Moses, Servant Of God
Moses: God’s Servant
By, James L. Thornton
MOSES: THE SERVANT OF GOD:
Hebrews 11:24. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”
2. Moses; His Mother’s Faith
3. A Basket Made Of Bulrushes
4. Moses; Son Of Pharaoh’s Daughter
5. Moses Made His Choice
6. Deliverance By Main Force
7. Flight Into The Desert
8. Moses Was Content
9. A Memorable Day; A Remarkable Announcement
10. Standing On Holy Ground
11. Returning To Egypt
12. Audience With The Elders & Audience With Pharaoh
13. Failure And Disappointment
14. Source Of Help And Relief In Time Of Need For A Bewildered Soul
15. God’s Condescension To A Weak Faith
16. God Gives His Promises Through A Series Of “I Will”
17. God Takes To Himself A New Name
18. A Rich Promise
19. Moses Is Encouraged To Go To Pharaoh Again
20. How The Character Of Moses Grew
21. Preparing For The Exodus
22. God Brought Them Out With A Mighty Hand
23. Satan Will Pursue Those Who Escape From His Grasp
24. The Song Of Victory
25. At The Foot Of Sinai
26. How It Went Amiss With Moses
27. The Death Of Moses
In this study we will give some thought to the life and legacy of Moses. It is without doubt that Moses was one of the two or three greatest men who ever lived. Moses was called into partnership with the Lord, and it was through his faith that God fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews lays bare the secret of the marvels affected by the heroes of Hebrew history. We make a profound mistake in attributing to these men extraordinary qualities of courage, and strength of body or soul. To do so is to miss the whole point of the reiterated teaching of Scripture. They were not different from ordinary men, except in their faith.
But there was one characteristic common to them all, which lifted them above ordinary men, and secured for them a niche in the Hall Of Fame of Scripture, they had a marvelous faculty of faith; which, indeed, is but the capacity of the human heart for God. Four times over this is cited as the secret of all that Moses did for his people.
It will be our contention throughout our study of the remarkable life before us, that, though Moses may have had commanding features of mind and body, and have been versed in all the learning of his time (Acts 7:22); yet the marvelous outcome of his life-work was not due to any of these qualities, but to the faith which knit his soul to God. His faith sufficed to do what all his other qualities, without his faith, must have failed in doing.
We hope to go further, and show that all the blessings which God in his mindfulness of his covenant bestowed on Israel, came to that rebellious and stiff-necked people through the channel of Moses’ faith.
The believer is the God-filled, the God-moved, the God-possessed man; and the work which he affects in the world is not his, but God’s through him. If only there be faith, though it be as a grain of mustard-seed, sycamore trees can be uprooted; mountains cast into the midst of the sea; and demons exorcised from their victims.
Let us ponder well the lessons taught in the life and character of Moses, that in due time we too may become vessels meet for the Master's use, and prepared to every good work.
2. MOSES; HIS MOTHER’S FAITH:
Hebrews 11:6. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.”
It was on a very unfriendly world that the little babe opened his eyes. He was born in a slave’s hut, with a death sentence on his head. Day by day past that cottage-home would go royal processions, as in solemn state the monarch went forth to war, or came down to the Nile to worship.
Priests from all parts of the land would pass it on their way to the mighty Temple of Phthah, but how little would they dream that the site of that humble cottage would attract the interest of generations to the end of time, when all of their lordly temples had fallen into an obscure heap! That babe in that slave hut was more precious to the world than all the treasures of Egypt.
This babe belonged to an oppressed race. Three-hundred years before this they were welcomed to Egypt by the Pharaoh. A different dynasty had succeeded to that which welcomed them, and one to whom the name of Joseph had no charm.
Suddenly, the shepherds of Goshen found themselves drafted for service in the brickfields, under the eye and whip of cruel taskmasters, who exacted from them daily a certain tale of bricks; or they performed service in the field, drawing water from the river for the irrigation of the land, and toiling in the cultivation of the soil.
Yet they still multiplied and the Pharaoh ordered all boy babies born to be thrown into the Nile. Generally, the birth of a child, and especially of a boy, was heralded with unstinted joy: but now it was the subject of anxiety, and almost of dread. But Moses was the child of believing parents. What an advantages this gives a child.
We have often been furnished with a picture depicting the anxiety with which his parents received their new-born babe, the distress of Amram, and the fears of Jochebed. Such a picture may be true of others of the Hebrew parents, but it is not true of them. “They were not afraid of the king’s commandment.”
Moses was born at a time of unusual trouble.
3. MOSES IS SET AFLOAT IN A BASKET MADE OF BULRUSHES:
Exodus 2:3. “And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.”
Joch-e-bed (Moses’ mother) would take all ordinary precaution; but she would never give way to excessive fear. Sometimes when her heart grew sick she would betake herself to her knees, and plead the Divine promise on which she had been caused to hope.
And there was a confidence nurtured by the Spirit of God, and by the loveliness of her child, who was “goodly” (Exodus 2:2), “proper” (Hebrews 11:23), and “exceeding fair” (Acts 7:20), that in some way her son should share in that Exodus.
The whole family, as well as the Hebrew nation, lived on that woman's faith, as men live on bread; in fact the hope of all Israel rested in her faith. And God’s angels bent over the babe, shielding it with their tenderest care, and whispering their love-words into its ear.
Finally, the mother was led by the good Spirit of God to weave the papyrus rushes into a little ark, or boat, coating it with bitumen, to make it impervious to wet. There she put the child with many a kiss, closed the lid upon its sweet face, with her own hands bore it to the water's edge, and placed it tenderly among the flags that grew there. But all the while she never lost her simple, steadfast faith.
Miriam was set to watch, not with any thought of harm that would ensue, whether from unfriendly hand, or from beast of prey, but simply to see “what would be done to him;” and Jochebed went back to her house, fighting a mother's natural anxiety by a faith which had enclasped the very arm of the living God, who could not fail her, though the heavens should fall, or the pyramids be hurled into the broad bosom of the Nile.
That is faith. Can we wonder at the faith of the man who was born of such a mother, and nurtured in such a home? Joch-e-bed had done her best, now God would do His best. And she was to rejoice when Miriam came home with the news of what had happened.
4. MOSES; SON OF PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER:
Exodus 2:5. “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
6. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept (These tears were the jewels that were to ransom the Hebrew Nation). And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
7. Then said his sister (Miriam) to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
8. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.
9. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
10. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.”
God sent a princess to claim the child. The sudden interposition of Miriam, who had eagerly and breathlessly watched the whole scene, with her naive suggestion of fetching a Hebrew nurse, solved the problem of what should be done with the babe almost as soon as it could have suggested itself. Quickly Moses’ mother stood before the princess, and received the precious burden from her hands.
What an ecstasy of joy would pour out of the heart of that mother when the door was closed on the little group? Moses’ life was secure beneath the powerful protection of Pharaoh's own daughter, who had said, “Nurse it for me.” And the wages which she had promised would do more than provide for all their need. God had done “exceedingly abundantly.”
How long the boy stayed in that lowly home we do not know - perhaps till he was four or five years old: but long enough, in any case, to know something of the perils and hardships of his people's lot; to learn those sacred traditions of their past, which he was afterwards to weave with such majestic simplicity into the Book of Genesis; and to receive into his heart the love of the only God, which was to become the absorbing passion and guiding-light of his life.
5. MOSES MADE HIS CHOICE:
With nothing to gain and all to lose, after thoughtful examination, Moses descended from the footsteps of the loftiest throne in the world of his day.
Hebrews 11:24. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;”
At last the time arrived when the Princes claimed for her own the child whom she had rescued. But, amid all, faith rose preeminent in Joch-e-bed, and she believed that He who had delivered the child from the perils of the Nile, would keep him pure amid the evils and fascinations of the Court.
The cream of all Egypt was poured into the cup of Moses. He was brought up in the palace, and treated as the grandson of Pharaoh. If he rode forth into the streets, it would be in a princely equipage, amid the cries of “Bow the knee.” If he floated on the Nile, it would be in a golden barge, amid the strains of voluptuous music. If he wished for aught, the almost measureless wealth of the treasures of Egypt was within his reach.
When old enough he was probably sent to be educated in the college called “the Oxford of Ancient Egypt.” There, also, he would acquire a taste for music; so that in after days he could sing glad and triumphant songs of victory, and compose odes which embalmed the history of God’s dealings with his people.
But Moses was something more than a royal student, spending his years in cultured refinement and lettered ease. He was a statesman and a soldier. Stephen tells us that he was “mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22): - mighty in words, there is the statesman; - mighty in deeds, there the soldier.
But, beneath all, another thought was always present with him, and gradually dwarfed all others as it grew within his soul. He could not forget that his parents were slaves; that the bondmen who were groaning in the brickfields beneath the lash of the task-masters were his brethren. He never lost the thought of that God to whom his mother had taught him to pray: and in his gayest, most successful moments, when sipping the intoxicating cup of earthly success, he could not rid
himself of the impression that his destiny did not lie amid such surroundings as those, but was in some way to be associated with the fulfillment of that promise which he had heard so often from his mother's lips.
6. DELIVERANCE BY MAIN FORCE:
God dares not entrust his power to men, till they are humbled and emptied, and conscious of their helplessness.
Acts 7:24. “And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
24. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
Moses, by his own human strength, attempted deliverance of Israel. He would make that nation of oppressors reel before his blows, and of course he would be hailed by his brethren as their God-sent deliverer.
It was a rude surprise when he essayed to adjust a difference between two Hebrews, to find himself repulsed from them by the challenge, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” He had never expected a rebuff from that quarter. “For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God, by his hand, would deliver them: but they understood not” Acts 7:25.
It was a chivalrous act, well meant, and at least significant of the strength of the emotions pent up within him; but, after all, the mere impulse of pity would never have been strong enough to bear him through the weary years of the desert march. Beneath the repeated provocations of the people it would have given way. He could never have carried them as a nursing-father, or asked that he might be blotted out of the book of life for them, or pleaded with them for God and God for them.
God’s time for the deliverance of His people was not due for forty years. Moses’ own education was very incomplete; it would take at least forty years to drain him of his self-will and self-reliance, and make him a vessel meet for the Master's use.
The Hebrew people had not as yet come to the pitch of anguish, which is so touchingly referred to, when the death of their principal oppressor seems to have brought matters to a crisis, and they forsook the false gods to which they had given their allegiance in order to return to the God of their fathers (Exodus 2:23).
Is there not a lesson here for many of God’s workers? They have not learned to distinguish between passion and principle, between impulse and a settled purpose. It is better far to sacrifice the mere natural impulse for the strong sense of what is right, and what God requires.
7. THE FLIGHT TO THE DESERT:
We rush forward, thinking to carry all before us; we strike a few blows in vain; we are staggered with disappointment, and reel back; we are afraid at the first breath of human criticism; we flee from the scenes of our failures to hide ourselves in chagrin.
Acts 7:29. “Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.”
The news of Moses first attempt to help his brethren came to the ears of Pharaoh, and he sought to slay Moses. But Moses feared, and fled from the face of Pharaoh. Forty years later, under similar circumstances, it is said, “He forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king” (Hebrews 11:27). And when we ask the reason of his fearlessness, we learn that it was by faith he did so; for “he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.”
But if such were the case afterwards, why was it not so at the time with which we are dealing? Why did he not exercise faith in the invisible God? Why did not his heart beat with even throb in the one crisis as in the other?
The reason is obvious. Moses was out of touch with God. Faith is only possible when we are on God’s plan, and stand on God’s promise. It is useless to pray for increased faith until we have fulfilled the conditions of faith. It is equally useless to spend time in regrets and tears over the failures which are due to our unbelief.
After wandering through some of the most inhospitable country on earth Moses came and sat down upon a well where he helped some the daughter’s of the Priest of Midian water their flock. This opened the door to the chieftain's tent; ultimately to marriage with one of those same shepherdesses; and finally to the quiet life of a shepherd in the calm open spaces of that wonderful land, which, on more than one occasion, has served for a Divine training school.
It may seem long to wait, and the oft-expected day so slow in coming, that the heart sinks down, oppressed with the crowd of common days, and relinquishes hope; but your opportunity will come at last. Be always ready!
8. MOSES WAS CONTENT:
Things were as they had been for forty years, and as they threatened to be, long after Moses had sunk into an obscure and forgotten grave.
Exodus 2:21. “And Moses was content to dwell with the man:”
Exodus 3:1. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.”
Moses, for 14,600 days and nights, lived amid the peaceful quiet, the meditative leisure, the hiding from the strife of Egypt, the simple piety of the homestead where the priest of Midian ministered, and Zipporah, his wife, welcomed him with his boys, as he brought the flock home to its fold. The scripture tells us that “Moses was content” in this setting among the desolation of the wilderness.
Here was a man who, forty years before, was the heir of the throne of Egypt and could have become the richest man on earth. Now we find him watching over someone else’s sheep and seemingly having nothing but a tent to dwell in.
Here was one of the most learned men in the world (Acts 7:22) content to live out his life in solitude amid the other nomads in the land of Midian. Just think for a moment what the world would have missed if Moses had lived out his life and died in this land.
Only God knew that shut up inside this “content” man was the first five books of our Bible. This “content” man would give to the world the great set of laws which would become the basics for the laws of all civilized people. The writings of this “content” man, Moses, would become the most widely read works of all human authors.
After forty years in solitude, gazing at the stars at night, looking for grass and water in the daytime, we could wonder if the events occurring in far-off Egypt, and the memories of his mother’s teachings, had receded into the recesses of his mind. Moses was now eighty years old and had, no doubt, given up all hope of being the deliverer of his people he had thought he was destined to be.
Sometimes we open the door to a flood of sunshine, sometimes to a sky laden with black, dull clouds; now a funeral, and then a marriage; hours in which it is luxury to live, and others which pass with leaden-footed pace; but nothing can part us from our Divine Companion.
9. A MEMORABLE DAY: A REMARKABLE ANNOUNCEMENT:
There are days in all lives which come unannounced, unheralded; no angel faces look out of Heaven; no angel voices put us on our guard: but as we look back on them in after years, we realize that they were the turning points of our existence.
Exodus 3:2. “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 burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4. 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.
Quite ordinary was that morning as it dawned. The sun rose as usual in a dull haze over the expanse of sand, or above the gaunt forms of the mountains. The sheep browsed as usual on the scant herbage, or lay panting beneath the shadow of a great rock; but there was nothing in their behavior to excite the thought that God was nigh.
Then, all of suddenly, a common bush began to burn with the flames of Deity; and from its heart of fire the voice of God broke the silence of the ages in words that fell on the shepherd's ear like a double-knock: “Moses, Moses.” The voice of God had not been heard for several centuries. And from that moment all his life was altered. It is one of the most memorable scenes in history.
Out of the bush came the voice of God, blending past, present, and future, in one marvelous sentence:-- the past, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;”-- the present, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them;”- the future, “Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh” (Exodus 3:6-10).
If that summons were to come to-day, too many of us would have to ask for a moment's respite while we went to finish some neglected duty. Oh for the free, untrammeled, unengaged spirit, to be ready to go at any moment whithersoever the Lord may appoint. What rapture to be able to answer his appeal with, “Here am I.”
10. STANDING ON HOLY GROUND:
We have the assurance that God will go with us through all difficulties.
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?
12. And he said, Certainly I will be with thee;”
In the first rush of youthful enthusiasm Moses had been impetuous enough to attempt the emancipation of his people by the blows of his right hand. But now that God proposes to send him to lead an Exodus, he starts back in dismay almost petrified at the proposal. But how true this is to nature! There was something more than humility here; there was a tone of self-depreciation which was inconsistent with a true faith in God’s selection and appointment.
Surely it is God’s business to choose his special instruments; and when we are persuaded that we are in the line of his purpose, we have no right to question the wisdom of his appointment. To do so is to depreciate his wisdom, or to doubt his power and willingness to become the complement of our need. “And God said, Certainly, I will be with thee.”
What an assurance was here! And yet something of this kind is said to each of us when we are called to undertake any new charge. We have been called into the fellowship of the Son of God. “He died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” He is with us all the days, even unto the end of the age. He will never leave us, neither forsake us. “Fear not,” He seems to say; “I am with thee: I who change not, and without whom no sparrow falls to the ground. All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth.
Not an hour without my companionship; not a difficulty without my co-operation; not a Red Sea without my right arm; not a mile of wilderness journeying without the Angel of my Presence.”
That voice still speaks to those whose hearts are hushed to hear. By written letter or printed page, by the beauty of a holy life, the spell of some precious memory, or the voice of some living teacher, the God of past generations still makes known His will to the anointed ear.
Nor will our lives ever be what they might until we realize that God has a plan for every hour in them; and that He waits to reveal that plan to the loving and obedient heart, making it known to us by one of the ten thousand ministries that lie around us.
11. RETURNING TO EGYPY:
Moses left on the same path which he had come forty years before.
Exodus 4:19. “And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
20. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.”
The fire faded from the bush; the light above the brightness of the sun died away; the voice was still; and Moses looked around on the browsing sheep and the mighty mountains with the strange wonder of a man awaking from a trance.
It had been the supreme hour of his life; for which all previous years had been preparing, and from which all future ones would date. What an important conversation this had been.
So often do we shrink back from the sacrifice or obligation to which God calls us that we think we are going to our doom. We seek every reason for evading the Divine will, little realizing that He is forcing us out from our quiet homes into a career which includes, among other things, the song of victory on the banks of the Red Sea; the two lonely sojourns for forty days in converse with God; the shining face; the vision of glory; the burial by the hand of Michael; and the supreme honor of standing beside the Lord on the Transfiguration Mount.
Imagine, then, that setting-forth. Zipporah sitting on the ass, perhaps nursing a little babe, new-born, whilst the husband and father walked beside. And in his hand was the sacred rod, once only a shepherd's crook, but now the rod of God destined to be employed for deeds of transcendent power, and always reminding him of what weak things could do when wielded by strong hands behind them.
He knew that the same power which brought him forward was bringing towards him the brother whom he had not seen for forty years. How the hearts of the two throbbed at the thought of meeting! How eagerly would each press forward! How earnestly would each scan the distant figure of the other in the long vista!
And, finally, GOD so contrived it that they met in the Mount of GOD, where the bush had burned, and the voice of GOD had summoned Moses from shepherding a flock to become shepherd of a host. That’s God’s GPS that they would meet there without any prior contact with each other.
12. AUDIENCE WITH THE ELDERS & AUDIENCE WITH PHARAOH:
We have here the story of glad tidings and also of failure and disappointment.
Exodus 4:22. “And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Exodus 5:2. “And Pharaoh said, 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.”
Moses and Aaron reached Egypt; and in answer of the Divine command proceeded to summon the elders of Israel to a conference, at which they should present their credentials, and give utterance to the Divine Message with which they were entrusted. It must have been a very remarkable meeting, perhaps the first of the sort ever held.
Never before had this downtrodden nation produced men daring enough to take such a step, the first, indeed, towards national sovereignty. Their reaction to the news, “then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” This is the first time in 400 years we read of this.
The next point for the brothers was to go to Pharaoh, with the demand that he should let the people go to hold a feast in the wilderness. This was according to the Divine direction (Exodus 3:18); and was moreover a reasonable request. It was probably in an audience-room of some splendid palace, where the lordly Pharaoh received deputations and embassies, that they met him.
In order to appreciate the audacity of the demand, we must remember the unbridled power and authority which were claimed by the Egyptian monarchs. Without Pharaoh could no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. For him great Egypt existed. For him all other men lived, suffered, and died. From his superb throne he looked down on the wretched crowds of subject peoples, careless of their miseries. What were their tears and groans, and the wail of their bondage, but a fitting sacrifice to be offered to his exalted majesty!
“Who is the Lord (Jehovah), that I should obey his voice, to let Israel go? I know not the Lord (Jehovah), neither will I let Israel go.” The point of the reply lies in that word “obey.” He saw that these men did not present him with a request, but with a mandate from One of greater authority than himself. This stung him to the quick. Did not they know that he also was a god.
13. FAILURE AND DISAPPOINTMENT:
That same day a new order was issued from the palace, emanating from Pharaoh himself, to the taskmasters of the people. Many times our best efforts fail.
Exodus 5:4. “And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
9. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.”
Probably, before the evening fell, the ominous word had passed from the head-men to the task masters who were set over their fellow Hebrews, and were, therefore, responsible for the daily delivery of a certain tale of bricks, that they must expect no more straw, though the daily returns must be maintained. “Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw; go ye, get you straw where ye can find it. Yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.” Thus a great hardship came upon them.
Finally, they could stand it no longer, and resolved to make an appeal directly to Pharaoh. “The officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh.” It was a bitter day for Moses and Aaron when the people took the matter into their own hands, and, without using them as intermediaries, and went directly to the king to get him to put them back to the point at which they stood before that well-meant, but disastrous interference.
Moses and Aaron waited outside the palace to learn the result of the interview. It happened just as it might have been expected; the king would not listen to the appeal made to him. “He said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the Lord. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given to you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of brick.”
They came forth from Pharaoh and as Moses and Aaron stood there they poured out on them the bitterness of their spirit. What must it not have been for them to hear from those lips the bitterest reproaches they could frame, cutting them as knives, although they would have gladly given their lives to alleviate the circumstances out of which they sprang?
“The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword into their hand to slay us.”
14. THE SOURCE OF HELP AND RELIEF IN TIME OF NEED FOR A BEWILDERED SOUL:
We must never suppose that the difficulties which confront us indicate that we are not on God’s path, and doing his work.
Exodus 5:22. “And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
23. For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”
“And Moses returned unto the Lord.” There is no other help for us when we are passing through such stern discipline; and the man who cannot flee thither in similar straits is pitiable indeed. When we see our hopes blasted, our plans miscarry, our efforts doing more harm than good, whilst we are discredited and blamed, pursued with the taunts and hate of those for whom we were willing to lay down our lives, we may preserve an outward calm; but there will be a heart-break underneath, and the noblest part in us will wither, as corn blasted by an east wind, unless we are able to pour out our whole complaint before God. The agony of soul through which Moses passed must have been as death to him.
As he lay there on the ground alone before GOD, wishing himself back in Midian, and thinking himself hardly used, he was falling as a corn of wheat into the ground to die, no longer to abide alone, but to bear much fruit. But dying is not pleasant work! It is not easy, nor pleasant, to forego one's own plans, to cease from one's own works, to renounce one's own reputation, to be despised and flouted by the very ones you would save.
It is a lesson for us all. God must bring us down before He can raise us up. Emptying must precede filling. We must get to an end of ourselves before He can begin in us. But what a beginning He makes! “Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now thou shalt see what I will do to Pharaoh, for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land” (Exodus 6:1).
Deliverance was sure, though he had learned that it did not depend on anything that he could do, but on that all-sufficient GOD, who had announced Himself as the I AM. All of this would be forgotten when standing on the other side of the Red Sea.
15. GOD’S CONDESCENSION TO A WEAK FAITH:
Well for man could he breathe continually the higher, rarer, atmosphere of faith. But, if he cannot, yet has God-ward aspirations and desires, so that he takes his distrust and his despondency to God, as Moses did, God will in no wise cast him out.
Exodus 6:1. “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
2. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
3. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
As the Lord Jesus condescended to Thomas, and bade him “reach hither his finger and behold his hands, and reach hither his hand and thrust it into his side,” so that he might be no longer “faithless, but believing” (John 20:27), so Jehovah now declared to Moses that, if he could not walk by faith, sight should be vouchsafed to him. “Now shalt thou see,” etc.
Human infirmity is so great, man’s faith is so weak, the best are so liable to accesses of distrust and despondency, that, if God were extreme to mark what is in this way done amiss, few indeed would be those who could “abide it.” Therefore, in his mercy, he condescends. He will not “break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.” He will accept the imperfect service that is still service, and allow his servant to work in a lower sphere.
Henceforth the faith of Moses was not much tried; he had soon sight to walk by. When once the series of plagues began, he could no longer ask, “Why is it that thou hast sent me?” He could see that the end was being advanced — the deliverance being extorted from the king — and that the day of final triumph was fast coming.
The protestation of Moses did not offend God. God gave him, in reply to it, a most gracious series of promises and assurances, well calculated to calm his fears, assuage his grief’s, and comfort his heart; and he confirmed the whole to him by his name JEHOVAH, “the Only Existent,” and therefore “the Eternal and Immutable.”
This name he had previously revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai, as his peculiar name, and the one by which he would choose to be called (Exodus 3:13-15). He had also told him to proclaim this name to the people. This command is now repeated (Exodus 6:6) very solemnly; and with it are coupled the promises above alluded to.
16. GOD GIVES HIS PROMISES THROUGH A SERIES OF “I WILL”:
In time of depression of the discouraged servant of God is always a time of promise.
Exodus 6:6. “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
7. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
8. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.
In despair Moses had thrown himself on GOD, pouring out the story of his failure and shame. “Wherefore hast Thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that Thou hast sent me?” But there was no chiding, no rebuke, on the part, of his strong and faithful Friend, who knew his frame, and remembered that he was but dust. “Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh.”
The emphasis lies on the words, “Then,” –“Now,” – “I.”
“Then,” when he had reached the, lowest point of self-confidence.
“Now,” since all human effort has been put forth in vain.
“I,” the self-existent, ever-glorious Lord.
Does any soul cursed with the tyranny of a bondage beneath which all its energies are pressed to the dust peruse these lines? Let such an one lay to heart the repeated “I will” of this marvelous necklace of promises, which are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus, applicable to all circumstances, parallel with all ages, unchangeable and eternal as the nature of the Lord who gave them.
“I will bring you out . ,”
“I will rid you out of . . ,”
“I will redeem you .,”
“I will take you to Me . .,”
“I will be to you a God . .,”
“I will bring you into the land.” –
“I will give it you . . . ";
And notice that this cluster of I wills is contained within two brackets, that pledge the very nature of God itself to their accomplishment, “I am the Lord (v. 6)” “I am the Lord” (v. 8).
In the Exodus mankind would see the awesome power of God hitherto not seen or experienced before. God would be seen in a miraculous way never before demonstrated.
17. GOD TAKES TO HIMSELF A NEW NAME:
Exodus 6:2. “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
3. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
“JEHOVAH” in contrast with “EL-SHADDAI.” El-Shaddai means, as translated, “God Almighty.” It denotes in God the simple attribute of power — All-Mightiness — power exerted chiefly in the region of the natural life.
Jehovah, on the other hand, has a deeper and wider, an infinitely fuller and richer meaning. It denotes God as possessed of the perfections of the Absolute and changeless because He is self-existent and eternal. God’s eternally what he is (Exodus 3:14) — the Being who is and remains one with himself in all he thinks, purposes, and does.
This implies, together with immutability, the attribute of self-determining freedom, and that of unlimited rule (dominion, sovereignty) in the worlds of matter and mind, which is of the essence of the conception of the Absolute.
Hence such passages as these: — “I am the Lord (Jehovah), I change not” (Malachi 3:6); “Whatsoever the Lord (Jehovah) pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:6); “The Lord (Jehovah), he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:39).
This self-existent, eternal Being is seen entering into history, and revealing himself as the God of compassionating love. Grace and mercy are felt to be no longer foreign to the meaning of the name, but to be as much a part of it as changelessness and freedom.
This, accordingly, was what the name told to Israel; not simply that there was an Almighty, or even that he who had entered into covenant with the Fathers, and was now about to undertake their deliverance, was this Almighty God;
But rather, that it was in the work of their salvation that his perfections as Almighty were to be surprisingly and surpassingly exhibited.
18. A RICH PROMISE:
The manifestation of the Jehovah attributes in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt has its higher counterpart in the redemption of men from sin and Satan through Christ.
Exodus 6:7. “And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, ..”
These covenant promises are as rich as they are wonderful, and as wonderful as it is rich — “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God.” It includes —
(1.) The highest honor: Who speaks? The absolute God. To whom? A nation of bondsmen. Yet he says — “I will take you,” etc. And he did it, even as he still takes sinners in Christ into union and fellowship with himself — adopting them as sons, admitting them into a covenant, making them heirs, etc.
(2.) The highest privilege: All promise and all blessing, for time and for eternity, are wrapped up in this single but most comprehensive word — “I will be to you a God.”
(3.) The most indissoluble of relations: It lasts through time, and extends into eternity, enduring as long as God and the soul and Christ endure, and that is for ever (Matthew 22:31, 32).
With Christians, too, God enters into covenant at their baptism, promising them protection, spiritual aid, and eternal life in heaven, on their maintaining faith and repentance. This covenant, like his others, he will assuredly keep. Let them be but true to him, and they need have no fear but that he will be true to them. The Promised Land will be theirs, he will give it to them for a heritage he is Jehovah!
How wonderful to contemplate God in the majesty of his perfections as the Great I Am — the absolute and unconditioned Being! But what language will express the condescension and grace displayed in the stooping down of this absolute Being to enter into covenant engagements with man, even to the extent of binding himself with oaths to fulfill the promises given by his own free goodness.
Christ redeems us from sin’s burden and from Satan’s tyranny. He does this in virtue of the “stretched out arm” and “mighty judgments” with which, while on earth, he overcame the Prince of the power of this world; himself also enduring the judgment of God in being “made sin for us,” “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
19. MOSES IS ENCOURAGED TO GO TO PHARAOH AGAIN:
Here we find God’s unshaken purpose asserting itself in the midst of human unbelief and infirmity:
Exodus 6:10. “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
11. Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.”
This is a most remarkable feature in the narrative — how, high and clear above all notes of doubt and hesitancy on the side of man, and at the very time when things are wearing their most untoward aspect, God expresses himself with perfect decision as to the deliverance of the people. Hope in the hearts of the people seemed extinct; even the faith of a Moses was staggering at the obstacles to be encountered.
These fears and trembling, however, are all on the human side; he who names himself Jehovah is raised infinitely above them, and has clearly in his view not only the certainty of his purpose being fulfilled, but all the steps by which the fulfillment is to be brought about.
How this should give us confidence when we are trembling for the cause of Truth! We cannot see the end from the beginning, but Jehovah can, and we can anchor ourselves on his knowledge of what is dark to us. It is enough for us to know that no contingency can arise which he is not aware of, and has not prepared himself to cope with; that no opposition can erect itself against his counsel, which it is not within his power to overthrow.
The counsel of the Lord stands for ever. It is the one stable fact in the midst of earthly unpredictable conditions and change, of all ebb and flow of human hopes and fears. That surely is enough to lean upon, in the dark and troubled hours of our own and of the world’s existence.
On the one hand Pharaoh’s heart is to be revealed, bringing out all his resources again and again, until at last they are swallowed in the catastrophe of the Red Sea. Then, he is done with, but the operations of Divine power are only as it were beginning.
It is a great matter that we should thus see the powers arrayed against God, working at the utmost of their strength; that we may feel how immeasurably the power of God transcends them.
20. HOW THE CHARACTER OF MOSES GREW:
It is hardly possible to over-estimate the value of simple, unquestioning obedience in the growth of character.
Hebrews 3:2. “Moses was faithful in all his house.”
If we were engaged in telling the story of the Exodus, it would be appropriate for us to study minutely the account of the succeeding plagues. But it is on Moses that our attention must be focused; and, indeed, it is marvelous to trace the growth of this man, in perhaps a few months, from the diffidence and hesitancy of Midian to the moral sublimity which made him “very great in the land of Egypt,” in the sight of the great officials of the court, no less than of the mass of the common people.
We shall discover that the secrets of his growth consist in an instant and unquestioning obedience, an utter indifference to human opinion, strength of purpose, unfailing patience, indomitable courage, persevering faith and prayer.
Though he had been at least seven times in the royal presence, and each time the bearer of heavy tidings, increasingly abhorred by Pharaoh and his court, and though so far his appearances there had been unsuccessful in securing the great object which God had set before him, yet there was no hesitancy or questioning, when for the eighth time the Lord bade him present himself in the palace to demand the emancipation of the people on pain of a locust on the land.
And, surely, it must have been a much greater effort for Moses to be the medium of such judgments, and the object of so much bitter hatred, than for many. He was naturally gentle, tender, and very meek always ready to pray for the cessation of a plague, and never for its advent; yearning sympathetically over sister and brother, though they had grievously injured him; willing to be accursed if the people might be spared.
Unannounced, the darkness fell like a pall upon the land, “even darkness that could be felt.” “They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days” (Exodus 10:23).
Then, again, we see the proud spirit of the king “Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.” Moses made answer with calm dignity, as became the emissary of God. “And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well; I will see thy face again no more” Exodus 10:28-29.
21. PREPARING FOR THE EXODUS:
The faith of Moses had kindled faith in three millions of people.
Exodus 12:41. “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years--on that very same day--it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
42. It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.”
We have had indications that through the faith of this man, Moses, which was growing exceedingly, blessing would accrue to the chosen people. The children of Israel were exempted from the terrible inflictions by which Egypt was desolated.
Moses claimed that GOD should do as He had said. And according to his faith it befell. No murrain swept off their beasts. No boils broke out on their persons. No tempest swept their fields. No locusts destroyed their crops. No darkness obscured to them the sun.
Thus, while the minds of their oppressors were engrossed with their own special sufferings, the Hebrews were at peace; and when the Egyptians were prevented by the darkness from moving, the oppressed population of Goshen had ample time to prepare for that Exodus which Moses at least knew was so near.
And when all the provisions had been thus solemnly recited, there followed the words of promise, on which thenceforward Moses reposed his faith; “I will pass through the land of Egypt, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; . . . and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12, 13).
As we study that strange and marvelous episode, we must never forget the light thrown on it by the memorable verse which tells us that “by faith Moses kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood; lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them” (Hebrews 11:28).
The importance of this verse lies in the fact that it attributes the keeping of the Passover, the sprinkling of blood on the lintels of the Hebrew houses, and the immunity of the Hebrew people, to the effect of the heroic faith which burnt so steadily in the soul of this simple-hearted man; the entirety of whose obedience was only equaled by the absoluteness of the unquestioning faith, which dared to take God at his word.
22. GOD BROUGHT THEM OUT WITH A MIGHTY HAND:
Who can depict that night, ever memorable in the history of our race when, indeed, as Bunsen says, history itself was born the night when God brought Israel out of the house of bondage!
Exodus 12:30. “So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
It was the early spring, and a time of the full silver moon, which shed her soft light in cascades of beauty on the land that lay beneath her; from where, on the Western frontier, the Nile rolled its majestic volumes, to the waters of the Red Sea on the far Eastern border. All was still with an almost preternatural silence; broken only by the hoot of the owl, the scream of the bittern, the plunge of the monster in the water, or the cry of the jackal on the plains.
But suddenly the stillness was interrupted by a scream of anguish, as a mother rushed out into the night to tell that the Angel of Death had begun his work, and she was presently answered by the wail of another mother in agony for her first-born; and this by another, and yet another.
It was useless to summon priest or physician, magician or courtier; how could they help others who had not been able to ward off death from their own? The maid grinding at the mill and her lady sleeping under curtains of silk were involved in a common sorrow, which obliterated all social distinctions, and made all one.
There was not a house where there was not one dead even Pharaoh's palace was not exempt. The news spread like wildfire that the heir to the throne was dead. “And there was a great cry in Egypt.”
“Then Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people” (Exodus 12:30-31).
And so the host stepped forth into freedom. For the first time the Israelites realized that they were a nation, and drank the earliest rich deep draught of liberty. A mere horde of slaves, they suddenly crystallized into a people. The spirit of their leader (Moses) inspired and thrilled them.
This is for us. We, too, may overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony. By faith we, too, may obtain promises and stop the mouths of lions, and quench the violence of fire. Only claim thy freedom.
23. SATAN WILL PURSUE THOSE WHO ESCAPE FROM HIS GRASP:
God will never allow Satan to overtake those who put their trust in Him.
Exodus 14:13. “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.”
It was not long after the hour of midnight before the entire Israelite host was on the move; and as the morning illuminated the cloud with its flush, it beheld them marching, the men several abreast, whilst wives and children and baggage and cattle followed.
From different points the vast host which, judging by the fact that the number of the men amounted to six hundred thousand, could not have been less than two and a half millions moved towards the central meeting-place at Succoth.
No sooner had Israel gone than Pharaoh was sorry. The public works stood still for lack of labor. Vast territories were suddenly unoccupied. The labor of this enslaved people was missed on every side, in city and field. There was a sudden loss of revenue and service which he could ill dispense with. And his pride forbade that he should quietly give in to their unhindered Exodus.
Besides, in their mad haste to be rid of this people, the Egyptians had laden them with jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment (Exodus 11:2-3); so much so that it is distinctly said, “they spoiled the Egyptians.” It is clear from the contributions afterwards made to the building of the Tabernacle that Israel carried off a large amount of treasure and valuables.
“And the heart of Pharaoh, and of his servants, was turned against the people; and they said, why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” “So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them.” “And the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh . . . and overtook them” (Exodus 14:9).
In like manner the Devil rises up when a soul is delivered out from his kingdom. He will pursue with all his might and forces to try to reclaim them. But take refuge in the power and might of the Almighty, He will deliver those who call upon him. Moses’ words of confidence still ring true, “Stand still, and see the salvation (power of deliverance) of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13).
24. THE SONG OF VICTORY:
While following God’s cloud may bring any of his children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
Exodus 15:21. “And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
From his throne on high their Almighty Deliverer looked down upon the cowering crowd of fugitives in their sore fear as they cried to Him. “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them” (Isaiah 63:9) throughout that memorable night and day. As Moses foretold, “He fought for them, while they held their peace.”
The one man who seemed unmoved amid the panic of the people was their heroic leader Moses, whose faith was the organ of their deliverance. And therefore it is that in all after-allusions to this great event his hand is always referred to as the instrument through which the might of the Lord wrought. “Thou leddest,” says the Psalmist, “thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20). “He led them,” says Isaiah, “with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?” (Isaiah 63:12). The people, therefore, had good reason to remember the ancient days of Moses; for they were made famous by Moses mighty faith. By his faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.
The morning dawn revealed one of the most memorable spectacles of history. A nation of slaves, fleeing from their masters, had suddenly become a nation of freemen, and stood emancipated upon the shores of a new continent. The cavalry of Egypt was overwhelmed in the midst of the sea, there remained not so much as one of them left; and all along the shore lay the bodies of the dead, cast up from the depths of the tide.
And from that ransomed host, congregated there in one vast throng, broke forth an anthem, whose sublime conceptions of language rendered it worthy of the occasion, as it has been the model for triumphal songs in all subsequent times.
25. AT THE FOOT OF SINAI:
The encampment of the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai is one of the greatest and most wonderful events in the history of the world.
Exodus 19:18. “And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.”
After a march of several miles from the Red Sea, they came out on a perfectly level plain of yellow sand, some three miles long, and a mile wide, nearly flat, and dotted over with tamarisk bushes. The mountains which gather around this plain have for the most part sloping sides, and form a kind of natural amphitheatre; but towards the south there is one pile of jagged cliffs which rises sheer upwards to a wild precipice, whilst behind lies the granite mass of Gebel Mousa, deeply cleft with fissures, and torn, as though it had fought a hard battle with earthquake, storm, and fire.
This pile of rocks is called Ras Sufsafeh, and was probably “the mountain that burned with fire.” It rises from the plain below as a huge altar; all that happened on its summit would have been easily visible to the furthest limits of the camp of two million souls pitched beneath. Such was the chosen scene for the giving of the Law.
At the foot of Sinai the children encamped for a year. It was here that this group of former slaves was solidified into a nation which is still in existence. There they celebrated the Passover. There upon this mountain God descended and gave them the laws which they were to keep throughout all their generations. God also wrote with His finger the Ten Commandments.
God welded the Hebrew people together into one that they might be able to receive and retain as a part of their national life those great truths with which they were to be entrusted. It would become their duty to pass these truths along to all people.
Every ordinance of the Law, every custom and provision for domestic and civil life, every item in the construction of the sanctuary and in the ordering of the priests, was due to the direct will of God, spoken from his mouth. “God,” and not Moses, was the author of each proviso, the real Legislator, the real Law-giver, the real King; Moses was but the mouthpiece, an intermediary to communicate God’s decrees to his people.
How clear was the testimony to the supremacy of the Most High! Such were some of the lessons taught at Sinai.
26. HOW IT WENT AMISS WITH MOSES:
There are experiences with us all in which God forgives our sin, but we still pay the consequences. We reap as we have sown. We suffer where we have sinned.
Numbers 20:10. “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11. And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
It was but one act, one little act; but it blighted the fair flower of a noble life, and shut the one soul, whose faith had sustained the responsibilities of the Exodus with unflinching fortitude, from the reward which seemed so nearly within its grasp.
The wanderings of the forty years were almost over. The congregation which had been scattered over the peninsula had converged towards the given meeting-place in Kadesh. There the encampment remained for some months; and there Miriam died one of the few with whom that lonely spirit could still hold converse of that life which lay beyond the desert sands, the valleys of Sinai, and the waters of the Red Sea, in the distant mighty land of the Pharaohs and the Pyramids.
Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua (and perhaps the Levites), were the only relics and survivors of that vast triumphant host, whose voices had rung out their challenge on the morning of emancipation; and each of the four thought himself sure, and his comrades also, of going over to “see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.” But this was not to be.
In quitter moments Moses would have acted differently, but just now he was irritated, indignant, and hot with disappointment and anger. When, therefore, the assembly was gathered together in their thronging multitudes around him, he accosted them as rebels. He spoke as if the gift of water depended on himself and Aaron.
He betrayed his sense of the irksomeness of their demand, and then vehemently smote the rock with his rod twice. And as those blows re-echoed through the still air, they shivered for ever the fabric woven by his dreams and hopes.
27. THE DEATH OF MOSES:
The death of Miriam, of Aaron and of Moses all occurred in the same year, as they stood on the threshold of the Land Of Promise.
Deuteronomy 34:5. “So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
6. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.”
The Bible is the book of life. Its pages teem with biography; they contain but scant memorials of death. The only death they describe at length is that of Him who in dying slew death. The very minuteness of the description here shows how unique and all-important it was. Men make more of death than of life as a gauge of character.
The records of Scripture find little room for dying testimonies, words, or experiences; whilst they abound in stories of the exploits and words of those who have stormed and suffered and wrought in life's arena. This may explain why, contrary to human custom and expectation, the death of the great Lawgiver is described with such brief simplicity.
After such a life it was meet that Moses should have a death and burial unparalleled in the story of mankind; and we do not wonder that poet, painter, and preacher, have found in that lonely death on Pisgah's summit a theme worthy of their noblest powers. As far as the east is from the west, so far had that transgression been removed.
But though the remission was complete, yet the result lingered in his life, and shut him out from an experience which should have been the crown of his career. Jude tells us (vs.9) that the devil showed up at Moses’ funeral contending to claim his body but Michael the great Arch Angel wrested it away from his grasp.
An ancient Hebrew legend says that when the time came, Moses turned to the Almighty (so the legend runs) and said, “Thou, Lord of the Universe, who wast revealed unto me in the burning bush, remember that Thou didst carry me up into thy Heaven, where I abode forty days and forty nights; have mercy upon me, and hand me not over into the power of the angel of death.” I’m sure that if the devil came to claim so great a person as Moses he will also show up at our funeral.
Moses’ prayer for the opportunity to go over “into the good land” was denied at that time, yet God remember this prayer and answered it 1500 years later as He brought Him, together with Elijah, onto the Mount Of Transfiguration with the Lord Himself. The writer says they “appeared in glory” (Luke 9:31).
I realize so great a life as Moses’ can only be touched in one or a thousand lessons, yet I hope something in this lesson will stir our hearts to know the true value of his accomplishments.
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By, James L. Thornton