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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Exodus 8

Verse 1

LET MY PEOPLE GO!

‘And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let My, people go, that they may serve Me.’

Exodus 8:1

I. Perfect freedom is not the thing demanded of Pharaoh, nor is this the prize of their high calling held out before the eyes of the Israelites. To serve God is the perfect freedom held out: to change masters, to be rid of him who had no claim to their allegiance, and to be permitted without hindrance to serve Him who was indeed their Lord and their God. This was the boon offered to the children of Israel, and demanded on their account by Moses as the ambassador of God.

II. This feature in the deliverance of the Israelites is worthy of special notice, when we regard it as typical of the deliverance from sin and the bondage of the devil, which our heavenly Father is willing to effect for each one of us. ‘Let My people go,’—not that they may be free from a master, but that they may serve; let them go, because they have been redeemed by Christ, and are not their own, but His. The deliverance from sin which God works for His people is, in fact, a change from one service to another: a change from service to sin, which is perfect bondage, to service to God, which is perfect freedom.

III. The blessedness of the service of God is not estimated as it ought to be; men in these days are too like the children of Israel, who seemed to think that they had conferred a favour on Moses by following his guidance, and that the least reverse would be a sufficient excuse to justify them in going back again to Egypt. There is nothing in their conduct more strange or more blameable than in the conduct of men calling themselves Christians, who do not perceive that in the earnest discharge of God’s service is their highest happiness as well as their principal duty and most blessed privilege.

—Bishop Harvey Goodwin.

Illustration

(1) ‘Once more did the object of worship prove their curse. Is there not a great law here? Our idols ever tend to grow into tyrants and cruel despots. We have only to give to the creature, no matter how fair and good, that trust, and service, and love that belong to God, and it will become a bane, perhaps the bane of life.’

(2) ‘This plague of frogs was a natural and ordinary occurrence intensified. Every year high Nile brings them in vast numbers. “The supernaturalness lay in their extraordinary number and troublesomeness, and in their appearance and disappearance at the bidding of Moses.” This reminds us that God deals with us, teaching and correcting, guiding and protecting, as far as possible through the natural. He hides Himself in the natural; to see Him we need purged eyes. (“Glory over me,” etc. is equal to “Thine be the honour to appoint the time when I shall entreat for thee and thy servants.”)’

Verse 22

I AM THE LORD!

‘To the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.’

Exodus 8:22

I. This is the only possible explanation of these successive visitations.—The Egyptians worshipped the river from which the frogs came; were punctilious in their purity by continual bathing, and sacrificed to the deities that presided over the noisome insect tribes. It was necessary, therefore, to show that none of their fancied deities could avail to deliver them from the hands of Jehovah. ‘The gods of the heathen are no gods, but the Lord made the heavens.’ As we have said, so we repeat, the just and righteous God could not expect Pharaoh and his people to obey the demand to let Israel go, until He had shown Himself to be the God of gods, and Lord of lords.

II. Possibly all life is intended for the same object.—God is all around us: He knows that we can only be really happy and strong when we know Him. By every avenue of approach He is seeking to make an entrance into the secret places of our souls; but we are so blind and stolid. We set up our idols and prostrate before them faculties which were meant for God only; too often becoming like the deities which engross us. Then God sends stroke after stroke, to shatter our images, and awaken us to His glorious Being which is the sum of all blessedness. Note those words, ‘in the midst of the earth.’ God is no absentee. The Lamb is not only in the midst of the throne; but wherever two or three are gathered, He is in the midst. In Him we live, and move, and have our being. The whole earth, every cranny of it, is full of Him. Yield Him your whole heart.

Illustration

(1) ‘In Halyburton’s priceless Memoirs we read: “Hereby I was brought into a doubt about the truths of religion, the being of God, and things eternal. Whenever I was in dangers or straits and would build upon these things, a suspicion secretly haunted me, What if the things are not? This perplexity was somewhat eased while one day I was reading how Robert Bruce was shaken about the being of God and how at length he came to the fullest satisfaction.” And in another place: “Some days ago reading Exodus 9, 10, and finding this ‘That ye may know that I am God’ frequently repeated, and elsewhere in passages innumerable, as the end of God’s manifesting Himself in His word and works; I observe from it that atheism is deeply rooted even in the Lord’s people, seeing they need to be taught this so much. The great difficulty that the whole of revelation has to grapple with is atheism; its whole struggle is to recover man to his first impressions of a God. This one point comprehends the whole of man’s recovery, just as atheism is the whole of man’s apostasy.” ’

(2) ‘The Egyptians made gods of many living creatures, but the cat appears to have held the highest place. In life it was venerated and well cared for, while after its death it was accorded the highest honour—it was mummified. The mummy of a rich man’s cat was very elaborately decorated. Different coloured stuffs were twisted round and round the body, forming curious patterns. The head would be carefully encased, and sometimes gilded; the ears were always standing upright. These curious mummies look not unlike bottles of rare wine done up in plaited straw. Sometimes it would be enclosed in a bronze box, with a statue of a cat seated on the top.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 8". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-8.html. 1876.