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(with Nehemiah 9:9-11 )
The sacred Scriptures record two chief outbursts of miraculous power: one at the foundation of the Hebrew commonwealth at the exodus from Egypt and one at the time of Christ's appearing and the foundation of Christianity. It is a matter of infinite importance to every man to ascertain whether these great miracles of the Exodus and of Christ's first advent were really wrought.
I. The facts of the case are these: (1) The Hebrew people and the ancient Hebrew books now exist, and they throw light on one another. (2) Wherever the Jewish people exist they celebrate in the spring the festival of the Passover, which they universally regard as a historical memorial of the deliverance of their forefathers from Egypt, about fourteen hundred years before Christ, by the supernatural intervention of God the Almighty.
II. In the same manner, the feast of Pentecost, or the festival of the wheat-harvest, fifty days after the Passover, came to be regarded as a memorial of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai on the fiftieth day after the Exodus. In like manner, the autumnal festival of Succoth, or Booths, called "the feast of tabernacles," is now celebrated just as universally as the Passover in the spring, as a memorial of the children of Israel dwelling in huts or booths. These festivals and commemorations have been celebrated now for more than three thousand years.
III. The rule is that national celebrations and public monuments maintain the remembrance of real events in past ages. It may be objected that if Athens, with all its wisdom, could celebrate the fictitious history of Minerva, why may we not believe that the Jews were capable of commemorating things that happened only in the imagination of later writers and poets? To this we answer: (1) that even in the festivals of mythology there has been a strange interweaving of historical truth and a constant tendency to give this element prominence in the lapse of time; (2) that the Jews were utterly destitute of the dramatic imagination of the Greeks: to them the origination of a myth like that of the Exodus, if it were a myth, would be an uncongenial exercise, its adoption as history an impossibility.
E. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 120.
References: Deuteronomy 16:10 . A. Pott, Sermons for the Festivals and Fasts, p. 375.Deuteronomy 16:13 . C. J. Vaughan, Good Words, 1864, p. 700. Deuteronomy 16:13-17 . J. Bruce, Sermons, p. 155; E. H. Plumptre, Church Sermons by Eminent Clergymen, vol. ii., p. 244 (see also Old Testament Outlines, p. 51).
I. A leading feature, the leading feature, of the Old Testament revelation, is that life and all that crowns it its crown of blessings is the gift of a living, intelligent Being, and comes to us bearing the seal of His love. The Jews were separated to this end, that God's methods and purposes with all men might be laid bare, that for once the Hand might be clearly manifest which is busy about every life. All things happened unto them for our ensamples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.
II. The motive which is pleaded for all the noblest human effort is God's example. God has done thus and thus for you; "Go ye and do likewise" for your fellow-men.
III. The exhortations of Scripture are amply sustained by our own experience of life. There is no joy that fills man's heart which is comparable with that which he shares with God. Man's gladdest experiences, his most self-approved acts and ministries, are those which have absolutely no explanation but in his Godlikeness.
IV. Part of this Godlike duty finds expression in the text. "They shall not appear before the Lord empty." Help God, for His great mercy's sake, to help the world.
V. Another great thought of the Old Testament is the help which it is in man's power to render to God. These old records show us how much there is that God's heart most deeply cares for in which our help is essential. His ends can never be reached without us in the way in which His wisdom has ordered the world.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 71.
References: Deuteronomy 16:17 . Parker, vol. v., p. 10. Deuteronomy 16:18 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 208. Deuteronomy 16:0 Parker, vol. iv., p. 255.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 16". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany