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of the intercession of their mediátor, and save them as a nation, for his sake; but that Moses might have an opportunity of shewing the regard which he had for the honour of God, and the extent of his love for the Israelites, the Lord did not make known this purpose to him, but put him to the proof, that he might shew himself to be a faithful Mediator.
The first intercession which Moses made, shewed, that the honour of the LORD was his principal object. The arguments he used were such as would justify God in sparing the people; and God acted by the Israelites in conformity to these arguments, sparing that nation, for His oath's sake, which had forfeited the privileges He had granted then.
No wonder that Moses was provoked tò so great a degree,i when he found the Israelites in the very act of rebellion against their Heavenly King; or that he should break the Tables of the Testimony, when they had broken the covenant. The honour of God was concerned that he should do so; for tliey were unworthy of being his people when they had rejected him as their Gov.
From the excuse that Aaron made for himself, he seems to have been influenced by fear of the people ; while those, who required him to make a god for them, acted from a rebellious presumptuous spirit: as his was å sin of infirmity, he met with mercy; but it was the will of the LORD that the presumptuous sinner should be cut off*
It is said, that Aaron had made the people naked to their enemies: the meaning of this expression is, that having forfeited the protection, which God had promised to them while they adhered to Him, they were now in a defenceless state.
* Numbers xv, 27, &c.
The Levites were required to testify their zeal for the honour of The LORD, by slaying every man his brother, his companion and neighbour, if tliey found ány such anyong the worshippers of the golden calf : but it does not appear, that they had occasion to put to death any of their relations ; for the whole tribe of Levi were faithful to the LORD; on which account they were consecrated to Him, or set apart from the other tribes to be employed in the holy offices of Re. ligion.
When the idolaters were dead, Moses, most likely was directed by a Divine impulse to endeavour to make ån åtonement for the rest, who perhaps had joined in the offence through ignorance, fear, inconsideration, &c. which, though very sinful, did not exclude them from the forgiveness of God. Every act of wicked: ness, strictly speaking, is a sin against God: but those offences, which have a direct tendency to dishonour His Holy Name, are called emphatically sins against God.
It is evident, that Moses greatly regretted the necesa sity he had been under, of commanding the Levites to cut off the presumptuous sinners; and that he wished to preserve the nation, even at the expence of his own life. The expression, Blot me out of thy book, &c. signifies, Let me die, rather than sec them cast out from thy favour, and exterminated from the earth.
The intercession having been made, God assured Moses that the Israelites should be saved: He gave them to him, and promised that he would, for his sake, and for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, preserve them, and put them into possession of the land of Canaan.
The Angel, who is here promised, we may suppose was one of those celestial beings who execute the divine B 4
will in a manner incomprehensible to us in our present state; probably one of those who conducted Lot and his family out of Sodom.
According to the rules of Divine justice, God could not, without destroying them, go up in the midst of a people who had so heinously offended Him, as they had not yet as a nation humbled themselves, and ob tained His pardon ; but we shall find that, when they did this, He suffered the intercession of Moses to prevail, and then went up in the midst of them.
We learn froin this section, that the Mediator of a Covenant betwixt God and his people may intercede and make atonement for sins committed against that covenant; and that God, for his sake, spares those for whom the mediator pleads, provided they repent, and testify their repentance in the Lord's appointed way. . · It is shocking to read of the Israelites falling into idolatry so soon after the Lord had graciously ratified his Covenant with them: but it shews the weakness of human nature. Christians, under a better Covenant than that of the Israelites, are but too apt to dishonour the Lord God, not indeed by setting up images of silver and gold, but by various other trangressions equally offensive.
As the Lord accepted the Mediator of the Temporal Covenant, and remitted the punishment of temporal death, which the Jews as a body of people had incurred by apostacy, we may be certain that the intercession of the Mediator of the Frerlasting Covenant has prevailed, so as to redeem those for whom he interceded; our blessed Saviour has prevailed, and that he has redeemed all mankind from everlasting death; but if individuals. will not fulfil the conditions required on their part, they will forfeit this redemption, and all the blessings and privileges of the Covenant of Grace.
MOSES DESIRES TO BEHOLD THE GLORY OF GOD
THE NAME OF THE LORD PROCLAIMED-A COVENANT MADE.
From Exodus, Chap. xxxiii. and xxxiv.
And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.
For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiff-necked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.
And the children of Israel stript themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.
And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
And it came to pass, when Moses went out urto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent-door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. . And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.
And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle-door ; and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent-door.
And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people : and thou hast not let me
know whoin thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
And God said, My Presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
And Moses said unto him, If thy Presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
For wherein shall it be known here, that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us ? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight; and I know thee by name.
And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
And God said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee, and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock ; and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.
And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts : but my face shall not be seen. And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables