Deuteronomy Chapter 5

Deuteronomy 5  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 9
15. This is motive, not the thing celebrated.
28, 29. It is not the intention or desire to obey which was presumptuous—that was all right, and there is no allusion to what was said in Exodus, which was after all this. God had spoken out of the midst of the fire, and then Moses went up. The presumptuous point was taking all the blessings and covenant on the specific ground of "If ye will obey my voice, ye shall be." They might have said "We fear to have all our blessings depend on our own obedience, for fear we lose them." In the covenant of Sinai, the being God's people, and getting the blessing was "if"; and, I repeat, it is the whole point, when, after the terror of God's appearing, they said "We will obey"—it was a natural effect of terror, and a right intention. But they begged to hear no more, and no covenant was based on it—on Moses going up and bringing the "if" tranquilly down, they tranquilly undertook it as the base of blessing. Bound to obey they were—intention to obey was right—but a covenant of blessing on that condition was the grossest ignorance of self and was presumptuous.
The reason why God did all this was to teach men that, on this ground, no flesh could be justified. Nothing could be more important. The promise to Abraham had not raised any question of righteousness—it was a simple promise on God's part, certain to be fulfilled But here the question of righteousness was raised as it ought to be and must be, and first on man's part for God, according to what was rightly required of man; when that point was cleared, and flesh proved what it is, then the righteousness of God was revealed through the promised Seed. We should not have had half Romans and all Galatians but for this.
As to delusion in the people, clearly there was, as the golden calf proved. The law was never given to man, as such, as God's way of blessing, but to a peculiar people called to Himself, and brought to Himself, to have flesh tested. It was given as exacting obedience as the prior and indispensable condition of life and joy. It was positively "If ye obey, ye shall" ... "Do this and live." To Abraham, further, it was unconditioned promise, and the uncircumcised was cut off from blessing which remained to others—at the law the covenant was absolutely based on the condition of man's obedience as its first principle.
Continual access to God did not lay open to them—individual faith in promise might go to God, but the law, tabernacle and all said, "Death if ye come near." God did not come outman could not go in. In Christ God did come out, and, blessed be God, Man is gone in; the Holy Ghost signified this by the veil—"We have boldness to enter into the holiest, by a new and living way, consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh," and we draw nigh. And even in the sacrifices, they were in contrast with Christ, a remembrance of sins still there—now "perfected forever," never to be remembered.