he people come to Sinai, God's message to them, and their
answer. (1-8) The people directed to prepare to hear the law.
(9-15) The presence of God on Sinai. (16-25)
Verses 1-8: Moses was called up the mountain, and was employed as the
messenger of this covenant. The Maker and first Mover of the
covenant, is God himself. This blessed charter was granted out
of God's own free grace. The covenant here mentioned was the
national covenant, by which the Israelites were a people under
the government of Jehovah. It was a type of the new covenant
made with true believers in Christ Jesus; but, like other types,
it was only a shadow of good things to come. As a nation they
broke this covenant; therefore the Lord declared that he would
make a new covenant with Israel, writing his law, not upon
tables of stone, but in their hearts, (Jer 31:33; Heb 8:7-10).
The covenant spoken of in these places as ready to vanish away,
is the national covenant with Israel, which they forfeited by
their sins. Unless we carefully attend to this, we shall fall
into mistakes while reading the Old Testament. We must not
suppose that the nation of the Jews were under the covenant of
works, which knows nothing of repentance, faith in a Mediator,
forgiveness of sins, or grace; nor yet that the whole nation of
Israel bore the character, and possessed the privileges of true
believers, as being actually sharers in the covenant of grace.
They were all under a dispensation of mercy; they had outward
privileges and advantages for salvation; but, like professing
Christians, most rested therein, and went no further. Israel
consented to the conditions. They answered as one man, All that
the Lord hath spoken we will do. Oh that there had been such a
heart in them! Moses, as a mediator, returned the words of the
people to God. Thus Christ, the Mediator, as a Prophet, reveals
God's will to us, his precepts and promises; and then, as a
Priest, offers up to God our spiritual sacrifices, not only of
prayer and praise, but of devout affections, and pious
resolutions, the work of his own Spirit in us.
Verses 9-15: The solemn manner in which the law was delivered, was to
impress the people with a right sense of the Divine majesty.
Also to convince them of their own guilt, and to show that they
could not stand in judgment before God by their own obedience.
In the law, the sinner discovers what he ought to be, what he
is, and what he wants. There he learns the nature, necessity,
and glory of redemption, and of being made holy. Having been
taught to flee to Christ, and to love him, the law is the rule
of his obedience and faith.
Verses 16-25: Never was there such a sermon preached, before or since,
as this which was preached to the church in the wilderness. It
might be supposed that the terrors would have checked
presumption and curiosity in the people; but the hard heart of
an unawakened sinner can trifle with the most terrible
threatenings and judgments. In drawing near to God, we must
never forget his holiness and greatness, nor our own meanness
and pollution. We cannot stand in judgment before him according
to his righteous law. The convinced transgressor asks, What must
I do to be saved? and he hears the voice, Believe in the Lord
Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The Holy Ghost, who made
the law to convince of sin, now takes of the things of Christ,
and shows them to us. In the gospel we read, Christ hath
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for
us. We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness
of sins. Through him we are justified from all things, from
which we could not be justified by the law of Moses. But the
Divine law is binding as a rule of life. The Son of God came
down from heaven, and suffered poverty, shame, agony, and death,
not only to redeem us from its curse, but to bind us more
closely to keep its commands.