And the LORD said to Moses, Why cry you to me? speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward:
I. First, we will contemplate THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AS A FLOCK OF FUGITIVES; and in this light they give encouragement to trembling sinners, flying from the curse of the law and from the power of their sins. You are trying to escape from your sins; you are not, as you used to be, a contented bondsman. You have been flying as best you could from sin; but the whole of your sins are after you, and your conscience with its quick ear can hear the sound of threatening judgment. "Alas!" your heart is saying, "unless God help me, I shall be in hell." "Alas!" says your judgment, "unless God be merciful, I shall soon perish." Every power of your manhood is now upon the alarm. Now, what shall I do for you? Shall I pray for you? Ay, that I will. But, methinks, while I am praying for you, I hear my Master saying, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me?" Tell them to go forward; preach Christ to them, instead of praying any longer, or bidding them pray. Deliver to them the message of the gospel — "Forward, sinner, forward to the Cross!"
II. Secondly, we may view the great company who came out of Egypt as AN ARMY UNDER COMMAND; therefore, they must obey. The command given to them is, "Forward!" "Sir, I have begun to be a Christian, but, if I continue in it, I shall lose my business. My calling is such that I cannot be honest in it, and serve my God faithfully. What ought I to do? Ought I not to give up my religion?" Forward I no matter what is before you. Forward! you are not fit to be a soldier of Christ unless you can count all costs, and still hold fast to the Cross of Christ. "Ah!" says one, "but what is to become of my children, my household?" Friend, I cannot tell thee, but God can. It is thine to trust them with Him, for the only command I have for you is, Forward! forward! "But my husband says, I shall never come into the house again; my father tells me he will turn me out of doors." Be it so, no one pities you more than I do; but I dare not alter my message to your soul. "Go forward!" "Well," says one, "these are hard commands." Yes, but the martyrs had harder still.
III. Let us view these people as ON THE MARCH TOWARDS CANAAN. Many of you are on your way towards heaven, and the Lord's command to you is "Forward! forward!" There are some persons who cannot be persuaded to make an advance in the Divine life. We ought to go forward in —
3. Fellowship with Christ;
4. Work for our Master.
IV. To CHRISTIANS IN TROUBLE our text is applicable. The children of Israel were in a trial into which God had brought them; and it is an absolute certainty, that if God brings you in, He will bring you out. He never did take a saint where he must of necessity perish. What is to be done now? God's word is — "Forward!" God shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.
V. THE ISRAELITES WERE UPON A DIVINE MISSION. They were going up to slay the Canaanites. Preaching is the great weapon of God for pulling down strongholds; it will pull down the hugest blocks of stone the enemy can pile together, I would I could make every member of this Church feel in earnest about doing good.
VI. Soon you and I will stand on the brink of Jordan's river; the deep sea of death will roll before us; trusting in Jesus, we shall not fear the last solemn hour. We shall hear the angel say, "Forward!" we shall touch the chilly stream with our feet, the flood shall fly, and we shall go through the stream dry-shod.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: