I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again).
His commentary on Exodus is divided into two books. The first covers Exodus 1-18; the second covers Exodus 19-40.
McGee's commentary reprints the text of the King James Version. These chapters--in some ways--feature less action than the first nineteen. But they don't lack drama. In fact, some of these chapters are absolutely packed with drama. In these chapters Moses is talking with God. It's something that is oh-so-easy to take for granted. Moses went up on a mountain. God talked to him. God revealed Himself to Moses. What Moses could handle seeing of God's glory was manifested to him. The burning bush was just the beginning. This is the real deal. God gave him the law--the Ten Commandments--but so much more than that. Other rules, other guidelines and instructions on how to live and worship in the Promised Land. He gave him instructions on how to construct the tabernacle and rules for the priesthood. Everything about this structure--the tabernacle and everything within and without--would hint at Christ.
The people below might be growing bored--restless, reckless, just plain stupid. But Moses was having a mountain-top experience. God is at the center of the book of Exodus--as he is at the center of all books in the Bible. We see his holiness, his righteous anger, his compassion, his faithfulness.
- All the way God bore Israel on eagles’ wings, and that is the way He bears us today. He leads us by His grace, and we walk by faith.
- Now at Mount Sinai God reminds Israel how He has led and cared for them. Then He gives them a choice—grace or law. God asks them if they will keep the commandments if He gives them to Israel.
- They are going to exchange grace for law. A great many people do that today. This is unfortunate because we live in a day when God saves by grace. God does not save by law. What a contrast there is between law and grace.
- Law demands—grace gives. Law says “do”—grace says “believe.” Law exacts—grace bestows. Law says “work”—grace says “rest.” Law threatens, pronouncing a curse—grace entreats, pronouncing a blessing. Law says “Do, and thou shalt live”—grace says, “Live, and thou shalt do.” Law condemns the best man—grace saves the worst man. The Law reveals the character of God—it also reveals the weakness of man.
- The law was given to reveal that we are sinners. It was given temporarily until the Seed would come. The Seed spoken of in this verse is the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say in Galatians 3:24 that, “… the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
- The “schoolmaster” is not a school teacher, but a slave in the home of a Roman patrician that took care of the child. He clothed, washed, dressed him, blew his nose when needed, and paddled him when necessary. When the child was old enough to attend school, the school master took him.
- The word for schoolmaster is paidagogos, meaning a “child conductor,” one who takes a little child by the hand and leads him to the school.
- The natural man cannot keep the Law and he fails terribly in the attempt. The Law was given to control the old nature but it cannot, because the old nature is a revolutionary which cannot be controlled.
- There is nothing that makes a greater hypocrite out of a person than for him to say, “I keep the Law!” No one can measure up to God’s standards.
- The Law revealed that man is a sinner and needs a Savior. There must be an altar upon which to offer the sacrifice; there must be the shedding of blood for sin.
- We love to think that we are sophisticated and refined sinners. We are not—we are just crude sinners in the raw—natural sinners.
- Every preacher who teaches the grace of God and has a true perspective of the nature of salvation by faith, realizes the lofty character of the Law.
- If you think you can continue to live in sin and break the Ten Commandments at will, then, my friend, you are not saved by the grace of God. When you are really saved, you want to please God and want to do His will which is revealed in the Ten Commandments.
- The Law is the expression of the mind of God relative to what man ought to be. There is no grace or mercy in the Law at all. The Law is an expression of the holy will of God.
- Our notions of right and wrong are colored by our environment and by the fact that we have a fallen nature. The Law is a revelation of God. God has drawn the line between right and wrong.
- God is condemning polytheism, which is the belief in more than one god. There is no commandment against atheism—there was none in those days because they were too close to the creation and the original revelation of God.
- In that day it was popular to worship many gods. Today it is popular not to worship any god. My, how the pendulum of the clock has moved!
- The last thing I want to do is preach a beautiful sermon. I want to preach about a beautiful Savior and when people hear me preach, I want them to say, “Isn’t Jesus wonderful!”
- My, the arrogance of the children of Israel in saying, “All the words which the Lord hath said we will do!” You will notice, however, that they did not keep all His words.
- We live in a day when sin is called good and bad is called good. The prophets said that such a day would come. Well, we certainly have arrived.
- Whether you like it or not, friend, you eat every day at God’s table in the physical realm. Yet how few recognize this truth and give thanks to Him for His bounty. God is the one who provides for us.
- The table of showbread is a prefiguration of Christ as the sustainer of spiritual life for the believer.
- The lampstand is probably the most perfect picture of Christ found in the tabernacle furniture. It sets Him forth as pure gold and speaks of His deity. It sets Him forth as He is—God. Worship has to do with walking in the light. This is a very important fact to see.
- Everything in the tabernacle speaks of either the person or work of Christ. Every covering, every thread, and every article of furniture reveals some facet of the Savior.
- Friends, it is the death of Jesus Christ that saves us. His spotless life condemns us. When I stand before the veil, I am condemned. I see myself as not able to pass into the presence of God.
- This veil, or hanging, led to the Holy Place, the place of worship where the golden lampstand, table of showbread, and altar of incense were located. Now, friend, we cannot worship God any old way. We have to come through the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to come in spirit and in truth. Jesus said, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Both veils prefigure our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Man is standing on the outside. How is he going to approach God? The first thing he must have is a substitute to die for him. Man might avoid meeting God, but if he wants to meet God and not die, he must have a substitute.
- There is no approach to God except by the brazen altar. There a victim must be sacrificed and must be claimed as the substitute. John 1:29 tells us, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
- Man could not worship, pray, or serve God until he came to the brazen altar. Every priest, every Levite, had to come to this altar. Friends, “the way of the cross leads home.” If Jesus Christ had not gone by the brazen altar, we would have no access to God.
- Jesus Christ is not only the Lamb that died for us, He is also the risen Lamb. The Apostle John tells us in Revelation 5:6 that he saw a “…Lamb as it had been slain…” The brazen altar stood at the entrance of the tabernacle. The cross of Christ stands before heaven—it was raised on this earth but there is no entrance to heaven except by this cross.
- The pomegranates speak of fruit, and the bells speak of witness. We should have both of these in our lives. We ought to be a witness for Christ, and there ought to be the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23) in our lives.
- You should not be handing out tracts, friends, unless you are making the right kind of “tracks” in this world. Too many people want to witness but do not have a life to back it up.
- Consecration for a believer is nothing that he does for himself. It is something that God does for him. It rests upon the finished work of Christ. It has to rest there.
- You go to God through Christ. He is the One who brings us into the presence of God. Christ is in heaven praying for us.
- What a precious thing it is to have a great High Priest who prays for us. God hears our prayers because of who Christ is and what He did for us on the cross.
- We get dirty in this world, and we cannot worship until we are cleansed. That is why the Lord washed the disciples’ feet. He is still doing that today.
- One of the big troubles in our churches today is that there is too much spiritual B.O. We need to confess our sins to Him and wash before we go in to worship.
- Sin is an awful cancer, and God uses extreme surgery in this case by slaying those who were guilty.
- Liberalism has crept into our churches and we have allowed it to stay there unchecked.
- We are soft and sentimental and silly. Sometimes we are even stupid in the way we handle evil.
- The church is also to be a peculiar people today. This means we are to be a people for God; it does not mean that we are to be oddballs.
- God does not extend mercy by shutting His eyes to the guilty or by saying, “I will just forget that sin.” Sin must be punished and a penalty must be paid. God by no means clears the guilty.
- How does He keep His mercy and take care of iniquity at the same time? A sacrifice has been provided. The sacrifices Israel made in that day did not take away sin but they pointed to that “Perfect Sacrifice,” the Lord Jesus Christ, who, when He did come, put away sin by His death on the cross.
- Where are you today, friend, in relation to the tabernacle? Do you need to stand at the brazen altar and be saved? There are many folk—even church members—who need to go there.
- Are you a soiled Christian who needs to confess your sins at the laver and be cleansed? Or are you walking in darkness today? Step inside the Holy Place and walk by the light of the golden lampstand.
- Maybe your spiritual life is a little anemic, and you need to feed on the Bread of Life to gain nourishment. Maybe your prayer life is beggarly and you need to stand before the altar of incense.
- Perhaps you are in trouble and you need mercy, grace, and help. Well, there is a mercy seat for you today. Go there and accept the help that is waiting for you. God wants to bless and guide you.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible