Monday, December 29, 2014

#57. The Tabernacle. A general survey (Exod. xxv. 1-9).

     In tracing the history of Israel as a nation we start with redemption, the Passover deliverance from Egypt, where a fresh start was made.  The Passover month became “a beginning of months” unto them.  We have followed them through the waters of the Red Sea, which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.  None but the redeemed of the Lord can reach the other side alive.  We have seen their trials and temptations, their first great battle with Amalek, and its spiritual teaching.  We have seen them enter into covenant relationship with God, both book and people being sprinkled with blood;  we have heard the words of the covenant given in solemn grandeur from Sinai, and we have reached that point in the development of their typical history that demands the tabernacle and its ritual.

     In the articles under the heading of Redemption we have discussed the difference between redemption as the exodus, and the atonement as the eisodus, the one leading out and giving deliverance, the other leading in and giving acceptance and access.  Therefore we will not stay over that phase now.

     The present creation is described in  Genesis i. & ii.,  and the record of that mighty work comprises 34 verses.  The tabernacle is described in  Exodus xxv.-xxxi.  &  xxxv.-xl.,  and the record comprises 457 verses.  This disproportion can be explained only in the light of their relative importance, the understanding of the way into the presence of God being far more important than the understanding of the way in which He created heaven and earth.  The new creation is so much greater than the present, as the finished temple the scaffolding erected for its building.

The   shadow   of   heavenly   things.

     In  Exod. xxv. 9, 10,  xxvi. 30,  xxvii. 8,  and  Numb. viii. 4  Moses is commanded to see that all things in the tabernacle are made after the pattern that was shown him in the mount, and this is repeated in  Heb. viii. 5.   In the latter passage the reason for this exactness is given:--

     “The example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”

      Again, in  Heb. ix. 23  the tabernacle is spoken of as “The pattern of things in the heavens”.  The holiest of all in the tabernacle was evidently a symbol of heaven, for we read:--

     “We have an high priest . . . . . in the heavens, a minister of . . . . . the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Heb. viii. 1, 2).

     It is called “a greater and more perfect tabernacle” in  Heb. ix. 11,  and the holy places made with hands are called “figures of the true”, and the true is further defined as “heaven itself” in  ix.24.   It is therefore a matter beyond controversy that the tabernacle and its offerings, its priests and its furniture, are intensely typical, and speak of heaven itself where Christ as the great high priest has for us entered.

“Of   Thine   own   have   we   given   Thee.”

     The whole of the material necessary for the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture was given willingly by the people of Israel:--

     “Every man that giveth it willingly with his heart” (Exod. xxv. 2).

     “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whose spirit made him willing” (Exod. xxxv. 21, 29)

     The same element of wholehearted willingness entered into the preparation for the temple in David’s day:--

     “Who then is willing to consecrate his service?”

     “Then the people rejoiced, for that day they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord” (I Chron. xxix. 5, 9).

     The chapter also reveals the secret of this willing offering:--

     “All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.”

     “All this store that we have prepared to build Thee an house for Thine holy name cometh of Thine hand, and is all Thine own” (I Chron. xxix. 14, 16).

     These material things, such as silver and gold, were but the evident types of unseen realities that pertain to God.  David’s ascription of praise (I Chron. xxix. 11-13), punctuated by 14 “ands” (including “now” of verse 13, and so making 15 items), may be compared with the “pattern of things in the heavens” given in  Exod. xxv. 3-7:--

The   fifteen   patterns.
(Exod.  xxv.  3-7).
The   things   themselves.
(I Chron.  xxix.  11-13).
 1.    Gold.
 2.    Silver.
 3.    Brass.
 4.    Blue.
 5.    Purple.
 6.    Scarlet.
 7.    Linen.
 8.    Goats’ hair.
 9.    Rams’ skins.
10.   Badgers’ skins.
11.   Shittim wood.
12.   Oil.
13.   Spices.
14.   Onyx stones.
15.   Stones (various).
 1.    Greatness.
 2.    Power.
 3.    Glory.
 4.    Victory.
 5.    Majesty.
 6.    All in Heaven and Earth is Thine.
 7.    Kingdom and headship.
 8.    Riches and honour.
 9.    Reign over all.
10.   Power.
11.   Might.
12.   To make great.
13.   To give strength.
14.   Thanks.
15.   Praise.

     We do not intend to teach by these parallels that (1) gold represents greatness, or (8) goats’ hair represents riches and honour.  All we intend is to emphasize the spiritual value of these typical materials, and to take advantage of that characteristic of inspiration where even words are weighed and numbered.  The same element of symbolism is discernible in the gifts brought by the wise men to the infant Christ “born Kings of the Jews”, viz., “gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. ii. 11).

     The fifteen items enumerated in  Exod. xxv. 3-7  retain the special number (5) that pervades the tabernacle.  The outer court was 100 cubits wide, covering an area of 5,000 square cubits.  The 60 pillars of this court multiply the tabernacle number (5) by the number of tribes (12).  The pillars that held the curtains were 5 cubits apart and 5 cubits  high;  the whole of the outer curtain was divided into squares of 25 cubits.  We will not pursue this further, but as we come to individual details we shall find five (5) dominating the whole structure.  We are distinctly told in  Psalm cv.  that the offerings made by Israel for the tabernacle were brought from Egypt at the Exodus:--

     “He brought them forth also with silver and gold” (Psa. cv. 37).

     “They asked of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment” (Exod. xii. 35).

     This was provided for in the covenant made with Abraham:--

     “And also that nation, whom they serve, will I judge, and afterward they shall come out with great substance” (Gen. xv. 14).

      It practically amounted to deferred pay, the taskmaster being compelled at the end to disgorge the wage withheld.  The same principle is seen in  Isa. lx. 5, 11, 16,  lxi. 6.   That service and honour due to God, and which sin has diverted to itself, shall by virtue of redemption be taken from the usurper and willingly offered to the rightful Lord.  The same may be said of the various ascriptions of praise found in the book of the Revelation, they are all so much of the Lord’s due held back for a time by sin.  When the day of glory arrives:--

“The kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it” (Rev. xxi. 24).

“Thy people shall offer themselves willingly in the day of Thy power” (Psa. cx. 3).

     The first article of the tabernacle to be specified is the ark.  This we will examine later, but first we had better obtain a general survey.  The tabernacle itself was an oblong, 30 cubits in length, & 10 cubits in the height and breadth.  This was divided by a veil into two parts;  the holy place being 20 cubits long, and the most holy, the holy of holies, being a perfect cube of 10 cubits length, breadth and depth.  These are referred to in  Heb. ix. 2, 6, 7  as the first and second tabernacle, respectively.  In the first tabernacle stood the lampstand, the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense.  In the holiest of all stood the ark and the mercy seat.  None but the high priest was allowed to enter into the holiest of all.

     The tabernacle itself was constructed of planks of shittim wood overlaid with gold, which planks were placed upon silver sockets and fastened together by long rods.  Inside the tabernacle were woven tapestries containing embroidered cherubim, and outside the tabernacle were successive layers of curtains of goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins.  Before the door of the tabernacle stood the brazen altar and the laver, and the whole was surrounded by the white curtained court.  Disposed around this tabernacle were the priests, the tents, and the tribes.  Rabbinical tradition has it that each tribe carried as a sign one of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.  These twelve signs, beginning with the sign of the virgin (Genesis), and ending with the sign of the lion (Revelation), depict the whole story of redemption.

     The twelve tribes were distributed according to the four points of the compass, the whole forming a wondrous picture — all Israel grouped around the ark, the mercy seat, and the pillar of cloud or fire, setting forth the day when God shall be all in all.  The order here referred to is given in full detail in  Numbers ii.  and The Companion Bible, Dispensational Truth (page 106), and Newberry’s Supplement to The Englishman’s Bible set the whole before the eye in a diagram.  It is of interest to note that the tribes that occupied east, west, south, and north had as their signs the lion, ox, man, and eagle (scorpio), so that both at the centre (the mercy seat) and at the circumference (the standards) the cherubic pledge of restoration was remembered.

The   primary   purpose   of   the   tabernacle.

     In  Exod. xxv. 8,  immediately following the enumeration of the materials necessary for the building of the tabernacle, God gives the primary purpose of its construction, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them”.  “The tents of Shem” were from the days of Noah destined to be the dwelling place of God (Gen. ix. 27), and it is the purpose of redemption and atonement to make the sons of men fit for God to dwell among them.  The climax of the book of Revelation is expressed in the words:--

     “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. xxi. 3),

and when this takes place tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain, the close attendants upon sin ever since paradise was lost, shall for ever pass away.  This blessed time of restoration is expressed in the typical tabernacle of Israel.

Why   a   tabernacle?

     A tabernacle is a tent, a dwelling place that belongs to pilgrims.  It speaks of the wilderness and its wanderings rather than the kingdom and its peace.  Consequently it has an application all down the age to all companies of the redeemed who are pressing on to the hope laid up for them:

     “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac, and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Heb. xi. 9).

     Not only so, it represents the willingness of God in His grace to have no settled place upon this earth until sin is removed, and His pilgrim people are at home in peace.   Since  Genesis iii.  the sabbath rest of creation has been broken by the activities of redemption.  The date upon which the tabernacle was set up is also of a typical nature, “on the first day of the month”.  Moses records one other important typical event that took place upon this same date, namely, the day when the waters were dried up from off the earth at the time of the flood, and when Noah removed the covering of the ark (Gen. viii. 13).  Both events have restoration in view, both have an ark as the central feature (two words in the Hebrew O.T., but one in the Greek N.T.).

     Noah’s ark had no cherubim, for man, lion, ox, and eagle were there in reality;  the ark of the covenant had golden cherubim.  Noah’s ark was covered with pitch, the first occurrence of the Hebrew word atonement in the O.T.  The mercy seat is in Hebrew kapporeth,  pitch  being  kopher,  and to pitch,  kaphar.

     We are now ready to give closer attention to the detailed description given in Exodus of the various parts of the tabernacle, and we pray that the exhibition of these rich types may be a means of blessing not only to the young believers among our readers for whom they are primarily intended, but to the most advanced also.

#56. The application of the Ten Commandments as shown in the judgments of Exodus xxi. - xxiii.

     We have seen in the “ten words” the great basis of the covenant made with Israel, and we are yet to see how the whole tabernacle and its services revolve around the ark, in which rested the tables of testimony, and the mercy seat which covered it.  Before we turn our attention to the tabernacle it seems fitting that we should acquaint ourselves with the judgments that were added to the “ten words”.  It will be found upon examination that they unfold and apply the law given in the tables of stone.  It will be remembered that the ten commandments divide the duties of Israel into two sets, five dealing with God and five dealing with man.  The N.T. sums up the law and the prophets as love to God and love to neighbour.

The   ten-fold    exposition.

     In  Exodus xx.  the covenant is given, and in  Exodus xxiv.  the covenant is ratified, and it will be seen that this covenant is concerned with:--

1.      All the words of the Lord, i.e., the “ten words” of  xx. 1-17.
2.      All the judgments, i.e., those of  xxi.-xxiii.

     “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments:  and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do” (Exod. xxiv. 3).

     These “judgments” follow the arrangement of the ten commandments, namely, five sections are devoted to Israel’s attitude to God, and five sections deal with Israel, or the Lord’s attitude to man, one to another or to strangers.

     Let us take a broad view of the whole section  Exodus xx. 21 - xxiii. 33.

The   ten-fold   judgments.

A1   |   xx. 21-26.     GOD.    His worship and idolatry.
      B1   |   xxi.-xxii. 17.     MAN.    Servitude, murder, stealing, negligence.
A2   |   xxii. 18-20.     GOD.    Witchcraft, confusion and sacrifice.
      B2   |   xxii. 21-28.     MAN.    Vexing, afflicting, strangers, widows, etc.
A3   |   xxii. 29-31.     GOD.    Offerings, fruits and firstborn.
      B3   |   xxiii. 1-9.     MAN.    False witness, bribery, oppression.
A4   |   xxiii. 10-19-.     GOD.    Sabbaths and Feasts.
      B4   |   xxiii. -19.     MAN.    Humane treatment of animals.
A5   |   xxiii. 20-25-.     GOD.    The angel, My name, gods.
      B5   |   xxiii. -25-33.     MAN.    Food, land, health, length of days.

     Here we have a five-fold alternation, corresponding to the two tables of stone.  This amplification is not confined to Exodus.   Psalm cxix. 122  reads, “Be surety for Thy servant for good, let not the proud oppress me”.  This verse is the subject of a Massoretic note* which draws attention to the fact that every verse in  Psalm cxix.  with the exception of verse 122 contains one of ten words, all of which refer to the commandments of God.  These ten words are way, testimonies, precepts, commandment, word (’imrah), law, judgment, righteousness, statute, word (dabar).  The one exception uses the word “surety” instead and points to the fact that the tabernacle with its offerings was appointed when Israel failed, and looks forward to the new covenant of which Christ Himself is “the surety for good”.

 [NOTE:   *  -  These notes occur in the margin of the Hebrew Bible and have reference to the sacred text, with the intention that such information shall guard against any alteration or corruption of the original.  For illustration see page 82 of Appendix to The Companion Bible.]

The   Judgments.

     The word judgment (mishpat) is often translated “the manner of” as in  Exod. xxi. 9,  “He shall deal with her after the manner of daughters”.  The relation of the word to the service of God may be gathered from  II Kings xvii. 26,  “The nations which Thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land”.  The king of Assyria commands that one of the captive priests shall be sent to teach the new arrivals, and we read that he taught them “how they should fear the Lord” (verse 28).  It was a sorry business however, for in verse 33 we read that “they feared the Lord, and served their own gods”, which broke the very first words of the covenant (verses 34-41).  These judgments therefore, given to supplement and expand the “ten words”, show “the manner of the Lord”, and His manner is “right”:--

“Shall not the Judge (Shaphat) of all the earth do right?” (mishpat, Gen. xviii. 25).

     Let us now see a little more in detail this righteous dealing between God and man.

I.   Servitude   and   freedom   (Exod.  xxi.  1-11).

     In the case of the Hebrew male servant six years was the limit of his servitude, “in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing”, the only exception being that in the event of the servant marrying a wife given by his master, and having children and not wishing to leave them, then he could voluntarily devote himself “for ever” to that master’s service.  That such servitude was not “slavery” can be gathered from the words, “If the servant shall plainly say, i love my master, my wife, and my children;  i will not go out free”.  The question of the connection between the boring of the ear with the readings of  Psalm xl. 6  and  Heb. x. 5  has been dealt with at some length on pp.59-61 of this volume (see Hebrews16, #43).
     In the case of the Hebrew maid servant particular regard is paid to the liability of abuse that awaits a lonely woman, and it is clearly stated that “she shall not go out as the menservants do”.  This kindly fatherly element in God’s judgment, given in a day when woman were reckoned as cattle or household chattels, gives the lie to those who would bring down the law of Sinai to an imitation of that of Khammurabi or Babylon:  “To sell her unto a strange master he shall have no power”.  This has reference to a betrothal made, but rejected.  In the case of adding another wife, the feelings and status of the first wife are preserved:--

     "Her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish . . . . . If he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money."

II.   Death   penalty   and   refuge   (Exod.  xxi.  12-17).

     Murder, the cursing of parents, and man-stealing were to be punished with death, without the option of sacrifice or fine.  Manslaughter was provided with “a place to flee”.

III.   Recompense   (Exod.  xxi.  18-36).

     In cases of striving, smiting and negligence a variety of instances of sinful acts done to another that could be put right by a payment for the loss of time, money, limb, etc., are given.  For hurting an equal:  “He shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.”  For hurting a servant:  “He is his money.”  Causing an abortion, without mischief following, must be paid for as the judges determine and the husband lays upon him.  If mischief follow, then there must be “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”, etc.  This is further enforced in the setting free of a servant as a recompense for the loss of eye, or tooth.

     Negligence to keep under control an ox that gores a person to death is compensated by the loss of the ox.  If, however, the negligence be culpable, both ox and owner must be put to death.  This also applies with modification to negligence that causes the death of ox or ass.

IV.   Full   restoration   and   a   fine   in   addition   (Exod.  xxii.  1-17).

     For stealing one ox he shall restore five.  If a thief be smitten to death when caught in the act, it is quits.  If he survives and have nothing, he shall be sold.  If the theft be found, he shall restore double.  Feeding cattle in another man’s field and destroying crops through careless fire-lighting demands restitution.  Those entrusted with goods must be responsible unto double the value.  To entice a maid that is not betrothed must be recompensed either by marriage or dowry.

     Such is a very imperfect summary of the first section  xxi. 1 - xxii. 17.   This is followed by a brief section (Exodus xxii. 18-20) dealing with the Godward side.  (1) The witch.  (2) The confusion of seed.  (3) The sacrifice to any other god save the Lord.  In each case the penalty is death.  The section following (xxii. 21-28) is devoted to the question of vexing and afflicting strangers, widows, fatherless, and borrowers.   Exodus xxii. 29-31  emphasize the claims of God upon the first-fruits, first-born sons, and first-born of cattle;   also that in the question of their food Israel were to be “holy men unto Me”.

     Exodus xxiii. 1-9  deals with false witness, unkindness, bribery, and oppression,  Exod. xxiii. 10-19  with God’s command concerning the sabbatic year, the sabbath day, and the three feasts in the year, namely, the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of harvest, and the feast of ingathering.  Also that no leaven must be offered with the blood of sacrifice, neither must the fat remain till the morning.  The following one little clause stands out alone:--

     “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exod. xxiii. 19).

     This humane stipulation was intended to restrain the more brutal instincts of man, much in the same way that the command concerning the bird and its young in  Deut. xxii. 6,  and the cow and its calf in  Lev. xxii. 28.

     Exodus xxiii. 20-25-  promises the leadership and protection of the angel in whom is the name of the Lord upon the condition of obedience, and the angel is said to go before them and to bring them into the land of the Canaanites.  A final warning is given concerning idolatry and an exhortation to serve the Lord.  Then comes the last man-ward section, viz.,  Exod. xxiii. -25-33.   This contains promises concerning bread and water, sickness, fruitfulness, and length of days.  The clearing of the land of promise of the Canaanites, and of the beasts of the field, the boundaries of the land of promise, and the man-ward effect of any covenant made with either the Canaanites or their gods, such was the tenor of the covenant made with Israel.  This is by no means all, for in subsequent books Moses reveals further expansions of the principles here set forth.

Judgment   and   mercy.

      A superficial view of these laws has led to a great deal of misrepresentation.  The God Who could think of the little kid, Who legislated for slaves, for fatherless, for strangers, cannot be either harsh or merciless.  Many have objected to the severity of the law, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”, when a closer acquaintance would lead them to magnify God for His mercy.  The laws that were in force at the time when God gave the law to Moses reveal what a merciful advance is here made.  Instead of an eye for an eye it would be a vendetta and perhaps many lives.  This can be tested by reading what is called the Code of Khammurabi (the Amraphel of Gen. xiv. 1), and comparing the offences and penalties under the two legislations.

     In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord reveals the deeper spirituality of the law.  Moses does not only teach an eye for an eye, but he teaches (by implication and comparison with other laws) not many eyes for one, that is, Moses taught that justice should be tempered with mercy.  The Lord Jesus does not contradict the law of Moses, but shows its legitimate “fulfillment”.  The same is true regarding the murder that is incipient in heart hatred.  We can well believe that had Israel been able to fulfil their promise to obey all the commandments of the Lord, they would have fulfilled their calling, and have been a great outstanding witness for truth in the earth.


     The title of the fifth book of Moses in the LXX is Deuteronomy, meaning “Second Law”, being taken from the LXX version of  Deut. xvii. 18  where we read, “Then shall he write for himself this repetition of the law” (kai grapsee hauto deuteronion touto).  This book of thirty-three chapters cannot be a mere repetition of the law given in Exodus, unless we mean “vain repetition”, for in very bulk it is eight times as large.  It means therefore that just as the ten commandments were expanded in  Exodus xxi.-xxiii.,  so they are more completely expanded as the times arrives for Israel to enter into the land.  This is more easily seen when we realize that the whole book of Deuteronomy is occupied with a ten-fold address given by Moses, giving expansions, expositions, blessings and cursings of the Ten Words of  Exodus.xx.:--

     “And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them” (Deut. i. 3).

     Throughout this repetition the terms of the original covenant are continually in mind, together with the effect upon Israel consequent upon obedience.  A peculiar treasure, above all people, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, the possession and enjoyment of the land.

     The book of Revelation, to say nothing of the testimony of the Prophets, testifies to the fact that although Israel can never enter into their peculiar blessings upon the basis of the old covenant, by virtue of the new covenant all these blessings shall be theirs.  This fact raises the question as to what is the position of the law.  Is it set aside?  Is it fulfilled vicariously?  Will it be fulfilled?  The true answer to the question, if it is to be established from Scripture, must of necessity take more space than a closing paragraph, and we therefore leave it until time and space afford the necessary opportunity.  Meanwhile we trust that the fulness of those ten words which form the basis of the covenant with Israel have been the better appreciated by our study together, and the inability of man to keep them will but magnify that great justification which has been made ours freely by the grace of God through the redemption and propitiation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

#55. The Covenant of Sinai (Exodus xx. - xxiv.)

     We have traced the Lord’s dealings with Israel from their call in Abraham, and their deliverance from Egypt, to their arrival at the wilderness of Sinai (Exod.xix.1).  Sinai marks a crisis in the history of this people, and is of fundamental importance in their typical story.  Israel are to show once and for all the utter inability of the flesh to enter into blessing by a covenant of works.  This necessitates the new covenant with its better promises and its better sacrifices, which is the theme of the epistle to the Hebrews.  “The law made nothing perfect.”

     In  Exod. xix. 3, 8, & 20  we have three ascents of Sinai by Moses, culminating in the giving of the law.  Three more ascents are recorded in  Exod. xxiv. 9 - xxxii. 14,  xxxii. 31-33  &  xxxiv. 4-28,  culminating in the building of the tabernacle, the ark receiving the tables of stone written the second time, and so bearing witness to Israel’s failure and their need of Christ.  There is therefore a distinct connection between the old and the new covenants as  Jer. xxxi. 31-34  reveals.

The   Old   and   the   New   Covenants.

     “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jer.xxxi.31).

     Let us observe how definite the Scripture is with regard to the covenanting parties.  “The Lord” on the one hand, and “The house of Israel and the house of Judah” on the other.  It is a covenant properly drawn up, and not one who is not of the house of Israel or Judah, or who cannot show full Scriptural warrant for being reckoned with such, can have part or lot in it.   Romans xi.  reveals the method whereby some believing Gentiles came within the bounds of the new covenant.  They are spoken of as wild olive branches grafted into the true olive, and, with the branches that remained unbroken, “partaking of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Rom. xi. 17).  Such is the widest extension of the bounds of this covenant.  The moment Israel as a nation passed off the scene, that moment the new covenant and all pertaining to it was withdrawn, to be reserved until the day when:--

     “All Israel shall be saved . . . . . For this is MY COVENANT UNTO THEM” (Rom. xi. 26, 27).

     We now proceed with the statement of  Jeremiah xxxi.:--

     “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” (verse.32).

     Here we see the close connection between the old covenant made at Sinai, and the new covenant to be made in the future.  The reference to the Exodus from Egypt is important.  Every year this deliverance was remembered by the observance of the feast of the passover.  Israel remembered that old covenant in the very year that our Lord was crucified.  It was at the passover that Christ instituted the memorial of another and greater exodus, by another and greater passover lamb, and established another and better covenant:--

     “They made ready the Passover … and He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, DRINK YE ALL of it;  for this is My blood of the NEW COVENANT, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt.xxvi.19-30).

     The Lord’s supper is a memorial feast exactly similar to the passover, but differing in this, that the Passover was a typical memorial connected with the old covenant, whereas the Lord’s supper is connected with the new covenant.  For Gentile believers to partake of this new covenant memorial while unassociated with Israel appears to us to be an unwarranted intrusion.   Jeremiah xxxi.  continues regarding the first covenant:--

     “Which My covenant they break, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord” (verse 32).

     The LXX reads “I regarded them not” instead of “I was an husband unto them”.  This reading is followed by the N.T. quotation in  Heb. viii. 9,  which proves that this is the true interpretation.  The Hebrew ba’al has two meanings  (1)  to be lord, master, or husband;  (2)  to disdain, reject, or disregard.  The A.V. of  Jeremiah xxxi.  chose the wrong meaning.  The inspired writer of “Hebrews” gives the true meaning.  Israel broke the old covenant, and they were disdained, disregarded, all hope being henceforth centred in the Messiah:--

     “But this shall be the covenant that I shall make with the house of Israel;  After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts:  and will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. xxxi. 33)

     It is impossible to read these words without remembering Paul’s argument in  II Cor. iii. & iv.:--

     “Written not with ink,  but with the Spirit of the living God;   not in tables of stones, but in the fleshly tables of the heart ... God ... has made us able ministers of the NEW COVENANT” (II Cor. iii. 3-6).

     The Corinthians were already instructed regarding their connection with the new covenant, as  I.Cor.xi.25  will show.  Here in the second epistle the apostle feels under the necessity to warn his children concerning Judaism that would lead them back to bondage.  Therefore he institutes a comparison which it will be helpful to observe.

     II Corinthian iv. 3  needs a fuller explanation than we can give in this tabular form:--

     “But if indeed our gospel be vailed, by those things which are perishing they have been vailed.”

     The “perishing” things are the things of the old covenant which are said to be “done away” and “abolished”.  The god of this age uses the old covenant and ministration of death to vail the light of the glory of the gospel that shone in the face of Christ.  One further word from  Jeremiah xxxi.  and then we must return to  Exodus xix.:--

     “If these ordinances (see verse 35) depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed  of  Israel  also  shall  cease  from  being a  NATION  before  Me  all  the  days”  (Jer. xxxi. 36).

     It is not possible to hold to the inspiration of Scripture and deny the national character of the new covenant.  We do not wish to be aggressive or controversial, but in an article purporting to deal with fundamentals of dispensational truth we must perforce “use great plainness of speech”, and we must state that we have no hesitation or diffidence with regard to our attitude concerning the observance of the Lord’s supper as a member of that elect company called into favour during the time of Israel’s rejection.  Let us now turn to  Exodus xix.  and read the terms of the first covenant.

The   terms   of   the   First   Covenant.

    “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;  Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.  Now therefore IF ye obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, THEN ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people;  for all the earth is Mine:  And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.  These are the words that thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Exod. xix. 3-6).

     Moses descended from the mount, called for the elders of the people, and laid before them the words commanded him.  There was an unanimous acceptance of the conditions.  “And all the people answered together,  All that the Lord hath spoken will we do” (Exod. xix. 8).  From this point on to  xxiii. 33  we have the preparation of the people, the descent of the Lord to Sinai, the giving of the 10 commandments, and the judgments.  Then Moses came once more to the people and told them all the words of the Lord and all the judgments, and once more all the people answered with one voice, “All the words which the Lord hath said will we do” (Exod. xxiv. 3).

     The people having re-asserted their agreement, Moses next put the words of the Lord unto writing (Exod. xxiv. 4).  He then built an altar on twelve pillars, one for each tribe, and caused sacrifices to be made.  Half of the blood shed Moses reserved in basons.  He then took the book of the covenant, and read it over in the audience of the people:  and they again replied, “All that  the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exod. xxiv. 7).  Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying:

     “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words” (Exod. xxiv. 8).

     A covenant instituted with such solemnity, framed with words of such weight and far reaching effect, demands a respectful study.  We cannot hope to do more than point the way in articles such as these, but we earnestly trust that the reader will be stirred up to see something of the heights and depths of this revelation of the righteousness of God.

The   Ten   Words    (Exod.  xxxiv.  28   margin).

     The ten commandments are pre-eminently the basis of the covenant:--

     “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words;  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” (Exod. xxxiv. 27, 28).

     “He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments, and He wrote them upon two tables of stone” (Deut. iv. 13).

     Let us summarize these ten commandments.  There are quite a variety of ways in which the commandments have been divided and numbered, for it must be remembered that there is no numeration in the original.  Some think that  numbers.I.-IV.  belong to the first table and relate to God, and  numbers.V.-X.  belong to the second table and relate to man.  This would place number V. as “the first commandment with promise” at the head of the list, and remove the difficulty created by the apparent promise found in  Exod. xx. 6.   On the other hand “that thy days may be long upon the land” (verse 12) is the first definite promise in the covenant.

     The Companion Bible draws attention to the fact that the first five commandments contain the title “The Lord thy God”, but that no title or name of God appears in the second set.  This seems to fall under the natural division of two sets of five, the one dealing with love to God, the other with love to neighbour.  If this be accepted, the honouring of parents is placed upon the table devoted to the honouring of God, and demands serious thought.

The   Covenant   and   the   Commandments.

     Each of the commandments are vital parts of the covenant, and in many cases passages may be found where this connection is definitely stated.  On others it is clearly implied.  We will not occupy space in printing the commandments, but the reader with  Exodus xx.  open before him may find some help by noting the following facts and particulars.

     I.  “No other God.” — It is implied in the expressions, “Thy God”, “I will be their God”, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”, that there is a covenant relationship between the two parties named.  This is established by such a passage as:--     

     “Behold, I make a covenant . . . . . thou shalt worship no other god . . . . . lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land” (Exod. xxiv. 10, 14, 15).

     II.  “No graven image.” — Had this command been observed by Israel, it alone would have made them a separate people on the earth, for idolatry and image worship was practically universal:--    

     “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make a graven image, or the likeness of anything …” (Deut.iv.23,24).

     “Wherefore hath the Lord done this unto the land? . . . . . because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers . . . . . FOR THEY WENT and served OTHER GODS” (Deut. xxix. 9-28).

     III.  The covenant Name. — When the Lord bade Moses hew two tables of stone in order that the words of the covenant might be written thereon, we read:

     “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the NAME of the Lord . . . . . and He said, Behold, I make a covenant” (Exod. xxxiv. 1-10).

     The name here proclaimed is “The Lord God”, and the title “The Lord thy God” occurs in each of the commandments on the first table.  It is the covenant name, and therefore sacred and central.

IV.             The sabbath. — The sabbath was a sign of the covenant:--

     “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath . . . . . for a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel” (Exod. xxxi. 16, 17).

     V.  The honouring of parents.  —  The honour due to father and mother is a marked feature of the Old Testament, and it gains in importance when we see that this command finished the first table that deals with Israel’s relation to God.  We may the better understand the Lord’s words in  Matt. xv. 4-6  when we see the place of this fifth commandment.  The Pharisees transgressed this commandment by their tradition.  They taught that if a man declared that all his possessions were given to God, saying, “It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, he shall be free” (Mark.vii.11).

     This the Lord condemned as transgressing the commandment of God.  It is not possible to honour God by the dishonour of parents.  Let us now notice the relation of the commandments the one to the other:--

A   |   I.     No other gods before Me.     “The land of Egypt.”
     B   |   II.     No image or likeness.     “Heaven”,  “earth”,  “water”.
          C   |   III.     The Name.
     B   |   IV.     The Sabbath.     “Heaven”,  “earth”,  “sea”.
A   |   V.     Father and mother.     “The land the Lord giveth.”

     This arrangement not only shows the relation of the first and the fifth, but also shows how an intelligent observance of the sabbath was a preservative from idolatry.  It would not be possible to bow down to images of things in heaven or earth if one remembered that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is.

The   Second   Table.

     VI.  Thou shalt not kill. — Although the name of God is not mentioned in the second table, it becomes abundantly clear upon examination that a right conduct towards our neighbour is governed by, and is a reflection of, our conduct toward the Lord.  “Thou shalt not kill” takes our mind back to  Gen.ix.6,  “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made He man”.  Murder aims at the heart of the purpose of creation, the destruction of the image of God on earth.  Murder links man with Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning (John viii. 44), and with Cain, who was of that wicked one (I John iii. 12).

     VII.  Thou shalt not commit adultery. — If murder aims at destroying the image of God, adultery is calculated to corrupt the seed:--

     “Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which He loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.  The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this . . . . . the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously, yet she is thy consort, and the wife of thy covenant.  Truly did He not make (the twain) one (flesh)?  Yet had He the residue of the Spirit (and so could have made more than one wife for Adam).  And wherefore one (emphatic)?  Because He desired a SEED OF GOD” (Mal. ii. 11-15).

     The discerning reader will perceive  Genesis iii. & iv.  in a clearer light by remembering the comment of Malachi.  The universal association between immorality and idolatry throughout the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, the story of  Genesis vi.,  the two attacks upon Sarah before Isaac’s birth, the downfall of Solomon, the vehement protest of Nehemiah, these and similar examples reveal the place that adultery takes in the attack upon the purpose of the ages.

     So vital is this relationship, that the Lord uses it as the most fitting figure of His covenant relationship with Israel.  Their very land is to be called Beulah or “married”, and the climax of revelation, apart from the mystery, is “the marriage of the Lamb”, with its Satanic counterpart, “the whore” of  Revelation xvii. & xviii.   Even the members of the church of the one body may manifest the love of Christ and the church in their own married relationship (Ephesians v.).  Idolatry and adultery are convertible terms in the Scriptures.

     If holiness is involved in the sin of adultery, righteousness is involved in the sin of stealing.

     VIII.  Thou shalt not steal. — Satan was a murderer from the beginning.  Satan has sought down the ages to corrupt the true seed.  Satan entered into Judas, who betrayed his Lord, and Scripture says Judas “was a thief” (John.xii.6).  Malachi whose words we have quoted above says, “Will a man rob God?” (Mal. iii. 8).
     The weights and measures of Israel were not beneath Divine legislation, for in them were set forth the equity and righteousness of the Lord.  “Just balances, just weights, a just ephah and a just hin, shall ye have” (Lev. xix. 36), and this command is immediately followed by a reference to the Lord Who brought them “out of the land of Egypt”.   Deuteronomy xxv. 15  puts the same truth in connection with the land of promise:--

     “Thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have, that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

     Righteousness is the foundation of the throne of God, the basis of the covenant with Israel, the bed rock of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, the lasting character of the new heavens and earth, “wherein dwelleth righteousness”, when “the tabernacle of God will be with men and He will dwell with them”.  Any system of interpretation that juggles with good and evil, until at last their distinct difference is bedimmed, must stand condemned before the simple example of “the just weight and balance”.

     IX.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. — Satan, the breaker of the commandments already cited, is also the arch-false witness.  “He is a liar, and abode not in the truth.”   Ephesians iv. 25 & 28  bring together two of the commands of this table:--

     “Wherefore putting away the lie, speak every man truth with his neighbour … Let him that stole steal no more.”

     Stealing transgresses righteousness, false witness transgresses truth.  The new man of  Ephesians iv.  created in righteousness and holiness of truth.  If Satan entered into Judas the thief, he inspired Ananias;  “Why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie?” (Acts v. 3).  It appears from  Zech. v. 3  that among the last phases of the curses of Babylon to the earth is the condoning of stealing and false swearing.  The Hebrew word naked should be translated declare innocent or let off:--

     “For every one that stealeth hath been let off (is written) on the one side according to it (the curse or the scroll), and everyone that sweareth (falsely) hath been let off (is written) on the other side according to it.”

     X.  Thou shalt not covet. — It has been said that covetousness breaks all the commandments.  It certainly breaks the first, for Mammon is its god.  It breaks the second, for  Col. iii. 5  calls a covetous man an idolator.  We can well see how many if not all of the others can be sacrificed upon the altar of this idol.  “This love of money is a root of all evil” (I Tim. vi. 10).

     This brief survey enables us to perceive something of the depth of the terms of the covenant made by God, and entered into by Israel.  Israel broke that covenant even before Moses could reach them with the two tables of stone.  It is a feature of the utmost importance to remember that those broken tables of stone were re-written, and placed in the ark.  This ark is called the ark of the covenant (Deut. x. 8), and the ark of the testimony (Exod. xxx. 6).   Exodus.xxxi.18  tells us that the two tables of stone were the tables of testimony.   Exodus.xxxiv.28&29  calls them both the “tables of the covenant”, the “two tables of the testimony” and the “ten words”.

     The ark and the mercy seat together represent the perfect redemption of Christ.  The new covenant does not set aside the ten commandments, but fulfils them.  As we look through the epistles we find practically every one of the commandments re-stated with one exception, namely, the sabbath.

     The IVth commandment  is the exception.  During the Acts period Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Ye observe days . . . . . I am afraid of you” (Gal. iv. 10, 11).  To the Romans he wrote, “One man esteemeth one day above another;  another esteemeth every day alike.  Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. xiv. 5).  After the Acts period Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Let no man judge you . . . . . in respect of the sabbath days, which are a shadow . . . . .” (Col. ii. 16, 17).  These words could not have been written had the sabbath observance continues.

     Exodus xxxi. 13  tells us that the sabbath is a sign between Israel and the Lord.  Like the other sign, namely, circumcision (Rom. iv. 11), and the signs, namely, the miracles wrought during the earthly life of the Lord, and the Acts of the Apostles  (I Cor. i. 22;   xiv. 22),  these together with the sabbath belonged to Israel, and cease with the setting aside of that nation.  Let us conclude this survey of the ten commandments with the apostle’s comment in  Romans xiii.:--

     “Owe no man anything, but to love one another;  for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, viz., Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Rom. xiii. 8, 9),

and with the Lord’s words in  Matthew xxii.:--

     “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt.xxii.37,40).

#54. A parenthesis and its lesson (Exodus xviii.).

     The Companion Bible puts  chapter xviii.  into a parenthesis saying that the actual event occurred later, and quoting  Deut. i. 7-14  says that Jethro’s counsel was given and taken when Israel was ready to depart from Sinai.  If this be true, then we must seek the lesson intended by the introduction of Jethro’s coming and advice immediately following the conflict with Amalek.  By nature we are apt to be extremists.  Written in the fly-leaf of our Bible we have the following extract from the writings of Adolph Saphir:--

     "Men undertake to be spiritual, and they become ascetic;  or endeavouring to hold a liberal view of the comforts and pleasures of society, they are soon buried in the world, and slaves to its fashions:  or holding a scrupulous watch to keep out every particular sin, they become legal and fall out of liberty;  or charmed with the noble and heavenly liberty, they run to negligible and irresponsible living;  so the earnest become violent, the fervent fanatical and censorious, the gentle waver, the firm turn bigots, the liberal grow lax, the benevolent ostentatious."

     The flesh profiteth nothing.  It can find no place in the service of God.  We should repudiate it and  all its works.  Let us, however, not fall into the error of confounding the flesh with the physical, or of believing that God’s service entirely suspends all creature co-operation.  We find in  Exodus xvii., xviii.,  much as they differ, that they have one item in common, viz., the overtaxed servant Moses, and the provision for his support and relief.

A   seat   and   a   stay.

     Israel’s victory hinged upon the uplifted hands of Moses:--

     “And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed;   and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed” (Exod. xvii. 11).

     We read, however, that “Moses’ hands were heavy”.  The hands of Moses, under God, were hands of power.  The rod he held aloft commanded the very forces of nature, yet what miracle was wrought to sustain the weary servant of God upon whose continued intercession so much depended?  Some one gave him a seat!:--

     “And they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon” (xvii. -12-).

     What Divine provision was there made to keep Moses’ hands upheld?:--

     “And Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side;  and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” (Exod. xvii. -12).

     While these three together may represent the perfect intercession of prophet (Moses), priest (Aaron), and king (Hur), for Hur was of Judah (I Chronicle ii.), the lesson for us is rather the humbler one of the place of fellowship in the service of God.  It is this truth that reappears in  chapter xviii.:--

     “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people:  and the people stood by Moses from morning until evening” (“even until evening” some MSS read) (verse 13).

     It was bad for both Moses and the people;  it was bad for the ministry of the truth, and it was an unnecessary martyrdom.  Jethro saw this, and said:--

     “Why sittest thou thyself alone . . . . . thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee;  for this thing is too heavy for thee;  thou art not able to perform it thyself alone” (verses 14 and 18).  (The LXX reads, “thou wilt wear away with intolerable weariness”).

     Now it may be that the time will come when we shall have to face the same conditions as closed round the last years of Paul, and if so, grace will be given to yield, no, not for an hour, that strength will be given to finish the course and fight the good fight.  We are not, however, called upon to invite persecution or to invent a martyr’s conditions, otherwise the service we have in heart and hand will suffer, for “thou art not able to perform it”, and those to whom we minister will suffer too, “both thou and this people with thee”.  Moses, great leader as he was, was a meek man:  the counsel of Jethro commended itself to him:--

     “Be thou for the people to Godward . . . . . teach them ..... shew them the way and the work” (Exod. xviii. 19, 20).

     The lesser duties that could be undertaken by other men should be undertaken, or the work would otherwise suffer, and so Jethro counselled that Moses should provide able men who feared God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and that these should be placed over thousands, fifties and tens, thus simplifying the labour and preventing trifles from interfering with the main work.

     The warfare and the warfare of God’s people necessitates fellowship.  It would have been a display of the flesh had Moses refused the stone as a seat or the loving support of Aaron and Hur.  It would have been the work of the flesh had Moses chosen rather to wreck the ministry he had received for the apparently high quality of independence.  There were circumstances wherein Paul was justified in saying, “it were better for me to die” than to receive fellowship (I Cor. ix. 15), but to take this as a general rule would be harmful and foolish.  The church at Philippi were ever in close touch with the apostle and his needs:--

     “In as much as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace” (Phil. i. 7).

     This he called their “fellowship in the gospel from the first day” (i. 5).  We see how practical this fellowship was by turning to  Phil. iv. 15:--

     “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel (as  i. 5) … no church communicated koinoo (in  i. 5  it is koinonia) with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”

The   burden   and   the   blessing.

     We are joyfully to expect our duties to increase, and be ready to respond to the growing need.  Moses did not for one moment regret the multiplying of Israel which added to his burden;  he rejoiced in it, but he accepted Jethro’s counsel to meet the situation:--

     “And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone.  The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as He hath promised you!)  How can I myself bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?” (Deut. i. 9-12).

     There came a moment in the early church when the apostles had to decide whether they were  justified in leaving the ministry of the word of God and prayer, or whether, following the lines of  Exodus xviii.,  the time had not come to look out men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom they could appoint over the business that was intruding into the time and strength of the apostles (Acts vi. 1-4).

     It is not the will of God that either His servants or their ministry should suffer through false sense of independence, neither is it His will that there should be any leaning upon the arm of the flesh or warring with its weapons.  It is most certainly for our guidance and warning that the lesson of  Exodus xvii.  should be restated in  Exodus xviii.

     It may be that some will be called upon to spend and be spent in the service of the truth, but there is no merit in “wearing out with intolerable weariness” through missing the wise counsel of Jethro, or the simple sense of that unnamed child of Israel who provided a seat for the great mediator — Moses.