Division 2. (Ex. 19 — 40.)

The legal covenant with its types of the fuller salvation. Relationship to the Redeemer.

We now come to the second division of the book, the character of which has been already briefly given. That it is largely typical needs no insisting on. Every Christian will recognize this in the whole tabernacle-service, which forms so large a part of it. But the truth, less generally received, is that the whole division — the whole book, therefore, — is typical, a perfect system of types, which is only properly appreciated when seen as a whole, — every part joined to every other part in a symmetry which at once proclaims itself divine. And this is the character of all these historical books: but there is no need to dilate upon this, as the book itself is before us, and will surely respond to the reverent inquiry of faith.

There are two subdivisions, manifestly depending upon a double giving of the law, which the first time is pure law, with no provision for failure as to the people at large; at the second giving they have already failed, as they did immediately; and God declares Himself as forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Now, also, the law, which at first was written on the tables by the hand of God Himself, is written by the hand of the mediator, Moses.

The character of this second subdivision will perhaps be better realized after we have gone through the first; and to this, therefore, we shall at present confine ourselves.

Subdivision 1. (Ex. 19 — 31.)

The first giving of the law, then PURE law; and the counsels of God in grace (the tabernacle). The sovereignty of the Redeemer.

In the first subdivision, we have two very distinct sections: the first, giving the announcement of the law proper — the ten commandments, and others related to them; the second, the instruction as to the tabernacle, in which the types of salvation come before us. In the first part, we have that of which the apostle says, "The law is not of faith;" in the latter part, what addresses itself to faith, although with a vail over its glory, such as a legal system could not but maintain. This latter part anticipates the failure of the first, and shows beforehand the provision of His grace, which is no after-thought, but according to the counsel of God from the beginning.

Section 1. (Ex. 19 — 24.)

Law: the proclamation of the righteousness of a sovereign God; the people being yet unfallen. Typically, the obedience which grace enables for and makes necessary to the redeemed.

In the first section, then, we have law in its purity, — the proclamation of the righteousness of God to a people standing on the ground of legal covenant. The measure of requirement must, of course, be in conformity with this, which, save One, no man has ever satisfied. Yet in the new covenant it is said, "I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their heart" (Jer. 31:33); and as so written, it becomes a "law of liberty." Apart from any question here of the Christian rule of life — which Gal. 6:16, Col. 2:6, will answer — it is plain that redemption, as bringing the soul to God, sets up His throne within it, and obedience is the only liberty. It is plain, too, that there is a "righteousness of the law" which the law itself gives no power to fulfill, but which is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." (Rom. 8:4.) What is merely dispensational passes, but not that which is the expression of God's character, and required by it. Nothing of this can pass.

1. The people are now at Sinai. The name is nearly the same as that of the wilderness in which the manna fell, and has the same meaning. The scene is still a "wilderness," and the throne of the almighty Lawgiver a barren mount. Law cannot bring into the land, nor produce fruit from the barren heart of man; and of this God would encompass us with reminders.

Here, then, at Sinai, He proclaims the principle of law, — obedience as the ground of blessing. He recalls to them the mighty deliverance He had accomplished for them, and the way in which He had sustained and blessed them, and brought them to Himself. And now it was in His heart for them to have them as His own, — from among all the nations, His peculiar treasure. In an earthly place, and not a heavenly, they should be to Him a kingdom of priests (with perpetual right of approach to Himself ), a nation all holy. For this He demands obedience: without it, plainly this access to Himself would be a denial of His nature.

Grace still must affirm this, therefore, not set it aside; but it does what law does not — it provides for the accomplishment of the condition. First of all, the obedience of Another, who owed none, has glorified God infinitely with regard to those who owed but did not pay. Secondly, — for this even could not release (nor could there be blessing in release) from the personal obligation, — grace apprehended in the heart brings back the heart to God, and the heart brought back in love serves of necessity.

(1) There is that which abides for us here, but the law, while it rightly claims, cannot produce it. Israel never under the law became a "kingdom of priests." The choice of Aaron and his family afterward shows this fully. The people thus as a body were set aside from the priesthood, and it was death for any not of Aaron's seed to invade the priestly office.

Thus the promise is one of conditional election, which of course does not touch the fact that God's grace will at last make this good to the nation, when it is plain that in themselves they have no title.

(2) The people eagerly, and in ignorant self-confidence, accept the covenant. They have had plentiful proof of their own evil, and of their need of grace, and had been shown grace; yet, in spite of this, do not hesitate to put themselves under law: and just on this account they had to be put under law, that both they and all others through them might learn by their experience. And immediately they do learn what strict law is. The character of God's dealing with them changes: cloud and darkness, and bounds set round the mount, enforced by the severest penalties, warn them of what law must entail upon a sinful people; the commandments themselves are made known in all the length and breadth of the divine holiness; and yet they go on, after the whole is thus declared, to ratify their engagement as confidently as they had undertaken it at first.

Apart from the legality of this, there is a truth which remains, an answer of the heart to God's offer of love, which He seeks from us, a free-will offering of ourselves to Him (2 Cor. 8:5). And so Barnabas exhorted the disciples, that "with purpose of heart they should cleave to the Lord." (Acts 11:23.)

(3) On the third day, (the day of manifestation) the glory of Jehovah appears upon the mount; but though this be the seal of the covenant, the people are not able to draw nigh; and the mercy of God interdicts what would be fatal to man in his sinful condition. Thus already it is plain that the issue of the covenant cannot be favorable to him.

2. The ten commandments, as spoken by Jehovah Himself in the ears of the people, are expressly said to be the "words of the covenant." "Write thou these words," He says to Moses, "for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. . . . and he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments." It is very evident, therefore, that the ten commandments are not formally addressed to any other than Israel, the covenant-people.

In their form, they bear the most decisive marks of this: "I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt," and "that thy days may be long in the land that Jehovah thy God giveth thee," apply distinctively to Israel, as is plain. In Deut. 5:15, the commandment to keep the Sabbath also is based upon their redemption out of Egypt. It is thus that the law is given to the people as a redeemed people; and this is noteworthy in two ways: —

First, it reminds us that man as man is fallen, and under condemnation, and that relationship with God must be on other than natural grounds. Only in grace could God give even a law to man now, although not, of course, the full grace that is made known in the gospel. The law as the terms of the covenant was necessarily the sign, therefore, of covenant-relationship.

Secondly, we see how still "all these things happened unto them for types." In the wisdom of God, that same law, whose principle was "do and live," could yet be the type of the obedience of faith in those who are the subjects of a spiritual redemption, the principle of which is "live and do." Let us remember, however, that law in itself retains none the less its character as opposed to grace, and that as a type it does not represent law any longer: we are not, as Christians, in any sense under the law, but under grace.

(1) The ten commandments divide, as our Lord has divided them, into duties Godward and manward: this being also the common division. There are four commandments in the first, and six in the second part; and so reckoned, they show the universal numerical stamp: —

The first commandment plainly affirms the unity of God: it also affirms His exclusive sovereignty.

The second forbids idolatry, — the abasing Him to some creature-conception. (See Rom. 1:23.)

The third requires the hallowing of His Name, — that which stands for what He really is as revealed. These three commandments thus guard the grand primary truth upon which all others rest, for faith and practice. They are different in character from the fourth, so that this last has been by some of old transferred to the second division; but in fact, this only shows that the 4 here is, as usually, a 3 + 1. The difference sustains, therefore, the numerical arrangement.

The fourth commandment here falls into its place as a memorial of creation, — man owning in it his place as a creature, yet in rest, because God rested. True, sin has broken in upon His rest, but this is not noticed here, because in the law there is covenant-relationship supposed, though only while the law is kept. But the rest is in earthly blessing, and, like all else here, never carries us beyond.

(2) We come now to the second part: here of six commandments.
The first claims honor for parents, the earth-type and representatives of the Creator-Father. And to this, as the apostle notes, a special "promise of life"— though but the continuance of it — is attached.
The second forbids killing — of course, of men: which our Lord interprets as the prohibition even of anger without cause. It is, as one may say, the salvation-ordinance of the life that is.
The third sanctions and sanctifies marriage, and how far it extends the Lord again declares.
The fourth has to do with things, not persons, — the goods of others, which it protects from the spoiler.
The fifth, under the prohibition of false witness, condemns deceit of every kind, the resource of weakness at all times where God is not before the soul. The numerical place here seems to be intended to remind the creature of his need of God, walking with whom the holiness of truth will be maintained.
The sixth and last tracks sin to its lair, discovers it in "lust," as the apostle shows (Rom. 7:7), and shows where victory over it must be found: although the secret of the victory it cannot penetrate. The law is but the "strength of sin" (1 Cor. 15:56), and not of holiness.

In these "ten words" the measure of human responsibility is given — of man naturally. Christian responsibility we must not expect to find in it: that is measured only by our new place in Christ before God, — heavenly, so as to make us strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. Of this we have no hint here, and could not have: it would be mere confusion if introduced into it.

3. The unfitness of the people to approach God is demonstrated even to themselves, though they neither understand aright the cause nor receive the discovery aright. Ignorant of the sin which is the real barrier, and misreading, therefore, the mind of God, who would have His people with Himself, instead of seeking to have the barrier removed, they readily accept the place of distance, and beg that God may no more speak directly to them, but through Moses as the mediator. It is this spirit which would interpose the more tolerable image-worship, by which God is attempted to be brought nigh, but in reality banished. This leads, therefore, to the renewed interdiction of idolatry, while God prescribes the way in which He is to be approached. "The altar" as our Lord says, "is that which sanctifieth the gift." Now, if we take the "gifts" that are here spoken of, the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings undoubtedly prefigure the work of Christ. The only thing, then, that could make the work of Christ acceptable was the supreme excellence of the Person who did the work. Of Him the altar of burnt-offering, — as in due time we may see, — assuredly speaks. Of Him no less must the altars here. But as the burnt-offering will be found to have also a secondary application to the believer, so it will be found in this case also.

The gift, the Lord teaches, cannot be acceptable, where the heart of him that offers it is not right. (Matt. 5:23, 24.) This is easily understood: and thus the type before us finds very simply its meaning in both applications, whether (as primarily) to Christ, or to the worshiper.

The material that God accepts for His altar, then, is either earth or stone, — things which are in contrast with one another; "earth," deriving its name from its crumbling character (eretz, from ratz, to crumble, says Parkhurst of the Hebrew word); and stone, which resists pressure, and is characterized by its hardness and durability. Of the dust of the earth man was made, and as the earth is fertile as it yields to the hand that dresses it, so is man to God, as He yields Himself to the divine hand. Earth seems thus naturally to stand for the creature in its frailty, — conscious of it, and accepting the place of weakness and subjection, thus to bring forth fruit to God. While stone stands for the strength that is thus found in Another, linked with and growing out of the consciousness of weakness: "When I am weak, then am I strong."

Now in both respects He was perfect, who came down to all the reality of manhood, to know both its weakness and the wondrous strength which is wrought out of weakness thus waiting upon and subject to God. It was thus in endurance He yielded Himself up, and endured by yielding Himself to His Father's will. The stone of the altar no human hand might shape; and he who approached was thus warned that by no work of his own could he gain acceptance with God, or even help to do so. And again, he was not to go up by steps unto God's altar, for steps are human machinery to reach a higher level than otherwise belongs to us. God, blessed be His name, has come down to our need, and He would have also our worship and our walk on the same level. Otherwise the effort to take a higher place will surely but expose our shame.

That there is a secondary application of these altars to the believer also seems to be true, however, and may be indicated. Our justification is as ungodly (Rom. 4:5); our acceptance, in Another, wholly; yet there are acceptable conditions of soul in drawing near to God, which seem to answer to what is here. If we realize our weakness, we find, as in Hebrews, provision for it in the "High-Priest over the house of God" (Heb. 10:21), and all the tenderness of divine compassion drawn out by our necessity. On the other hand, we have our unchangeable position as in Christ before God, and realize thus "the strength of our salvation." The two things, though in contrast, yet suit well together, and we need to have them thus in counter-balance in order to know the fullness of the blessing which is ours, whether we consider what we are in ourselves, or what we are in Christ.

4. The ten commandments are in themselves a perfect rule of duty: yet the bluntness of man's spiritual sense requires help in the application of them to practice. It has been seen thus by many commentators that the divisions of the three following chapters correspond, though not in exact order, with the commandments of the second table, and with that of the Sabbath, several of the divisions developing one of these each. Yet we must not suppose, on the other hand, a full development, which would be practically impossible, or, from its immensity, of little use, but test-cases, if we may call them so, illustrative of their application; leaving plenty of room for individual exercise, ever healthful and necessary to the discipline intended by them. This we shall see in the brief examination which it is alone possible to give them here.

"Bertheau, and after him Baumgarten, maintain," says Murphy, "that as the 'ten words' constitute the great Decalogue, so each of these sections forms a minor decalogue. There is, we conceive, some tenable ground for this subdivision. This brings out in a striking light the wonderful system lying in the structure of this seemingly unconnected collection of injunctions. Seven groups of ten precepts each form the fundamental polity of the commonwealth of Israel."

Those who see so much should look further. What is true of these chapters is true of the whole Word of God, that there is a numerical structure every where which connects all together, and gives added significance to every part. The seventh section, however, in conformity with its character, which is mainly promise, seems to be rather divisible into seven than into ten parts.

(1) "The first of these sections," says Murphy again, "refers to the duties of masters and servants, and is therefore a natural expansion of the fifth commandment, which relates to parents and children." This is true, and deeply instructive: how instructive is it, and yet how simple, that the master is thus seen in the place of the parent! It is of slavery the commandment treats — an evil which as yet could not be done away; and which, in the limited form in which it is here permitted, became often a benefit. How truly so if the slave became thus, as it were, the adopted child of his master, or the maid-servant became the wife of her master or of his son!

But how infinitely is the servant's place here exalted, when we see in the One who voluntarily chooses it forever the type of the blessed Person whose "body prepared" Him was really what the digged ear of the Hebrew servant was, — the sign of love's surrender to perpetual service! Upon all this there is no space to enlarge; but this is how God has filled up the valleys, and glorified what is lowly. Blessed be His name!

(2) The second section is, without any doubt, an expansion of the second commandment of this table. Any comment upon it would have to be in detail, and is therefore beyond the scope of the present work.

(3) The third section does not follow the order of the Decalogue, but passes on to the fourth commandment, — the question of property. This is quite suitable to the significance of the number, however; the third commandment only finding brief reference in the fourth section, which is not at all, as Murphy very strangely makes it to be, devoted to it.

(4) The fourth section, rather, as Lange says, (though with him it is a fifth, ) pronounces against unnatural crimes, sins against either the assigned place in creation or the relation to the Creator, or that which we well call "humanity," the consideration of the need and weakness of the creature. And here the numerical stamp is evident.

(5) The fifth section plainly connects with the fifth commandment.

(6) The sixth section brings us back to the law of the Sabbath, but this only as connected with its subject, which is here to be sought certainly below the surface. On its face, it is a series of laws as to the religious seasons, and this, of course, must be the form under which we shall find the deeper truth. For deeper truth there must be: these positive outward institutions must have a purpose in the care of God for His people, as surely as they have also a typical meaning for us. Of the latter, here is not the place to speak: we find them here in connection with moral precepts, which are given for the spiritual education of the people, and these carry their meaning upon their face: the moral purpose of the religious seasons must be as truly in them if not as evident.

Now, in general, it is plain, as we have seen, that these sections take up in order and apply the commandments of the second table, and that in this section, therefore, we should reach the last commandment, "Thou shalt not lust," or "covet." Can there, then, be any correspondence between that commandment, the most spiritual of all, and these merely (as it might seem) external observances?

Yet it becomes evident, as we look at what is here before us, how great a check to covetousness these ordinances would be. Every seventh day a Sabbath of rest; every seventh year sabbatic likewise; three times a year for every male to appear before the Lord, and never empty; the first-fruits to be for Him. In fact, we find that such laws were being constantly broken through by the greed and unbelief of the people. Even then they were witnesses against this. Beside which, a positive law, to which the conscience of the mass does not respond in the same way as to that which therefore they call moral, — if it require much, — tests the state of the heart more than this even. It rests more entirely for its sanction upon the authority of God; it demands more complete subjection from the will of man, which, in its revolt from God, and attracted by the world around, is lust. For those really subject, it becomes, on the other hand, a fruitful discipline.

Moreover, in this continual bringing God before the soul, and the soul to God, the true remedy is pointed out for this root and stronghold of sin within the soul. Attracted to God, the allurement of other things is met and broken, and we find true deliverance. This is what the apostle shows us in the seventh of Romans, though there in a manner beyond any thing the law could speak of.

Thus the connection of this sixth section with the sixth commandment is clearly to be seen however, and the importance of these institutions in Israel may be better realized.

(7) The seventh section is rather promise and assurance than command, although command there is also. It carries Israel's heart on to the land of their inheritance, as ours are carried on to one more glorious.

The still smaller division of these subsections have been only indicated in the text. To have taken these up in detail would have enlarged these notes beyond their intended limit. We have before us yet much of the book, and where detail will be more required.

5. The law being now substantially complete, and when it is again, formally, accepted by the people, they are permitted to be with God as in covenant-relation. The glory of God is seen, though but afar off. It is for this reason that this manifestation of Himself does not come in its usual numerical place, but under the number which speaks of governmental dealing and human responsibility. This blessedness does not and cannot abide for them. How much can man keep of what is committed to him?

(1) And this is intimated at the outset: for the people, even in their representatives, cannot draw near. He who has come down to dwell among them has yet to hold them at a distance, while Moses alone, as type of a greater Mediator, is called to approach. This position of Moses is emphasized in Jehovah's words here.

(2) We then find the covenant ratified, not alone by the reiterated consent of the people, but by the shedding of blood — the proclamation of the penalty of disobedience, and not the witness of the power of atonement for them. This, no doubt, seems strange and unlikely, when we read, as here, of burnt-offerings and peace-offerings offered, the well-known figures of the blessed Lord's work for men. But when was cleansing by the blood of Jesus the result of man's doing or engaging to do the work of the law? and this was, as Moses said to them, the blood of the covenant they were then making, that old covenant of law which is in contrast with the new covenant, and cannot be "added to" the promise of the gospel. (Gal. 3:8-18.)

How, then, can the blood of the precious sacrifice be the blood of the legal covenant at the same time? For we may not say that the burnt-offering is not the blood of atonement (Lev. 1:4); and we may not say that this blood atoned: how then? We have only to look at the cross of Christ, and we shall find in it the answer to this question.

Christ's blood is the "blood of the new covenant" (Matt. 26:28); but was it not also (in a sense) the blood of the old? Certainly in this way it was, that it affirmed the righteousness of the penalty of the law for those under it. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," says the apostle. (Gal. 3:13.) And this affirms the righteousness of the penalty. Even yet, then, for every one who presumptuously undertakes to stand upon the footing of law-works before God, the blood of Christ bears witness that he must meet the penalty, which for those who are "justified by His blood" (Rom. 5:9) has been met. How solemn, then, does this make the witness here!

(3) But for the moment all seems well with the people, though they are not brought nigh. But how little man thinks really of being brought nigh! how well content he is to be in the sufferable distance, if only he may escape wrath! So the representatives of the people worship in the far-off place, and all is well. And they see the God of Israel, — not as Moses, "face to face," — nor must we speculate as to the vision. What is "under His feet" is what is dwelt on for us, — the sapphire work, like the clear transparent depths of the heavens themselves, which a comparison with Ezekiel's vision, as well as also the language here, would seem to show as really meant: that "terrible crystal" vault, suggesting with its immeasurable depths the infinite to the finite, yet which God transcends by His whole Being: — for whom they are but the footstool for His feet. Wondrously this reveals Him whom yet we see not; for there is no likeness of Him, and they saw none (Deut. 4:12). Yet we have seen Him, marvelous to say, in the likeness of the Son of Man! (Rev. 1. 13.)

(4) The spoken law has yet to be given into man's hand as a written one. Such is man's need, and so little can be trusted to tradition. In the wisdom of God the people are also to be tested by Moses' absence from them: of this trial the forty days of absence definitely speak.

(5) The mount, covered with the cloud six days, on the seventh breaks out into flame to the people's eyes; but the voice of the Lord calls Moses up to Himself, — to that serene Presence where cloud and fire are not. These are but as the ***** (infolding?) enfolding fire at the gate of Eden; beyond is the ineffable glory and the eternal peace.

Section 2. (Ex. 25 — 31.)

The tabernacle; the means of sustaining relationship when sin has come in: the types of a greater salvation.

We have now the directions as to the tabernacle, the means by which, in the inevitable breach of the first covenant, relationship is to be sustained. We find as yet only the pattern of it, but which fully shows that God has anticipated and provided for the failure of that in which the people placed such assured confidence. Just for this reason was it necessary that they should be allowed to prove fully what was in them. But the trial was to be much longer than this might argue, and not for their need only, but for all after-generations.

1. There are five subsections; of which this introductory one shows how alone Jehovah could dwell amongst them. While He alone must prescribe the manner of it, they yet must provide Him a dwelling-place, and that of their own freewill. The toil of slaves could not furnish this; forced labor could not be acceptable to Him who had been their Redeemer out of Egyptian bondage that they might freely serve Him. The Psalmist's words find expression here (Ps. 22:3): God inhabits the praises of Israel. But what meaning is given to this when we remember whose voice it is that utters itself in this psalm, — that it is His who by His own atoning sufferings makes possible and inspires the praises of His redeemed! And it is of this suffering that the tabernacle-services speak to us throughout. Typically thus we see in the materials here of what our praises must be full, for they all utter to us the blessed name of Jesus.

2. And then we enter upon a survey of the elements of this tabernacle-worship, — "patterns" only as yet, — but which we find realized before the book ends, when they are all emphasized by repetition: what may be seen in this it will be for us to inquire there: at present, we have only the patterns.

(1) First of these, the ark and mercy-seat, together the throne of God in Israel. That He "sitteth between the cherubim" we are often reminded, and thence (we are told here) His law was to go forth to Israel.

Christ is the substance of all these shadows, and in the ark we have surely Christ. The acacia-wood as the wood of the desert, — the only timber-tree in it — speaks of Him as the "root out of a dry ground," as which He grew up before God (Isa. 53:2), precious and durable, the type of victory over surrounding circumstances — of life conquering death. Such was Christ in His humanity; His divine glory is intimated by the gold which covered it, yet was distinct from it, as His deity was distinct from His humanity. The rings are of gold, in which the staves were to remain constantly; for divine love makes Him ever a pilgrim with His pilgrim-people.

Upon the ark, fitting exactly to it, is the kapporeth,* or "mercy-seat," of pure gold, glorious as divine mercy is, one with the cherubim at each end of it, whose faces toward the mercy-seat are also toward each other, attracted by a common object, which, although not seen as yet, is the blood of atonement to be put there. They are attached thus to the throne of God, and are always seen in connection with the display of judicial authority; as at the gate of Eden in conjunction with the sword-flame by which the way to the tree of life is stopped; or as in Ezekiel's vision of judgment; again the "living beings" in the midst of the throne in Rev. 4 are undoubtedly cherubic.

{*Not implying a mere "covering," but a word derived from the intensive form of kaphar (kipper), always applied to atonement or its results. The Septuagint translate it "hilasterion," "propitiatory," and the apostle in Heb. 9:5 adopts their rendering, while in Rom. 3:25 he applies it to the Lord, "whom God hath set forth to be a propitiatory through faith in His blood." This word, as used of the mercy-seat, derives its significance from the blood of atonement, or propitiation, which once a year was put upon it. But the doctrine of atonement will come up for fuller consideration when we come to Leviticus.}

Their forms are not given yet, for in Genesis they are only named. Here we see their wings, (suggesting their heavenly character,) and where their faces are directed, and that they are part of the throne itself, and two in number (speaking of competent witness). Every thing assures us that they express the executive righteousness of the throne, which requires and finds its satisfaction in the work of atonement.

The ark, then, as a whole, is the throne of God in Israel, in righteousness, yet in mercy, through the blood of sacrifice; and Christ is shown in it as the One through whom alone such a throne can be set up among men. He is indeed God's righteous mercy-seat. Within the ark is to be put the testimony, the tables of the law; which cannot but remind us of Him who said, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." (Ps. 40:7, 8.) But if thus within His heart, magnified and made honorable by His own subjection to it through His life, and in His taking upon the cross its curse upon sin, — it is none the less shut up from man, the curse removed from him. In that which we are considering there is as yet only the shadow, not the substance; but the shadow even shows that not by man's fulfillment of responsibility, but by atonement only could God have His place among men. The purely legal covenant was not that under which man could really abide at all, and in God's mind it was already set aside.

(2) We have next the table of show-bread, not the ordinance of the show-bread, which comes in Leviticus (Lev. 24:5-9). The mention of it here is only to show the purpose of the table itself. The show-bread, as we find it in the later book, assuredly speaks of communion, and with a wondrous fullness of thought in it which it would be here out of place to enter into. Here the table, made of the same material as the ark, must speak of Christ as the ark does. Christ, then, is here the Sustainer of communion. The wood and the gold we need not dwell on again, except to notice (what is equally true of the ark) that the gold outside shows us the Lord, not as He was in His humiliation upon earth, but glorified in heaven. The whole sanctuary, holy and holiest, is the figure of the heavenly places (Heb. 9:23, 24), and it is Christ as there, risen, ascended, glorified, — gone up, His work being accepted, — who sustains us in the place of fellowship with God.

Thus the table is of the same height with the ark, over-topped only by the golden mercy-seat, though it falls short of it in breadth and length; for God's mercy, as revealed in the propitiation for sins, is more than actually realized in the communion of saints. The propitiation is for the whole world (1 John 2:2), though on condition of faith (Rom. 3:25), which all men, alas! have not. Thus the table spread for the saints has not in this respect the dimensions of the mercy-seat.

Around the table is a margin of a hand-breadth, which may imply the divine hand that is round about; while table and margin are encompassed with a golden border — possibly a crown, although the word is not used for crown elsewhere, — which suggests how the divine glory defines and marks out all.

This table, though in character heavenly, is still for present use, as the rings and staves would show. It is part of that provision of God for us which is available by grace through all our wilderness journeying, and the vessels for the drink-offering which accompany the table show us how of necessity communion and thanksgiving are linked together.

(3) The only other portion of the furniture of the sanctuary that we find here (for the incense altar is found in another connection, chap. 30) is the golden lamp-stand, which we must, of course, distinguish from the light it bears. In Rev. 4:5, in unmistakable reference to what we have here, "the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne" are interpreted for us as "the seven spirits of God." The lamp-stand supports the light, while it is itself lighted up by it, — a thing of the most essential consequence in this case: for if the Spirit of God is the Sanctifier, Christ is Himself the means of sanctification to the soul (1 Cor. 1:30), and the work of the Spirit is thus to take of the things of Christ and show them to us.

Moreover, it is not only Christ, but Christ in heaven, who is our sanctification, as He says: "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." (John 17:19.) He sets Himself apart as the One gone up to God, a Man, to be at once the pattern and the power of sanctification in men and "we all beholding the glory of the Lord with unvailed face" — in contrast with Moses, vailed one — "are changed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor. 3:18).

We have now the means of interpreting the sanctuary lamp-stand. It is of pure gold simply, not (as with the ark and table) of wood and gold: the distinction of natures in Christ is here, therefore, not the thought; our attention is to be fixed upon this, that it is the "glory of God" we behold in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). It is to the image of God we are to be brought by this outshining of the glory of God.

Yet we see in whose face it shines: for all over the stem and branches is the semblance of the almond, bud and flower and fruit. Now the almond brings us back to the tree, the human element; nor only so: the almond is in the book of Numbers the symbol of Christ, and of Christ in resurrection. The rod of Aaron put into the sanctuary bursts into sudden bloom and fruitage after the manner of the lamp-stand, the clear and beautiful figure of resurrection. This declares the divine Priest (Num. 17), and with our sanctification the glorious Priest, as gone in for us into the sanctuary, is concerned. But not only so; on each branch we find the resurrection-number 3 of these almond symbols, and connecting the three pairs of branches three more on the central stem, which has itself four — thus a 3 + 1.

Still more, the almond is, in Hebrew, shaqed, "hastening," because it is the first tree which, reviving out of the winter-sleep, "hastens" to put forth its blossoms, first-fruits of all that is to come. How beautiful the type here of Christ our "first-fruits" in connection with this theme of sanctification, in which when perfected the after fruits will be rendered to God!

But again, as to the branches of the lamp-stand, Isa. 11 is surely an inspired interpretation. There we find the Lord indeed in another character, as the Branch out of the root of Jesse, King of Israel, but with the fullness of the Spirit for the government of the earth. Here is the connection, and it is a remarkable one; for as in the lamp-stand the seven branches which bear the seven lamps are in three pairs, with one uniting central stem, so are the seven spirits of Isaiah united and divided: "And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah." Here the "Spirit of Jehovah," standing necessarily alone, yet unites certainly all the rest. "Jehovah" is God's name by which He is in covenant with His people as their Redeemer, as this book of Exodus has taught us; and thus Christ, as the Mediator of the new covenant, holds His people fast to God. Is not this possibly the reason why there are, as we have seen, four almonds (the number of the creature) upon the central stem?

Strange at first it seems that for these lamps there should be provided snuffers and snuff-dishes; but it becomes simple if we remember that here as elsewhere the Spirit of God is seen as connected with the human instruments He is pleased to use, and that they need (how often!) the service which this implies. Snuffers are thus "golden," (for the glory of God,) though a priestly hand alone can use them aright.

(4) The tabernacle has three aspects in which we are to view it, in all of which the thought of its being the dwelling-place of God is fundamental. In the first place, it sets before us the heavenly places, as the epistle to the Hebrews fully shows: here its interior space with the ark, table and lamp-stand is specially in view. Though in connection with the earth, the house of God must, of course, in character be heavenly. Then it represents Christ Himself, as made flesh and tabernacling among us, the glory here being the glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, R.V. marg.). Here the curtains of the tabernacle are before us. And lastly, the church, is God's house, as the epistle to the  Hebrews again teaches (Heb. 3:6) with distinct reference to the tabernacle. Here the boards of the tabernacle, the wooden part of the structure seem to give the thought.

We begin now with the curtains, and here we see that if the tabernacle is throughout the "pattern of things in the heavens," yet they are here brought down to earth, essentially a place of worship for the wilderness, whose bare sands were under the feet of the worshipers. In the land, the tabernacle was replaced by the temple. It is thus, as belonging to the earth, God in it come down to man, that the tabernacle fills its numerical place here, and the goats' hair tent, and its coverings, harmonize perfectly with this.

The curtains speak, as their material shows, of practical righteousness, as the fine linen which covers the bride in Rev. 19 does: "the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints." The Revised Version here gives "righteous acts," and such robes have to be washed in the blood of Christ to make them white, (Rev. 7:14; comp. 22:14, R.V.) a clear evidence that they are not the symbol of Christ our righteousness, which can need no washing.

The "coats of skin" with which God clothed the first sinners were no human production: they were the fruit of death, not of life. But the "fine twined linen" speaks of human manufacture, the patient labor of which had not been yet transferred to the iron sinews which today bear the burden. The ten curtains confirm this thought, a number which — or some other multiple of 5 — meets us in the tabernacle again and again. Here they are divided into two fives, and in the measure of each curtain we find numbers just as significant — twenty-eight cubits in length, which is 4 X 7, and four cubits in breadth, showing how in the weakness of the creature into which He had come, one Man had reached an obedience that was perfect.

But we have not alone the fine twined linen here: blue and purple and scarlet are interwoven in it. We scarcely need the assurance of Maimonides, that the first of these "was the color of the firmament," to recognize the symbol of heavenliness; the purple and scarlet are both royal colors, and may well refer to Christ's double royalty, as King of Israel, "the root of Jesse, and He that should rise to reign over the Gentiles," as the apostle quotes Isaiah. And this is the more plain, if as Keil says, and the literal rendering of the text seems to confirm, the blue, purple, and scarlet were simply used for the cherubic figures, which were wrought both upon these curtains and on the vail. The cherubim point to divine government, as we have seen, and thus we find here the King of God's kingdom very simply declared. Let us notice too that the colors here are really purple-blue, purple-red, and crimson, so that through them all is a pervading tinge of the blue, — the heavenly color. But the fine linen, though these figures are woven into it, is itself white, — that which, as absolutely pure, reflects back the undivided ray of light, and "God is light."

Loops of blue and golden clasps unite these curtains into one tabernacle: every where this heavenly character connected with the display of the glory of God.

A tent of goat's hair surmounts it, and here we have what is very different. For the goat is the evident type of the sinner, and therefore speaks also of the Substitute for sinners. "Sin" and "sin-offering." are the same word both in Greek and Hebrew. Thus the type here is simple enough to read. The eleven curtains of goats' hair are divided for us into five and six, God with man and triumphing over sin; while each curtain in length is thirty cubits, and in breadth four. The latter number may remind us of the wondrous fact that in human weakness — power all against Him — was the battle won; while the former, if it is not to repeat and emphasize the former truths (being 5 X 6) must be taken as 3 X 10, and thus God glorified in the judgment of sin. The sixth curtain is doubled in front of the tent, facing with its gospel message the one who comes toward it from the world outside.

The tent had, again, a double covering: the innermost, of rams' skins dyed red, and the outer, of seal-skin (or, as some still think, of badgers' skins). The latter may speak of immovable steadfastness which no circumstance could affect,* underneath which lay, as the secret of it, a consecration to God which was devotedness even to death: such surely was the rams' skin.

{*It is the suggestion of another that the seal-skin may imply perfect protection from a strange element.}

Such, then, is the picture of Him in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. We now come to the board frame-work. And here there are forty-eight boards in all: 6 X 8 = 48; the number of victory over sin and the number of new creation come together. This is when we look at all together — the Church as a whole; when we look at the boards singly, we have quite different numbers. Each board was ten cubits long and one and one-half broad. The number of responsibility is clear enough, whatever the other may be, and this is perpendicular measure also.

But when we look at the boards, there seems a great difficulty in applying them, in the way we are doing, to the Church or to individual believers in it. Each board is of the same material, outside and in, as is the ark, and as is the table; and if these speak of Christ, how can the boards speak of any other? That is perfectly just: the boards do speak of Christ; but there is just the glory of divine grace, for we are in Christ. Thus it is that nothing could rightly represent us in our standing before God, except that which will turn our eyes entirely from ourselves, and rest them upon Christ in glory.

Yet let us test this every way. Is it not still an objection that the gold should be here, which we have looked at before as typifying the deity of our Lord? Is it not as Man, and simply as Man, that He represents us before God? and can the gold be in place then in such a connection, if it is still to typify, as in consistency it must, what it typified before?

Now it is surely right to insist upon strict accuracy here; for if error in divine things is ever serious, how much more when it involves points so fundamental as are these? It is certain that it is as Man only that Christ represents us before God. As God, He is our God and our Creator simply. Yet we are said (in some sense) to be in the Son, and even in the Father (John 17:21; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1.) This, of course, is not position: it is relationship; it is in virtue of that "eternal life" we have received, which we have not in ourselves, but in Him who is the Source of it, and by which we are in very truth the children of God. Our life is in Christ thus, who is the "eternal life," not human life, but divine; and upon this depends our position also; for thus Christ is "last Adam" to the new race of men, and as in the old fallen head we fell, in the risen One we stand upright, as the boards stand before us here, rooted in their double sockets of silver, the witness of atonement (Ex. 30:15; 38:27). This silver of the atonement-money upon which they stand seems to show clearly that it is not Christ Himself who is contemplated in these boards, but His people in Him.

The bars that unite them are of the same two materials, but here there is no difficulty, for Christ is surely the uniting bond for His people.

The vail, again, is exactly like the inner curtains, and the inspired interpretation given in Heb. 10:20 confirms that of the curtains also. It is Christ in His humanity, the way into the presence of God, but for which it must be rent, as we know it was rent when He died. Looking back, as we do, upon these types, we have to introduce this thought, that the vail is rent, and I think it is on this account — because of the ideal connection of the vail and its rending, that the cherubim are found upon it, as they are not upon the door of the tabernacle or the gate of the court. In these, the colors and the fine linen are still found; for it is the same Christ that is presented to us, but it is as having suffered He has entered into His glory. The cherubim speak of government in His hands already, Christ, as now we know Him, although now on the Father's throne, not yet on His own; but on the Father's throne speaks of His fullest dignity and of His eternal glory.

What, then, are the "pillars" that support the vail? It is plain that (in another form) they are just the boards of the tabernacle over again — acacia-wood and gold resting upon silver sockets. Thus we should naturally think of Christ as He now is, held up by the testimony of redeemed men, as in the pages of the New Testament prophets and apostles. And is it, perhaps, on this account, that whereas the boards stand each upon two sockets, the pillars stand each upon one only: they being the original witnesses upon whose testimony the Church is built? The number (4) may tell us, moreover, that even in this primary witness Israel's exclusive position is set aside, as in Luke, the Gentile evangelist and historian of the Church. (Comp. Col. 4:11 with 14.)

The division of the sanctuary by the vail into the holy and most holy is here pointed out. Thus was constituted that "first tabernacle" which the apostle speaks of (Heb. 9:2, 8,) as characteristic of Judaism, and for us now done away as such, — the rending of the vail having made the two one. This shows us in what way "the law, having a shadow of good things to come," was "not the very image" (Heb. 10:1), a fact full of significance, and not to be set down to the general disparagement of such symbolic teaching, or as an excuse for loose and ill-fitting interpretations. On the contrary, this in the law is not meaningless, but full of meaning. "The way into the holiest" — into the presence of God — could not be opened while as yet man was under the test of the law: how would he have gloried in himself could this have been! To sinners confessedly under the condemnation of the law, on the other hand, Christ's death has rent the vail and sprinkled the mercy-seat. The word for us — how opposite to all we had but a little while since as to Israel — is, "Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith." (Heb. 10:22.)

The covering for the entrance of the tent shows by its materials and colors what we know beforehand doctrinally, that Christ is ever the "Way." The cherubim are absent from it, however, as already noticed, and while the curtain still hangs from golden hooks, the five pillars stand now upon brazen and not silver sockets. Brass, (or "copper" it may have been; the word stands, as it appears, for both,) is the type of what is fixed and unchanging — of enduring strength. (Deut. 28:23; Deut. 33:25; Ps. 107:16; Jer. 1:18.) The "tent upon the tabernacle" is united into one by brazen clasps, and in the court outside we find it repeatedly, replacing the silver or the gold elsewhere. The pillars are still of acacia-wood and gold, and as not standing on silver sockets, would seem necessarily to represent Christ himself and not His people, — Christ's own ministry, when upon the earth, which, going far beyond Judaism, introduced into the sanctuary itself, though the holiest of all only His death could open. "God manifest," as the gold declares, and standing in divine strength (upon the brazen sockets), the five pillars would beautifully speak of Immanuel, "God with us." Christ Himself come was thus the entrance of the sanctuary for us, the beginning of the ministry of heavenly things.

(5) We come now to the altar of burnt-offering; and its numerical place speaks again of God with men, as the same number in the length and breadth of it does of that human responsibility, the failure in which atonement was needed for. "The Son of Man must be lifted up" and "God gave His Son" are both thus in the type. For the altar has again its two materials, like the ark and they table, thus speaking of two natures; but the gold is replaced by the brass, the divine nature seems obscured and lost, yet is not, for the strength of superhuman endurance is found in the Man, Christ Jesus. And the altar is three cubits high, for God is glorified, — yea, and the Son of Man is glorified in the cross (John 13:31.) The brazen horns point every way from the four corners, for Christ died, not for Israel only, but for all; and the horns, speaking as elsewhere of power, are the ministry of that, through the blood that anoints them, to every ungodly one that is without strength (Rom. 5:6.) The altar, being hollow, admitted the sacrificial fire within it, not bore it on the surface merely, — a solemn realization as to atonement.

(6) In the court of the tabernacle, the fine linen which encloses it has necessarily the same meaning as elsewhere. It speaks of practical righteousness, but there is no adornment of color or of figure traced upon it. The pillars which support it are, with their sockets, which are single, all of brass, but the connecting-rods and the hooks by which it hangs are of silver. The measure of the hangings of the courts is exactly that of the beautiful curtains of the tabernacle; but here the fine linen hangs from silver hooks, answering to the sockets of the tabernacle-boards, so that it is not Christ that is pictured, but the righteousness of saints, yet which is measured by what Christ is. The silver hook is dependent upon the silver rod, by which the weight is thrown upon the brazen posts, which easily sustain it, — redemption linking the believer with a strength that is not his own.

The numbers everywhere speak of responsibility, however, as well they may; for these white hangings close round the sanctuary to maintain its separation from the outside world. Sin is to be repelled and excluded from this slight-walled enclosure, where the only entrance is by Christ, as the curtained entrance here again shows, hanging as the fine linen of the court hangs — from silver hooks, because Christ as the way of access depends indeed upon the atonement He has made. Thus divine power has wrought for us in human weakness, as the four brazen pillars show which uphold the curtain.

Here, at the border of the sanctuary-enclosure, where it meets the world, the types are found of God's triumph over sin.

3. In the third series of these tabernacle-types, we come now to consider man's approach to God, and in connection with this, necessarily the Mediator-Priest. It is here for the first time the priesthood comes formally before us. Melchisedek in Genesis has given us the type of a better order of priesthood than that of Aaron, but he is very briefly, and as it were incidentally, introduced. In Exodus, beside Jethro, we have among the people of Israel priests recognized, "young men," probably of the first-born, who are not further noticed, but give place necessarily to the exclusive priesthood of Aaron and his sons. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not to speak of Abel and of Noah, plainly exercised priestly functions, and it seems certain that the law, as it invested the priesthood with special sanctity, correspondingly restricted its exercise, and hedged it round with penalty in a way before unknown. And this is evidently connected with the character of the law as giving the knowledge of sin. The breach of the first covenant, so soon to follow these typical ordinances, was only the beginning of the reiterated proofs of man's natural inability to stand before God, and his need of a Mediator; and God by all these enactments fixes the eye upon this need, and upon Him who alone really meets it, — of whom Aaron was but the shadow. The idea of priesthood will, of necessity, become defined as we go on, and it is best to leave it thus to the Word to develop the meaning in its own perfect way. It is enough here to say that the word for "priest" in Hebrew (kohen) seems most probably derived from kun, in its significance of "preparing," and "to mean," says Oehler, "either intransitively, to present one's self,' or transitively, to prepare, fit;'  in the former case, kohen would be one who stands to represent another, and in the latter case the priest would be named from the preparing and presenting the sacrifice."

(1) Before, however, we come to the description of the priest himself, we have, in the first place, that which was indeed put under his care, but which is introduced here evidently for the sake of the general principle as to the ways of God. God is light and the first thing in the great original six days' work was, to bring in the light where there had been darkness. Here also, when the practical working of the tabernacle begins to be set before us, the provision is made for continual light. In His presence, as in Himself, there is no darkness at all; but while, therefore, in the holiest there could be no such provision, in the holy place outside the vail the sanctuary-lamp was needed, so that through earth's night there should be none for those approaching Him. It was never to be out — a continual light through the hours of darkness.

The necessary application of this type shows us how indeed the "things that happened unto Israel" are "written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come." While Christ, the light of the world, is absent, it is night, and the light for the priests of God (our calling as Christians) is in the sanctuary only, the light of the seven lamps — the perfect illumination of the Spirit of God — as ministered by Christ risen, the Spirit of Christ. Notice how in 2 Cor. 3, where, "beholding the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory," "the Lord the Spirit" and "the Spirit of the Lord" are connected together, or in a sense identified. "Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty," while the change produced in us is "by the Lord the Spirit."

For us, indeed, it may be rightly urged, that the vail is rent, and the holy and the holiest are one. As priests in the sanctuary, we are brought into the immediate presence of God. But the light of the glory of God has not for us eclipsed the light of the golden lamp-stand: no, but the two have become for us one, as the apostle shows us in immediate connection with the passage just referred to. For the "glory of the Lord" is the "glory of Christ who is the image of God;" and thus "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:4, 6.)

Let us remember, too, that the responsibility of the children of Israel to furnish the oil, and of the priests to maintain the light, has practical reference to ourselves to-day, when the apostle can say to those who have the Spirit, just on this account, "be filled with the Spirit." (Eph. 5:18.) Alas! there may be even for the Christian lamps gone out, through drowsiness and neglect. Yet the Spirit, given to abide with us (John 14:16), abides; and therefore the same apostle's energizing call, "Awake, thou that sleepest! and arise from among the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5:14.)

Light, then, is ours! how suitable a preface to all the instruction about priestly service from which the world-church, gone back to the darkness of carnal ordinances, has extracted so much mere antichristian blasphemy! How needful, too, the lesson of our responsibility as to all this! Our own true and glorious High-Priest who is passed into the heavens does not Himself even interpose to keep us from God, but in His own Person has brought us to Him. For us the vail is rent, and "we walk in the light as God is in the light." (1 John 1:7.)

With what loathsome impurity, which has done its best to justify the infidelity it has produced, has the verdict of history made infamous the priest! How it has identified "priest-craft" with mere deception and villainy! God introduces His account with the witness that He is light, and makes it the solemn and (as it were) the first duty to maintain the light. "God is light;" and we can add, "in the light." All must be light and in the light with us.

The perpetuity of the light is what the numerical place seems to insist on here. The eternal light brings every thing to the test of eternal righteousness; and thus alone is the sovereignty of God maintained over the soul. How solemnly is it insisted on as to be "a statute forever"!

(2) As the priest is emphatically the minister, so his garments are again and again spoken of as "garments of service," and express this. Not that there are not personal ones as well as official, or that the official do not imply character: in the true Priest, — not the type, but the antitype, — every thing, as we shall see, depends upon this; and thus the divine principle is emphasized which was just now insisted on. It is the heart of the blessed Lord which makes Him serve: it is His spotless purity which enables Him to draw near to God, when for men to see Him is to die: and thus on the day of atonement the high-priest enters the holiest in the personal dress of pure white linen only. (Lev. 16.) We are now, however, to contemplate His service for us.

(a) But "even Christ glorified not Himself to be made a High-Priest, but He who said unto Him, Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten Thee.'" (Heb. 5:5.) This is how the apostle interprets for us that designation of Aaron by God, which is here for the first time announced plainly. This is therefore a necessary point to begin with. It makes the service which ensues obedience, and the sweet assurance of what was in the heart of God toward us. We "believe on Him whom God hath sent" (John 6:29), and that gives the right character to Him who sent: "by Him we believe in God." (1 Peter 1:21.)

The clothing of Aaron is the first step in his installation in his office. The garments are "for glory and for beauty." How beauteous is Christ in this mediatorial place! how glorious has He made a place of service!

(b) The ephod is by the Septuagint styled the "shoulder-piece," and this seems its most distinct feature, as we find it here emphasized by the two onyx stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel which were upon the shoulders. This is not, however, all, for it as evidently links the breastplate with the shoulder-pieces, and thus the latter help to sustain also the former. The ephod is thus characteristic in the highest way of service, — the maintenance of the people before God.

The ephod is made of the same materials as the tabernacle-curtains and the vail, but without cherubic figures, in which upon these the blue and purple and scarlet were interwoven. The symbols of conferred royalty are thus absent, though the materials of it are here. What qualifies Him for this place is seen, — what makes Him the "desire of all nations" (Hag. 2:7), so that the power put into His hands gratifies that desire. But the priestly office is distinct from the kingly, and power is shown in a very different manner in the lowly service of the priest, while it is meant to be plain abundantly that the Priest and the King are one. If moreover, the cherubim are absent, on the other hand the ephod is interwoven with threads of gold. Is God any where more manifest than in this wondrous provision for man's need, which at such cost has been furnished to him?

In the onyx stones upon the shoulder the end of the priestly office is expressed. The names of the twelve tribes are there, permanently graven upon the banded stones, to be borne up upon the priest's shoulders. So plainly have we here the One who "goeth after that which is lost until He find it and when He hath found it, He layeth it upon His shoulders, rejoicing." (Luke 15:4, 5.) Thus the priest's office is declared.

 (c) But if Christ's people are thus sustained by His mediatorial work, we need to see more perfectly the connection between the display of power which the shoulders express and the holy love which is manifested in the breastplate. By means of the ephod, the breastplate itself is borne up by the shoulders, and in the breastplate again the names of the people are engraved, as in the engraving of a signet, but now upon twelve precious stones, — each cared for with the same care, but each set as it were in the glory of a new lustre!

Would that we could know, in any measure, what these different stones are intended to convey! but even their identification is not certain, and any interpretation would seem too purely conjectural to be attempted. There is, however, no scriptural reason to doubt that they are together the Urim and Thummim, the "lights and perfections" of the thirtieth verse, and this is thus far interpretation, and of convincing clearness.

God is light, and "the Father of lights" (James 1:17) for the lights are but the prismatic radiance of the one ray of colorless light as we see it in the rainbow, and in which its beauty is displayed to us (see Gen. 9.) In this it shines but for a moment, like a brilliant deed, though an eternal memory of glory, but in the jewels it is enshrined, permanent, as are the divine, attributes in God. This is what in fact the jewels mean: they are the "lights and perfections" of Him who is light and perfection; and as the names of the people are graven on the jewels, so is He abidingly glorified in His redeemed. Plaitings and rings, and twined chains of gold, connect the breastplate with the ephod, the manifold interweavings of divine glory with the maintenance of the people thus: while all is upon the heart of the High-Priest, the type of Him who, as the Mediator between God and men, Himself God and Man, maintains ever what is due to God upon the one hand, and His own in blessing on the other, and these not as things apart, but as identified — the names graven upon the breast-plate!

The ephod unites the breastplate with the shoulder, and throws in this way the burden upon the shoulder. All the counsels of God in connection with this great salvation are such a burden as Christ only could sustain; and not the King's, but the Priest's shoulder bears it: the power is realized in weakness, the victory of voluntary humiliation and self-sacrifice. Blessed be His name!

This, then, was the "breastplate of judgment," — that is, in connection with which God answered appeals, and gave sentence among the people (comp. Num. 27:21; 1 Sam. 28:6 Ezra 2:63), for the divine wisdom is always found in holding together the two principles implied in the breastplate.

 (d) The robe of the ephod, like that one of our Lord for which they cast lots at the cross, is of one piece, woven without seam, and bound around the necessary opening, that it may not be rent. It is entirely of blue, the heavenly color, and upon its skirts are alternately pomegranates, — the fruit of many seeds, — and golden bells, which give their sound on going into the sanctuary before Jehovah, and on coming out. Here, then, is the heavenly Man, the fruit of whose work has in itself the abundant seed, wherever the gospel goes forth in the power of the Spirit: this gospel, as it seems to me, characterizing especially the time He goes into heaven — the Pentecostal outburst, — and the time when He shall be coming out again, when the "everlasting gospel" is proclaimed for blessing to millennial nations.

The numerical place, as it seems to me, emphasizes the heavenly Stranger's visit to the world, and the diffusion every where of the seed of the gospel: its result, heaven opened to earth. The words "that he die not" appended to the commandment as to these gospel-bells, as it cannot apply to the great High-Priest, may speak of Aaron as the representative of the nation, as their music is indeed a sign of how Israel shall not die but live — alive to God.

(e) Next we have the iniquity of the people in their holy things provided for, the high-priest taking the responsibility of it upon himself. This, of course, involves the necessity of atonement; but it is not atonement that is here spoken of, but the ordering of all, left with perfect confidence to Him who is the Son over God's house, and upon whose forehead rests the "diadem of holiness," as it is elsewhere called (chap. 39:30). In Him who stooped to the uttermost requirement of holiness upon the cross, holiness is indeed a crown. He with whom in that darkest hour of all that ever was could be left the responsibility of the accomplishment of all God's counsels of blessing for eternity, can be safely entrusted with all the care of the holy things.

(f) Finally, we have the ordinary dress of Aaron and of the priests his sons, who are for the first time brought in here. They are our picture, and we are necessarily reminded of the difference between ourselves and Christ: even Aaron taking his place as one in contrast with Him. This the numerical place seems to point out — the priesthood of sinful men, but in whom grace shows its victory over sin, clothing their nakedness, and bringing nigh. This naturally closes the account of the priesthood.

(3) But we have yet to consider the sanctification of the priesthood and their induction into their office: as yet, of course, only the commandment as to it, for the fulfillment of this is in Leviticus.

(a) First, the materials are to be provided and ready, as all things wait upon God's call. Then Aaron and his sons are brought near to the entrance of the tent of meeting and are washed entirely with water. This evidently corresponds with that to which our Lord's words point — that one washing of the whole person that needs not to be repeated (John 13:10). All Christians are "a holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5) — a people as a holy people able to approach God. The washing which makes them this is "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5): a new state resulting from new birth. Herein, "He who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one," (Heb. 11,) the children of God partaking of the life of their glorious Head. In His person human nature was cleansed from its defilement, and God did what Job declared impossible for man — brought forth a clean thing out of an unclean (Job. 14:4). He was as born into the world what we are as new born, but without taint of evil, perfect in all things, — yea, the Eternal Life itself.

Thus, while all are of one, there is an essential difference, and we see this in the type in Aaron's being anointed alone, without blood, with all the priestly garments already upon him. The divine life which is His is already His sanctification to the Priesthood, and as absolutely without spot — God's beloved Son, in whom His delight is, — the Spirit of God descends upon Him after His baptism by John, in which He had presented Himself to God for His "baptism to death" afterward. Thus He is now the Anointed One — the Christ.

(b) Aaron's sons are then brought near and clothed with the priestly garments, the bullock of the sin-offering slain, after Aaron and his sons have put their hands upon its head, and the horns of the altar of burnt-offering are anointed with it. Then one of the rams is offered as a burnt-offering, Aaron and his sons identifying themselves in the same way with it, and its blood sprinkled upon the altar round about. Aaron we have seen, as the type of Another, anointed already without blood; but we find him here with his hand, along with those of his sons, on the head of the sin-offering as well as the burnt-offering. The necessary antecedent to the call of a "holy priesthood" — truly, not merely typically, such — was, the fulfillment of the atoning work; and for us individually, we need to stand in the value of it before God in order to be priests to God. But it must be carefully remembered that if Aaron still be a type of Christ in this, his hand upon the victim cannot signify what it does in his sons' case: it can only be the sign of the acceptance, on the part of the One who offers for it, of the burden of sin and of its penalty. And this the cross declares, — sin's awful judgment and the righteousness of Him who judges.

(c) The next thing is consecration — in Hebrew, "filling the hand." For this the ram of consecration is taken; and the ram we have seen in the coverings of the tabernacle to be a type of devotedness. The sheep yields itself to the slaughter, and the ram, as the male sheep, is probably chosen to intensify the thought of self-surrender. Upon this also Aaron and his sons lay their hands; and then it is slain, and the blood put upon their right ear, hand, and foot, — the whole man set apart to God in the power of redemption, to receive from Him, act for Him, walk with Him.

The blood is then sprinkled upon the altar, and then, mixed with the anointing-oil, upon Aaron and his garments, and upon his sons and their garments "with him." Notice how the same connection and order are preserved in the statement of the effect: "and he shall be sanctified and his garments, and his sons and his sons' garments with him." Christ is surely before us here, the blessing found by His people in association with Him, and His own sanctification as gone up to God in the power of His precious blood for them, the measure of their own. As He said, when going to the Father, "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." (John 17:11, 17-19.) It is His sanctification, or setting apart on high, as Man gone in to God, of which He is speaking. In this new place it is, a glorious Man in heaven, that His people know Him, and only there, for He is in the world no longer (2 Cor. 5:16-18). Into this new sphere we are introduced with Him, and all things become new.

And now comes the "filling of the hands:" the ram of consecration is a peace- (that is, a communion-) offering. We are to be occupied with that in which God delights, which is a sweet smell to Him. The new priests' hands now are filled with that which expresses Christ, and which is presented to God as a wave-offering. Notice the parts: first, the fat and the kidneys (the reins, comp. Ps. 16:7) and the fat of the inwards, — that which expressed the health of the animal, and upon which the flame especially fed. "The use of this symbol, fat," says another, "is sufficiently familiar in the Word. 'Their heart is fat as brawn.' 'Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked.' 'They are enclosed in their own fat, with their mouth they speak proudly.'  It is the energy and force of the inward will — the inwards of a man's heart. Hence where Christ expresses His entire mortification He declares they could tell all his bones; and in Ps. 102, 'By reason of the voice of My groaning, My bones cleave to My skin.' But here, in Jesus, all that in nature was of energy and force, all His inward parts, were a burnt-offering to God, entirely sacrificed and offered to Him for such, a sweet savor. This was God's food of the offering, 'the food of the offering made by fire unto Jehovah.' In this Jehovah Himself found His delight; His soul reposed in it, for surely it was very good — good in the midst of evil — good in the energy of offering to Him — good in perfect obedience." (Synopsis, vol. 1. p. 169.)

It is easy to see how all this unites with the thought of consecration; but it is Christ, we must remember, who in all this occupies us: occupation with Him brings communion and like-mindedness.

With the fat we have the "shoulder" — simple reminder of how for us He bowed His shoulder to bear; and then the meal-offering, of unleavened and of oiled bread, — in general meaning as simple. Waved before Jehovah, all this is then put upon the altar, and goes up to Him. The priests are now consecrated.

 (d) Yet still there remains for us what is most needful and most precious — the experimental apprehension of our own portion in Christ, and here warning has to be mingled with the instruction. The breast of the ram of consecration is for him who offers it, a place in this case held by Moses, but who, I think, here represents, not Christ, but the typical worshiper. How necessary that the love of Christ (which the breast must signify) should be thus experimentally enjoyed by the heart that worships! In after-cases the breast belongs to Aaron and his sons (v. 27) along with the (left) shoulder, the experience of His strength who bears us up before God. But the whole ram (except what has gone up to God) is theirs, and these parts are specially named, to emphasize them: all must be eaten "in the holy place," which does not mean here the sanctuary, however, but at the door of the tent of meeting in the court, as is immediately afterward stated (and comp. Lev 8:31). The unleavened bread must be eaten with it, and the stranger — that is, in this case, every one outside the priestly family, — excluded. Nor must the flesh be kept until the morning, to guard, as we see in Lev. 7:17, against any possible corruption: we are warned how readily it comes into our most holy things. Seven days of sanctification cover our whole life here and connect it with the rest beyond.

(e) The instruction as to the altar of burnt-offering comes by itself. It is God's meeting-place with the children of Israel; and here I think they are (as on the day of atonement,) their own type. Or, to say better, the priestly house representing the Church (or perhaps the heavenly saints,) the nation at large, outside of these, represents Israel, or the earthly saints. The court, where the altar of burnt-offering stands, is, without any doubt, the earth where the cross has been; and it is meet and right that there the glory of God should be displayed, as it yet will be: Immanuel's name in all that it implies even for the earth revealed, and (in the new earth) the tabernacle of God with men. Their daily offering upon the altar speaks of what to God the work of Christ is, and God's meeting there with Israel, though it give not the full thought of what is our portion, has its special beauty and significance. A blessed thing, with which the feast of our consecration will be ended: not, blessed be God, the priesthood itself.

(f) But Israel's blessing does not complete the glories presented to us here. We must rise, as it were, from earth into the heavenly sanctuary, and enter upon our service at the golden altar of incense, to see how fully the triumph over sin has been achieved. The altar, as we see by its material, is Christ, and Christ as entered into heaven; not on earth. Yet as an altar, or "place of sacrifice," as the word (mizbeach) means, and foursquare, with its horns facing every way, — its virtue in the blood that is presented on them, — it speaks of sacrifice, while yet no sacrifice is to be made upon it, and in the sanctuary cannot be. Thus it speaks the virtue of what has been done elsewhere, and (so far as the golden altar itself is concerned) can need no re-doing. The golden altar is for perpetual incense — ceaseless praise to God: "We have an altar," says the apostle, an altar to which we come as priests of no earthly tabernacle, an altar upon which no bleeding sacrifice can be again. Christ is our altar still, but no such sacrifice can He offer again. What sacrifice, then, have we? "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise continually, — that is, the fruit of our lips, confessing His name. But to do good, and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." (Heb. 13:10, 15, 16.) Thus we have sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise to offer, — fruit of the lips and fruit of the life, — confessing Him who has done the work which gives us our changeless place with God. The true sacrifice is no longer on the altar; it has been accepted of God once for all, and cannot be repeated, and thus we have the altar clear for our own sacrifices, which whether of lip or in life are still but the confession of His name! What a crowning triumph over sin, that sinners such as we can as "a holy priesthood" thus draw nigh!

4. The description of the incense-altar ends the subject of priestly consecration and another subject is introduced with the words, "And Jehovah spake unto Moses." To find these words before, we should have to go back to the beginning of the twenty-fifth chapter, all the instruction of the tabernacle being one continuous discourse as far as this. Yet they occur six times now within the limits of two chapters. Thus each portion here is detached from the rest, and given a special emphasis, which is still further seen in the solemn penalties denounced upon transgression in five cases out of the six. In subject, they are also diverse from one another, though not without a certain connection also among themselves, as we shall presently see; yet they look exactly like so many supplementary addenda to what has gone before. This is Keil's view; and the numerical structure establishes, I believe, its correctness.

The number attached to the whole characterizes it as essentially a series of special warnings or tests as to obedience, whose significance is, as we might expect, brought out by their typical meaning. All this is plainly a magnificent symbolism, which we can only read in any worthy way as "figures of the true:" things which "happened unto them for types, and are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come."

There are in the section before us six sections manifest, with a brief faint seventh (31:18) which must be reckoned as that, and which in its faintness even has for us the instruction which never can be any where lacking in God's blessed Word, if we have only eyes of faith and hearts of desire for it. The section being, then, a septenary series, divides naturally into 4 + 3, as is here very evident, the first four, to the end of chap. 30, being connected together as completing the tabernacle itself; which is then put as complete [in plan] into the hands of the master-workmen.

(1) We begin the series with the account of the atonement-money, in which Israel confessed their common guilt and need of ransom. None was to be exempt, none give more, none less, — translated into gospel-language, just the "no-difference" doctrine of the apostle (Rom. 3.) This is the evidence of a genuine repentance, to have come down to the confession of such guilt as needs a ransom. The amount of the atonement-money may have significance, shekel merely meaning "weight," and the bekah, therefore, "half-weight." Is it the confession of what was charged against Belshazzar, "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting"? Notice, too, that the shekel is that of the sanctuary, and that being twenty gerahs, the half shekel is just ten gerahs — the responsibility-number.

Repentance is in thus taking our place before God; but if the ransom-money speak of man's own short-coming, how does it come to speak also of atonement? This question is not difficult to answer; for atonement is by substitution, — Christ taking our place as coming short. In the same way, the same word in the Hebrew stands for "sin" and "sin-offering," "trespass" and "trespass-offering."   Nor is there any true repentance or confession but that in which Christ is laid hold of or confessed.

Out of this silver the sockets of the sanctuary, and the hooks of the pillars and connecting-rods, were made (chap. 38:25-28). It is instructive to note that silver was emphatically the medium of exchange, so that (as in French today,) "silver" and "money" were the same word (keseph); and that the derivation of this is from kahsaph, "to grow pale," as with longing, shame, or anxiety. Such thoughts cluster round the atonement-money.

Here, then, is the basis-test for the soul. The dwelling of God is with the redeemed: the tabernacle speaks of relationship to a Redeemer; and only those have this who have in repentance and faith, as involved in the common guilt of all, taken their place among the people of God in His great census-roll as under the blood of the Lamb. The book of enrollment is the "book of the Lamb slain." (Rev. 13:8.)

(2) As thus redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we are, of course, already priests to God: the warning as to the brazen laver therefore now applies to us. The laver does not speak of new birth; it was for washing the hands and feet simply, and thus it speaks of cleansing by the Word from the defilement by the way. If we are indeed to be permitted to handle holy things, or to draw near to God in the sanctuary, the Word of God must do its work upon us.

The laver was of brass, the symbol of what endures as with divine power. So the Word of God endures, and, moreover, abides unchangeable, whatever our wills may be. Its stand, too, is of brass; for the Word of God rests upon the unchanging nature of God. As He is, so He speaks, and nothing can alter it.

"Separation from evil" is here what is enjoined upon all who draw near to God, or occupy themselves with His things; and this is an "everlasting statute" which abides for all times and dispensations.

(3) The unction of the Spirit is the third thing. Would that one could realize something of the meaning of the various ingredients of this holy anointing-oil! The five constituents, are, however, plainly marked, as 4 and 1, and show us the meeting of the human and the divine; for the Spirit of God is pleased to work in and through man, and we see Him in the effect (John 3:8). It is a sad failure not to be able to recognize God, because He works in familiar and apparently natural ways. Holiness, however, there must be, and this is what is here specially enforced. The oil must not be poured on flesh of man — cannot sanctify what is really fleshly; and it must not be imitated — there can be no manufacture on man's part of what is the Spirit's work.

(4) And now we close this first part of this appendix with the incense, in which we find, no doubt, the fragrance of Christ for God. The numerical place points Him out, I think, as Man, and as the Son of Man, the title He so constantly assumed to Himself: not the partial and narrow Jew, but the One in whom all could find their own; while, above all, God could find in Him the ideal Man to obtain which He had created man, One in all things for God, as was the incense here, — fully and emphatically the Man of God.

The ingredients again as yet seem to baffle research, which has been too little given to their spiritual meaning. Even their number has been disputed, whether four or five. No doubt salt was added to it, according to Lev. 2:13; but this is noticed incidentally only, and as a matter of course, while the distinctive composition of the incense was of four ingredients, — certified as such by there being three and one, — three spices and the frankincense: this 3 + 1, beautifully significant of Him through whom creation completely attains its ultimate end of manifesting God.

The incense too is guarded from profanation as the anointing-oil had been. This is God's Christ, though man finds in Him his fullest blessing also. So the burnt-offering went up all to God, though in atonement for man; and it is just here, indeed, that he becomes for us all He would be, when we find in Him every where the Doer of the Father's will. "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God," characterized His life throughout.

(5) God now calls by name the human workmen who are to carry out in the power of the Spirit His designs. In Bezaleel, Judah comes to the front in the work of the sanctuary — quite according to the meaning of the name and Jacob's prophecy (Gen. 49). Dan furnishes his assistant in Aholiab. But beside this, in every wise-hearted man God puts wisdom, and employs him in the building of His habitation. The principle is easy of application, but would that we could know more of what is here for us!

(6) The emphatic reiteration of the injunction as to the Sabbath closes all this instruction. The keeping of it is the sign of covenant-relationship subsisting with Jehovah, and of a people set apart to Him. Indeed no labor marks us as the people of the Lord so truly as enjoyed rest does, — a rest according to the Word, and on the basis of God's own rest. But this is ours in Christ only, and the numerical stamp here assures us that under this first covenant it will not be attained. The law makes nothing perfect and this assurance seems enforced by —

(7) The faint shadow of a seventh section, in which indeed the law is now completed and handed over to Moses on behalf of the people; but the covenant is already broken, and in a little more the tables of the covenant lie broken to fragments at the foot of the mount.

Subdivision 2. (Ex. 32 — 34.)

The breach of the first covenant, and the mixture of law and grace in the second, — the "ministration of death."

In that which follows here we have the breach of the first covenant and the establishment of the second, — that under which the people went into the land. Under the first, they could not really be said to have stood at all: it was no sooner made than broken; as under pure law none could stand. The trial of it, however, readily undertaken by those ignorant alike of themselves and of God, was, on that very account, and for the continual lesson of what man is, needed to be made, in order that God's grace might have room to show itself, as to self-righteousness it could not. Thus from the beginning God contemplated this second covenant rather than the first, and with it the tabernacle-types plainly connect themselves. The people are, according to this, already sinners, and the special priesthood of Aaron, with the whole mediatorial system connected with it, applies itself to this condition.

Yet we must not confound this second legal covenant with the "new" one, under which Israel will inherit the land, and find abiding blessing in the day yet to come. They are still in contrast, as the epistle to the Hebrews at large explains. And the covenant with Abraham, as is shown in that to the Galatians, refuses equally, as a covenant of promise, to be supplemented by conditions of law (Gal. 3:15-18). The Abrahamic and the new covenant are in substance one: the second legal covenant is in character but a modification of the first here, and in result like it, — nay, more completely what the apostle calls it, a "ministration of death" and of condemnation." (2 Cor. 3.)

The lesson is for us, and in all this Israel only represented man as man — ourselves, therefore, for we are men: "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." (Prov. 27:19.) Therefore if "whatsoever the law saith it saith to them that are under the law," none the less is it "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Our interest in all that we find here is not, therefore, to be such as might be in a past history merely, but fully and intensely personal.

Under pure law, we no more than they could stand a moment. Who could think to stand before Him in rigor of its pure and holy requirements? But the trial is not complete when we have learned that. It is much more than this to realize that we are "without strength," and that we need, not assistance to keep the law, but true SALVATION.

"When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The "due time" was when that was fully proved and therefore the need of that which proved it, — the "ministration of death" and "of condemnation."

Not yet could God reveal aright His grace, though in proportion as the need declared itself so did the grace, and thus a mingled system — neither pure grace nor pure law, but just what in the thought of most the gospel should be. Therefore the need that the trial here should be more thorough and patient than the last, as now, when God has spoken of mercy in Himself, it can be. The trial in this case lasted until the captivity. Its issue was decisive, as "a ministration of death" must be. In the grace of the gospel, the dead hear the voice of the Lord, the life-giver, and live (John 5:25).

But while the result to the people as a whole was thus protracted, the beautiful system of types connected with the law brought nigh to faith already, in measure, at least, the grace it needed. Externally the vail was over Moses' face; but where the law was allowed to do its work upon the conscience, and the soul realizing its guilt turned with it to God, it could with the Psalmist learn to say, "Thou art my hiding-place." The thirty-second psalm, with other kindred ones, throws a comforting light upon the way in which under the shadows of law grace could yet be realized. Let us not on that account confound the two conflicting elements in this second law-giving, nor deceive ourselves as to the necessary result of the mixture of law and grace. The grace thus mixed made it only a more searching exposure and demonstration of man's condition. It was a ministration of death.

1. In the first section here we have the action of divine righteousness in view of the rebellion of the people, while yet God acts as He will in the sovereignty of His grace. The legal covenant has not, of course, tied His hand in this respect, nor can He forget, though for the moment it might appear so, that promise to the fathers which we have seen to be that upon which He had acted in redeeming them out of Egypt. Nay, in fact, grace governs all, and the law itself is but its handmaid: its lessons, with all their sternness, do but shut us up to the necessity of grace.

(1) In the rebellion of the people, human nature shows itself in the blindness and folly of its religious side. It will make a god rather than not have one, and is not competent to estimate the value of a god so made. Beyond doubt, even with the wisest of those that follow it, there is in idolatry more than the virtue of a symbolic teaching. There is a mysterious supernatural power which is supposed to reside in the image, and which, at least, has a strange fascination for men, as shown in the general spread of idolatry over the earth, its invasion of Judaism, and long afterward of Christianity. No folly seems more complete than that of bowing down to the work of one's own hands, yet here is shown out what in reality its power is. Not liking to retain God in his knowledge, man makes Him what he wishes Him to be — the reflection of his own passions and desires. These are what already control him, and so he but yields himself to their control in his idol. A new power is added to this when man's original choice becomes confirmed by the adoption of many and by lapse of time concealing its origin, so that it comes to have authority over the conscience as well as power over the heart, — authority which may soon over-top the other.

What Samuel says to Saul long afterward is illustrated here: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is iniquity and idolatry." (1 Sam. 15:23.) So we find it in this case; and of how many more subtle forms is this as true!

The effect is seen in the manner of their new worship, consecrated though they would have it with Jehovah's name. "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to sport" — after the heathen manner. They were "broken loose," as was said of them directly afterward. "Inasmuch as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not seemly." (Rom. 1.) Broken loose from God, as men they degrade themselves. In Aaron's fall with them, both the ruin of man and the unrepenting grace of God are manifest. God is marking him out for the high-priesthood in Israel, while he is making the golden calf below!

(2) Above, Jehovah now makes known to Moses the sin of the people, laying the burden of them upon him — "Thy people, whom thou broughtest up," — putting their case into his hands, so that if he but said so, they should be destroyed, and Moses' own seed become the nucleus of a nation. But He well understands the man whom He is addressing; and Moses shows himself a beautiful type of the great Intercessor, the Servant of the divine glory and the people's need. Moses is here fully established as the mediator of the covenant in the new condition of things that was to ensue.

(3) So too Levi consecrates himself to his office now (Deut. 33:8, 9,) by the demonstration of a fidelity to God which in zeal for His glory allows the interference of no human tie. The tables of the first covenant are broken beneath the mount, in token that the covenant itself is at an end; and judgment only remains, executed by the hands of kindred; for the breach with God loosens all bonds at once.

(4) Moses himself also fails in the atonement that he proposes. This is impossible, even to a devotion well-nigh unequaled among mere men. But "none can by any means redeem his brother, nor give unto God a ransom for him." (Ps. 49:7.) To the eager demand, therefore, "And now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book that Thou hast written," God can only reply, "Whoso sinneth against Me, him will I blot out of My book." Yet He confirms the commission to lead the people to the land He had promised, though the stroke of judgment could not be so averted. Another would one day offer Himself in atonement for more than Israel, and would not fail.

2. Although God will still, therefore, fulfill His promise, and bring them into the land, yet in the meanwhile His own relationship to them is compromised, nor can He in this condition go in their midst as heretofore. They must take the place of those whose sins had separated them from the Lord, for in such a place alone could He show them mercy. Moses too must be recognized as the one through whom alone He could have to say to them, — the mediator, and though not an atoning mediator, the type of Him who would be that. This, then, is plainly the meaning of what is before us in this section; and its importance is plain.

(1) In the first place, then, Jehovah declares to them through Moses why He cannot take His place in the midst. Were He to do so, they would be consumed by His holiness. Let them strip themselves of their ornaments and await His judgment in the attitude of repentance. For to take the place of condemnation is repentance. The people accordingly strip themselves of their ornaments at the mount.

(2) In further sign of where they are, Moses removes from the camp the tent which had been heretofore connected with the worship of Jehovah, and pitches it outside and afar off, and calls it "the tent of meeting," for all who now sought the Lord had to go out to the tent. There, too, the intercourse between Jehovah and Moses was seen by the awe-stricken people — Jehovah speaking with Moses out of the pillar of cloud, "face to face," as a man speaketh with his friend. It is here that the peculiar glory of Moses is announced (Deut. 34:10), and it is here that we see especially the image of that far greater Prophet whom he represented. Christ, the Son of the Father, in perfect communion with the Father, is the One who alone can thus occupy the Mediator's place. How blessed to see Him in it! Upon this link with God our all depended when every natural link was broken.

3. The way is now prepared for restoration, and this we find in the concluding section. Moses takes fully the ground of grace and of God's promise, and God reveals Himself afresh, declaring His grace, though it is not yet the full grace of the gospel. Here, of necessity, all these types fail: they are the shadow, not the image. The special testimony of law to man, that by law the way to God could not be opened, would have in that case itself failed.

(1) In the first place, then, the grace of God is emphasized, and as sovereign grace, in dealing with the sin that had come in. It is Moses' plea, and to it God answers promptly, proclaiming that He shows mercy as He will. But to Moses' desire to behold His glory He can only answer in a qualified way. Man cannot see His face and live, and as yet He had not come who could say, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Moses, therefore, had to be covered by the divine hand while the glory passes by, and then sees but the back part, — a thing most significant as to the character of the law as then given, — the way into the holiest not manifested, no ability to stand before Him, thus God Himself in His full blessedness unknown. It is a thoroughly kindred thought with that which Solomon uttered in the day of the dedication of the temple, when, the glory of God filling the house, all the priests were driven out! — "The Lord hath said that He would dwell in the thick darkness." Every Spirit-taught Christian will recognize the contrast in the words of the apostle, "We walk in the light as God is in the light."

(2) The tables are now renewed, and the commingling of grace and law is fully seen in the new-made covenant. God declares Himself as Jehovah, the Self-existent God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, — it would seem as if grace were here fully manifest. Straight athwart that magnificent declaration comes this other which seems the antipodes of it,—" but who will in no wise clear the guilty, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, to the third and fourth generation." There was yet no justification of the ungodly then, — no gospel, — no attainment of a positive standing before Him. This the apostle implies in Rom. 3:25, 26, where he contrasts God's dealing with "sins done aforetime" (R.V.) with the grace of the "present season." In the former case, it was a "passing over of sins." In the present, it is the justification of him who believeth in Jesus. And it is God's righteousness as seen in the cross that alone reveals how He could thus "pass over." With no revealed ground of righteousness thus yet through which grace might reign (Rom. 5:21), and man yet under the trial of law, which has since given sentence (Rom. 3:19), the gospel could not as yet be spoken out. This was all the ministration of death and condemnation, although God did not by this tie up His own hands, nor was faith left without encouraging assurance, as we have seen.

But as yet even the mercy declared was but the "back part" of God's glory, and His face could not be seen. He forgave iniquity, transgression, and sin, and went on with those who merited to be cut off; but with One who could not clear the guilty — and where was the man who was not that? — it required a more positive utterance than this to give any one to know how for himself these two things were to be reconciled, and to give the heart its rest.

More than this needs to be considered before the place of the Mosaic legislation can be rightly apprehended. The question of its silence comparatively as to the eternal condition of the soul has been raised and answered in very different ways. The fact itself is plain: there is remarkable silence; which if a Warburton can weave it into an argument for "the divine legation of Moses," is still a real perplexity to many a soul. Let it be indeed an opinion to be condemned that the fathers only received promises for this transitory life, yet the contrast in this respect between the Old Testament and the New presses for explanation. Only the more so, that we know (but know by the New Testament) that Abraham and the partakers of his faith did look for a heavenly country, and a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Why is it left to the New Testament to tell us this? The hearts of men have never been able to satisfy themselves without some faith as to eternity; and where we know they had it, was it likely to have lacked expression? Least of all, where, as the apostle tells us, the life expressed it, is it to be supposed that the lips would not utter the hope of which the life was full?

But if this be so, something must have operated to keep this largely out of the Old-Testament pages, where, as a divine communication, we would expect it not only to be found, but prominent. Can we give any account of this? Any partial account will be helpful surely; and such at least can be given, as we shall see.

A growing revelation, under dispensational differences of light and divine government, has plainly been God's way of procedure with men from the beginning. He had to teach us both what we are and what He is and does in view of what we are. And the two had to be developed in correspondence with one another. What we are shown to be is the dark background of His own glorious revelation of Himself. But the proof as to what man is (upon which the other waited) required a long detail, slowly accumulating. As Israel had their forty years in the wilderness, so the world had its forty centuries ere "when we were yet without strength," and in the "due time" at last arrived, "Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6.)

The books of the Old Testament — the revelation of all that long waiting-time — are characteristically books of law, the Pentateuch and the outgrowth from it, and partake of its slow development and reserve. While for faith there are all through glimpses of deeper things, which we, looking back, can now see every where through it, yet on the surface it is God dealing with man here in this world to which these dispensational dealings belong. The race is here, though eternity is before each individual of it. But the law settles nothing as to eternity; blessed be God that it does not! God never proposed to take man to heaven by law-keeping, or to send him to hell for not keeping it. Thus you can neither find heaven among its rewards nor hell among its penalties. The "hell" of our common version, into which the Old Testament declares "the wicked shall be turned" (Ps. 9:17), is now well known to be "sheol," or "hades," the place of the dead. And that which in the New Testament is the real hell of fire — "gehenna" — is in the Old Testament but the valley of Hinnom at Jerusalem. Even "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4,) refers not, as is commonly supposed, to the second death, but to the first; the soul of a person being, in the Scripture-language, often just the person himself, as where Balaam, for instance, desires that his "soul may die the death of the righteous" (Num. 23:10, marg.), where, of course, the second death is not at all in question.

It is, indeed, the death with which we are all familiar which the law threatens to those who disobey it, just as long life in the land, not eternal life in heaven, is held out as a reward for obedience in the fifth commandment: a life which would have been "eternal" (Mark 10:17,) if the law could have found that perfect obedience which no mere man ever rendered. Failing in this, it stopped every mouth from self-vindication, and brought all the world in guilty before God (Rom. 3:19).

As to eternity, God was free still to show His grace, while as to man's claim upon His righteousness, it was demonstrated that he had none. If death, the death that is upon all, were the law's penalty, every grey hair upon a man's head was his manifest condemnation; and this was so complete, so universal, that just the completeness of it has blinded the eyes of most as to the reality of it. They suppose that if the law says, "The man that doeth them shall live in them," a life beyond death must be meant; or, similarly, that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" must mean the "second death," while they do not see that in this case the demonstration intended by the law as to man's condition would be completely lost. It would be left to eternity to decide whether all had, in fact, failed under it or not; and each one would decide this according to his inclination. But the law as it was, allowed of no such escape; and its sentence, "There is none righteous, — no, not one," appealed to the handwriting of God Himself for confirmation. The finger that had marked the tables of stone marked with no less clearness its verdict on those that were under them.

Death had come in through sin, and death had passed upon all men because all had sinned. It was the manifest stamp upon the fallen creation. But that which had come in by the sin of one, God in the law would give every one opportunity and help to justify his exemption from, if he were able. How fitting the means used which for the most carnal should bring conviction, even while God's mercy was left free to display itself in a region where, as the law could not convey the reward, so it could no longer enforce the condemnation!

The silence of the law as to eternity was as significant, then, as its utterance was plain in riveting upon man the conviction that by the deeds of the law should no flesh living be justified. And if God added to the law here given the second time the declaration of forbearance and mercy, without which the trial itself could not have continued to its perfect issue — though God permitted, in His goodness, man to turn over the blotted leaf and begin a new one, — yet as there was still no justification of the ungodly, and the measure of requirement necessarily must be still the measure of those ten commandments now afresh given word for word as before — then all was hopeless under this new covenant as under the old.

Faith might discover, however, that these new tables were destined, in fact, for the safe keeping of the ark of the covenant, and to be covered by the "capporeth," at once the throne of God and the blood-sprinkled "mercy-seat"!

(3) The promises are now renewed, and with them the warnings as to separation from the Canaanites and their impure idolatries, to worship the Lord with devotedness of heart and life. It is not difficult to see, in the ordinances that are here afresh insisted upon, the typical holiness of the people who are to be as Moses has just now asked that they might be, the Lord's inheritance.

(4) The covenant is now completed by writing upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. The period of forty days repeated in the mount may show that this covenant, like the former one, has a probationary character. What follows develops this, as the apostle shows us in his commentary upon it (2 Cor. 3). Let us remember that the first time Moses went up, when the covenant was purely legal, no glory reflected itself in his face: the second time it was evidently connected with the display of God's glory in His goodness, though not yet by any means His full-orbed grace. Still there was glory; but under law it could not be beheld even as thus reflected. Moses has, therefore, to cover it with a vail while speaking to the people, — a vail which is removed when he goes again into the presence of the Lord. This vail characterizes the dispensation in which the precious things of God's grace, as we have been looking at them, were necessarily under the cover of typical ordinances. For us the vail is done away in Christ. For Israel it will be also when they turn to the Lord for it is unbelief only that retains it now.

Thus a probationary law, whatever may be mixed with it, is still but law. The least tincture of this destroys the character of grace, darkens the glory of God, and deprives the soul of all its blessedness, as well as of the moral power, which is only found in happiness in God. For us the glory is in the face of Jesus Christ, where to see it is to rejoice in it. But all through that time of legal distance we may be assured that for those who individually turned to the Lord the vail was in some measure taken away. Christ's day was seen: types shadowed and prophets prophesied of Him. For us His full glory is revealed, and if there be any distance and any vail, it is in the lingering of a vail upon the heart — it is unbelief.

Subdivision 3. (Ex. 35 — 40.)

The realization of the house of God.

The construction and setting up of the tabernacle, immediately to be filled with the divine glory, is the seal of the restored covenant, as what answers to it typically is the seal of the new. God dwelling among men is what the presence of Christ on earth pledged and introduced. In Christian times to follow, the Church is God's dwelling-place. In the age to come, it will be again said of Jerusalem, "The Lord is there." While as to the eternal state it is said, "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them." No wonder that with this the book of redemption ends. It is the only and the complete satisfaction of the heart that has learnt in redemption what God is, and now would be beggared indeed to be without Him. To whom He has made Himself thus necessary He has pledged Himself by that very necessity which He has created.

Of all this, Exodus as yet gives us but the types; but the types are full of a wondrous sweetness also. God has emphasized them here by an unusual repetition, in which he shows us, after man's opposition has come to an end, how that which He had before determined He at last carries out. How often is it repeated here that all was done at last, as — before the breach had come at all— "Jehovah commanded Moses "! Nay, these commandments themselves distinctly show how the breach itself had been foreseen, and how through and in it all God would glorify Himself: not as Master and Lord over it all merely, but much more in that stooping to those made helpless by their sin, and under the burdens with which by their sin they made Him serve!

Here, then, is, at least in picture, the result reached: God is with men: the tabernacle of God is upon earth!

There are three sections, very easily distinguishable: the first showing us the provision made and how God thus obtains what He seeks — a free-will offering from His people's hearts. In the second we see the tabernacle itself grow into completeness. In the third it is set up, anointed, and filled with the wondrous presence and glory of God.

Section 1. (Ex. 35 — 36:7.)

The free-will offerings.

The first section reminds us of what we have seen to be a necessity if God is to dwell among men; it must be amid their praises. And that not merely as if God must have His due, but because also these praises are the only effectual proof of hearts brought back to Him, filled and satisfied, exulting in Himself. With such happy hearts God must surround Himself if He is to dwell among men; and in this sense their gifts and hands must build His tabernacle.

1. But before this is entered upon here comes one of those wonderful revealing touches which we have so often in these types — at first sight striking us by its apparent strangeness and incongruity, but in that very way calling our attention the more. Why should a law as to the Sabbath, so often given before, be introduced here again, at the commencement of the appeal for free-will offerings for the tabernacle? One well-known commentator can only suppose that in the construction of a work of this kind the people might have thought that they were freed from the necessity of any suspension of labor!

But if we seek a spiritual reason, we may find it in this, that rest indeed is only possible in God — in that divine sufficiency which is able to bear all demands upon it. And is not this the first requisite for all sufficiency on our part, this rest in God? a Sabbath to Jehovah, because Jehovah is known as the God of all deliverances, acting from Himself and for the glory of His name? It is this that enables us to bring Him our free-will offering and build His tabernacle. And therefore it is not strange, but simple, that it should be found here, insisted on in the peremptory fashion of the law indeed, but even thus not without its corresponding truth as solemn for the soul.

Thus, then, are we taught in a mystery, that if we are to bring to God, we must first receive of Him, if we are to work for Him, we must first rest in Him; and good it is that He should command us thus to rest in Him.

2. And now we have the call for help as to the tabernacle, both in furnishing materials and in the work: all being precisely specified by Him whose word must furnish thoroughly unto every good work. It is not enough that we have will to serve Him; we must learn from Himself also what He can accept. Would that the service of His people were thus always measured and defined! What they had they brought, little or much, and it was accepted; for when was the service of a willing heart refused by God? A widow's "two mites, which make a farthing" may be here of more value to Him who discerns the heart than the gifts of many that are rich. Upon the detail we can say little, however: each must learn individually with God what he can do.

3. Finally, we have the gifts given by the Spirit for the work: and here we find in the chief man raised up a representative of Judah, quite according to the part that Judah afterward plays with regard to the tabernacle and that into which it passes, — the temple for which David provides and which Solomon builds. With him is associated, however, one of a tribe we should least expect to see in such a place — one of the tribe which afterward led in apostasy in Israel — the tribe of Dan. Thus God's grace can work, and knowing that all is grace, why should we wonder at it? But with these there is work for all who had wisdom, — in whose heart God had put wisdom, — none is refused.

The fruit of the Spirit, too, in the hearts of the people is beautiful: they bring so much, that they have to be restrained from bringing! How good a thing to see, and how seldom indeed seen — a thing like this in the work of the Lord.

Section 2. (Ex. 36:8 — 39.)

The growth of the work.

In the second section we find the growth of the tabernacle to completion; and here it is that we have the repetitions which have been already noticed. The difference between the detail of the patterns of heavenly things given before and the present is principally in the order in which they are presented; first, the tabernacle itself being given us; then the vessels of the tabernacle, what was in it or around it; and then the priestly garments, or what had to do with entrance and worship. These are the three subsections, the number 3 having naturally a large place in all this part.

1. The tabernacle comes first, evidently because it is the house of God itself which we are now seeing put together as a whole. Before it was rather one among many objects in connection with the wider plan of salvation. Now all other objects seen are seen in relation to it. Thus the incense-altar which before was detached from the tabernacle itself to find its place in connection with the sanctification of the priesthood, is now among the vessels of the sanctuary where it belongs.

But what does its numerical place point out? In the earlier series of types it occupies the fourth place, and this evidently points out its character as belonging to the wilderness, — God come down in it to man. Here in the account given there is no change from the former one, except that what was before commanded is now accomplished. But the numerical place may point to what is there and here insisted on, that the tabernacle is one. There is internal unity; there is, beside, no other tabernacle of God but this. There is one Christ and no other; in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in whom we are filled up. He is not one of many incarnations of God, which has been or which will be, but one for eternity the same; and to Him, as in His temple, shall be "glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all the generations of the age of ages." (Eph. 3:21.)

Blessed be God! there is not room even in eternity, for any future glory to surpass this! There is room only for its wondrous anthem to show its power to fill infinity with praise. If of Zion, its earthly shadow, God can say, "This is My rest forever: here will I dwell, for I have desired it," how much more must it be said of this! Conditions may change: the wilderness give place to the land which is the "glory of all lands;" under the unchanging brightness of skies where storm is not, the "tent upon the tabernacle" be removed, so that its glory shall be fully exposed; the tabernacle form may pass into the temple: — with all this, the delight of God in His beloved changes not, — His "rest" is disturbed no more!

Admire the beauty of these many-hued curtains, where the golden clasp of divine glory embraces the blue loop of heaven's condescending love! Thus are they united into one, and droop their folds over the board-work overlaid with the gold again. This is the Church, as we have already seen in the beauty put upon her, — the glory of Christ her Lord.

2. And now we come to the vessels of the tabernacle, in which we find portrayed for us the salvation which the dwelling of God with man implies. That His name might be "Immanuel" ("God with us"), they called the Son of Mary "Jesus," ("Jehovah the Saviour"), because He was to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:22-25.)

I have not much to add to what has been already said with regard to these precious types, which, moreover, fall, in general, into the same numerical place as before. There are, however, now (in this and the following part) seven minor divisions instead of six, as there: a number which speaks for itself in connection with these closing portions of the book. As already noticed, the incense-altar fills its own place here among the vessels of the sanctuary: the fourth place, because, as we have seen, the practical life is brought into the sanctuary in this way, transformed by the knowledge of redemption into the priestly offering of thanksgiving and praise."

The brazen altar fills the fifth place, as before; and connected with it, as it seems to me, is the note as to the laver, that it was made of the mirrors of the women attending the tabernacle. This does not, I think, as it might seem, claim for itself a sixth section, both because the court of the tabernacle which follows it, holds that in the prior account, and also that this is followed in its turn by what has evidently the character of a seventh — the tale of the complete amount of metal used.

From another point of view there seems to me a most natural and beautiful thought suggested by this close association of the brazen altar with the laver. For if the former show us, as is evident, our responsibility measured and met in atonement, how simple is the connection of this with the self-judgment intimated in the brazen laver! Is it not so that the knowledge of sin put away for us is that which puts it away from us? that the realization of its judgment in Another is that which accomplishes its judgment in ourselves? The association of the brazen altar with the laver has thus its justification in experience.

And the women's sacrifice of their mirrors, where all is so plainly typical, may represent the willing giving up of our own self-estimates — in general, some form of self-flattery, — to find in the Word of God our true mirror, and fashion ourselves by it.

How beautiful, again, that then, in the next place, we come to the court, where the fine linen of practical righteousness is held up before the world!

Finally the seventh section here gives the estimates of the metals used, and we find whence the silver of the rods and sockets was derived. It has already been considered, however.

3. The priestly garments come in the third place, identified as they are with the means of drawing near to God. Here each minor section is closed with the words, "as Jehovah commanded Moses." And here, again, there are just seven of them. The numerical place of each is as given before, with the exception of the last two items of the dress, which are reversed. The coats of fine linen are in the fifth place instead of the sixth, the diadem in the sixth instead of the fifth. It is not strange that in this enumeration we shall end with the latter, the final victory over sin being secured by the character of Him into whose hands all is put. Thus here for the first time the plate is called "the diadem."

As for the other change, the meaning of it is not so clear, although the number of responsibility is suitable enough where as here the ordinary priests come in, — our representatives; and well may we be reminded of it. For where do we more fail than in this character? and it is the root of all other failure.

Section 3. (Ex. 40.)

The tabernacle set up, anointed, and filled with the glory of God.

The tabernacle is now complete, but still Moses has to wait for the word of the Lord to set it up. All through this part, however, the forwardness of man is repressed, and he is made to realize the necessity of dependence, and that with God alone is wisdom! The command is given for the first day of the first month of the second year of the exodus. A year had passed since the ordinance of the passover in Egypt, and their deliverance was now complete.

Of our deliverance it was but the shadow; but how inexpressibly blessed to see what was in God's heart embodying itself in these symbols, ere yet He could give plain utterance to them! The glory is vailed; but even so, in the very manner of its vailing God intimates His desire to remove it and to speak face to face. Oh may there be with us more boldness and eager desire of faith to enter into what God has made our own! Our dullness and indifference are indeed amazing, only surpassed by the measureless grace that invites us still!