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YOUR LETTER RECEIVED,--THANKS!
Please accept our thanks for your hundreds of letters received recently, and know of our hearty appreciation of your sympathy and confidence. The fact that you were slow to believe an evil report, and that you waited patiently for our reply, speaks well for your spiritual condition;--"thinketh no evil," being one of the fruits of the spirit of Christ, just as "evil surmisings" evidence a carnal mind. Cultivate in yourselves more and more the spirit of the truth you enjoy. So your hearts will be in that healthy condition which neither breeds a spiritual pestilence, nor is susceptible to its contagion from others.
Our thoughts were more with you than for ourselves, we feared for the younger and the weaker ones, and prayed for you all,--that your faith fail not, and that you cast not away your confidence which hath great recompense of reward. The letters referred to came as answers to our prayers, as assurances that the Lord knoweth them that are his and that none are able to pluck them out of his hand. Sister Tucker's letter came first, and was specially acknowledged at the throne of grace. This trial by which the great Adversary sought to disrupt the Lord's work and scatter the Lord's sheep is really drawing the true hearts nearer to each other and to the Lord. We realize afresh that all things are working together for good to them that love God, the called ones according to his purpose. The Lord will not forget this, your ministry of love toward us. (See Heb. 6:10; 10:32-39.) Even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple will in due time receive a reward from the King. Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of his disciples, ye did it unto him.
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====================r1647 VOL. XV. MAY 1 & 15, 1894. NOS. 9 & 10.
STUDIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
--INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR
READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE
LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO
LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
[R1650 : page 141]
ISRAEL IN EGYPT.
II. QUAR., LESSON VII., MAY 13, EXOD. 1:1-14.
Golden Text--"Our help is in the name of the Lord."-- Psa. 124:8.
As preceding lessons showed us how God prepared a place for his people in Egypt and transported them thither and planted them in the best of the land and gave them great temporal prosperity during the lifetime of all the first generation, we now come to view them under another course of instruction --this time in the school of adversity.
In the midst of prosperity they had marvelously increased so that the second generation filled the land of Goshen; and the new king which knew not Joseph, and the new generation of Egyptians, too, which forgot the gratitude of their fathers toward Joseph and the disposition to manifest it in favor to his relatives and descendants, began to fear lest this prosperous people in their midst might some time rise up against them or ally themselves with their enemies. Hence the decree of the king mentioned in verse 10.
VERSES 11-14tell the bitter story of their oppression, under which they were taught valuable lessons of humility and patience, of dependence upon God, and of hope for deliverance inspired by his precious promises. Here, too, their common sufferings bound them together as a people, and kept them distinct and separate from the Egyptians [R1651 : page 141] and consequently from their influence in matters of religion, etc.
But notwithstanding their hard bondage the promises of God that they should rapidly multiply (Gen. 15:5; 22:17) was being fulfilled, so that, from the handful of seventy souls that went down into Egypt, there [R1651 : page 142] came out, after about three centuries, about six hundred thousand men, which implies a population of about two millions.
To those who are able, through a knowledge
of God's plan, to rise to his standpoint
in viewing his dealings with his people,
there is a most manifest exhibition of fatherly
wisdom and care in this discipline in
Egypt, as well as in all their subsequent
leadings. As a wise father, God foresaw
that too much prosperity would be greatly
to their disadvantage--tending to pride, ambition,
independence, self-gratification, self-indulgence,
indolence; and to assimilation
with friendly aliens from the commonwealth
of Israel and the imbibing of their
idolatrous principles and practices. All this
was checked and guarded against by the
bitter experiences of Israel in Egypt, while
the opposite tendencies were all encouraged.
And thus also the way was paved for a
grand exhibition of God's further care and
wisdom in their timely and wonderful deliverance
when his purposes for them in
Egypt had been fully accomplished.
[R1651 : page 142]
THE CHILDHOOD OF MOSES.
II. QUAR., LESSON VIII., MAY 20, EXOD. 2:1-10.
Golden Text--"I will deliver him and honor him."-- Psa. 91:15.
This lesson presents several features of divine interposition worthy of very special consideration. (1) It calls to mind the promise of God to Jacob hundreds of years previous (Gen. 46:4)--to bring his posterity back to the land of promise, his purposes in sending them down into Egypt having been accomplished; and now he is preparing to fulfil that promise.
(2) It is another illustration (See also Rom. 9:11) of God's elections of certain individuals for special services in the present life, and the shaping of their course in view of that purpose. Like the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:15) Moses seems to have been chosen, even before he was born. These elections were not unto everlasting life, but to a place of service in the present life. Though Paul was "a chosen vessel" to preach Christ to the Gentiles, he might have become "a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:27) so far as future honors are concerned.
(3) It affords another illustration of special divine providence in the protection, preservation and training of the chosen instruments of service. Born under the cruel edict of death, that very circumstance was divinely overruled for Moses' advantage, and through him for that of all Israel: and so the wrath of opposing men was made to advance the divine plan, instead of to retard it, as intended. It was due to this circumstance that Moses was brought up in all the learning of the Egyptians, and thus fitted for his future work as a great leader and statesman.
(4) It shows how God, while working out his grand designs on a large scale, is not unmindful of the faith and devotion of humble individuals who put their trust in him. By faith Moses' parents hid him three months, and then took him to the river's brink and left him alone in the hands of God; and confidently trusting him, "they were not afraid of the king's commandment." --Heb. 11:23.
(5) It shows how God has respect both to the character and to the natural qualifications of his chosen instruments. Thus, for instance, for the leadership of Israel he chose a good man, a godly man, one who preferred to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of an Egyptian court, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. (Heb. 11:24-27.) But for the throne of Egypt at that particular time he chose one of very opposite character (Rom. 9:17), and thus his purpose was wrought out in the fullest exercise of the free moral agency of both.
It is notable also that in choosing Moses for his great work as a deliverer and statesman, God did not choose a novice, but, on the contrary, he chose one of great natural ability and gave to him just the kind of education he needed for his work--his earliest years under the training of godly parents, whose instilling of the principles of truth and righteousness and whose instructions in the hope of Israel, were not without their desired effect in all the subsequent years of life; then the remainder of forty years under the most favorable circumstances for learning what the most enlightened nation of that day afforded; and then forty years in the retirement of domestic life, well suited for the mellowing and refining of his character and the deepening, and enriching of experience.
And yet in choosing this man of learning and ability God, as in the case of the Apostle Paul, permitted a thorn in the flesh, lest [R1651 : page 143] he should be exalted above measure by the honors of his high position. He was slow of speech--a diffident, retiring man and not at all gifted as an orator. The office, however, did not require oratory, and so the charms of eloquence were not given--his meekness coupled with great executive ability especially fitted him for it. A similar course of previous training is also very noticeable in the case of the Apostle Paul. (See Gal. 1:15; Acts 22:3; 26:24.) And the same Apostle urges all who would be used of the Lord to study to show themselves workmen approved unto God.--2 Tim. 2:15.
(6) It is also noticeable that for special leadership God chooses the few and not the many, and more frequently only one at a time. There was only one Lord Jesus to redeem and restore our lost and ruined race. There was only one Paul to lead on in declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles, and to leave his rich legacy of inspired love to the Gentile Christians of all subsequent generations. There was only one Moses to lead the hosts of Israel out of bondage and to be a father unto them and a judge, though there was a host of honored co-workers with him--Aaron, Hur, Joshua, Caleb, et al. So also in later days God has from time to time raised up special instruments, amply fitted to serve in special emergencies, and to lead in reforms, etc.; e.g., Martin Luther, John Knox, John Wesley, etc. But in every such case the present reward has been persecution. And so severe have been the trials and so perilous the positions of such men, that nothing but their zeal and devotion to the cause and its future recompenses could be a sufficient incentive to induce them to fulfil their mission.
In view of these facts, it becomes the
people of God at all times to carefully observe
such remarkable evidences of God's
appointment, and to co-operate with God
in whatever way he may be pleased to use
their talents. If any man would be more
abundantly used of the Lord in his blessed
service, let him seek first to be fitted for it
more and more. Let him imitate that beloved
and honored servant, Moses, in meekness,
humility, energy and untiring zeal and
self-sacrificing service of the Lord. But
the wise steward will seek always to cultivate
along the lines of his natural abilities,
and not expect the Lord to work a miracle
for his advancement, and so waste valuable
time seeking to develop that which he does
not by nature possess. True, the Lord could
work a miracle if he desired to do so; but
that is not his usual method. Miracles are
his reserve forces, and are only brought forward
when the natural means are insufficient
to accomplish the divine purpose.
[R1651 : page 143]
MOSES SENT AS A DELIVERER.
II QUAR. LESSON IX., MAY 27, EXOD. 3:10-20.
Golden Text--"Fear them not, for I am with thee."-- Isa. 41:10.
When God would deliver Israel, he chose for his servant and representative the meekest man, Moses. (Num. 12:3.) This disposition was necessary not only for the task before him, but also because this one was to be a type of the great deliverer of all mankind from the bondage of sin--"the man Christ Jesus," who was "meek and lowly of heart;" and also the body of Christ which is the Church.--See Acts 3:22,23.
Moses' humble birth, as one of an enslaved race, would naturally incline him to humility. And this disposition continued with him, even though he became an adopted member of the royal family. His subsequent boldness and ability as an executive were due to the fact that he acted as God's agent and representative. This gave that beautiful blend to his character, of ability with humility.
It was forty years from the time that Moses was born to the time when he first essayed to help his brethren and was misunderstood (Exod. 2:11-15), and it was forty years from that time until he became their deliverer. These two equal periods seem to be typical of the two ages--the Jewish and the Gospel ages, which were also of equal length--1845 years. At the end of the Jewish age Christ offered himself to Israel as their deliverer, but they refused him and he went away. His return is due at the end of a like period, at the close of the Gospel age. At his second presence, during the Millennial age, he will deliver all who are "God's people" from the bondage of sin under Satan, as Moses delivered his people from the bondage of Egypt under Pharaoh.
During Moses' absence he married a Gentile wife, and so in the interval between Christ's first and second advents he selects a wife from among the Gentiles--the Gospel Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife.
[R1652 : page 144]
After the long preparation of his chosen instrument--God's time had come to send [R1652 : page 144] him, and his servant was ready; and lo, from the midst of the burning bush that was not consumed, and which forcibly illustrated the power of God to preserve and use his servant in the midst of fiery trials, Moses heard the call of God to become the leader of his people out of Egyptian bondage. --Verse 10.
But how could he do it? Moses looked at himself and at the magnitude of such an undertaking, and feeling his own insufficiency he replied, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" It seemed a most improbable thing that the Egyptians would give up two millions of profitable slaves for any consideration that he could present, or any power that he could bring to bear upon them. Then how could the people be induced to follow his leadership? To these misgivings concerning himself, Moses received the all-sufficient assurance of the Lord--"Certainly I will be with thee," etc. That was enough; and strong in this confidence, he went forth to prove at every step of the way the abundant sufficiency of divine grace.
Herein is encouragement also for every true servant of the Lord who humbly relies upon his promises while striving to walk in the ways of his appointment: "Certainly I will be with thee." Oh, how much we need this blessed assurance; for who, of himself, is sufficient for the responsibilities of the Lord's service?
The great deliverance was indeed wrought out by God by miracles and wonders by the hand of his servant Moses; and those modern critics who reject the testimony of miracles are simply insisting that God should always operate within the range of human understanding. But to the sincere inquirer after truth there is no clearer testimony of the divine power and resources than the testimony of miracles. The ten miraculous plagues upon Egypt did their appointed work, and Israel went out a free people under the leadership of Moses; and all the world were witnesses of the power of the God of Israel.
This deliverance of Israel from Egypt was a marvelous deliverance, and yet the prophets tell us of a still greater deliverance for the people, yet to be accomplished, when they shall be gathered out of all nations whither they have been driven, and when even the generations of them that are in the graves shall come forth, and they shall be brought into their own land and securely planted there. (See Jer. 16:14,15; Ezek. 37:12-14; Isa. 65:21-23.) In comparison with this deliverance yet to be accomplished, we are assured that the former from Egypt will seem so insignificant as not to be named any more; for that was but a type of the one to come. Then Abraham will realize the reward of his faith, when he and his posterity actually come into the land which God promised him for an everlasting possession (Gen. 17:8), and which Stephen said (Acts 7:5) he never owned a foot of in his past life, but died in faith that the promise would be fulfilled at his return, --in the morning of the resurrection.
"For this purpose have I raised thee up," is recorded of this Egyptian Pharaoh. (Rom. 9:17.) As God made choice of Moses for one purpose, he also made choice of this Pharaoh for another. He did not make the one hard and tyrannical, and the other meek and obedient; but he chose such as were so naturally and of their own free will and choice. The meek man was chosen to one position and the froward one to another. God did not let a good man come to the throne and then corrupt him; but he raised up a bad man, and thus had in him a suitable one by whom to show forth his power.
God's dealings, always just, and often merciful, have an effect upon men according to their hearts. The same providence that would move one man to repentance would move another to hardness of heart. In Pharaoh's case the plagues brought repentance, but the goodness of God in hearing his prayer and removing the plagues each time produced hardness of heart. Thus seen, it was not by exerting some bad influence upon Pharaoh's mind, but by extending his mercy to Pharaoh and his people, that God hardened his heart.
The Egyptian bondage typified the bondage of sin; Pharaoh typified Satan; and Israel typified all those who long for deliverance that they may present themselves to God and his service. The deliverance from Egypt represented this overthrow of the power of sin at our Lord's second advent. The plagues upon Egypt represented the troubles coming upon the whole world in the near future which will effectually break down the various enslaving and oppressive systems of the present time--social, political, religious and financial--and engulf them all in utter ruin.