« PreviousContinue »
the Lord to return to Zion, with songs and everlasting joy on their heads. In this manner, then, did the good-will of him who dwelt in the bush' discover itself to Moses ; in this manner was he instructed to declare it to Israel ; in this gracious language is it recorded to us, on whom the ends of the world are come. Nay more, I will drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, &c. and will bring Israel into a good land and large ; a land flowing with milk and honey.' It is impossible to restrain the mind, or dwell upon the wealth of Canaan. Was ever the blessed hope of the heavenly and incorruptible inheritance more clearly preached? Well,' says the apostle,, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city:' this was the faith in which the Old-Testament saints died; this the hope which led them to become pil. grims and strangers ; this the prize they had in view ; stimulated by which, they declared plainly they looked for a better country, that is, a heavenly. Here, then, opens to us the grand design of the old covenant ; here bursts upon our view the heavenly paradise ! In Eden, then, was a figure of the true garden of God; in Canaan, a pattern of the wealthy place, to which God will bring all his chosen at last. It was to make the promise more clear that the law was added ; to convey to the mind a more accurate impression of the good things in store, that Canaan was laid open to Israel. The earthly tabernacle we shall find to be a pattern of heavenly things; the earthly Canaan, a pattern of the heavenly country. In this chapter, then, we find the Angel, the Redeemer from all evil, foreshow. ing his future manifestation in flesh, and sending Moses to Israel to preach the gospel. Was all this solemnity necessary to ease their shoulders from hard work ? Surely not : Relief from guilt was the grand object in view ; and if we analyze the message put in Moses' mouth, we find it amounts to nothing more nor less than this, • Come unto me, all ye that labour, aud are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'
• Come then, and I will send thee,' said the Lord to Moses : here is his office ; • faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after,' and all the confidence he was to have, rested on these words, certainly I will be with thee.' The Lord also gave him that pledge, that when the people were brought out of Egypt, they should serve God on this very mountain.' In answer to Moses's inquiries, the divine angel is graciously pleased to reveal more fully his name and character, as the great I am, the eternal, independent, and self-existent God : In like manner as he appeared to John in Rev. i. : • Him who is, who was, and who is to come.' He also more particularly explains his great design, at which we have already hinted in part; the various particulars will fall to be more particularly noticed as they occur.
CHAP. IV.--In reading this chapter, one of the first reflections which will naturally strike the mind, will be, that remarkable display of the unbelief of the human heart which appears in Moses, who, however eminent from the office he was called to fill, was, in himself, a poor weak doubting mortal. God had said to him, • They shall • hearken to thy voice;' but Moses, losing view of the Divine Speaker, whose organ he was only to be, replies, . They will not believe me.' In gracious condescension to Moses, but still more for the demonstration of his own truth, he commits to Moses the power of working three different miracles, each of which deserve notice for this impore tant purpose, viz.those three miracles which Moses was empowered to work in proof of bis mission, are the three infallible signs which accompany the word of the truth of the gospel in all
ages. Moses' rod becoming a serpent, and his flying from before it, is a striking fie gure of the situation of guilty man flying before the great serpent, when the word of the gospel comes, subduing his powers, &c.
It was the work of the Son of God to
forth his hand,' and take hold of the great serpent, the devil and Satan ; he treads on the ad. der, and tramples the dragon, Psalm xci. 13. He appeared in the likeness of sinful fesh, to encounter this great enemy, before whom guilty man Aed, like Moses ; and he rejoiced in spirit, when he saw Satan, like lightening, falling from heaven. On this account, when our Lord was committing his rod into the hands of his apostles, he says, in language similar to that to Moses, . And these signs, • shall follow them that believe : THEY SHALL TAKE UP SERPENTS,' Mark xvi. 18. The express reference, in these words, to the miracle of Moses, cannot be denied ; and as this was to follow them that belicve, so he says to Moses, • This sign is given that they may believe • that the Lord God of your fathers hath appeared to thee.' The ser cond miracle which was committed to Moses, is no less remarkable in its figurative object : the putting his hand in his bosom, and its becoming leprous as snow, is a most express sign of that leprosy and incurable defilement which proceeds from the bosom or heart of man ; while putting it in again, it became pure and clean, as a figure of that purification which flows from the gospel, as Peter says, “pu• rifying their hearts by faith.'. Now, the gospel not only destroys the power of the serpent, but cleanses the defilement of the heart of man ; and many who have not been convinced by the voice of the first sign, viz. by the manifestation of the ALMIGHTY MICHAEL triumphing over principalities and powers in his cross, have listened to the latter sign, the cleansing of man's leprosy. • But,' says Jeho. vah, if they will not believe these two signs, neither hearken to thy * voice, then thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it
upon the dry land, and it shall become blood.' Here is a sign of the awful consequence of resisting the voice of God, and the effect of it,—the water of the river becoming blood. Was the voice of the gospel ever resisted upon any occasion, without producing this effect? Why was the moon of the Jewish church herself turned into blood ? Why all the plagues of the antichristian kingdom? There was buļ one cause, viz. resisting the voice of God. It was with
direct reference to this third sign committed to Moses and Aaron, that it is said of the two witnesses, Rev. xi. 6. • These have power • to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, and • have power over waters to turn them to blood,' &c.
The next circumstance which should arrest the reader's attention, is the introducing of Aaron to co-operate with Moses in this work, and the nature of his office, viz. · He shall be thy spokesman.' Again, · He shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to
him instead of God.' No language can more plainly express the design of the old covenant, or the Aaronical priesthood and worship. Moses was at this time of slow speech :' the gospel was preached by prophecy, and shone as a light in a dark place. The law was added to the promise, to be the spokesman to the people. The law had no authority to speak of itself. Aaron durst not take upon him to say one word more than Moses put in his mouth; or, in other words, the law is not against the promise : she is her handmaid like Hagar ; and she dares not utter one word or sentence, but what the gospel teaches her. There never was more unscriptural jargon than men have uttered on this head ; such as, • The law says Do ;' the gospel says, • 'Tis done.' Durst Aaron have ventured to tell the Israelites to do or stir one step for their own redemption ? Moses' commandment, or rather the gospel as preached by Moses, said, - Stand still
and see the salvation of God.' Would not instant vengeance have overwhelmed Aaron, had he uttered the slightest whisper against this glorious truth. It is marvellous, that many who have, in other respects, 'contended earnestly for the faith,' should, on this point, have departed so strangely from the simplicity of the truth." We shall have ample opportunity, in tracing the footsteps of Moses and Aaron, to illustrate this grand and important point, that the old covenant spake out more plainly what the promise had more obscurely hinted, until the fulness of the time should come, when, like Zacharias, who was struck dumb for his unbelief, the law, who had been employed as the spokesman of the gospel, should be silent ; for while Moses and Elias were on the Mount, the proclamation was made, . This is
my beloved Son, HEAR HIM.'
There is an expression made use of by Moses, when reasoning with his Maker, ver. 13., worthy of notice, because it appears evidently to allude to the Messiah as the true Shiloh of God, -Him whom thou shouldst send ; and, in this view, we are led to think of the extensive view of this mission which Moses had, and his own utter insufficiency to accomplish it. Nor should it pass unnoticed, that Moses is enjoined, ver. 19., ' Take this rod in thine hand, where with I thou shalt do signs. This rod was the representative of the word Of God, which is the rod of divine strength, by which all the signs and wonders of God have been in all ages wrought. And thus, Mo. ses was also taught to see, that the excellency of the power was not of himself, but of God. Moses returns to his father-in-law, and God again enjoins his return to Egypt, giving the same reason, which was afterwards given to a greater than Moses, All the men are dead who sought thy life inses accordingly sets out with his wife and chil.
dren, and takes the row of God in his hand. He is forewarned of his duty, to work all his wonders in the sight of Pharaoh, and the effect which these should produce, hardening his heart. We shall not here detain our readers with any remark on the divine sovereignty and purpose of God, but refer him to Rom. xi. 5. 10. Isaiah vi. 9, 10. 2 Cor. iv. 34., and 2 Thess. ii. 8. 12. In this is also displayed the uniform effect of the gospel : • To the one it is the savour of life • unto life, and to the other of death unto death.' The same heat which ameliorates, softens, enriches and fructifies the garden of God, hardens the clay, and fits it for the fire. Moses is instructed in the very form of words which he should use with Pharaoh. Here, for the first time, we meet with that manner of speech, which so often afterwards is used, Thus saith the Lord.' It is this high authority that can alone bind the consciences of men: this prefaced all that Moses said, not only to Pharaoh, but to Israel ; and this was the same authority which the apostles claimed. • Now, as though God • did beseech you by us,' said they,' we pray you, in Christ's • stead, be ye reconciled to God.' Our Lord himself had said, • He • that receiveth you, receiveth me. Now, the faithfulness of Moses in the house, as a servant, appeared in this, that he added nothing to, nor diminished aught from the word of the Lord, but faithfully reported what the Lord put in his mouth.
In the 22d verse, we have stated that new and interesting relation in which God's Israel is placed, God's Son, his first born! How precious this relation ! When Paul is enumerating the advantages of the Jew, he says, · To .. whom pertained the adoption ? &c. They were now adopted as sons, yea, first-born sons of God; therefore, as Paul reasons with the Romans, “ If sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with « Christ.' This is a fine view of Christian privileges, and Christian connection. • Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God,' 1 John iii. 1. The foundation of this connection was, that of their seed, according to the flesh, the true first born should spring, who is over all, God blessed for evermore. Opposed to this, Moses is commanded to threaten the death of all the first born of Egypt, or, as the Psalmist expresses it, the strength of the land of Ham. The circumstance recorded respecting Zipporah and her son, is attended with as' much difficulty as any place in sacred writ. The most general conjecture is this, That the Lord appeared to Moses at an inn by the way,
and threatened to kiil him, because of his not circumcising his son ; that Zipporah on this circumcised him, and reproached Moses as a bloody husband. But inconsistency meets this conjecture on every
hand d; and there is no person who can think of the subject, but must consi. der it as, to say no more, very unsatisfactory. We do not pretend to be capable of giving such a view of it as we could wish, but the following hints may be useful. In ver. 22. and 23, we have the message to Pharaoh, - Israel is my sòn, even my first born, and I say to sthee, Let my son go that he may serve me ; and if thou refuse to 5 let him go, behold I will slay thy son, even thy first born. Does not the following context shew there is a particular application of these words to Moses' son ; for the Lord sought to kill him," ver. 24. ; and we are told in verse 26. • So he let him go. There is evidently a mistranslation in the text of verse 24. * And it came to
pass by the way in the inn. We know there were no inns in those days, especially in the wilderness. We shall, therefore, probably find the key to the subject here, which is perhaps this : That as Zipporah was delivered of her second son by the way, and refused to let him be circumcised on the eighth day, the divine threatening of cutting off was about to be executed, when he was delivered from death by the blood of the circumcision, in which Moses had a view of the manner in which God would deliver his first born, by the blood of the paschal Lamb.
CHAP. V. In this chapter we have an account of Moses and Aaron, the Lord's two witnesses, appearing before Pharaoh, to ful. til their embassy, and demand permission for Israel to hold a feast to the Lord in the wilderness. The chief things to be observed, are the sources of Pharaoh's opposition, and hardness of heart. · Who • is the Lord that I should obey him? All opposition in man arises from his ignorance of the divine character. Connected with this, the effect of this interposition of Moses and Aaron, was only to in. crease their affliction, and the rigour of their bondage. The posterity of Jacob, are now in the third and fourth generation, experien. cing the wages of selling Joseph for a slave to this very Egypt. • Come let us deal wisely with these Israelites,' said Pharaoh and his courtiers ; but thus has it always been, · He taketh the wise in their
own craftiness.' When Pharaoh asks, · Who is the Lord ?hu. man policy would have cut him off as in a moment; but God had first to teach him who the Lord is, and that by an outstretched hand, and great judgments. We shall only add, that this chapter exhibits a most impressive figure of the depth of antichristian darkness.
CHAP. VI.-opens with a renewed revelation of the divine plan of his great deliverance ; which was to be effected, not by stealth, but with all the strength and power of the almighty arm of God. « Thou shalt see what I will do to Pharaoh,' are word
which are yet to be fulfilled in their ultimate design. The salvation of the ransomed hosts of Israel will be made still more glorious, by their beholding the destruction of their enemies. It is by more full and comprehensive views of his name and character, that God emboldens and encourages Moses, I am JEHOVAH,' says he, and I not only appeared to the patriarchs by the naine of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH. This name has an intimate connection with God's covenant : all the remarkable manifestations which are recorded in the book of Genesis are under that name ; and it is here introduced, for the same reason as it is more fully expressed to John, Rev. i. 8. • Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'. Leigh remarks, that it is compounded of three syllables, descriptive of of the three peric ds. Je denotes the future ; Ho, the present ; and VAH, the past time. This name is the true and proper distinct game