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. Behold, I send an Angel before thee. God here reminds the Israelites that their wellbeing is so connected with the keeping of the Law, that, by neglecting it, they would sorely suffer. For He says that He will be their leader by the hand of an angel, which was a token of His fatherly love for them; but, on the other hand, He ASE threatens that they would not be unpunished if they should despise such great mercy and follow their own lusts, because they will not escape the sight of the angel whom He had appointed to be their guardian. Almost all the Hebrew rabbins, 267 with whom many others agree, too hastily think that this is spoken of Joshua, but the statements, which we shall consider more fully just beyond, by no means are reconcilable with his person. But their mistake is more than sufficiently refuted by this, first of all, that if we understand it of Joshua, the people would have been without the angel as their leader as long as they wandered in the desert; and, besides, it was afterwards said to Moses, “Mine Angel shall go before thee,” (Ex 32:34;) and again, “And I will send an Angel before thee,” (Ex 33:2.) Moses, too, elsewhere enlarges on this act of God’s goodness, that He should have led forth His people by the hand of an angel. (Nu 20:16.) But what need is there of a long discussion, since already mention has been so often made of the angel of their deliverance? This point ought now to be deemed established, that there is no reference here to a mortal man; and what we have already said should be remembered, that no common angel is designated, but the chief of all angels, who has always been also the Head of the Church. In which matter the authority of Paul should be sufficient for us, when he admonishes the Corinthians not to tempt Christ as their fathers tempted Him in the desert. (1Co 10:9.) We gather this, too, from the magnificent attribute which Moses immediately afterwards assigns to Him, that “the name of God should be in him.” I deem this to be of great importance, although it is generally passed over lightly. But let us consider it particularly. When God APC declares that He will send His angel “to keep them in the way,” He makes a demand upon them for their willing obedience, for it would be too base of them to set at nought, or to forget Him whose paternal care towards them they experience. But in the next verse, He seeks by terror to arouse them from their listlessness, where He commands them to beware of His presence, since He would take vengeance on their transgressions; 268 wherein, also, there is a delicate allusion to be observed in the ambiguous meaning of the word employed. For, since ???, shamar, in Hebrew signifies “to guard,” after He has said that an angel shall be their guardian, He warns them, on the other hand, that they should guard themselves. Herein the Angel is exalted above the rank of a human being, since He is appointed to be their judge, if the Israelites should offend in any respect; not in the way that judgment is deputed to the Prophets with reference to their doctrine, the power of which is supreme, but because nothing shall be hidden from Him. For Scripture assigns to God alone as His peculiar attribute, that we should walk before His face. What follows is to the same effect, “provoke him not,” which is everywhere spoken of God. But, as I have just said, this seems to me to be of most importance, that the name of God was to be in Him, or in the midst of Him, which is equivalent to this, that in Him shall reside my majesty and glory; and, therefore, He shall possess both the knowledge of hearts, as well as dominion, and the power of judgment. Besides, we have already said that there is no absurdity in designating Christ by the name of the Angel, because He was not yet the Incarnate Mediator, but as often as He appeared to the ancient people He gave an indication of His future mission. 22. But if thou shalt indeed obey. He moderates the terror with which He had inspired them for two reasons, — first, that He may rather gently attract them than force them by the fear of punishment; secondly, lest, if they imagine that the Angel is formidable to them, the anxiety conceived in their minds should deaden their perception of His mercy and layout. Now, although I postpone to another place the promises CCSE NGX whereby their obedience to the Law was confirmed, I have thought it right to include this among the exhortations or eulogiums whereby the dignity of the Law is enhanced, because it relates to the time past, for thus is the expression to be paraphrased, “Take heed that ye respond to God who deals so liberally with you. The promises which He made to your fathers as to the inheritance of the land, He is now ready to perform, unless your iniquity should stand in the way. Make room, then, for His grace, that, by the hand of the Angel, He may lead you into His rest.” In order to stimulate them still more, He points out to them their need of His aid, as though He had said that nothing, could be more miserable than their case, unless they were protected from so many enemies by His defense, for He enumerates several most important nations to which they would be by no means a match unless they should fight under the guidance of the Angel. He says, therefore, that if they only obey His Law, there is no occasion for them to be afraid, for that He will destroy by His own power alone all that shall rise against them to resist them.


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