A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *10/15/2012
And you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my son, even my firstborn’: and I say to you, ‘Let my son go, so that he may serve me.’ ” [Ex 4:22,23]
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.” [Ex 6:1]
1. God had a people in Egypt. They were his own, the people of his choice. Although they had been grievously oppressed, and had sunk into ignominious slavery, his interest in their welfare had in no degree lessened. The Lord’s purpose in sending Moses down into Egypt was that he might bring out that people from among the nations to make them a separate people for himself, that he might give them an inheritance, even the land which flowed with milk and honey, and that they might live there as witnesses of his covenant and keep his testimonies. Now precisely what God was doing for his people Israel in the land of Ham he is doing for his own chosen ones throughout the whole world. From one point of view the object of the gospel is to gather out from among the nations a people whom he foreknew, whom he predestinated, whom he has redeemed to himself to be his particular inheritance. These are to be brought out from among others; to be made a separated people; to be brought into a distinct position, and to have a distinct experience. “The people shall live by themselves; they shall not be counted among the nations”; and they are ultimately to be brought to a prepared place, for which they are to be specially prepared that they may live there, and that the Lord may verify the thing that he has predicted about them, “They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels.” The work of rescuing perishing sinners out of the present evil world is as worthy of God as the work of delivering Israel out of Egypt. The same right hand of Jehovah, glorious in power, which released the sons of Jacob from the thraldom of Pharaoh, is now stretched out to ransom us from the dominion of Satan. The song of praise to Jesus Christ our Redeemer shall be more exultant than what Miriam and the daughters of Israel lifted up by the Red Sea when they said, “Come let us sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.” Indeed, we shall sing at last the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, clearly indicating that the redemption out of Egypt was always meant to be a leading type of the redemption of God’s people from out of the midst of the world, for Christ has a people whom he has redeemed from among men, and there is a church of which it is written, “Christ loved his church and gave himself for it.”
2. Now, in the process of bringing out these people of God from among the mass of mankind God sometimes uses instrumentality, just as he did in the former case. He may employ an instrument that is apparently as little adapted for the work as Moses felt himself to be. Yet the work is done, and to God belongs the honour of accomplishing it. As for those of us whom he uses, we are more than content to yield the honour to him. We rejoice in his excellency while we feel that we cannot take to ourselves any credit whatever; for we are less than nothing in his sight, and even in our own sight we are weak and worthless, so that to God alone shall the glory redound when redemption’s work is finished and complete.
3. I invite you to think, first of all, upon the voice of God. According to our text, it is, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say to you, "Let my son go, that he may serve me."’ ” When we have spoken a little upon that, we shall want to have a few words upon the voice of man. This was to be the voice of man, “You shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord.’ ” What God had spoken was to be repeated by his servant Moses. Then we shall close by noticing, in the third place, the power of God which was to go with this voice of man. “I will be with your mouth, and you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.”
4. I. Let us endeavour, then, at the outset, to fix our thoughts upon THE VOICE OF GOD, which was the real power to bring up his people out of Egypt.
5. That voice was threefold; asserting his proprietorship in them, demanding their freedom, and ordaining their destiny. With imperial authority he claims the people as his own. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my son, even my firstborn.’ ” The Lord knows those who are his, and the Lord affirmed them to be his own with a jealousy of his inalienable right to their allegiance, and an assertion of his unfailing interest in their welfare. The children of Israel were at that time in a very sordid condition. They were up to their necks in clay, making bricks. They were a band of slaves, degraded, brought down to the lowest condition. They were so dispirited that they submitted to any exaction of the tyrant; and when the day of deliverance dawned on them they could not think emancipation to be possible, or welcome the joyful change in their prospects. They had, as a nation, lost the very thought of liberty. It was stamped out. The people seemed as if they must lose their nationality, or only retain it as a nation of slaves. Yet all grimy and enslaved as they came to be, they were still beloved. The Lord recognised them. He said, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” Surely Pharaoh might have said in his heart, “This is a fine son! What must the God be who says of these brickmakers, this abject people, ‘This is my son?’ ” Yes, and these ill conditioned, unkempt serfs, these debased men and women, he says of them — “Even my firstborn, my son and heir.” A man is naturally proud of his son and heir, yet there is the mighty God speaking according to the language of mortal men, acknowledging these cheerless, crestfallen, despised, and dispirited people and saying, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn”; acknowledging them, too, in the teeth of proud Pharaoh, whose firstborn was greeted as a prince of the blood royal when he rode through the land, before whom every knee bowed, and to whom as the son of the great king homage was constantly rendered. “Israel is my son,” God says, “even my firstborn.” He is not ashamed of his people. He acknowledges his great love by which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sin, just as he loved his people Israel when they were still in bondage and in degradation. “He loved my soul out of the pit.” said one of old. He loved us when we were lying in our blood, like an infant cast out unswaddled and unwashed. When no eye pitied us in the day of our nativity, and we were cast out in the open field he passed by, and it was a time of love, and he said to us, “Live.” Oh, wondrous grace of God, that he acknowledges his son when that son is still an Egyptian slave.
6. Moreover, God acknowledged his people when they did not acknowledge him, for his name “Jehovah” was scarcely known to them. Although Moses presented himself to them with evident credentials, they were ready enough to reject him. They had gone aside to false gods as we are informed in other parts of the Scripture. During their sojourn in Egypt the Israelites fell into the prevailing superstition of the country, and they forsook the Lord. Some little light still lingered among them. Some traditions were treasured and transmitted from father to son in solemn trust. Doubtless there was a remnant of pious souls, faithful to the God of Abraham. The bones of Joseph, preserved in Goshen as a memorial of the oath that he took from their tribes, subsequently carried through all their various wanderings in the wilderness, and ultimately buried in Shechem, as you read in the last chapter of the book of Joshua, testify to a fidelity we cannot easily forget. But the majority of the people had fallen into the snares which surrounded them, and conformed to the fashions of those among whom their fortunes were cast, whose many gods and many lords were superstitiously served in secret. They were not a people who could have scraped together so much as a molehill of merit, if they had tried. They were a vain and vicious people, prone to supplant, yet utterly supplanted; especially sinful, because their marked proclivities which might have developed on the side of virtue were perverted into stains and stigmas on their reputation. Yet Jehovah says, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” And does the Lord acknowledge his people when they do not know him? Ah, blessed be his name, he does, or else they would never come to know him. We love him now, because he first loved us; and if there had not been that antecedent knowledge of us, and love towards us, we would not have been what we now are. Oh, the freeness and spontaneity of the grace of God, that he should know his people, and call them his own, even when as yet they do not know him.
He acknowledges this people, by acknowledging his covenant. “Israel
is my son.” He was referring to the covenant, which he had made with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of old. And the Lord knows his people, and
shows favour to them, not because of anything personal to recommend
them; for there is no superiority in their nature, no brightness in
their intellect, no beauty in their disposition that can be pleasing
in his sight. The sole title to grace in his eyes is that ancient
covenant ordered in all things and sure which he has made, not with
Abraham, but with our Lord Jesus, who stands as our covenant-head. We
do not sufficiently reflect upon the covenant as the great deep that
lies under the fountain of many waters out of which all the wells of
salvation continue to be filled with the living waters of grace.
Ne’er hadst thou felt the guilt of sin,
Or sweets of pardoning love,
Unless thy worthless name had been
Enrolled to life above.
Unless you had an interest in that covenant, which he made in the eternal council chamber long before the earth was, you would have lived and died most assuredly in hapless, hopeless, obscurity. This was the reason why he called Israel his son. An ancient covenant had made Israel to be regarded so. How sweet it is that he does not merely speak about the people as being his people, but he says, “Israel is my son.” There is a love between father and son, which cannot be found elsewhere. Blood is thicker than water. Relationship has ties that cannot be relaxed. “Indeed, but,” one says, “Does God ever call his people in any place his sons before they are regenerate?” Well, there is a text that says, “Because you are sons, God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, by which you cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ ” It is because in the purpose of God his people are really his sons before they know anything at all about it, that in due time he sends the Spirit of his Son to give them the nature of children so that they may enjoy the adoption of children and say, “Abba, Father.” Oh beloved, it is delightful to think that the Lord should look upon us before we are born — before we are born again — with a love that cannot be measured and cannot be broken.
8. The gist of this acknowledgment was this: “Israel is my son. You, Pharaoh, may call him your slave, but he is my child. He was mine before he was yours. Israel is my son. You say, ‘No, he is my serf.’ I say, though he has fallen under your yoke, I will maintain my right to him as my firstborn. He is a prince, and he shall be raised to that estate.” The Lord has a claim upon his people — a claim which all the claims of law and all the clamours of sin and death and hell shall never be able to oppose; and though they basely submit to the claims of the wicked one, and make a covenant with death, and a league with hell, yet Jehovah’s claim upon them shall stand, for thus says the Lord, “Your league with death is broken, and your covenant with hell is annulled.” The Lord Jesus will not permit those whom he has made to be his own people, and ransomed by the bloody purchase upon the tree, to remain the slaves of sin and Satan. They are his. His Father gave them to him. They are his; he bought them. They are his; their names are written on his hands and engraved on his side. They are his; he will not permit so much as one of them to remain in bondage to the adversary. By this acknowledgment of his people he puts in a positive claim, which sets all other claims aside.
9. With the mere assertion of absolute right he demands their unconditional freedom. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say to you, let my son go.’ ” What a grand verse that is! What an imperial edict it contains! Just as in the narrative of the creation, God said, “Light be, and light was”; so in the history of the exodus short words are launched with sovereign force — “Let my son go.” Well might the proud heart of Pharaoh have quailed before the Almighty, whose lip asserted a right which his arm was able to enforce instantly. How aptly those tones apply to our deliverance from under the law. The law includes all mankind under its curse, the God of this world claims the whole human race as his subjects. In due time our Redeemer appears. The Lord Jesus comes, identifies himself with the enslaved family, bears the curse, fulfils the law, and then on the basis of simple justice demands full and perfect liberty for them, having fulfilled the precept for them, and endured the penalty for them. “Let my son go.” On what pretext could the law, unless it were lawless and unjust, put in a claim which has been discharged, or urge a right which has already been fulfilled. No, from under the law the people of God go free, and their joy is that they are not under the law henceforth, but under grace. And how gloriously do those tones sound when they come with force and power to rescue us from the tyranny of sin and Satan. The prince of the power of the air holds men in subjection, he prejudices them, and so plugs their ears against the gospel, he seals their eyes against the eternal light, but thus says the Lord, “Let my son go,” and immediately the prejudice vanishes, the ear is opened, eternal truth shines into the heart, scales drop from the eyes, and the soul sees the heaven-born light, and begins to rejoice. Satan will tie a soul down sometimes in very heavy bondage. I have known him to fasten a soul down with steel chains of despair, such as could not be snapped. The man has said, “There is no hope,” and he has given up all thought of pardon and eternal life, but “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my son go.’ ” The iron bands have snapped in a moment, and the man has risen to hope and liberty, for the Lord’s voice breaks the fetter. Firmly bound by fearful habits, which it seemed impossible to give up, having plunged into one sin after another, the man has been shut in by one iron gate and then by another and another, and was enclosed in the innermost ward of the prison. But at midnight he has been struck on the side when he was asleep in his senseless carelessness. Around him has shone a great light: the covenant angel has come to him and led him through gate after gate, the iron gates have opened of their own accord, and the man has found himself free, and scarcely knew whether it was true or not. He do not know that it was true, but thought he saw a vision. The thing has been scarcely done before he has found himself to be alive, and delivered from the bonds of sin, filled with astonishment at himself, and saying, “How can this be?” His tongue has been filled with singing, and his mouth with laughter, and he has said, “The Lord has done great things for me, for which I am glad.”
10. Well, beloved, the tones of that august voice which said “Let my son go” will continue to echo as long as you and I are here below. We shall continue to be let go. This glorious liberty shall be daily made more obvious to us. Are we not as creatures made subject to vanity, and encompassed with infirmity? Eventually we shall be liberated from the bondage of the flesh; our bodies shall go down into the grave, and there lie for a while in the prison-house of the tomb; but that voice which quickened us into spiritual life will resuscitate our bodies, and cause them to enter into the resurrection life of Christ. Through the dark, dismal vaults will sound the loud, cheerful voice “Let my son go,” and there shall not a bone of a believer be left. As it was said of old, “not a hoof shall be left behind,” so nothing that belongs to redeemed man shall be left in the grave. “Of all that you have given me I have lost nothing,” says Christ, and truly, of person and of things — of all the people and of all that shall belong to the people to make up their manhood — there shall nothing be lost, but the Lord shall have his own, and his grace shall triumph.
11. This voice of God is an acknowledgment of his people, and a claim for their deliverance: but no less is it an ordaining of their destiny. “Let my son go, so that he may serve me.” Oh yes, beloved, we are no sooner set free from serving Pharaoh than we begin to serve Jehovah. “Let my son go, so that he may serve me.”
12. And in what capacity did Israel serve God? It was in the loftiest possible capacity. Israel became henceforth Jehovah’s priest. It was in Israel that the sacrifice was offered. In Israel the incense was burned. From Israel went up the sacred psalm. Israel stood before the Lord in that high position of sacred privilege. So likewise it is that as soon as a man is brought out of the bondage of sin, he presents to the Lord the sacrifice of Christ by faith, and afterwards goes on to present himself a living sacrifice. Thus his thanksgivings, and his broken and contrite heart, are perpetual oblations and offerings of a sweet-smelling savour, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
13. Israel became the servant of God by way of preserving the testimony. His were the oracles. Israel kept the knowledge of the one God. Israel kept the revelation of the Most High. While all the world without was dark, Israel preserved the light. To this end, in like manner, brethren, you and I are called by God. If he has brought us up out of the Egypt of sin, we are to present daily sacrifice, we are to bear daily testimony to the truth. And oh, if we do not, should we begin to stagger through unbelief, or speak with bated breath of the truth that has been surely made known to us; should the fear of man, or the fashion of the age so beguile our hearts, becloud our eyes, betray our good profession, and utterly befool our common sense that we shall blush to bear our testimony — what shame must cover us; what confusion must take hold upon us. But, blessed be his name, he will keep his own true to his word. If it were possible, the free thinkers and the false teachers, in these days, would deceive the very elect, but that is out of the question; it is beyond the range of possibility. All your children shall be taught by the Lord; and they shall hold his truth, and bear witness to it, even to the world’s end.
14. Israel was to be God’s servant henceforth, to serve him by walking by faith. What a wonderful forty years’ walk that was in the wilderness. They did not live up to it; still the spirit of that march of mystery was very wonderful. Without sowing or reaping they were fed; supplied with water without fountain, reservoir, or watercourse; guided without a compass, and without one sign of trackway, over a shifting sand. Yet they were always well fed, well housed, and, what was still more marvellous, their camps were well shaded by day, and well lit by night. They had a choice experience of having nothing and yet possessing everything. With no fertile fields or fruitful trees, yet Israel was made to live upon the fat of the kidneys of wheat, and to ride upon the high places of the earth. She had all things and she abounded. The Lord was her shepherd, and she did not lack.
15. We are often called upon to serve God, and that very conspicuously, though we may be little conscious of it when we are required to walk by faith. This is the work of God, the grandest work a man can do — to believe on him whom he has sent. The Godlike work, the work of works is this, to walk by faith, living upon the unseen God.
16. Israel was to be God’s servant by continually remaining in happy fellowship with God, and waiting upon him with holy worship. Nowhere else, in all the world, was a passover or a feast of tabernacles kept to do him homage, and nowhere else was this Sabbath hallowed and observed. With them alone Jehovah dwelt, and among them Jehovah shone forth. And so, beloved, if you and I have been called out of bondage, it is so that we may serve the Lord. Are we all alive to our obligation? Are we faithful to our higher calling? Are we doing our bounden, sacred duty? If anyone here is rescued tonight from the grip of the destroyer, delivered from the bondage of this evil world, saved from the damning power of sin, know that when you leave one corps, you must enlist into another corps; you come in fresh from the enemy’s camp, not to be treated as a prisoner, but as a recruit. You must enlist to assail the powers and passions you once defended. God would have you become his servant so that you may serve him with joy and gladness all your days.
17. Thus, then, I have opened up the voice of God; as far as my time or strength or knowledge has permitted.
18. II. Now, secondly, here was THE VOICE OF MAN.
19. What a comedown it seems to be. “You shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, "Let my son go."’ ” Why did the Lord not say it himself? Why did he need to pick up a Moses and send him to say it? Well, dear friends, had the Lord said it himself to Pharaoh, it would have been very startling, and Pharaoh must have yielded ultimately to the divine fiat: but do you not see the deeper marvel in the milder proceeding, when Jehovah, as it were, hides his power and cloaks it in weakness? Instead of appealing to Pharaoh with that voice which breaks the cedars of Lebanon, and makes the hinds to calve, he speaks to him by one who was slow of speech and of a stammering tongue.
20. Now, if God’s voice can vanquish Pharaoh when it masks itself behind the feebleness of a stuttering, stammering Moses, it will be more glorious than it would have been if it had used no instrumentality whatever. Why does the Lord not speak to every sinner directly, and bring him out and save him? Well: he might do so. He might do it if he would; but when he condescends instead of it to take us poor mortals, who have tasted of his love, and say to us, “Now you go and be my voice: you go and speak for me,” oh, then his grace and power are not less conspicuous, but they are far more admirable! In using such poorly adapted tools for the accomplishment of his great purposes he shows his own transcendent power. That famous well cover at Antwerp, just opposite the cathedral — one of the finest pieces of wrought iron that was ever known — is said to have been made by Quintyn Matsys with nothing but a hammer and a file, his fellow workmen having taken away his tools. If it is so, all the more praise is due to his consummate skill. All the works of God redound to his glory: but when the tools he uses appear to be totally inadequate for the results he achieves, our reverence is aroused, while our reason is abashed, and we marvel at a power we cannot understand. This comes home to some of us very closely. Let us ask ourselves this. Does the Lord take you, my brother, or has he taken me; and does he speak words of eternal power through our poor little tongues — through these unruly members, that are prone to do so much mischief? If he really wins souls through them, or pulls down the pride of Pharaoh through them, then it shall ring through eternity that the Lord has done marvellous things. He has taken the worm and made him to be a sharp thrashing instrument, having teeth, and made him to thrash the mountains. He has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings he has ordained strength, because of his enemies, so that he might silence the enemy and the avenger. To his name be glory for ever and ever.
21. The feebleness of the human voice has never appeared more palpably than when it has attempted to repeat the sentences which have been uttered by the mouth of the Lord. Moses seems to think that there must be some mistake. Can it be that God intends to bring Israel out of Egypt by him? Whenever God intends to make his servants eminently useful, he lets them know their frailty. The more treasure there is in the vessel, the less will its beauty be vaunted. It is mere common ware, an earthen vessel; that the excellency of the power may be from God and not from us. But when Moses found that he really was employed by God, how fearless he was of ridicule. He went in to Pharaoh and delivered his Master’s message. The interview with Moses and Aaron must have seemed supremely ridiculous to Pharaoh. It put him into a great rage. These two Israelites, wretched slaves, coming to tell the great king of Egypt that he must let Israel go — how absurd! Even to the Israelites it must have appeared preposterous, for two people such as these to go in before the king. Why, with a word he could have said, “Take off the dogs’ heads,” and so have ended all the business immediately. Yet they went and opposed him openly and resolutely in his royal palace, and delivered what he might think a vain menace, but what they knew to be a veritable message from God.
22. Insignificant as we by ourselves may be, the very fact that God instructs us to speak might suffice to quell our fears. We must go and speak the Lord’s message, and must not be afraid of being thought to be infatuated. When I have sometimes asked a sinner to live and believe in Christ, I have heard a mutter, “What is the good of telling a dead man to live?” Some wise brother has said, “You might as well shake a pocket-handkerchief over a grave.” Yes, brother, it is true — quite true. So might Moses as well have shaken a pocket-handkerchief outside Pharaoh’s palace; but, when God asked him to go and tell Pharaoh to let his people go, he went and did it. And when the Lord asks any one of us to go to a sinner and say, “Believe,” we cannot make the sinner believe, neither can he make himself believe: but the preacher sent by God is an echo of God’s voice; God speaks through him; with authority he is commissioned to say to the sinner, “Turn, turn; why will you die? Repent and be baptized every one of you.” We are asked to speak peremptorily, as ambassadors of the King; not because of any prerogative we assume, but as we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience, there is power in our message. The voice that speaks by stammering Moses is divine, notwithstanding the ridicule that may be heaped upon it.
23. Moses having such a command to go and speak must be undeterred by refusal. “I do not know the Lord,” said Pharaoh, “neither will I let his people go.” Now, dear brother, you cannot win souls unless you are prepared to meet strong rebuffs. Indeed, but some are heart-broken if any resistance is offered to them. You may expect it. Old human nature does not know the Lord. You remember how Melancthon thought he was going to convert any number of people when he began to preach, but when he found out his mistake he said, “Old Adam is too strong for young Melancthon.” So he is. You will come across a bit of grit every now and then which will break your knife. Do not be dismayed, the Lord will sharpen you and make you stronger and stronger yet; for even that Pharaoh, who said, “I will not let the people go,” will soon be down on his knees begging the people to depart. We must be prepared for opposition, and neither flinch nor quail, but brace ourselves for the struggle.
24. So, too, the man whom God sends ought to be assured of success. I am persuaded that Moses, after he had gotten over his first little difficulties with the people and recovered from his own diffidence, did not parley with doubt, but was strong in faith. There he stood with the wondrous rod, turning waters into blood and killing all their fish, covering the heavens with blackness, turning the dust into living creatures, bringing hail and grievous murrain, and doing it all as calmly and quietly as he should do who feels that he is the voice of God. How steadily he kept at his work! With what diligence he persevered in it, until at last the tenth plague found Moses unmoved, ready to conduct the people away to the Red Sea and to bring them out into the wilderness! Oh servants of God, be calm and confident. Go on preaching the gospel. Go on teaching in the Sunday School. Go on giving away the tracts. Go on with steady perseverance. Be sure of this, you shall not labour in vain or spend your strength for nothing. Do you still stutter? Are you still slow of speech? Nevertheless, go on. Have you been rebuked and rebuffed? Have you had little else than defeat? This is the way to success. You shall macadamize [smooth] the road with the rough flints of your failure. Toil on and believe on. Be steadfast in your confidence, for with a high hand and an outstretched arm the Lord will bring out his own elect, and he will bring some of them out by you. Only trust in the Lord and hold on the even tenor of your way.
25. III. Our last word is upon THE POWER OF GOD. Without the power of God the voice of man would have been an utter failure.
26. What effect was produced by the voice of Moses? Did there not go out with it a power which plagued Pharaoh? It filled the sinful land of Egypt with plagues. So men who preach God’s gospel with God’s power fill the world with plagues. “I know that,” a man says. “I wish I had never listened to that fellow. I could not sleep last night.” No, the frogs had gotten up into his bedroom. The true preacher finds his hearer sometimes saying, “I will never go again. Wherever I am, I seem to be haunted and tormented with the truth that man has spoken so badly and so boldly. The commands he enforces run counter to the prejudices I cherish, they alarm my conscience, and worry me incessantly.” Yes, he has made a simple sermon bring out all manner of flies — thoughts that will sting a man wherever he goes, and he cannot escape from them! He still kicks and strives against the gospel — rebels against it, will not have it — gets angry, goes to the theatre one night, joins in a little social revelry another night, but to no avail; he does not enjoy anything, he scarcely knows why. Immediately, a thick darkness comes over the whole scene of life, as the darkness came over all the land of Egypt. All that was beautiful and brilliant is now obscured. All that was pleasant and joyous is now eclipsed. The man finds that he does not even enjoy the ordinary comforts of life. He does not know why. He does not intend to yield to the gospel, yet his very bread seems sour, and the water he draws from the well is brackish and bitter. His troubles multiply and follow each other in quick succession. Now a hailstorm that leaves desolation behind; then a grievous murrain among the cattle. The hand of the Lord is not confined to the farmstead. It will visit your home. His terrible judgment reaches your family, your fondest love, your firstborn son. As of old, there was a cry going up in the land of Egypt, so that it was intolerable to stay there, so God lays bare his arm in the very great plagues which his terrible law brings upon a man. When he intends to deliver him and bring him to himself, God’s servants become the harbingers of plagues. Jesus himself said, “I did not come to send peace on the earth, but a sword.” That sword is unsheathed, and families are divided against each other, with the grand intent that Israel should be brought out and peace established by the redemption which Jehovah has provided.
27. What will eventually occur? Why, the oppressor will be glad to part with his bondmen. It sometimes happens that the ungodly become themselves very glad to get rid of God’s chosen people, whom they are prone to persecute. “Their melancholy ill comports with our liveliness,” so they say. They did all they could to invite them to their parties and get them into their frivolities again; they laid traps for them to keep them away from hearing the gospel; but now the Lord has begun to deal with them their old companions say, “Now we must give them up.” “I have tried all I could to get our old comrade back to our old festivities,” one says, “but, really, he said such things that he quite poisoned all our pleasures. We could not enjoy ourselves. I say, let us get rid of him. Do not let him be in our company any more.” Yes, it is a grand thing — when the preaching of the gospel makes the ungodly want to keep the converts away from their cliques — when they say, “Oh, go off to the Tabernacle: we do not want you here; you have pestered us enough with your religion, and your prayers, and your crying, and your tears, and your talk about being lost, and your wanting to find a Saviour. You are bad company, and you had better be gone.” A lady who joined this church some years ago, moving in the higher circles of society, said to me, “I was quite willing to continue my acquaintance with my friends, but I found they gave me the cold shoulder, and did not want me.” Just so. It is a great mercy when the Egyptians say, “Get out,” and when they are ready to give you jewels of silver and jewels of gold to get rid of you. The Lord wants his people to come right out and to be separate; he knows how by the simple utterance of the gospel to put such a division between his people, and those who are not his people, so that even the ungodly shall begin to say, “Get out; we want to have nothing further to do with you.” Glory be to God when such a thing as that happens.
28. And the Lord knows how to make all opposition cease, for it is written that when Israel came out of Egypt, not so much as a dog moved his tongue against the children of Israel. Before, they were such slaves that if a cur barked at them they dared not turn against it, for fear it should be the dog of an Egyptian, who would be surely down on them for meddling with his dog. How dare a slave do that? Everyone was against them. But when the Lord brought them out, there was not a dog that dared bark that night. The Egyptians were all anxious that they should be gone, and willing that they should go; and Pharaoh, too, must have astonished his subjects with his sudden zeal to see this strange people gone.
Do you know what that means? Oh, what fightings and fencings, what
wars and strifes there were in my soul when I was trying to find
Christ! My old sins came up against me, my memory unearthed buried
trespasses; faults and failings gathered in force like a flood, and
threatened to overwhelm me. Everything, in my constant studies, and
in my daily experiences, seemed to drive me back from Christ. But on
that memorable Sunday morning when I heard the word, “Look to me, and
be saved, all the ends of the earth,” I did look, and lo, not a dog
moved his tongue against me. My sins did not complain. They were
drowned in the Red Sea of the blood of Jesus. My old corruptions, — I
did not know at the time that I had any, they were so very quiet.
Temptations ceased to trouble me. For that little while, at any rate,
the warrior seemed to sheathe his sword and the brickmaker laid down
his clay to go out of Egypt with jewels of silver and jewels of gold.
I could sing to the Lord, for he had triumphed gloriously. I have met
some of these old Egyptians since then, a good number of them, and I
have had some hard dealings with them; but, at that time, all was
still and quiet, happy and blessed.
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.
30. With the paschal lamb in our mouths no one dares to challenge us. The blood on the door is an unanswerable answer to every accuser, objector, or adversary.
Glory be to God, then, who can fetch out his people like this and
deliver them from their sins, their lusts, their habits, their
passions — deliver them from death — deliver them from going down into
the pit, and so deliver them so that no one shall lay anything to
their charge, since God has justified them and Christ has absolved
them. May the Lord grant us grace to be used as his instruments as
Moses was; and may each one of us cry to the Lord, if we are in
bondage, just as Israel did in Egypt. May the Lord in mercy send out
concerning every poor sinner here just such a message as he sent
concerning his people in the house of bondage. “Thus says the Lord;
‘Let my son go, so that he may serve me.’ ” If he will work like this
among us as in the olden times, to him shall be the glory now at this
present time, yes, and for evermore. Amen.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ex 4:10-17,21-23 5:1-9,15-6:8]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Redeeming Love” 440]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Covenant — The Covenant God Extolled” 229]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace — Gracious Election” 219]
Jesus Christ, His Praise
440 — Redeeming Love <7s.>
1 Now begin the heavenly theme,
Sing aloud in Jesus’ name!
Ye, who his salvation prove,
Triumph in redeeming love.
2 Ye, who see the Father’s grace
Beaming in the Saviour’s face,
As to Canaan on ye move,
Praise and bless redeeming love.
3 Mourning souls, dry up your tears,
Banish all your guilty fears;
See your guilt and curse remove,
Cancell’d by redeeming love.
4 Ye, alas! who long have been
Willing slaves to death and sin,
Now from bliss no longer rove;
Stop and taste redeeming love.
5 Welcome all by sin oppress’d,
Welcome to his sacred rest,
Nothing brought him from above,
Nothing but redeeming love.
6 When his Spirit leads us home,
When we to his glory come,
We shall all the fulness prove
Of our Lord’s redeeming love.
7 He subdued the infernal powers,
His tremendous foes and ours,
From their cursed empire drove,
Mighty in redeeming love.
8 Hither then your music bring,
Strike aloud each cheerful string:
Mortals, join the host above,
Join to praise redeeming love.
Madan’s Collection, 1763.
God the Father, Acts, Covenant
229 — The Covenant God Extolled <6.8.4.>
1 The God of Abraham praise
Who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days,
And God of love!
Jehovah, great I AM!
By earth and heaven confest;
I bow, and bless the sacred name,
For ever blest!
2 The God of Abraham praise,
At whose supreme command,
From earth I rise, and seek the joys
At his right hand:
I all on earth forsake,
Its wisdom, fame, and power;
And him my only portion make,
My shield and tower.
3 The God of Abraham praise,
Whose all sufficient grace
Shall guide me all my happy days
In all his ways:
He calls a worm his friend,
He calls himself my God!
And he shall save me to the end,
Through Jesus’ blood.
4 He by himself hath sworn,
I on his oath depend;
I shall, on eagles’ wings upborne,
To heaven ascend:
I shall behold his face,
I shall his power adore,
And sing the wonders of his grace
THE SECOND PART.
5 Though nature’s strength decay,
And earth and hell withstand,
To Canaan’s bounds I urge my way
At his command:
The watery deep I pass
With Jesus in my view,
And through the howling wilderness
My way pursue.
6 The goodly land I see,
With peace and plenty blest;
A land of sacred liberty,
And endless rest:
There milk and honey flow
And oil and wine abound,
And trees of life for ever grow,
With mercy crown’d.
7 There dwells the Lord our King,
The Lord our righteousness!
Triumphant o’er the world and sin,
The Prince of Peace.
On Sion’s sacred height,
His kingdom still maintains;
And glorious with his saints in light,
For ever reigns.
8 The whole triumphant host
Give thanks to God on high,
“Hail Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”
They ever cry:
Hail, Abraham’s God, and mine!
I join the heavenly lays;
All might and majesty are Thine,
And endless praise.
Thomas Olivers, 1772.
God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace
219 — Gracious Election <11.8.>
1 In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
Ye pilgrims to Zion who press,
Break forth, and extol the great Ancient of days,
His rich and distinguishing grace.
2 His love, from eternity fix’d upon you,
Broke forth, and discover’d its flame,
When each with the cords of his kindness he drew,
And brought you to love his great name.
3 Oh, had he not pitied the state you were in,
Your bosom his love had ne’er felt;
You all would have lived, would have died too in sin,
And sunk with the load of your guilt.
4 What was there in you that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?
“’Twas even so, Father,” you ever must sing,
“Because it seem’d good in thy sight.”
5 ‘Twas all of thy grace we were brought to obey,
While others were suffer’d to go
The road which by nature we chose as our way,
Which leads to the regions of woe.
6 Then give all the glory to his Holy name,
To him all the glory belongs;
Be yours the high joy still to sound forth his fame,
And crown him in each of your songs.
George Keith, 1787.