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God Reveals Himself to Moses
As we enter the Scripture for today we find Moses eighty years of age. He had spent forty years in Egypt and forty years with Jethro, his father-in-law in Midian. During all of those years the eyes of God were upon His servant. God saw Moses steadily developing into the man whom He had chosen to lead His people.
At the same time the eyes of God were fixed upon the people of Israel. He knew their burdens, and He shared their sorrows,
1. God works at both ends of the line. While on the one hand God was training Moses to be a deliverer, on the other hand He was bringing Israel to the place where they would accept deliverance. This is always true in Divine leadership. If God sends forth a Philip to speak to the eunuch, He goes before and prepares the eunuch to receive the message. In the work of God there is perfect coordination of events. If the personal worker is sent definitely to some lost soul, that lost soul will be ready to receive the worker.
2. God always has a man. to meet every crisis. As we run our minds over the Scriptures as a whole, it seems to us that an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, an Ezekiel, and a Daniel, a Peter, or a Paul arose in the nick of time to meet distinctive emergencies.
The fact, of course, is that God in His omniscience had been long preparing each of these men for the crisis which He knew was coming. There are no "happen sos" with God. He sees the end from the beginning, and He works accordingly.
3. Men should ever be ready to act when they are commanded from above. Paul said, "I was not disobedient to the Heavenly vision." In the case of Philip and the eunuch we read, "And he arose and went."
Moses had been swift to act when he went in the energy of his own strength, but when God spoke to him, and commanded him to go, he was very loathe to obey.
Would that the church had always had an ear open to the call of God.
When God tells you what to do,
Start to do it;
He will surely see you through,
So, pursue it:
If to Him you're faithful, true,
He your foes will all subdue,
Needed strength He will renew;
Why not do it?
"When God tells you what to say,
Rise and say it;
Do not while the time away,
And delay it:
If God's message you convey,
And you faithfully obey,
He will prove your rock and stay;
Why not say it?
When God tells you where to go,
Don't forego it;
Do not wait till more you know,
God will show it:
Grace and help He will bestow,
Bless you as you onward go;
All you are to Him you owe,
Why not show it?
I. ALONE WITH GOD (Exodus 3:1 )
1. The shepherd-life of Moses. It is refreshing to behold Moses keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. The shepherd-life is a life of privileges. Moses, mixed in the political, social furor of Egypt, had but little time to fellowship with God. While keeping the flock, he had marvelous opportunities to hear the Lord when He spoke to him. He was a shepherd, and, as he shepherded his flocks he learned many a lesson that proved full of value to him in the days when he shepherded the Children of Israel. The Lord of Moses was also a Shepherd, and we are His sheep.
2. Moses at the backside of the desert. The expression of our verse, "and he led the flock to the backside of the desert" is most meaningful. It is there, in the place uninhabited and quiet, that God found the opportunity to speak in a still small voice to Moses. At the same time, Moses was made ready to hear that voice.
Perhaps, there was a sense of loneliness on Moses' part. He felt that he was shut in with God, and shut out from many things which the flesh might have enjoyed. When we think of Moses at the backside of the desert, we think of many a lonely heart, sick and worn, or perhaps aged, shut in their little rooms.
Shut in from dale and glen,
Shut in from blooming bowers,
Shut in your lonesome den
Through trying, weary hours.
The world goes on its way
Unmindful of your gloom;
Alone you sit and pray,
Shut in your little room.
Yet, not shut in, alone,
The Lord is with you there,
He fills your heart with song,
He takes away your care.
Shut in you see His face,
His glories you explore;
You roam in realms of grace,
With Him whom you adore.
II. THE MINISTRY OF THE BURNING BUSH (Exodus 3:2 )
In this verse we read, "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, * * the bush was not consumed." In this remarkable vision which Moses saw there are three suggested things:
1. A persecuted people. The bush burning was an apt portraiture of a people under oppression. The Children of Israel were indeed in the flames of affliction. They felt that the fire was hotter than they could bear. We need not be surprised, however, because in the world we have tribulation. If they called our Master, Beelzebub, they will call us the same. If they persecuted Him, they will persecute us. The truth is that it is given to us to suffer for His sake as well as to believe on His Name.
2. A preserved people. The bush was burning, but not consumed. This was the history of Israel up to that time. It has been the history of Israel up to this time. Israel has ever been burned, but never consumed. Other types of this same preservation are those of Daniel in the lions' den, the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and Jonah swallowed by a great fish, but not digested. Jesus Christ plainly taught that we were safely shielded in Him against every wile of the devil.
3. A protected people. Preserved, yes, but also protected. God will not suffer His own to be destroyed. When we think of Israel during the centuries we can easily see how the hand of God led them out, and led them on. The Jew must ever remain the supreme and unexplained miracle of the age. Without a king, a prince, and without an ephod, they have been preserved on the one hand and protected on the other hand unto this hour. God's eye has been upon the sparrow; how much more has it been upon His people!
III. A HEART OF INQUIRY (Exodus 3:3 )
Our key text reads that Moses said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt."
1. Taking time to turn aside. This is such a busy world that very few people are willing to turn aside from the rush in order to see or to hear God. The hymn says, "Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide with Him always, and trust in His Word." Too many lives are so filled with this and with that that they forget to hear the voice of God.
2. Seeking to see a great sight. Some one has said that there is many a bush ablaze with the glory of God, but only he sees who takes time to step aside and to take off his shoes.
We wrote a little poem not long ago on this theme:
Day by day I'll take my place,
Prostrate at the throne of grace,
As I see my Father's blessing from on high;
There, I'll cast my ev'ry care,
Leave it at the place of prayer,
And His peace and joy I'll share
While He is nigh.
There, within my close shut door,
I my Lord will oft adore,
Hid away from ev'ry vexing care and strife:
His dear Name I will repeat,
As I worship at His feet,
In my happy, blest retreat;
He is my life.
3. Inquiry and illumination. Moses stopped to inquire. The result was that God illuminated his mind. Whenever we seek to know God, He is delighted to manifest Himself unto us. Then shall ye know, when ye follow on to know the Lord.
IV. THE OBSERVING CHRIST (Exodus 3:4 )
Here is the way the verse reads: "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I."
1. Christ is looking and longing for hearts that look and long. What we mean is this; our Lord is watching us to see if we are truly and profoundly interested in the things of God. It is not the outward life that appeals to the Master so much as the inside heart-throbs, the promptings, the yearnings, and the longings of the soul. "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Man sees things as they appear; Christ sees things as they are.
We wonder, dear young people, if our Lord finds in us that spirit which yearns after Him, the spirit that will turn aside to look and to see,
2. The Lord calling with concentrated animation. When the Lord saw Moses approaching the bush He called out, "Moses, Moses." A repetition of words always portrays animation and intensity. It was thus that God called unto Abraham as, with lifted sword, he was about to slay his son. God was animated and cried: "Abraham, Abraham, * * lay not thine hand upon the lad!"
3. Christ uttered a warning of sacred significance. He said unto Moses, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Moses was about to approach into the presence of God, but he knew it not. God was instructing Moses lest he should ruthlessly and unwittingly draw nigh to Him in the energy of his flesh. The prayer the Lord taught His disciples began with "Hallowed by Thy Name." When we approach Him we must come in the spirit of reverence, and, as it were, with the sandals off our feet.
V. THE REVEALING CHRIST (Exodus 3:6 )
"Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
1. We have revelation with a pledge of perpetuity. When God said, "I am the God of Abraham" He held His blessings to one, but when He said, "the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" He showed that His pledge of favor was passing from age to age, from generation to generation. There is something, however, even more striking, because Christ said, "I am the God of thy father," thus linking up Moses with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and therefore with the promises vouchsafed to them. God passes His pledge of protection and blessing from generation to generation, from father to son.
2. We have a revelation with a pledge of the promises of God. God's promises pass from father to son, the same as do His grace and His mercy. God said unto Abraham, "I will bless thee." That blessing and everything it contained included every child of Abraham even unto this day. It particularly followed the line of blessing and of promise down through a genealogy of successful sons until Christ, the seed of Abraham, was born of Mary who was also, through her father, Abraham's seed.
3. We have a revelation of present aid based upon past favors. God seemed to say to Moses, "As I was the Father of Abraham and of Isaac, and of Jacob, so will I be a Father unto you. As I blessed them, I will bless you." We, therefore, as Christians, have a perfect right to plead God's past grace as a pledge of present favor. He, who has blessed, will bless; He, who has worked, will work.
VI. A THREEFOLD ASSURANCE (Exodus 3:7-8 )
Three statements are made in the two verses before us. (1) "The Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt." (2) "I have heard their cry." (3) "I am come down to deliver them."
1. "I have surely seen." What was it that God had seen? He said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt." The suggestion is that the God who was in Midian was also the God who was in Egypt a suggestion of the omnipresence of God.
What is it that God sees? Of course, we always think of Him as seeing us in our sins. We know there is not a word under our tongue but He knows it altogether. Yes, He knows every thought. We think of Him as seeing us in our deeds and acts, but the Lord said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people."
These words are suggestive of a sympathetic Christ. His eyes are going throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of the needy. He sees our sorrows, and our struggles, our penury and our pain.
2. "I have heard." Israel had evidently been praying for God had heard their cry. Their prayers had come by reason of their taskmasters. They had evidently neglected their prayer-life and their fellowship with God until, in the hour of their need, they were driven to Him. The words, "I have heard" give us so much comfort. If He heard Israel, He will also hear us.
3. "I am come." First, "I have surely seen," second, "I have heard," and third, "I am come down to deliver." Our God is not only a God who sees and hears. He is a God of the stretched-forth hand. He is the God who rescues, the God who helps. As we weigh these words we cannot but think of how our Savior said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world." He came into the world because He had seen the ravages of sin.
VII. A THREEFOLD UNDERTAKING (Exodus 3:7-8 )
There were three things which God promised to do:
1. He promised to deliver them from Egypt. This deliverance seemed almost impossible. To be sure, Israel had grown to great proportions numerically, yet the Egyptians had them wholly under their power. Israel was unarmed, while the Egyptians were armed. Israel was a people of slaves, while the Egyptians were the masters. The impossible, however, to God became possible. The Lord did not hesitate because there was no hope for Israel, humanly speaking. He faced every difficulty, every danger, every impossibility, and with all assurance said, "I am come down to deliver." There are never any question marks with God when He undertakes.
2. He promised to carry them through the wilderness. Here was another great promise. Deliverance was one thing; carrying them through the wilderness was another thing. Between Egypt and the land of Canaan there was a waste and howling desert infested with wild beasts and every seeming hindrance to travel. There was no water with which to quench thirst, and there was no food with which to satisfy hunger. Once more, however, the Lord faced that which seemed impossible, and said, "I am come * * to bring them up out of that land unto a good land." God counted the deed as done before the march had begun,
3. He promised to bring them into a good land, a land which flowed with milk and honey. That good land, however, was a land infested with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The good land, in other words, and the large land, the land of milk and honey, was not a land lying open and ready for their entrance. It was a land possessed by seven nations, strong and mighty. It was a land where the Anakim ruled, where the giants reigned, and where Satan held full possession. This meant nothing to God, for He was able to lead them through, and to lead them in.
GRACE FOR USE, AND NOT TO BE PLAYED WITH
"Grace is not only 'Donum,' but 'Taletum.' Grace is not given, as a piece of money, to a child to play withal, but as we give money to factors, to trade withal for us." Everything is practical in the great gifts of God. He plants His trees that they may bear fruit, and sows His seed that a harvest may come of it. We may trifle and speculate; God never does so. When a man imagines that grace is given merely to make him comfortable, to give him a superiority over his fellows, or to enable him to avoid deserved censure, he knows not the design of the Lord in the bestowal of grace, and, indeed, he is a stranger to the grand secret. God works in us that we may work, He saves us that we may serve Him, and enriches us with grace that the riches of His glory may be displayed.
Are we putting out our talents to proper interest? Do we use the grace bestowed upon us? "He giveth more grace," but not to those who neglect what they have. Men do not long trust ill stewards. Lord, help us so to act that we may render our account with joy and not with grief. Chas. H. Spurgeon.
Faith as Exemplified in Moses
Selections from Exodus 3:1-22 ; Exodus 6:1-30 ; Exodus 7:1-25 ; Exodus 8:1-32 ; Exodus 14:1-31 ; Exodus 15:1-27
The Children of Israel had been captive in Egypt for several hundred years. During that time another Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph. As the sons of Jacob multiplied, the king of Egypt became more and more afraid of their possible ascendancy in his empire. Therefore, moved with fear, he began to persecute them, and to force them to work as common slaves. Thus, God heard the groanings of His people under the iron hand of Pharaoh.
1. The birth of a deliverer. Finally an edict of Pharaoh was given forth that every male child should be killed. There were two, however, who were not afraid of the king's commandment, and when a goodly child was born unto them, they hid him in an ark of bulrushes at the river's brink, where the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe. This little child was rescued by royalty and nursed by his own mother. Thus it was that God Himself brought up the deliverer in the home of the persecutor. A child who was under a sentence of death, became the giver of life to the people of God.
2. The deliverer's attempt in the flesh. When the baby Moses had grown into a man of forty years of age, he spurned everything that the pleasures and the wealth of Egypt could give him. He turned his back on Pharaoh's palace, and, with a heart aching because of the straits of his own people, he went down, bent upon delivering them, but forty years passed before God undertook to deliver Israel through Moses.
3. Hiding away. During the forty years that Moses was in Midian he married the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian. At the end of the forty years God came to Moses and spoke to him.
During the years that Moses was hid away with God he could meditate and think upon the glory of Jehovah.
4. A wonderful sight. God appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Moses stopped and looked, and, "behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." Immediately he said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." It was at that moment that the Lord called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses." And he said, "Here am I." God told Moses to put off his shoes from off his feet, because the place on which he stood was holy ground.
Then it was that he said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Immediately God told Moses that He had surely seen the affliction of His people in Egypt; that He had heard their cry, and that He would send forth Moses to their deliverance.
5. A complaining, doubting spirit. We are amazed when we think of the man whom God had called to deliver His people, saying to the Lord, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the Children of Israel out of Egypt?" The Lord, however, gave him promises that He would be with him.
The story is familiar to all of us: we remember how the Lord gave him His Name, saying, "I Am that I Am." When Moses still demurred, God wrought the miracle of the turning of a rod which Moses held in his hand into a serpent.
God furthermore commanded Moses to put his hand into bis bosom, and when he took it out, it was as leprous as snow. Then He told Moses to put his hand back into his bosom. This time, when he took it out, it was turned again as his other flesh.
Moses still demurred, and said, "I am not eloquent." This time, God took away from him a wonderful privilege and gave it unto Aaron, the brother of Moses, telling him that he should be the spokesman of Moses, and that he should be to Moses instead of a mouth, and that Moses should be to him instead of God.
6. A few conclusions. As we think of what we have just set before you, let us weigh our own experience in its light. Have we not had a call from God? Have we not often warred in the flesh? Have we not often demurred, and hesitated to undertake the work to which we are called? Perhaps God has even given us a vision of His mighty power and work. Before we complain about Moses, and condemn him, let us ask if we have been faithful, and ready to launch out the moment that some Divine order came to us; perhaps Moses far outshines us in our obedience. Let us be careful, lest we miss God's very best in service and spiritual attainments.
I. FAITH IN TRAINING (Exodus 3:12-14 )
When we feel that our faith is weak, we know of no better way to strengthen it than to study the dealings of the God in whom we are asked to believe, with men in the past. Listen to some of the things that God said to Moses:
1. In Exodus 3:8 He said, "I am come down to deliver."
2. In Exodus 3:10 He said, "I will send thee unto Pharaoh."
3. In Exodus 3:12 He said, "Certainly I will be with thee."
4. In Exodus 3:14 He said, "I AM hath sent me unto you."
5. In Exodus 3:17 He said, "I will bring you up."
6. In Exodus 3:20 He said, "I will stretch out My hand."
7. In Exodus 3:21 He said, "I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians."
When we look at the seven statements above, we see, in every instance, a definite promise from the Almighty. Why should Moses be afraid when God kept saying, "I will, I will; and I will"? When God promises to do it, it will surely be done. What God undertakes He is able to accomplish; if we are sent by Him; we are panoplied by Him.
If He is with us, we are armed with all power in Heaven and upon earth. If He is going to bring us through, we need not fear the terrors by the way; if He has said, "I will stretch out My hand," we need not care how weak our hands may be.
There was one other thing that God did to encourage Moses. He said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, * * of Isaac, and * * of Jacob." In other words, He said to Moses, "You are familiar with the wonderful dealings I had with your forefathers; and I was their God, and now I will be thine." If the Lord comes with us, are we afraid to go? Do the silver and the gold not belong to Him? Does He not have all authority, in every realm?
Suppose Jesus Christ stood by us today, telling us to go; and then He said, "I have met the powers of Satan and have vanquished them; I was dead, and I am alive again, and I hold in My hand the keys of death and of hell; I have ascended up through principalities and powers, and am seated on the right hand of God, clothed with all authority." When Christ says such things to us, shall we be weak in faith and afraid to obey His voice?
II. FAITH WARNED (Exodus 3:19 )
We often speak of the faith of Moses, and indeed it was a remarkable faith. Let none of us criticize him in his faith until we can do the things he did; let none of us enlarge upon his unbelief until our unbelief is less than his.
1. The warning. Exodus 3:19 says, God speaking: "And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand." The Lord never promises us that which we are not to receive; He never encourages us in giving us a false hope; He never tries to increase our faith by belittling the obstacles which will beset us by the way.
God very plainly and positively assured Moses that the Children of Israel would resist him, and that Pharaoh would not let the people go. However, God went on to tell him that He would do His wonders in Egypt, and "after that he will let you go." He even told Moses that the Children of Israel should not go out empty, but they should go out with their hands filled with jewels of silver and gold and raiment, and with the spoil of the Egyptians.
2. The refusal. In the 5th chapter, and 1st verse, Moses said unto Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness." Pharaoh did not hesitate a moment to reply, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
A man of little faith would certainly have stumbled here. To be sure, God had told him that Pharaoh would not let Israel go; however, it was not easy for Moses and Aaron to be repulsed with such terrific onslaughts of unbelief.
Sometimes as we go forth in the service of God everything seems to fail which we had hoped would come to pass. Our prayers seem unanswered, our attempts seem futile, and our service seems in-vain.
We should remember that it is not always that our God delivers instantly. If we get our victories too easily, we might begin to think that our own hand had gotten us the victory, and that we had accomplished things by our own efforts and prowess.
3. The direct results. In the 4th verse of the 5th chapter, the king of Egypt said unto Moses and Aaron, "Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens." That same day the king commanded the taskmasters to cease giving straw to the Children of Israel. They were to get their own straw, and yet the same quantity of brick was required from them daily.
This caused a tremendous bitterness in the Children of Israel. They complained, and when they met Moses and Aaron as they came forth from Pharaoh, they said, "Ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us."
This was about all that Moses could bear, and he cried unto the Lord, "Why is it that Thou hast sent me?" He also said, "Neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all." When the enemy seems to have every advantage, and is pressing us on every side, do we sometimes murmur and complain at the Lord? It is not easy to be condemned by the populace; it is not easy to see our leadership seemingly broken.
III. FAITH ASSURED (Exodus 6:1-6 )
When Moses talked with God, the Lord told him several things.
1. "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh." Defeat does not disturb the Almighty He can see the end from the beginning. He knew that Pharaoh would rebel again and again, but God also knew that Pharaoh would be willing yea, more than willing: he would be glad to have Israel go, before God had finished His judgments upon him.
2. Other things God said unto Moses.
1. "I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham * * by the Name of God Almighty."
2. "I have also established My Covenant with them."
3. "I have remembered My Covenant."
4. "I will bring you out * * I will rid you out of their bondage."
5. "I will redeem you with a stretched out arm."
6. "I will take you to Me * * I will be to you a God."
7. "I will bring you in unto the land."
Three times in this passage, concluding at Exodus 6:8 , the Lord says, "I am the Lord." Let every one of us write over every power of darkness the same word "I am the Lord." If God be for us, who can be against us?
3. Moses' plea. It must have been a wonderful thing to have the privilege of speaking to the Lord face to face, as did Moses, God addressing him as we would an intimate friend. Moses said, "Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto Me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me?" He meant, If my own people, Thine own children, have not heard me, how shall I expect Pharaoh to hear me?
Sometimes we, too, get to the place where we want to give up. We hasten to belittle our successes and the possibility of our efforts. Beloved, we need, today, to get a fresh hold on God.
IV. Faith Encouraged (Exodus 7:1-6 )
The skies are brightening as far as Moses is concerned. While so far he has met nothing but rebuff and setback and disappointment; yet he has been learning, step by step to trust God. Now the Lord is speaking unto Moses, and He tells him one thing that, so far as we know, has never been repeated.
1. "I have made thee a God to Pharaoh." In other words, God is saying unto Moses that he should go before Him in the power and might of Deity Himself. He was to speak everything that God commanded him; he was to do mighty works, even the works that only God could do.
God still warned Moses that Pharaoh would harden his heart, but He said that He would multiply His signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. The fact of the business was that every time Pharaoh refused Moses, it gave God an opportunity to magnify His own Name and power in the midst of the Egyptians, and to prove that God was Lord; and that the Children of Israel were His people.
2. "And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them." They went forth and faced Pharaoh time and time again; with Pharaoh's every refusal they were spurred to further attacks against the cruel king of the Egyptians. They both obeyed the voice of God implicitly; they obeyed, no matter what happened, how dark the skies, how rugged the way, how steep the road. They were learning that God is able to bring down every high thing, and every proud thing that exalts itself against the Lord. They were learning that the weapons of their warfare were mighty, through God, to the breaking down of strongholds.
V. FAITH WORKING (Exodus 8:1-4 )
The story of the ten plagues which were brought upon Egypt by the words of Moses, is nothing less than the story of faith at work.
1. The first three plagues. As Moses threw down his rod it became a serpent. How was it then, if this was a miracle, that the magicians threw down their rods, and they became serpents? The second great miracle of Moses was the turning of the water of Egypt into blood; this the magicians of Egypt also did.
The third was the miracle of the frogs; once again the magicians of Egypt did the same with their enchantments.
Moses, perhaps, was dumfounded when he saw that the magicians could duplicate, thus far, whatever he did. However, they could not get rid of the frogs; they could bring the curse, but could not relieve it. Perhaps God Himself permitted all of this, to make Moses lean the harder upon Him; and also to bring a deeper curse upon Pharaoh, because of his rebellion. One thing we know, that step by step, Moses was "as God" in moving God and nature to obey his voice.
2. Is the day of miracles past? My God is a God that still works miracles. If He did not, how could I trust Him in the many places where He commands me to travel and to labor? I have seen with mine own eyes the Lord our God doing the impossible.
When we think of the Apostles, and of Paul, we think of men who knew how to believe God, and to do things which could not be accounted for on any natural lines. In these days, when the modernist is seeking to discount every miracle that God has ever wrought, it is absolutely necessary for us to prove that our God is still the God who wrought the miracles of the Old Testament. We must do the same things as were done then.
VI. THE FINAL TRIUMPH (Exodus 14:13-16 )
We are passing very rapidly over many remarkable things that occurred, and now we come to the final great test.
1. Hemmed in on every side. When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, he led them as he was directed, down by the way of the Red Sea. The news was taken to Pharaoh that Moses with his million and one half of people were entangled in the wilderness; then Pharaoh immediately started out to pursue them.
When the Children of Israel saw the hosts of the Egyptians approaching, they were filled with fear, and they said unto Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" Here was a real trial to faith.
Moses, however, did not waver: he said, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever." He added, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
After Moses had told this unto the people, he sought the face of his God, and cried unto Him. Then the Lord said to him, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me? speak unto the Children of Israel, that they go forward." How could they go forward?
They certainly could not go back; they certainly could not go to the left, or to the right, for, on the one hand were the fastnesses of the mountains and the hills, and on the other hand Pharaoh's hosts. Before them was the impassable sea. It was under such circumstances that God said, "Go forward," and forward they went.
Moses lifted up his rod, and God opened before them sufficient dry land that they might march in through the midst of the sea, and straight across to the other side.
VII. FAITH REJOICING (Exodus 15:1-6 )
1. The thrill of victory. It must have been a wonderful thing to the Children of Israel, as they marched up on the other side of the sea. Surely they knew that there was a God in Israel! If their joy, for the moment, was darkened by the approach of the hosts of the Egyptians who were marching upon the same path through the sea which God had prepared for them, their fear was quickly allayed when they saw that the armies of Pharaoh were having great trouble in passing, because their chariot wheels would come off, and because they were blinded in their route by a cloud of darkness.
Then, after the last one of Israel had passed over, how they must have rejoiced when Moses stretched forth his rod over the sea, and the waters returned to their strength, overthrowing the Egyptians in the midst thereof! Pharaoh's army and chariots and horsemen were altogether overthrown, and there remained not so much as one.
2. The song of victory. Chapter 15 says, "Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel this song." Have you ever accomplished something by faith which caused you to sing? You have read of faith's miracles: Have you ever wrought them? You have heard of Daniel in the lions' den: have you ever had any experience that even shadowed that? You have heard of the experience of the three Hebrew children in the burning fiery furnace: have you ever done or seen anything like that in your life?
Yes, every day there are things just as marvelous, but how few there are who know them, or see them, or believe them! Now when there is victory, there is song. After Moses had finished his rejoicing with the Children of Israel, then Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her, with timbrels and dances.
3. Experiences in the wilderness. After this wonderful miracle one would have thought that the Children of Israel would never again doubt God. They had seen everything that God had wrought by the hand of Moses; all of the miraculous plagues, all of their wonderful deliverances, and yet they were scarcely over the Red Sea and in the wilderness, until, as they journeyed, they struck a place where there was no water. Then they began to chide with Moses. One of the crowning acts of faith in the life of Moses was when he went out and struck the rock at the command of God. There is no water in a rock, and yet the smitten rock sent forth a stream. Beloved, let us never doubt God again, but rather let us believe that it will be even as He has spoken.
"Ask ye of the Lord rain" (Zechariah 10:1 ).
In the following lines we wish to relate something of the Lord's goodness as suggested by the above text.
There had been many months of drought, very dry and hot weather. The previous N.E. monsoon had failed, resulting in only half the normal rainfall. Tanks and ponds had been dry for weeks. Many wells had failed in their supply of water. Droves of cattle were being driven miles to obtain a drink of water. Men and women, on returning late in the evening from work, had to go off in search of water before attempting to cook the food. One evening, two messengers, one following the other, came along to say our well was empty. We knew of only one resource at such a time. There were some clouds above. "Ask ye of the Lord rain." Two of us knelt that evening and asked our Heavenly Father to command the clouds and to send the rain. We retired, believing our God would care for us. On rising next morning we looked but to see "floods on the dry ground." Two and a quarter inches of rain had fallen!
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever."
We continue a study concerning Israel in Egypt and God's great deliverance which He wrought through Moses. We wish to refer you to the 9th verse of our Scripture: "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the Children of Israel is come unto Me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them."
There are two outstanding facts before us. The first is a statement concerning Israel, God's chosen people, and the second is a statement concerning the Egyptians who oppressed them. Let us center our thoughts around the two statements, "Behold, the cry," and, "I have seen also the oppression."
1. "Behold, the cry of the Children of Israel." Israel had been for many decades in soul sorrow. No doubt, they felt altogether forgotten and despised by the Almighty. The lesson for us is that we should trust when we cannot see. May we bring before you a twofold application of this cry of Israel.
(1) God sees and knows our afflictions.
There is never a burden which comes to us that God does not see it. There is never a sob that falls from the trembling lip that He does not hear it.
(2) God hears and gives attention to our prayers. To Israel He said, "I * * have heard." To Moses He said, "I * * have seen." Thank God that prayer reaches the throne! Thank God that prayer is heard! Has not God told us that whatsoever ye ask the Father "in My Name, that will I do"?
Many volumes have been written on remarkable answers to prayer. When Christians grasp the hand of God they will grasp the power that rules the rod.
2. "I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them." These words bring before us the thought of the sympathetic Christ. They also suggest to us the responsive Christ. Jesus does not only see and know, but He cares. His hand is just as ready to help us, as His ear is ready to hear us. His grace is always sufficient.
What would we do in the hour of trial and in the time of testing if we did not have a Living Christ? The Bible describes the Lord Jesus as a great High Priest. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. That He cares for us, we know.
He's near me when the storm-clouds lower,
He holds my hand when days are drear;
He never leaves, when shadows deepen,
He strengthens me with words of cheer;
I love to feel His arm around me,
And know that He's my very own;
No power of men can e'er confound me,
He guides me from His heav'nly throne.
Then there is the dispensational message. This cry of the Children of Israel brings before us that final, last, excruciating sorrow of God's chosen race into which they are now hastening. Pharaoh's tyranny is but prophetic of the tyranny of the Antichrist. The coming of Moses as a deliverer is no more than the foregleam of God's coming to rescue His people during the Great Tribulation when Christ comes from Heaven to save them.
I. A CALL TO SERVICE (Exodus 3:10 )
Unto Moses God said, "Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the Children of Israel out of Egypt."
1. We have before us a man sent of God. Moses had been chosen of God from before the day that his mother hid him in the ark of bulrushes. During the eighty years of Moses' life up to this hour God's eye had ever been upon him. Now, we behold, as God commissions him to go forth as Israel's deliverer. It is most interesting when we read of John the Baptist: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Thus in every age God has had chosen men for special missions.
Enoch was sent of God to bear testimony to the world concerning the approaching flood. Noah was sent of God to give God's call to the people to enter the ark of safety. Abraham and the patriarchs were sent of God to bear testimony to the nations among whom they sojourned. The Prophets were sent of God. They rose up early and stayed up late with their hands outstretched to the Children of Israel. The Apostles were sent to carry God's Name and to give His testimony to every creature.
We who are living at the end of the age are sent of God. It seems to us that of all others our commission is perhaps the most important, because we are called to serve the strategic moment immediately preceding the Lord's Second Advent.
2. We have before us a man sent to suffer and to save. This was the commission to Moses. This is God's commission to us. Christ Jesus Himself came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. He put the sheep on His shoulders, the sheep that was lost upon the mountains. We, too, are sent with a message of redemption. We are sent to save. We are sent to bring men to God.
II. A CONFESSION OF INABILITY (Exodus 3:11 )
"And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the Children of Israel out of Egypt?"
1. Who am I? We can remember the time forty years prior to this hour when Moses evidently thought a good deal of himself. Uncommissioned, and in his own strength and power, he had endeavored to put himself forth as the deliverer of his race. He went in his own strength and he utterly failed. Now, he stands before the Almighty in his maturity. He was not old, although he was eighty. He was not old because he served forty years after the date of this call and died at about one hundred and twenty. What, then, do we have? We have a man in the prime of his physical strength, crying out unto the Almighty, and saying, "Who am I?" We have a man doubting his own. strength, and confessing his own inability.
2. Who am I that I should go? Moses may have felt content in the home of Jethro. He now was established with his wife and sons. He did not like to pick up and move out into new paths; he did not care to return to that land from whence he had come. Sometimes we do not wish to have our nests stirred. We do not wish to go.
3. Who am I that I should go and bring? The greatness of the Divinely commanded task overwhelmed Moses. In after years he confessed to God he could not alone bear so great a burden. With the task confronting him of bringing a million and more people out of Egypt, out from the power of Pharaoh, out from the tyranny of the Egyptians, Moses trembled and pleaded his own utter weakness. I suppose most of us feel the same way, as we face the tremendous issues which He before us, and the important tasks which God lays upon us.
III. THE PROMISE OF AID (Exodus 3:12 )
And God said, "Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain."
1. The promise, "I will be with thee." God seemed to be saying to Moses, "I will put My omnipotency by the side of thy impotency. I will wed My strength to thy weakness. My almightiness shall superabound over thy nothingness." As we see it, the very fact that Moses was weak made him strong. Let us remember that God has taught us, just as He taught Moses. Moses was commanded to go to Egypt and to Pharaoh. The Church is commanded to go into all the world, to every creature. To Moses God said, "I will be with thee." To us and to the Church, God says, "And, lo, I am with thee alway, even unto the end of the world." If God is with us we need not fear. All power is His.
2. The promise: "Ye shall serve God upon this mountain." Here is a blessed assurance and a glorious consummation in anticipation. God did not ask Moses to embark on a problematical task. He did not ask Moses to undertake something which could never be completed. God told Moses that his service would be successful, that his undertaking should reach accomplishment.
Does not God tell us as much? Are we not sure that the One who has called us, will see us through? Of Christ it was written, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth."
Has not God said unto us what He said unto Jacob, "I am with thee, * * I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of"? It is a wonderful thing in the games when the runner knows that he will win the race, or the wrestler is assured that he will attain victory. We so run, and so also do we fight, not as uncertainly. We know that in Christ we shall prevail.
IV. THE NAME OF GOD (Exodus 3:13-14 )
1. The name which Moses gave to God. "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the Children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them?" Moses, in asking God His Name, himself, gave a name to His God. He called Him the "God of your fathers." How significant was that name!
How our own hearts are stirred and thrilled with the fact that the God we serve is the God whom our fathers served, that the God who wrought of old is the same God who works through us!
2. The name which God gave to Moses. God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel, "I AM hath sent me unto you." This name is most meaningful. Moses had called God "the God of your fathers." God told Moses that He was the Eternal I Am. In other words, that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the same God who now came forth to deliver. God, however, gave a further meaning to His name, "I Am."
Let me quote for you Exodus 3:15 : "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; hath sent me unto you: this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations." Thus the name "I Am" proclaimed God the same in the ages past, and the same forever. In other words, the God who led the Children of Israel, is the God who leads us.
From everlasting, Lord art Thou,
To everlasting Thou shalt be;
Thou dwellest in eternal now,
Thou great, supernal One in Three.
V. OUT OF EGYPT AND INTO CANAAN (Exodus 3:17 )
In our verse God said concerning Israel, "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, * * unto a land flowing with milk and honey." Two things are before us:
1. There is an outcoming. We are all come-outers. God saved Israel out of Egypt. He saves us out of Egypt, that is, out of the world. Let us stop just a moment to consider that from which we came out when we were saved.
We came out of sin.
We came out of self.
We came out from sorrow.
We came out from Satan's sway.
We came out of suffering.
Thank God we are out, and by God's grace we will stay out!
"Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thy self,
Jesus, I come to Thee."
2. There is an incoming. God did not only promise to take Israel out of Egypt, but He promised to lead Israel unto, and into the land of Canaan. We remember in the days of our boyhood that we preached a sermon on Canaan which was alliterated something like this:
· The Presence of Peace.
· The Partaking of Plenty.
· The Practice of Power
· The Place of Purity.
We had five of them, but we can only remember four. We used to tell the people that when Israel entered Canaan they entered into these five marks of blessings. Is this not true of us? God not only saved us out of our penury, but He led us into His plenty. He not only took us out of our sorrows, but He led us into His peace. He not only delivered us out of our weakness, but He placed us in the center of His power. Remember also, that beyond all of this, there is paradise, into which God will certainly bring us by and by.
VI. THE WILDERNESS WORSHIP (Exodus 3:18 )
1. The three days' journey. This was the distance they were to go out of Egypt. Everybody knows what a three days' journey means. It is a journey down into the valley of death, into the grave, but up into a resurrection experience. The three days stand for the three days Christ's body lay in the tomb. The three days in which Christ descended into Hades. The three days which ended with the rolling away of the stone, and with the statement, "He is not here: but He is risen." When we are saved we should go no less a journey with our Lord than the journey of death, burial, and resurrection.
2. The journey into the wilderness. You may say that you thought the journey was into Canaan. That is true. Canaan was not, however, the immediate experience. Between Egypt and Canaan there still lies the wilderness. The days of testing, however, should always be days of trusting. The days of trial should always be days of conquest. The wilderness stands for many unpleasant things. It suggests trials, difficulties, sighs, and sorrows. However, the Lord has said that even in the valley of the shadow of death He will be with us.
3. The objective was to worship God. They were to go three days' journey into the wilderness to sacrifice unto the Lord, their God. We have come out of death and into life, out from Satan's tyranny and into the liberty of God, in order that we may walk with Him, in order that we may bow at His footstool and worship at His throne. To worship God is the climactic experience of the Christian.
VII. FOREWARNED AND FOREARMED (Exodus 3:19-22 )
As we close today's message, there are three things in our four final verses which must not be overlooked.
1. The forewarning of Pharaoh's resistance. God plainly told Moses that the king of Egypt "will not let you go." God did not lay before Moses a rosy pathway out of Egypt. He told him definitely that Pharaoh would resist him and ask to keep the people under his authority and power that they might serve him. We have the same thing to face. There is not one young man, nor one young woman who by faith takes Christ as Saviour and Lord, and steps out of the world, but who will find obstacles by the way. Satan stood by to resist Joshua, the high priest. To Peter, Jesus said, "Satan hath desired to have you." Paul wrote, "We would have come unto you, * * but Satan hindered us."
2. God's revealing of wonders. Was Moses to be alarmed because Pharaoh would resist him? Not at all. In Exodus 3:20 God said, "I will stretch out My hand, and smite Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go." Satan, like Pharaoh, was powerful, but God is all-powerful.
God still works wonders. He still delivers His children from Satan's snares. He hath promised that there is not any temptation which shall come to us but such as is common to man, "But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
3. God's promise of going out full. God not only told Moses that he would lead the people out, but He told them "ye shall not go empty." There would be "jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment." Thus it is that God makes the wrath of man to praise Him. Thus it is that God overrules every obstacle, and leads to every enlargement and victory.
A POOR MAN ROBBED
Satan will oppose us and rob us as much as he can but God will surely lead us out, "' If a poor man be robbed of twenty or thirty shillings, no wonder if he cry and take on, because he hath no more to help himself with; but now, if a rich man be robbed of such a sum, he is not much troubled, because he hath more at home. So a man that is justified by faith, and hath assurance of the favor of God, he can comfortably bear up against all the troubles and crosses he meets with in his way to Heaven.' Remember the Apostle's reckoning in Romans 8:18 : 'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.' He was so rich in grace that all his losses were as nothing to him. One of old got his living by his losses, for he said, 'By these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit': thus spiritual riches enable us to bear temporal losses with great patience. It is far otherwise with the worldling, whose goods are his god; for when these are taken he cries out like Micah, 'Ye have taken away my gods which I made, * * and what have I more?' He to whom God is all things cannot be robbed, for who can overcome and despoil the Almighty?
Lord, lead me to count nothing my treasure but Thyself, and then I may defy the thief. If I have suffered loss, let me make a gain thereby by prizing Thee the more."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Exodus 3". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany