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versal blessing. The first was literally fulfilled. The second has been quietly approaching its fulfillment during the three centuries that have rolled by. The family of Israel came into Egypt. The nation has come into being, a great host, a multitude in whose veins ran the blood of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The fullness of the time approaches, and God prepares the means for the next act in the great drama of the redemption. No doubt God could have devised some other means of making known his will; but, in fact, He has very rarely used any other means than prophecy, that is to say, He has spoken by men, He has moved human spirits by the influence of His spirit, and thus He speaks.
Moses was the first man to whom the name of prophet was distinctly applied, for he was the first man whose chief office was to reveal God's will to others. True, Adam and Noah, and the patriarchs were means of revelation, but their messages were directions as to conduct and promises concerning what God would do. The work of Moses was distinctly and almost exclusively to reveal God's will to others, to direct them. He was in the fullest sense God's spokesman, and this is exactly the meaning of the word "prophet-pó onuí," to speak for.
It is never wise to speak of one divinely appointed work as greater than another; we are not in a position to judge; but it is evident that different preparation is needed for different tasks. The work which was now to be done was the organizing and training of a nation for the priesthood. Israel was the raw material out of which a church was to be made—very raw was the material and exceedingly intractable.
Israel went to Egypt as a family of seventy souls all told. They had now become a great multitude. This multitude is to be constituted a nation, and organized a church. They are ready to begin their training for the office of the priesthood
the priesthood of the world.
They were certainly a most unpromising candidate for such holy orders. The sons of Jacob had not attained to any high degree of moral character when they went to Egypt; they were little better than barbarians and of low grade morality. It is not probable that they grew in grace in the untoward circumstances of their bondage. Their readiness to relapse into idolatry shows how the false gods of their masters had corrupted their faith in the God of their fathers.
It is probable that many of them were skilled workmen, but it is not probable that the masses of the people were anything but ignorant and stupid and depraved. The effects of slavery are inevitable; and their cowardice and childishness prove that they afford no exception to the rule. Stiff-necked and rebellious are epithets applied to them by the prophets; and the words are fully warranted by all their history,
To make of such people a nation, which should in due time bless all nations, was certainly no task for any ordinary man. But no ordinary man was called to undertake it, but one who, take him all in all, has no peer among the heroes of the world. His preparation for the work was elaborate and thorough. He was adopted by the daughter of Pharoah, and was probably brought up in the court of Egypt. At all events, he received the best education possible at that time; which was probably the most highly cultivated age of the most cultivated nation of ancient times. At the age of forty, by a rash act of sympathetic indignation, he banishes himself from Egypt. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews seems to intimate that it was not fear of punishment that led to his flight, and it is probable that the killing of a petty task-master by a prince of the royal house would not have been considered a very serious offense. And we are probably to gather that the incident was rather the occasion than the cause of his decision to renounce the prospects of preferment as a prince of Egypt, and to accept the
fate of his own kindred; and perhaps he even then cherished the hope of their deliverance.
His long sojourn in the wilderness of Midian was no doubt quite as necessary to his preparation as was his learning in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. At the end of that period of preparation comes the divine call to the great work he was to do.
THE CALL OF MOSES AND THE EXODUS
Words are very imperfect means of expressing thoughts, symbols are much better. Words are artificial; there is no real connection between any thought and the sound by which we name it. Such conventional arrangement by which a certain sound is used to denote a certain object is limited by its very nature to a narrow and superficial application, but a symbol, such as metaphor or parable, is capable of wide and varied use, suggestive of many relations and rich in all manner of associations. Moreover words are very unstable, they shift and change their meaning and become misleading or devoid of content. Purple used to denote a color which we now call crimson-indeed it meant blood-colored; the word has changed its meaning, but blood is still blood-colored, and will always remain the same.
If therefore, we would have permanent records or immutable revelations, symbols similitudes or allegory—are the better medium. The account that we have of the call of Moses is a fine example of the skillful use of words and symbols combined.
When Moses fled from Egypt, he went to the land of Midian, there married and kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, in the wilderness that lies about the mountains of Horeb, or Sinai. It is highly probable that the pitiful state of his kindred people under the cruel hands of their Egyptian task-masters was much in his thoughts and the possibility of their de
liverance often considered. However this may be, his mind was somehow well prepared for the revelation God was about to give him.
One day he saw a strange sight, a bush that burned with fire, and yet the bush was not consumed, -fit symbol of the people, persecuted, yet not destroyed. Then, as he looked and wondered, "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush," and the angel called him by name and said, “I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” “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 task-masters; for I know their sorrows: and have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land, and to bring them into a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey," "Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharoah, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Moses is appalled at the magnitude and difficulty of the task, and pleads his inability to undertake it. God reasons with him, encourages him, promises to be with him and give him success.
The dramatic parable by which God persuades him is very interesting. “And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? and he said, A rod”—his shepherd's staff, the badge and implement of his calling. “And He said, Cast it on the ground"—that is, leave your present occupation. "And he cast it on the ground and it became a serpent and Moses fled from before it"—the new task to which he was called was dangerous and Moses feared to take it. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thy hand and take it by the tail"-take up the task I give you, take it prudently but fearlessly. "And he put forth his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand.” It should be his proper calling, a veritable shepherd's
rod, but of a different flock. Thus God, by miracle and parable and comforting speech, persuades Moses to undertake the work, in the assurance that it was God's will.
Then we have the marvelous story of the Exodus, a story full of all manner of signs and wonders, of thrilling incident and bold adventure. The courage of Moses' appearing before the King of Egypt, his dignity and his persistence are quite as wonderful as the miracles and special acts of Providence by which God authenticated his message and executed his divine purpose.
The details of his appeal to Pharoah, the plagues of Egypt, the dreadful final stroke of death on the first-born of every home, the miraculous passover, the fight, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the tedious and turbulent progress through the desert to the great encampment at the foot of Mt. Sinai, need not be here rehearsed. Read it in full in Exodus III-XIX:
And we shall now pass on to the great events which form the culmination of the story of the Exodus, which was the giving of the law, the organizing of the seed of Abraham into a nation and a church, the consecration of this nation to be the priest of the world.