Exodus 3



                        THE CALL AND MISSION OF MOSES


After forty years of monotonous pastoral life, affording abundant opportunity for

meditation, and for spiritual communion with God, and when he had attained to the

great age of eighty years, and the hot blood of youth had given place to the calm

serenity of advanced life, God at last revealed Himself to Moses “called him (v. 4),

and gave him a definite mission. The present chapter is intimately connected with

the next. Together, they contain an account of that extraordinary and indeed

miraculous interchange of thought .and speech between Moses and God Himself,

by which the son of Amram was induced to undertake the difficult and dangerous

task of freeing his people, delivering them from their bondage in Egypt, and

conducting them through the wilderness to that “land flowing with milk and

honey,” (v. 8) which had been promised to the seed of Abraham more than six

centuries previously (Genesis 15:18). Whatever hopes he had entertained of being

his people’s deliverer in youth and middle life, they had long been abandoned;

and, humanly speaking, nothing was more improbable than that the aged

shepherd, grown “slow of speech and of a slow tongue” (ch. 4:10) — his

manners rusticised — his practical faculties rusted by disuse — his physical

powers weakened — should come forth from a retirement of forty years’

duration to be a leader and king of men. Nothing less than direct supernatural

interposition could — one may well believe — have sufficed to overcome the

natural vis inertiae of Moses’ present character and position. Hence, after an

absolute cessation of miracle for more than four hundred years, miracle is once

more made use of by the Ruler of the Universe to work out His ends.. A

dignus vindice nodus has arisen; and the ordinary laws of that Nature which is

but one of his instruments are suspended by the Lord of All, He is El Shaddai

(see Genesis 17 – Names of God – El Shaddai by Nathan Stone – this web site)

who sees what mode of action the occasion requires, and acts accordingly.



                                    THE BURNING BUSH


vs. 1-2 –“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.  And the angel of the LORD (Literally, “an

angel of Jehovah.”  Taking the whole narrative altogether, we are justified in

concluding that the appearance was that of “the Angel of the Covenant” or

the Second Person of the Trinity Himself” but this is not stated nor implied

in the present verse) 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.”  All nations have seen in fire something emblematic of the

Divine nature.  Fire is in itself pure and purifying; in its effects mighty and terrible,

or life-giving, and comforting. Viewed as light — its ordinary though not universal

concomitant — it is bright, glorious, dazzling, illuminative, soul-cheering. God under

the Old Covenant revealed Himself in fire, not only upon this occasion, but at Sinai

(Exodus 19:18; 24:17), to Manoah (Judges 13:20), to Solomon (II Chronicles 7:1-3),

to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4-28), to Daniel (Daniel 7:9-10); under the New Covenant, He is

declared to be “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29), “the Light of the world”

(John 8:12), “the True Light” (John 1:9), “the Sun of Righteousness.” Of all

material things nothing is so suitable to represent God as this wonderful creation of His, so

bright, so pure, so terrible, so comforting.  To Moses, God reveals Himself not merely

in fire, but in a “burning bush.” In this respect the revelation is abnormal — nay, unique,

without a parallel. Surely this was done, not merely to rouse his curiosity, but

to teach him some lesson or other.  Moses would see that “the ways of God were not

as man’s ways;” (Isaiah 55:8) - that, instead of coming with as much, He came with

as little, display as possible; instead of showing all His glory and lighting up all Sinai

with unendurable radiance, He condescended to appear in a small circumscribed

flame, and to rest upon so mean, so poor, so despised an object as a thorn-bush.

God “chooseth the weak things of the world to confound the strong” -

(I Corinthians 1:27); anything is sufficient for His purpose. He creates worlds with

a word, destroys kingdoms with a breath, cures diseases with clay and spittle or the

hem of a garment, revolutionizes the earth by a group of fishermen. Secondly, he

would see the spirituality of God. Even when showing Himself in the form of fire,

He was not fire. Material fire would have burnt up the bush, have withered its fair

boughs and blasted its green leaves in a moment of time; this fire did not scathe a

single twig, did not injure even the most delicate just-opening bud. Thirdly, he might

be led on to recognize God’s tenderness. God’s mercy is “over all his works,”

(Psalm 145:9); He will not hurt one of them unnecessarily, or without an object. He

careth for cattle” (Jonah 4:11); clothes the lilies with glory (Matthew 6:28-30);

wilt not let a sparrow fall to the ground needlessly (ib. 10:29).  Lastly, he might learn

that the presence of God is “consuming” only of what is evil. Of all else it is

preservative. God was present with His people in Egypt, and His presence

preserved them in that furnace of affliction. God was present in each devout and

humble heart of his true followers, and His presence kept them from the fiery darts

of the Wicked One. God would be present through all time with His Church and with

His individual worshippers, not as a destroying, but as a sustaining, preserving,

glorifying influence. His spiritual fire would rest upon them, envelop them, encircle

them, yet would neither injure nor absorb their life, but support it, maintain it,

strengthen it.





v. 3 – “And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the

bush is not burnt.”  Moses saw a strange sight; one that he had never seen before;

one that struck him with astonishment. His natural impulse was to inquire into its

cause. God has implanted in us all this instinct, and we should do ill if we were to

combat it. Natural phenomena are within reason’s sphere; and Moses, who had never

yet seen a supernatural sight, could not but suppose, at first beholding it, that the

burning bush was a natural phenomenon. That he approached to examine is an

indication that he was a man of spirit and intelligence; not a coward who might have

feared some snare, not careless and unobservant, as too many country folk are. He drew

near to see more clearly, and to use his other senses in discovering what the “great thing”

was — acting like a sensible man and one who had had a good education.





vs. 4-6 – “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.  And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy

feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.  Moreover He said,

I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God

of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Suddenly

the steps of the Moses are arrested. Wonder upon wonder! Avoice calls to him out of

the bush, and calls him by his own name, “Moses, Moses!” Now must have dawned

on him the conviction that it was indeed a “great thing” which he was witnessing; that the

ordinary course of nature was broken in upon; that he was about to be the recipient

of one of those wonderful communications which God from time to time had

vouchsafed to His forefathers, as to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

Hence his submissive, child-like answer, “Here I am.” (Compare I Samuel 3:4-14).

Then came the solemn prohibition, “Draw not nigh hither.”  The awful greatness of

the Creator is such that His creatures, until invited to draw near, are bound to stand

aloof. Moses, not yet aware that God Himself spoke to him, was approaching the bush

too close, to examine and see what the “great thing” was (v. 3).   Put off thy shoes” –

Rather, “thy sandals.Shoes were not worn commonly, even by the Egyptians, until a late

period, and would certainly not be known in the land of Midian at this time. The

practice of putting them off before entering a temple, a palace, or even the private

apartments of a house, was, and is, universal in the East — the rationale of it being

that the shoes or sandals have dust or dirt attaching to them. The command given to

Moses at this time was repeated to Joshua (Joshua 5:15).  Man, until sanctified,

until brought into covenant, must not approach near to the dread presence of the

Supreme Being. At Sinai Moses was commanded to “set bounds” to keep the people

off, that no one might “go up into the mount, nor touch the border of it” (ch.19:12).

The men of Bethshemesh were smitten with death, to the number of 50,070, for

looking into the ark of the covenant (I Samuel 6:19). Uzzah was slain for putting forth

his hand to touch it, when he thought that there was danger of its falling (II Samuel 6:7).

God, under the Old Covenant, impressed on man in a multitude off ways His

unapproachableness. Hence all the arrangements of the Temple; the veil guarding the

sanctuary, into which only the high-priest could enter once in the year; the main temple

building, only to be entered by the priests; the courts of the Levites, of the Israelites,

and of the Gentiles, each more and more remote from the Divine Presence. Hence the

purifications of the priests and of the Levites before they could acceptably offer

sacrifice; hence the carrying of the Ark by means of staves forming no part of it; hence the

side-chambers of the Temple, emplaced on “rests” in the walls, “that the beams should

not be fastened in the walls of the house” (I Kings 6:6). It was so needful to

impress on men, apt to conceive of God as “such an one as themselves” (Psalm 50:21);

His awful majesty, purity, and holiness, that artificial barriers were everywhere created to

check man’s rash intrusion into a Presence for which he was unfit. Thus reverence

was taught, man was made to know and to feel his own unworthiness, and, little by little,

came to have some faint conception of the absolute perfectness and incomprehensible

greatness of the Supreme One.  Further, God being such as this, each place where He

makes Himself manifest, becomes at once holy ground. Though “heaven is His throne,

and earth His footstool,” and no “place” seems worthy of Him or can contain Him,

yet it pleases Him, in condescension to our infirmities and our finiteness, to choose

some spots rather than others where He will make himself known and make His

presence felt. And these at once are sacred. So was the mount to which Moses went

up; so was Shiloh; so was Araunah’s threshingfloor; so was Jerusalem. And so in our

own days are churches and the precincts of churches. God’s presence, manifested in

them, albeit spiritually and not materially, hallows them. And the reverent heart

feels this, and cannot but show its reverence by outward signs. In the East shoes were

put off. With us the head should be uncovered, the voice hushed, the eye cast down.

We should feel that “God is in the midst of us.” So felt Moses, when God had

proclaimed Himself (v. 6), and not only bared his feet as commanded, but shrouded

his face in his robe “for he was afraid to look upon God.” All his own sinfulness

and imperfection rushed to his thought, all his unworthiness to behold God and

 live. Jacob had once seen God “face to face,” and had marvelled that “his life was

preserved (Genesis 32:30). Moses shut out the awful Vision. So Elijah, on the

same site, when he heard the “still small voice”(I Kings 19:13); and so even the

seraphim who wast continually before God’s Throne in heaven (Isaiah 6:2).

Consciousness of imperfection forces the creature to stand abashed in the

 presence of the Creator.



                                    THE CALL OF MOSES


vs. 7-10 – “And the LORD said, 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 out of the hand

of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a

large, (the land included in the covenant which God made with Abraham [Genesis

15:18-21], and actually possessed by David and Solomon [I Kings 4:21], was a

good land and a large,” according even to modern notions, including, besides

Palestine the whole of Syria, and thus containing an area of from 50,000 to 60,000

square miles) unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the

Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the

Hivites, and the Jebusites.  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.  Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto

Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of

Egypt.”  With face covered, but with ears attent to hear, Moses stands before God

to learn His will. And God takes him, as it were, into counsel, not only calling him to a

certain work, but revealing to him why he is called, what exactly he is to do, and what will

be the issue of his enterprise.


  • WHY HE IS CALLED. He is called because the affliction of Israel

            their sufferings — from the constant toil, from the brutal taskmasters, from

            the cruel Pharaoh, from the apparent hopelessness of their position — had

            reached to such a point that God could allow it to go on no longer. There

            is a point at which He will interfere to vindicate the oppressed and punish

            the wrong-doers, even if the oppressed are too much crushed, too

            downtrodden, too absolutely in despair, to cry to Him. Their case calls to

            Him; their “blood cries from the ground.” But in this instance actual despair

            had not been reached. His people had “cried to him.” And here was a

            second reason why He should interfere. God is never deaf to any prayers

            addressed to Him for succor; He may not always grant them, but He hears

            them. And if they are sustained, and earnest, and justified by the occasion,

            He grants them. Such was the case now, and Moses was called because of

            the extreme affliction of the Israelites, and because of their prolonged and

            earnest cry to God under it.


  • Moses is told WHAT HE IS TO DO. He is to “bring forth the children

            of Israel out of Egypt(v. 10); and, as a preliminary step, he is to “go to

            Pharaoh” (ibid.). Thus he is directed to return to Egypt forthwith, and to

            put himself into communication with the new king who had succeeded the

            one from whom he had fled. So much is made clear to him. He, an exile for

            forty years, and a mere hireling shepherd of the desert during that space, is

            to seek an interview with the great monarch of all Egypt, and to plead the

            cause of his people before him — to endeavor to induce him to “let them

            go.” A difficult enterprise, to say the least; humanly speaking, a hopeless

            one. How should a king be induced to allow the departure of 600,000 able

            bodied laborers, whose condition was that of state slaves, who could be

            set to any work which the king had in hand — to keep cattle, or make

            bricks, or build cities, or erect walls, or excavate canals? What inducement

            was to be offered to him to make the sacrifice? Such thoughts would

            naturally occur to Moses under the circumstances, and would naturally

            have risen to his lips but for the distinct announcement made with regard to

            the further point.



            declaration, “I am come down to deliver them, and to bring them up out

            of that land into a good land and a large,” was so definite and clear a

            statement, so positive a promise of success, as to override all objections on

            the score of the task being an impossible one. God “had come down to

            deliver His people, and would undoubtedly do it, whatever opposition was

            raised. Thus, to counteract the despondency which the consideration of the

            existing facts and circumstances was calculated to produce, there was held

            forth before Moses the positive assurance of success; the certainty that

            God would make good His word; would, however difficult it seemed, lead

            His people forth, deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptian, and make

            them the masters of another land, large and good, flowing with milk and

            honey, into possession of which they would enter through His might and by

            His irresistible assistance.




vs. 11-12 – “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?

What weight can I expect to have with my countrymen, who will have forgotten

me — whom, moreover, I could not influence when I was,in my full vigour

who then “refused” my guidance and forced me to quit them? True diffidence

speaks in the words used — there is no ring of insincerity in them; Moses was now

as distrustful of himself as in former days he had been confident, and when he had become

fit to be a deliverer, ceased to think himself fit.  And He said, Certainly I

will be with thee; Literally, “Since I will be with thee.” Moses had excused himself

on the ground of unfitness. God replies— “Thou wilt not be unfit, since I will be with thee

— I will supply thy deficiencies — I will impart all the qualities thou needest

 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.”

and this shall be a sign unto thee of my power and faithfulness — this shall assure

thee that I am not sending thee upon a fruitless errand — it is determined in my

counsels that not only shalt thou succeed, and lead the people out, but after that, —

when thou hast so done — thou and they together “shall serve me on this mountain.”

It was necessary that the Deliverer should be familiar with the habits of the court,

should be able to assume its manners, speak its language, and not unwittingly infringe

its etiquette. To be not only the Deliverer, but the Teacher and Educator of his nation,

it was to the last degree necessary that he should be “learned in all the wisdom” of

the time; that he should have had as good an education as any other man of the day; be

able to foil the priests with their own weapons; and, after delivering his people out of

bondage, be capable of elevating them, instructing them, advancing them from a rabble

of slaves into an orderly, self-sufficient, fairly-enlightened, if not highly-civilised,

nation. Once more: a moral fitness was necessary.   Moreover, he needed to be a

religious man. Anyone not upheld by high religious principle, anyone not possessed

of deep and true faith, would have fallen away in some of the trials through which the

nation had to pass; would have desisted, or murmured, or “lusted after evil things” -

(I Corinthians 10:6), or waxed proud and wanton, or grown weary of seemingly

interminable wanderings, and settled down in Arabia or even returned to Egypt.



            with the customs of the Egyptian court, having been brought up in the

            household of a princess, and been himself a courtier until he was nearly

            forty years of age. Though he had subsequently spent forty years in the

            desert, this would not unfit him; since, in the first place, Egyptian manners

            and customs were unchanging; and secondly, life in the desert is at no time

            a bad school of manners. Arabian shepherds are not like European ones. As

            much politeness is often seen in the tent of a Bedouin as in the drawing room

            of an empress.  Moses could speak with the Pharaoh almost as an equal, since

            as the adopted son of a princess he had been accounted a prince, and may even,          

            before his flight, have met Menephthah in the royal palace on terms of social     

            equality. On the education and “wisdom” of Moses we have already descanted,            

            and it will scarcely be questioned that in these respects he was eminently fitted

            for the part assigned to him by Providence. His character, too, as chastened

            and ripened in Midian, made him exceptionally fit. Audacity, high aspirations,    

            strong sympathies, a burning zeal, had shown themselves in the conduct that

            led to his exile. These had been disciplined and brought under control by the     

            influences of desert life, which had made him calm, self-contained, patient,        

            persevering, considerate, without quenching his zeal or taming his high spirit.      

            And of his religious principle there is no question. If he angered God once by    

            speaking unadvisedly” (Psalm 106:33; Numbers 20:10-11), this does but

            show that he was human, and therefore not perfect. Apart from this one

            occasion his conduct as leader of the people is, as nearly as possible, blameless.           

            And his piety is everywhere conspicuous.



      far as our historical knowledge goes, there is no one who can be named as       

      possessing any one of the necessary qualities in a higher degree than Moses,

      much less as uniting them all. No Hebrew but Moses had had, so far as we

      know, the advantages of education and position enjoyed by Moses. No

      Egyptian would have been trusted by the Hebrew nation and accepted as

      their leader. No one who was neither Egyptian nor Hebrew would have had

      any weight with either people. Thus Moses was the one and only possible         

      deliverer, exactly fitted by Providence for the position which it was intended

      he should take: raised up, saved, educated, trained by God to be His instrument

      in delivering His people, and so exactly fitted for the purpose.



      that those are most confident of their powers who are fittest for God’s work.

      Great capacity is constantly accompanied by a humble estimate of itself.            

      Jeremiah’s reply when God called him was: “Ah! Lord God, I cannot speak,

      for I am a child” (Jeremiah 1:6). Newton seemed to himself a child gathering  

      shells upon the shores of the ocean of Truth.  The exclamation of Moses, “Who           

      am I that I should go,” has been echoed by thousands. If, however, God’s call

      is clear, the voice of self-depreciation is not to be much listened to. He knows

      best whether we are fit to work out his purposes, or no. Whether the call is to be          

      an ordinary minister, or a missionary, or a bishop, or a civil leader, the foremost            

      in a political movement, or a general at the crisis of a war, or anything else, too

            much timidity ought not to be shown. There is cowardice in shrinking from

            responsibility. If the call be clearly from without, not courted by ourselves,

            not sought, not angled for, not assignable to any unworthy motive, then it

            is to be viewed as God’s call; and the proper answer is “Speak, Lord, for

            thy servant heareth.” Unfit as we may think ourselves, we may be sure that

            He will not leave us to ourselves — His grace will be sufficient for us — He

            will give us all the strength we need.




vs. 13-15 – “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?

And 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.  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.”  At first sight the name by which God shall be called may seem unimportant,

as it is unimportant whether a man be called Tully or Cicero. But,

originally, each name that is given to God is significant; and according as one name

or another is commonly used, one idea or another of the Divine nature will be

prevalent. Hitherto God had been known mainly to the Semites as El, Eliun, Elohim,

“Exalted, Lofty,” or Shaddai, “Strong, Powerful.” Another name known to them,

but rarely used, was JHVH, “Existent.” (The vocalization of the name has been lost,

and is uncertain.) God was now asked by Moses under what name he should speak of

Him to the Israelites, and was bidden to speak of him as JHVH. What, then, was

the full meaning of JHVH, and why was it preferred to the other names? Probably as

a security against polytheism. When words expressive of such attributes as exaltation,

strength, knowledge, goodness, beautifulness, even creative energy, are made into

names of God, there is a temptation at once to extend them from the one to the many,

from the possessor of the attribute in the highest degree to others who possess it, or

are supposed to possess it, in a high degree. Thus all such words come to be used in the

plural, and the way is paved for polytheism. But if God is called “the Existent,” this

danger disappears; for there are but two kinds or degrees of existence, viz.,

self-existence, and created, dependent existence. “The Existent” must mean “the

Self-Existent,” who must necessarily be One.  Hence JHVH never had a plural.

The only way by which an Israelite could become a polytheist was by deserting

Jehovah altogether and turning to Elohim. In vindicating to Himself the name

Jehovah, “He who exists,” or “He who alone exists,” God declared himself to be:


  • eternal;
  • uncaused;
  • unconditioned
  • independent;
  • self-sufficient.


“THIS IS MY NAME FOR EVER  - Henceforth there will be no name change —

this will be my most appropriate name so long as the world endures — “The Existent” —

“The Alone Existent” — “He that is, and was, and is to come” (Revelation 1:4, 8;

4:8; 11:17; 16:5). “My memorial  - The name whereby I am to be spoken of.

He placed a gulf, profound — not to be bridged — between Himself and every other being.

He indicated that all other gods were unrealities — breath, vapor, shadows of shades; that

He alone was real, stable, to be trusted; and that in Him His worshippers might have

quietness and assurance for ever.”  (Isaiah 32:17)






v. 16 – “Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The

LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,

appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done

to you in Egypt”.  The words are a repetition of those used by Joseph on his deathbed

(Genesis 50:24), and may be taken to mean, “I have done as Joseph prophesied —

 I have made his words good thus far. Expect, therefore, the completion of what He

promised.’’ God here added another injunction to those which He had previously

given (v. 10), as to the modus operandi which Moses was to adopt. He was to go

to the children of Israel, but not immediately or as the first step. Before making

any appeal to them he was, in the first instance, to “gather the elders of Israel

together.” In this is involved a principle of very general application. When great

designs are on hand, consultation should first be with the few. With the few matters

can be calmly and quietly discussed, without passion or prejudice; questions can be

asked, explanations given.  And the few will have influence with the many. This was

the whole idea of ancient government, which was by a king, a council, and an

assembly of the people, which last was expected to ratify the council’s decision.

Direct appeal to the masses is, as much as possible, to be avoided. The masses are

always, comparatively speaking, ignorant, stolid, unimpressionable. Great ideas

take root and grow by being first communicated in their fullness to a “little flock,”

who spread them among their companions and acquaintance, until at length they

prevail generally. So our Lord called first the Twelve, and then the Seventy, and

made known His doctrine to them, leaving it to them to form the Church after His







vs. 17-18 - And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt

unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the

Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk

and honey.  And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou

and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him,

The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we

beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice

to the LORD our God.” It was a part of God’s design that sacrifice, interrupted

during the sojourn in Egypt for various reasons, should be resumed beyond the

bounds of Egypt by His people.  The elders were promised two things:


  • that they should be brought forth out of the affliction of Egypt, and


  • that they should be established in a good land, “a land flowing with.

            milk and honey”


Ordinary men — men who are, spiritually speaking, backward and undeveloped — require

to be stirred to action by comparatively low motives. Escape from present suffering and

unpleasantness, enjoyment of happiness in the future — these are practically the two chief

moving powers of human action. Neither of them is a wrong motive; and Moses was

instructed to appeal to each by a special promise. So may the preacher rightly do with

his congregation, the minister with his flock, the father with his children. As long as men

are what they are, appeals to the lower motives cannot be dispensed with at first.

Care must, however, be taken that before each one, as he becomes fit for it, higher

motives are set — such as duty, the love of goodness for goodness’ sake, and —

last, not least — the highest motive of all, the love of God, our Creator, Sustainer,

Sanctifier, “in whom we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) –

Moses was promised at this point, to stimulate him to action, immediate success. He

had doubted whether his people would listen to him, or regard him as anything but a

dreamer. He is told, they shall hearken unto thy voice.” The hearts of men are in

God’s hands, and He disposed those of the elders to receive the message of His servant,

Moses, favorably, and believe in it.  A great comfort to every one who feels that he has a

mission is the acceptance of it by others. Each man, more or less, misdoubts himself,

questions his own ability, sincerity, singleness of heart. The seal of an apostleship is the

success of the apostolic efforts (I Corinthians 9:2). Direct promise of success at the

mouth of God was, to one so faithful as Moses, as powerful to cheer, encourage, and

sustain, as success itself.






vs. 19-20 – “And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by

a mighty hand.  And 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.

“I will stretch out my hand -  To encourage Moses and the people, to support them

in what was, humanly speaking, a most unequal contest, this important promise is

made. It is a confirmation, and to some extent, an explanation of the pledge, already, given,

“Certainly I will be with thee” (v. 12). It shows how God would be with him — He

would smite Egypt with all His wonders — what those would be was left obscure.

He would come to His people’s aid, and openly assert Himself, and afflict and strike

terror into their enemies, until at last even Pharaoh’s stubborn spirit would be broken,

and he would consent to “let them go”. There are stubborn hearts which no warnings

can impress, no lessons teach, no pleading, even of God’s Spirit, bend. With such He

will not always strive.” (Genesis 6:3) - After they have resisted Him till  His patience

is exhausted, He will break them, crush them., overrule their opposition, and make it futile.

God’s will surely triumphs in the end. But it may be long first. God is so patient,

so enduring, so long-suffering, that He will permit for months, or even years, the

contradiction of sinners against Himself. He will not interfere with the exercise

of their free-will. He will warn, chide, chasten, afflict, contend with the sinner;

try him to the uttermost; seek to lead him to repentance; give him chance after

chance. But he will not compel him to submit himself; man may resist to the last;

and even “curse God and die” (Job 2:9) at war with Him. The final success in such

a struggle cannot, however, rest with man. God “will not alway be chiding, neither

keepeth He His anger for ever.” (Psalm 103:9) - At the fitting time He “stretches

forth His hand and smites” the sinner, strikes him down, or sets him aside, as the

storm-wind sets aside a feeble barrier of frail rushes, and works His own will in His

own way.  Mostly He works by natural causes; but now and again in the history of the

world He has asserted Himself more openly, and has broken the power and chastised

the pride of a Pharaoh, a Benhadad, or a Sennacherib, in a miraculous way. Such

manifestations of his might produce a marked effect, causing, as they do, “all the

kingdoms of the earth to know that he is the Lord God, and he only”

(II Kings 19:19).



                                    GOD BRINGS GOOD OUT OF EVIL


vs. 21-22 – “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and

it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.  But every woman

shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of

silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons,

and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.”  Had Pharaoh yielded

at the first, the Egyptians would have seen the departure of Israel with regret, and

would have in no way facilitated it. The opposition of the king and court, the long struggle,

the ill-usage of the Israelites by the monarch who so often promised to

release them, and so often retracted his word, awoke a sympathy with the Israelites,

and an interest in them, which would have been altogether lacking had there been

no opposition, no struggle, no ill-usage. Again, the plagues, especially the last, thoroughly

alarmed the Egyptians, and made them anxious to be quit of such

dangerous neighbors. Egypt was glad of their departing, for they were afraid

of them” (Psalm 105:38). But for Pharaoh’s obduracy the plagues would not have

been sent; and but for the plagues the departing Israelites would not have been

looked upon by the Egyptians with the “favor” which led to their going out laden

with gifts. Thus Pharaoh’s stubbornness, though it led to their sufferings being

prolonged, led also to their final triumphant exit, as spoilers, not as spoiled, laden

with the good things of Egypt, “jewels of silver and jewels of gold,” and rich apparel,

the best that the Egyptians had to offer. The Israelite women were told on the eve of

their departure from Egypt to ask presents (bakh-sheesh) from their rich Egyptian

neighbors, as a contribution to the necessary expenses of the long journey on which

they were entering; and God promised that He would so favorably incline the hearts

of these neighbors towards them, that, in reply to their request, articles of silver and

of gold, together with raiment, would be freely and bounteously bestowed on them —

so freely and so bounteously, that they might clothe and adorn, not only themselves,

but their sons and daughters, with the presents; and the entire result would be that,

instead of quitting Egypt like a nation of slaves, in rags and penniless, they would

go forth in the guise of an army of conquerors, laden with the good things of the

country, having (with their own good-will) “spoiled the Egyptians.” No fraud, no

deceit, was to be practised — the Egyptians perfectly well understood that, if the Israelites

once went, they would never voluntarily return — they were asked to give

and they gave — with the result that Egypt was “spoiled.” Divine justice sees in this

a rightful nemesis. Oppressed, wronged, down-trodden, miserably paid for their hard

labor during centuries, the Israelites were to obtain at the last something like a

compensation for their ill-usage; the riches of Africa were to be showered on them.

Egypt, “glad at their departing,” was to build them a bridge of gold to expedite their

flight, and to despoil herself in order to enrich her quondam slaves, of whom she was,

under the circumstances, delighted to be rid.  History presents an infinitude of similar

cases, where the greatest advantages have been the result of oppression and wrong.

Extreme tyranny constantly leads to the assertion of freedom; anarchy to the firm

establishment of law; defeat and ill-usage by a conqueror to the moral recovery of a

declining race or nation. Each man’s experience will tell him of the good that has

arisen to him individually from sickness, from disappointment, from bereavement,

from what seemed at the time wholly evil. God brings good out of evil in a

 thousand marvelous ways; at one time by turning the hearts of oppressors, at

another by raising the tone and spirit of the oppressed; now by letting evil run riot

until it produces general disgust, anon by making use of adverse circumstances to

train a champion and deliverer. Countless are the evidences that God causes evil to

work towards good; uses it as an instrument, evolves His own purposes, in part, by

its means, vindicating thus His absolute lordship over all, and showing that evil

itself, though it fight against Him, cannot thwart Him.



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