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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Exodus 30

 

 

Verses 1-10

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Exo . Altar of incense] = Miktar Ketoreth, literally, the incenser of incense, or, to incense incense, because, strictly speaking, this was not an altar, as no sacrifices were offered upon it. It was also called the golden altar (Exo 39:38; Num 4:11) to distinguish it from the altar of burnt-offering which was of less costly materials. There was a special importance attached to this altar from various circumstances. The sweet incense, the symbol of prayer, was burnt upon it every day, morning and evening (Exo 30:7-8). The blood of the sin-offering, too, was sprinkled upon it every year on the great day of atonement (Lev 16:18-20), and at such other times as occasion required (Lev 4:17-18). The position of this altar was, no doubt, calculated to enhance its typical import. It stood between the altar of burnt-offering in the Court and the mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies, separated from the latter by the great partition veil. Thus the priest as he ministered with his face turned in the direction of the mercy-seat, though assured of its reality, was still only permitted to see it with the eyes of his mind). Hence the High priest's ministrations in this rite taught Israel to offer the incense of prayer towards the throne above, which, though invisible to the bodily eye at the time, is nevertheless real and present to the eye of faith.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

WORSHIP

The altar of incense is instructive as to worship in all generations.

I. The material of the altar is suggestive of the elements of a praying heart. It was to be made of acacia wood, Exo ; significant of the fact that prevailing prayer must rise from a sound heart. Acacia wood was incorruptible. In prayer the heart must be sincere—no lightness, no hollowness, no hypocrisy. Effectual prayer must rise from a pure heart. This is signified by the altar being overlaid with pure gold, Exo 30:3. It was called the golden altar. True prayer springs from a sin-renouncing heart. How often do we seem to think that any altar will do for heaven! Any rotten wood, any unconsecrated stones, any brazen altar. We ask amiss. We ask with an insincere, sin-regarding, unbelieving heart. "Let us draw near with a true heart."

II. The position of the altar is suggestive of the grand function of prayer. "And thou shalt place it before the vail," &c., Exo . It stood before the curtain which separated the sanctuary from the Holy of Holies. By prayer we gain access into the immediate presence of the merciful God. "Before the mercy-seat which is over the testimony." By prayer we gain an interest in all the great promises of God to mankind. "By the ark of the testimony." By prayer, whatever is in the covenant becomes ours. We cannot expect mercy without a life of prayer: "Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may find mercy." We cannot expect the blessings of providence and grace without prayer. We must enter heaven by prayer. Prayer brings us into the presence of God; into fellowship with God; and makes us partakers of all the treasures of God.

III. The pure incense is suggestive of the sweetness of prayer, Exo . Prayer is sweet to us. To pour out our soul to God, to pray, to praise, is the highest joy of our spiritual life. Prayer is sweet to God. The gratitude and trust of the heart are to God as the fragrant perfume of golden censers (Rev 8:3-4).

IV. The offering of the incense in connection with the lighting of the lamps suggests the illuminations of prayer, Exo . We get light through prayer. The Word of God is a great lamp for our illumination, but we only realise its luminous teachings when we ponder, them in the spirit of prayer (Jas 1:5-7)

V. The horns at the corners of the altar remind us of the power of prayer, Exo . How great the power of prayer in the day of trouble, in the day of temptation! Day by day we need the strength which prayer alone can supply. Horns are the symbols of power, and from the altar of God comes the strength to make us conquerors. Prayer is not only sweet, but animating—not only full of poetry, but full of power.

"Let us pray." And if we pray with a pure heart, offering no strange incense, Exo , and resting all our intercessions upon the atoning merit of Christ, Exo 30:10, God shall shew us His glory, enrich us with His gifts, and fill us with His eternal joy.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Sacrificial Speech! Exo .

(1.) No student of the Bible needs to be reminded that by the complicated and long protracted series of events which preceded, accompanied, and followed the Exodus from Egypt, the essential doctrine of Gospel truth and grace are distinctly made known. By a stupendous array of symbolic acts and facts they are most emphatically confirmed and illustrated.

(2.) Thomson remarks that what is more pertinent, if possible, is that the record of them is so guided as to suggest and evolve the very best words, figures, and phrases by which these fundamental doctrines can be set forth. This is equally true of the words and ideas in this chapter of Exodus, as of the paschal lamb in Egypt, or the smiting of the rock in Horeb.

(3.) The symbolic acts and facts, it has been wisely asserted, in connection with the typical institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, were designed to permeate, and did permeate, the entire religious consciousness of the Hebrews. They thus gave birth to spiritual ideas and emotions wholly peculiar, and to corresponding formulas by which to give expression to them.

"I saw a Moslem work upon his shroud alone,

With earnest care, even as the silkworms weave their own,

When with that sacred Script it was filled from side to side,

He wrapt it round his body, and in calmness died."

Oriental.

Incense-Altar! Exo .

(1.) In the gorgeous ceremonial worship of the Hebrews, none of the senses were excluded from taking part in the service. Macmillan observes that the eye was appealed to by the rich vestments of Exodus 28; and the splendid furniture of Exodus 26, 27. The ear was exercised by the sound of the trumpet, and the voice of praise and prayer. The nostril was gratified by the clouds of fragrant smoke that rose from the golden altar of incense and filled all the place.

(2.) This altar of incense occupied one of the most conspicuous and honoured positions in the Tabernacle. It stood between the table of shew-bread and the golden candlestick in the Holy Place. It was made of shittim or cedar wood, overlaid with plates of pure gold. The expiating altar was behind the priest, who stood at this altar. His steps had brought him to the borders of the holiest place. He has passed the spot where dying victims bleed; so that its position divinely arranged seems to be a link joining Sacrifice to Acceptance.

"I read God's Holy Word, and find

Great truths which far transcend my mind;

And little do I know beside

Of thoughts so high, so deep, so wide;

This is my best theology,

I know the Saviour died for me."

Bethune.

Incense-Altar Prefigurings! Exo . It is worth while observing—

(1.) Pattern! Gold and wood; four-square.

(2.) Place! Within the Holy Place; midway between the Altar of Sacrifice and the Throne of Grace.

(3.) Purpose! Incense to he offered daily thereon; by the priest; morning and evening; along with the sacrifices.

(4.) Purport! Significant of prayer; the duty and privilege of prayer; presented through an intercessor.

(5.) Precept! Daily prayer is our privilege; and should be our duty; it is also holy; unworthy prayers incur danger, (a.) Doubtless the Jews felt, when they saw the soft white clouds of fragrant smoke rising slowly from the altar of incense, as if the voice of the priest were silently but eloquently pleading in that expressive emblem on their behalf. (b.) We should remember that from the altar of our souls God expects that daily prayer is to ascend, kindled by the altar fire of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, perfumed with the merits of His sinless mediation within the veil. (c.) But it was perfumed incense, telling the Jew that praise must ever be associated with prayer. This is a needful reminder to the Christian, who is so apt to offer unperfumed prayer, i.e., prayer minus the fragrance of thankfulness and adoration. Canst thou close

"Thine eyes with comfort, and in peace repose,

Before thou lift thy voice, and to the skies

Send up devotion's thankful sacrifice,

Sweet as the fumes which from the censer rose?"

Mant.

Incense-Intent! Exo .

(1.) Priestly! Looking upon the Tabernacle as the palace of God, the theocratic King of Israel, and the Ark of the Covenant His throne, we may regard this incense as merely corresponding to the perfume so lavishly employed about the person and appointments of an Oriental monarch. The Persian sculptures exhibit the burning of incense as one of the marks of honour offered to royalty. In the Canticles of Solomon, there seems to be express allusion to these perfumes burned in the presence of the king, when the bride enters his palace; signifying the Prince of Peace and the Church, which He hath purchased with His blood.

(2.) Priestly! No doubt incense derived its chief importance in connection with the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic ritual, from the fact of its being the great symbol of prayer. It seems to have been regarded in the light of a sacred offering. The Spirit has selected incense as the type of prayer in Psa . Fragrance is the breath of flowers—the sweetest expression of their in-most being; and prayer is the breath of life—the expression of the soul's best, holiest, and heavenliest aspirations.

(3.) Prophetically! When the morning lamps were trimmed, and when the evening lights were lit, this perfume ascended as a great prediction. The nostril of smell and the eye of sight may have seen in the fragrant cloud only the symbol of their own daily orisons to God; but the nostril and eye of faith realised the perfumed incense of Messianic Intercession. They perceived in the unceasing harmonic offering up of incense—a beautiful and expressive type of the all-prevailing prayers of their Messiah.

"He, Who for men their Surety stood,

And pour'd on earth His precious blood,

Pursues in heaven His mighty plan,

The Saviour and the Friend of man."

Prayer! Exo . Ryle says that cold prayers are like incense without the fire. Seeker remarks that when prayer mounts upon the wing of fervour to God, then answers come down like lightning from God. It is Spurgeon who writes, When thou art wrestling, ask the Holy Spirit to nerve thine arm. Prayer may be the incense, and the fire may come from the altar of burnt-offering; but it is the Holy Spirit who sends the fire from heaven. Trapp says that a good Christian is ever praying or praising. He drives a constant trade between earth and heaven. The incense-altar is ever smoking with the sweet perfumes of thankfulness and supplication, though there may be times when the odours are sweeter and stronger. Of the delight which the Lord has in the fragrant entreaties of His servants, ample illustrations are afforded in the Canticles of Solomon.

"My God, is any hour so sweet,

From blush of morn to evening star,

As that which calls me to Thy feet—

The hour of prayer?"

Elliot.

Praise! Exo .

(1.) Power well remarks that daily praise should ascend from each of us to God, as the perfume-incense of the daily sacrifice ascended in olden times. There must not be fewer incense-offerings under the New than under the Old Testament. We are priests to offer up unto God the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Heb ).

(2.) Pilkington says that, if Christ dwell—mark dwell, not sojourn—praise will go up like incense continually. It used to be the custom in some monasteries in the Roman Church to have a constant change of choir. Thus, both night and day an endless odour of adoration went up to God.

(3.) It is said that when the sun rises and sets, the pious herdsmen of the Alps sound their horns with the words: "Praise ye the Lord!" The echo is caught up by herdsmen on the other slopes and summits. These have the mountains for their brazen altars, the thankful spirit for their incense, and the love of God for their enkindling fire.

"‘Not unto us;' O Lord of lords, supreme,

Whate'er we work, Thou workest;

Thine the praise;

Oh, wash us cleanse us, light us with Thy beam,

And work in us, through us, to endless days."

Taylor.

Strange-Incense! Exo .

(1.) The allusion is to the incense employed in Egyptian and other heathen worship. The burning of incense prevailed in most of the ancient religions. It was of a particularly sensuous spirit; and hence the pertinent caution against its use. But the extreme force of the caution shows that some other design was in the mind of God.

(2.) Strange incense censures the use of wrong words in prayer. The utmost refinement and reverence, purity and piety, should be cultivated in our approaches to the Throne of Grace. Worldly expressions in supplication are like strange incense—"an abomination to the Lord."

(3.) Strange incense condemns a wrong spirit in prayer. Ideas of an unworthy kind; as well as words. Too great care cannot be exercised in this respect. The mind of Christ should be our mind in prayer. He is our model, in the Lord's Prayer, in the Supper Intercession, and in the Gethsemane Supplication.

(4.) Disregard of right spirit and speech brings judgment. The mother, who, when her only child was given up by the doctor, besought God to spare her child, as she would not say, "Nevertheless, Thy will be done," received a sore visitation for this "strange incense" on the altar of her soul, by living to see her son ascend the scaffold in maturer years.

"To Thee I, therefore, Lord, submit

My every fond request,

And own, adoring at Thy feet,

Thy will is always best."

Wesley.


Verses 11-16

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

EQUALITY BEFORE GOD

We are reminded here—

I. That all men are equally recognised by the eye of God. Moses was to take "the sum of the children of Israel after their number." This taking of the census of Israel reminds us of God's all-comprehending and individualising knowledge of man. He knows all. Every living soul is written in His book. He knows each. Each tribe, each family, each person. There is not a living being outside God's knowledge, there is not one who can drop out of that knowledge. With all the apparent confusion of the world, and the cheapness of life, God knows "the sum;" and He knows each race, each dwelling, each person which go to the making up of that "sum."

II. That all men are equally guilty before the law of God. They were to give a ransom for their souls. What is the ground idea of this ransom but guilt? Israel was sinful before God, and it was necessary that they should bring "atonement-money" in their hands as expressive of their sin and penitence. It was to make an "atonement for their souls." We are guilty before God, and it is necessary that we have somewhat to offer. "In our hands no price we bring." Christ has paid all, and rendered it possible for Eternal love to show grace unto all who seek for it (Joh ; Mat 26:28; Rom 5:11; Rev 1:5). In Christ's death we have the grand recognition that we are sold under sin, but that God has provided for our emancipation and life. All were to give their ransom. No exemptions. All are guilty. Every mouth is stopped. And that all were equally guilty before God is expressed in all having to bring the same atonement-money. "The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel." This fixed amount indicates two great truths: the equal preciousness of all souls in the sight of God; and the equal guiltiness of all souls in the sight of God. "There is no difference" (Rom 3:22).

III. That all men are equally redeemable through the mercy of God. The atonement-money was to be accepted from every hand. The half shekel in the hand of every member of Israel spoke of universal reconciliation as clearly as it did of universal sin. So all men are recoverable in Christ (Joh ). The Apostle in declaring "there is no difference," intends to show there is no difference in regard to men's restoration, as there is no difference in regard to their sinfulness and condemnation (Rom 3:9-31).

1. We see here the need of atonement. We cannot go to God as innocent creatures. A merely natural religion will not do for us fallen and guilty men.

2. We see the preciousness of the atonement of Christ. It saves those who trust in it from wrath and death. "Then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them." And so Christ's merit saves us from the last plagues of God's wrath against sin and sinners. And it saves all who trust in it, The worst, the poorest. (Heb .)

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Sacrificial Speech! Exo .

(1.) No student of the Bible needs to be reminded that by the complicated and long protracted series of events which preceded, accompanied, and followed the Exodus from Egypt, the essential doctrine of Gospel truth and grace are distinctly made known. By a stupendous array of symbolic acts and facts they are most emphatically confirmed and illustrated.

(2.) Thomson remarks that what is more pertinent, if possible, is that the record of them is so guided as to suggest and evolve the very best words, figures, and phrases by which these fundamental doctrines can be set forth. This is equally true of the words and ideas in this chapter of Exodus, as of the paschal lamb in Egypt, or the smiting of the rock in Horeb.

(3.) The symbolic acts and facts, it has been wisely asserted, in connection with the typical institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, were designed to permeate, and did permeate, the entire religious consciousness of the Hebrews. They thus gave birth to spiritual ideas and emotions wholly peculiar, and to corresponding formulas by which to give expression to them.

"I saw a Moslem work upon his shroud alone,

With earnest care, even as the silkworms weave their own,

When with that sacred Script it was filled from side to side,

He wrapt it round his body, and in calmness died."

Oriental.

Soul-Ransom! Exo .

(1.) The payment, says Trower, was an acknowledgment to God that all souls are His (Eze ); that all lives are due to Him for sins committd against Him; and that all owe Him thanks for the mercy by which we have been enrolled in the census of His people, and for the privileges we thus enjoy.

(2.) We should regard ourselves as God's coin, stamped with Christ's image. And as the coin of the realm, stamped with the image of our earthly sovereign, reminds us of the claims of our rulers for what is their due; so we should remember that, as bearing Christ's stamp, we are in the highest sense due to Him. Having been bought with His blood, we should ever offer ourselves to Him who is the Lord of heaven and earth.

"He gave me back the bond—

The seal was torn away;

And as He gave, He smiled, and said,

‘Think thou of ME alway.'

"That bond I still will keep,

Although it cancelled be;

It tells me what I owe to Him

Who paid the debt for me."

Soul-Redemption! Exo .

(1.) A gentleman visiting a slave market was deeply moved by the agony of a slave girl. He inquired her price, paid the ransom to the slave trader, and placed the bill of sale in her own hands, telling her that she was now free, and could go where she pleased. At first she could not realise the change; but when the whole truth flashed upon her, she sprang forward, and kneeling before him cried: "Let me be thy servant, for thou hast redeemed me."

(2.) The Lord Jesus has purchased our freedom from sin-serfdom and Satan-savagedom with a great price: "Ye are not bought with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus;" therefore, "we should glorify God in our bodies and spirits which are His." It is for every one to pay the half shekel of voluntary surrender to His service, whose are our souls, since He paid the ransom—

"Thy ransomed servant, I

Restore to Thee Thine own;

And from this moment live or die

To serve my God alone."

Wesley.


Verses 17-21

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE TRUE WASHING

This priestly washing in the Temple symbolised certain great truths to which we shall do well if we take heed.

I. The true washing is Divine. Aaron and his sons were to wash themselves in this brazen laver in the Tabernacle. They were not to wash themselves in their own homes, the washing was to be in the sanctuary of God. Self-purification will not do. We cannot cleanse ourselves from the defilements of sin. Sin is not skin deep, as many seem to suppose, and to be washed away by the touch of our palm; the stains of evil are deep and dark in our nature, and only the Divine Cleanser can purge them away. "For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God" (Jer ). "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me" (Joh 13:8). The Gospel of Christ is the power of God to purify a sinful world, and there is no real and abiding efficacy in any other method (Psa 51:2-7).

II. The true washing is spiritual. It is true that Aaron washed only his hands and feet, but we should forget the whole genius of the Mosaic dispensation if we were to overlook the spiritual significance of this rite. The true purification is not material. Many social reformers think to purify society by instituting certain political and physical improvements. They think—

"That washing seven times in the ‘People's Baths'

Is sovereign for a people's leprosy,

Still leaving out the essential prophet's word

That comes in power."

The true purification is not ceremonial. Baptismal regeneration is more mistaken than a merely superficial political regeneration is. The water in the Church's font possesses no magic efficacy to wash away sin. The true purification is that of the soul. "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved" (Jer ). This is the true purification. The cleansing of the heart through the truth and grace of Christ (Joh 15:3; Joh 17:17; Eph 5:26; 1Pe 1:22). Let us not rest in a mere social purity (Tit 3:5). Let us not rest in a mere ecclesiastical purity (Joh 3:5; 1Pe 3:21). Let Christ cleanse our spirit and life.

"Wash me, and make me thus Thine own,

Wash me, and mine Thou art;

Wash me, but not my feet alone,

My hands, my head, my heart."

III. This true washing is essential. "That they die not." This interior and divine purity is indispensable. Without it we cannot enter into fellowship and communion with God; without it we cannot enter heaven (Rev ). In the blood of the Lamb we must make our raiment white, and by constant washing there, keep it white. Naaman had to wash in Jordan "seven times," and so must we come again and again to the great fountain of purification in Jesus Christ.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Sacrificial Speech! Exo .

(1.) No student of the Bible needs to be reminded that by the complicated and long protracted series of events which preceded, accompanied, and followed the Exodus from Egypt, the essential doctrine of Gospel truth and grace are distinctly made known. By a stupendous array of symbolic acts and facts they are most emphatically confirmed and illustrated.

(2.) Thomson remarks that what is more pertinent, if possible, is that the record of them is so guided as to suggest and evolve the very best words, figures, and phrases by which these fundamental doctrines can be set forth. This is equally true of the words and ideas in this chapter of Exodus, as of the paschal lamb in Egypt, or the smiting of the rock in Horeb.

(3.) The symbolic acts and facts, it has been wisely asserted, in connection with the typical institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, were designed to permeate, and did permeate, the entire religious consciousness of the Hebrews. They thus gave birth to spiritual ideas and emotions wholly peculiar, and to corresponding formulas by which to give expression to them.

"I saw a Moslem work upon his shroud alone,

With earnest care, even as the silkworms weave their own,

When with that sacred Script it was filled from side to side,

He wrapt it round his body, and in calmness died."

Oriental.

Laver-Lessons! Exo .

(1.) Water! Exo . In emblem of the Holy Spirit. Law says that it is a figure of the precious blood of Christ here. No doubt the laver itself is a vivid type of Christ; but the water seems rather to symbolise the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., the Holy Spirit in Him.

(2.) Washing! Exo . The cleansing power of Divine Grace prepares the way for the Christian priesthood of all who are "kings and priests unto God." See Eze 36:25; John 3; Tit 3:15; also in Revelation 20; the pure river of the Water of Life. Jordan and Naaman; Jesus at Bethabara; Ethiopian Eunuch near Gaza.

(3.) Worship! Exo . A strict command was issued that no priest should touch the brazen altar, or pass the tabernacle door, until his hands and feet had been washed. The Rabbis and Pharisees were most punctilious in their temple arrangements on this point.

(4.) Witness! Exo . Believers are to minister a lifelong service to the Lord; and to engage in this worship acceptably, they must be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Their hands and feet, i.e., their working and walking with God, must be cleansed from earth's impurities. God has provided the cleansing medium: "Wash you, make you clean."

"Let all who hold this faith and hope

In holy deeds abound;

Thus faith approves itself sincere;

By active virtue crowned."


Verses 22-25

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN THE CHURCH

That the ointment signifies the influence of the Spirit of God we can hardly doubt. The anointing of kings and prophets signified that they received the gift of holiness in a special degree; and when Christ was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (Psa ), it signified that on Him rested the power and grace of the Holy Spirit in an extraordinary degree. What does this ointment teach respecting God's Spirit?

I. The salutariness of His influence. Ointment is gracious in its action, and signifies the softening influence of the Spirit. As ointment softens, so does the Spirit of God cause the proud will to relent, and the hard heart to soften. The healing influence of the Spirit. Wounds are mollified with ointment—its action is medicinal and purifying. So God's Spirit cleanses and heals the diseased and wounded soul. The rejoicing influence of the Spirit. It is "the oil of gladness." "Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over" (Psa ). Here the Psalmist associates anointing with fulness of joy. Yes, the Spirit of God gives tenderness and purity to the soul, and out of this contrite and cleansed heart springs up streams of peace and joy.

II. The sweetness of His influence. The sweetness of this ointment renders it a striking symbol of the rich and fragrant influence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God gives an incomparable charm to the character! We see this in Christ. "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad" (Psa ). The spirit, the language, the life of Jesus, breathed a divine perfume. And so it is with all in whom the spirit of Jesus richly dwells. There is something far beyond a merely cold and formal prosperity, there is a rich diffusive goodness. When the power and grace of Christ fill the heart, our character is fragrant, and wherever we go, "'tis as if an angel shook his wings." In Jesus, and in that Holy Spirit which is His gift, we rise to the beauty, the music, the fragrance of life. Let us seek to realise this richness and sweetness of character and disposition. Not a cold intellectual religion; not a hard austere morality; not a stern rugged character; but a lovely life and a soul full of grace and sweetness. Such sweetness is full of personal joy. It is also most preservative. Some say that the sweetness of the rose kills certain vermin, and sweetness of character is a defence. And it powerfully recommends the faith of Christ.

III. The sacredness of His influence.

1. Nothing is sacred except as it is hallowed by the Spirit of God. Everything was to be anointed with the ointment, Exo . Our temples are only sacred so far as they are hallowed by the Spirit of God; our religious instrumentalities are only sacred so far as the Spirit of God blesses them; our ministers are only sacred so far as the Spirit of God dwells in them and works through them. The grandest things in the sanctuary needed to be anointed, and the strongest, brightest, purest things in the Church are but dark and feeble and profane except as they are filled and used by the Holy Spirit. And this is equally true of the highest and grandest things of the world and life.

2. Everything is sacred that is hallowed by the Spirit of God. The commonest things, when anointed, were sacred as the highest—the brazen laver as the golden ark. Let us seek for God's Spirit to hallow all within the Church, to hallow all within the world, so that there shall be nothing common or unclean.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Sacrificial Speech! Exo .

(1.) No student of the Bible needs to be reminded that by the complicated and long protracted series of events which preceded, accompanied, and followed the Exodus from Egypt, the essential doctrine of Gospel truth and grace are distinctly made known. By a stupendous array of symbolic acts and facts they are most emphatically confirmed and illustrated.

(2.) Thomson remarks that what is more pertinent, if possible, is that the record of them is so guided as to suggest and evolve the very best words, figures, and phrases by which these fundamental doctrines can be set forth. This is equally true of the words and ideas in this chapter of Exodus, as of the paschal lamb in Egypt, or the smiting of the rock in Horeb.

(3.) The symbolic acts and facts, it has been wisely asserted, in connection with the typical institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, were designed to permeate, and did permeate, the entire religious consciousness of the Hebrews. They thus gave birth to spiritual ideas and emotions wholly peculiar, and to corresponding formulas by which to give expression to them.

"I saw a Moslem work upon his shroud alone,

With earnest care, even as the silkworms weave their own,

When with that sacred Script it was filled from side to side,

He wrapt it round his body, and in calmness died."

Oriental.

Anointing-Oil Ingredients! Exo .

(1.) It was composed of two parts of myrrh—the gum of a thorny tree growing in Arabia; two parts of cassia—the bark of an Indian tree, having a strong resemblance to cinnamon, but more pungent, and of a coarser texture; one part of cinnamon—the inner bark of a tree of the laurel kind growing in Ceylon; one part of sweet calamus—a fragrant beard grass growing in Arabia, and whose root and stem and leaves, when bruised, are very fragrant; with a sufficient quantity of the purest olive oil to give it the consistency.

(2.) An immense quantity, we are told, was annually manufactured and consumed. Of this, says an eminent author, we have a very significant indication in the fact that it was never made in smaller quantities than 750 ounces of solids compounded with five quarts of oil. It was so profusely employed that, as we find in Psalms 133, when applied to Aaron's beard, it flowed down over his head and breasts, to the very skirts of his garments.

"In Him a holiness complete

Light and perfection twine;

And wisdom, grace, and glory meet—

O Saviour! Thou art mine."

Newton.

Cinnamon! Exo .

(1.) The cinnamon tree is not a native of Palestine, but there is no doubt that the substance here referred to is the spice of the cinnamon laurel in Ceylon. It is a low growing tree, with a smooth ash-coloured bark and wide-spreading boughs. It is rendered very picturesque, both by its form and the variety of tint given to its bright green leaves by their white under-surface. The young shoots, too, have a scarlet crimson hue, and their bark is often speckled with deep green and orange-coloured spots. The fruit is about the size of a damson, and, when ripe, is of a black colour.

(2.) Neither the leaves nor flowers give forth any odour; and it is not till the season for gathering arrives that a walk through the cinnamon gardens yields delight in respect of fragrance. Kingston notes that, when the Cinghelese are engaged in their annual employment of peeling the twigs, the beauty of the gardens and the fragrance of the spice is exquisite.

(3.) The Arabians had commercial intercourse with Ceylon and India at an early period, as they were the first navigators of the Indian Seas. Cinnamon is mentioned in Pro ; Son 4:14; Rev 18:13. In the second of these passages it is referable figuratively to the baptism of our Lord; and in the third, it is mentioned as among the articles of commerce in Babylon.

"From various herbs, and from discondant flowers,

A fragrant harmony of spice compounds."

Smart.

Divine Rites! Exo .

(1.) The whole science of chemistry makes us familiar with a system of order. The chemistry that deals with the inorganic world may be called the science of substitutions. There is nothing accidental in these substitutions. They are the result of laws which have been through all time in active operation, and to which they are bound by a mathematical precision.

(2.) As in chemistry, the phenomena of substitution bring out in full relief the unchanging order of nature, showing that it is not a system of chance or confusion, but of the most harmonious arrangements; so is it with the rites enjoined by God. The various arrangements of the Tabernacle—whether of its Holy of Holies, of its holy place, or of its court and altar adjuncts—were all parts of our orderly system of substitution, pointing to the Great Substitution which magnifies the moral law and makes it honourable.

"The types and figures were a glass

In which they saw a Saviour's face."

Cowper.

Holy Water! Exo . Holy water indeed, says Spurgeon! If there be such a thing, it trickles from the eye of penitence, bedews the cheek of gratitude, falls upon the page of Holy Scripture when the Word is applied with power.

(1.) Those waters that filled the hunger-channels on the cheeks of the prodigal son, as his father fell on his neck and kissed him, were holy. Those waters that flowed from deep liquid wells upon the sacred, dust-soiled feet of Jesus at the feast, were holy. Those waters that gushed from the fount within the Prophet's patriot heart over his people's woes and wickedness were holy. Those waters that welled out during the silent night watches upon the Psalmist's pillow, as he pondered God's goodness and his own badness were holy.

(2.) Holy in God's sight, though they cannot make holy. There is but One Fount whence the "Water of Life" flows to purify the soul, and sanctify his daily ministry in the Christian life. That purifying comes not of ceremonial cleansing, but of the Holy Spirit. His grace is the "Holy Water,"—the living water—the water whose living properties are capable of cleansing the works and walks of the Christian priests unto God; so that they are able to minister daily before God. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?" Who shall rise up to officiate in "His Holy Place"? Even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart. Even he who has accepted the cleansing virtues of the Spirit of Christ and of God.

"Only be sure

Thy hands be pure

That hold these censers, and the eyes,

Those of turtles, chaste and true,

Wakeful and wise."

Crashan.

Hin-Measure! Exo . The instructions given about the holy ointment, and the mode of its preparation, remind us of the Egyptian skill in ointments and perfumes. In the description of this ointment occurs the mention of the "him" as a measure. It is supposed to be borrowed from the Egyptian language, and is only found in the Pentateuch, and in Ezekiel's description of the temple. It was said to be equal to about six quarts,

"Thy Word is like a glorious choir,

And loud its anthems ring;

Though many tongues and parts unite,

It is one song they sing."


Verses 26-30

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Anointing-Oil Symbolism! Exo .

(1.) All parts of the Mosaic worship were symbolic; and all those parts were symbolic of Christ. They all silently spoke of One beyond and behind, above and around them. Moreover, the most explicit directions were given for their anointing. The altars and the sacred furniture, as well as the priests and the high priest, were to be most carefully anointed. But the unction seems to have been most special in the case of the high priest. As, then, the various portions of the Tabernacle and its appurtenances were emblematic of Christ, this anointing must also have been figurative of something done to Christ.

(2.) One of the sweetest names of the Lord Jesus is "Christ"—the Anointed One. "With my holy oil, have I anointed Him." The unction of the Holy One, our great High Priest received in (a) Intention, long before the head of Aaron had received the material unction; (b) Intimation, when the wise men of the East laid their gifts at His feet; (c) Interpretation, when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven upon Him, as He knelt in prayer on Jordan's strand. He received not the Spirit by measure; for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

"Nor prayer is made by man alone;

The Holy Spirit pleads,

And Jesus, on the eternal throne,

For sinners intercedes."

Montgomery.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Sacrificial Speech! Exo .

(1.) No student of the Bible needs to be reminded that by the complicated and long protracted series of events which preceded, accompanied, and followed the Exodus from Egypt, the essential doctrine of Gospel truth and grace are distinctly made known. By a stupendous array of symbolic acts and facts they are most emphatically confirmed and illustrated.

(2.) Thomson remarks that what is more pertinent, if possible, is that the record of them is so guided as to suggest and evolve the very best words, figures, and phrases by which these fundamental doctrines can be set forth. This is equally true of the words and ideas in this chapter of Exodus, as of the paschal lamb in Egypt, or the smiting of the rock in Horeb.

(3.) The symbolic acts and facts, it has been wisely asserted, in connection with the typical institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, were designed to permeate, and did permeate, the entire religious consciousness of the Hebrews. They thus gave birth to spiritual ideas and emotions wholly peculiar, and to corresponding formulas by which to give expression to them.

"I saw a Moslem work upon his shroud alone,

With earnest care, even as the silkworms weave their own,

When with that sacred Script it was filled from side to side,

He wrapt it round his body, and in calmness died."

Oriental.

Incense-Ingredients! Exo .

(1.) Composition! Exo . The ingredients are described with great precision; and were principally obtained in traffic from the Phœnicians. A few of them were products of native plants; but most of them came from Arabia, India, and spice islands of the Indian Archipelago. Great skill was required in the mixing of these ingredients. The art was a recognised profession among the Jews; and the rokechim, translated "apothecary" in our version, was simply a maker of perfumes.

(2.) Consecration! Exo . This mixture was to be pounded in very small particles, and deposited as a very holy thing in the Tabernacle, before the ark of the testimony. It has been said that this was to ensure a store of it being always in readiness. But this excludes the Divine idea of "holy consecration." Hence, according to the Rabbins, one of the fifteen prefects was retained in Solomon's temple for the special purpose of preparing it; and a part of the temple was reserved for his use as a laboratory, to indicate the purity of incense.

(3.) Conservation! Exo . So precious and holy was this incense considered, that it was forbidden to make a similar perfume for private use on pain of death.

"Nor will He to those lips attend

Whose prayers are not sincere."

Burton.

Incense and Unction! Exo . The Canticle of Solomon lies in the casket of Revelation—an exquisite gem—engraved with emblematic characters. It is a retrospective poem upon Christ in the Pentateuch; and it is a prospective poem upon Christ in the New Testament.

(1.) Son : "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness" is Jesus Christ coming up from the wilderness of Judea—from the wilderness, whence the sweetest odours are gathered; for not amid rich and cultured fields, but amongst the rocks and sands of the desert, are the incense and unction herbs obtained.

(2.) He comes up "like pillars of smoke," which cannot derive its significance from the Shekinah pillar-cloud, but from those fragrant clouds of incense wafted upwards on the eastern air—in type of the prayers of Jesus on His Baptism. As perfumes of fragrant oil anoint our High Priest; so pillars of perfumed vapours ascend from His heart.

(3.) He comes up "perfumed with myrrh and frankincense," anointed with the Holy Spirit; for on Jesus our great High Priest the Spirit is shed immeasurably. In this "Vessel of Honour" the Spirit is poured, abiding in Himself in all fulness, and as an exhaustless fountain ever overflowing for His people.

"The Spirit, through the Saviour shed,

His sacred fire imparts,

Refines our dross, and love divine

Enkindles in our hearts."


Verses 34-38

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

SPIRITUAL WORSHIP

Notice here—

I. The elements of true worship.

1. There must be nothing in prayer but what is sweet. "Sweet spices." No anger. Some nations leave their swords outside their temples; we must cherish no angry or warlike sentiments in worship. "Lifting up holy hands, without wrath." No pride. No, "I thank God I am not as other men." No selfishness. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts" (Jas ). No unbelief. "Without doubting." Some prayers have in them so much of doubt and passion, of pride and hypocrisy, that they go up to the sky more like the vapour of a noxious drug, than the pure incense in which God delights. In worship there are various elements of thought and feeling, as there were various spices in the priestly censer, but we must take care that there is nothing bitter or bad. All peace, love, faith, charity, admiration, hope, joy—whatsoever is otherwise enters not into true worship.

2. Nothing in prayer but what is pure. "Pure frankincense." If we do not renounce iniquity in our life, God will not hear us. (Isa ). If we do not renounce iniquity in our heart, God will not hear us. Worship is not a substitute for righteousness, but the expression of a soul delighting in righteousness, longing for righteousness. The prayers of a bad man, although offered in a white or golden surplice, although expressed in seraphic language, although borne upward on the voices of singers and organs, are an abomination to the Lord—it is the smoke of the pit, not the sweet incense of God's holy temple.

Pure and sweet worship is delightful to us; it is the highest condition of the soul. Such worship is sweet and grateful to God.

II. The expression of true worship. "And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony." Is it not suggested here, that in worship there should not be vague and general feeling and language, but that our service should be specialised and particular? Our penitence should be thus special. Our sins should be discriminated as far as possible, so that with each fault should go the appropriate confession and sorrow. Our supplications thus distinguishing. Our intercessions thus. Praying for special individuals, pleading for special gifts. Our praises thus. "Forget not all His benefits." It is a good thing to recall the mercies of God, one by one, as far as that is possible. We are not to worship in the lump, as if God were too grand to recognise the detail of life; we are not to worship in the lump, as if the "least mercies" were not worth recognition.

III. The efficacy of true worship. "Where I will meet with thee." God met them as they came near Him with this incense. We hear worship depreciated sometimes, and are told that life is worship, work is worship; let us not be led away by such plausible sayings from a personal, constant, express fellowship with God. It is only as we come to God with the pure and loving worship of the heart that we realise His presence. Life may be worship, and work may be worship; but life and work are never worship, until the heart gives its highest love and trust to God.

IV. The exclusive object of true worship. "As for the perfume," &c., Exo . No worship of man: No worship of humanity: No saint-worship: No angel-worship. "Worship God."

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 30:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/exodus-30.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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