« PreviousContinue »
ful among christians, especially among Uiosc who are under national discouragements, though not under great oppressions. One would have thought these troubles should have united the Israelites, but we find they did not. Bp. Hall observes,' had this Israelite had a spark of good nature, he must have relented at Moses's remonstrance.' It is sad to vex one another, while vexed by a common adversary. One would have thought they had blows enough from the Egyptians. And thus, still is our great enemy busy, and christians are too prone to contend with each other. Let us avoid this, and remember that we are brethren, that we are fellowchristians, fellowservants, and fellowsufferers. Let brotherly love continue ; and leaving hatred and variance to the Egyptians, let us follow after peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
5. Those that are in the wrong are often most impatient of reproof. What a surly answer was given to Moses. This language we often hear, or something like it, when we admonish transgressors. Moses intended a kindness to both, and to prevent the effect of the quarrel: but one of them could not bear it, and he was the aggressor. Nay, had not the story mentioned this, we should have concluded it from his angry impatience, which was a sign of guilt. It is our duty to exhort and reprove: but we must expect to meet with those who will be peevish and angry, and question our authority, which indeed the law of God, and the common principles of humanity give us. Let us carefully avoid this temper ourselves, and take reproof kindly. What signifies who it is that reproves, or what his qualities are? it becomes us to consider what foundation there is for it. To call a man impertinent, and bid him look at home, is not clearing ourselves. Let the righteous smite us, and we should esteem it a kindness; take it well, and make a good use of it, from whatever hand it comes.
6. God has a gracious regard to his people under their heaviest afflictions; he hears their groanings, which affect his heart. He remembers his covenant, and has respect to them. See how tenderly God concerns himself for his people ; as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him ; therefore let us be patient, and cast our care upon him who carcth for m.
Philo observes, that 1 the feeding of sheep, is the best exercise and preparation for a kingdom, and the general government of mankind.' We find here, that Moses wasfirst a shepherd, and then raised to be a leader and governor of God's people.
NOW Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian :• and he led the flock to the back or side of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, so called because sanctified by God's appearing there now, (v. &,) and giving the law there afterward, [even] to Horeb.f
2 And the angel of the Lord, that is, the Shekinah, 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. This was something very unaccountable,
3 And Moses therefore said, I will now turn aside, and see this
4 great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 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: calling him.
5 by name, must greatly add to his surprise. And he said, Here [am] I. And he said, Draw not nighhiiher, keep a respectful distance: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, in token of reverence and humiVty,\\ for the place whereon thou standest' [is] holy ground, made so by the special presence of God here. Thus he was excited to humility, reverence and godly fear.
6 Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; engaged to them by covenant and promise, which I am now come to perform ; and by this declaration he also intimated, (as Christ observes, Matt. xvii. 7.) that they were happy in another world, for God is not the God of the dead, but cf the living. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God; his eyes were dazzled with the glory.
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which [are] in Egypt, diligently observed, and mercifully regarded and pitied their misery, and have heard their cry by reason of their task masters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, (this intimates the speed and certainty of their deliverance, ) and to bring them up out of that land unto a good
• This was not a m .an emyloym?nt, great men and princes were often engnlred in it: •at it was mean for him who was bred at court, and perhaps mtKht have looked forward to the crown of Egypt.
t This mountain had two tops, one called Iloreb, the other Sinai. In this retirement it is thought by some, that he wrote the bnoks of Cuiesis and Job.
. f A bramble, or thorn bush, which might have been easily consumed; several heathen writers have mentioned this circumstance. See Patrick's Com. in loc.
| It was customary for the Egyptians to do so in the presence of their princes or great men, or when entering into the temple* of their deities.
Vol. I. E e
land and a large one, in comparison with Goshen, unto a land flowing with milk and honey, abounding with all the blessings ofa fruitful land, not only for necessity, but delight; (Deut. viii. 7—9.) unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the 9 Jebusiles. 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. He then gives him his commission and appoints him his ambassador or viceroy.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
11 And Moses modestly declined the service, and 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, that is, God, said to encourage him, Certainly I will be with thee ; and this [shall be] a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people
13 out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.* 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? which of thy names shall I use, whereby thy people may be encouraged to
14 expect deliverance from thee ?^ 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.f
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, .Thus shalt thou say Onto 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 forever, and this [is] my memorial unto all generations, by which I will be remembered, owned, and served by my people, and distinguished
16 from all others. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, the heads of their tribes, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,
* Thus God gave him two tokens of his presence with htm ; the first was the burnirg bnsh. not consumed; and the other, that he should worship hereafter on this mountain. These were designed to encourage htm to deliver his message to Pharaoh, and to suppoit and comfort him under the obstinacy and rebellions of the people. Moses was the first that ever spnke to others in rhe name of God, under such a commission, and therefore had need of some extraordinary sign to confirm his faith.
t It was customary in Egypt to give their gods some title of honour, beside the local flame, taken from the pl:tce where they were worshipped, or their manner of doing it. So the Israelites would exprct that some name or title of their God should be given them, beside that of the God of Abraham.
t This name was not only a title of honour, but it showed the vanity of other gods. It signifies, permanent, immutable, necessary existence, the same as JEHOVAH, Itvilt fre 'what I mill be. This name would awak.n the spirit, and encourage the hearts of all considerate Israelites. Many heathens after this inscribed it, or something similar to it, on their temples. Hilary, an ancient christian writer, says, these words charmed him, and gave him an high opinion of Moses, before he became a christian, there being no words s» proper to describ? the seliexistence of God.
appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and
17 [seen] that which is done to you in Egypt: 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 Jeb
18 usites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. And they shall hearken to thy voice ; this was a great encouragement to him: 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. This was a prudent and modest demand. Their sacrifices toould be an abomination to the Egyptians, and would not be suffered among them; therefore they asked to go to Sinai', which was just three days' journey, where they might serve him with safety.
19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go,
20 no, not by a mighty hand.f And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the
21 midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
22 But every woman shall borrow, or request,\ of her neighbour, 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.
I. T ETus try to accommodate our minds to whatever cir1 J cumstances God allots us. Moses was the son of Pharaoh's daughter: he was learned in all the knowledge of the Egyptians, and yet was content with the humble life of a shepherd. We see the wisdom of God in all this: by living at court, he was formed to business; by his retirement, meditation, and devotion, he was formed to eminent wisdom and piety, and a great command of temper. Moses had learned to subdue ambitious desires, and to rest contented with his obscurity ; he followed the employment to which God called him. A contempt of an honest calling in those who are well born, shows great pride, but neither sense nor grace. If we keep to our callings, and are
• Jj catted upon Ui, Is our God, we are called by his name, are his servants. Kennicott.
t God*,,foreknowledge of this did not lessen Pharaoh's (emit. Had Pharaoh granrfd this request, thry would probably have returned; but his refusing this jusr demand, nv.de his future punishment just and righteous.
i Ktntucolt says, ask, iff. or fray fir.
diligent therein, we are likely to meet with God, as Moses did; for he will meet those that work righteousness and put their trust in him.
2. How lively an emblem was-the burning bush of the state of the church! Many fires have been kindled to consume and destroy it, but it subsists to this day; and all is owing to the good will of him that dwelt in the buah. It was an emblem of the church in Egypt, which was afflicted, but not destroyed. The bush is still burning, as it were, but is not consumed. Let us adore the power that preserves it, and that keeps his people. God is to none, but his enemies, a consuming fire. His church shall never perish, nor shall the gates of hell prevail against it.
3. Let us learn reverence in all our approaches to God ; Take thy thoes from off thy feet, was his command to Moses. Let us keep at an humble distance. So Solomon exhorts, Eccles. v. 1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God. No ground is now holy ; but we have a holy God to do with, holy duties to be employed in, and holiness becometh his house; he will be sanctified by all them that draw nigh unto him, and by all the people he will be glorified. He must be approached with holy reverence. However this may be an emblem of the dispensation of the Jaw, which was a dispensation of terror, yet the gospel permits us to draw near with boldness and confidence, but still with reverence and godly fear. Nothing light, or trifling, should be found in his presence or worship; every thing should be grave and solemn. God is a spirit, and they that worslup him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.
4. Let us entertain a venerable idea of the great and glorious Jehovah, as the I AM, the selfexistent Being, who has life in himself, who is unoriginated, and selfsufficient. Adore him as eternal and immutable, the Father pf lights, who is from everlasting to everlasting; who is, and was, and is to come. Let us rejoice that we have such a God to do with, and make him our confidence and joy.
5. We should adore God's compassionate regard to his people, v. 7. I have surely seen the affliction of my people, which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry, by reason of their task masters, for I know their sorrows. I have seen, I have seen; have looked on till I could bear the sight no longer. God's people are ready to conclude, when afflictions are long and tedious, that he does not see, that he, has forgotten to be gracious; but his eyes are ever on the righteous, and his ear is open to their cry; in proper time he will come down and help them; he will not only deliver, but enrich them, like Israel; give them all spiritual blessings in heavenly things; will improve their virtues, and rectify their disorders; he will guide them by his counsel, and afterward receive them to glory. Their secret sorrows and groanings are known to him;' their mightiest oppressors are not too hard for him. This should