And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
The history of the deliverance of God's people from the bondage of Egypt, their pilgrimage through the wilderness, and then ultimate settlement in the Land of Promise, bears a striking analogy to the history of the human soul.
I. The words "Let My people go," regarded as spoken concerning human souls, may be said to contain in themselves the whole gospel history of our redemption. Even the small word "My" is emphatic. We are God's people; not Satan's people. When God claims us we should remember that He claims His own, and that we are bound to support His claim. (2) The summons to let the people of God go implies a bondage from which they are to be delivered. That which forms the basis of Holy Scripture is the fact that man committed sin. He rebelled against his Maker, and became the slave of one to whom he owed no obedience. (3) If the words "Let My people go" imply the existence of slavery, they still more emphatically imply the way and the promise of redemption. The Gospel of Christ, as preached throughout the whole world, is just this—"Let My people go."
II. The whole system of ordinances and sacraments, in which we find ourselves by God's providence, like the system of ordinances and sacrifices which was given to Israel when they came out of Egypt, are intended to insure and perfect and turn to the best account the liberty which the Lord has given us, for the soul of man may not be content with emancipation once and for all.
III. The consideration of what Jesus Christ has done for us is the chief means of moving our hearts to seek that liberty which God designs us all to possess.
Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Penny Pulpit, No. 643.
References: Exodus 5:2.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 65; Parker, vol. ii., p. 309.
Exodus 5:22-23When Moses saw the vision at Horeb, he had passed many more years in the world than Jacob at the time of his vision at Bethel; he knew much of which Jacob was ignorant, and had experienced a kind of sorrow which had never reached him. He had passed through the sore trial of feeling himself the member of an utterly degraded race, which he had dreamed of helping and could not help; in the very sufferings of which he was not allowed to share. He had an early inward intimation that he might unite and deliver this people. The intimation had come to nothing. He might call himself an Egyptian, a Midianite, an Ethiopian, as well as a Hebrew.
I. This education in an Egyptian court, in the family of a Midianitish priest, in an Ethiopian desert, was just the one which was to prepare him for understanding the vocation of a Hebrew in the world; just the one which was to make him fit for a deliverer and lawgiver of his people.
It required that he should be far from kinsmen and from country—from every external association with the covenant of his fathers—that he might hear and understand the words, "I AM THAT I AM;" that he might receive the assurance, "I AM hath sent thee."
II. Moses was called to be the deliverer and founder of a nation. Either that nation stood upon this Divine Name, or it and all that has grown out of it are mockeries and lies from first to last. "The Lord God of the Hebrews, the God of our nation, the God of our family, has established and upholds the order of human existence and all nature,"—this is the truth which Moses learnt at the bush; the only one which could bring the Jews or any people out of slavery into manly freedom and true obedience.
F. D. Maurice, Patriarchs and Lawgivers of the Old Testament, p. 154.
References: Exodus 5:22, Exodus 5:23.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. viii., p. 141; Congregationalist, vol. vii., p. 208. 5-11. (14)—J. Monro Gibson, The Mosaic Era, p. 31. Exodus 6:1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1440. Exodus 6:2, Exodus 6:3.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 93; Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 211. Exodus 6:3.—A. M. Fairbairn, The City of God, p. 123; Parker, vol. ii., p. 310. Exodus 6:6-8.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xii., p. 145.
And Pharaoh said, 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.
And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
And Pharaoh commanded the same day 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.
And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?
Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?
There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people.
But he said, 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, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.
And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task.
And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.