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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Exodus 32

 

 

Verses 1-7

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Exo . Zeh Mosheh hish = this Moses the man]. The Israelites, thinking that "the man" who brought them out of the land of Egypt had acted the part of a truant, and that they ought to fill up his place by substituting, not another "man," but a deity, as a more reliable guide. Extravagant and foolish as the idea was, it is not evident that they contemplated wittingly to defy God's commandment (Exo 20:4), by demanding of Aaron to make them gods. That such was Aaron's view of the case is quite clear from the words in which he defends his conduct (Exo 32:23). When, however, they beheld the image, then all the evils with which the worship of it in Egypt, the land of their birth, was associated in their minds, seized upon their imaginations with such power that they lost all self-control, and "they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt" (Exo 32:4). They were maddened with delight, and "when Aaron saw it" (Exo 32:5), i.e., the effect the image of the golden calf had produced upon the people, he perceived that it was too late to reason with them; and, having weakly yielded to their first sinful demand, he had now no choice, probably, to prevent a mutiny or to save his life, if he manifested any signs of disapproval of their conduct, so he built them an altar "before it," viz., the golden calf; and perhaps also, in his endeavour to stave off the evil of an idolatrous celebration, he proclaimed "a feast to the Lord" (= Jehovah) for the following day, and that too with the hope, by the mention of the name of Jehovah, of the people calling to mind His commandment against all image worship, and so affording them time to reflect upon it over night, and of Moses returning in the meanwhile.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

IDOLATRY

In consequence of the absence of Moses in the mount, the children of Israel are betrayed into an act of gross idolatry. Let us observe—

I. The crime of which they were guilty. That crime was not altogether forsaking God. It is quite evident that these Jews intended to recognise Jehovah in these emblems or this emblem. They wanted a visible representation of Jehovah, and Aaron made the calf as such. Their crime was in making any such visible representation; it was a culpable breach of the second commandment of the covenant words (Exo ). But is there not ever in us this tendency to obscure our vision of God by resting in natural things? The passion for gods in the text is a passion still active in our fallen nature. Is not much of the nature-worship of our age a similar sin? Men talk of honouring God in His works, but really they allow the works of God to hide the personal, spiritual, holy God of Revelation. Is not the worldliness of the age a similar sin? Do we not often think so much of human love, of material wealth, of social honour, of sensational pleasure, that we but feebly realise our spiritual nature, and our dependence upon a spiritual duty for the satisfaction of life? Is not much of the ritualism of the Church in our age a similar sin? We multiply forms and ceremonies, and attach to them a supreme importance. It is all the visible Church until you can hardly see the spiritual Jesus. God is a Spirit, and is to be loved, worshipped, served as such; but there is in us a sad tendency to sink into the worldly, the carnal, the material, and to forget the true and the living God.

II. The inexcusableness of this crime. It was regarded, as this chapter fully shows, as a great and unpardonable crime, and very dreadful was the punishment which followed it. Here we learn—

1. That the expensiveness of such idolatry does not excuse it. They gave their golden earrings—they sacrificed wealth and pride. Will-worship, creature-worship, is often costly, but this does not condone it (1Co ).

2. That the superior nature of the object which comes between us and God does not excuse it. The god was gold. Thine may be no vulgar God,—nature, humanity—but however noble in itself may be the object which eclipses the vision of God, the sin is none the less.

3. That the beauty of the object does not lessen the fault. "The calf was fashioned with a graving tool"—artistically correct. A Church which comes between me and the spiritual Jesus, may be perfect in its architecture, pictures, robes, music, &c., but it is none the less a curse for that.

4. That religious ceremonies going with the idolatry does not justify it, Exo .

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Idol-Idiosyncrasy. Exo .

(1.) Material idolatry has passed away among civilised nations in its literal import. As Macmillan says, the old worship of stocks and stones is now impossible among a professedly Christian people. But although the outward mode has passed away, the essence of the temptation remains the same. Human society is changed, but human nature is unchanged. The impulse which led Israel to seek the golden calf is as strong as ever, and images are set up and worshipped now as fantastic as any pagan fetish or joss. For what is idolatry! Is it not in its essence the lowering of the idea of God and of God's nature, and the exaltation of a dead image above a man's own living spirit! Is not an idol whatever is loved more than God, whatever is depended upon for happiness and help independent of God?

(2.) Sooner or later, as Moses pounded the calf and gave the Israelites the dust to drink in punishment of their idolatry, will all such moral idolaters have to drink the dust of their idols. Our sin will become our punishment, our idols our scourges. God is a jealous God, and every soul that turns aside from His love to the lying vanities of the world must drink the bitter water of jealousy, filled with the dust of the bruised and mutilated idols of spiritual idolatry: "This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow."

"Thou art the man within whose heart's deep cell

All evil sleeping lies;

Lust, in a dark hour waking, breaks the spell,

And straightway there arise

Monsters of evil thoughts and base desire."

Greok.

Israel's Insurrection! Exo . SCENE

I.The Camp of Insurrection.

1. Infidelity of the people (Exo ) may be illustrated by the glacier and crevasse, and of Aaron by the story of Arnold Winkelreid.

2. Idolatry of the people (Exo ). Breaking the law may be illustrated by the familiar figure of a chain-link which holds a person up, being broken, or by Samuel and Saul's disobedience as to sacrifices; and making the calf by the homely idea of the Great Eastern having a wooden engineer to pilot her over the ocean waves. Mosaic Intercession! Exo 32:7-14. SCENE II.—The Mount of Indignation.

1. Indignation of Jehovah (Exo ) at Israel's folly may be illustrated by the story of a father going to New Zealand, leaving his children with certain commands till his return: or by the natural figure of a lamp hung up by a chain being broken in its fall.

2. Intercession of Moses (Exo ) for Israel's forgiveness, with his pleas of God's

(1) perfections,

(2) partiality towards,

(3) purpose in, and

(4) promises to Israel, may find simple illustrations, if any are needed, in a mother's intercession with the father for her offending boy's pardon; or by the Queen's intercession at Calais with her husband, King Edward, on behalf of its citizens. Levitical Intervention! Exo . SCENE III.—The Valley of Intervention.

1. Indignity (Exo ) resented by breaking of stone tablets, and by causing Israel to drink of powdered wood and gold. Allusions might be appropriately made here to Dagon, Achan, Saul, or the story of the Chinese boy and the gods.

2. Integrity (Exo ) of the Levites contrasts with the fear, folly, and falsehood of Aaron. Apt references might be found in the histories of Melancthon and Luther, and in the noble tale of the boy stopping the leak in the Dutch dyke.

"Rain and sunshine doth combine,

One side dark, the other bright;

Thus, by nature's grand design,

In one rainbow both unite."

Maguire.

Self-will! Exo .

(1.) It was but a little boy crying, as he limped towards his father on the rough common. Yet what a lesson it taught! His father had promised to take him to a lovely scene across the stony waste if he would promise to be led by the hand, and not be rebellious or impatient. And he had promised, as boys will promise, and failed, as boys will fail. Hardly had he set out than he began to murmur at the length of the walk. When the father seriously reminded him of the promise to obey and exercise patience, he was silent and submissive. But presently he let go of the strong, wise hand, turned aside from the path, struck his foot against a rugged rock, and straightway cried out with pain. The scar remained till death.

(2.) Israel was God's wayward, self-willed child. They thought that they could do without the Father's hand, though they had promised to be guided by Him, who was able and ready to conduct them to the green fields of Eden. And so they wander aside, stumble against the rough flints, experience the misery of self-sufficiency and disobedience, and learn that the way of transgressors is hard. On Israel's national life the scar was visible, even to the hour when Titus shivered its massive structure.

"Therefore, O man, remember that thy heart

Will shed its pleasures as thine eye its tears;

And both leave loathesome furrows."

Bailey.

Sinful Self-Sacrifice! Exo . Whale says, People often spend more in superstition than Christians for the truth. To gratify self they do not mind making many sacrifices. To have his golden calf of ambition or popular adulation the man of the world will freely scatter largesses on all sides with bounteous hand. With what lavish magnificence did the ancient heathen adorn their temples of superstition! With what profuse prodigality will some modern men of science, or some wealthy student of atheisim, spend his riches to gratify his selfish—it may be sinful—motives! Who amongst us is willing to do as much for Jesus as these Israelites did to have self gratified in the golden calf? At the present time, in our own country, a man of great wealth spends his whole fortune in the issue of infidel tracts and pamphlets, which are disseminated broadcast over the world. Atheism is his idol-deity. He worships the golden calf of blank atheism. He devotes his immense riches to its exaltation. There are few Christians willing to make such supreme sacrifices for their God.

"I gave My life for thee,

My precious blood I shed,

That thou might'st ransomed be,

And quickened from the dead.

I gave My life for thee;

What hast thou given for Me?"

Havergal.

Sin's Deceit! Exo . There is a beautiful picture of a female with a sweet but melancholy expression of countenance. She kneels on the top of the rock, and is singing to a harp, which she strikes with her graceful fingers. Below is a boat with two men in it—the one old and the other young. The boat is rapidly hearing the rocks, but both the men are utterly unconscious of their danger. The old man has ceased to hold the helm—the young man has dropped the oars. Both are fondly stretching out their hands towards the deceiving spirit—wholly entranced with her song. A few moments more, and their boat will be a wreck. Israel was thus captivated. Lured on by the weird melody of a craving for visible worship, they were now on the wide river borne onwards toward the jagged rocks of destruction.

"The fruit of sin, goodly and fair to view,

Deceives us in its beauty. Pluck'd, it turns,

To ashes on our lips."

Webster.

Bull-Worship! Exo .

(1.) From the earliest times the Egyptians adopted certain animals as representatives of their deities. The symbolism of these selections has been entirely lost, inasmuch as the deities were lost sight of in the creatures by whom they were symbolised. It was so with Apis-adoration: an animal most sacred in the later age of Egypt. It is supposed that the Israelites borrowed their idolatrous idea of the calf from this form of bull-worship, which they had observed in Egypt.

(2.) Sir Gardner Wilkinson, however, says that they borrowed their notion of the "golden calf"—not from Apis-adoration, but from the worship of Mnevis. This was the sacred ox of Heliopolis. At his worship were offerings, dancing, and rejoicings. And it is supposed that the Israelites adopted these; or rather, resumed them as religious revelries in which they had joined during their sojourn in Egypt. Satan

"Moved Israel and their timid priest to carve

Their idol god, and interweave with songs

Their naked dances round the golden calf:

Vision of horror and of grief."

Bickersteth.

Aaronic Action! Exo .

(1.) Among the high Alps, the traveller is told in certain places to proceed as quietly as possible. On the steep slopes overhead, the snow hangs so evenly balanced that the sound of the voice, the crack of a whip, the report of a gun, or the detachment of a snow-ball may destroy the equilibrium and bring down an immense avalanche that will overwhelm everything within reach in ruin.

(2.) The Israelites were in such a position. Their moral character was unstable—their principles unfixed. They were so evenly balanced between good and evil that a word from Aaron in the wrong direction threw them down into the abyss of idolatry. Had Aaron stood firm—stiff and silent as the rocks around, the tumultuous heaving would have ceased.

(3.) Are there not souls around us hanging so nicely poised on the giddy slopes of temptation, ready, on the least encouragement or yielding on our part as Aaron did, to come down in terrible avalanches of moral ruin, crushing themselves and others in their fall? To stand firm, says Richter, may save a world.

"Be great in act! So shall inferior eyes,

That borrow their behaviour from the great,

Grow great by your example, and put on

The dauntless spirit of resolution."

Shakespeare.

Visible Gods! Exo .

(1.) Adam Clarke says there is one pretence that Roman Catholics have for the idolatry of their image-worship. Their high priest, the Pope, collects the ornaments from the people, and makes an Image—a crucifix—a Madonna. The people worship it; but the Pope says that it is only to keep God in remembrance. But of the whole, God says, "They have corrupted themselves." He will have nothing to do with visible media through which He is to be worshipped. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must do so in Spirit and in truth.

(2.) Therefore, as Hallam says, any image substituted for the living and loving God, who is invisible, is a portentous shadow projected from the slavish darkness of an ignorant heart. It is as much idolatry to worship God under a visible symbol, as it is to worship the image of a false divinity. Both forms of idolatry deceive the soul, harden the heart, and drag their votaries into complete alienation from God.

"The heart surrendered to the ruling power

Of some ungoverned passion, every hour

Finds by degrees the truth that once bore sway,

And all their deep impressions wear away,

So coin grows smooth, in traffic current passed,

Till Csar's image is effaced at last."

Cowper.

Revelry Rites! Exo . The worship of Apis assumed a bacchanalian character, attended by the wildest and most extravagant revels. Herodotus says, that on the feast day of the gods all the Egyptians arrayed themselves as soon as the bull left his gilded asylum, and gave way to feasting and revelry. Hilarious processions formed an important feature of the Egyptian ritual; as might be expected in a country where the cloudless sky and the elastic air predispose men to mirth and indolence. Drumann remarks, that they were like orgies—that even women appeared in them—that they were followed by indecent songs and dances—and that they were accompanied by clamorous music and drunken feasts. There were also mimès and mummeries, like the Roman Saturnalia, in which the actors painted their faces, and ridiculed or struck the bystanders.

"Men are but children of a larger growth;

Our appetites are apt to change as theirs,

And full as craving too, and full as vain;

And yet the soul shut up in her dark room,

Viewing so clear abroad, at home sees nothing;

But like a mole in earth, busy and blind,

Works all her folly up, and casts it outward,

To the world's open view."

Dryden.

Divine Omniscience! Exo . Israel lost sight of the fact that though Moses could not see, God could. Creeping down stairs at night towards the orchard, the little boy forgot that while his father's eyes were locked in slumbers deep, yet there was One whose eye neither slumbers nor sleeps. But when he stood beneath the favourite apple-tree—when he stretched forth his hand to the branch—when he lifted up his eye to the tempting, coveted, rosy-cheeked fruit; lo! a star twinkled its ray upon him, and seemed to say, "God sees." And the little fellow shrank back—retreated from the garden—betook himself upstairs, repeating to himself the Scripture words "Thou God seest." Ah! had Israel only remembered this, the sin had not been committed, and the dire mischief had not been wrought.

"Though all the doors are sure, and all our servants

As sure bound with their sleeps, yet there is ONE

That wakes above, whose eye no sleep can blind;

He sees through doors, and darkness, and our thoughts."

Chapman.

Self-Corruption! Exo . "Thy people have corrupted themselves, i.e., as the original and English words imply, they have broken themselves up together.

(1.) Material disintegration! The clay and soil of our fields are caused by the oxidation or burning of pure metals. They are, in fact, the ashes of metals. The dirt that cleaves to our footsteps, as the emblem of all impurity, is produced by the disintegration of the brightest metals, or the most sparkling jewels.

(2.) Mental disintegration! Jehovah tells Moses that Israel had corrupted itself. A few days before they were as His jewels; now they had voluntarily entered upon a process of disintegration. Passion had broken loose from the law of cohesion to God; and they were fast becoming as mud—the foul product of the pure crystal under self-corruptive influences.

(3.) Moral disintegration! All sinful thoughts, and words, and deeds, have such corrupting effects. By this, man breaks the order and law of his existence, and his whole nature disintegrates in the atmosphere of sin. The whole being becomes vitiated, disordered, and corrupt. What was once more or less solid and valuable has become dust and ashes.

"The basis sinks, the ample piles decay,

The stately fabric shakes and falls away."

Crabbe.

Retribution! Exo .

(1.) Yes, they were rebels taken red-handed in revolt against their king. Not only had they taken up arms against their liege lord, and entered into negotiations with his relentless foe, but they had endeavoured to induce many of their fellow-countrymen to join them in their rebellious and lawless course. To spare them from punishment would be to leave them opportunity of bringing wider ruin upon all and sundry. For the sake of the people, and especially the weak, it was necessary that retribution should overtake these red-handed communistic leaders.

(2.) Daniel Defoe, in his far-famed "Life of Robinson Crusoe," and John Bunyan, in his widely-known allegory of the Holy War, have shown how this apparently severe treatment was in reality true charity and compassion. And is it not from the same cause that the lost angels and men are to be "for ever" shut up in darkness, and precluded from entering amongst the redeemed? It is often the greatest mercy to exercise strictest justice. Severity to one may save the many from temptation, nay, from ultimate destruction. Pity!

"I share it most of all when I share justice,

For then I pity those I do not know,

Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall?

And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,

Lives not to act another."

Shakespeare.


Verses 7-15

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

INTERCESSION

Consider—

I. The sin and peril of Israel. Their sin was the more grievous because it came after such wonderful manifestations of God's power and love. "Thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves," Exo . Here was the sting. After they had seen all the wonders that God had showed them.

2. Their sin was the darker because it was committed so early. "They have turned aside quickly out of the way," Exo . So little patience and faith had they.

3. Their sin was in itself a capital offence. "They have made a molten calf," &c., Exo . We reckon a lack of belief in God as a mere speculative error; we reckon a godless life as far more innocent than a life of passion; but to lose sight of God—to cease to love Him—is regarded in the Word of God as the cardinal, all-comprehending sin. And this sin on the part of Israel provoked the anger of God. "God's wrath waxed hot against them," Exo 32:11. In these modern days a certain school chose to represent God as looking down coldly and calmly on sin, and dealing with it in quite an unimpassioned manner, but Revelation does not thus reveal God. He hates sin; He waxes hot against sinners; He is grieved at His heart. Is not this whole picture of the apostasy of Israel suggestive of our own age and nation? God has not dealt with any nation as He has with us, and yet the spirit and philosophy of our day is strangely godless. The golden calf is in the marketplace and in the schools.

II. The intercession by which the impending calamity was averted. Moses entirely forgets himself in the welfare of the people, Exo . His own glory and the glory of his house are ignored.

1. He pleads with God for Israel on the ground of God's past mercies, Exo . Thou hast been good and gracious—be gracious still.

2. He pleads with God on the grounds of sympathy with the divine glory, Exo . He was jealous for God's character in the eyes of the world.

3. He pleads with God on the ground of the divine promise, Exo .

Thus let us plead with God when we behold the unrighteousness of the age. Men often plead with God for man's sake—for the sake of human sufferings, &c.—let us plead for God's sake. Let us plead for man out of sympathy with God. And if we thus plead, God will hear and bless, Exo .

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Idol-Idiosyncrasy. Exo .

(1.) Material idolatry has passed away among civilised nations in its literal import. As Macmillan says, the old worship of stocks and stones is now impossible among a professedly Christian people. But although the outward mode has passed away, the essence of the temptation remains the same. Human society is changed, but human nature is unchanged. The impulse which led Israel to seek the golden calf is as strong as ever, and images are set up and worshipped now as fantastic as any pagan fetish or joss. For what is idolatry! Is it not in its essence the lowering of the idea of God and of God's nature, and the exaltation of a dead image above a man's own living spirit! Is not an idol whatever is loved more than God, whatever is depended upon for happiness and help independent of God?

(2.) Sooner or later, as Moses pounded the calf and gave the Israelites the dust to drink in punishment of their idolatry, will all such moral idolaters have to drink the dust of their idols. Our sin will become our punishment, our idols our scourges. God is a jealous God, and every soul that turns aside from His love to the lying vanities of the world must drink the bitter water of jealousy, filled with the dust of the bruised and mutilated idols of spiritual idolatry: "This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow."

"Thou art the man within whose heart's deep cell

All evil sleeping lies;

Lust, in a dark hour waking, breaks the spell,

And straightway there arise

Monsters of evil thoughts and base desire."

Greok.

Divine Omniscience! Exo . Israel lost sight of the fact that though Moses could not see, God could. Creeping down stairs at night towards the orchard, the little boy forgot that while his father's eyes were locked in slumbers deep, yet there was One whose eye neither slumbers nor sleeps. But when he stood beneath the favourite apple-tree—when he stretched forth his hand to the branch—when he lifted up his eye to the tempting, coveted, rosy-cheeked fruit; lo! a star twinkled its ray upon him, and seemed to say, "God sees." And the little fellow shrank back—retreated from the garden—betook himself upstairs, repeating to himself the Scripture words "Thou God seest." Ah! had Israel only remembered this, the sin had not been committed, and the dire mischief had not been wrought.

"Though all the doors are sure, and all our servants

As sure bound with their sleeps, yet there is ONE

That wakes above, whose eye no sleep can blind;

He sees through doors, and darkness, and our thoughts."

Chapman.

Idol Illustrations! Exo . It was a curious feature of the ancient Egyptian worship that each large city bad its own triad or assemblage of three gods, whom it more particularly adored. The triad of Memphis were Ptah, Buhastis, Apis. The ruins of the temple at Memphis sacred to calf-worship were discovered in 1850. Close at hand stood the Apeum, or sanctuary of the sacred bull, where he was carefully tended, as well as the cow from which he had sprung. As each bull died his mummy was stored away in one of the corridors extending underground for a considerable distance, and known as the "Mummy-pita of Apis." No fewer than 1200 of these tombstone-tablets have been traced, and the most important of them were removed to the Louvre at Paris.

"Ideal images in sculptured forms,

Thoughts hewn in columns, or in caverned hill,

In honour of their deities and their dead."

Montgomery.

Sin-Steps! Exo .

(1.) Facilis decensus Averni. The first step in the primval world was to worship God under natural symbols. The second step was to worship the creature along with or beside Jehovah. The third step was to worship the objects of nature more than the Being who made them. The fourth step was to worship these works of nature to the exclusion of God. Lower was the surging sea of all ungodliness, whose end is DEATH.

(2.) Goulburn well says that idolatry—i.e., the surrounding the creature with the attributes of the Creator—is the original, fundamental sin of man, the point of departure from which man started on the downward course, until he reached the lowest depths of wickedness.

"Polluted most, yet wallowing in the mire;

Most mad, yet drinking frenzy's giddy cup;

Depth ever deepening, darkness darkening still."

Pollck.

Wrath and Mercy! Exo .

(1.) If we look with the naked eye, says Macmillan, at the star Rigel, which forms the right foot of the constellation of Orion, we observe a star of first beauty and brightness. But the telescope shows us that it is a double star. This is a binary arrangement which prevails to a great extent throughout the heavens. These binary stars revolve round each other, or round a common centre. They thus exhibit the extraordinary spectacle, not of planet revolving round sun, but of sun moving round sun. Their lights blend before they reach us, so that they present to the naked eye the appearance of one star.

(2.) Kurtz says that wrath and mercy were both united in the eternal counsel of salvation, which was the combined product of the two; for in that counsel wrath was appeased by mercy, and mercy sanctified by wrath. Wrath and mercy were made one in the counsel of salvation, but they were not extinguished. Their lights blended together in this incident on Horeb—Jehovah saying, "Let Me alone;" Moses, prompted by the Spirit, saying, "Spare Thy people, O Lord."

"Had not the milder hand of Mercy broke

The furious violence of that fatal stroke

Offended Justice struck, we had been quite

Lost in the shadows of eternal night."

Quarles.

Mosaic Meditation! Exo . We find the law of intervention in every department of human life—each and all of its phases serving to indicate more or less clearly the spiritual law. As Ragg remarks, is not that man a mediator who, in the hour of danger, interposes with his strong arm for the protection of the weak? Is not that woman a mediator who, with noiseless step, paces the sick room where the once stalwart man is laid prostrate, anticipating his every want and desire as she stands between him and the fell disease with which he is grappling? Is not that mother a mediator who, with simple and eloquent words, and tears more eloquent, pleads with the father for the child whose wrongdoing has incurred parental censure and rebuke? Is not that nobleman a mediator who, with earnest words, undertakes to induce his sovereign to pardon the rebel-peer, and restore him to his confiscated title and possessions? Is not the Jewish maiden a mediator who, with consciousness of the great risk she runs, ventures into the royal presence to implore the revocation of the imperial decree dooming a whole exiled race to death?

"Praying for His children

In that blessed place,

Calling them to glory,

Sending them His grace;

His bright home preparing,

Faithful ones, for you;

Jesus ever liveth,

Ever prayeth too."

Havergal.

Retribution! Exo .

(1.) Yes, they were rebels taken red-handed in revolt against their king. Not only had they taken up arms against their liege lord, and entered into negotiations with his relentless foe, but they had endeavoured to induce many of their fellow-countrymen to join them in their rebellious and lawless course. To spare them from punishment would be to leave them opportunity of bringing wider ruin upon all and sundry. For the sake of the people, and especially the weak, it was necessary that retribution should overtake these red-handed communistic leaders.

(2.) Daniel Defoe, in his far-famed "Life of Robinson Crusoe," and John Bunyan, in his widely-known allegory of the Holy War, have shown how this apparently severe treatment was in reality true charity and compassion. And is it not from the same cause that the lost angels and men are to be "for ever" shut up in darkness, and precluded from entering amongst the redeemed? It is often the greatest mercy to exercise strictest justice. Severity to one may save the many from temptation, nay, from ultimate destruction. Pity!

"I share it most of all when I share justice,

For then I pity those I do not know,

Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall?

And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,

Lives not to act another."

Shakespeare.


Verses 15-20

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE TRUTH GIVEN AND LOST

We contemplate—

I. The truth given, Exodus 31 :

Exo .

1. The highest truth was given to man. That truth could not be divined by the genius of men. It was a revelation from God.

2. The fulness of the truth is intimated. "Two tables, and they were written on both their sides." The whole truth needed to teach us our duty to God and man. Ten commandments seem few, but in them we have the great laws of the moral universe, and one such law properly understood explains a wide range of life, as the knowledge of one of the great laws of nature explains much phenomena.

3. The authority of the truth, Exo . "Written with the finger of God." This gift of the tables of testimony was God's grandest gift to Israel. The source of light and purity and gladness (Psa 19:7-9; Rom 3:1-2). The truth is God's grandest gift to the world. And when Christ declared unto us more fully the grand truths of the spiritual universe, He imparted to us the choicest blessings of heaven. What the sunshine is to the natural world—that is the law of Moses, and the exposition of that law in Christ, to the moral world.

II. The truth lost, Exo . Moses brake the tables of the law, because of the sin of the people. His was a righteous anger, and his action forcibly pictures the fact that in unbelief and sin we lose the truth.

1. Sin sometimes leads God to take away from a people the revelation of Himself. There is a famine of the word of God.

2. Sin always blinds men to the knowledge of the highest truth. Let us open the windows of our soul to the light of God's truth, and let us carefully preserve that truth. We see nations who have lost the truth; we see Churches; we see individuals. That the truth may not be lost to us, let us live in purity, let us obey all its directions. If we lose the tables of the law we lose the foundation stones of empire, of Churches, of character.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Idol-Idiosyncrasy. Exo .

(1.) Material idolatry has passed away among civilised nations in its literal import. As Macmillan says, the old worship of stocks and stones is now impossible among a professedly Christian people. But although the outward mode has passed away, the essence of the temptation remains the same. Human society is changed, but human nature is unchanged. The impulse which led Israel to seek the golden calf is as strong as ever, and images are set up and worshipped now as fantastic as any pagan fetish or joss. For what is idolatry! Is it not in its essence the lowering of the idea of God and of God's nature, and the exaltation of a dead image above a man's own living spirit! Is not an idol whatever is loved more than God, whatever is depended upon for happiness and help independent of God?

(2.) Sooner or later, as Moses pounded the calf and gave the Israelites the dust to drink in punishment of their idolatry, will all such moral idolaters have to drink the dust of their idols. Our sin will become our punishment, our idols our scourges. God is a jealous God, and every soul that turns aside from His love to the lying vanities of the world must drink the bitter water of jealousy, filled with the dust of the bruised and mutilated idols of spiritual idolatry: "This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow."

"Thou art the man within whose heart's deep cell

All evil sleeping lies;

Lust, in a dark hour waking, breaks the spell,

And straightway there arise

Monsters of evil thoughts and base desire."

Greok.

Apis-Adoration! Exo . The Egyptian Apis was attended by a retinue of priests, and sacrifices of red oxen were offered to him. All his changes of appetite, his movements, and choice of places were watched as oracular. He was not allowed to live longer than twenty-five years. If he died a natural death before that age, his body was embalmed as a mummy, and interred in the subterranean tombs. Otherwise, he was secretly put to death, and buried by the priests in a sacred well. A new animal was then sought for. It was necessary that he should be marked with a white square on his forehead, an eagle on his back, and a knot like a cantharus under his tongue. When found, he was conveyed with great pomp to Nicopolis, where he remained for forty days, attended by naked women. He was then removed to Memphis.

"The general world, unconscious pietists

Of falsest creeds and errors, God allowed

To live on, unreproved, till came the time

When all the mysteries of heaven and earth

Were put in evolution."

Calf-Carved! Exo .

(1.) Most of the large idols of antiquity had a wooden centre; the metal being, by way of preparation, cast into a flat sheet which the goldsmith hammered and spread out. No doubt, this calf was made of wood, and then overlaid with gold. This explains the destruction by Moses. Being burnt, the wood was converted into charcoal, while the gold would be crushed to pieces.

(2.) In a French Bible appears the ridiculous gloss that the ashes of the calf which Moses caused to be burnt and mixed with the water that was drunk by the Israelites stuck to the beards of such as had fallen down before it, by which they appeared with gilt beards, as a peculiar mark to distinguish those who had worshipped the graven image.

"Man's a poor deluded bubble,

Wand'ring in a mist of lies;

Seeing false, or seeing double;

Who would trust to such weak eyes?"

Dodsley.

Idol-Impotency! Exo .

(1.) After the defeat of the Persian army in the Libyan desert, Cambyses returned to Memphis. On his arrival, he found its inhabitants rejoicing at the discovery of a calf marked with the mystic characters which declared it to be a divine bull. Ignorant of this fact, and supposing the public joy to be over his defeat, Cambyses summoned the magistrates. They endeavoured to pacify him by explaining about the bull; but he ordered them to be executed as liars. The bull and priests were then brought into his presence, when, drawing his dagger, he stabbed the calf.

(2.) Was Moses by this act desirous of showing the utter impotency of their newly adopted god? He certainly took the most effectual way to do so. When the English officer struck the Brahmin bull amid its crowd of worshippers, these deluded devotees looked for his immediate destruction. But when no harm came to him, when he seized a rough branch, and drove it with many lusty, sacrilegious blows about the market-place, the people then ridiculed their priests and animal god. The merciless grinding and pounding of the Apis or Mnevis calf may have been a design to convince Israel of their folly.

"What, Dagon up again! I thought we had hurled him

Down on the threshold, never more to rise.

Bring wedge and axe; and neighbours, lend your hands,

And rive the idol into winter faggots."

Athelstane.

Dust-Drink! Exo .

(1.) She was his idol, his only daughter! A fairy, sylphlike form was hers; and fondly his eye watched her flitting hither and thither. In his love, the proud peer and father forgot the suffering world around—its sorrows and its woes. In his idol-worship, he lost sight of God, who had given him that living soul. He placed the human form, overlaid with the gold of sweetness and fairy charms, upon the throne in his being, which rightly was Jehovah's only. One day the pony shied, and the idol fell—fell on a rude stone by the pathway. She lived, but became a decrepit form, with distorted face. He had to drink of the bitter water with the dust of his idol, as from day to day he saw her nerveless form, and marked her twitching, pinched features.

(2.) The observed of all observers! What queenly grace was hers! What exquisitely chiselled features! Women envied her surpassing loveliness; while men thirsted for her smiles. And she knew it all. Her beauty became her idol—wood overlaid with gold. She learned to adore her own charms. She worshipped her image reflected in the boudoir mirror. God was forgotten in her idolatry of self-beauty. An evening came, when the flashing jewels lay untouched—when the princely saloon felt not the witchery of her presence. It was small-pox; and she rose from her bed with disfigured features. The powdered dust of marred and charred loveliness was mingled with the bitter water, as she gazed in the now hateful mirror. Therefore—

"Seek not the world!

'Tis a vain show at best;

Bow not before its idol-shrine; in God

Find thou thy DAY and REST."

Bonar.


Verses 21-25

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

SHIFTING RESPONSIBILITY

"And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it to me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf."

Aaron has acted a very sorry part at a great crisis, and his conduct, and the apology he made for it, are worthy of being attentively considered by us, as we are very apt to fall into similar errors. Being charged with the great sin of which he was guilty, Aaron sought to shift the responsibility, and rest the blame elsewhere.

I. He blamed society. "And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people that they are set on mischief," Exo . "So they gave it me," Exo 32:24.

Thus is it with men now. Yielding to the pressure of society, we do not live out our highest convictions. We defer to public opinion. Great is the tyranny of public opinion, and many dare not brave it. Aaron dare not in the text, and thousands still are overawed by it. We like to be talked about, but not against. We stay short of being what we ought to be, of doing what we ought to do, for fear of the adverse criticism of our neighbours, work-fellows, countrymen. We defer to public custom. The Jewish rabble wanted images, such as were in Egypt, and Aaron had not courage to resist the demand. So we often bow to the questionable customs of society. Our convictions are otherwise, but we have not the bravery to be singular—we cast a grain of incense on the world's altar when we ought to hurl a stone at its gods. We defer to public violence. "They gathered themselves together unto," Exo —rather "against"—Aaron in a tumultuous manner, to compel him to do what they wished. And Aaron was coerced by them. So we often fear the anger, menace, violence of those around us, and act a consciously unworthy part. Aaron in the text blaming "the people" is a picture of thousands of us to-day! We do not wish to act thus and thus, but we are the victims of our social surroundings. It is not I, but the people. We, none of us, are guilty, it is the crowd behind which pushes us.

II. He blamed nature. "I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." As if it were not his fault, but nature's. He says nothing about the mould that he made; nothing about the graving tool that he used, Exo ; but nature has done it—it has done itself. So do we reason still.

1. We blame nature for our sins. We cannot hold ourselves responsible for various sins; we look upon them as springing from nature, and as not being amenable to control. We ignore the fact that we failed to interpose our will; that we fed the fires of passion; that in making preparation for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, we constructed the mould.

2. We blame nature for our miseries. Aaron seems to represent himself as an ill-used man—one to whom nature has been unkind. His miseries were selfcreated, but he fumbles about to represent them as an unfortunate outcome of nature. So do we act still. The other night we heard a man the worse for liquor, abusing a telegraph pole against which he had bruised his face. The spectators smiled; but they might have seen in the complaining sot a striking picture of poor foolish human nature in general. We foolishly, wilfully dash ourselves against the great laws of the creation, and then, bruised and weeping, rail against that creation, all of whose laws are pure and sublime. We transgress the physical laws on which health depends, and there comes out the sickly calf; we transgress the moral laws on which happiness depends, and there comes out the wretched calf; we transgress the intellectual laws on which knowledge depends, and there comes out the stupid calf; we transgress the social and political laws on which national prosperity depends, and there comes out the bloody calves of civil strife and revolution; we transgress the economical laws on which wealth depends, and there comes out the lean and ill-favoured calf of poverty. We blame nature for a score of ugly things by which we are plagued when they are simply the consequences of our own folly.

A word—

1. As to the childishness of this method of shifting responsibility. They did it; is did it. How childish! The little children say, "It did it—it fell—it broke," and their seniors smile at the transparent sophistry. But do not the seniors also the same? Blaming society, their body, nature? "The calf came out!" He was the calf, and we all feel that he was, and we are also when we shirk responsibility, and speak of it and them. We are men, gifted with the power of self-determination, and it is supremely ignoble and childish to attempt to rest the onus of our conduct on the laws of nature or the exactions of society.

2. The foolishness of it. Sin not only makes cowards of us all, but fools also. They did it; it did it. What shuffling and foolish excuses! How irrational! "Aaron's reply to the reproachful question of Moses is designedly obscure and confused, because he was himself conscious of the great crime which his fatal want of moral courage had abetted."—Kalisch (in loco). The reason is confused before we sin, and sinning confuses it all the more, and we awkwardly seek to veil our sin and shame by the most unmanly and illogical vindications.

3. The uselessness of it. Aaron is severely blamed and censured. Moses gives no reply to the childish apology, but directly charges the crime home upon Aaron. "Thou hast brought so great sin upon them," Exo . "Aaron had made them naked," Exo 32:25. See also Deu 9:20. So will it be with us all in the great day of judgment and retribution; our personal responsibility will be insisted upon, and the flimsy reasonings by which we sought to evade that responsibility will be scattered to the winds.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Idol-Idiosyncrasy. Exo .

(1.) Material idolatry has passed away among civilised nations in its literal import. As Macmillan says, the old worship of stocks and stones is now impossible among a professedly Christian people. But although the outward mode has passed away, the essence of the temptation remains the same. Human society is changed, but human nature is unchanged. The impulse which led Israel to seek the golden calf is as strong as ever, and images are set up and worshipped now as fantastic as any pagan fetish or joss. For what is idolatry! Is it not in its essence the lowering of the idea of God and of God's nature, and the exaltation of a dead image above a man's own living spirit! Is not an idol whatever is loved more than God, whatever is depended upon for happiness and help independent of God?

(2.) Sooner or later, as Moses pounded the calf and gave the Israelites the dust to drink in punishment of their idolatry, will all such moral idolaters have to drink the dust of their idols. Our sin will become our punishment, our idols our scourges. God is a jealous God, and every soul that turns aside from His love to the lying vanities of the world must drink the bitter water of jealousy, filled with the dust of the bruised and mutilated idols of spiritual idolatry: "This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow."

"Thou art the man within whose heart's deep cell

All evil sleeping lies;

Lust, in a dark hour waking, breaks the spell,

And straightway there arise

Monsters of evil thoughts and base desire."

Greok.

Responsibility! Exo . Aaron sought to shift the responsibility of this apostacy from his own shoulders to those of others.

1. He blamed the people (Exo ) for

(1) desiring, and

(2) demanding.

2. He blamed the furnace (Exo ) for

(1) protecting, and

(2) producing. Kalisch says that Aaron's reply to the reproachful question of Moses is designedly obscure and confused, because he was himself conscious of the great crime which his fatal want of moral courage had abetted. A crazy house is propped up by one support; but conscious of its insecurity, the owner places a second to keep up the structure. Aaron was sensible of the flimsiness of his defence, and he must need prop it up with two supports, which, after all, disclosed its insecurity.

"Sin and shame are ever tied together

With Gordian knots, of such a strong thread spun,

They cannot without violence be undone."

Personal Responsibility! Exo . That puckered mouth had once known smiles! Those withered, parchment-like cheeks had once worn the rose bloom! Those hungry eyes had once been like those of doves, washed with milk and fitly set! Those lean, clutching hands had once tenderly embraced a fair and loved form! And that heart, dry and worthless as a decayed nut-kernel, had once been soft and gushing with love and sympathy! Now he was a miser, smiling only as he saw the yellow dross and clutched the golden coins. To bleed a stone were easier than to find pity and unselfish sympathy for the woes and wants of others. He was a miser; yet he had his moments when conscience, like a second Moses to Aaron, would ask, "What is this that thou hast done!" Adam-like, Aaron-like, Saul-like, aye, man-like, he would reply to himself, "She made me what I am." He had loved, and his love had proved faithless—had, on the very morning of their intended marriage, been wedded to another. She had made him love gold, become selfish and avaricious, live a hard and unsympathetic life. "She made me!" "No, Aaron, death before dishonour." Fearing the anger, menace, and violence of the Israelites, he acted a consciously unworthy part, and all the more because he was their leader pro tempore. We are what we make ourselves, not what others make us—the victims of our fears or follies, our lusts or lingerings after evil.

"Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,

Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."

Beaumont.


Verses 25-30

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

RETRIBUTION

We observe—

I. The sin by which the retribution was provoked. This sin was one which could not be lightly passed over; it was a violation of the fundamental law which God had given unto Israel (Exo ). In these days direct sins against God are lightly thought of, but Israel was taught a very different theology. God saw that in the making of an image His real nature would first be eclipsed, and soon His existence would be forgotten: the image first degraded the idea of God, and then displaced God in the eye and heart of the people. And whatever lowered God in the estimation of the people, whatever let God down to the level of the people, whatever stole away the reverence and love of the people from God—this was a cardinal evil. They who teach us to see God in nature, until nature takes the place of God; they who teach us to see God in humanity, until humanity takes the place of God; they who teach us to see God in the blessings of life, until the blessings of life take the place of God; they who teach us to see God in the Church, until the Church takes the place of God;—all these Aarons are causing Israel to sin the sin which is unto death. Let us beware of losing sight of the Divine spirituality, of the Divine existence. Idolatry is the root of all sin—renunciation of the spiritual holy God is the mother of all crimes and sorrows. Ceasing to revere the Eternal One, what greatness can be admired? ceasing to adore the All Beautiful, what excellence can be venerated? ceasing to believe in the Holy One, what purity can be sacred? ceasing to commune with the Happy One, what woes are not possible? Idolatry and atheism are direct violations of the most fundamental law of existence, and directly provoke God's anger. We observe—

II. The retribution by which the sin was punished, Exo ,

Exo .

1. This retribution was swift. The scene of feasting and song, Exo , was soon turned into a scene of death and dirge. God can bring swift destruction on splendid empires, on proud sinners. Let us remember, in the day of our pride and vanity, how easily and swiftly God can visit us. "The laughter of fools is as the crackling of thorns under a pot." "The triumphing of the wicked is short."

2. This retribution was terrible. There was great mercy exercised by God in this event, and yet how terrible this judgment, even softened by grace! It is a fearful thing to sin against God. Idolatry, atheism, libertinism—bring with them awful punishments in this life; and if in this life, what of the next?

3. This retribution was just. We see what dreadful penalties are inflicted on men for transgressing the great laws of nature, and we feel that if this is right, it is just in God also to punish those who violate the highest law of all. What frightful diseases, wars, famines, deaths, come out of sin, and the event recorded in the text is in consistency with the same law!

III. The penitence by which the retribution was escaped, Exo . "Who is on the Lord's side?" The Levites, no doubt, had participated in the general sin, but at the call of Moses they repent, and become the instruments to execute God's judgment, although they had to slay their own son or brother. Let us put ourselves on the Lord's side, whatever it may cost us. "O Lord our God, other lords besides Thee have had dominion over us: but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name" (Isa 26:13).

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Idol-Idiosyncrasy. Exo .

(1.) Material idolatry has passed away among civilised nations in its literal import. As Macmillan says, the old worship of stocks and stones is now impossible among a professedly Christian people. But although the outward mode has passed away, the essence of the temptation remains the same. Human society is changed, but human nature is unchanged. The impulse which led Israel to seek the golden calf is as strong as ever, and images are set up and worshipped now as fantastic as any pagan fetish or joss. For what is idolatry! Is it not in its essence the lowering of the idea of God and of God's nature, and the exaltation of a dead image above a man's own living spirit! Is not an idol whatever is loved more than God, whatever is depended upon for happiness and help independent of God?

(2.) Sooner or later, as Moses pounded the calf and gave the Israelites the dust to drink in punishment of their idolatry, will all such moral idolaters have to drink the dust of their idols. Our sin will become our punishment, our idols our scourges. God is a jealous God, and every soul that turns aside from His love to the lying vanities of the world must drink the bitter water of jealousy, filled with the dust of the bruised and mutilated idols of spiritual idolatry: "This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow."

"Thou art the man within whose heart's deep cell

All evil sleeping lies;

Lust, in a dark hour waking, breaks the spell,

And straightway there arise

Monsters of evil thoughts and base desire."

Greok.


Verses 30-35

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

RELIGIOUS PATRIOTISM

It has often been brought as a charge against Christianity that it is adverse to patriotism. It is true that the spirit of Christianity is cosmopolitan, but yet the love of humanity does not exclude the sentiment of nationality, and the Word of God presents us with instances of the most sublime patriotism. The true Christian is a true patriot; the patriotism inspired by religion is of the noblest type. The text is a case in point.

I. Religious patriotism recognises national sin, ver

Exo . "Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin." There is a patriotism whose motto is: Our country—right or wrong. Such patriotism is spurious and quite misleading. There is a patriotism which is ever dwelling in a vain-glorious temper on the wealth and victories and power of a nation, and which cannot tolerate the rebuking of the national vices. This is a kind of patriotism which leads to evil issues. Religious patriotism discerns and rebukes the sins of the times, and is therefore the true patriotism. True love is not blind, neither is true patriotism. It is sensitive to those errors and vices by which national greatness is eventually destroyed. He may seem the greatest patriot who is always vaunting the power and prowess, the wealth and magnificence, of his country; but he is really the truest friend to his country who protests against the iniquitous laws which are on its statute book, the errors which are taught in its schools and temples, the vices which disgrace its streets.

II. Religious patriotism is prepared to make the greatest sacrifices for the national welfare. We see this in Moses in the text, Exo . See also Exo 32:11-14. Moses set the nation above his personal interests, above his family glory. His temptation to become the founder of a great nation reminds us of Christ's vision of the kingdoms. He loves his nation; he will not merely die for it, he is ready to suffer unknown sorrows on its behalf. See also Apostle Paul, Rom 9:3. Thus the Christian Church is ever making great sacrifices on behalf of the nation. A religion that does not issue in practical patriotism, is not the religion of Christ. The nation is of God as well as the family, and the true Christian in the spirit of self-sacrificing love, gives time, money, influence, and often life itself, that the nation may be educated and free and pure.

III. Religious patriotism is most precious to the state, Exo . We find that God was moved by the prayer of Moses to spare Israel. It is often thought that the grandest power in the state is the power which fights; but really the grandest power is the power which prays. The patriotism which seeks to spread the knowledge of God; which seeks to secure the keeping of God's laws; which vindicates the sanctity of God's day; which pleads with God on behalf of the nation, as it sins and suffers—this patriotism is of essential preciousness. The patriotism which seeks to bring God and the nation closer together, is far more precious than the tongue of the eloquent, the sword of the valiant, or the wisdom of the ancient.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Idol-Idiosyncrasy. Exo .

(1.) Material idolatry has passed away among civilised nations in its literal import. As Macmillan says, the old worship of stocks and stones is now impossible among a professedly Christian people. But although the outward mode has passed away, the essence of the temptation remains the same. Human society is changed, but human nature is unchanged. The impulse which led Israel to seek the golden calf is as strong as ever, and images are set up and worshipped now as fantastic as any pagan fetish or joss. For what is idolatry! Is it not in its essence the lowering of the idea of God and of God's nature, and the exaltation of a dead image above a man's own living spirit! Is not an idol whatever is loved more than God, whatever is depended upon for happiness and help independent of God?

(2.) Sooner or later, as Moses pounded the calf and gave the Israelites the dust to drink in punishment of their idolatry, will all such moral idolaters have to drink the dust of their idols. Our sin will become our punishment, our idols our scourges. God is a jealous God, and every soul that turns aside from His love to the lying vanities of the world must drink the bitter water of jealousy, filled with the dust of the bruised and mutilated idols of spiritual idolatry: "This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow."

"Thou art the man within whose heart's deep cell

All evil sleeping lies;

Lust, in a dark hour waking, breaks the spell,

And straightway there arise

Monsters of evil thoughts and base desire."

Greok.

Mosaic Intercession! Exo .

(1.) There is a sublime grandeur in the form of Moses, as we behold him holding forth his rod over the billowy sea, or raising that rod towards heaven. The stormy tempest and the beetling waters obeyed the Leader, who was invested with power by that God who made the sea and stretched out the firmament on high.

(2.) There is more than human majesty in the appearance of Moses when we behold the great Lawgiver descending from Sinai, bearing aloft those holy commandments which not a nation alone, but a world should observe, his countenance radiant with such glory as never before had beamed from human face.

(3.) But though he was mighty as the Leader, illustrious as the Legislator, it is with more of interest and admiration that we view him as the Intercessor for Israel. Power, it has been well said, excites wonder, holiness, awe. But it is love which attracts the soul.

"'Mid visions of eternal light

That glow on Eden's plain,

Where never comes the shade of night

In spirit realms to reign;

Where robe and crown of angels glow,

There's ONE in tears alone—

One interceding for our woe—

'Tis JESUS by the Throne."

Book of Life! Exo .

(1.) The book here spoken of is the Book of Life. It was even then the custom of every city to keep a list of the burgesses. The Israelites were familiar with the custom of keeping a register of families; as appears in Gen . Hence Moses uses a familiar figure in speaking of God's book. It has been supposed that a similar reference occurs in Psalms 29, 69; and in Dan 12:1.

(2.) It seems that in China they have two books—one the Book of Life, and the other the Book of Death. These are presented to the Emperor by his ministers, who is at liberty to blot out from either book any names he pleases. Those whose names he blots out from the Book of Life are doomed to die; and those whom he erases from the Book of Death are allowed to live.

"And then and there the likeness as of books

Before the awful presence of the Judge

Was seen—the massive chronicles of time,

The Law—the Gospel and the Book of Life."

—Bickersteth.

Intercession! Exo . In one of the lovely Swiss villages, bordered on its most romantic lake, dwelt an aged Christian and his granddaughter—a maiden of simple beauty and lofty imagination. Two Englishmen visited the locality; when the attention of one was attracted to this German girl. After some weeks' residence, the English stranger discovered that he was loved by the village maiden. He, therefore, induced her to leave her grandfather's roof, under the promise of a marriage. For a month they continued travelling from one place to another, partly for concealment and partly to view the beautiful scenery. At length, the yearning to see the aged grandfather became intense; but he had sternly refused. In this painful crisis, the English friend undertook to intercede. His intercession proved effectual; and on the regular marriage of the two runaways, she was restored to her old home. Here husband and wife lived happily, until the summons came for the veteran Christian to leave this passing world.

"We dare not think what earth would be,

O Intercession! but for thee;

A howling chaos, wild and dark—

One flood of horrors, while no ark,

Upborne above the gloom-piled wave,

From one great death-abyss might save."

Intercessory Prayer! Exo .

(1.) It has been well said, Prayer is not an endeavour to wrest from God what He is reluctant to bestow. It is the approach of the heart to Him to claim what He has promised, and what He delights to give. It was God Himself who directed Moses to stand in the beach. And it is the Father who has given the Son to be our Intercessor. All true prayer is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore cannot fail to be presented and accepted.

(2.) If such is true of the intercessory prayer of Moses, how much more so is it of Christ? He pleads for our forgiveness at the throne of God. When the word went forth against the fruitless fig-tree: "Cut it down," the voice was heard of the prevailing advocate, "Let it alone this year also." How often may such prayers have been offered on our behalf!—Luk .

"Ended is the day's work now,

Jesus seeks the mountain's brow;

He, from early dawn, His sheep

Hath, as Shepherd, toiled to keep.

Doth He close in sleep His days!

Nay, He watches still, and prays."

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 32:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/exodus-32.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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