Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

He gave

none save Caleb and Joshua, of that generation, should enter the promised land.

Yet for their Fathers' sake, God was kind and compassionate towards them. Oft he forgave them at the intercession of Moses, when provoked to destroy them. He went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, and protected them by the angel of his presence.

them day by day manna from heaven and quails for flesh. He caused water to flow out in abundance from the rock. He raised in the wilderness a brazen serpent upon a pole, when the people were bitten by the fiery flying serpents, that whosoever looked upon it should be healed. He

gave

them power over their ene. mies and wrought for them the most wonderful victories.

“All these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Their whole journey toward the promised land was typical of the journey of the true Israel toward the heavenly Canaan. They were indeed the true Israel. The true Church was among them; though the great mass of the people were wicked and rebellious. Were they brought through the depths of the sea ? So all the children of God are born of water and the Spirit. Were they baptized by sprinkling from the cloud and the sea unto Moses? So are we baptized into Jesus Christ,,“ buried with him by baptism into death-that we may walk in newness of life.” Were they to live by faith, as to their daily support, in the wilderness? So

Were they fed by manna and did they drink of water from the rock? So are we fed by “ That bread which cometh down from heaven" in the dispensation of the word, and our souls are refreshed from the fountain of life. They

« did all eat the same spiritual meat and did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.” Were they guilty of much murmuring and rebellion ? Did they disbelieve the promises ? and was their soul discouraged because of the way? It was but a type of the imperfection, stupidity, disbelief and backsliding of saints. · Did the anger of the Lord burn against them and did his judgments destroy them? We may behold in this a lively representation of his grief and indignation at the misconduct of saints, and of his judgments upon them; though these judg. ments under the new dispensation are marked with far less se. verity. Did he, at intercession of Moses, oft forgive their

2

are we.

CAAP, 3.

GIVING OF THE LAW.

43

sins and extend to them his pardoning and saving mercy? So, at the intercession of Christ, he pardons the iniquities of his people and will acquit them in the judgment. Did Moses lift up the serpent in the wilderness, that whoso looked on it should be healed ? So was the Son of man lifted up that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish but might have everlasting life.” And did God, finally, bring his ancient Israel into the land of promise, through the waters of Jordan by his servant Joshua?' So does He conduct his saints, through death, by Jesus the great captain of their salvation, to a better country which is the desire of their souls, even a heavenly. - The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and with everlasting joy upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

CHAPTER III.

Giving of the Law. Moral and ceremonial. Symbol of the Di.

vine Presence. Tabernacle. Urim and Thummin. Priesthood. Re-institution of the Sabbath. Completion of the Pen. tateuch. Outpouring of the Spirit. Character of Moses. Two remarkable Prophecies of Christ.

BATH,

DURING the wanderings of the Church in the wilderness, four remarkable events occurred which claim particular notice.THE GIVING OF THE LAW. THE RE-INSTITUTION OF THE SAB.

THE COMPLETION OF THE PENTATEUCH, AND AN EX. TENSIVE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

For 2500 years the Church had enjoyed much precious intercourse with heaven. Christ the angel of the covenant, had appeared to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and established with them the covenant of grace, but she had no written law. On the tenth of the third month after leaving Egypt, the Israelites pitched their camp at the foot of Mount Sipai. There they remained a year. On the morning of the third day of their encampment, the mount was in a smoke and there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud

upon

the mount, for the Lord descended upon it in fire. Such was the majesty of the scene, that the people trembled and stood afar

off and said unto Moses “Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us lest we die.” And Moses went up to God in the mount.

The ten Commandments were first given. To express their importance and perpetuity, they were written, by the finger of God, on tables of stone. These commandments have their foundation in the nature of God and man, and in the relations which men bear to God and to one another. They contain the primary principles of all law. They are obligatory upon all men to the end of time.

Next, God gave to Moses the political and ceremonial law of Israel. He had set apart this nation for himself. Its gov. ernment was to be a Theocracy. God was to be its King. He therefore

gave

his statutes for the regulation of the common. wealth.

It was also to form his visible church; and he prescribed such ceremonial observances as would maintain the knowledge of the true Jehovah ; keep the Jews separate from the Heathen; and, by lively types and shadows, prefigure the gospel dispensation.

Under this divine constitution the worship of Israel con. sisted much in sacrifices and offerings; in presenting to God slain animals and the fruits of the earth.

Sacrifices had been offered by the pious from the promise of a Saviour. They were doubtless of

divine origin.

They were now reduced to a regular system. God prescribed three kinds for the Jewish nation ;—the whole burnt offering ; the sacri. fice, and the thank offering. The first was the most ancient and excellent. It was expiatory. The whole victim, whether a bullock, a lamb, a turtle dove or young pigeon, was burnt'; and a libation of wine was poured out upon the altar.

The second was a sin offering or trespass offering, made on account of legal pollutions, or sins of ignorance. The third was an ex. pression of gratitude for mercies received. The slain animals were accompanied with unleavened cakes ; and most of the ani. mal, and the cakes were converted by the person offering, into an entertainment for the poor. All these sacrifices were so many symbols, corresponding with the several branches of piety. In the expiatory sacrifice, the offerer came before God confessing that he was a sinner and that he deserved to die, as the animal died. The acceptance of the sacrifice on the part of God, was a confirmation of the divine promises of pardon to

CHAP. 3.

TABERNACLE.

45

[ocr errors]

the penitent. But this sacrifice was chiefly figurative of our Lord Jesus Christ, our true substitute; the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. If any trusted to a fancied efficacy in the sacrifices themselves, and to the multi. tude of victims, they drew upon them the divine anger.

That the Israelites might have a fixed place where they should offer their sacrifices, worship, and receive communications from heaven, God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle. Ncah and the patriarchs had erected altars. As yet tem. ples were unknown, among the people of God. The taber. nacle was a moveable tent, made of the most costly mate. rials. Before it was the court, 150 feet in length, and 75 in breadth, and enclosed by curtains made of linen. In the cen. tre of the court stood the altar for sacrifice, and on one side the laver, with water. The tabernacle was West of the court. It was 30 cubits from West to East and ten from North to South, and was divided into two apartments. The outer was called the holy place; the inner, the Holy of holies. In the former, on the North side, was the table of Shew bread. On this were placed twelve loaves of unleavened bread, sprinkled over with frankincense; and wine in bowls. On the South side was the golden candlestick, in which seven lamps burned by night, and three by day. In the middle was the altar on which incense was offered daily, morning and evening. In the inner room, from which was excluded the light of day, was the ark of the covenant-a small box covered with pure gold. In this was deposited the two tables of stone, on which were written the ten commandments. The lid or cover of the ark was called the mercy seat. On the ends of this seat were placed two cherubims, with their faces inclined towards each other, and towards the mercy seat, and their wings stretched out so as to overshadow it. These wings formed the throne of God, while the ark was his footstool. By the side of the ark, in a golden vase, was kept some of the manna, Aaron's rod and the books of Moses.

“Here,” said God to Moses, from between these Cheru. bims, “I will meet with thee and commune with thee." Here was seen a cloud of glory, the visible symbol of Jehovah, which became bright and shining, when God there revealed his will by an audible voice. Such an emblem of Jehovah's pre. sence, accompanied with frequent communications from him, caused the Israelites to feel that he was near; gave them a deep sense of the Unity of the Godhead, and kept them from the worship of the heavenly luminaries.

Of the seasons of worship the first was the Sabbath. This was instituted at the close of the creation, and was doubtless observed by the pious both before the flood and after, according to their knowledge and opportunity. In the books of Moses, such observance is not indeed mentioned, nor was there any special occasion for the notice. But expressions exist, implying such observance, and which cannot well be accounted for without it. Time was divided into weeks of seven days,* both before the flood and after. Probably the children of Israel were made incessantly to labour in Egypt; but no sooner were they released than they observed the Sab. bath, before the promulgation of the law, as a day they felt to be holy.f God, in the fourth commandment, speaks of the Sabbath not in a way which he would if instituted for the first time, but as an old institution, which they were required to remember and keep holy. The Sabbath was now reinstituted with peculiar solemnity, and its observance was placed in the moral code, among the ten commandments. But it is probable that the day of its observance was changed. For the day first marked out for the Jewish Sabbath by the manna’s not fall. ing upon it, was the twenty second of the second month; and counting backward seven days, we find the people performing, by divine direction, a long and wearisome march. The origi. nal Sabbath, consecrated by the heathen to the Sun, may have been set aside and that day made holy on which the Jews came out of Egypt. Of that event the Sabbath now became a special memorial. He who is Lord of the Sabbath has a right to alter the day of its observance. He did alter it at a subsequent period to commenmorate his own resurrection. And if the Sabbath was then put back one day, as has been computed by some learned men, we have now the original Sabbath and do commemorate both the creation and redemption of

As standing memorials of the goodnes of Jehovah and the truth of the Mosaic religion, three great Festivals were insti. tuted ;-the Feast of the Passover, of Pentecost, and of Taber. nacles. The first was a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt. It was celebrated for seven

days from the 15th to the 21st of the month Nisan (April.) The second called Pentecost, because it was celebrated the fiftieth day from the Pass

man.

* Gen. xxix. 27. her week. Heb. her seven. xvi. 22-30.

Gen. iv. 7. + Exodus

« PreviousContinue »