The word "exodus" means "way out" or "going forth." The book has been given this Greek name because it relates to the history of the deliverance of the children of Israel from the house of bondage and how they were led forth by the power of God. It needs hardly to be stated that this second book of the Pentateuch is closely linked with Genesis. Without the events recorded in the final chapters of Genesis, the book of Exodus would have no meaning; without the continuation of the story of Israel in Egypt , the book of Genesis would be in an unfinished state. The promises given by God to the patriarchs which we find recorded in Genesis, make this book a necessity. For instance, we read in Genesis 15:13-14: "And He said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward they shall come out with great substance. To Jacob the Lord said, I am God, the God of thy Father; fear not to go down to Egypt ; for I will there make a great nation of thee" (Genesis 46:3). The fulfillment of these predictions and promises, as well as others, are seen in the book of Exodus.
The close connection with the book of Genesis is also learned by the first little word with which Exodus begins. It is the Hebrew conjunction "ve." The Authorized Version has translated it with "now," but it really means "and."
Each of the four books, which, besides Genesis constitute the Pentateuch, begins with this little word. It fully establishes the fact that these books form one great record and must have been written by one instrument. Origin- ally the present division of the writings of Moses into five books did not exist. He wrote in a continuous way, which formed one record. The division into five parts, we doubt not, was made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Higher Criticism
The book of Exodus has been treated by the higher critics in the same manner as the first book of the Bible. Its inspiration and the Mosaic authorship have been denied as well as the great judgments and miracles of which we read in Exodus. What ridiculous inventions have been made to explain some of the miracles wrought by the power of God we care not to follow.
The school of the destructive Bible criticism claims that Exodus is of a composite origin. The same confusing nonsense of a "Jehovist-Elohist-Priestly" narrative with a number of redactors, with which they dissect Genesis, has been applied to Exodus. Canon Driver, an ardent disciple of the fathers of higher criticism, makes the following statement: "The two main sources used in Exodus are those now generally known as 'Jehovist-Elohist,' the chief component parts of which date probably from the seventh or eighth century before Christ, and the 'Priestly' which is generally considered to have been written during or shortly after the Babylonian captivity." According to these statements Moses had nothing whatever to do with the composition of this book. We do not care to invite our readers to a closer inspection of this higher critical dissecting room, nor do we wish to burden our pages with the infidel assertions of these so-called "learned men." It is a hopeless labyrinth of theories and contradictions, which lead gradually but surely into the outer darkness. Yet these pernicious inventions are taught in many colleges and seminaries of the different evangelical denominations.
A Jewish rabbi of considerable learning, after a close examination of the arguments produced by the critics, has of late shown their absolute worthlessness from a literary point of view. He declares, "All these and similar analyses of the sources of Exodus and the conclusions based thereon are entirely wrong.... The theory that the book of Exodus was compiled from previous works is not sufficiently supported; and the attempt to analyze it into its component parts is a hopeless one, for all the elements of the book are closely welded together into one harmonious whole (Rabbi Dr. Benno Jacob of Goettingen , Germany).
But it does not take scholarship to discover the truth of the last sentence, that "all the elements of the book are closely welded together into one harmonious whole." Every intelligent reader of Exodus makes this discovery. The impression is at once created that only one person wrote this book, and that this person was intimately acquainted with the history of the period which Exodus treats. That the author was Moses is indisputable.
In Exodus 24:4 we read, "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord." In Chapter 34:27 another command to write is given, "Write thou these words." The Hebrews speak of the Pentateuch as "the law," and "the law of Moses." The book of the law, the law of Moses, now divided into five parts, was in existence at the time of Joshua (Joshua 1:8).
The Witness of the New Testament
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the infallible Son of God, perfect in knowledge, said to the Sadducees: "And as touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Mark 12:26). Our Lord thus gives positive evidence that Exodus is the book of Moses. See also Luke 20:37. Exodus is quoted twenty-five times by Christ and His apostles, and there are almost as many allusions to it scattered throughout the New Testament books. The rejection of the inspiration of Exodus means the rejection of the inspiration of the entire New Testament, and worse than that, it means the rejection of the testimony of the Son of God.
Israel 's Birthday Book
The book of Exodus may well be called " Israel 's birthday book." Israel entered Egypt as a family and left Egypt as a nation, brought forth by the grace and power of God. Jehovah calls Israel "my Son, my Firstborn" (Exodus 4:22).
The national birthday of Israel is recorded in this book. First we find the travail pains in the house of bondage, preceding the birth. The birth itself takes place in the twelfth chapter, when sheltered by blood they went out, to leave Egypt behind. The memorable month in which they were redeemed by blood was now to be "the beginning of months," the beginning of a new year, the starting point of their national existence. Then followed their deliverance and redemption by the power of God at the Red Sea , the giving of the law and the statutes and their divine calling as a nation to be "a kingdom of priests and an holy nation."
Perhaps no other Old Testament book is so rich in typical teachings as Exodus. The power of Satan and God's salvation by blood are most clearly revealed in the first part of the book. The Lord Jesus Christ and His work in redemption are foreshadowed throughout the book. The two great phases of the gospel of God, so fully and blessedly revealed in the Epistle to the Romans, are found in type in Exodus. These two phrases are, redemption from the guilt of sins and redemption from the power of sin. The former is seen in type in Israel 's Passover experience, and the latter is typified by the overthrow and destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea . These two great events give us two aspects of the death of Christ.
And how rich and full in typical meaning is the tabernacle with its different appointments and its priesthood. Here we find Christ everywhere. Various experiences of God's people may be traced in the conflicts and victories of Israel , their failure and unbelief. The annotations of the different chapters take notice of all this.
Equally important are the dispensational foreshadowings. Israel 's suffering in Egypt is typical of their history of sorrow and tears until their final restoration and fulfillment of God's promises to them as a nation takes place. God's dealing in judgment with Egypt foreshadows future judgments in store for the world. The deliverance out of Egypt is a pattern of their future deliverance, when they will be brought back. To this Jeremiah 16:14 refers: "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, As the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt , but, As the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries, whither He had driven them." The life of Moses, as a type of Christ, gives other dispensational hints of great interest. It is a most blessed book. May He guide us by His Spirit and unfold its precious truths to our hearts.
The Division of Exodus
We do not find in the book of Exodus a characteristic word like the word "generation" in Genesis, which points out the division in that book. Exodus contains a continuous story. We believe the key text for this book is found in the third chapter, in the words which the Lord spoke out of the burning bush to Moses, whom He called to be the leader of His people. We find them in chapter 3:7-8.
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt , and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians; and to bring them up out of the land unto a good land flowing with milk and honey, unto the place of the Canaanites: and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites and the Hivites, and jebusites.
These are beautiful words. They tell us that the Lord took notice of the affliction of His people and heard their cry. He was now ready to act in their behalf and to deliver them out of the house of bondage. In the eighth verse we have the two parts of Exodus indicated. The Lord announced two things He would do for His people. 1. I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians. 2. And to bring them up out of the land unto a good land flowing with milk and honey. Exodus has two great parts which correspond to these two statements.
I. ISRAEL 's DELIVERANCE OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE EGYPTIANS
1. The House of Bondage (1:1-22) 2. Moses the Chosen Deliverer (2-4:28) 3. Moses and Aaron in Egypt (4:29-7:13) 4. The Nine Plagues; the Tenth judgment Announced (7:14-11:10) 5. Redemption by Blood: The Passover and the Law of the Firstborn (12-13:16) 6. Redemption by Power (13:7-14:31) 7. The Song of Redemption (15:1-21)
II. THE JOURNEY TOWARDS THE PROMISED LAND. ISRAEL AT SINAI
1. The Experiences in the Wilderness (15:22-18:27) 2. At Sinai: The Covenant and the Law (19-24:18) 3. The Tabernacle and the Priesthood (25-31:18) 4. Israel 's Sin and Rebellion (32:1-35) 5. Moses' Intercession and its Results (33-34:35) 6. The Building of the Tabernacle (35-39:43) 7. The Tabernacle Set Up: The Finished Work and the Glory (40:1-38)
We learn from this division and analysis that the first section begins with the groans of the enslaved people in the house of bondage and ends with the song of redemption, sung by the redeemed and delivered nation. The beginning of the second section shows the redeemed people in the wilderness of Shur and describes their experiences; it ends with the finished work and the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle. Both sections are prophetic. Israel 's groans and captivity will end in deliverance. Their wilderness wanderings will yet terminate in a future of glory, with Jehovah in their midst.
I. ISRAEL 'S DELIVERANCE OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE EGYPTIANS
1. The House of Bondage
1. The names of the children of Israel; their increase (1:1-7) 2. The new king and his policy (1:8-11) 3. The continued increase (1:12) 4. Their hard bondage (1:13-14) 5. The midwives commanded (1:15-16) 6. Their disobedience and God's reward (1:17-21) 7. Pharaoh's charge to all his people (1:22)
The opening verses take us back once more to the end of Genesis; as already stated the word "now" (literally, "and") makes Exodus a continuation of the previous book. They had come into Egypt while Joseph was already there. Joseph and all his brethren had passed away, but their descendants multiplied rapidly. The Hebrew word "increased" means "swarmed." The seventh verse emphasizes their wonderful increase both in numbers and in power. Inasmuch as a comparatively short time had elapsed after Joseph's death, some 64 years only, infidelity has sneered at the description of this increase. It is generally overlooked that besides the 70 souls which came into Egypt a very large number of servants must have accompanied them. Abraham had 318 servants born in his house. Jacob had a still larger number. And they had been received into the covenant, though they were not natural descendants. The command of circumcision extended to "every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not thy seed" (Gen. 17:12). There may have been thousands of such servants besides immense herds of cattle. Yet even this does not fully explain the great increase. It was miraculous, the fulfillment of the promises given to the patriarchs. God witnessed thereby that they were His people.
The Egyptian account given by their historian Manetho, speaking of the Hyksos, the shepherd kings of the East, is in all probability a distorted account of the increase and influence of the Israelites. A new king, or dynasty, then arose. Josephus, the Jewish historian, states: "The government was transferred to another family." The debt which Egypt owed to Joseph was forgotten.
The increasing Israelites filled the Egyptians with terror, hence the attempt to crush them by hard labor and the cruel taskmasters. They were used in the construction of some of the great monumental buildings and became the slaves of the Gentiles. The ruins of cities bear witness to it, for they were composed of crude brick and in many of them straw was not used (chapter 5:10-12). The oppression was in degrees. But the more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew. Here we may read the history of Israel among the Gentiles. Their increase and expansion has produced what is known as "anti-Semitism." The Gentiles fear the Jews. Their miraculous increase always takes place when oppression and persecution is upon them. When they are oppressed then God's time for deliverance draws nigh.
Their oppression and sorrow in Egypt was also permitted for their own good. The idolatry of Egypt began to corrupt the chosen people. See Joshua 24:14; Ezek. 20:5-8; 23:8.
The attempt to destroy all the male children follows next. Satan, who is a murderer from the beginning, manifested his cunning and power in this way. He desired to destroy the seed of Abraham so as to make the coming of the Promised One impossible. The murder of Abel was his first attempt. Here is an attempt on a larger scale, which was followed by many others. See Exodus 14, 2 Chron. 21:4, 17; 22:10; Esther 3:6, 12, 13; Matt. 2, etc. Throughout the history of Israel during this age Satan has made repeated attempts to exterminate this wonderful people, because he knows God's purpose concerning their future. His final attempt is recorded in Rev. 12.
Pharaoh was the instrument of Satan, and is a type of him. Blessed is the record of the faithful Hebrew midwives. They were pious women. Satan tried to use woman again for his sinister purposes, but he failed. Later we find that the wicked Pharaoh was defeated by the faith of a Hebrew mother and by the loving kindness of his own daughter (chapter 2). And God rewarded the actions of these women. They received honors; their families increased and were blest. When Pharaoh saw his attempt frustrated he appealed to his own people to commit wholesale murder. They began to sow an awful seed; the harvest came when years later there was no house in Egypt without one dead, when the firstborn were slain. Galatians 6:7 applies also to nations, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap." God honored the Hebrew midwives because they honored Him. The retribution came upon cruel Egypt in God's own time.
And yet there are other lessons. Egypt is the type of the world; Pharaoh the type of the prince of this world. The bondage of sin and the wretchedness of God's people, still undelivered, are here depicted. God permitted all so that they might groan for deliverance. The house of bondage opens the way for redemption by blood and by power.
2. Moses the Chosen Deliverer
CHAPTER 2 Moses: His Birth, Education, Choice, and Exile
1. His birth and concealment (2:1-4) 2. His rescue and education (2:5-10) 3. His choice and failure (2:11-14) 4. His exile (2:15-20) 5. His marriage (2:21-22) 6. The answered cry (2:23-24)
The history of the chosen deliverer, recorded by himself under the guidance of the Spirit, follows the dark picture of Israel 's suffering. He was the offspring of a son and daughter of Levi. His name was Amram (chapter 6:20 and Num. 26:59). His wife's name Jochebed. As we saw in Genesis, Levi means "joined," and Levi was the third son of Jacob (Gen. 29:32-35). Here we have a typical hint of the true Mediator, joined to God and man. Levi was Jacob's third son, and Moses the third child of a son of Levi. The number "three" is the number of resurrection. It all foreshadows Christ. Pharaoh's command had been to cast the male children into the river. The river is the type of death ( Jordan , for instance). By death Satan tried to oppose God's purposes. The babe was in danger of death; Satan's hatred through Pharaoh was directed against this child as Herod through Satan's instigation tried to kill the newborn King in Bethlehem .
The child was beautiful. Acts 7:20 states he was (literally) "beautiful to God." For three months he was hid and then his own mother prepared the ark of bulrushes and laid him in the reeds at the river's brink, in the place of death. The word "ark" is the same as in Gen. 6:14 and the pitch with which it was daubed reminds us likewise of Noah's ark. The dark waters were kept out. It was not alone the natural love of the mother which acted, but faith. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the King's commandment" (Heb. 11:23). What faith this was! First they saved the child by faith for three months and then the mother's faith prepared the little casket, the place of safety, and in faith committed the ark of bulrushes to the river's brink. But while faith depends on God's power and trust in God's Word, it also fears nothing. They were not afraid of the king's commandment. And God acted as He always will in answer to faith. He guided Pharaoh's daughter to the very spot where the child rested with his sister standing afar off. Her faith did not fully measure up to the faith of the mother; but even this was God's leading. According to Jewish tradition the name of Pharaoh's daughter was Thermoutis. The weeping babe stirred her compassion. And what these tears accomplished! Not the smiling face, but the tear-stained countenance of sorrow, lead to the far-reaching results of deliverance. How it reminds us of Him who was the Man of Sorrows, who wept and went into the dark waters of death and judgment.
The mother receives her child again, whom she gave up in faith, and then the child becomes the son of Pharaoh's daughter, who gave him the Egyptian name "Moses," which means "saved from the water." The beautiful faith of Moses' mother here meets its full rewards; Satan is confounded; and the marvelous wisdom of God is displayed. Who would have thought that the one who had said, "if it be a son, then ye shall kill him," and, again, "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river," should have in his court one of those very sons, and such a son. The devil was foiled by his own weapon, inasmuch as Pharaoh, whom he was using to frustrate the purpose of God, is used of God to nourish and bring up Moses, who was to be His instrument in confounding the power of Satan. Remarkable providence! Admirable wisdom! Truly, Jehovah is "wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." May we learn to trust Him with more artless simplicity, and thus our path shall be more brilliant, and our testimony more effective. (C.H. Mackintush, Exodus)
In Egypt Moses received his instruction and education. What followed is more freely revealed by Stephen in his Spirit-given message.
And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel . And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them; but they understood not. And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday? (Acts 7:22-28).
He had learned the wisdom of Egypt , but not yet the wisdom of God. He manifested zeal for his brethren, but it was not according to knowledge. He attempted a deliverance before the time. Yet it was an action of faith.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt : for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt , not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:24-26).
He acted in self will, assuming the office of a judge and leader, without having received the divine call. It was faith, nevertheless, which led Moses into this path and to make this remarkable choice. His heart was filled with deep sympathy for his suffering kinsmen and he yearned for their salvation. He was, however, not received by them; they rejected him. He left the palace and, perhaps, the throne, and came to his own to take up their cause. It all points to Him, who left the glory and came to His own and they received Him not. When Moses came the first time to his brethren to deliver them, "they understood not" (Acts 7:25). But they understood when he came the second time, as Israel will understand, when He, who is greater than Moses, comes the second time.
He became an exile in Midian and met Reuel. His name also is Jethro (3:1). Reuel means "friend of God." He also was a priest, no doubt a true worshipper of God. Moses received a daughter of the Midianite, Zipporah, for his wife. Rejected by his own people, he entered into union with a Gentile. All this is typical. Christ after His first coming, rejected by His own, receives her, who shares His rejection and who will come with Him, when He comes the second time. The church is here indicated.
The forty years spent by Moses in Midian were, as we express it, the best years of his life. He had forty years' training in Egypt , and then the Lord took him aside into His school to train him for the great work for which he had been chosen. In the obscurity of the desert he was prepared to be "a vessel fit for the Master's use." How blessed must have been his experience, away from man, away from Egypt 's pleasures, alone with God. Thus the Lord has dealt with all His servants. Elijah came forth out of the wilderness and went back to Cherith, Ezekiel was alone at the river Chebar. Paul spent his schooling days in Arabia . Blessed are His servants who follow His leading into the desert place, to find their never-failing source of strength in communion with their Lord, who receive their service from Himself, and then go forth to serve.
We give a little diagram of the genealogy of Moses and his brother Aaron.
CHAPTER 3 The Burning Bush and the Call and Commission of Moses
1. The vision of the burning bush (3:1-3) 2. Jehovah speaks and calls Moses (3:4-10) 3. Moses' answer (3:11-12) 4. The name revealed (3:13-14) 5. The commission of Moses (3:15-18) 6. The promise (3:19-22)
The two last verses of the preceding chapter form the introduction to the great manifestation of Jehovah in the burning bush and the call of Moses. God's time had come. He heard their groaning, He remembered the covenant, and looked upon His suffering people. The scene is at Horeb, called here the mountain of God by anticipation. Moses had become a shepherd, that occupation which the Egyptians despised (Gen. 46:34). It was part of God's training by which he became "very meek above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3). In his shepherd character he is the type of Christ.
The burning bush is the picture of the suffering people, the wretched slaves in Egypt . It was a thornbush. Thorns being the results of sin, it typifies the sinfulness and worthlessness of the people. The fire is the symbol of their suffering and tribulation. It has the same meaning as the "smoking furnace" Abraham saw in his vision. Later God called Egypt the "iron furnace" (Deut. 4:20). The thornbush, however, is not consumed. All the fires of persecution and tribulation could not consume Israel . In the flame of the fire in the midst of the burning bush the angel of the Lord appeared. This was the secret of the preservation of the bush; God was there and kept them. "When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Is. 43:2). He is with all His people in their affliction; He preserves them and carries them through the fire. But the fire is also the figure of God's consuming and purifying holiness. All that is unholy must be consumed by the fire. "Our God is a consuming fire."
The angel of Jehovah, who addressed Moses out of the burning bush reveals His name. It shows that the Angel of Jehovah (God the Son) is God. He calls Himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. The triune God is thus revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Abraham, as the Father, in Isaac as the Son and in the experience of Jacob as the Holy Spirit. Our Lord quotes these words and silenced with them the unbelieving Sadducees, who rejected the doctrine of resurrection (Matt. 22:31, 32). The words Jehovah spoke to Moses are the expressions of His sovereign grace. What had they merited? What could they do to secure His intervention? Nothing whatever. They were in Egypt , a lot of miserable slaves, given more or less to idolatry, a sinful people. It was grace which looked upon them and heard their cry. It was grace which came down to deliver them. The work of salvation He came to do was all His own work. It foreshadows His coming down in incarnation for the work of salvation. Note the five words: 1. I have surely seen the affliction of my people; 2. I have heard their cry; 3. I have known their sorrow; 4. I have come down to deliver them; 5. And to bring them up out of the land into a good land. He is ever the same, Jehovah, who changeth not. He ever sees, hears and knows and acts in behalf of His people. He never leaves nor forsakes.
And when the Lord called Moses to send him to Pharaoh to lead His people forth, he answered, What am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ? Forty years before in self-confidence he had undertaken the work and had run before he was sent, and now he had learned humility and his weakness. God answered his confessed distrust with the all-sufficient assurance, "I will be with thee." When He sends forth He goes along to accomplish His own purposes. What encouragement for all who wait on the Lord and conscious of their own weakness, go forth in service. In response to another question, God reveals His name. "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM, and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel , I AM hath sent me unto you." God had made Himself known to Abraham as Jehovah (Genesis 15:7). But here He gives the explanation of His name Jehovah. The patriarchs knew the name Jehovah, but the blessed significance of that name was not known to them. He reveals Himself as the Self-Existing One, THE I AM THAT I AM. He is the One, which is, which was, which is to come (Rev. 1:4). And this wonderful Name of the Unchanging, Living One, the Eternal, the Name unsearchable in its depths is the Name of our Lord who has redeemed us. When about to act in the deliverance of His enslaved people to lead them out and to bring them in, He makes Himself known as the I AM. "Before Abraham was I AM" (John 8:58). Our ever-blessed Lord is the I AM, who spoke to Moses. And what is Jehovah, the I am for His people? Well has it been said, "Jehovah, in taking this title, calling Himself 'I AM,' was furnishing His people with a blank check, to be filled up to any amount. He calls Himself I AM, and faith has but to write over against that ineffably precious name whatever we want."
In verse 15 we have the hint of Jehovah's eternal relationship with His people Israel . He is still and ever will be the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. "This is my name forever and this is my memorial unto all generations." Here is the hope for Israel . He hath not cast them away; He is their God still and His gifts and calling are without repentance.
The commission to Moses follows, and Jehovah telling beforehand that the king of Egypt would not let them go also promises Moses that He would smite Egypt and that when the exodus takes place, they were not to go empty-handed. This is in fulfillment of a previous promise (Gen. 15:14).
CHAPTER 4:1-28 Moses' Objections, Jehovah's Answer and the Return to Egypt
1. The first objection (4:1) 2. The two signs and Jehovah's assurance (4:2-9) 3. The second objection (4:10) 4. Jehovah's answer (4:11-12) 5. Moses' request (4:13) 6. Jehovah's anger and answer (4:14-17) 7. The command to return to Egypt (4:18-23) 8. The event by the way in the inn (4:24-26) 9. The meeting of Moses and Aaron (4:27-28)
The division of chapters at this point is unwarranted. Moses' objections reveal his unbelief and self-distrust. Jehovah's patience and condescending grace are blessedly manifested. Moses first expressed his doubt that the people would not believe him and his mission. Though he saw the vision of the burning bush and heard Jehovah's voice, which assured him of His presence and power, yet did he not believe. His former experience with his people, and the fact that generations had passed since Jehovah had appeared to an Israelite must have led him to express this doubt.
The Lord gave him three signs: the rod cast down, which became a serpent; the leprous hand; and the water turned into blood. The first two signs were carried out in Jehovah's presence. Moses cast his rod on the ground and it became a serpent, and he fled from it. In obedience to Jehovah's command, Moses took the serpent by the tail and it became a rod. The rod Moses held was his shepherd's rod. It is the emblem of government and power. Moses cast it on the ground and out of his hand the rod became a serpent. The serpent stands for the power of Satan. Egypt (the type of the world) is under the control of Satan. The serpent was worshipped in Egypt . It was used as the emblem of the goddess Ranno and also used as a sign of royalty. The serpent, Satan, had usurped the place of government and power. But Jehovah can deal with the serpent and this is seen by Moses' taking the serpent by its tail so that it became a rod. The sign was to inspire and teach confidence. The sign of the leprous hand teaches another lesson. Sin, typified by leprosy, and cleansing from sin are indicated in this sign. Israel was in a leprous condition, but the power of Jehovah could cleanse his people. When Moses came the first time to deliver his people, they treated him as an outcast; but when he put his hand in his bosom the second time to act the reproach was removed.
The third sign teaches how the blessing, the water of the Nile , is to be changed into a curse. It is the sign of judgment to come upon Egypt . Moses, in receiving these signs and the power to enact them, is a type of Christ. He will take the rod, the government, into His blessed hand, and then Satan's dominion ends. He will cleanse and restore His people and smite Egypt , the world, with judgment.
Moses' second objection was his slow speech and slow tongue. The same unbelief is here in evidence. Had he but believed "I will be with thee," and that the "I AM" would be His tongue and his speech, this objection would never have come from his lips.
How gracious Jehovah's answer: "Now, therefore, go, I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say." Every servant of the Lord, who serves under Him, can appropriate this great promise. And still Moses hesitates. What patience from the side of the Lord! He now makes another gracious provision. Aaron is to be his spokesman. This was for Moses' humiliation. Then Moses' objections were silenced. Grace is fully illustrated in the call of Moses and how the Lord dealt with him.
Jethro sanctions his return to Egypt . The Lord prepared his way as He always does, when He sends forth His servant. He took his wife and sons, who were still young, for he set them on an ass. This shows that his marriage to Zipporah did not take place immediately after his arrival in Midian. Then he took his rod, which is now called "the rod of God," and the Lord gave him the solemn message to Pharaoh. Israel is to be nationally God's firstborn son. Jehovah's demand is, Let my son go, that he may serve Me. God's firstborn is to be brought out of Egypt , where service for God was impossible. Then follows the message of death and judgment for Egypt .
What comes next is closely connected with the message to Pharaoh. There was a stumbling block in Moses' family. Circumcision, which stands for the sentence of death, had not been executed in the case of one of Moses' sons. No doubt Zipporah made objections to this rite and kept her husband back from doing what he Knew was imperative. This failure of Moses stood in his way to carry out the divine commission. The hand of the Lord was upon Moses, and he was in danger of being cut off for his sin, for he had been disobedient and yielded to his wife. Then Zipporah is forced to do herself what she hated and the reproach was removed. The words "surely a bloody husband art thou to me," were addressed to Moses. She had been forced, as it were, to purchase him again by the shedding of the blood of her beloved son. She received him back as one who had been in the realm of death and was joined to him anew. It must have been there that Moses brought the sacrifice of separation by sending Zipporah and the sons back to Jethro (chapter 18:2). What a meeting it must have been which took place between Aaron and Moses. They met in the Mount of God and kissed each other. Compare with Num. 20:27, 28.
3. Moses and Aaron in Egypt
CHAPTERS 4:29-5:23 Before the Elders and Before Pharaoh
1. Before the elders of Israel (4:29-31) 2. Before Pharaoh, and his answer (5:1-4) 3. The increased oppression (5:5-19) 4. Israel 's complaint and Moses' prayer (5:20-23)
The people were willing and believed. Notice they believed after the signs were done. Faith was followed by worship. It is almost a constitutional thing with the Jew to see first and then believe. Compare with John 20:26-29.
Then the messengers of God appeared before Pharaoh. This must have been in his capital Zoan (Psalm 78:43). Jehovah made of Pharaoh seven demands. They are found in chapters 5:1; 7:16; 8:1; 8:20; 9:1; 9:13; 10:3. Satan's power now becomes more fully manifested. Israel is Jehovah's people and He must have His chosen ones out of Egypt and fully delivered. The objects of his love and grace must be completely freed from the miserable slavery of sin and Satan. The typical application as to man's condition as a sinner is so well known that we need not to follow it in detail.
Pharaoh's attitude is that of defiance, though he spoke the truth when he said, "I know not Jehovah." The threat of coming judgments is disbelieved. His answer was increased burdens marked by the most awful cruelty. It was Satan's rage through Pharaoh in anticipation of Jehovah's intervention in the redemption of His people. As far as Israel is concerned this will yet be repeated during the great tribulation. Then Satan's wrath will be great, for he knows his time is short and the Lord will deliver the remnant of Israel (Rev. 12:12-17). It is the same in the individual experience. Satan will not let his victims go. When sin and the power of the flesh is felt, then comes the conflict and Satan's rage.
What discouragement for the poor slaves in Egypt ! They had rejoiced in faith and worshipped because Jehovah's servants had announced deliverance, and now a darker night had settled upon them; but it was only the harbinger of the glad dawn of the redemption. They murmured while Moses, deeply perplexed, turned to the Lord in prayer. Moses was a great man of prayer. He cast his burden upon the Lord.
CHAPTER 6:1-27 Jehovah's Answers and the Genealogy
1. Jehovah answers Moses (6:1-13) 2. The Genealogy (6:14-27)
Moses' "wherefore" and "why," his outburst of impatience, is graciously met by Jehovah. In His answer He speaks more fully of Himself as Jehovah, and what He will do in behalf of His afflicted and oppressed people. "I am Jehovah," is His solemn declaration. Note the continued utterances of what He is and what He will do. "I appeared unto Abraham; I have heard; I have remembered; I will bring you out; I will rid you out of their bondage; I will redeem you; I will take you to be for Me a people; I will be to you a God; I will bring you into the land; I will give it to you for a heritage; I am Jehovah." In Ezekiel, chapter 36, the reader will find Jehovah's "I will" concerning the future restoration of His people Israel .
No condition is mentioned; for their salvation as well as ours, is "not of works" but of grace alone. The source of all is His love (Deut. 7:7, 8). Salvation is Jehovah's work and not ours. Thus while the patriarchs knew the name of God as Jehovah, the full revelation of Jehovah, working in the gracious performance of His promises, they knew not. Verse 3 means that they did not understand the name Jehovah, though they knew that name. Then follows the record of "the heads of their fathers' houses." He knows them by name. He comes down where the slaves are, and calls them by name, thus identifying Himself with them. And then He knew, as He does now, every groan, every burden, every spot upon which the whip of the cruel taskmaster had fallen. This is the precious lesson of this register of names. No other genealogy is found in Exodus. What a great redeemer is Jehovah, our Lord Jesus Christ! All praise and glory be to His holy Name.
CHAPTERS 6:28-7:13 The Renewed Commission and Before Pharaoh Again
1. Renewed commission and renewed hesitation (6:28-30) 2. Jehovah's instructions (7:1-9) 3. Before Pharaoh and the sign of the rod (7:10-13)
Once more Moses received his commission, and again he hesitated on account of his poor speech. After all the gracious words Jehovah had spoken he pleads again his weakness. It shows what the unbelieving heart is. Twice Jehovah said that Moses should be a god. A god to Aaron (4:16) and a god to Pharaoh (7:1). He received divine authority and power over Pharaoh, while he was to his spokesman Aaron a god, because the word he uttered to him to communicate to Pharaoh was the word of the Lord. "And I will harden Pharaoh's heart." This was stated before in chapter 4:21. Eighteen times we read of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. However, different words are used in the Hebrew to show an important distinction. One means to "make firm" or "strong." The other, "to make stubborn." These two words show Pharaoh's hardening of his own heart and God's hardening after he continued in his wicked way. After it is five times declared that Pharaoh hardened his heart, then God began His hardening and made Pharaoh's heart stubborn. Pharaoh hardened himself, then God hardened him. Pharaoh had his opportunities and as he refused and continued in unbelief, God made him stubborn. God hardens as a judicial act because man refuses His Word. God never hardens first nor compels a man to be an unbeliever. A solemn warning is contained in this. Thousands harden their hearts now, and ere long apostate Christendom will be hardened by God without remedy (2 Thessalonians 2).
Moses' age was 80 years and Aaron's 83 when they spoke to Pharaoh. They are before the monarch to show a miracle. Moses did not use his rod as before the elders of Israel , but it was Aaron's rod which was cast down and became a serpent. There is likewise another word used for serpent. In chapter 4:3, it is _nachash, the same word as in Genesis 3. But the word used in chapter 7 is _thanin, which the Septuagint translates dragon. This does not show that there were two different records, but that the two events have a different significance. Aaron's rod, which later blossomed, is the type of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the mighty victor over Satan, sin and death. Aaron's rod swallowing the rods of the magicians of Egypt seems to indicate the complete triumph of Jehovah over him who has the power of death.
The question is, was the action of the magicians a real miracle or produced by juggling? Snake charming was carried on in ancient Egypt . However, these magicians were the instruments of Satan, who manifested his power through them. What they did were "lying wonders." The names of two of these endued with demoniacal powers are given in 2 Timothy 3:8, Jannes and Jambres. Such manifestation of demon power is found today in spiritualism and will be fully revealed during the days of Antichrist at the end of this age (2 Thess. 2:9-12). Pharaoh's heart was hardened (literal translation) because he wilfully rejected the sign given.
4. The Nine Plagues and the Tenth Judgment Announced
CHAPTER 7:14-25 The First Plague
1. The plague announced (7:14-19) 2. The judgment executed (7:20-25)
Nine judgment plagues follow, and after they had passed, the tenth, the great judgment, fell upon Egypt. There are striking and different characteristics of these plagues. Aaron uses his rod in the beginning of the plagues, while Moses stretches out his rod and hand in the last three, not counting the slaying of the firstborn. Some of them were announced beforehand, others were not announced and came without warning. We give them now in their order:
1. Water turned into blood; 2. Frogs; 3. Lice; 4. Flies; 5. Murrain; 6. Boils; 7. Hail; 8. Locusts; 9. Darkness (see Psalm 105:26-36).
The process of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart progresses with these judgments till God hardened him completely. After the first plague his heart was hardened (or firm) and deliberately he set himself to do this. Note this process in chapters 8:15; 8:19; 8:31; and 9:7. When this present age closes with the great tribulation and the vials of God's wrath are poured out upon an unbelieving world, the hearts of the earthdwellers and Christ rejectors will be hardened and thus ripe for the day of wrath. The book of Revelation acquaints us with this solemn fact.
"The plagues of Egypt are founded on the natural features which Egypt presents, so that they are unprecedented and extraordinary, not so much in themselves, as on account of their power and extent, and their rapid succession when Moses simply gives the command. As they are, consequently, both natural and supernatural, they afford both to faith and to unbelief the freedom to choose (in Pharaoh, unbelief prevailed); they are, besides, adapted to convince the Egyptians that Jehovah is not merely the national God of the Israelites, but a God above all gods, who holds in his hand all the powers of nature likewise, which Egypt was accustomed to deify" (J.H. Kurtz).
The water of the river Nile was turned into blood. The Nile was worshipped by the Egyptians and now this great river was polluted. Strange that even orthodox commentators can state that the change in the water was a change in color produced by red earth or by a certain water plant. But we know a real change took place, for the water stank and the fish died. Thus the Nile , known as Osiris, became an object of abomination and death. The messengers of Satan imitated this miracle also. This plague lasted seven days.
CHAPTER 8 The Second, Third, and Fourth Plagues
1. The demand and the plague of frogs announced (8:1-4) 2. The plague executed (8:5-7) 3. The request of Pharaoh and the frogs removed (8:8-15) 4. The divine command for the third plague (8:16) 5. The plague executed (8:17) 6. The confession of the magicians (8:18-19) 7. The renewed demand and the plague of the flies announced (8:20-23) 8. The plague executed (8:24) 9. Pharaoh's promise and his refusal (8:25-32)
The different demands made of Pharaoh to let God's people go and Pharaoh's objections are of much interest. In Jehovah's demands to let His people go we have God's purpose that His people must be completely brought out of Egypt (the world) and be separated unto Him. Before they could worship and serve Him they had to be delivered from Egypt . It is so with us. Pharaoh is the type of Satan, the god of this age. He made his objections, as Satan makes his opposition to a full and complete deliverance of God's people. Study Pharaoh's objections: In chapter 8:25, he says, "Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land." Then in verse 28 he makes a compromise, but they must not go far away. In chapter 10:9-11 he desired the men to go, but the rest and their belongings were to stay behind. The final compromise is in chapter 10:24. In these objections and compromises we read Satan's attempt to keep God's people ensnared with the world and thus hold them under his control and power. How well he has succeeded in Christendom.
If we connect the last verse of the previous chapter it seems it was on the seventh day, the day of rest, the Sabbath, which Israel must have completely forgotten, when the Lord again spoke to Moses and announced the second plague. This consisted of frogs, which proceeded from the worshipped, sacred Nile . The rationalistic higher critics have tried to explain this plague also as a natural occurrence. But they do not explain how it is that they came as soon as Aaron stretched his hand over the waters of Egypt and that they died by the millions after Moses prayer. Surely Pharaoh was better than the modern day critics, for he acknowledged at least that it was a miracle of Jehovah (verse 8). Frogs were also connected with Egyptian idolatry. One Egyptian goddess called Hekt appears with the head of a frog. Frogs stand for unclean things. See Revelation 16:13. The magicians enabled by Satan's power also imitated this miracle. But with this their power in counterfeiting ceased.
The third plague consisted in lice, or rather gnats." It came like the sixth and ninth plague, without any previous warning. They smote the dust and divine power for judgment brought out of the dust these tormenting insects. The very soil of Egypt now was turned into a curse. God now restrained the demoniacal powers of imitation and the wicked magicians had to confess, not for the glory of Jehovah, but for their own protection, "this is the finger of God."
The fourth plague was still more disastrous and significant. The appeal was made in the morning (Jeremiah 25:4; 26:5; 29:19). Swarms of flies covered all Egypt . These were not the common house flies, but a more powerful insect, the bite of which was exceedingly painful. There were different kinds of them. He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them (Psalm 78:4 5). They fastened themselves upon men and tormented them. It was another blow against the idols of Egypt . The beetle was reverenced as the symbol of creative power and the Egyptian Sun-god had a beetle's head. This plague did not touch Israel . Jehovah showed that Israel is His people. All the terrible punitive judgments did not touch His people. And this was a sign. The word "division" in verse 23 means "redemption." Jehovah is here clearly revealed as the author of the plague judgments. His supreme authority stands out prominently. After the removal of this plague, Pharaoh hardened his heart anew.
CHAPTER 9 The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Plagues
1. The fifth plague: the grievous murrain (9:1-7) 2. The sixth plague: boils (9:8-12) 3. The warning given (9:13-21) 4. The seventh plague: hail (9:22-35)
In the demand God calls Himself "the Lord God of the Hebrews" (see also verse 13 and 10:3). The fifth plague strikes animal creation. cattle, such as mentioned in the opening of this chapter, formed the most important part of the wealth of Egypt . Egypt 's wealth is therefore stricken. But God waited and warned before He executed this judgment. Jehovah's power sheltered Israel in Goshen and not a beast suffered there. Notice Pharaoh's curiosity. He sent to see if Israel had escaped and found that not one had died. What an evidence that the Lord God of the Hebrews is the Lord. Yet his heart was hardened.
The next plague came without warning, unannounced. Moses and Aaron sprinkled the ashes of the furnace, and it became a boil upon man and beast. The magicians may have attempted then another counterfeit move, but the boils broke out on them. If they were of the priestly class they had become defiled by the nasty sores. The priests were obliged to be scrupulously clean in everything. The ashes of the furnace have a double meaning. Egypt in its fiery persecution of Israel is called a furnace. Divine retribution now came upon them in the boils, which must have burned as fire. But the furnace may have been the altar in Egypt upon which sacrifices were offered to their god Typhon. Most likely the Egyptians brought such sacrifices to stay the plagues, and now the very thing in which they trusted is turned into a plague. This plague was the first which endangered human life, and therefore the forerunner of the death which Pharaoh would bring upon himself and his people by his wicked opposition.
The seventh plague is ushered in by a solemn warning and more lengthy address to Pharaoh. A very grievous hail is threatened to fall upon man and beast; the hail was to kill all found in the open field. Note verse 16 and compare with Romans 9:17. God dealt with Pharaoh in this way that he might know Jehovah and His power and that through what Jehovah did His name might be made known throughout the earth. Jehovah's holiness, omnipotence, justice, as well as His patience and longsuffering are revealed in these judgments, foreshadowing all future judgments to come for this earth. The report of what Jehovah had done in Egypt spread soon to other nations, and inspired a holy awe (Exodus 15:14-16). It was a loving and gracious advice God gave through Moses (verse 19). No doubt there were many Egyptians who believed and escaped. The unbelieving suffered. Divine mercy still lingered. Those of the Egyptians who believed the divine warning must have belonged to the mixed multitudes which went out with Israel (chapter 12:38).
The fearful hail was accompanied by fire (lightning) which ran along the ground, and thunderings. These are called in the Hebrew "the voices of God." The tempest is the type of God's wrath in judgment. Hail is mentioned repeatedly in Revelation and there it is called "the plague of hail" (Rev. 8:7, 11:19, 16:21). The plagues of Egypt will be repeated on this earth during the great tribulation. Note Pharaoh's confession, which shows that this plague had made a deep impression on him (verse 27). Pharaoh used the name of "Jehovah" and the name of God (Elohim). "Entreat Jehovah that there be no more voices of God" (literal rendering). What a desperately wicked thing the human heart is. He sinned more after this than before.
CHAPTER 10 The Eighth and Ninth Plagues
1. The eighth plague: locusts (10:1-15) 2. Pharaoh's renewed confession and refusal (10:16-20) 3. The ninth plague: darkness (10:21-26) 4. Pharaoh's anger (10:27-29)
The eighth plague is introduced by another warning; the ninth came without it. As a result of the eighth plague, Pharaoh confessed his sin against God and against Moses and Aaron; but after the ninth plague drove Moses from his presence and threatened the divine messenger with death.
Locusts covered the face of the whole earth and every green thing was destroyed. On the ravages of the locusts we find a vivid description in the book of Joel. Locusts are typical of God's punitive judgments. The locusts plague was aimed to show the impotence of the Egyptian god Serapis, in whom the Egyptians trusted as the protector against the locusts. Locusts are likewise mentioned in a symbolical way in Revelation 9:1-12.
In the ninth plague, darkness covered Egypt for three days. Beautiful must have been the vision of the land of Goshen . Out of the dense darkness the light shone brightly in the miserable abodes of the children of Israel . "All the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." Note again the book of Revelation, chapter 16:10-11.
The sun as the source of light was worshipped in Egypt . If Menephtah was the Pharaoh of the exodus, as some hold, this plague has a special significance. A sculptural image of this Pharaoh is preserved. His hand is out-stretched in worship, and underneath stand in hieroglyphics these words: "He adores the sun; he worships Hor of the solar horizons." Suddenly darkness, which could be felt, came upon Egypt . Pharaoh and all Egypt learned now that their idols were helpless. Darkness is the withdrawal of light. It stands for the solemn truth of the forsaking of God. (We may well think here of the darkness which enshrouded the cross and the unfathomable cry of our Lord, "my God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?") God was about to abandon Egypt , the darkness was the herald of it. All Egypt was to be plunged into the severest of all judgments, the death of the firstborn. This darkness was God's final appeal to repentance. For three days they were shut in and all business was suspended. Rich and poor, king and beggar, the learned and the ignorant, all classes were shrouded in that awful darkness. The suspense must have been frightful. What was to come next? God waited, and in that silence and darkness appealed to their conscience. How slow God is to judge; it is His strange work. In infinite patience He waited before He dealt the final blow to Egypt . Thus He waits now and warns till at last His patience ends and His threatened judgments sweep the earth. The last objection and compromise by Pharaoh is found in verse 24, but Moses answered "not an hoof shall be left behind." Jehovah's demands and purposes concerning the completest separation from Egypt stand and must be literally executed.
CHAPTER 11 The Tenth Plague Announced
1. God's Word to Moses and to the people (11:1-3) 2. The tenth plague announced to Pharaoh (11:4-8) 3. Pharaoh's unbelief and his heart hardened (11:9-10)
In chapter 10:29 we hear Moses say to Pharaoh, "I will see thy face again no more." In this chapter, however, we hear him address Pharaoh once more concerning the tenth plague judgment. The announcement made to Moses and recorded in the first verse of this chapter occurred before the inter-view of the previous chapter and verses 4-8 in chapter 11 is the continuation of Moses' address to Pharaoh after he had spoken the words in chapter 10:29. The eleventh chapter is therefore a supplement to the tenth. The command to ask (this is the correct word; 'borrow' is incorrect) of the neighbors jewels of silver and gold had already been given in chapter 3:22. The death of all the firstborn in Egypt is announced to Pharaoh. A great cry shall be throughout all Egypt , but Israel should also be exempt of this last plague as the previous plagues were not shared by them. "Not a dog shall point his tongue (literal translation) against Israel ," promising perfect rest and peace in the coming night of death and sorrow.
Verses 9 and 10 mark the close of Moses' interviews and negotiations with Pharaoh, which began in chapter 7:8. The right rendering of verse 9 is "And the Lord had said unto Moses." Moses left Pharaoh in a great anger. Judgment was now ready to fall.
5. Redemption by Blood, the Passover and the Law of the Firstborn
CHAPTER 12 The Passover Instituted and Kept, the Death of the Firstborn and the Exodus
1. The Passover instituted and the feast of unleavened bread (12:1-20) 2. The command given to the people and obeyed (12:21-28) 3. The death of the firstborn in Egypt (12:29-30) 4. The departure of the children of Israel (12:31-36) 5. From Rameses to Succoth (12:37-39) 6. The fulfillment of the 430 years (12:40-42) 7. The ordinance of the Passover (12:43-51)
This is the birth chapter of Israel as a nation. The birth pangs are about over and the deliverance is at hand. The first thing announced is the change of the year (verses 1, 2). A new beginning is made with the deliverance out of the house of bondage; the past is left behind and blotted out. This is typical of the new birth of the individual. The month which marks this new beginning is Abib, the "green ear" month, because the corn was then in the ear. After the captivity it was called Nissan (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7). It is our April.
Verses 1-14 give the instructions concerning the Passover, and verses 15-20 those concerning the feast of unleavened bread. The Passover Lamb is a most blessed type of the Lord Jesus Christ in His work. He is the Lamb of God and our Passover (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:6, 7; 1 Peter 1:18, 19). The chapter is extremely rich in typical foreshadowing and spiritual truth. The spotless character of our Lord is indicated in that the lamb had to be without blemish. Taken out, separated, and a male; all has a meaning. For four days the lamb had to be set aside before it was to be killed. This was done to discover if there would be a flaw, some defect in it, which would unfit the lamb for the sacrifice. Here we are reminded of the four Gospel records in which the holy, spotless life of Him is told out who gave His life for a ransom. The lamb was to be killed by the whole congregation, even as it was with Christ. It was to be killed "between the evenings." That is between noon and the night, the afternoon; that is when Christ died. And what more could we say of the roasting with fire and other instructions, which all foreshadow the death and suffering of the Lamb of God? We call attention to the fact that Satan did not want to have the Lord Jesus put to death on the Passover feast. Satan knew He was the true Lamb, and he tried to prevent His death at the predicted time (Matt. 26:5; Mark 14:2). But the Lamb of God, the true Passover, died at the very time appointed, thus fulfilling the Scriptures. The shedding of the blood and its application is the prominent thing in the Passover. The word "pesach" means to "pass through," and "to pass over." God passed through Egypt in judgment; it was also liable to fall upon the people Israel . They were guilty before God and had deserved the same judgment which was about to fall upon Egypt . But Jehovah provided a sacrifice and in the shed blood a shelter and complete deliverance. The blood secured all they needed as a sinful people and as it was sprinkled in obedience to Jehovah's command perfect peace and rest was obtained. "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." The blood was the token for Jehovah. They were not to see the blood, but He in passing through saw the blood. Faith in what Jehovah had said and what had been done gave peace to all in the dwellings. The blood of Christ is thus blessedly foreshadowed. Peace has been made in the blood of the cross. Upon the Lamb of God, the holy Substitute, the sentence of death was executed and now whenever God sees the blood there He passes by, no more condemnation, but perfect justification. Wherever there is faith in the blood, there is the enjoyment of perfect peace. The blood of the Lamb and the assuring word of Jehovah, "When I see the blood I will pass over you," were the solid foundations of Israel 's shelter and peace in that awful night of death and judgment. And they are our solid foundations too. We quote helpful words from another.
"While outside the house the blood of atonement spoke to God, to whom it was addressed; inside He provided that which was to satisfy them, and enable them for that path with Him upon which they were now so shortly to go forth. The lamb is theirs to feed upon, and God is bent upon their enjoying this provision of His love. The lamb, too, must all of it be eaten. If the household were too little for the lamb (we read nothing of the lamb being too little for the house), then, says the Lord, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it. God would have Christ apprehended by us. He would have our souls sustained, and He would have Christ honored. We are to eat--to appropriate to ourselves what Christ is; and what we appropriate becomes, in fact, part and parcel of ourselves. This laying hold of Christ by faith makes Christ to be sustenance indeed to us, and Himself to be reproduced in us.
"Death God ordains as the food of life; and it is as sheltered and saved from death that we can feed upon death. It is not merely vanquished and set aside; it is in the cross the sweet and wonderful display of divine power and love in our behalf, accomplished in the mystery of human weakness. Death is become the food of life, and the life is life eternal." (Numerical Bible, Vol. 1, p. 172.)
The eating of the Passover lamb (verses 9-11) is full of meaning. It is the type of feeding upon Christ, occupation with His blessed Person. And that is what we need to keep our feet in the way of peace.
The feast of unleavened bread is mentioned next. Leaven means corruption; it is the type of sin. The lesson of holiness, which God looks for in His redeemed people, is here before us. The old leaven must be purged out. The leaven of malice and wickedness must be put away (1 Cor. 5:6-8). We are delivered from the power of indwelling sin. Saved by grace our calling is to holiness. Spiritually to keep the feast of unleavened bread means to live in the energy of the new nature and that is the walk in the Spirit. The bitter herbs mentioned in verse 8 with the unleavened bread speak of self-denial and self-judgment. The terrible judgment fell that fourteenth day, or between the fourteenth and fifteenth day of Abib. All Jehovah had announced in judgment was literally carried out. There was not a house where there was not one dead. So God will yet put all His predicted judgments for this age into execution and a hardened world will find out the truth of His word.
Then the Exodus took place, and they left with the riches of the Egyptians. The whole experience of Israel in Egypt and their deliverance is typical of their coming final and glorious deliverance.
From Rameses (city of the sun) the city of earthly splendor, they went to Succoth, which means "booths." There pilgrim character is now brought out. The wilderness begins. Redemption by blood makes us pilgrims and strangers, for we are no longer of the world, though we are in it. The mixed multitude came along. They were Egyptians stirred up by the mighty judgment events, which had taken place (Numbers 11:4; Nehemiah 13:3). They became a snare to the Israelites.
A word on verses 40 and 41 will terminate these brief annotations of this remarkable chapter. The 430 years' sojourning does not mean that it was 430 years since Jacob and his sons had come to Egypt . "The selfsame day" means the fifteenth day of the seventh month; it was the day on which Abraham left Ur to go forth in obedience to the divine command.
CHAPTER 13:1-16 The Sanctification of the Firstborn
1. The separation commanded (13:1-2) 2. Remember this day: the memorial (13:3-10) 3. The separation of the firstborn (13:11-16)
The firstborn had been delivered in a special manner in Egypt and because Jehovah had delivered them they were to be sanctified unto Him. There is an inseparable connection between redemption and holiness. What the Lord has redeemed He claims for Himself. Here we have a definition of sanctification; it is separation unto God. But let us notice that salvation out of the house of bondage is the foundation of all. The same order is more fully revealed in the New Testament. In Romans 3-5:11 we read of our salvation corresponding to the type in Exodus 12 and that is followed by the exhortation to holiness, separation unto God (chapter 6). We are saved unto holiness. The blood of atonement has sanctified us unto God. The more we realize this great redemption by blood, the more we shall yield ourselves and our members unto God.
Upon verse 9 and 16 as well as Deut. 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 the Hebrews have built their ordinance of the phylacteries. They use leather strips with Scripture verses contained in a small box. These they put at certain times when they pray upon their hand and forehead. Thus they try to fulfill these words literally. It is only an outward ceremony and corresponds to certain usages in ritualistic Christendom. They were to retain those commandments in their hearts and practise them as well. The ass is especially mentioned. Why? It is an unclean animal and used here to show that unredeemed man is on the same level with the ass and must either be redeemed or die.
6. Redemption by Power
CHAPTER 13:17-22 From Succoth to Etham
1. God's leading (13:17-18) 2. Joseph's bones carried away (13:19) 3. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (13:20-22)
Jehovah now begins to lead His redeemed people forward. God chose their way for them, as He chooses the way for us. He was with His people, therefore He led them in His way. If His people are in His way He is with them and all is well. If we are not in His way He cannot be with us in the fullness of His power. What grace and tenderness is revealed in the fact that the Lord did not permit them to go through the land of the Philistines! They had to learn lessons in God's way, which they could never have learned in the shorter way through the land of the Philistines (Deut. 8:2-4). He wanted them to escape trials and other experiences which might discourage them. Nor were they fitted for the warfare which would have resulted from the journey through the country of the Philistines. He would not suffer to have them tried above that they were able to bear. He deals thus with all His people. "But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It was Moses who took the bones of Joseph with him. They must have rested in a magnificent sarcophagus known to Moses. Joseph's request was not forgotten. It may have been the word which Israel remembered in the house of bondage; they did not lose sight of the fact that redemption had been promised and that Joseph had looked forward to it (Genesis 50:25). "And as the people bore his honored ashes through the desert, these being dead spoke of by-gone times, they linked the past and the present together, they deepened the national consciousness that Israel was a favored people, called to no common destiny, sustained by no common promises, pressing toward no common goal" (Bishop G.A. Chadwick).
The pillar of cloud and of fire was the outward sign of Jehovah's presence with His people. By day and by night He guarded and led His people. The Keeper of Israel does not sleep nor slumber. He journeys along with them. It was but one pillar and Jehovah was present in it (chapter 14:24). The glory of the Lord appeared in that cloud (16:10; 40:34; Numbers 9:15). That glory cloud filled Solomon's temple and was seen retreating and returning to heaven (Ezek. 11:22-25). It will be seen again when the King comes back from heaven's glory and His glory will be established over Jerusalem (Isaiah 4). The sign of the Son of Man may be the Shekinah cloud.
CHAPTER 14 The Pursuit of the Enemy and Redemption by Power
1. The coming of Pharaoh announced (14:1-4) 2. The pursuit and Israel troubled (14:5-12) 3. Moses speaks to the people (14:13-14) 4. The Lord speaks to Moses (14:15-18) 5. The passages through the Red Sea (14:19-22) 6. The Egyptians overthrown (14:23-29) 7. The great work accomplished (14:30-31)
While the marching host of Israel was ignorant of Pharaoh's device and the threatening danger, Jehovah's eye was watching every move the enemy made. He knew what Pharaoh would do and Jehovah had planned how to deliver Israel completely by His power from the Egyptians. That Jehovah might be honored upon Pharaoh and all his host, He told His people to encamp in a place which made their position, from a human standpoint, almost hopeless. They were hemmed in by mountains and the sea was in front of them and behind them the Egyptian host was soon to appear. Only the outlook upward to heaven was unobstructed. From there help had to come. Pharaoh appeared to bring them back into bondage. Then the unbelief of the redeemed people, whom Jehovah had so marvelously led forth, is manifested. Though their lot had been so severe in Egypt and Jehovah's power upon Egypt had been seen in the terrible judgments, yet they regretted that they had left Egypt . It was unbelief. They feared that the God who had taken such pains to deliver them out of Egypt , who had led them out and was visibly present with them, would now abandon them, so that they would die in the wilderness. How many Christians give way again and again to such an unreasonable doubt. "Unbelief leads to interpret God in the presence of the difficulty, instead of interpreting the difficulty in the presence of God. Faith gets behind the difficulty and there finds God in all His faithfulness, love and power."
Verses 13 and 14 are the words to faith. The Lord was now taking up their case and fighting their battles. It was no longer the question of Pharaoh and Israel , but Pharaoh and Jehovah. But notice the words are Moses' words, as given to him by the Spirit of God. After he had spoken them and assured the people that all their enemies were to be wiped out, he began to pray, for the Lord said to him, "wherefore criest thou unto Me?" This is followed by the command to go forward, to stretch out the rod over the sea and the assurance that the sea would be divided so that they should pass through to the other side.
In verse 19 we learn that the Angel of God--that is Jehovah--who went before the camp of Israel , removed and went behind them. Thus the pillar of cloud descended between them and their enemies; they were involved in the deepest darkness, while Israel had light throughout the night. Moses did according to the word of the Lord. The east wind from the Lord caused the sea to go back; a strong wind, which blew all night, divided the sea. Higher criticism has tried to explain this miracle as a natural occurrence, but they overlooked the fact that on the right and on their left the waters were a wall. It was a grave; so to speak; into which Israel passed, when God's power had made the way through it. It was faith which led them through. "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land; which the Egyptians assaying to do, were drowned" (Hebrews 11:29).
When Pharaoh and his army followed to pursue them, Jehovah acted in judgment. "in the morning watch Jehovah looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire." It was not a thunderstorm which confused them, but they saw the Lord in His majesty and the fearful judgment overtook them after Moses had stretched out his hand over the sea. The overthrow of the Egyptians came "when the morning appeared." Not one of them remained, but Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore.
This great deliverance by the power of God has many lessons. It foreshadows the future judgment which is in store for the enemies of Israel , when the Lord "in the morning watch" looks upon them. Greater still are the typical lessons in connection with our redemption "in Christ." The Red Sea is a type of the death of Christ. Deliverance from sin by being dead with Christ is the aspect which the Red Sea passage illustrates. It is the truth so fully brought out in Romans 6, 7 and 8. When Israel had passed through the Red Sea and reached the other side, we have a type of resurrection. Dead with Christ and risen with Him; our old enemy is gone, and we can look upon our enemies as dead. Many pages of annotations could be given in following this story. We must leave the fuller application to our readers. Victory is on our side. Redeemed by blood, God's power is with us, the power of His Spirit, who is given to us of God. We are not asked to fight our enemy, the old man, or to subdue him. God has done this for us in the death of Christ.
7. The Song of Redemption
1. Jehovah acknowledged and praised (15:1-2) 2. The victory celebrated as His victory (15:3-10) 3. His holiness praised (15:11-13) 4. His enemies tremble (15:14-16) 5. Thou shalt bring them in (15:17-18) 6. The judgment and salvation (15:19) 7. The women's chorus (15:20-21)
This is a great chapter. It is the first song in the Bible. In Egypt was no singing for Israel but only weeping and groaning. Nor did they sing in Babylon (Psalm 137:2-4). There is to be a future song for Israel in connection with their coming great deliverance (Isaiah 12). Moses sang this song. It is his first song; his last song is that great prophetic outburst recorded by him in Deut. 32. The song of Moses, the servant of God, is mentioned in Rev. 15:3. This whole song breathes the spirit of praise and worship. The destructive criticism has not left this song unchallenged. They object to it on account of the prophetic utterance in verses 17 and 18, as if this were impossible to say at that time, thus ruling out the inspiration by the Holy Spirit. A closer study of this song will be very profitable. Note the expression "Jehovah is a man of war." This foreshadows His incarnation and His coming as the mighty King, who conquers his enemies (Psalm 45:3; 46:8-9; Isaiah 63:1-7, Revelation 19:11). The whole song is prophetic. What Jehovah has done in the judgment of His enemies and the complete deliverance of His people that He will do again. It is interesting to compare this outburst of praise in which Miriam* (Mary) and the women joined with the song of praise of Hannah (1 Sam 2:1-10), the praise of the mother of our Lord, Mary, in Luke 1:46-55, and Zechariah's words in Luke 1:68-79. The whole atmosphere of Exodus 15:1-21 is that of praise and adoration, joy and victory; such is yet in store for the earth and for Israel , when that goal is reached, of which verse 18 speaks, "Jehovah shall reign forever and ever. (* Miriam is significantly called "Aaron's sister," not Moses'. She could not rank with Moses. Leadership did not belong to her. She was subordinate to Moses, as Aaron was.)
Exodus 12 foreshadows our deliverance from the guilt of sins (Romans 1-5:11). Chapter 13 teaches God's claim on those He has delivered, which is separation unto Himself Chapter 14 tells in type of our deliverance from the power of sin. The song of redemption contained in chapter 15 points us to the beautiful ending of Romans 8, the song which every delivered believer can sing (Romans 8:31-39).
II. THE JOURNEY TOWARDS THE PROMISED LAND AND ISRAEL AT SINAI
1. The Experiences in the Wilderness
CHAPTER 15:22-27 In the Wilderness of Shur
1. Marah (15:22-26) 2. Elim (15:27)
They went out into the wilderness of Shur. Shur was a great wall of protection which Egypt had erected. The surrounding country was called by that name. The trials of the wilderness journey at once begin; typical of our passage as redeemed ones through this world. Redemption has for a consequence the wilderness. We are in Christ crucified unto the world and the world unto us. The bitter waters are the first wilderness experience of the nation. It is a hint of what their subsequent history would be. Naomi in the book of Ruth called herself "Mara." "Marah," the bitterness, is the perfect picture of the world under sin and death. Then came the first wilderness murmuring. Six more are reported in Exodus and Numbers: Exodus 16:2; 17:2, 3; Numbers 11:33, 34; 14:2; 16:41; 21:5. God had a remedy. The tree is typical of the cross. The tree was not discovered by Moses, but by Jehovah. Christ went into the deep, dark waters of death; by Him the waters were made sweet for those who believe on Him. Now the bitterness of death is passed, and if we find the bitterness in the world through which we pass as pilgrims and strangers and we follow the path which He went while in the world, then murmuring will be forever excluded if the heart sees Christ and following in His steps, looks upon every bitter experience as the fellowship of His sufferings. Compare the tree for healing with Rev. 22:2.
In verse 26 Jehovah speaks of Himself as "Jehovah Ropheka," the Lord thy Healer. The bitter waters showed them that they needed Jehovah in the wilderness as much as they needed Him in their deliverance from Egypt and Pharaoh's power. And now He offers Himself as their healer. He takes gracious care of His people while they follow Him in the path of obedience. Some have pressed this promise to such an extent that they say sickness in a Christian is the result of direct disobedience; a Christian has no need of being sick, etc. This is wrong, and has led into theories which are far from sane and scriptural.
Marah is followed by Elim with its twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. A beautiful oasis in the desert, giving them a foretaste of Canaan . What a place of refreshing and peace it must have been. So in our experience many a Marah is followed by an Elim, as the cross is followed by the crown. Elim means "trees," and they must have been of luxuriant growth, planted by the wells of waters. So Israel after their Marah experience, when Jehovah has forgiven their sins and healed all their diseases, in the day of their future blessing and glory, will be like trees planted at the water brooks and will draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3).
CHAPTER 16 In the Wilderness of Sin
1. The renewed murmuring (16:1-3) 2. The bread from heaven promised (16:4-10) 3. The promise fulfilled and the quails and bread given (16:11-14) 4. Instructions concerning the gathering (16:16-18) 5. The manna corrupted (16:19-21) 6. The manna and the Sabbath (16:22-31) 7. The manna kept for a memorial (16:32-36)
After they removed from Elim, they encamped by the Red Sea (Numbers 33:10). They came into the wilderness of sin. The Hebrew word means "thorn," the bush in which Jehovah had appeared to Moses in the Hebrew is "Sineh," a thornbush. The second murmuring takes place. This gives a deep glimpse into the desperately wicked condition of the human heart. God had brought them out of the house of bondage; they wished themselves back. God had sheltered them beneath the blood; they wished the judgment might have carried them away. They were ready to leave the ground of redemption, guided by Jehovah, and turn back to Pharaoh to become slaves once more. What infinite patience and grace the Lord manifested toward them. All this is repeated in the lives of many believers. It need not to be so and it will not, if Christ and the redemption we have in Him as well as our glorious inheritance which is before us, is a reality in our lives.
Heaven offers now to minister to the daily need of such a people. The glory of the Lord was seen again out of the cloud (verse 7, 10). The bread from Heaven was given. It is described as small in size, round, white like coriander seed, like wafers made with honey and hard. Rationalists have tried to explain the giving of this bread in a natural way. In a certain part of the desert is found a tree from which exudes at certain times an eatable gum and falls to the ground in the form of small cakes; this, it is claimed, explains the manna. But they do not explain how it is that the Israelites received the manna in every part of the desert, that they received it in such immense quantities that the hundred thousands were fed by it and it lasted for forty years. It ceased as miraculously as it was given (Josh. 5:12). The word "manna" is from the Hebrew "Man-hu," the question, "What is that?" It is designated as the bread from heaven (Psalm 78:24; 105:40). Our Lord speaks of it as the bread from heaven in John 6, a chapter which is of importance in connection with the typical meaning of the manna. But quails were given first and in the morning dew, and after it arose, the manna. The quails and the manna are both the types of Christ, the food for God's people. The dew after which the manna is seen, speaks of the Holy Spirit, who ministers Christ. Each gathered the bread which had come down according to his eating. Each got what he wanted, and not more. So Christ meets the need we have of Him if only our need of Him were greater and felt more.
It could not be hoarded up, but had to be gathered every morning. We must feed on Christ daily in living faith. Yesterday's experience and enjoyment cannot feed us today. We must gather afresh, and let the dew, the Holy Spirit, minister to our hearts. Many live on past experiences, and become puffed up. Stagnation and corruption follow. The Sabbath is mentioned in connection with the manna and it is the first time that the Sabbath for Israel as a nation is spoken of. To feed on Christ, the bread from heaven, means rest for the soul. The keeping of the manna in the golden pot (Hebrews 9:4) tells us of what our Lord said concerning the bread from heaven, "He that eateth of this bread shall live forever." The true manna endureth to eternal life and we shall eat in His own presence in glory "the hidden manna" (Revelation 2:17).
CHAPTER 17 At Rephidim
1. The water from the rock (17:1-7) 2. The conflict with Amalek (17:8-16)
From Sin they went to Dophkah and Alush before they came to Rephidim (Numbers 33:12, 13). Again there was no water and Moses feared they might stone him. Without following the historical record we point out some of the most interesting lessons of the two events at Rephidim. The Rock is a type of Christ. Jehovah stood upon the rock to be smitten, even as "God was in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:19). The smiting by the rod, used in judgment upon the river of Egypt , is the type of the death of Christ. There could be no water till the rock was smitten. There could be no water till Christ had died. The water from the cleft rock is the type of the Holy Spirit, who was given as the result of the finished work of Christ. Exodus 16 and 17 go together and John 6 and 7 go together likewise. In Exodus 16 we find the manna and in John 6 the bread of life. In Exodus 17 the water out of the rock, the type of the Holy Spirit; in John 7 the Lord Jesus announces the coming gift of the Holy Spirit. "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39). "They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4).
The first conflict followed. There was no conflict at the Red Sea , but immediately after the water had been given in such wonderful abundance, Amalek appeared. Amalek is the type of the flesh. The conflict illustrates Galatians 5:17. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary, the one to the other, so that ye should not do the things ye would." The flesh and its lusts, which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11), are represented by Amalek. And Amalek attacked Israel , and Israel , Amalek. The attack was made when Israel in unbelief had asked, "Is the Lord among us or not?" Even so, when God's people do not reckon in faith with the presence and the power of the Lord the flesh rises up; but if we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Joshua is here mentioned for the first time. He was twenty-seven years younger than Moses, that is fifty-three years. He is the type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation. Moses, on top of the hill, represents Christ risen from the dead and at God's right hand, to appear in the presence of God for us as our advocate. Aaron and Hur at Moses' side typify His priesthood of loving sympathy and His righteousness. ("Hur" means "white," the color used for righteousness.) But the hands of Christ never hang down. He ever liveth and intercedes for US.
Amalek is not destroyed and the flesh is not. Amalek's end comes when Christ comes (see Numbers 24:17-20). The conflict with Amalek, the flesh, continues as long as we are in the body.
In verse 14 we have the first command to Moses to write. Not so long ago critics claimed that writing at Moses' time was unknown. The tablets of Lachish and Tel-el-Amarna have silenced this foolish assertion. The memorial altar, "Jehovah Nissi," the Lord is my banner, tells us of victory. "The assurance of victory should be as complete as the sense of forgiveness, seeing both alike are founded upon the great fact that Jesus died and rose again. It is in the power of this that the believer enjoys a purged conscience and subdues indwelling sin. The death of Christ having answered all the claims of God in reference to our sins, His resurrection becomes the spring of power in all the details of conflict afterwards. He died for us, and now He lives in us. The former gives us peace, the latter gives us power."
CHAPTER 18 Moses and Jethro
1. The coming of Jethro (18:1-5) 2. Moses' and Jethro's communion (18:6-12) 3. Jethro's advice (18:13-23) 4. Moses' action (18:24-27)
This chapter concludes the first section of the second part of Exodus. We have in it a beautiful dispensational foreshadowing of things to come. God had redeemed Israel , delivered them from Pharaoh's host, manifested His power and had given them victory. The priest of Midian, a Gentile, now comes, having heard all that Jehovah had done for Moses and for Israel , his people. Zipporah, Moses' wife, and his two sons are with him. What a happy reunion. And there was praise unto Jehovah from the lips of the Gentile as well as burnt offering and sacrifices for God. It foreshadows what will take place when Israel is finally restored and delivered. Then the Gentiles will come and "many nations shall be joined unto the Lord in that day" (Zech. 2:11). Read Jeremiah 16:14-21. First Jehovah's power in the restoration of His scattered people is mentioned; then the coming of the Gentiles is announced. "The Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth."
Moses judging, and the faithful men, fearing God, judging with him, may well remind us of that day, when He who is greater than Moses will judge the earth in righteousness. Then we shall have share with Him. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2).
what grace is and grace has done and will do is the most beautiful and precious revelation of Exodus up to the end of the eighteenth chapter. Jehovah took notice of the poor slaves. He heard their cry. He sent them a deliverer. He smote Egypt with great tribulation and judgment. He sheltered His people under the blood. He led them forth as His redeemed people. Their enemies perished through His power and He brought them through the Red Sea . He gave them bread from heaven and water out of the rock. Victory was on their side and the glory of His name extended to the Gentiles. But over our brief and imperfect annotations we have to write, "Not the half has been told."
2. At Sinai: The Covenant and the Law
CHAPTER 19 Israel at Sinai and the Covenant
1. Israel before Mount Sinai (19:1-2) 2. The covenant and calling of Israel stated (19:3-6) 3. The covenant accepted (19:7-15) 4. The glory of the Lord at Sinai (19:16-25)
Sinai is mentioned 31 times in the Pentateuch and only three times more in the rest of the Old Testament. In the New Testament the word occurs only in Acts 7:30, 38 and Gal. 4:24, 25. The place where the law was given is a barren wilderness of high towering rocks. Moses went up to God and Jehovah reminded the people first of all of His gracious dealing with them. Then He revealed His purposes concerning them as a nation. They were to be His peculiar treasure above all people and to be unto Him a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. This purpose is founded upon a theocracy, that is, He Himself would reign over them as King. For this He must ask obedience from them. How else could they be a kingdom of priests and a separated people, unless they harkened to His voice, and kept His covenant? But it is still the purpose of grace. Jehovah in His grace would make all this possible if they had received it. The law which followed, with its principle, obedience, as the place of blessing, never led to the realization of Israel 's calling, nor ever will. When at least Israel becomes the kingdom of priests, it will be through grace and not of works.
It was a fatal thing, which all the people did when they answered together, "all that the Lord hath spoken we will do." It was a presumptuous declaration, which sprang from self-confidence and showed clearly that they had no appreciation for that grace which had visited them in Egypt and brought them hitherto. They had received grace, they needed grace. With the vow they had made, they had put themselves under the law. The legal covenant had its beginning with the rejection of the covenant of grace, and the legal covenant ends with the acceptance of grace. God permitted all this for a wise purpose. For what the law serves, why it was given, is fully answered in the New Testament (See Romans 7 and Galatians 3). In this we cannot enter here.
At once the scene changes. The character of the law they had chosen and its ministration unto death is manifested in the outward phenomena of clouds and darkness and in the first mention of death since they had left Egypt . "Whosoever toucheth the mount shall surely be put to death." On the third day the glory of the Lord appeared. The thunderings, lightnings, the trumpet, the trembling of the mountain, the voice of God, which accompany the manifestation of Jehovah, may be traced throughout the Bible. All this will be repeated in His glorious second coming. (Deut. 33:1-3; 1 Sam. 2:10; Psalm 18:7-16; Heb. 3; Rev. 10:4, etc.)
CHAPTER 20 The Covenant Revealed
1. The Ten Commandments (20:1-17) 2. Jehovah's gracious provision (20:18-26)
This law covenant is now stated. It was given three times. First orally here, when God spake all these words. Then in Exodus 31 Moses received the tables of stone, "written with the finger of God," the same finger which later wrote on earth in the sand (John 8). The first tables were broken and Moses was commanded to hew two tables of stone upon which Jehovah again wrote the Ten Commandments (Ex. 34:1). This law was given to Israel exclusively, which is seen in the opening word. The voice of God spoke these words so that the people heard Him speak. In what sense the law was given by the ministration of angels (Acts 7:53; Gal, 3:19, Heb. 2:2) is not revealed here. Our Lord has divided the Ten Commandments into two sections. The first three go together and speak of duties towards God and the seven which follow of duties towards our fellowmen. And He who gave this law expounded the law and filled it full when He appeared on earth in humiliation. And after He lived that holy life on earth He went to the cross and the curse of the law rested upon Him (Gal. 3:13). The law given in these commandments shows man's condition. Most of the commandments are negative, "thou shalt not." It is a prohibition of the will and natural tendency of man. Man is a sinner, and the law was given to make a full demonstration of it. Read Rom. 5:12-14, 20; 7:6-13; Gal. 3:19-29. May we fully understand that this law cannot give righteousness nor life and that it is not in force as the rule for the Christian in order to receive blessing from God. We are not under that law but under grace. But grace teaches us to live righteously, soberly and godly in this present evil age. The righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us, who walk according to the Spirit.
The altar is mentioned and in the sacrifice we behold Christ. "But further, God will meet the sinner at an altar without a hewn stone or a step--a place of worship which requires no human workmanship to erect, or human effort to approach. The former could only pollute, and the latter could only display human 'nakedness.' Admirable type of the meeting place where God meets the sinner now, even the Person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ, where all the claims of law, of justice, and of conscience are perfectly answered! Man has, in every age and in every clime, been prone, in one way or another, to 'lift up his tool' in the erection of his altar, or to approach thereto by steps of his own making; but the issue of all such attempts has been 'pollution' and 'nakedness.'" (C.H. Mackintosh, Notes on Exodus.)
CHAPTER 21 Different Judgments
1. Master and servant (21:1-11) 2. Concerning injury to the person (21:12-32) 3. Concerning property (21:33-36)
The Three Chapters which follow the giving of the Ten Commandments give the practical application of the Decalogue in the daily life. The duties towards the fellowman are demonstrated in part. There are seven sections to these three chapters; each section contains ten precepts.
The servant occupies the first place. He was to obtain his freedom for nothing after serving six years. In Deuteronomy we read that the master is commanded not to let him go empty-handed, but give him of his flock, his threshing floor and his winepress. In this Israel was to remember their own deliverance from the house of bondage (Deut. 15:12-18). If the servant chose to remain with his master forever, his ear was to be bored through as the sign of perpetual servitude. This was a custom in other nations as well and signified that the servant was, as it were, fastened by the awl to the house (Deut. 15:17).
The Hebrew servant is put so prominently in the foreground because the Son of God became a servant and has chosen the perpetual service. Psalm 40:6 and Hebrews 10:5 show that it is typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what it says in our chapter: "And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free." It was love which decided the Hebrew servant to be a servant forever. And it was love which brought Him to this earth to do the Father's will, and love for the church. "He loved the church and gave Himself for it." And He loves us as individuals. This corresponds to the love of the servant to his wife and his children. Christ was a servant on earth; He is serving in glory now as the priest and advocate of His people, and in glory "He will gird Himself ... and will come forth and serve them" (Luke 12:37).
This is followed by judgments concerning the injury of a person. Injury of a person had to be punished in a manner corresponding to the injury. The principle of retribution is marked throughout these laws. Smiting father or mother, man-stealing, and cursing the parents was punishable with death. Many pages might be written to follow these laws in detail. Read verses 23-27, and compare with Matthew 5:38-48.
Notice again the mention of the servant in verse 32. The price of a servant was thirty shekels of silver. The redemption price of a free Israelite was fifty shekels (Lev. 27:3); that of a slave, thirty shekels. How it reminds us again of Him who was sold for thirty pieces of silver (Deut. 11:12).
CHAPTER 22 Further judgments
1. Concerning theft (22:1-5) 2. Concerning neglect in case of fire (22:6) 3. Concerning dishonesty (22:7-15) 4. Concerning immoralities and forbidden things (22:16-20) 5. Concerning oppression (22:21-28) 6. Concerning offerings to God (22:29-31)
These laws need no further comment; they are good and just. The wisdom of them is the wisdom from above. We call attention to verse 18: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." The nations with which Israel came in contact were given to the most satanic cults and the powers of Satan were manifested among them. Demoniacal possessions abounded, and witchcraft, sorceries, asking the dead, and other abominations were practised. Witchcraft and sorceries, communicating with the wicked spirits is therefore more than a possibility. It can be traced throughout the history of the human race and whenever nations ripened for judgment this form of evil became prominent. The female sex was then, as it is still the case, principally addicted to this sin. In our day it flourishes in spiritualism, Christian Science, theosophy, and other cults.
CHAPTER 23 Further Judgments and Directions
1. Concerning unrighteous dealings of various kinds (23:1-9) 2. Concerning the seventh year (23:10-13) 3. Concerning the three feasts (23:14-19) 4. Promises concerning the possession of the land (23:20-33)
We call attention to the words concerning the seventh year. The seventh day was the day of rest. The seventh year was to give the land rest; it was to rest and lie still. Besides this there was the jubilee year, which occurred every seven times seven years, that is, the fiftieth year was the year of jubilee, in which liberty was proclaimed. We hope to examine this more closely and learn its typical and prophetic significance when we read the book of Leviticus (chapter 25). The seventh year was especially meant for the poor. Whatever grew by itself belonged to them, and what they left the beasts of the field were to eat. What gracious provision this was! How merciful and gracious our God is!
The three feasts are next mentioned. The connection with verse 13 is obvious. It is a warning concerning other gods. The feasts were designed to keep Jehovah, His power and His grace, as a living reality before the nation. The three feasts are: The feast of unleavened bread in memory of the exodus; the feast of the first fruits, also called the feast of weeks, because it came seven weeks after the feast of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:15-16; Deut. 16:9), and still another name is "the feast of the first fruits of the wheat harvest." It was now known by the name of Shavuoth. The third feast came on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Lev 23:34), and is the feast of ingathering, known as Succoth, the feast of tabernacles. Of all this we shall learn more in Leviticus. The last clause of verse 19 has led to ridiculous speculations among the rabbis. It is looked upon by the Jews as a prohibition against eating flesh prepared with milk (see Deuteronomy 14:21).
We must not overlook in our study verses 20-23. Who is this angel? He is called in chapter 33:15, "the face of Jehovah" (literal translation). The name of God is in Him; God revealed Himself in Him. His voice must be obeyed. He has power to pardon transgressions or not to pardon them. This angel is not a created being, but the same who appeared in the burning bush; the same of whom Jacob said, "The angel, the Redeemer." It is Jehovah Himself, the Son of God. The ancient synagogue paraphrased this person by using the expression "Memra," which means "the Word." They have believed and taught that "the Word" brought Israel out of Egypt ; "the Word" led them in the pillar of a cloud; "the Word" confounded the Egyptian host. And they paraphrased "the angel" by "the Word."
CHAPTER 24 The Ratification of the Covenant and the Glory of Jehovah
1. Moses called into Jehovah's presence (24:1-2) 2. The covenant ratified and the sprinkling with blood (24:3-8) 3. in the presence of God and Jehovah's glory (24:9-18)
This chapter is a fitting conclusion of this second section of the second part. It begins with the giving of the law and ends with the glory of the Lord. Moses alone was to come near to Jehovah; Aaron, Nadab and Abihu with the seventy elders of Israel , had to worship afar. Moses is a type of Christ in his exclusive privilege and attitude. Twice the people make the promise to keep the covenant, not realizing what they were doing. Then the blood was sprinkled upon the altar, upon the book of the covenant (Heb. 9:19), and on the people. In this way the covenant was ratified. This sprinkling of the blood here has not the meaning of atonement. It rather stands for the penalty of the broken covenant. The blood standing for life given, was a solemn warning that the penalty of disobedience would be death. At the same time the offerings and the blood point to Christ. He came and took the curse of the law upon Himself When He came to give His life a ransom for many, the people, so occupied with the ordinances, the law and the traditions of men, cried, "This blood be upon us and upon our children." Ever since blood-guiltiness rests upon them and the curse of their own law is their portion till they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced.
The people were afar off, the leaders were not to come nigh, and had to worship afar off. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, makes nigh and we can draw nigh. The legal covenant ever puts man into a solemn and guilty distance from God; the covenant of Grace brings man nigh to God. The presence and glory of God appeared. Moses was on the mount forty days and forty nights.
3. The Tabernacle and the Priesthood
CHAPTER 25 The Tabernacle
1. The freewill offering and the materials (25:1-9) 2. The ark (25:10-22) 3. The table of showbread (25:23-30) 4. The golden candlestick (25:31-40)
This is another intensely interesting portion of this great book. To give a few annotations and hints on the tabernacle is an extremely difficult task, for there is such a wonderful mine of wealth here that a book of hundreds of pages could not contain all.
The tabernacle concerning which the Lord instructed Moses was the earthly place of worship of Israel; it was the means of a continued relationship of a holy God with a sinful people. But besides this the tabernacle and its worship foreshadow in the completest way the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The epistle to the Hebrews bears witness to this. The types in the tabernacle are simply inexhaustible. The word "tabernacle" in the Hebrew is mishkan, which means dwelling-place. The construction and arrangement were not left to man. God gave Moses the instructions and showed to him a pattern.
The materials are mentioned first, and they are to be supplied by His willing people. The Hebrew expression is literally, "every one whom his heart drove." Only His people, not strangers, could furnish the material. And they had to give with the heart. The same principle holds good in the New Testament. The support of the Lord's work by unsaved people and the methods of the world are wrong; they have not the blessing of God. We do not touch upon the materials now, but shall do so later.
The ark of shittim wood is the first thing mentioned. Man builds differently. Man lays first a foundation, builds the walls, works from the outside to the inside. God begins within. The ark with the mercy seat is where Jehovah dwelt, "between the Cherubim." It is, therefore, a type of Christ. The shittim wood, that is, acacia, grows in the desert, out of a dry ground (Is. 53:2). It is of all the wood the most durable, almost imperishable. We have in it the type of the humanity of Christ. The gold which covered it is typical of His deity. The mercy seat fitted the ark. It was of the same dimensions as the ark. The Hebrew word is kapporeth, which means covering, and has reference to atonement. The two cherubim faced each other and looked down upon the mercy seat, where the blood was sprinkled. They are always seen in the Word in connection with the throne (Ezek. 1; Rev. 4). Beautiful is verse 22.
The table of Showbread still tells us of Christ, for it is of the same material as the ark. What was on the table, the showbread and all its blessed lessons we shall consider in Leviticus. The table and the bread are typical of Christ, who sustains us in fellowship with God.
The golden candlestick is the next article of furniture described. It was of pure gold. Three times almonds are mentioned. From the book of Numbers we learn that the almond, on the blossoming rod of Aaron, is the type of Christ in resurrection. The candlestick typifies Christ in heaven's glory, outshining the glory of God. It also is the type of Him, risen from the dead, giving the Holy Spirit, who is seen as the sevenfold Spirit in the candlestick. See and compare with Rev. 1:4, 13, 20; 3:1 and 4:5.
CHAPTER 26 The Tabernacle and its Construction
1. The curtains (26:1-6) 2. The coverings (26:7-14) 3. The boards (26:15-30) 4. The vail (26:31-35) 5. The hangings for the door (26:36-37)
While the tabernacle is a type of the heavenly places (Heb. 9:23) it is also a type of Christ, who tabernacled among men. The wonderful foreshadowings we find here down to the minutest details is an evidence of inspiration. We must confine ourselves to a very few things.
The colors used were blue, purple, scarlet and white. Blue is the color of heaven, purple that of royalty, scarlet the color of blood, and the white tells of righteousness. The ten curtains of fine twined linen which surrounded the tabernacle typify the holy, spotless humanity of our Lord. How the colors tell out the blessed story of the gospel, that heaven's King came down to shed His blood, we need not to follow in detail. The loops of blue and taches of gold which unite the curtains tell of Him likewise.
"We have here displayed to us, in the 'loops of blue,' and 'taches of gold,' that heavenly grace and divine energy in Christ which enabled Him to combine and perfectly adjust the claims of God and man; so that in responding to both the one and the other, He never for a moment marred the unity of His character."
The curtains of goats' hair were to be a tent over the tabernacle and the tent had other coverings of rams' skins, dyed red, and covering of badgers' skin. These coverings hid the ten curtains of the fine twined linen, and their beauty. Thus He was not beheld in His lovely character when on earth. The goats' hair covering reminds us of the divine statement, "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Is. 53:2). The rams' skins, dyed red, are the symbol of His devotion and obedience to God, even unto the death of the cross. The badgers' skins are taken to mean His holy determination and steadfastness.
Christ and his people are typified in the board of shittim wood (the same as in the ark and the table) resting in the sockets of silver. The silver was the ransom money (chapter 30:11-13), out of it the sockets were made (chapter 38:25-28). The whole frame work of the tabernacle rested in that which tells of atonement. Thus we stand in Christ and we are one with Him, separated from the world as the boards were separated from the earthly sockets of silver. And as we look upon this frame work, with the bars of shittim wood uniting the boards (typical of Christ) we may well think of Eph. 2:21: "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord."
The vail as described in verses 31-35 is interpreted in Heb. 10:2. It marked the division of the holy and the most holy, or Holy of Holies. Like the inner curtains this vail typifies the holy humanity of our Lord. That vail barred the entrance into the presence of God. But it was rent by the hand of God, when our Lord had laid down His life on the cross. Christ is the way into the presence of God, "by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, His flesh." Therefore we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. The hanging for the door of the tent has the same meaning, Christ the way.
CHAPTER 27 The Tabernacle Concluded
1. The altar of brass (27:1-8) 2. The court of the tabernacle (27:9-19) 3. The oil for the lamp (27:20-21)
The brazen altar stood at the door of the tabernacle. Later we find in this book the golden altar of incense mentioned. It stood between the golden candlestick and the brazen altar. This altar was likewise of shittim wood. Instead of gold, here was brass, because the altar is the type of the cross where Christ met the burning heat of divine justice. Upon this altar the burnt offering was brought and wholly consumed, speaking of Him who knew no sin and was made sin for us. The altar was hollow, the sacrificial fires burned mostly within. This tells of His work on the cross and the sufferings "within," when He was forsaken of God; they are for us unfathomable. The horns on the four corners of the altar indicated that His great work on the cross should go forth in world wide proclamation.
The court of the tabernacle had for a wall fine twined linen. This was symbolical of the righteousness of God. This excludes the sinner from His presence. But there was a gate (verse 16) in which the colors reappeared. Blue, purple and scarlet were seen there. The gate typifies Christ. If an Israelite entered through that gate in the linen wall, which shut him Out, he found, after entering in, that the same fine twined linen shut him in. Even so, if we enter in through the one door, Christ, the righteousness of God which condemned us, covers us. There were also hooks and fillets of silver and sockets of brass, telling once more the story of atonement and divine righteousness executed in judgment.
CHAPTER 28 The Priesthood
1. Aaron and his sons (28:1) 2. The garments mentioned (28:2-4) 3. The ephod (28:5-14) 4. The breastplate (28:15-30) 5. The robe of the ephod (28:31-35) 6. The mitre (28:35-38) 7. The ordinary garments (28:39-43)
This chapter is still richer in typical lessons, a very few of them we can notice. Two chapters are devoted to the priesthood. Aaron is the type of Christ. The sons of Aaron are types of Christians representing false worshippers (Nadab and Abihu) and true worshippers (Eleazar and Ithamar.) The holy garments are mentioned first, but not in the order as they were put on. The correct order is found in Leviticus 8:7-9. The garments were for glory and beauty, typifying Him who is altogether lovely. The ephod stands first. Ephod in Hebrew means "to bind on"; it held the breastplate in position. It was of gold, blue, purple, of scarlet, fine twined linen, with cunning work. How beautifully it was wrought we read in Exodus 39:3. The same material as in the curtains was used in the ephod; gold is added and the figures of the cherubim are absent. It all tells us of Himself and His priestly service in behalf of His people. The two onyx stones Aaron wore on his shoulders with the names of the twelve tribes engraven, are the type of Christ, carrying His people upon His shoulders. The shoulder is the symbol of power. From the moment He puts His sheep He has found upon His shoulder (Luke 15:5) to the blessed day, when He gathers His own, He carries them in His power.
Read verse 11 how these names were put into the stones. They were ineffaceable and could not be blotted out. It speaks of our security in Christ. The breastplate consisted of twelve stones. Every one of these stones has a meaning, which we cannot follow here, and the names of the twelve tribes were engraved upon these precious stones. The breastplate was "upon his heart when he goeth in unto the holy place." The words "upon his heart" are twice repeated in verse 30. Here we have the blessed type that Christ carries all His people upon His heart of love. That the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod (verses 26-28) blue lace was attached. There was no possibility that the breastplate could shift; there is no possibility that His love for His own can ever grow less. His power and His love go together. In the breastplate there were also placed "Urim and Thummim," which means "lights and perfections." Seven times they are mentioned: Ex. 28:30; Lev. 8:8; Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; 1 Sam. 28:6; Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65. In two of these passages only Urim is mentioned and in Deut. 33:8 Thummim stands first. It is not certain in what the Urim and Thummim consisted. Some think they were two costly stones drawn as a lot in difficult questions. Others think it was one stone which by various scintillations gave an answer from the Lord. Israel did not need to be in darkness about any matter. We possess as believers a gift in us to guide and direct our steps; it is the Holy Spirit. He is our Urim and Thummim. The robe of the ephod was entirely blue. Christ is our heavenly highpriest. Bells and pomegranates, the types of testimony and fruit, were around the robe. "His sound shall be heard when he goeth in." That happened when He as a priest went in to God and Holy Spirit came and the gospel bells began to ring. And fruit in the conversion of souls ever followed. The bells also rang when Aaron came out from the presence of God. Even so when our Lord comes again a fresh testimony in power will be heard yielding wonderful fruit.
The "holy crown" Aaron wore is equally suggestive. "Holiness unto the Lord" was on the golden plate. So He is our holy Priest and we are holy priests with Him. Read Zech. 14:20, 21.
CHAPTER 29 The Consecration of the Priests
1. Aaron and his sons wash with water (29:1-4) 2. Aaron clothed (29:5-7) 3. The consecration (29:8-25) 4. The food of the priests (29:26-35) 5. God's meeting place (29:36-46)
In Leviticus we find the record of their consecration, which is linked there with the offerings. Here it is only the instruction, while in Leviticus we find the act of the consecration. We touch upon it briefly; in Leviticus, we shall follow it a little closer. First they were washed with water. This is the type of the washing of regeneration. It stands for the new birth, which is by the water (the Word) and the Spirit (John 3:5). It is the one washing of which our Lord spoke to Peter (John 13:10). This puts all believers into the position of priests before God; we are a holy priesthood. But Aaron towers above his sons; we see him separated from them (verses 5-7). This is on account of typifying Christ. Aaron was washed with water like his sons because he was a sinner. It made him typically what Christ is essentially, that is, holy. The sons of Aaron represent Christians; all true believers are one with Christ as Aaron's sons were. But Aaron was anointed alone before the blood was shed, besides wearing already his priestly garments. In this he is a very striking type of our Lord. He was anointed with the oil, the Holy Spirit, in virtue of what He is in Himself.
Notice the sacrifices brought. First, Aaron and his sons put their hands upon the head of the bullock, which was then slain. The blood was put upon the horns of the altar, and then all the blood was poured at the base of the altar. It was a sin offering. Then there were two rams. The first one was for a burnt offering. The significance of these different offerings we shall examine in the book of Leviticus. The blood of the second ram was put upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot of Aaron and his sons. The ram was killed after they had laid their hands upon his head. Then the blood and the anointing oil was sprinkled upon them and their garments. This was the consecration proper. It tells us how they were set apart completely. Thus in redemption we are set apart to be a holy priesthood, to have our ears open to hear His voice and receive from Him, the hand set apart to act for Him, and the foot to walk with Him. In all this we see Christ and ourselves linked by grace with Him, as Aaron's sons were so fully identified with Aaron.
Then there was the wave offering put into the hands of Aaron and his sons, and what this wave offering was is learned from verses 22, 23. It all expresses Christ, and is a sweet savor. The breast and the left shoulder of the ram of consecration (verse 22), as well as all else which had not been offered to God, belonged to the priests. This tells of practical enjoyment of the love of Christ (the breast) and the enjoyment of His strength (the shoulder) who bears us up. It was eaten in the holy place, and the unleavened bread had to be used.
In verse 33 we find the English word "atonement" for the first time. The Hebrew word is kaphar, to cover. Of this likewise we shall have more to say when we read the book of Leviticus.
In the concluding section of this chapter we read God's promises, "where I will meet you and speak there unto thee;" "I will meet with the children of Israel ;" "I will dwell among the children of Israel ." The meeting place is the burnt offering altar. The daily offerings make known what the work of Christ is to God. And that is the place of the blessing.
CHAPTER 30 The Altar of Incense and the Worshippers
1. The altar (30:1-10) 2. The atonement money (30:11-16) 3. The brazen laver and the unction of the Spirit (30:22-33) 4. The incense (30:34-38)
This is a beautiful chapter, filled with blessed lessons. We have before us instructions concerning true, priestly worship. The brazen altar was of shittim wood, but this altar is of shittim wood covered with pure gold. The altar of brass tells of the work of Christ on the cross when judgment fell upon Him. There we learn in faith that our sins and guilt were fully met. The golden altar typifies Christ as entered into heaven. He is an altar there likewise, a place of sacrifice, but not a bleeding sacrifice. As believers we are a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5). "By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips confessing His name." The altar of incense stands for this true, heavenly worship. There is a warning not to offer strange incense. In Leviticus (10:1-3) the additional warning is against strange fire. Strange incense is that kind of worship which is called ritualistic; a mere outward form, which puts a man in the place of leader in worship. Strange fire is a soulical, emotional worship, which is destitute of the Holy Spirit, who alone gives power to worship.
And those who come as true worshippers must be redeemed. This is seen in verses 11-16. Here is a confession of the fact that all are lost, all on equal footing, and all need redemption.
The brazen laver is mentioned next. This was for the washing of the hands and feet, symbolical of the washing of water by the Word, the cleansing from daily defilement. This is so blessedly illustrated in the washing of the feet of the disciples by our Lord. We must be cleansed, self-judged and self-denied, separated from evil, if we are to be true worshippers before the altar of incense. No real communion with God is possible save on the ground of personal holiness. Later we shall find that the laver was made of the looking-glasses of the assembling women (38:8). The Word of God is the true looking-glass where we see ourselves as we are, and then go to Him who is our laver for cleansing.
The holy anointing oil is the type of the Holy Spirit. He is needed for worship in the Spirit. A closer examination of the principal spices and their possible meaning, we must pass over. Notice that this oil was not to be poured upon man's flesh, "neither shall ye make any other like it" (verses 32-33). "The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The flesh is so corrupt that the Holy Spirit can have nothing to do with it. And how much the Spirit and His real work is counterfeited in these days.
The ingredients of the incense are also given. It is typical of the wonderful fragrance Christ is to God. His life on earth, His obedience, His death on the cross, His presence in Glory, all He is and all He does are of unspeakable fragrance and value to God.
CHAPTER 31 The Workmen and the Sabbath
1. The workmen called (31:1-11) 2. The Sabbath law emphasized (31:12-17) 3. Moses receives the tables of stone (31:18)
The call of the builders of the tabernacle follows the instructions. The plan and worship of the tabernacle was by divine appointment, only God could give such a plan foreshadowing the redemption work of His Son. To carry out this plan, the Lord called His own workmen by name and filled them with His Spirit, so that they could do the work in a manner which would please Him. "I have called; I have given; I have filled" are the words of Jehovah showing that He selected and qualified the two men to undertake the work. The New Testament ministry rests equally in the hands of the Lord. He has the exclusive right to select His servants for the ministry. As the risen Lord in Glory He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12). And whom He calls into the work of the ministry He also qualifies. His Spirit gives the wisdom and power to carry out the work into which the Lord calls. It is therefore all of Him; no room for boasting or jealousy.
What confusion would have resulted if certain Israelites had decided to do part of the work and others, calling themselves "superintendents," had directed the construction of the tabernacle, or a committee selected the design of the breastplate and another committee examined drawings of the cherubim. Great is the confusion in the professing church with its man-made, self appointed ministry, with its organizations, committees and worldly methods. The truth so clearly revealed in the New Testament epistles concerning the ministry in the body of Christ and the Holy Spirit who fits for this ministry, is almost entirely forgotten. But wherever there is the divine call and divine qualification through the Spirit of God, there the work is done and is accompanied by the power and blessing of God.
The principal workman called was Bezaleel, the grandson of Hur of the tribe of Judah . He had an assistant in Aholiab, as well as others who were wisehearted and to whom God gave wisdom (verse 6). Bezaleel means, "in the shadow of God"; this tells of his trust, filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom and understanding. He may well be taken as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Uri means "Light of Jehovah"; and Hur means "white." All these words point clearly to the great workman selected by God to fashion a dwelling place for Him and to make a kingdom of priests unto God, the Lord Jesus Christ. And as Bezaleel did all as God commanded so that He was pleased, so our Lord has done the work in perfect wisdom to the eternal glory of God His Father.
Aholiab, Bezaleel's assistant, means "tent of my father." Ahisamach has the meaning "brother of support." This, likewise, reminds us of our Lord. Bezaleel belonged to the tribe of Judah, the leader in the camp of Israel , and Aholiab to Dan, the last in the camp. Thus the first and the last were selected to do the work. What a glorious time is yet to come when all Israel , saved by grace in that day of His appearing, filled with the Spirit and divine wisdom, erects the great millennial temple (Ezek. 40-48).
The Sabbath law is restated and emphasized. This was also done when the manna was given. Here the Sabbath is especially mentioned as "a sign between Me and you in your generations." The Sabbath is altogether a Jewish institution; it is always mentioned when Israel is seen in their responsibility in the special position given to them. Here the penalty for breaking the Sabbath is stated for the first time; it is death. Notice the peculiar expression in verse 17, that the Lord rested on the seventh day and was refreshed He must have looked forward to His own work on the cross and the marvellous results of this work.
We quote from another some well-put distinctions between the Sabbath Israel had and could not keep, and the Lord's day. This distinction is of importance in the days when some consciences are disturbed by teachers who would force the seventh day upon those who are under Grace.
How higher criticism, the whole rationalistic school, and their brethren, the infidels, have amused themselves with verse 18. Why should this be thought to be impossible with God? Their sneers but reveal their darkened and wicked hearts. God had made the tables and wrote on them (chapter 32:16).
4. Israel 's Sin and Rebellion
1. The people in rebellion (32:1-6) 2. Jehovah threatens his wrath (32:7-10) 3. Moses beseeches Jehovah (32:11-14) 4. Moses descends and in the camp (32:15-29) 5. Moses' offer and failure (32:30-35)
This chapter records the breaking of the covenant by Israel 's sin, rebellion against Jehovah, and idolatry. Here we find man's heart fully uncovered, that wicked heart of unbelief. What manifestations of God's power they had seen! Their eyes beheld the dreadful judgments which fell upon the land of Egypt and wiped out the Egyptian hosts. They were guided by the visible sign of Jehovah's presence. He had given them manna, yea, they were eating that bread the very day on which they rebelled. The smitten rock had yielded water. God had entered into covenant with them. And now when Moses delayed, they requested of Aaron, "Up, make us gods." God was not mentioned at all by the rebellious mass. It seemed Moses and not God was the object of their faith. The heathen had gone that way and "changed the glory of the Uncoorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things" (Rom. 1:23). The favored nation shows that their heart is as corrupt as the heart of the Gentiles, who know not God. They plunged into the degradation of idolatry. The unseen One, the One who had honored Abraham's faith, who spake to the fathers, was rejected by them, and they preferred a golden calf fashioned with a graving tool. And Aaron plays the leading part in this awful scene of degradation and wickedness. He announces a feast unto the Lord, after he had made the golden calf from the golden ear-rings (copied, no doubt, after the Egyptian idol Apis; see Ps. 106:19-20). Then the people "rose up to play"; wild dances, licentious and filled with the abominations of the heathen, the flesh let loose, is what followed. The people were naked (verse 25).
Alas! the same has been repeated on "Christian" ground. The ritualistic, religious worship, appealing to the senses, filled with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit dishonoring counterfeits, the inventions of the "religious nature" of man under satanic control, is nothing but idolatry. It rejects the invisible One, who demands our faith and trust, and puts something else in His place. That is idolatry. All God's true people are in danger of that sin in the most subtle forms. Whenever we lean on the arm of flesh and not exclusively upon the "I Am," our gracious Lord, then we are guilty of the same sin. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).
As Moses went up, so our great High Priest has gone to the Father. We see Him not, but we know He is there and will come back again. May we live by faith during His absence and be kept from idols.
Then Jehovah told Moses what was going on in the camp. Note that He said to Moses, "thy people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt ." The Lord puts them, so to speak, upon Moses and commits them into his hands. Moses only needed to say the word and the rebellious nation would have been consumed and Moses and his offspring would become a new beginning. It was a test of Moses, but Jehovah knew beforehand what His servant would do. Beautiful is Moses' intercession. He uses the same words the Lord had used. "Thy people which Thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt ." The Lord had put them into Moses' hands; Moses puts them back upon the Lord. How wonderful was Moses' intercession in their behalf. He reminds Him of His promises and the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Israel (avoiding the word Jacob). His intercession is typical of our great intercessor before the throne.
The covenant was broken and the first tables of stone were broken. The golden calf was burnt and ground to powder. This was cast into the water (the brook, Deut. 9:2 1), and the children of Israel had to drink it. They had to drink their own shame; a humiliating experience. Aaron is questioned first, and he adds a new sin to the one already committed. (Compare verse 24 with verse 4). The sons of Levi gathered themselves to Moses. They, too, had shared in the rebellion, but were now the first to confess and take their stand with the Lord. Judgment follows and three thousand fell by the sword. They did not spare their nearest relations (Deut. 33:9). Besides this, the people were plagued (32:35). Moses returned to the Lord. But he failed in his proposition. "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give unto God a ransom for him" (Ps. 49:7). Yet Moses' willingness to be blotted out of the Book foreshadows Him who alone could do the atoning work. He offered himself without spot unto God, (Heb. 9:14) and gave His life a ransom for many. He died for that nation (John 11:51, 52).
5. Moses' Intercession and its Results
CHAPTER 33 Repentance and Intercession
1. The word of the Lord and the people's repentance (33:1-6) 2. The tabernacle without the camp (33:7) 3. Moses enters the tabernacle (33:8-11) 4. Moses' prayer and Jehovah's answers (33:12-17) 5. Moses' request (33:18-23)
The words of the Lord, with which this chapter begins, reveal Him as the covenant-keeping Jehovah. He remembers His covenant, though they are a stiff-necked people. Yet He is a holy God and if He were to be in their midst they would be consumed. They had to take the place in self-judgment and acknowledge their guilt and separation from the Holy One. They were obedient to this demand and stripped themselves of their ornaments. In this place they had taken the Lord could show them mercy.
The word "tabernacle" here in this chapter means "tent" and of course is not the real tabernacle, for that had not yet been erected. It was a tent which had been used as a place of worship, it now had to occupy a place outside of the camp. All who wanted to seek the Lord had to go to the "tent of meeting," outside of the camp. See Hebrews 13:13. Christ and His gospel is now rejected; the professing people of God are in rebellion and apostasy; the call, therefore, is to go outside of the camp, bearing His reproach. Christ occupies this place in Laodicea , the phase of Christian profession in these last days. He is outside, standing at the door and knocking. And there, "outside of the camp," the Lord spake unto Moses, as a man speaketh unto his friend. Again he represents Christ as mediator, only our mediator is higher than Moses. And through Christ we have access into His presence. "Outside of the camp" leads to the closest communion with Himself. The Lord talked to Moses out of the cloud and then Moses turned again into the camp. Joshua remained in the tabernacle and did not enter the camp. All is written for our learning. Though we go "outside of the camp" yet we have a solemn duty and responsibility towards those in the camp. May we discharge these. Moses' prayer pleads now grace, and upon that the Holy One answers graciously. But His face Moses could not see. Read and compare with John 1:18 and 14:9.
CHAPTER 34 The Result: The Second Covenant and the Glory
1. The command to hew two tables of stone (34:1-4) 2. The proclamation of Jehovah (34:5-7) 3. Moses' worship and prayer (34:8-9) 4. The covenant restated (34:10-26) 5. The second tables written (34:27-28) 6. The glory upon the face of Moses (34:29-35)
The command is given to Moses to hew two tables of stone like the first, which Jehovah Himself had hewn and which were broken by Moses. The first were hewn of one stone; the second of two stones. Moses was permitted to furnish the material for the second tables, while the Lord had furnished it for the first. The second tables were given as the result of the intercession of Moses. But God wrote the words on the second tables of stones as He had done on the first.
The manifestation of Jehovah recorded in this chapter is deeply interesting. In chapter 33:21-23 the Lord promised Moses a vision. This is now fulfilled. Jehovah came down from heaven in a cloud and stood with him there; He proclaimed the name of Jehovah. This reminds us of Exodus 19:24. What Moses saw is not stated. The Lord had come down to him and the descended Lord made known the name of the Lord. It is a most blessed hint on the incarnation of Jehovah and the manifestation of the name of Jehovah through Him, who is Jehovah. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The descended Lord makes known grace, but also divine righteousness. The full manifestation of grace could not be then made known; only in the cross of Christ, where God's righteousness is revealed, grace shines forth in all its marvelous glory. In the gospel of Jesus Christ the justification of the ungodly is announced as well as the glorious inheritance of eternity for justified believers. Of this the law had nothing to say, for it could not give righteousness and God never meant to give to man eternal glory by keeping the commandments.
Moses worshipped and bowed his head toward the earth. His prayer to Jehovah is that He might come among them. He confessed the sinful condition of the people and asks for pardon. He includes himself. In chapter 33:5 Jehovah called the people stiff-necked. Moses then did not use this word; but here when Jehovah speaks of grace he pleads this charge of Jehovah for forgiveness and mercy. This is a blessed foreshadowing of the gospel of grace. But there is another lesson here. Moses realizes that the presence of Jehovah who had uttered such gracious words, if He were among them, would result in their forgiveness. The Holy One of Israel will some day be in the midst of His earthly people, then He will forgive their sins and remember them no more, and they will be His inheritance.
In the statements of the renewed covenant the separation of the people from the inhabitants of Canaan is made prominent. They were to have nothing to do with the impure and abominable idolatries of these nations. He called His people unto holiness. Moreover, they were to destroy their altars, their images and their groves. The word groves is "asherah." It was an image used for the most lascivious practices, commonly known as the phallic worship. It flourished among all the ancient nations, but was especially used by the Canaanites. When Israel later fell in with these abominations, the judgment fell upon them. The commandments concerning the feasts, the Sabbath, and the firstfruits are repeated.
The conclusion of this chapter is used in 2 Cor. 3.
When Moses was on the mountain the first time to receive the first tables of stone no glory was seen on his face, because the covenant was altogether legal and not a ray of glory can come from that. The second time, because grace and mercy were mingled with it, glory shines from the mediator's face. But they could not look upon that glory. He had to cover his face with a vail. Thus grace and glory are covered in the law. This vail is done away in Christ. In Him grace and glory in the most perfect splendor shine forth. And it is a glory which does not wane, but increases. "But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).
Of Israel it is written, "But their minds were blinded, for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their hearts. Nevertheless, when it shall turn unto the Lord, the veil shall be taken away" (2 Cor. 3:14-16). And that glorious day is coming, when they will believe.
6. The Building of the Tabernacle
CHAPTER 35 The Commandments Concerning the Tabernacle Remembered and the Offerings
1. The Sabbath law emphasized (35:1-3) 2. The offerings restated (35:4-10) 3. The tabernacle and its furniture restated (35:11-19) 4. The offerings given (35:20-29) 5. The workmen and the teachers (35:30-35)
It is interesting to review the events and steps which lead to this consummation in Exodus, the setting up of the tabernacle. After Jehovah had redeemed His people and led them through the wilderness to Mount Sinai , dealing with them in grace, the law covenant was made. It was broken by them in their rebellion and idolatry. Intercession and another covenant followed, mingled with grace. And now there is obedience and the tabernacle is put up. And when it was finished the glory filled the place, showing that God was well pleased. Jehovah dwelt there with His people. In New Testament times, the true church is His dwelling place, "an habitation of God through the Spirit." When the age to come, the millennium is reached, He will again dwell in the midst of Israel and manifest His visible glory in Jerusalem and above the city. Then comes eternity when God is all in all. "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them" (Rev. 21:3).
The Sabbath rest is once more mentioned. This is not a vain repetition, nor is it the mark of imperfection, or the work of different writers, as the critical school has claimed. Rest precedes the work, not work precedes the rest. This is the blessed spiritual principle. This cannot be under the law, but it is blessedly so under grace. We rest in Him, and He gives us rest so that we can labor and give back to Him.
All the details commanded by Jehovah concerning the tabernacle are repeated and also the material to be furnished by the people in free will offerings. How needful was the repetition! He had made the specifications show what they were to bring, as He has shown in His Word the service and work He expects of His people. And then we behold their willing service. Men and women came and brought their gifts. How it must have refreshed His heart. The women are prominently mentioned. The willing heart and the cheerful giver are also seen in the New Testament. When in the future the day of Christ's power dawns (His second coming) His earthly people, Israel , will be willing to bring their all to His feet: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" (Ps. 110:3). Then they will build that great and glorious millennial temple, the house of prayer for all nations.
Once more the two leading workmen are mentioned by name and the fact is made known that the Spirit of God fitted them for the work. But something is added here which we do not find in chapter 31, "And He hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan." Besides having the spirit of wisdom they also had the gift of teaching, to pass on to others what they had learned.
CHAPTER 36 The Work Carried Out
1. The work begun (36:1-4) 2. The over-supply in the offerings (36:5-7) 3. The curtains (36:8-13) 4. The covering of the tent (36:14-19) 5. The boards and the sockets of silver (36:20-30) 6. The bars (36:31-34) 7. The vail and the hanging for the door (36:35-38)
In the abundant offerings, more than was needed, we see the results of the grace of God. Every morning the offerings were presented. So large was the supply that they had to be restrained. What a contrast with the professing people of God in our days! How little self-sacrifice and self denial; how little willingness to spend and be spent. The methods used to help along the work of the Lord, such as collections from unbelievers, are condemned by the word of God. The willingness of the people was the fruit of the spirit of God. The different curtains and coverings, boards and bars and the vail and hanging were prepared. In chapter 30 we saw God began with that which is within; the building began with the outside things.
CHAPTER 37 The Ark , The Table, the Candlestick, and the Incense Altar, the Oil and Incense
1. The ark made by Bezaleel (37:1-9) 2. The table of shittim wood (37:10-16) 3. The candlestick (37:17-24) 4. The incense altar (37:25-28) 5. The oil and incense (37:29)
The word of Jehovah is literally carried out, because the Holy Spirit was in the workmen. Compare verses 1-9 with 25:10-22; verses 10-16 with 25:23-30; verses 17-24 with 25:31-40; verses 25-28 with 30:1-10; verse 29 with 30:22-38. Notice that the ark is mentioned especially as the work of Bezaleel.
CHAPTER 38 The Burnt Offering Altar, the Laver, the Court and the Metals Used
1. The altar of burnt offering (38:1-7) 2. The laver (38:8) 3. The court (38:9-20) 4. The amount of metal used (38:21-31)
The pattern as previously given is closely followed and everything done according to the divine command. Nothing was left in the work to the choice of the workman. They had the pattern and the spirit of God gave the power to carry it out. Thus God expects us to work and serve after His own pattern in the power of the indwelling Spirit. He will eventually carry out all His revealed plans and purposes concerning this earth. Women furnished the material for the laver. They gave their looking glasses, which were of shining metal. (See job 37:18.) They were pious women of Israel who gave willingly what must have been a costly possession. They assembled at the door of the tabernacle. The Chaldean paraphrase is "of the mirrors of the women, which came to pray at the door of the tabernacle."
Interesting is the estimate of the amount of metal used. Gold occupies the first place: 29 talents and 730 shekels. Silver was given by every male a half of a shekel (the atonement money). The number of men from 20 years and upward was 603,550; so they gave 301,775 shekels of silver. Then there was the brass (copper). Precious metals, like gold and silver, were plentiful in Egypt , which had immense gold mines.
CHAPTER 39 The Priestly Garments and the Work Finished
1. The material used (39:1) 2. The ephod (39:2-7) 3. The breastplate (39:8-21) 4. The robe, the bells and pomegranates (39:22-26) 5. The coats (39:27-29) 6. The holy crown (39:30-31) 7. The work finished (39:32-43)
All is done "as the Lord commanded." This expression is used seven times in chapter 39 (verses 1, 5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31). It is again repeated exactly seven times in chapter 40, the last chapter of Exodus (verses 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32). Seven is the number of perfection and completion. All had been well done and Jehovah was pleased and could own the work, of which He was the originator. Blue, purple, and scarlet, the colors of heaven, royalty and blood, are given in the preparation of the holy garments. It tells once more of Him who is the priest. The order is significant. The heavenly color comes first, for He came from heaven's glory. The kingly color next; He manifested Himself in His kingly power, and the blood color last, He died and shed His blood. Urim and Thummim are not mentioned in the list, for they could not be made.
The work was finished and all presented to Moses for inspection. The principal parts are mentioned once more. With what joy Moses must have looked upon the ark, the curtains, the boards, the altars, the laver and the garments of beauty and glory. There was no flaw in anything. With what liberality and zeal the great work had been accomplished. Then Moses blessed the children of Israel .
7. The Tabernacle Set Up, the Finished Work and the Glory
1. Jehovah gives the directions (40:1-15) 2. Moses' obedience (40:16) 3. The tabernacle set up (40:17-19) 4. The ark brought in (40:20-21) 5. The furniture placed and the offerings brought (40:22-29) 6. The laver and the court (40:30-33) 7. The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (40:34-38)
While the people had offered and the chosen workmen labored in the production of the tabernacle, the Lord had not spoken. He looked upon His people as they carried out His commands. But after Moses had blessed them, then the Lord spoke and commanded the setting up of the tabernacle on the first day of the first month. He directs the placing of the different pieces of furniture. The table with the shewbread was to be arranged, water to be put into the laver, the anointing of all was to follow, the priests to be washed, clothed and anointed. All was carried out again. Moses did according to all the Lord commanded him. The building of the tabernacle and all the work connected with it occupied not quite six months. The tabernacle was reared in the first month in the second year on the first day of the month. The setting up began with the sockets, in which the boards were placed. The testimony was put into the ark (the tables of stone). Then after the ark had been brought in, Moses hung the curtain. The holy part of the tabernacle was next arranged. The table was placed on the right side towards the north, and the shewbread was laid upon it. Of all this we shall read in Leviticus, where the typical meaning will be pointed out. The altar of burnt offerings was placed before the door of the dwelling of the tabernacle and the laver between the tabernacle and the altar. Moses burned sweet incense and offered the burnt offering and meat offering. When Moses had looked upon all that had been done, he was well pleased and blessed the people (39:43). When Jehovah looked upon the finished work and saw that all was according to His heart, He was well pleased. His approval as witnessed to by the cloud, which covered the tabernacle, and His glory filled the place, e entered in to take possession of it. Moses had to stand back; He could no longer go into the place where Jehovah dwelt.
While here the cloud covered all and the glory filled the whole place, later the cloud drew back into the most holy place to dwell above the outspread wings of the cherubim, Moses and the priests could then enter the holy place without coming in touch with the sign of Jehovah's presence, which was hidden from human gaze by the curtain of the holy of holies.
As long as the cloud rested upon the tabernacle the children of Israel remained in camp; when it moved, they continued their journey. This had a blessed meaning for the people of God and has its lessons for us. The cloud in its movements made known Jehovah's will. We have no such external sign to declare the will of God to us. We have the internal presence of the Holy Spirit. And He guides us through His Word, which we must consult for direction and guidance. All this we shall find fully stated in Num. 9:15-23; when we reach that "wilderness book" we hope to point out some of its lessons.
We state once more the fact that Exodus begins with a groan and the first part ends with the song of redemption. The second part begins with Israel 's wilderness wandering and ends after the work was finished with the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle. The Lord Jesus Christ and His Word is foreshadowed in the entire book. Glory is the great goal of all He has done. He has reached down and set the miserable slaves of sin and Satan free; He changes our groans into songs of victory, because He, the Lamb of God, shed His blood. He guides His people home. Glory will yet cover Zion , the place of His rest. In the day of His glorious manifestation, when He appears in glory and majesty as the King of Kings, the glory cloud will be seen again in the midst of the redeemed Israel (Isa. 4:4-6). And in all eternity, the ages to come, His glory will be with the redeemed and the redeemed will share His glory.
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:3-4).
THE ATONEMENT MONEY
(by Henry W. Soltau, The Tabernacle, Priesthood and the Offerings.)
The word silver in Hebrew is frequently translated money. It was indeed, the precious metal ordinarily in use, in all transactions of buying and selling; and even at this day, in many countries, it is the current money of the merchant. Francs, dollars, thalers, scudi, are all coins of Silver; and mercantile transactions are generally calculated in one or other of these coins, in most of the countries of Europe , and indeed of the world.
We have two memorable instances in Scripture, where life was bartered for silver. Joseph for twenty, and the Son of God for thirty pieces. The idea therefore, of price or value, especially attaches to this metal. It ranks also with us, as one of the precious metals; and though not displaying the brilliant glory of the gold, it is especially beautiful, by reason of its soft purity and unsullied whiteness; and like gold, it corrodes not, and wastes not in the fining pot, though subject to the intense heat of the furnace.
The silver, used in the construction of the tabernacle, was all derived from the atonement money.
The whole range of God's truth rests upon two great verities: the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Man--and His work of atonement on the cross. Throughout the history of God's ancient people, type after type, and shadow upon shadow, reiterated the absolute necessity of atonement. And while the law prescribed commandments, to obey which Israel fatally pledged themselves, it at the same time contained abundant ritual observances, which testified to man's incapability and need, and prophesied of One, who while they were yet without strength, should, in due time, die for the ungodly. As a covenant of works, it was a ministration of death. But to one who was really a child of Abraham, it must have shone out, like the face of Moses, with a prophetic glory; and have pointed onwards to the Lamb of God; in whom all the shadows of good things to come passed into substance.
This type before us, of the atonement-money, preached a very clear and blessed gospel. It told out the great truth, that birth in the flesh availed nothing. An Israelite might trace up, in unbroken succession, his descent from Abraham, or from one of Jacob's sons. Still, that sufficed him not, if he desired to be entered on the roll as one of God's soldiers and servants. The Jews, in the time of the Lord, could say, "We be Abraham's seed"; and the Samaritan sinner claimed Jacob as her father. But they were captives of the devil, and of fleshly lusts; and their human pedigree had not raised them out of the dominion of sin. God had therefore enjoined that, whenever Israel were numbered as His people, every man must give a ransom for his soul. The price was fixed by God himself. Each man, whether poor or rich, must bring the same. One could not pay for another; but every one must tender his own ransom-money, of pure silver, and of perfect weight. "Half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, (a shekel is twenty gerahs) a half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord" (Exod. 30:13). Other gospel truths here shine out. When the question came to be one of ransom, the poor and the rich, the foolish and the wise, the ignorant and the learned, the immoral and the moral, stood on the same level. Each person was estimated by God at the same price. He proved Himself no respecter of persons. And so it is still. The third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans defines the state of every one in the whole world, and levels the way for the gospel. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord by his voice, calling all to repentance, declaring all to be in one condition, needing change of heart. And the Lord Jesus began to speak of the great salvation to hearts thus prepared. The chapter above referred to makes the path straight for the proclamation of justification through faith in Christ, by pronouncing that all are under sin; that every mouth must be silent; that all the world is guilty before God; and that there is no difference between the religious Jew, and the irreligious Gentile; for, "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Another truth enunciated in this type is, that salvation must be an individual, personal matter; between the soul and God. Every man has to bring his own half shekel. One of the devices of Satan at the present day--and it is spread far and wide--is the way in which he obscures this truth, by inducing whole communities to believe they are Christians; made such, either by baptism, or by some formal profession of religiousness; and placing, in the lips of thousands, "Our Saviour," and "Our Father"; and thus beguiling them into the thought that they are included in a general redemption of mankind, which affects the whole human race. Constantly, therefore, in speaking to persons, we find the reply: O yes, we are all sinners: and Christ has died for us all.
Each individual Israelite had to present himself to the priest, bringing with him his own piece of money as a ransom; and his name would then be entered in God's book. The Lord Jesus, in the 6th chapter of John, says: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." Eating and drinking are actions which one cannot perform for another. The food, taken into the mouth, becomes one's own, and ministers strength and nourishment to the body. So, the death of Christ must be appropriated by each to himself. The soul has to say, My Saviour; My Lord; My God. I have been crucified with Christ. Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me. Just as assuredly as the Israelite of old had to eat the manna he had collected for his own sustenance; or according to his eating, to make his count for the lamb.
The half shekel was to be of silver; the unalloyed, unadulterated metal. Three things are probably here presented to us in type: the Lord Jesus as God--as the pure and spotless One--and as giving His life a ransom for many. The silver, being a solid, imperishable precious metal, may have this first aspect: its chaste whiteness representing the second; and its being ordinarily employed as money or price, may point out its fitness as a type of the third.
The weight was also defined by God: "the shekel of the sanctuary"; kept as a standard in the tabernacle; and perhaps bearing some stamp or inscription to authenticate it. Its weight was twenty gerahs. The half-shekel, brought by each man who desired to be numbered, was to be compared with this. God kept the just weight and the just balance; and His priest would neither take dross instead of silver, nor receive less weight of the precious metal than was required by the Lord. With confidence the true-hearted Israelite would ring out the silver sound, from his half shekel before the priest: with confidence would he see it put into the balance. And, in the blessed antitype, with confidence does the believer sound out, in the ears of God, and of the great High Priest of His sanctuary, his full dependence on Christ and His precious blood. He knows that this price is up to the full estimate demanded by God. He has one standard of perfection and purity, against which He weighs the hearts, spirits, and actions of men. Everything short of this standard, every one who fails to reach this sterling value, will be condemned; like the Babylonian prince, who was weighed in the balances and found wanting. To come short of the glory of God, is to be in the distance and darkness of corruption and death. How wondrous the grace, which has provided One, in whom we are raised from the depth of human misery, degradation and ruin, to the height of the throne and glory of the Most High! How passing knowledge, that love of God, which has not hesitated to plunge into judgment and wrath, His only-begotten Son, and to shed the blood of Christ like water, in order to redeem, from filthiness and sin, the worthless and the vile; and to number them among the hosts of light and glory, in the courts above!
There is a manifest allusion to the atonement-money in 1 Peter 1:18; "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot." An allusion, by way of contrast. What men consider precious metals, and free from impurity and corrosion, God calls "perishable" and "corruptible." He says that gold and silver "canker" and "rust."
The man who amasses wealth is an object of praise and envy. "Men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself" (Ps. 49:18). But in this epistle, gain is denominated filthy lucre. The redemption, which God has paid for us, is no amount of corruptible things, as silver and gold. Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. Nothing less than the precious blood of Christ would avail. God has valued our salvation at no less cost, than the pouring out of His soul unto death.
The Hebrew word, from which the words ransom and atonement are derived, has a variety of senses all bearing on the same truth. Thus, we find the word includes the thought of covering over our sin; as a covering of pitch covers over the wood on which it is spread (Gen. 6:14).
The blood of the atonement blots out the page of sin, and hides it from the eye of God. The secret sins, which have stood out in their glaring evil, in the light of His countenance, are hidden by the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat. It also means, to appease or pacify. Thus Jacob sent a present to (atone or) appease his brother Esau (Gen. 32:20). "The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will (atone or) pacify it" (Prov. 16:14). "That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am (atoned or) pacified towards thee" (Ezek. 16:63).
This is the sense of the word in the New Testament--propitiation; God's wrath being appeased in Christ through the shedding of His blood (1 John 2:2; and 4:10).
We shall perceive from these various quotations, that the same Hebrew word translated atonement, signifies also, covering over; appeasing; forgiveness; reconciliation; expiation; disannulling; ransom or redemption; satisfaction; and cleansing.
One sense of our word atonement is, at-onement; two opposing parties being brought together in agreement as one. And the means whereby this is effected, the payment of a price, ransom or satisfaction. So, this beautiful type of the half shekel or silver, shadows forth the precious blood of Christ, as the redemption price provided by God. And, when the sinner estimates its all-sufficient value in the presence of God, he answers the action of the Israelite in paying down the silver half shekel; as it is beautifully expressed in 1 Peter 2:7: "Unto you which believe, He is precious"; or, as it might be rendered, "He is the preciousness" your full satisfaction, and value also before God.
We have also another important aspect of truth portrayed in this type--viz.: that redemption brings us to, and fits us for God. The Israelite, who paid his ransom-money, was numbered as a soldier and a servant for God. A place was assigned him in the battlefield; and he had his position in the camp, appointed with reference to the tabernacle, the dwelling-place of God in the midst of the hosts. From henceforth Jehovah was his Leader, his Lord, his King. In like manner, the believer is redeemed to God, by the blood of Christ, from the world, and from slavery to sin and Satan; that he may be a soldier and a servant of the Most High; to be led, guided, and sustained by Him, who has called him out of darkness, into His marvellous light.
Two other words deserve our notice in this passage (Exod. 30:13-14). "Every one that passeth among them that are numbered." And the word "offering" (30:13-15). The allusion, in verses 13 and 14 is to the sheep passing under the rod of the shepherd, as he numbers them (Ezek. 20:37). "I will cause you to pass under the rod: and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant." The priest took the place of a shepherd, counting the sheep of God's hand. And as the true mark of the sheep came under his eye, in the ransom-money offered by each, he entered each in the book of the covenant. So the good Shepherd has laid down His life for the sheep; and they are entered in the Lamb's book of life, because the atonement-price has been paid for each.
The word offering is a peculiar word in the Hebrew, signifying something that is lifted off the ground and presented on high; and is the word translated heave-offering. All the various offerings brought by the Israelites, as contributions for forming the tabernacle, the enumerated (Exod. 25:2-7) are called heave-offerings. This atonement-money was a peculiar piece of silver, separated off to God, and lifted, as it were, from the earth, with the special object of being paid into His treasury, as a ransom for the soul. So has the Lord Jesus been lifted up, first on the cross, to pour out His blood a ransom for many; and secondly, He has been exalted, and made very high, "to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31).
This ordinance was transgressed by David, as related in 2 Sam. 24, 1 Chron. 21. Israel had settled down in self-contentedness and pride; David their king and shepherd, himself drinking into the same spirit. Satan, by God's permission, was allowed to tempt the king, and provoke him, by whisperings of vanity and self exaltation, to number Israel. The desire in David's heart was, not that God might be glorified and His promise made manifest, in the vast increase of His people; but that he, the king, might congratulate himself on the number of his subjects. "Number ye the people, that I may know." "Bring the number of them to me, that I may know it." Joab, to whom the command was given, though himself an ambitious worldly-minded man, yet was keen-sighted enough to perceive that this desire of his master was not of God. He even had some insight into David's sin. He looked upon Israel as a people belonging to Jehovah; and on David, as committing a trespass in having them numbered for himself. But, like all unbelievers, though he could point out the fault, he was not able to direct David to the remedy. He did not allude to the atonement-money.
One result of this numbering was that even cities of the Hivites, and the stronghold of Tyre, were included in the tale; which could never have been the case had the silver half-shekel been required. At the present day, unconverted inhabitants of earth are too often classed as of the church of God, by reason of the same neglect, viz.: that they are not required to confess openly their confidence in the precious blood of Christ, before being reckoned among the hosts of God.
David's heart soon smote him after the numbering was completed; he fully confessed his own sin and folly; he at once cast himself on the mercies of God for pardon, and preferred being dealt with in chastisement immediately from the Lord rather than fall into the hands of men. Accordingly, the plague (which had already been threatened, in Exod. 30:12) broke out amongst the people; and the destroyer stayed not his hand until the Lord, listening to the humiliation of David, and appeased by the burnt-offering, presented at the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, said "It is enough." David in his intercession, manifests a soul restored to the Lord; and proves that he has discovered his former error; for he speaks of Israel as sheep, and as the people of the Lord; whereas he had numbered them as fighting-men, and for his own glory.
Also the price of the spot for the altar is paid in shekels of silver. There may be some reference to this in the atonement-money. The apparent discrepancy between the fifty shekels, mentioned as the purchase-money in 2 Sam. 24:24, and the six hundred shekels of gold in 1 Chron. 21:25, may be reconciled on the supposition that the former money was paid for the mere spot on which the altar itself was erected; whereas the latter was the purchase-money for the whole place of the threshing-floor.
The blessed words "it is enough" were again, in principle, uttered by Jehovah from heaven, when He raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. Satisfaction had been completely made: the sword of vengeance had been buried in the heart of God's own Son; the precious blood had been poured out; the full redemption-price had been rendered; and Jesus was raised from the dead; at once the proof of the perfect value of His own death, and to receive the due reward of His loving faithful obedience. "It is enough" may be a fitting superscription for the half shekel ransom-money.
It appears that the question asked of Peter, (Matt. 17:24) "Does not your master pay tribute?" (or, according to the margin, the didrachma) had reference to this ransom-money. Probably the payment, which had been instituted in Exod. 30, of a half-shekel, when the Israelites were numbered, had in the course of time been converted by the Jewish rulers into a kind of poll-tax, payable for the uses of the temple. Peter, with his usual readiness, or rather rashness, answered the question in the affirmative, without referring, as he should have done, to the Lord Himself for a reply. And when he was come into the house, Jesus anticipated his request for the ransom-money, (to the payment of which he had just committed the Lord) by putting the question, "What thinkest thou, Simon, of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?" The Lord thus addresses him as Simon, instead of Peter. The Apostle had relapsed into the natural man; and Jesus uses the name, which Peter had received from his earthly parents, instead of the new name, given him on his confession of faith.
Peter had forgotten the late glorious scene of the transfiguration, when the Voice had sounded from the excellent glory, "This is my beloved Son: hear ye Him;" and he had committed two errors. Instead of harkening to Jesus, and learning of Him, he had acted on his own self-confident judgment; and instead of owning the Lord as the Son of God, he had lowered Him down to the position of a stranger, or captive, from whom a ransom was demanded by God. This serves to explain the Lord's question quoted above. Peter replies to it--to his own condemnation--"of strangers. "Jesus saith unto him, "Then are the children free." Jesus came to declare the Father. "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father." He had come to redeem them that were under the law; that those who believed on Him might receive the adoption of sons. Liberty of sonship, and not the bondage of servantship, not the slavery of bondmen confined under rigid commandments, was the liberty that Christ came to proclaim. The law, even in its type of the atonement-money, did not intimate the blessing of sonship. Grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ, placed the believer in the freedom of new birth; as many as received Christ, were born of God. But Peter had not yet received the spirit of sonship. The Holy Ghost had not yet been sent from the risen Christ; and thus the apostle mingled up and confounded adoption and bondage, and lowered the Son down to the position of a stranger.
This is an instructive lesson to our souls; for the spirit of bondage is constantly working within us. It is of the flesh, of nature. It springs from Simon, the son of Jonas, instead of from Peter, a child of God. If we have known God, or rather, are known of God, we are no longer aliens or strangers, but children and heirs; and the spirit of slavery cannot dwell with the spirit of the Son. Law and grace can never be united.
The Lord Jesus, having claimed for Himself and Peter the liberty of children, adds: "Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money (a stater), that take and give unto them for Me, and thee." Thus, one piece of silver, brought up from the depth of the sea, was paid into God's treasury, in which piece Jesus and Peter were both included. There seems to be a wonderful significance in this. The sea yielded up the precious ransom-money. The depths, with their billows and waves of wrath and death, were, so to speak, the birthplace of atonement. Jesus rose not alone, but inseparably linked on with His Church--one with Him in all His own preciousness--presented in Him to God in glory--laid up and hidden in God's treasury above.
Whatever God's demand against Peter, the blessed Lord was involved in the same demand: Peter's responsibility became Christ's--"for Me and thee"--and thus is Jesus now in the presence of God for us, to answer every liability, to render payment in the full for all our infirmities and sins, to save, to the very end, all that come unto God by Him. He has bound us up with Himself, in one bundle of life; and we can never look upon Him now, without also beholding in union with Him, the whole ransomed church of God, one precious piece of silver in God's temple above.
THE JEWISH YEAR