Exodus 19:3
Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, "This is what you are to tell the house of Jacob and explain to the sons of Israel:
The Lord and His PeopleJ. Urquhart Exodus 19:1-6
Covenant Before LawH.T. Robjohns Exodus 19:1-15
And Brought You unto MyselfM. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.Exodus 19:3-4
Borne on Eagles' WingsA. Nevin, D. D.Exodus 19:3-4
God's DeliverancesProf. Gaussen.Exodus 19:3-4
God's First Message to the People At SinaiD. Young Exodus 19:3-6
The Covenant ProposedJ. Orr Exodus 19:3-10

A characteristic difference is to be observed between the covenant made at Sinai and that formerly established with Abraham. In both, there is a wonderful act of Divine condescension. In both, God as well as man comes under engagements, ratified by outward formalities. But there is a difference in the design. In Abraham's case, the covenant was obviously intended as an aid to faith, an expedient for strengthening confidence in the Divine word. It is God who, in condescension to man's weakness, binds himself to be faithful to his word. At Sinai, on the other hand, it is the people who bind themselves to be faithful to God. They take the oath of allegiance to their invisible king. They pledge themselves to be obedient. God, on his side, appears as the promiser. He will make this nation a peculiar treasure unto himself, a kingdom of priests, etc. The present passage deals with preliminaries.

I. THE DIVINE PROPOSALS (vers. 3-7). A covenant, from its nature, is an act of freedom. Prior to the formation of this covenant, it was obviously necessary that Jehovah should approach the people, should state his terms to them, and should require them to declare whether they approved of these terms, and were willing to assent to them. This is what is here done. Observe: -

1. The initiative in the covenant was taken by Jehovah. This was inevitable. "The characteristic thing about such" covenants' with God lies here, that the engagement must originate on the side of God himself, springing out of his free favour with a view to ratify some spontaneous promise on his part. Man can exact no terms from Heaven. No creature dare stipulate for conditions with his Creator. It is when the Most High, out of his own mere mercy, volunteers to bind himself by a promise for the future, and having done so, stoops still further to give a pledge for the execution of that promise, that what may fairly be deemed a 'covenant' is established" (Dr. Dykes).

2. The people are reminded of past gracious dealings of God with them (ver. 4). God reminds them, to begin with, of how he had taken them from Egypt, and had borne them on eagle's wings, and had brought them to this desert place unto himself. "Eagle's wings" signify that his help had been strong, sustaining, protecting. In Egypt, at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, they had experienced this help, and had found it all sufficient. The resources of the infinite had been placed at their disposal. The special point, however, is, that all this which had been done for them was the fruit of free, unmerited favour; of a grace which imposed no conditions, and had as yet asked for no return. This was an important point to be reminded of on the eve of a revelation of law. These past actings of God testified that his relation to Israel was fundamentally a gracious one. Law might veil grace, but it could not cancel or annul it. Like primitive rock, underlying whatever strata might subsequently be reared upon it, this gracious relation must abide. With a relation of this kind to fall back upon, the Israelite need not despair, even when he felt that his law condemned him. It was a pledge to him that, not only amidst daily error and shortcoming, but even after grievous falls - falls like David's - mercy would receive the man of contrite spirit (Psalm 51.). Thus far, we are quite in the element of the Gospel Salvation precedes obedience. Obedience follows, a result of the flee acceptance of the obligations which redemption imposes on us.

3. The condition of the fulfilment of promise is that the people obey God's voice, and keep his covenant (ver. 5). On no other terms could God consent to be their God, and on no other terms would he consent to have them for his people. Grace precedes law, grace accompanies law, grace passes beyond law; nevertheless, grace must conserve law (Romans 3:31). God can propose to man no terms of favour, which do not include the need for an obedient will. He does not do so under the Gospel any more than he did under the law (cf. Matthew 7:21; Romans 2:6, 7; Romans 6.; 1 Corinthians 7:19; 1 John 2:4, etc.). "It is exclusively Christ's righteousness which is of grace imputed to us. Yet this has to be appropriated in an upright heart (Martensen). When God took Israel out of Egypt, it was implied and intended that the redeemed people should obey his voice." The covenant but made explicit an implicit obligation.

4. The promises themselves are of the grandest possible description (vers. 5, 6).

(1) Israel would be to God "a peculiar treasure." Out of all the nations of the earth - for all the earth was his - Jehovah had chosen this one, to reveal himself to it, to give it laws and judgments, and to dwell in its midst as its king, benefactor, and defender (cf. Deuteronomy 4:33-37). What an honour was this! And yet how inferior to the spiritual privileges of believers in Christ, who enjoy a nearness to God, an interest in his love, a special place in his regard, of which, not the earth only, but the universe, affords no other example.

(2) Israel would be to God "a kingdom of priests." There is implied in this, on the one hand, royalty, dignity, rule; on the other, special consecration to God's service, the privilege of acceptable approach to him, and an intercessory and mediatorial function in relation to other nations. This promise also, has its higher counterpart in the privileges of Christians, who are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9). Grace in the soul is a kingly, a dignifying, an ennobling principle. It confers true royalty of character. And in the future form of his kingdom, God, we may be sure, has royal places for all his royal children (Luke 19:17, 19; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:21). And believers are a "priesthood." Not, indeed, in the old sense of having to offer atoning sacrifices, but priests in virtue of special consecration, of right of near approach to God, and of their calling "to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5), and to intercede for the world (1 Timothy 2:1).

(3) Israel would be to God "an holy nation." This is involved in their calling to be priests. God. being holy, those who are about him - who serve him - who worship him, or who stand in any near relation to him - must be holy also. "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16). This requirement of holiness is unchangeable. Believers have in them the principle of holiness, and are engaged in "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). Holiness is that essential qualification, "without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

5. The promise contains a hint of the catholicity of God's design in the calling of Israel. "For all the earth is mine" (ver. 5). Israel was called with a view to the ultimate benefit of the world. It was but the "first-born" of many sons whom God would lead to glory.

II. THE PEOPLE'S RESPONSE (vers. 7-10). They willingly took upon themselves the obligations indicated in the words, "Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant;" etc. (verse 5). They said at once "all that the Lord hath spoken we will do." There is a certain nobleness in this reply - a temporary rising of these long-enslaved minds to something like the dignity of their high calling as sons of God. Yet -

1. It was a reply given without much knowledge of the law. They apprehended but little of its breadth, and of the spirituality of its requirements, else they would not have engaged so readily to do all that it enjoined. One design in placing Israel under law was just that they might grow in this knowledge of the breadth of the commandment, and so might have developed in them the consciousness of sin (Romans 7:7-25).

2. It was a reply given without much knowledge of themselves. The people do not seem to have doubted their ability to keep God's word. They thought, like many more, that they had but to try, in order to do. Accordingly, a second design in placing them under law was to convince them of their mistake - to discover to them their spiritual inability. There is no way of convincing men of their inability to keep the law of God like setting them to try (Romans 7.).

3. It was a reply given, as respects the mass of the people, without heart-conversion. It was the outcome of a burst of enthusiasm, of an excited state of feeling. There was not the true "heart" in them to do what God commanded (Deuteronomy 5:29). Hence their speedy apostasy (ch. 32.) The test of true conversion is perseverance (Hebrews 3:14; 1 John 2:19). Moses, having received the reply of the people, returned it to God, who, on hearing it, declared his purpose of coming in a thick cloud, and of speaking with Moses in the audience of all the people (cf. verse 19). The design was "that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever" (verse 9). - J.O.

I bare you on eagles' wings.
God here employs a similitude denoting the speed, the security and the tender care with which they were, as it were, transported from the house of bondage, and which is expanded in fuller significancy (Deuteronomy 32:11, 12). Here is a figurative illustration of an important work. We may apply it to three things in the history of the Christian.

1. To the period of conversion. Then God bears sinners on eagles' wings and brings them to Himself. He stirs up the nest of self-righteousness and carnal security; flutters over them, excites and teaches them to fly towards heaven in their desires and affections.

2. It will also apply to the season of deliverance, and is descriptive of the speed with which God comes to the help of His people, and the security He effects; for the eagle is not only a swift, but a powerful bird.

3. It will apply to their final happiness. He will bear His people on eagles' wings to heaven. It may be He may bear them through many a dark and trying scene, but they shall be brought to glory at last.

(A. Nevin, D. D.)

There is great beauty and truth in this expression, and it well displays all that God had done for this enslaved people. The eagle is the most powerful of the birds of prey of the ancient world; it is the most rapid in its flight, the highest and most majestic in its aerial courses, and, at the same time, one of the most tender towards its young. These four qualities of the eagle admirably depict —

1. The power with which God had delivered Israel, destroying for them the most formidable nations, raising tempests in the heavens, and the waves of the sea, opening its abyss, and, as it is elsewhere expressed, saving them "through a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm."

2. The astonishing quickness of this deliverance: fifty days had scarcely elapsed since this multitude were slaves on the borders of the Nile employed in making bricks, under the lash of the task-masters; and lo! they were all gathered together at the foot of the mountains of Arabia, having passed, like an eagle, over deserts and seas.

3. The majesty which God had displayed in His intervention. As the eagle which, bearing its young upon its back, flies not near the earth, nor from tree to tree like other birds, but soars majestically at the height of the clouds, see with what brilliant grandeur God had delivered Israel: the Nile is turned into blood, the sun darkened, darkness covers the land for three days, thunder and hailstones rend the heavens, the Destroying Angel passes over Egypt in the terrible night of the death of its firstborn, the pillar of the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night goes before the camp of Israel, the voice of God is heard with power from the heights of heaven.

4. The tender care of the eagle for its cherished young presents to us a touching figure of the conduct of God towards Israel. The eagle broods over its young in its nest in the crevice of some rock, it cherishes them, it nourishes them, it carries them upon its wings, it deposits them tenderly, in such places as it deems good for them, and soon teaches them to fly alone in the sky. Well, such had been the conduct of God towards His people. Read what God Himself says about it in Deuteronomy 32:7-14.

(Prof. Gaussen.)

The Israelites had, on the one side, by the Egyptian servitude; on the other, by the Egyptian idolatry, with which they had contaminated themselves, swerved far from God, His purity and sanctity — in a word, from truth and genuine faith; now God, in graciously granting them His revelation and His pure doctrines, brings them again back to Himself; He intends to make them "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

Aaron, Egyptians, Israelites, Jacob, Moses
Egypt, Mount Sinai, Rephidim, Sinai
Calleth, Declare, Family, Jacob, Mount, Mountain, Saying, Sons, Thus, Voice
1. The people arrive at Sinai
3. God's message by Moses unto the people out of the mount
8. The people are prepared against the third day, for the giving of the law
12. The mountain must not be touched
16. The fearful presence of God upon the mount

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Exodus 19:3

     5096   Jacob, patriarch

Exodus 19:1-6

     4269   Sinai, Mount
     5467   promises, divine

Exodus 19:3-6

     1305   God, activity of
     1443   revelation, OT
     6659   freedom, acts in OT
     7135   Israel, people of God

Exodus 19:3-9

     5104   Moses, foreshadower of Christ

Seventh Day. Holiness and Obedience.
Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: ye shall be unto me an holy nation.'--Ex. xix. 4-6. Israel has reached Horeb. The law is to be given and the covenant made. Here are God's first words to the people; He speaks of redemption and its blessing, fellowship with Himself: 'Ye have seen how I brought
Andrew Murray—Holy in Christ

The First Covenant
"Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice, and keep My covenant, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me."--EX. xix. 5. "He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments."--DEUT. iv. 13.i "If ye keep these judgments, the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant,"--DEUT. vii. 12. "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, which My covenant they brake."--JER. xxxi. 31, 32. WE have
Andrew Murray—The Two Covenants

The Eagle and Its Brood
'As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings.'--DEUT. xxxii. 11. This is an incomplete sentence in the Authorised Version, but really it should be rendered as a complete one; the description of the eagle's action including only the two first clauses, and (the figure being still retained) the person spoken of in the last clauses being God Himself. That is to say, it should read thus, 'As an eagle stirreth up his nest,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Yet this once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land: and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. G od shook the earth when He proclaimed His law to Israel from Sinai. The description, though very simple, presents to our thoughts a scene unspeakably majestic, grand and awful. The mountain was in flames at the top, and
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Johannine Writings
BY the Johannine writings are meant the Apocalypse and the fourth gospel, as well as the three catholic epistles to which the name of John is traditionally attached. It is not possible to enter here into a review of the critical questions connected with them, and especially into the question of their authorship. The most recent criticism, while it seems to bring the traditional authorship into greater uncertainty, approaches more nearly than was once common to the position of tradition in another
James Denney—The Death of Christ

'The Love of Thine Espousals'
'And He said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. 2. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but they shall not come nigh, neither shall the people go up with him. 3. 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. 4. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

"They have Corrupted Themselves; their Spot is not the Spot of his Children; they are a Perverse and Crooked Generation. "
Deut. xxxii. 5.--"They have corrupted themselves; their spot is not the spot of his children; they are a perverse and crooked generation." We doubt this people would take well with such a description of themselves as Moses gives. It might seem strange to us, that God should have chosen such a people out of all the nations of the earth, and they to be so rebellious and perverse, if our own experience did not teach us how free his choice is, and how long-suffering he is, and constant in his choice.
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Civ. Jesus Arrives and is Feasted at Bethany.
(from Friday Afternoon Till Saturday Night, March 31 and April 1, a.d. 30.) ^D John XI. 55-57; XII. 1-11; ^A Matt. XXVI. 6-13; ^B Mark XIV. 3-9. ^d 55 Now the passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, to purify themselves. [These Jews went up before the Passover that they might have time to purify themselves from ceremonial uncleanness before the feast. They were expected to purify before any important event (Ex. xix. 10, 11), and did
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Formation of the Old Testament Canon
[Sidenote: Israel's literature at the beginning of the fourth century before Christ] Could we have studied the scriptures of the Israelitish race about 400 B.C., we should have classified them under four great divisions: (1) The prophetic writings, represented by the combined early Judean, Ephraimite, and late prophetic or Deuteronomic narratives, and their continuation in Samuel and Kings, together with the earlier and exilic prophecies; (2) the legal, represented by the majority of the Old Testament
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Appendix ii. Philo of Alexandria and Rabbinic Theology.
(Ad. vol. i. p. 42, note 4.) In comparing the allegorical Canons of Philo with those of Jewish traditionalism, we think first of all of the seven exegetical canons which are ascribed to Hillel. These bear chiefly the character of logical deductions, and as such were largely applied in the Halakhah. These seven canons were next expanded by R. Ishmael (in the first century) into thirteen, by the analysis of one of them (the 5th) into six, and the addition of this sound exegetical rule, that where two
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The King --Continued.
The years thus well begun are, in the historical books, characterized mainly by three events, namely, the bringing up of the ark to the newly won city of David, Nathan's prophecy of the perpetual dominion of his house, and his victories over the surrounding nations. These three hinges of the narrative are all abundantly illustrated in the psalms. As to the first, we have relics of the joyful ceremonial connected with it in two psalms, the fifteenth and twenty-fourth, which are singularly alike not
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David

The Sermon on the Mount - the Kingdom of Christ and Rabbinic Teaching.
It was probably on one of those mountain-ranges, which stretch to the north of Capernaum, that Jesus had spent the night of lonely prayer, which preceded the designation of the twelve to the Apostolate. As the soft spring morning broke, He called up those who had learned to follow Him, and from among them chose the twelve, who were to be His Ambassadors and Representatives. [2500] [2501] But already the early light had guided the eager multitude which, from all parts, had come to the broad level
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Personality of Power.
A Personally Conducted Journey. Everyone enjoys the pleasure of travel; but nearly all shrink back from its tiresomeness and drudgery. The transportation companies are constantly scheming to overcome this disagreeable side for both pleasure and business travel. One of the popular ways of pleasure travel of late is by means of personally conducted tours. A party is formed, often by the railroad company, and is accompanied by a special agent to attend to all the business matters of the trip. A variation
S.D. Gordon—Quiet Talks on Power

Question of the Comparison Between the Active and the Contemplative Life
I. Is the Active Life preferable to the Contemplative? Cardinal Cajetan, On Preparation for the Contemplative Life S. Augustine, Confessions, X., xliii. 70 " On Psalm xxvi. II. Is the Active Life more Meritorious than the Contemplative? III. Is the Active Life a Hindrance to the Contemplative Life? Cardinal Cajetan, On the True Interior Life S. Augustine, Sermon, CCLVI., v. 6 IV. Does the Active Life precede the Contemplative? I Is the Active Life preferable to the Contemplative? The Lord
St. Thomas Aquinas—On Prayer and The Contemplative Life

The Preface to the Commandments
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God,' &c. Exod 20: 1, 2. What is the preface to the Ten Commandments? The preface to the Ten Commandments is, I am the Lord thy God.' The preface to the preface is, God spake all these words, saying,' &c. This is like the sounding of a trumpet before a solemn proclamation. Other parts of the Bible are said to be uttered by the mouth of the holy prophets (Luke 1: 70), but here God spake in his own person. How are we to understand that, God spake,
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Of the Trinity and a Christian, and of the Law and a Christian.
EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. These two short treatises were found among Mr. Bunyan's papers after his decease. They probably were intended for publication, like his 'Prison Meditations' and his 'Map of Salvation,' on a single page each, in the form of a broadside, or handbill. This was the popular mode in which tracts were distributed; and when posted against a wall, or framed and hung up in a room, they excited notice, and were extensively read. They might also have afforded some trifling profit to aid
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Of the Public Fast.
A public fast is when, by the authority of the magistrate (Jonah iii. 7; 2 Chron. xx. 3; Ezra viii. 21), either the whole church within his dominion, or some special congregation, whom it concerneth, assemble themselves together, to perform the fore-mentioned duties of humiliation; either for the removing of some public calamity threatened or already inflicted upon them, as the sword, invasion, famine, pestilence, or other fearful sickness (1 Sam. vii. 5, 6; Joel ii. 15; 2 Chron. xx.; Jonah iii.
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Mount Zion.
"For ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that no word more should be spoken unto them: for they could not endure that which was enjoined, If even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: but ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto
Thomas Charles Edwards—The Expositor's Bible: The Epistle to the Hebrews

The Second Coming of Christ.
^A Matt. XXIV. 29-51; ^B Mark XIII. 24-37; ^C Luke XXI. 25-36. ^b 24 But in those days, ^a immediately after the { ^b that} ^a tribulation of those days. [Since the coming of Christ did not follow close upon the destruction of Jerusalem, the word "immediately" used by Matthew is somewhat puzzling. There are, however, three ways in which it may be explained: 1. That Jesus reckons the time after his own divine, and not after our human, fashion. Viewing the word in this light, the passage at II. Pet.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

John's Introduction.
^D John I. 1-18. ^d 1 In the beginning was the Word [a title for Jesus peculiar to the apostle John], and the Word was with God [not going before nor coming after God, but with Him at the beginning], and the Word was God. [Not more, not less.] 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him [the New Testament often speaks of Christ as the Creator--see ver. 10; I. Cor. viii. 6; Col. i. 13, 17; Heb. i. 2]; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. [This
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

John the Baptist
Matt. iii. 1-17; iv. 12; xiv. 1-12; Mark i. 1-14; vi. 14-29; Luke i. 5-25, 57-80; iii. 1-22; ix. 7-9; John i. 19-37; iii. 22-30. 72. The first reappearance of Jesus in the gospel story, after the temple scene in his twelfth year, is on the banks of the Jordan seeking baptism from the new prophet. One of the silent evidences of the greatness of Jesus is the fact that so great a character as John the Baptist stands in our thought simply as accessory to his life. For that the prophet of the wilderness
Rush Rhees—The Life of Jesus of Nazareth

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