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Moses and Aaron meet in the wilderness; persuade the Israelites. 18 And Moses went and return- 24 And it came to pass by the ed to Jethro his father in law, way in the inn, that the LORD and said unto him, Let me go, met him, and sought to kill him. I pray thee, and return unto my 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp brethren which are in Egypt, stone, and cut off the foreskin of and see whether they be yet her son, and cast it at his feet, alive. And Jethro said to Mo- and said, Surely a bloody hus
band art thou to me. 19 And the Lord said unto 26 So he let him go : then she Moses in Midian, Go, return said, A bloody husband thou art, into Egypt: for all the men are because of the circumcision. dead which sought thy life. 27 And the LORD said to Aaron,
20 And Moses took his wife and Go into the wilderness to meet his sons, and set them upon an Moses. And he went, and met ass, and he returned to the land him in the mount of God, and of Egypt: and Moses took the kissed him. rod of God in his hand.
28 And Moses told Aaron all 21 And the LORD said unto the words of the LORD who had Moses, When thou goest to re- sent him, and all the signs which turn into Egypt, see that thou he had commanded him. do all those wonders before Pha- 29 And Moses and Aaron went raoh, which I have put in thine and gathered together all the hand: but I will harden his heart, elders of the children of Israel : that he shall not let the people 30 And Aaron spake all the go.
words which the Lord had
spo22 And thou shalt say unto ken unto Moses, and did the Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, signs in the sight of the people. Israel is my son, even my
first- 31 And the people believed: born:
and when they heard that the 23 And I say unto thee, Let Lord had visited the children my son go, that he may serve of Israel, and that he had lookme: and if thou refuse to let ed upon their affliction, then him go, behold, I will slay thy they bowed their heads and son, even thy firstborn.
LECTURE 110. The advantage of acting in concert as brethren. Moses speaks to Jethro of returning unto his brethren in Egypt; and yet after this he needs to be reminded by the Lord, “Go, return into Egypt;" and he is also encouraged by the assurance, “all the men are dead which sought thy life.” And when he went “ he took his wife and his sons,” rather as if he expected to sojourn there some time, than as if he hoped soon to return, and worship God in Horeb. See ch. 3. 12. And it appears from what happened at one of the resting places in his journey, that he bad not been careful to circumcise his son ; as if he had supposed himself cut off from the covenant of Israel; and had not now, since the revelation of the Lord, bethought himself of complying with this ordinance. All these circumstances help to furnish us with an answer to the gainsayer, as proving, that the mission which Moses undertook, was far from being of his own devising. For they shew us how reluctantly he entered into the plan, even when God had plainly laid it down.
It was indeed no easy undertaking either to carry the point proposed with Pharaoh, or to obtain credit and authority with his brethren. And to add to his difficulty, he is forewarned, that when he should work the miracles which God enabled him to do, yet God would harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the people go. God as the righteous Judge of all the earth, would punish Pharaoh for his cruelty to the Israelites, by making him blind to the mighty works of Moses, and obstinate in refusing his demands; until for refusing to release God's adopted children, he should have his own firstborn slain. This was indeed a great discouragement to Moses. But it ought to have made him so much the more anxious to fulfil God's commands to the letter. Neither the vexatious opposition of his wife, nor his own distrustful thoughts, ought to have led him to delay a matter of such moment, as the circumcision of his son. When we hear that for this instance of neglect the Lord “sought to kill him," and when we consider that baptism is with us what circumcision was with him, we shall not dare to put off the time of baptism, or to make light of the value of the ordinance, either with a view to suit the convenience of our relatives, or to humour the weakness of our own feeble faith.
But if Moses had a difficult undertaking, and much to dishearten him, he had also a most singular and appropriate encouragement, in this miraculous meeting with his brother in the wilderness. God set the time, and fixed the place. Each went as he was led by an unseen hand; one from Midian, and one from Goshen. And lo, two brothers, who for so many years before had never set eyes upon each other, met in the wilderness, and embraced upon “the mount of God!" They met, they communed, they went, they prospered. They went together, they spake with one mind, they acted with one purpose. the people believed.” Oh, if we would but thus speak, and act, in our great work of making known the Gospel to mankind, how pleasantly would brother meet with brother in the wilderness ! And when those whom we send forth to preach, salute each other as brethren in the ends of the earth, oh how much more readily will those to whom we send them, bow their heads to the true God, and worship Him!
Lord, let all men know that we are thy disciples, by this, that we love one another! See John 13. 35. Lord, make us one amongst each other, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent us! See John 17. 21.
Moses and Aaron apply to Pharaoh, and are refused. 1 And afterward Moses and the people, and their officers, Aaron went in, and told Pha- saying, raoh, Thus saith the LORD God 7 Ye shall no more give the of Israel, Let my people go, that people straw to make brick, as they may hold a feast unto me heretofore : let them
gain the wilderness.
ther straw for themselves. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who is 8 And the tale of the bricks, the LORD, that I should obey which they did make heretofore, his voice to let Israel go? I know ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not the Lord, neither will I let not diminish ought thereof: for
they be idle ; therefore they cry, 3 And they said, The God of saying, Let us go and sacrifice the Hebrews hath met with us : to our God. let us go, we pray thee, three 9 Let there more work be laid
journey into the desert, and upon the men, that they may sacrifice unto the LORD our labour therein; and let them not God; lest he fall upon us with regard vain words. pestilence, or with the sword. 10 And the taskmasters of the
4 And the king of Egypt said people went out, and their offiunto them, Wherefore do ye, cers, and they spake to the peoMoses and Aaron, let the peo- ple, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, ple from their works ? get you I will not give you straw. unto your burdens.
11 Go ye, get you straw where 5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, ye can find it : yet not ought of the people of the land now are your work shall be diminished. many, and ye make them rest 12 So the people were scatterfrom their burdens.
ed abroad throughout all the land 6 And Pharaoh commanded the of Egypt to gather stubble insame day the taskmasters of stead of straw.
serve the Lord. It was no very great thing for Pharaoh to have granted, if he had complied with the request of Moses and Aaron. Considering how much benefit he had derived from the labours of the Israelites, he might well have allowed them these few days for a religious service. Perhaps the reason why no more was asked of him was this, that this was the utmost which he might by any possibility have been induced to grant. For God, as we are assured by St. Paul, “endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Rom. 9. 22. And Pharaoh therefore, though now ripe for the infliction of God's judgments, was not tempted above that he was able to bear. But his answer was alike fatal to a small request and to a great one,
66 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." They that know not God, will neither obey Him in a greater matter nor in a less. They that know Him rightly, and love Him much, will deem nothing too great to yield to his pleasure, nothing too trilling to do at his command.
But the king of Egypt was not content with refusing this moderate request. He reproached the messengers of Jehovah, with letting the people, that is to say, hindering them, “ from their works.” And the very same day he gave orders to “the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore : let them go and gather straw for themselves.” This in effect was adding greatly to their burdens. For in the bricks which they had to make, there was much straw kneaded up with the clay, to hold it together whilst it was dried by the rays of the sun. And when Pharaoh refused to supply it as before, they were forced to wander “ throughout all the land of Egypt, to gather stubble instead of straw.” How cruel must have been the heart of Pharaoh, when he could thus demand the same “ tale” or reckoning of bricks, without furnishing the requisite materials, from a people who were beforehand so grievously oppressed! See ch. 2. 23. And what a warning is here given for all who are in any station of authority, to be considerate in the work which they require to be done!
It was adding insult to injustice, for Pharaoh to say that it was idleness, which made the Israelites wish to sacrifice to the Lord. As if the work which they were employed about for him, was all that they ought to think of doing! As if any time not spent in his service, was to be counted no better than lost ! foolishness of his reproachful words will be no less obvious than their cruelty, if it be true, as is probable, that his own important business, for which he used the labour of the Israelites, was building pyramids such as now remain in Egypt; the largest masses of building in the world, with the least possible beauty or usefulness. What indeed their use could ever have been is not agreed upon amongst those who are best acquainted with the subject. But to us they serve to yield a salutary lesson, as to the vanity of worldly work, compared with the work of worship offered to the Lord.' We can have no business of our own so urgent, as to pay Him the honour due unto his name. To build a pyramid, this is idleness. To offer sacrifice to the Lord, this is true diligence. Whatever therefore we have to do, let us do it as unto Him; to his bonour, and according to his will. And then our work will stand, and we as workmen need not be ashamed, when the earth itself, as well as all “ the works that are therein, shall be burned up.” 2 Pet. 3. 10. Never may we reckon it waste time, to be engaged in the service of God! Never may we do any work we have in hand, without intent to serve the Lord !
The officers complain to Pharaoh, and Moses to God. 13 And the taskmasters hasted you, yet shall ye deliver the tale them, saying, Fulfil your works, of bricks. your daily tasks, as when there 19 And the officers of the chilwas straw.
dren of Israel did see that they 14 And the officers of the chil- were in evil case, after it was dren of Israel, which Pharaoh's said, Ye shall not minish ought taskmasters had set over them, from your bricks of your daily were beaten, and demanded, task. Wherefore have
20 And they met Moses and your task in making brick both Aaron, who stood in the way, as yesterday and to day, as hereto- they came forth from Pharaoh : fore?
21 And they said unto them, 15 Then the officers of the chil- The Lord look upon you, and dren of Israel came and cried judge; because ye have made unto Pharaoh, saying, Where- our savour to be abhorred in the fore dealest thou thus with thy eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes servants ?
of his servants, to put a sword in 16 There is no straw given unto their hand to slay us. thy servants, and they say to us, 22 And Moses returned unto Make brick: and, behold, thy the LORD, and said, Lord, whereservants are beaten; but the fault fore hast thou so evil entreated is in thine own people.
this people ? why is it that thou 17 But he said, Ye are idle, has sent me? ye are idle : therefore ye say, 23 For since I came to PhaLet us go and do sacrifice to the raoh to speak in thy name, he LORD.
hath done evil to this people ; 18 Go therefore now, and work; neither hast thou delivered thy for there shall no straw be given people at all.
LECTURE 112. That we must pray with fervent zeal for God's glory. “ The officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them,” appear to have been themselves Israelites, put in office of authority over the rest, and made answerable for the fulfilment of the appointed work. These therefore when they “were beaten," appealed to Pharaoh, and complained, that the fault was not in them but in his people. But hear how little they gained by their complaint. “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 you,
deliver the tale of bricks." There was some truth in the remark of Pharaoh, so far as this, that the being idle is oftentimes the occasion of vain and evil thoughts taking possession of the mind. And if it had been true, as he professed to think, that the Israelites had not work enough to do; it would have been likely they would have devised, as he imagined they did, an ex