For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day - This daily and nightly appearance was at once both a merciful providence, and a demonstrative proof of the Divinity of their religion: and these tokens continued with them throughout all their journeys; for, notwithstanding their frequently repeated disobedience and rebellion, God never withdrew these tokens of his presence from them, till they were brought into the promised land. When, therefore, the tabernacle became fixed, because the Israelites had obtained their inheritance, this mark of the Divine presence was no longer visible in the sight of all Israel, but appears to have been confined to the holy of holies, where it had its fixed residence upon the mercy-seat between the cherubim; and in this place continued till the first temple was destroyed, after which it was no more seen in Israel till God was manifested in the flesh.
As in the book of Genesis we have God's own account of the commencement of the World, the origin of nations, and the peopling of the earth; so in the book of Exodus we have an account, from the same source of infallible truth, of the commencement of the Jewish Church, and the means used by the endless mercy of God to propagate and continue his pure and undefiled religion in the earth, against which neither human nor diabolic power or policy have ever been able to prevail! The preservation of this religion, which has ever been opposed by the great mass of mankind, is a standing proof of its Divinity. As it has ever been in hostility against the corrupt passions of men, testifying against the world that its deeds were evil, these passions have ever been in hostility to it. Cunning and learned men have argued to render its authority dubious, and its tendency suspicious; whole states and empires have exerted themselves to the uttermost to oppress and destroy it; and its professed friends, by their conduct, have often betrayed it: yet librata ponderibus suis, supported by the arm of God and its own intrinsic excellence, it lives and flourishes; and the river that makes glad the city of God has run down with the tide of time 5800 years, and is running on with a more copious and diffusive current.
Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.
"Still glides the river, and will ever glide."
We have seen how, by the miraculous cloud, all the movements of the Israelites were directed. They struck or pitched their tents, as it removed or became stationary. Every thing that concerned them was under the direction and management of God. But these things happened unto them for ensamples; and it is evident, from Isaiah 4:5, that all these things typified the presence and influence of God in his Church, and in the souls of his followers. His Church can possess no sanctifying knowledge, no quickening power but from the presence and influence of his Spirit. By this influence all his followers are taught, enlightened, led, quickened, purified, and built up on their most holy faith; and without the indwelling of his Spirit, light, life, and salvation are impossible. These Divine influences Are necessary, not only for a time, but through all our journeys, Exodus 40:38; though every changing scene of providence, and through every step in life. And these the followers of Christ are to possess, not by inference or inductive reasoning, but consciously. The influence is to be felt, and the fruits of it to appear as fully as the cloud of the Lord by day, and the fire by night, appeared in the sight of all the house of Israel. Reader, hast thou this Spirit? Are all thy goings and comings ordered by its continual guidance? Does Christ, who was represented by this tabernacle, and in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, dwell in thy heart by faith? If not, call upon God for that blessing which, for the sake of his Son, he is ever disposed to impart; then shalt thou be glorious, and on all thy glory there shall be a defense. Amen, Amen.
On the ancient division of the law into fifty-four sections, see the notes at the end of Genesis ( Genesis 50:26; (note)). Of these fifty-four sections Genesis contains twelve; and the commencement and ending of each has been marked in the note already referred to. Of these sections Exodus contains eleven, all denominated, as in the former case, by the words in the original with which they commence. I shall point these out as in the former, carrying the enumeration from Genesis. The Thirteenth section, called שמות shemoth, begins Exodus 1:1, and ends Exodus 6:1.
The Fourteenth, called וארא vaera, begins Exodus 6:2, and ends Exodus 9:35.
The Fifteenth, called בא bo, begins Exodus 10:1, and ends Exodus 13:16.
The Sixteenth, called בשלח beshallach, begins Exodus 13:17, and ends Exodus 17:16.
The Seventeenth, called יתרו yithro, begins Exodus 18:1, and ends Exodus 20:26.
The Eighteenth, called משפטים mishpatim, begins Exodus 21:1, and ends Exodus 24:18.
The Nineteenth, called תרומה terumah, begins Exodus 25:2, and ends Exodus 27:19.
The Twentieth, called תצוה tetsavveh, begins Exodus 27:20, and ends Exodus 30:10.
The Twenty-First, called תשא tissa, begins Exodus 30:11, and ends Exodus 34:35.
The Twenty-Second, called ויקהל vaiyakhel, begins Exodus 36:1, and ends Exodus 38:20.
The Twenty-Third, called פקודי pekudey, begins Exodus 38:21, and ends Exodus 40:38.
It will at once appear to the reader that these sections have their technical names from some remarkable word, either in the first or second verse of their commencement.