RENEWED EXHORTATIONS TO OBEDIENCE (vs. 1-22)
Moses’ Intercession and Its Results (vs. 1-11)
1 “At that time” - When Moses thus interceded, God commanded him to prepare
two new tables of stone, and to construct an ark in which to keep them (compare
Exodus 34). Directions had been given for the construction of the ark before the
apostasy of the people, and it was not made till after the tabernacle had been erected,
nor were the tables placed in it till the tabernacle had been consecrated (Ibid. 25:10-22;
40:20-21). But as the things themselves were closely connected, Moses mentions them
here together, without regard to chronological order - “the LORD said unto me,
Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the
mount, and make thee an ark of wood. 2 And I will write on the tables the words
that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the
ark. 3 And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone
like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine
hand. 4 And He wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten
commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out
of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD
gave them unto me. 5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount,
and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the
LORD commanded me.”
6 “And the
of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar
his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead.” Not only did God, of His
grace and in response to the intercession of Moses, give to the people, notwithstanding
their apostasy, the ark of the covenant with the new tables of the Law, but He followed
this up by instituting the high priesthood; and, when Aaron died, caused it to be
continued to his son Eleazar. This Moses reminds the people of by referring to a fact in
their past history, viz. their arrival at Mosera, where Aaron died, and Eleazar succeeded
him in his office. Beeroth of the children of Jaakan (wells of the sons of Jaakan); the
same place as Benejaakan (Numbers 33:31), probably the Horite tribe, called ‘Akan
(Genesis 36:27), for which, apparently, should be read Jakan, as in I Chronicles 1:42.
Mosera; Moseroth, plu. of Mosera (Numbers 33:30). As Aaron died there, Mosera
must have been in the vicinity of
7 “From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath,
a land of rivers of waters.” Gudgodah, Hor-hagidgad (Numbers 33:32); cave of
Gidgad, a place of caves. Jotbath, Jotbathah (Numbers 33:33), a district abounding
in streams, whence probably its name, Jot-bathah, pleasantness, from bf"y;, to be
good, to please. None of these places have been identified. All the places, however,
must have been in the ‘Arabah, and in the region
That the places mentioned here are the same as those in Numbers cannot be doubted.
The two passages, however, relate to different journeys; that in Numbers to the
journeying of the Israelites from the wilderness of Sinai to Kadesh, that in
Deuteronomy to the march in the fortieth year, when they went from Kadesh to
8 “At that time” - the time when the covenant was restored at Sinai, not the time
when Aaron died. The appointment of the tribe of Levi for service took place in
connection with that of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood (Numbers 3:4). The
service to which the tribe of Levi was chosen appertained to the tribe as such, including
the priests as well as the non-priestly Levites, though parts of it specially belonged to
the one class rather than the other -“the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to
bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD,” - Thus the bearing of the ark was
the special duty of non-priestly Levites, the Kohathites (Numbers 4:4; I Chronicles
15:15); but was also, on peculiarly solemn occasions, discharged by the priests
(Joshua 3:6; 6:6; 8:33; I Kings 8:3,6) - “to stand before the LORD to minister
unto Him,” - was the special function of the priests (ch.17:12; 21:5); but as the
service of the Levites was also a sacred service, they too are said to stand to minister
before the Lord (ch. 18:7; I Chronicles 15:2; II Chronicles 23:6; 29:4-5,11-12) –
“and to bless in His name, unto this day.” To bless in His name does not mean,
as some propose, to invoke the Name of God, or to praise His Name, but to
pronounce a benediction or invoke a blessing on the people in His Name (compare
II Samuel 6:18; I Chronicles 16:2). This was the special duty of the priests (compare
Numbers 6:22-27; ch.21:5; I Chronicles 23:13), but might also be done by others
(as by David), and in this benediction the Levites might join.
9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD
is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.” (Compare
10 “And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty
nights; and the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also, and the LORD
would not destroy thee. 11 And the LORD said unto me, Arise, take thy journey
before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I swear
unto their fathers to give unto them.” Moses here sums up the general result of his
intercession. As at the first, he was on the mount the second time forty days and forty
nights; and in response to his pleading, the Lord willed not to
commanded him to resume his place as leader of the people, and conduct them to the
Promised Land This commandment and promise was a testimony that God now was
reconciled unto them by the intercession of Moses.
The Results of the Intercessory Prayer of Moses (vs. 1-11)
in Numbers 23:19 is by no means contrary to this. It means that there is
NO FICKLENESS NOR FALSENESS IN THE DIVINE PROMISES
and that the fulfillment of them is not subject to human caprice; which is
gloriously true, and in perfect harmony with the before-named words.
These do not denote a change in the mind of God, but rather a change in the
Divine acts. God’s promises are, in an important sense, conditional, and His
threatenings too. If we reject the promise and fail to rely upon it, it will not be
fulfilled in our case; so, if we repent and turn from sin, the threatenings will
cease to apply to us. The virtual withdrawal of promise or threatening is called
“repenting,” not because God changes His will, but because He varies His
action. God may plan and effect a change without ever changing a plan.
(See Ezekiel 33:12-16***)
Ø There were two manifest tokens of the Divine displeasure.
o Exodus 33:1-7; the tabernacle of Moses, where he would
hear the causes of the people, and maintain the mediatorship,
was removed from within the camp to the OUTSIDE
of it. (I had never caught this before – CY – 2012) Still,
mercy and judgment were blended, for the pillar of cloud
did not forsake them.
o Exodus 32:34-35; this is very obscure; but it at least means
that, though they were forgiven, yet they were chastised.
IN AFTER TIMES THE JEWS WERE WONT TO SAY
THAT NEVER ANY TROUBLE CAME UPON THEM
WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF THE DUST OF THE
GOLDEN CALF BEING IN IT! The intercession of Moses,
though it secured inestimable blessings, yet did not avail to
remove all reminders of their sin, or to make things as though
it had not been.
Ø Dire threatenings were removed one by one.
o They should not be consumed, still, only an angel should go
with them (Exodus 33:2-3).
o The Divine presence should go with them (Ibid. vs.12-14).
Ø Abounding mercy is vouchsafed. (according to v. 14, it seems as if the
Lord is talking only about Moses – CY – 2012) but the mercy is
gradually brought out more and more fully (Ibid. vs. 16-17), as Moses
pleads more and more persistently.
o Though the tabernacle is out of the camp, yet
communication with Jehovah is still maintained (Ibid. v.9).
o The old promise is renewed (Ibid. vs.12-14). “Rest!” Rest in
God. What less, what more, could they desire?
o There was a formal renewal of the covenant (here vs.1-5).
o Jehovah grants a new disclosure of his glory. The recent
exhibition of the frailty of man might well have crushed Moses
if he had not been sustained by a new vision of God. And what
a vision! What a declaration! Nowhere else on earth had a Name
so glorious then been proclaimed (Exodus 33:18-23; 34:6-9).
o The long-continued communion with God illumed the face of
Moses (Ibid. 34:29-35). Was this supernatural or miraculous?
Supernatural? Yes. Miraculous? No. We believe intensely in the
religion of the face (Acts 6:15). Moses was full of the
Holy Ghost. The luster without was but the index of the light
within. He had gone in unto God to plead for others, and he was
rewarded openly, by bringing down from the mount a radiance
that told with whom he had been! If our faces were more often
directed towards God in intercessory prayer, they would certainly
beam with new light, and men would take knowledge of us that
we had been with Jesus.
to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to
serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” - God had
showed great favor to
prescription, they were bound to render — fear, love, and obedience (compare
Micah 6:8) - To fear the Lord thy God (compare ch. 6:2,13). To walk in all His
ways; to receive His truth, accept His law, and follow the course of conduct
which He prescribes (compare Genesis 18:19; Psalm 25:4-5; 67:2; Acts 18:25-26).
To love Him (Exodus 20:6). “Fear with love! Love without fear relaxes;
fear without love enslaves, and leads to despair. There is a fear with which love
cannot coexist — a fear which hath torment, and which love casts out as its antagonist
(I John 4:18); but the fear of God which He requires is that pious reverence which not
only can coexist with love to Him, but is not where love is not - And to serve the
Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul – Love prompts to service.
Wherever love fills the heart, it seeks expression in acts of service to its object; and
where no such expression comes forth, the evidence is wanting of the existence of the
emotion in the bosom (John 14:15, 23; Galatians 5:13; I John 3:18).
13 To keep the commandments of the LORD, and His statutes, which I
command thee this day for thy good?” For thy good (ch. 5:29; 6:24). In serving
the Lord the glory redoundeth unto Him, the benefit to ourselves; for them that honor
Him He will honor (I Samuel 2:30), and ‘godliness hath the promise of the life
that now is, and of that which is to come’ (<540408>1 Timothy 4:8)
14 “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’s thy
God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” To love and serve the Lord,
to be His people. He, the Lord and Proprietor of the universe, was free to
choose any of the nations He pleased, and needed not the service of any, but
His free grace He chose
(Exodus19:5). The heaven and the heaven of heavens; the highest heavens, all
that may be called heaven, with all that it contains.
15 “Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He
chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this
day.” Delight (“set His love upon,” ch. 7:7); literally, cleaved to, was attached
to. “Affection, love, choice, were the three impulses which prompted God to
16 “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more
stiffnecked.” They were, therefore, to lay aside all insensibility of heart and
all obduracy, to acknowledge God’s supremacy, to imitate His beneficence,
and to fear and worship Him. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your
heart. As circumcision was the symbol of purification and sign of consecration
to God, so the Israelites are enjoined to realize in fact what that rite symbolized
purity of heart and receptivity for the things of God. This is enforced by the
consideration that JEHOVAH, THE ALONE GOD, THE ALMIGHTY,
is mighty and terrible without respect to persons, and at the same time
is a RIGHTEOUS JUDGE and THE PROTECTOR of the helpless and
Heart Circumcision (v. 16)
Ø Betokens the existence of natural impurity. The rite of circumcision, as
the initiatory rite of the covenant, taught that man, in his natural,
unpurified state, is unfit for fellowship with God. “In us, that is, in
our flesh, dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18; John 3:6). It was a symbol
of the putting away of “the filth of the flesh” — a truth now signified in
baptism (Colossians 2:11; I Peter 3:21).
Ø Illustrates the painful nature of the renunciation of fleshly lusts. The
operation was sharp, painful, bloody. It vividly set forth at once THE
NECESSITY OF RENOUNCING THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH,
and the pain attendant on the act. We are called on to mortify our
members which are upon the earth (Colossians 3:5). The process is
described as a crucifying of the flesh, with its affections and lusts
(Galatians 5:24). The deepest form which this renunciation can assume
is the renunciation of the principle of self-will in its entirety,
the SHARP EXCISION OF EVIL IN ITS ROOT!
Ø Implies the grace of the covenant. The reception of God’s grace as
exhibited in the covenant is the condition of the possibility of this
renunciation. We achieve it, not in our own strength, but through the
impartation of a new principle of life. Paul makes it a result of faith in
the risen Christ (Colossians 2:12). The circumcised heart marks the accepted
and restored recipient of the grace of God — a child of the spiritual
covenant, ONE BORN AGAIN!
Ø As distinguished from outward circumcision. The latter was valueless
without the former. Being but a symbol, its sole worth lay in that which it
represented. The true Jew was he who was one inwardly, whose
circumcision was “that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter”
(Romans 2:28-29). The remark applies to baptism. It also is but a
symbol, and without the grace which it exhibits, and the inward
renewal which it betokens, it is a dead work, a valueless rite, leaving
its subject as little a Christian as at first. So with all ceremonies!
Ø As a positive qualification for God’s service. Pure obedience can flow
only from a pure heart, a renewed will. It is not a fruit of the flesh. The
flesh must be renounced, and a new and spiritual nature begotten in us
before we can render it. What is needed is not REFORMATION but
REGENERATION — a new birth, a new creation, a new heart
(John 3:3; Romans 7:18-25; 8:7; II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16-25).
17 “For the LORD your God is God of gods,” - (Psalm 136:2). Not only
supreme over all that are called god, but the complex and sum of all that is
Divine; the Great Reality, of which the “gods many” (I Corinthians 8:5)
of the nations were at the best but the symbols of particular attributes or qualities.
“and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth
not persons,” – God is not partial, as a judge who has respect to the condition and
circumstances of parties rather than to the merits of the case (Leviticus 19:15;
Acts 10:34; Ephesians 6:9; Jude 1:16). “nor taketh reward:” - doth not accept
presents as bribes (ch.16:19; II Chronicles 19:7; Job 34:19; Micah 3:11).
18 “He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and
loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.” As THE IMPARTIAL
AND INCORRUPTIBLE JUDGE, GOD executes the judgment of the
fatherless and widow, vindicates the right of the defenseless (Psalm 68:6; 146:9);
and as the God of the whole earth, He loveth the stranger, helpless, and it may
oppressed, and giveth him food and raiment. Following
people, were to be benevolent to the stranger, inasmuch as they themselves
had been strangers in
(Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33-34). They were to love the stranger as God loves
him, by relieving his necessities (James 2:15-16). “But whoso hath this
world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels
of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (I John 2:17)
19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of
20 “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; Him shalt thou serve, and to
Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His name.” Reverting to his main theme,
Moses anew exhorts
to Him by serving Him, by cleaving to Him, and by swearing in His Name (ch. 4:4;
6:13; Acts 11:23). Such reverence was due from
things He had done for them, and those terrible acts by which His mighty power had
been displayed on their behalf.
21 “He is thy praise,” - i.e. the Object of thy praise; the Being who had given them
abundant cause to praise Him, and whom they were bound continually to praise
(Psalm 22:3; 109:1; Jeremiah 17:14) - “and He is thy God, that hath done for
thee” - literally, with thee, i.e. either in thy view or towards thee, for thy behoof
(compare ch.1:30; I Samuel 12:7; Zechariah 7:9; and such an expression as
“deal kindly [literally, do kindness] with,” (Genesis 24:49) – “these great and
terrible things,” - acts which by their greatness and awful effects inspired
fear and dread into those by whom they were witnessed - “which thine eyes
fathers went down into
and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven
for multitude.” Among
other marvelous acts toward
(Genesis 46:26-27), had, notwithstanding the cruel oppression to which they were
subjected there, grown to a nation numberless as the stars (Genesis 22:17; ch.1:10; <
The Supreme Persuasive (vs, 14-22)
The revelation of God’s character in its double aspect of EXALTED
MIGHT and of CONDESCENDING GRACE!
Ø That One so exalted should stoop at all. The wonder is not abated by
reflecting that infinite perfection must include infinite mercy with every
other attribute. It fills us with amazement to think of the Possessor of
heaven and earth stooping to hold friendly converse with His creature,
man. The Bible dwells on the thought with astonishment (I Kings 8:27;
Psalm 8:3-4; 147:3-6; Isaiah 57:15). Modern science indirectly
testifies to the wonder in objecting that, with our enlarged conceptions of
the universe, it is impossible to believe that God should feel the special
interest in man which the Bible says He does. (I recommend typing
in Fantastic Trip in your browser for a proper perspective – CY –
Ø That One so exalted should stoop so far. God’s depth of
condescension is seen peculiarly in the gospel.
o In sending His Only Begotten Son!
o In surrendering Him to death for you and me!
o This for enemies. “while we were yet sinners
Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
o In dwelling by the Spirit in imperfectly sanctified hearts
(John 3:16; 14:23*; Romans 5:6-10; 8:32; II Corinthians
The persuasiveness of the revelation lies in its blending of majesty with grace.
SYMPATHETIC. (vs. 17-20.) Another aspect of the Divine greatness,
blending with lowliness, which attracts the heart. The combination of great
strength with great gentleness; of judicial sternness with humane
consideration of those in distress, are sufficiently rare to be always
striking. We marvel when, in the hero of a hundred battles, we discover a
heart of woman’s tenderness; when in the judge whose strictness on the
bench every one remarks, we light on a spring of deep and genuine
compassionateness. It is this combination we see in God. A God of
gods, a Lord of lords; great, mighty, terrible, sternly just; yet,
what might seem incompatible with this, TENDERLY AND
TOUCHINGLY COMPASSIONATE! His might and equity,
so terrible to evil-doers, He throws as a shield around the
fatherless, the widow, and the stranger. He executes their judgment.
They are His peculiar care. Them, above all others, will He not allow to be
wronged (Psalm 68:5). “For the Lord your God….regardeth not
persons, nor taketh reward” (v. 17). We have in the Word of God
no fewer than ten to twelve quotations or uses of this text, each one
setting it in some special aspect as a point of doctrine, or drawing
therefrom some special inference on a matter of duty!
DEFENDING AND BLESSING HIS CHURCH. (vs. 21-22.)
Power in itself awakens fear; power known to be engaged in our protection
and for our good inspires the highest confidence. Moses recalls to the
Israelites, as a reason for fearing and loving God, His acts of power on
their behalf, especially His power as exerted in their extraordinary increase.
God’s power may be viewed as displayed:
Ø In the Church’s redemption (Colossians 1:13).
Ø In the Church’s increase (Acts 5:38-39).
Ø In the Church’s protection from her foes (Matthew 16:18;
Acts 4:24, 31).
The individual Christian will have reason to rejoice in the same power:
o As exerted in his conversion (Ephesians 1:19),
o in his upholding (Jude 1:24),
o in his protection (Romans 8:35-39),
o in his ULTIMATE SALVATION (I Peter 1:5).
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