Moses as mediator between God and Israel, having received divers
laws and ordinances from God in the foregoing chapters, in this chapter,
Comes down to the people, acquaints them with the laws he had
received, and takes their consent to those laws, ver. 3.
writes the laws, and reads them to the people, who repeat their
consent, ver. 4, 7.
and then by sacrifice, and the sprinkling of blood ratifies the
covenant between them and God, ver. 5, 6, 8.
He returns to God again, to receive farther directions. When he
was dismissed from his former attendance, he was ordered to attend
again, ver. 1, 2.
He did so with seventy of the elders, to whom God made a discovery
of his glory, ver. 9 - 11.
Moses is ordered up into the mount, ver. 12, 13.
the rest are ordered down to the people, ver. 14.
The cloud of glory is seen by all the people on the top of mount
Sinai, ver. 15 - 17.
and Moses is there with God forty days and forty nights,
1: Worship ye afar off - Before they came near, they must
worship. Thus we must enter into God's gates with humble and solemn
2: And Moses alone shall come near - Being therein a type of Christ,
who as the high priest entered alone into the most holy place. In the
following verses we have the solemn covenant made between God and Israel
and the exchanging of the ratifications: typifying the covenant of grace
between God and believers through Christ.
3: Moses told the people all the words of the Lord - He laid before
them all the precepts, in the foregoing chapters, and put it to them,
whether they were willing to submit to these laws or no? And all the
people answered, All the words which the Lord hath said we will do - They
had before consented in general to be under God's government; here they
consent in particular to these laws now given.
4: And Moses wrote the words of the Lord - That there might be no
mistake; as God dictated them on the mount, where, it is highly probable,
God taught him the use of letters. These Moses taught the
Israelites, from whom they afterwards travelled to Greece and other
nations. As soon as God had separated to himself a peculiar people, he
governed them by a written word, as he has done ever since, and will do
while the world stands. Pillars according to the number of the
tribes - These were to represent the people, the other party to the
covenant; and we may suppose they were set up over against the altar,
and that Moses as mediator passed to and fro between them. Probably
each tribe set up and knew its own pillar, and their elders stood by
it. He then appointed sacrifices to be offered upon the altar.
6: 1. The blood of the sacrifice which the people offered was
(part of it) sprinkled upon the altar, which signified the people's
dedicating themselves to God, and his honour. In the blood of the
sacrifices, all the Israelites were presented unto God as living
sacrifices, (Ro 12:1).
2. The blood of the sacrifice which God had owned and accepted was
(the remainder of it) sprinkled, either upon the people themselves, or
upon the pillars that represented them, which signified God's
conferring his favour upon them, and all the fruits of that favour, and his
giving them all the gifts they could desire from a God reconciled to
them, and in covenant with them. This part of the ceremony was thus
explained, Behold the blood of the covenant; see here how God sealed to
you to be a God, and you seal to be to him a people; his promises to you,
and yours to him, are yea and amen. Thus our Lord Jesus, the Mediator
of the new covenant (of whom Moses was a type) having offered up himself
a sacrifice upon the cross, that his blood might be indeed the blood of the
covenant, sprinkled it upon the altar in his intercession
((Heb 9:12),) and sprinkles it upon his church by his word and
ordinances, and the influences and operations of the Spirit of promise
by whom we are sealed.
10: They saw the God of Israel - That is, they had some glimpse of
his glory, in light and fire, though they saw no manner of similitude.
They saw the place where the God of Israel stood, so the seventy,
something that came near a similitude, but was not; whatever they saw it
was certainly something of which no image or picture could be made, and yet
enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is
described but that which was under his feet, for our conceptions of
God are all below him. They saw not so much as God's feet, but at the
bottom of the brightness they saw (such as they never saw before or after,
and as the foot - stool or pedestal of it) a most rich and splendid
pavement, as it had been of sapphires, azure, or sky - coloured.
The heavens themselves are the pavement of God's palace, and his throne
is above the firmament.
11: Upon the nobles or elders of Israel he laid not his hand
- Though they were men, the splendour of his glory did not overwhelm
them, but it was so moderated ((Job 36:9),)
and they were so strengthened ((Da 10:19),)
that they were able to bear it: nay, though they were sinful men, and
obnoxious to God's justice, yet he did not lay his avenging hand upon them,
as they feared he would. When we consider what a consuming fire God
is, and what stubble we are before him, we shall have reason to say, in
all our approaches to him, It is of the Lord's mercies we are not
consumed. They saw God, and did eat and drink; They had not only
their lives preserved, but their vigour, courage, and comfort; it cast no
damp upon their joy, but rather increased it. They feasted upon the
sacrifice before God, in token of their chearful consent to the
covenant, their grateful acceptance of the benefits of it, and their
communion with God in pursuance of that covenant.
12: Come up to the mount and be there - Expect to continue there for
13: Joshua was his minister or servant, and it would be a
satisfaction to him to have him with him as a companion during the six days
that he tarried in the mount before God called to him. Joshua was to
be his successor, and therefore thus he was honoured before the people,
and thus he was prepared by being trained up in communion with God.
Joshua was a type of Christ, and (as the learned Bishop Peirson
well observes Moses takes him with him into the mount, because without
Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
there is no looking into the secrets of heaven, nor approaching the
presence of God.
16: A cloud covered the mount six days - A visible token of God's
special presence there, for he so shews himself to us, as at the same
time to conceal himself from us, he lets us know so much as to assure
us of his power and grace, but intimates to us that we cannot find him
out to perfection. During these six days Moses staid waiting upon
the mountain, for a call into the presence - chamber. And on the seventh
day - Probably the sabbath - day, he called unto Moses. Now the thick
cloud opened in the sight of all Israel, and the glory of the Lord broke
forth like devouring fire.
18: Moses went into the midst of the cloud - It was an extraordinary
presence of mind, which the grace of God furnished him with, else he durst
not have ventured into the cloud, especially when it broke out in
devouring fire. And Moses was in the mount forty days and forty
nights - It should seem the six days, were not part of the forty; for
during those six days, Joshua was with Moses, who did eat of the
manna, and drink of the brook mentioned, (De 9:21), and while they were
together, it is probable Moses did eat and drink with him; but when
Moses was called into the midst of the cloud, he left Joshua
without, who continued to eat and drink daily while he waited for
Moses's return, but from thenceforward Moses fasted.