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ROD LAID UP.
[ch. x..] Let us not therefore suppose, that because these men “suffered such things," they were sinners above all men : "I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke xiii. 2, 3.)
“ If he that despised Moses' law died without mercy, “ of how much sorer punishment shall we be thought
worthy, if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth.” (Heb. x. 26, 28, 29.)
“There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. iii. 10.) We are all guilty in the sight of God, and we may rest assured that it is only through the intercession of our High Priest, who stands now between the living and the dead, that we can hope to obtain mercy of God who "is of purer
eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.' (Hab. i. 13.)
In order the more effectually to put a stop to the rebel. lious murmurings of the Israelites, and to silence all disputes respecting the priesthood, the Almighty was pleased to work another miracle which should convince them that it was a divine institution, and to be confined to the family of Aaron.
That this might be borne in mind by future generations the rod of Aaron was to be laid up as a token of the same in the tabernacle of witness, so called from the ark being kept in it, which contained the witness or testimony of God's will delivered in the ten commandments : (See page 110.) and in order to give still greater weight to Aaron's authority, a detail is again given of all the minute directions respecting the Priesthood, being for the most part a repetition of what had been said before, with an express command that no other person was to perform the office, or interfere in any way.
Moses strikes the rock-Death of Aaron-Israel defeated at Hormah- The Brazen Serpent
An interval of nearly twenty years had now elapsed, without any account being transmitted to us respecting the Israelites.
That they were, during the whole of that period, wandering to and fro in the wilderness, under the immediate controul of God's providence, we may be assured, from their making no attempt, or if they did, failing in their endeavours, either to return back to Egypt, or advance towards the land of Canaan.
How this was effected, it is impossible for us to say, but that the omnipotence of the Deity was displayed in a most signal manner, is certain from the simple fact mentioned by Moses in Deut. viii, 4. where he says; “Thy “ raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot “swell these forty years.
From the silence in which Moses passes over this long period, we must infer that nothing occurred which it concerns us to know. All these events St. Paul tells us “ written for our admonition"; "wherefore let him that “thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”(1 Cor. x. 11, 12.)
The Apostle in these words, plainly points out to us the lesson they are intended to convey, —that extreme watchfulness which every Christian ought to maintain over his own conduct, if he would acquire that spiritualmindedness befitting a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
For this reason, even the failings of the best men are imparted to us, in order the more strongly to impress upou our minds, what I have said before, “There is none “that doeth good.” (Ps. xvi. 1.) We all." like sheep have “gone astray.” (Is. liii.6.) The leaven of Adam's sin tainted the whole creation, and we shall perceive from the incident related in this chapter, that Moses himself, whom we have hitherto regarded as such a model of patience and meekness, even he was not exempt from those passions inherent in the nature of man.
The Israelites were again suffering from the privation of water, and with the same forgetfuluess they had so repeatedly shewn, of the mercies they had received at the hand of God, and the readiness with which he had ever listened to their prayers when offered in a proper spirit, they again appealed to Moses to relieve their wants, and as they had done on previous occasions, accused him of being the cause of their distress.
“ And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congre
gation, and they fell upon their faces : and the glory of “the Lord appeared unto them :" the expression," fall“ing on their faces,” meaning, the act of prostrating themselves in an humble attitude of prayer.
We have no reason to doubt the faith with which Moses offered up his petition to the Almighty. He had ever received a gracious answer to his prayer, and it is. therefore probable he equally anticipated a favorable result on the present occasion. Yet bis meekness seems in this instance to have forsaken him, and though the Lord “hearkned to him at that time also,” [Deut. ix. 19.] furnishing him with a fresh opportunity of glorifying his name, and magnifying his power before the children of
Israel, yet did he choose to take the glory to himself, saying, “ Hear now ye rebels ; must we fetch you water “out of this rock ?”
Truly he smote the rock, and the water came out abundantly; the Lord was gracious to his people as heretofore. “ He regarded their affliction, when he heard their
cry;" but “it went ill with Moses for their sakes : “ Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadviseilly with his lips.” (Ps. cvi. 34.)
“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because "ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the “ children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this con
gregation into the land which I have given them.'
It appears from this, that Aaron was equally guilty in the eyes
of Him who “knoweth the thoughts of man.”(Ps. xciv. 11)
To those who read this chapter without giving it that attention, with which the Scriptures must be studied by all who would duly understand the word of God, the judgment passed upon Moses may appear severe. But let them remember, that to · whoinsoevir inuch is given “ of him shall be much required :” The servant which “knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither “ did according to his will, shall be beaten with many “stripes." (Luke xii. 47. 48.)
We know that Moses had been appointed by God to act as mediator between him and the Israelites, and as such he was the chosen instrument to shew forth the Lord's power, and to proclaim his glory before the people of Israel. This glory he now took to himself, thus confirming the Israelites in the sin to which they had been so peculiarly addicted,--that of considering their wants to have been supplied by his hands rather than by the miraculous power of the Almighty.
From the supernatural assistance by which he had been enabled to effect so many miracles, the Israelites had been accustomed to look up to him as a person peculiarly favoured by God, and consequently greatly exalted above
them all. Ought he not therefore to have been the more watchful lest he “entered into temptation ?” To the Israelites, he was as “a light that shineth in a dark place.” (2 Pet. i. 19.) What then must they have thought, when they saw that even he had incurred the displeasure of the Almighty ? that the Lord had withdrawn “ the light “of his countenance” (Ps. iv, 6.) from him, and had inflicted upon him the same punishment which had been awarded them for their disobedience.
That Moses felt it deeply, we may infer from what he says in Deut. ii. 23. where in allusion to this circumstance, he tells them that “he besought the Lord” that he might see the good land.”
In like manner did St. Paul beseech the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh, (which was probably some mental or bodily infirmity with which it had pleased God for some wise reasons to afflict him.)“ My grace is suffi“ cient for thee,” was the consoling reply given to St. Paul, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2. Cor. xii. 8. 9.) When we pray to God to remove our trials, we may rest assured that our prayers are equally granted if we only receive support under them. St. Paul was fully satisfied with this assurance, and we may be sure Moses equally acquiesced in the sentence passed upon him, when the Lord answered him saying “Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.”(Deut. iii. 26.)
Although it was fit that the Lord should be " sanctified” that wh his mercy was extended the Israelites in the relief he granted to them, his justice should at the same time be displayed in the punishment of Moses-yet, we may believe not only that this chosen servant was again received into favor, but that his latter end was especially blessed; for though it is said in Deut. xxxiv. 5. that he “ died,” it is nevertheless probable that like the prophet Elijah, he was taken away from this earth in his bodily form. This we may gather from two reasons : first, from the fact of his burial place being unknown to every one. (see Deut, xxxiv. 6.) Secondly, from his re-appearance on