-Ritual! Exo .

(1.) Beautiful and rich as were the materials employed, there was a remarkable simplicity about the tabernacle and its adjuncts. And why? Glance at the books designed for the instruction of children. They may be rich in design and ornate in execution, but how mono-syllabic they are! What pictures of simplicity they contain! When the child develops in body and mind, the thoughts and words are also proportionately developed. We do not dream of instructing the babe-mind in the mysteries of algebra, or the intricacies of science.

(2.) God speaks, by the mouth of a later prophet, as of Israel as His child at this time. As a child, Israel's host could but receive milk of truth—the elementary truths of Divine wisdom. Pictures interleave the Divine manual of saving instruction—pictures such as the tabernacle, the altar of burnt-offering, the outer court with its brazen laver, and encircling curtains, and solitary gateway.

(3.) And as Israel grew, so the instruction was raised. The theocratic nation was schooled in the deep things of God, while its saints and seers were permitted to drink deeply at the Fount of Divine Wisdom, searching diligently into the mystery of redemption, until the Teacher Himself became Incarnate. Thus the Law was alike the pedagogue leading to, and the schoolmaster instructing as to, Christ—the End of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

"And when the last trumpet shall sound through the skies,

When the dead from the dust of the earth shall arise,

With bright millions I'll rise far above yonder sky,

To wear Christ's Righteousness for ever on high."

Altars! Exo .

(1.) Appealing to the senses of a people whose spiritual discernment was undeveloped, Jehovah, on the very night in which they began their march from Egypt, went before them in the Shekinah, or pillar of fire by night and of a cloud by day, the advance or halt of which was the signal for their march or rest. SACRIFICE was contemplated as the very object of their journey; and we read of its being offered by Jethro and Aaron before Sinai. But of its place we have no other notice than the command given in the first series of precepts, to make an altar of earth, or unhewn stone. Subsequently came this ordinance of the Altar of Burnt-offering.

(2.) It was known as the brazen altar, and was so arranged in front of the single, gateway, that every worshipper as he approached the hallowed tabernacle would be reminded of his need of sacrifice. All heaven-taught souls recognise in this arrangement a type of man's need of the propitiatory of Jesus Christ. Its twofold substance of wood and brass signifies the complex character of Christ—His human nature overlaid with Divine strength.

"The outward form is not the whole,

But every part is moulded

To image forth an inward soul

That dimly is unfolded."

Exodus-Christology! Exo .

(1.) It has been said that Christ is everywhere in the Bible, as oxygen is everywhere in the atmosphere, its all and in all of vitality. So of its individual parts, and none the less of these apparently dry details and reiterations of Exodus. These make Him, as do all other portions of Scripture, their grand central Sun; while all the ritual observances and Levitical requirements are so many pointers calling attention to His glory—so many satellites revolving round Him in harmonious moral rhythm—so many beams or shafts of light culminating in Him. He gives the meaning to this Exodus ceremonialism, the direction to all this Exodus worship, the warmth to all this Exodus ordinance.

(2.) There is, therefore, no typical overstrain when we represent the four-square altar as indicating the perfect stability of Christ's atonement, or the horns as symbolising His all-subduing might, to which despairing sinners may fearlessly cling. It is the horn of Jesus which prevails, says Law. Nay, more, the horns of salvation are the realities of refuge; so that, adhering to Christ, holding fast by Jehovah's strength, there is no need to fear.

"Man's wisdom is to seek

His strength in God alone;

And e'en an angel would be weak

Who trusted in his own."

Cowper.

Atonement! Exo . The main design of the altar was to receive burnt-offerings. At early morn, throughout the day, and at earth's eventide, the flames were bright of sacrifice. Each fire-made offering, says Law, typified Christ's death. The recurrence of this idea of Messianic atonement everywhere in the Pentateuch shows its paramount importance to man. If frequent types set forth this truth, it is that man's thoughts may cluster round it more constantly. If this sweet passion-flower blooms and floats its heavenly fragrance over every part of the Mosaic meadows and mountains, it is that human hearts may exult, in its everlasting beauty. On the accursed tree we have the sacrifice of Christ, not only fulfilling all the analogies of nature, but concentrating all the typal beams of the Law in one glorious, ruddy orb of atonement.

"Whoever yearns to see aright,

Because his heart is tender,

Shall catch this Truth of Heavenly Light

In every typal splendour."

Divine Order! Exo .

(1.) These commands may seem puerile, but they are not so. Ruskin rightly says that "Whatever may be the means, or whatever the more immediate end of any kind of art, all of it that is good agrees in this, that it is the expression of one soul talking to another." And it is precious according to the greatness of the soul that utters it.

(2.) If such be true where man is concerned, how much more when God is the speaker! How precious should be the art-words of God in this chapter! How beautiful the designs and arrangements! What lessons must be hidden underneath; lessons, too, which have undying issues in their bosom! These Exodus chapters are—

"The modifying medium through which

Grace-glories are exhibited to man—

The grand repository where God hides

His mighty thoughts, to be dug out like diamonds."

Order-Importance! Exo . Guthrie says that the most important results may depend on the right place and position of things. No wonder, then, that God lays so much and impressive stress upon the Mosaic conformity to the Sinaitic model. God teaches us this in every-day life and experience.

(1.) If things are out of place in Nature, what serious issues are at stake! Who does not know that the fruitfulness and beauty, yea, the very life of a tree depends not only on its having both root and branches, but on these members being placed in their natural order?

(2.) In art the same law holds good. The builder must not only erect the stately fabric, but he must so construct it with the proper base to rest on, lest the agitation of some earthquake or the aggression of some, stormy wind should overturn it.

(3.) So with the tabernacle arrangements; order of arrangement was of the most vital importance, seeing all, in whole and in each individual part, was designed to typify things under the Gospel Economy. Thus was it in the Mosaic Dispensation as in Nature.

Each moss—

"Each shell, each crawling insect, holds a rank

Important in the plan of Him who framed

This scale of beings; holds a rank which, lost,

Would break the chain, and leave behind a gap

Which Nature's self would rue."

Thomson.

Verses 9-20

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE COURT OF THE TABERNACLE

This scene, into which all the members of the house of Israel might enter, reminds us—

I. Of the common need. It was the court of the congregation. Every member of the house of Israel needed to come here—that is, every member needed forgiveness and purification. No matter that they were an elected and peculiar people. Whilst nationally they were elected to play a great part in the government of God, their moral weaknesses remained, and they needed forgiveness and cleansing. No election ignores moral considerations. No matter what their age. The youth, the patriarch. No matter what their rank. Princes, elders, common people, all needed alike to present themselves here. No matter what their office. The Priest, the people—the sacred and secular orders. The men of all Israel came here to be reminded of their imperfection, sin and stain. We are all guilty before God. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; there is no difference. "If any man say that he hath no sin," &c.

II. Of the common privilege. It was the court of the congregation. All needed to come, all were privileged to come. The hanging at the entrance was full of promise. If the radiant vail encouraged the high priest to enter the holiest, if the similar vail gave assurance to the priest to pass into the holy place, the similar vail, at the entrance to the court of the congregation, spoke hope into the breast of all Israel, Exo . The embroidered, richly dyed hangings on the very threshold of the sacred tent, inspired all guilty and sorrowful souls, who turned their faces thitherward, with most consolatory expectations. Whatever might be the sin, the altar in that enclosure might be approached. Whatever might be the uncleannesses of the people, there it might be atoned for and purged. (Notice the sins and stains to be removed as given in Leviticus.) So forgiveness and purity in Christ is a common privilege. "The common salvation." There are special gifts and appointments in the natural sphere; special gifts and callings in the Church; but grace, pardon, purity are in Christ for the whole world. "There is no difference."

III. Of the common hope. The Tabernacle of the congregation was far inferior to the holy place and the most holy—in the one brass and silver, in the other fine gold—but the places were connected together, and the priest passing into the interior of the holy habitation represented the whole nation. So now in Christ have we forgiveness and righteousness; our high priest represents us in the heavenly place; and soon shall we pass from the more imperfect services of earth to the highest vision, and glory, and joy of the celestial world.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Mosaic-Ritual! Exo .

(1.) Beautiful and rich as were the materials employed, there was a remarkable simplicity about the tabernacle and its adjuncts. And why? Glance at the books designed for the instruction of children. They may be rich in design and ornate in execution, but how mono-syllabic they are! What pictures of simplicity they contain! When the child develops in body and mind, the thoughts and words are also proportionately developed. We do not dream of instructing the babe-mind in the mysteries of algebra, or the intricacies of science.

(2.) God speaks, by the mouth of a later prophet, as of Israel as His child at this time. As a child, Israel's host could but receive milk of truth—the elementary truths of Divine wisdom. Pictures interleave the Divine manual of saving instruction—pictures such as the tabernacle, the altar of burnt-offering, the outer court with its brazen laver, and encircling curtains, and solitary gateway.

(3.) And as Israel grew, so the instruction was raised. The theocratic nation was schooled in the deep things of God, while its saints and seers were permitted to drink deeply at the Fount of Divine Wisdom, searching diligently into the mystery of redemption, until the Teacher Himself became Incarnate. Thus the Law was alike the pedagogue leading to, and the schoolmaster instructing as to, Christ—the End of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

"And when the last trumpet shall sound through the skies,

When the dead from the dust of the earth shall arise,

With bright millions I'll rise far above yonder sky,

To wear Christ's Righteousness for ever on high."

Divine-Design! Exo .

(1.) If on shaking a quantity of printer's type in a basket, it should appear that some of the pieces stuck together, when they fell, in such order as to compose the narrative of these Mosaic ordinances, could we resist the conclusion that these particular types were loaded with the design of composing that story? We read the design in the complicated and intelligible adaptation of the final result. So, when we find these various and varied ordinances, altars, lamps, courts, and curtains thus arranged by Moses, we cannot but believe that He who gave them to him loaded them with the designed method and arrangement in which we find them.

(2.) There are few subjects that confuse the mind more thoroughly than the numerous and diverse mineral substances which form the great mass of the earth's crust; and it was not till Abb Hay dropped his beautiful specimen of calcareous spar, and noted that all the shivered fragments of the original prism had the same rhomboidal form, that men dreamt of any regularity among inorganic objects. God formed His manual of religious instruction after this analogy of nature. Its unity does not stand out upon the surface, neither does its unity of design. We have to make due, devout, and diligent search to find the Divine design in these Exodus unveilings.

"Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine,

And jewels rich and rare

Are hidden in its mighty depths,

For every searcher there."

Hodder.

Court-Order! Exo .

(1.) Johnson says, Order is a lovely nymph—the child of Beauty and Wisdom. Her attendants are Comfort, Neatness, and Activity. Her abode is the Valley of Happiness She is always to be found when sought for; and she never appears so lovely as when contrasted with her opponent, Disorder.

(2.) Southey says, as the beams to a house, as the bones to the microcosm of man, so is order to all things. Not only is order beautiful; its existence is a necessity. Addison says wrongly that its non-existence is excusable in men of great learning, who are often too full to be exact, and who may therefore throw down their pearls in heaps instead of stringing them,

(3.) Shaftesbury says, In nature is no confusion, but all is managed for the best with perfect frugality and just reserve. Bigg says that nature is still, as ever, the thin veil which half conceals and half reveals the design of God in grace. The order which we perceive in nature, from the setting and sweeping of star-worlds in space to the forming and flitting of fire-flies amid the palm fronds, is designed to instruct us in the order of Revelation.

"So work the honey-bees,

Creatures that by a rule in nature teach

The act of order to a peopled kingdom."

Shakespeare.

Linen! Exo .

(1.) Weaving was extensively carried on in ancient Egypt. On the tombs are found various representations of the mode of carrying on this art. Pharaoh arrayed Joseph in vestures of fine linen. There can be no doubt that during the captivity in Egypt the Israelitish women were thus employed. It was as bond-slaves in the houses of the princes of Egypt that they acquired the arts which were afterwards used in the service of the Lord. Thus the disciplines of life are often enlisted by God to enable His chosen ones to render to Him agreeable service.

(2.) The fine twined linen probably alludes to the great pains taken in the bleaching of linen in ancient Egypt. Osburn says that, after being marked, the piece of wet linen was probably wrapped in strong sacking made for the purpose, one end of which was fastened to a post, and a staff was inserted in a loop in the other. It was then wrung by the united strength of two men, so as to force out as much of the water as possible, and thus prevent any impurity that might be in the water or in the cloth from drying in. It may, therefore, be called fine twined, or twisted, or wrong linen.

(3.) Such was the righteousness of God, wrought out by the Lord Jesus on the plains of earth; that fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints. Through the ordeal of trial the Lord Jesus wrought it; and through much tribulation the saints enter the kingdom to wear it.

"Lo! his clothing is the sun,

The bright Sun of Righteousness;

He hath put salvation on,

Jesus is his beauteous dress."

Wesley.

Court-Entrance! Exo . There was admittance by one only gate. All worshippers must pass the door. In a town in the north of Scotland some boys were in the habit of meeting together for prayer. A little girl was passing, and heard them sing. She stopped to listen, and thinking that it was just an ordinary prayer-meeting, she felt anxious to get in. Putting up her hand, she pulled the latch, but it would not open. It was fastened inside. She became very uneasy, and the thought arose in her mind: "What if this were the door of heaven, and me outside? "She went home, but could not sleep. Day after day, she became more troubled at the thought of being shut out of heaven. She went from one prayer-meeting to another, still finding no rest. At length, one day reading the tenth chapter of John, she came to the words, "I am the Door." She paused! Here was the very door she was seeking; it was wide open. She entered.

"‘I am the door,' those words begin;

I press towards that Voice,

And, ere I know it, am within,

And all within rejoice."

Thoroughness! Exo . In all these minute arrangements God teaches the art and duty of thoroughness. A friend called on Michael Angelo, who was finishing a statue. Some time afterwards he called again; the sculptor was still at his work. His friend, looking at the figure, exclaimed, "You have been idle since I saw you last!" "By no means," replied the sculptor, "I hare retouched this part, and polished that; I have softened this feature, and brought out this muscle; I have given more expression to this lip, and more energy to this limb." To this his friend replied that all these were "trifles." "It may be so," replied Angelo, "but recollect that trifles make perfection, and what perfection is no trifle." But Angelo's perfect works, when viewed through the microscope, disclosed rough outlines. Not so God's. His works are thoroughly perfect—even to the "filleting" and "sockets." And so are His words.

"How longed the holy men and prophets old God's

Truth to see! How blessed, whom He hath willed

To see His Truth in His own book enrolled."

Mant.

Little Things! Exo . It is but the littleness of man that sees no greatness in a trifle. And indeed there is nothing little in truth which can be connected with eternity and God. Little pins held together that tabernacle, which was the glory of God. As Dryden says, God never made His work for man to mend.

(1.) This is true of nature, which Goethe calls the living visible garment of God, and which Carlyle terms the lime vesture of God that reveals Him to the wise, and hides Him from the foolish. A microscopic examination of the smallest flower or animalcule shows that He has cared for the little things—that every part is perfect of its kind—and that with Him nothing is too insignificant to be done thoroughly.

(2.) This is true of the Mosaic law, which has been rightly called the gospel in bud. How careful God was that the little things of the tabernacle should all be wrought out after His plan. Even the pins were to be made perfectly, and after the fashion shown to Moses in the Mount.

"Naught that is right think little; well aware

What reason bids, God bids; by His command

How aggrandised the smallest thing we do!"

Young.

Verse 20-21

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE OIL FOR THE LAMPS

Consider the provision for the lamps as a service. The children of Israel were to bring oil for these lamps for ever, and the priests were to trim the lamps and keep them brightly burning. Notice:—

I. The service of the people. Is not the duty of the people in relation to this service most suggestive? a pattern of service to all after-times?

1. They were to bring their first. "The olive berry is first green, and assumes, later, a purple and black colour. The best kind of oil is obtained from the unripe green olives." We are not to give God the gleanings of our power, or time, or influence, or life, but the first-fruits.

2. They were to bring their best. It was the purest and costliest oil. We are not to give to the cause of God anything that is inferior. We are to hold our best for God, and for His service.

3. They were to give freely their first and best. "Beaten oil. That is such oil as could easily be expressed from the olives after they had been bruised in a mortar; the mother-drop, as it is called, which drops out of itself, as soon as the olives are a little broken, and which is much purer than that which is obtained after the olives are put under the press."—Clarke. Does not this signify that our service for God should flow freely from a loving heart? "God loveth a cheerful giver."

II. The service of the priests. The priests were to feed the lamps. "Aaron and his sons shall arrange it from evening to morning before the Lord," &c., Exo . A daily constant service. And thus it must be in this dispensation, if the Church is to be a brightly burning lamp. Every morning the priests cleansed the lamps and replenished the oil: and the Christian ministry must keep the Church pure, and preserve all its ordinances in vigour and brightness. As the lighthouse-keeper preserves all his lamps in cleanliness, and each evening sends for the guiding light, constant as the stars; so must the ministers of Christ's Church see to it that no impurities dim the glory of the Church or impair its efficiency.

III. The glorious result when ministers and people are faithful in their service. The Church then stands forth with a guiding, warning, cheering light. If the people are unfaithful, it cannot be so. They are to bring the oil, and if that oil be wanting in quantity, or inferior in quality, the light is defective; and so if the members of the Christian Church do not bring the pure oil of a loving, generous, spiritual service, the lustre of the Church is dimmed. And if the ministers be slothful, or selfish, or unspiritual, the lamps are tarnished and the flame flickers. When ministers and people are faithful, the Church is the light of the world, the day-star of a grander world.

THE LAMPS OF THE TABERNACLE

Consider these lighted lamps as a symbol. The golden candlestick, lighted as in the text may justly be regarded as a symbol of Christ—the light of the world. Observe—

I. The purity of the light. "The oil prescribed for the holy service is of a white colour; it gives a better light and little smoke. The holy oil was pure, and unmixed with oil of any other quality." Was not this significant of the light which God has given us in Jesus Christ? In our philosophies we have truth mixed with error, as much smoke as light; in the various religions of the heathen world we have the true and the false strangely blended, and giving forth a most uncertain ray; in Christ we have the true unclouded illumination. "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." "For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light" (Psa ). In that pure light it is our privilege to walk.

II. The perfection of the light. On each of the seven arms of the candelabrum rested a burning lamp. Seven, the note of perfection. On all the great questions touching our salvation from sin, our moral discipline and development, our duty to God and man, our preparation for the life beyond, we have sufficient light in the Lord Jesus. We have no need to resort to the philosophies of man. The speculations of the natural reason. No need to resort to ecclesiastical traditions. Opinions of the Fathers, &c., as in Catholicism; as if the New Testament did not contain all that was necessary for salvation, character, and destiny. All; spiritual light is in Christ, as all natural light is in the sun. The light in Christ brings conviction to the understanding, assurance to the heart. Don't add to the lamps; don't take any away. The doctrines of Christ are all necessary; they are all that are necessary.

III. The perpetuity of the light. That light on the candlestick was to burn on for ever. The light we have in Christ is not an artificial light to guide us through some passing perplexity, it is the essential and everlasting truth. It is not a light to be superseded in this world. Some tell us that Christ is destined to be eclipsed by greater teachers, that His Gospel is destined to be eclipsed by systems of moral and spiritual truth far more full and reliable than His own. The greater teacher, the grander gospel, has not yet appeared, and gives no sign of appearing. We need expect no grander light. The seven-branched golden candlestick of the Jewish Temple is buried, if we believe tradition, in the bed of the Tiber; but the Light of the world shall shine through all time, the master light of all our seeing.

"Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:

They are but broken lights of Thee,

And Thou, O Lord, art more than they."

It is not a light to be superseded in the world to come. "The Lord God and the lamb are an everlasting light." In Christ we have the light of eternal truth, love, righteousness, felicity. "All flesh is grass," &c.

"O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isa ).

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

You will observe,

1. The requirement of oil to cause the lamp of the sanctuary to burn. "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun." (Ecc .) In the absence of that glorious luminary, artificial light becomes a great convenience. The Tabernacle possessed no windows; whence the necessity for an ever-burning lamp. A lamp, however, although costly in material and exquisite in form, can emit no radiance of itself; oil, therefore, must be furnished for its use. In like manner, the Church of Christ must be illuminated by extraneous aid. It is not in mere human intellect, how rich soever in resources and attainments of a worldly kind it may be, to discover the way of life: it must consequently be taught of God and replenished with wisdom of a heavenly kind. It is the inspiration of the Almighty which alone giveth true and saving light unto mankind; and the oil that must burn in the lamp of our understanding is, the Holy Ghost.

Mudge.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Mosaic-Ritual! Exo .

(1.) Beautiful and rich as were the materials employed, there was a remarkable simplicity about the tabernacle and its adjuncts. And why? Glance at the books designed for the instruction of children. They may be rich in design and ornate in execution, but how mono-syllabic they are! What pictures of simplicity they contain! When the child develops in body and mind, the thoughts and words are also proportionately developed. We do not dream of instructing the babe-mind in the mysteries of algebra, or the intricacies of science.

(2.) God speaks, by the mouth of a later prophet, as of Israel as His child at this time. As a child, Israel's host could but receive milk of truth—the elementary truths of Divine wisdom. Pictures interleave the Divine manual of saving instruction—pictures such as the tabernacle, the altar of burnt-offering, the outer court with its brazen laver, and encircling curtains, and solitary gateway.

(3.) And as Israel grew, so the instruction was raised. The theocratic nation was schooled in the deep things of God, while its saints and seers were permitted to drink deeply at the Fount of Divine Wisdom, searching diligently into the mystery of redemption, until the Teacher Himself became Incarnate. Thus the Law was alike the pedagogue leading to, and the schoolmaster instructing as to, Christ—the End of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

"And when the last trumpet shall sound through the skies,

When the dead from the dust of the earth shall arise,

With bright millions I'll rise far above yonder sky,

To wear Christ's Righteousness for ever on high."

Olive-Oil! Exo .

(1.) Dr. Burden observes that by the expression "oil-olive" this oil is distinguished from other kinds. The addition "beaten" indicates that it is that oil obtained from olives pounded in a mortar, and not pressed from olives in the oil-mill. The oil obtained from pounded olives is, according to Columela's observations, much purer and better tasted, does not emit much smoke, and has no offensive smell. From passages in the books of Joel and Micah, it would seem that the olives were usually crushed in the mill by men's feet, just as in the vintage operation.

2. In the museum of Naples is a graceful olive in bronze, on whose spreading branches the various members of some old Pompeian household used to hang up their little lamps when they came from their different employments, and mustered in the family apartment around the symbolic family tree. Figure of each member of the Church of Christ, each of whom should contribute the small lamp of a Christian life, fed with the pure oil-olive of Divine Grace, to be suspended on the fair olive-tree of the Church (Psa ).

"God's saints are shining lights; who stays

Here long, must pass

O'er dark hills, swift streams, and steep ways

As smooth as glass.

But these all night,

Like candles, shed

Their beams, and light

Us into bed."

Vaughan.

Olive-Symbolism! Exo . The word "tree," as pointed out by Grindon, actually means "intellect" in both English and Hebrew. It is even "intellect" in its widest sense amongst the Hebrews. The personifications of Scripture are not like those of merely human poetry, which are addressed simply to the object. On the contrary, they always involve a direct reference to the mental, the moral, or the spiritual. "The trees of the forest clap their hands." Here the figure is borrowed from the waving of the branches; but the figure is itself figurative. The idea is that of the joys of the redeemed being expressed to God. When, therefore, particulars kinds of trees are mentioned in Scripture, it is in reference to specific mental gifts, moral virtues, or spiritual graces. It is the "tree department" of the language of flowers in its highest and noblest use. The olive has from time immemorial been identified with peace, forgiveness, charity, reconciliation, and similar high attitudes of virtue. In the sphere of Revelation and Grace, its oil thus symbolises "the Graces of the Holy Spirit."

"For Nature dwells within our reach;

Yet though we stand so near her,

We still interpret half her speech

With ears too dull to hear her."

Anon.

Olive-Oil Objects! Exo . Thomas calls attention to,

1. The Plant, whence the oil came, as an emblem of Jesus, the Plant of renown, full of grace and truth; to,

2. The Properties of the oil, as expressive of the purity of the Spirit of Christ;

3. The Process of its manufacture, as predicting the sufferings of Jesus ere the Holy Spirit's full descent at Pentecost;

4. The Persons receiving and dispensing, as types of the true Israel of God, who receive of Christ's fulness, and grace for grace; and,

5. The Purposes to which the oil was put, as symbolic of the Divine Light ever shining in the holy place of the Church, and of the temple of the Christian heart.

"The Rites of God are fair for nought,

Unless our eyes, in seeing,

See hidden in the type the thought

That animates its being."

Anon.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 27". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/exodus-27.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.