Some Ways of God set forth in the Book of Exodus

C E Stuart

Reprinted from "Tender Grass", Blatchley.

Who is the Lord?
The Ground Smitten
The Creator and the Creatures
Mighty Thunderings and Hail
The Plague of Locusts
Darkness and Death
A Leader and a Redeemer
God the Provider
God Dwelling on Earth

Who is the Lord?

Exodus 7 8: 15.

Pharaoh seemed triumphant. He had refused to let Israel go a three-days' journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord their God. He had disclaimed all knowledge of such a Being; yet condign punishment had not overtaken him. He had inflicted fresh and needless troubles on the people whom Jehovah claimed as His own; but no intervention on their behalf had taken place. Pharaoh would not listen to their remonstrances; their God had not helped them.

Now to Moses God repeated in substance what He had told him at Horeb. Pharaoh would refuse to let the people go. But go they should, after Egypt had been smitten by the direction and by the power of Jehovah. All was working as God had foreseen, and as He previously declared. Moses, therefore, was not to be disheartened; but, with Aaron as his spokesman, he was again to seek an interview with the king.

And now in Pharaoh's presence, a miracle being asked of them to authenticate their mission, Aaron, directed by Moses, cast his rod on the ground, and it became a serpent. The serpent was one of the symbols of Egyptian worship. The king summoned the magicians and the sorcerers. What could they do? Casting down their rods they, too, became serpents (verses 9-12). What sign, then, could Moses and Aaron give which the magicians could not equal? Aaron's rod and their rod equally turned into serpents, now wriggling, we may suppose, at the feet of the monarch. But a wonderful sight was to attract general attention. Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods; and no incantations on the part of the magicians could prevent it, or restore the rods to them. Jehovah had prevailed over the magicians. Pharaoh saw it. The God of Israel was greater than the gods of Egypt. Would not Pharaoh yield?

The summons delivered by Moses on the part of God, Meneptah refused to obey. The appeal of the Israelites he had also rejected. The miracle just wrought he really discredited, else why remained he obstinate? Other means, penal in character, would be applied, and that without any long delay. Time for reflection had been accorded, but in vain. So that same night God spoke to Moses, telling him what he was to say and what to do on the morrow. "Who is the Lord?" Pharaoh had scornfully asked. An answer would be given. Moses, meeting the king at the river side as directed, addressed him as enjoined (15-18); he then smote the waters of the Nile in the sight of Pharaoh and of his servants, and all the waters were turned into blood.

Was that a miracle, or was it red colouring matter that at times appeared in the river? It was a miracle. All the water of the river had become blood. Proof of that was abundant. The fish in the Nile died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river. What a change in the Nile! The waters, pleasant to drink, in a moment became loathsome; and one important source of sustainment, within reach of the commonest person, was cut off; for the fish, evidently abundant (Numbers xi. 5), at once perished. Hapi, the Nile god, could not prevent it. The Creator's fiat went forth, the waters were smitten, and blood was the result. Further, all the water in the ponds and pools, and in vessels of wood as well as of stone, became blood. Where Moses was not seen the plague was felt; and the Egyptians dug round about the river for water.

A terrible infliction this must have been. Blood in every vessel, and the river literally running blood! Who was working? The magicians did the same, though doubtless in a very limited sphere. But Divine power was at work. He who, at Cana, turned the water into wine to cheer His creatures, turned the water of the Nile into blood in judicial dealing with the Egyptians. All the fish dead, men and animals dependent on water finding it turned into blood who had known such before?

Would Pharaoh yield? He hardened his heart, strengthening himself in his opposition, left the river side, and went to his house. Seven days passed, and Pharaoh had not seen Moses. Time for reflection had been given. Pharaoh had not profited by it. Then Moses and Aaron appeared before him again. The summons for Israel's departure was repeated, and the character of the next plague, if the monarch still refused, was announced. "I will smite all thy borders with frogs: and the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bed-chamber, and upon thy bed, and into the houses of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading troughs: and the frogs shall come up, both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants" (viii. 2-4). Frogs everywhere, on the king's person, in his bed-chamber, on his bed, in the ovens, and in the kneading troughs cold, slimy, croaking creatures everywhere.

When before had such a plague been known? Jehovah, the God of Israel, brought the frogs. The gods of the Egyptians could not guard their votaries against them. The magicians brought up frogs likewise. But could they take them away? Was it just an accidental infliction not to be accounted for? Pharaoh knew then that the God of the Hebrews was more powerful than all the gods of Egypt. So to Moses he turned to entreat Jehovah for him. The proud monarch, with frogs crawling over his person, was constrained to ask Moses to intercede for their removal. Neither to the magicians, nor to those idols froglike in form, did the king appeal. He knew they could not help him. In Jehovah alone was there help to be found. The God of Moses was the only resource. But Pharaoh knew Him not.

Would God relieve the king and the land? God's power as Creator had been displayed in making the river bring forth frogs. God's mercy should also be displayed in quickly removing them. Magic could not banish them. Satanic power could not drive them into the river. The king and all his people were evidently at the mercy of God. Pharaoh seemed softening, and promised, if only the frogs were removed, to let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. Moses therefore was summoned with Aaron his brother to hear the king's supplication, and both to be witnesses of his promise. God was triumphing.

Moses again before Pharaoh, this time a welcome visitant, learns of the king's professed decision, and willingly undertakes to entreat the Lord. "Glory over me; when shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they remain in the river only?" (viii. 9). Pharaoh should appoint the time. Surely this ready response could scarcely have been expected. To-morrow, said Pharaoh. On the morrow the frogs died out of the houses, villages, and fields. What widespread misery they must have caused; for now the land stank, because of their dead carcases. Heaps of them were collected the witnesses, when alive, of Jehovah's power, and also, now dead, of His mercy. Jehovah was God; the one true God. But Pharaoh was not to be depended upon. He hardened his heart and refused to let the people go.

God had power over the waters, the river and the frogs displayed it. The river had stank, now the land stank, the result of Pharaoh's folly. Would he keep to his word and yield? The sacred Word briefly states, "When Pharaoh saw there was respite, he hardened his heart and hearkened not unto them: as the Lord had said" (viii. 15). So over the gods of the Egyptians would Divine power be manifested. Their impotence to protect their votaries would be displayed ere Israel should be free.

The Ground Smitten.

Lice and flies Exodus 8: 16-32.

Pharaoh was learning, but was he submissive? He had now learned that Jehovah was the God of the Hebrews. "Who is the Lord," i.e., Jehovah, "that I should obey His voice?" he had asked in anything but a meek spirit (v. 2). Now he learns of the reality of Jehovah's existence, and something of His power. We say something, for the magicians had turned water into blood and had brought up frogs. But Pharaoh knew well that the plagues inflicted came not by the power of magic.

A God then, hitherto unknown in Egypt, really existed. It is true He had no temple in that land dedicated to His worship. He had no array of priests devoted to His service. Nor had processions been inaugurated in His honour, rivalling or competing with those to the chiefs of the Egyptian mythology. This, however, at least was acknowledged, that He alone could remove the disgusting and unwelcome frogs. A power greater than the magicians knew, a Being very different from any and all of the Egyptian divinities had worked, first in multiplying the frogs, and then in removing them. Such were evidently under His control. His fiat went forth; they came up and covered the land. By His fiat they died, to torment the king and His people by their presence no more. God was becoming known to the Egyptians by judicial dealing, an awful manner of revealing Himself.

Would Pharaoh then yield and obey the behest of the Divine Being? He would not. The frogs died, and Pharaoh hardened, or made heavy, his heart. But "who hath hardened himself against Him and hath prospered?" (Job ix. 4). So said Job, and Pharaoh was no exception to the correctness of that patriarchal utterance. Nor was God going to dally with the monarch. He was in earnest. Pharaoh was to know that. So now, without any warning, a fresh plague was to come. He who had shown His power over the waters would next display it in connection with the ground.

In Egyptian mythology different powers of nature were personified as deities. Hence they had "gods many." Now it was to be clearly demonstrated that there was one true God who had power over water, earth, men's persons, and the air. One God, not many gods, one Almighty Being, who could act as He would, declaring too beforehand what He would do, though not always warning Pharaoh of the stroke next to be dealt him. So with the third plague as with the sixth and with the ninth: Moses, told by God what it was that would take place, had no commission to communicate the knowledge of it to the obdurate king. Aaron, whose rod had been turned into a serpent, was again to act. He had stretched it forth, and the waters had become blood. He had a second time done the same, and the frogs appeared. He now smote the ground with that same rod, and the dust of the ground throughout all the land became teeming with lice. Inert matter was alive; a living, moving mass appeared where dust had been before. Lice, or, as some would translate it, fleas (see R. Version, margin) innumerable suddenly appeared. Lice were upon man and beast (viii. 17). None save Moses and Aaron were exempt. The august person of the monarch was as liable to this infliction as that of the meanest, the poorest of his subjects. The frogs had respected no one. The lice, we may suppose, were equally indifferent. Would any one attempt to crush under his feet the living mass around him? These little creatures in numbers would crawl up over his person. What an infliction! And whether we think it was lice or fleas that were produced, the plague was a plague indeed. To be covered with lice must have been humiliating for a noble or for the monarch. To have myriads of fleas crawling about and over the person must have been maddening in the extreme. Man and beast suffered alike.

Was this but a conjuror's trick? The magicians were summoned, but only to confess their discomfiture. The rod of Aaron had been the instrument to call into life innumerable creatures, those pests to men. Aaron could do what the magicians could not. Life belongs to God. He imparts it as He will. Stones could have been turned, the Baptist said, into children of Abraham, if the Lord God had but willed it (Matt. iii. 9). He had allowed the magicians to bring up frogs. He had permitted both of them to turn their rods into serpents. But their power was limited. Jannes and Jambres, who withstood Moses, had to acknowledge that they were defeated. The dust of the land remained dust, as far as they were concerned; whilst by the touch of Aaron's rod myriads of creatures, abhorrent to man, leaped into life. How was that? Who would explain it? the magicians now speak. The ground, so prolific in cereal crops, suddenly became prolific in animal life. The magicians confessed, what to Pharaoh must have been a bitter disappointment, "This is the finger of God." But the headstrong king remained obdurate (19).

A fresh summons therefore was sent forth. The following morning Pharaoh was confronted by Moses as he went to bathe in the river. The arrows in the Divine quiver were not exhausted. If the king would not obey the fresh summons, swarms of flies would appear. These would settle upon Pharaoh, on his servants, on his people. His house and those of the Egyptians should be full of them, and the very ground would be covered with them. Wherever any set their foot it would be to crush some of the swarm. It has been questioned what the swarms really were. The word in the original is used only in Holy Writ concerning this plague. Perhaps the gad-fly is the creature intended.

Was there no limitation of this plague? There was. It was territorial in limit, for no one of these insects found its way to the land of Goshen. The Israelites were kept free from them, whilst the Egyptians were tormented by them. Jehovah plagued the Egyptians; Jehovah sheltered His people. Now it was demonstrated what a blessing it must be to belong to that down-trodden and heavily afflicted race. The Egyptians might despise and even abhor them. The Lord specially favoured them. The land of Egypt was corrupted by the flies (24). The land of Goshen was exempted from that infliction. That God had sent the swarms there was no doubt. His power thus exhibited, His directing hand was perceived in keeping the insects within the prescribed limits, and His mercy would be seen in removing them from the Egyptians.

Pharaoh again must be a suppliant, and bend before Moses to entreat for him. He yielded a little so as to let the people sacrifice in the land. Would not that satisfy the offended deity? He tried to make terms with God. What folly! His offer was at once rejected. The King then offered to let them go into the wilderness to sacrifice to their God, but not to go far off. He seemed softening.

The flies were removed. There was not one. Pharaoh was again unyielding. Who would really prevail? The sequel will show. The waters smitten, the ground likewise dealt with, other dealings would take place with the monarch, his people, and his land, ere Israel should emerge a free and ransomed people.

The Creator and the Creatures;

Or, the Murrain and the Boils Exodus 9: 1-12.

The hand of the Lord can be heavy indeed. He who can cover His saints with the hollow of His hand can deal terrible blows on the ungodly, when it pleases Him in righteousness to chastise them.

Moses, again commissioned, presented himself before Pharaoh. "Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me" (ix. 1). The God of the Hebrews was persistent. He would take no denial. The slaves of Pharaoh, of Israel's race, had One who espoused their cause. True, no invasion from beyond Egyptian territory threatened the security of the land. But a power did threaten afresh the peace of it, a power which Pharaoh had experienced, and which all the might of his armed hosts could not deal with, nor so much as touch. And, further, that power could smite in various ways unthought of by the monarch, and unexpected by his people. But God, the God of the Hebrews, was, and is, slow to anger. Hence with the fresh summons to let His people go there was the warning as to the penalty for disobeying it. "If thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, behold the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain" (2, 3). No rest was allowed the Egyptians from the inflictions of plagues, so swiftly they came, though with warnings at times of that which was impending. It was so in this case. The murrain threatened on one day worked havoc as foretold, but on the next. Pharaoh awoke to find doubtless that the plague had begun. Animals used in commerce as camels, asses, and horses, and wealth in agricultural possessions, as oxen and sheep, fell victims to the grievous visitation. All that were in the fields died. The animals had not sinned. They suffered for Pharaoh's disobedience. Now no human life was threatened or endangered, animals died all round, herds and flocks in the fields perished. Many an Egyptian, it may be, rich in his cattle of one kind or another on the one day, found himself stripped indeed, as he saw his animals dead and dying around him. We read the statement in ch. ix. 6; but how difficult for us to realise what the infliction was. It must have been experienced fully to understand it. Imagine flocks of sheep lying dead, and the carcases of herds of cattle encumbering the ground. No Egyptian god had ever been credited with working such havoc. The One true God, however, had a right to deal with His creatures as He willed. Who could say to Him, what doest Thou? But, again, discrimination as to the area of the plague would be perceived. No ox, no horse, no ass, no sheep, no camel fell a victim in the land of Goshen. The byres, the stables, the cattle-yards and sheep-folds were as full there as ever they had been. And Pharaoh sending to enquire, was certified of this. The God of the Hebrews sent the murrain into the land of Egypt; the God of the Hebrews protected Goshen from its presence.

Still Pharaoh refused to liberate the people. Dogged obstinacy characterised him. The sight of the dying and dead cattle did not move him. The mute appeal of suffering animals, enough to soften a hard heart, seemed lost on him. The loss to his people, suddenly stripped of so much valuable property, concerned him not. He must have heard of the great ravages caused by the murrain. We have not, however, on record one word of regret on his part, nor the slightest intimation that he sympathised with his suffering people. A cold, proud, selfish being the king appeared. What would really touch him? The frogs and the flies had not permanently affected him.

A new plague, then, would be sent; for the arrows in the Divine quiver were more numerous than Pharaoh ever dreamed. Animals had suffered from disease, and death had followed in its train. Now the Egyptians would suffer in their persons. He who had sent the murrain could send an infliction of boils on man and on beast. So without any premonitory warning of a fresh plague, Moses and Aaron were to present themselves before Pharaoh. God's directions were as follows: "Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it towards the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast throughout all the land of Egypt."

Obedient to God, they acted as directed. Moses sprinkled the ashes towards heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. Evidently this was no trick of magicians, such as Jannes and Jambres might have played. Pharaoh saw what Moses did. Pharaoh heard no muttering of incantations; none were resorted to. Probably no word was uttered; certainly none was needed. Pharaoh knew that in an ordinary way no effect inimical to man or to beast would be produced by such means. When, however, God works, results certain, and it may be immediate, are brought about. Without delay, boils breaking forth into blains (perhaps pustules or ulcers) afflicted man and beast. Whether the king was tortured thus in his person is not stated. But "the boil," we read, "was upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians" (11).

Shortly before that the magicians had owned their defeat. By Aaron's rod the dust of the land was smitten, and it became lice. The magicians attempted, as we have seen, to produce lice, but they could not. Defeated in the presence of the monarch, they told him that what Aaron had done was by the finger of God. The God of the Hebrews could do what they, with their incantations, could not. At that time defeated, they had now to feel the power of God on their own persons, as the boil broke out on them, and "they could not stand before Moses because of the boils" (11). God was triumphing, but Pharaoh remained obdurate. What was to be done? Other plagues would follow, confirming what had become markedly evident, that the God of Moses and Aaron was the God of the whole earth. The Creator had absolute rights over His creatures, which none could successfully dispute. And the animals had to suffer with men for the obstinacy of the king of the land. True, indeed, is the word, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. x. 31).

Mighty Thunderings and Hail.

Exodus 9: 13-38.

The visits of Moses to Pharaoh must have been anything but welcome when that monarch had afresh hardened his heart. He must have felt uneasy as he saw those two brothers again enter into his presence. Access to the king seemed permitted. No difficulty is mentioned as standing in their way. The king and they had met at the river-side once, and perhaps twice (vii. 15, viii. 20). The messengers of God, however, could enter, we presume, the palace (ix. 1, x. 1) when commanded by the Lord. No place to which Pharaoh could resort would put him beyond the reach of a divine message. Uninvited, Moses could appear, and very likely unexpectedly likewise. Afresh was this proved. Sprinkling the ashes in the sight of the king on the one day, Moses appeared early on the next. If Pharaoh had slept during the night, he must have been disconcerted when confronted by Moses and Aaron on the following morning. Again was the Lord God of the Hebrews speaking to him by His appointed messenger. And of that the king was assured as Moses opened his mouth: "Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For I will at this time send all My plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth. For now (we here quote the Revised Version) I had put forth my hand and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth: but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, for to shew thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against My people, that thou wilt not let them go? Behold, to-morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field, for every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them and they shall die" (ix. 13-19).

Unhappy Pharaoh. No rest was allowed him. The God of the Hebrews could neither be bribed nor be slighted. Unconditional submission was demanded, and must sooner or later be admitted. Plagues, sore plagues had been sent. More could follow, and would, if the king remained intractable. "All My plagues" (14) said God. What would they be? One by one was sent, and the next was only foretold when the last had failed to break down the monarch's obstinacy.

But more. God tells him that his life was wholly in divine hands. He might cut him off, but He had not. God, of whom Meneptah had been in utter ignorance, controlled his destiny. Like Belshazzar at a later period, he is told of the One whom as a creature he should obey. And why was he preserved in life? It was to show him God's power, and that God's name might be declared throughout all the earth (15-16). Never before had a Pharaoh been so addressed, we may be sure. Courtiers might flatter and cringe before the king. Moses and Aaron did neither. As servants of God, the true God, they comported themselves; and faithfully did Moses deliver the divine message, in language not of an inferior, nor even of an equal. It was the language of One who claimed to be above all, who had raised up Pharaoh and who had absolute power over every living thing. It was the language of God, the one true God, addressing His creature, and that a disobedient worm of the dust really, though he might regard himself as an autocrat in rule. Moreover, it was the merciful One, whose message Moses delivered, who would spare the lives of His creatures, and even of the meanest of the cattle, if only they were sheltered from the coming visitation. None who were housed of any living creature was touched by the hail (19-21). Hitherto we have not read of human life taken by any of the plagues. Now there was the risk of that, but only if shelter was despised or denied (20-21).

A word here about the cattle. We learn from ix. 3, as also from Gen. xlvii. 16-17, that the Hebrew word comprehended far more than what would be supposed in the language of our day. Then a difficulty may be felt comparing Ex. ix. 6 with verse 19. For if all the cattle died by the murrain, what was there of them left to be endangered by the hail? We may be quite sure that Moses knew what he was writing, and would not commit a blunder, involving his account in a contradiction which an ordinary school-boy might detect. He was writing by the Spirit of God, as eye-witness of that which he related, and guided carefully by the Holy Ghost. How, then, shall we reconcile the accounts? Attempts have been made to do it, as the difficulty has presented itself. We would here suggest that the explanation may be in the difference between cattle left out day and night in the field, and cattle housed at times in stalls or other places prepared for them. In ix. 3 there is only mention of cattle being in the field, and no idea is there expressed of any refuge provided for them in homesteads. In verse 19, however, we learn that cattle could be provided for in shelters a distinction this is which may throw light on the matter. The murrain attacked and killed all cattle turned out for grazing. The hail would attack any cattle which had shelters, if not brought back to them. Any one acquainted with farming operations will understand how such a distinction could be made.

Forewarned, the Egyptians could preserve such cattle and their servants from the awful storm that was impending. Some availed themselves of the warning, and acted as God, by Moses, directed. Those who neglected the warning suffered the consequences of their unbelief. Terrific was the storm. It thundered; it hailed; and the lightning fire ran along the ground. There was hail, and fire mingled with hail, the like of which had never been witnessed. He who had power over the waters, the dust, and even over men's persons, had power over the atmosphere as well. The God of the Hebrews was omnipotent. Man and beast must bow under His hand. "The hail" (we quote the record of an eye-witness) "smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field" (ix. 25). Never before in the land had such a storm been known; never since has it been equalled. Yet mercy was displayed. For while the flax and the barley were smitten those crops, we conclude, spoiled for that year the wheat and the rye were unharmed, for they had not sprung up. Hence there would be food for the year from these crops. This notice about the crops indicates the season when the hail came the early spring for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled, i.e., in bloom. In Egypt was awful desolation, as every herb of the field was smitten and every tree bore the mark of the hail. In Goshen, however, there reigned security and serenity. What a difference! Pharaoh was thoroughly frightened. The thunder terrified him. Moses and Aaron were summoned to entreat the Lord. He who had sent the storm, Pharaoh knew, could alone quell it. Now a confession came from the king. I have sinned, and my people likewise, so averred the awe-stricken monarch. Compliance, too, with the summons was unconditionally promised. Moses went out and entreated God. He feared not the hail, nor was terrified by the thunder. The storm quickly ceased. Pharaoh's good resolutions died away; he relapsed into obstinacy. Fresh plagues must therefore be sent. Israel must be delivered, and Pharaoh must let them go.

The Plague of Locusts.

Exodus 10: 1-20.

What would come next? Who could tell? God's summons could not be set at nought by Pharaoh for ever refusing compliance. A creature resisting its Creator! Human will overcoming the Divine will! That could not be. God therefore again communicated with Moses, and told him what He would do, and charges His servant with a fresh message to the obstinate ruler of the land of Egypt. "Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these My signs before him: and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord" (Ex. x. 1-2). Generations then unborn should hear of the works of the Lord, and of His interposition on behalf of Israel; and should know that He is the Lord. Egyptian obstinacy should further the display of the glory of God.

Again did Moses and Aaron enter the king's palace, and again did they address him, conveying a fresh message from the God of the Hebrews. The language was plain. It was not that of a courtier addressing his master. It was that of the true God speaking to His creature. "Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Else, if thou refuse to let My people go, behold, to-morrow will 1 bring the locusts into thy coast: and they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians, which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day." Such was the message. And, waiting for no reply, Moses turned himself and went out from Pharaoh (3-6).

Horses, asses, camels, oxen and sheep had perished by the murrain. Cattle, too, had been killed by the hail, which also smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree likewise. The flax, too, and the barley had been smitten. Desolation indeed was general. Now the locusts would complete it. Every green thing would be eaten. Vegetation would seem to cease.

Moses delivered his message, and left the king and his courtiers to consider it. Tomorrow had he said; what "to-morrows" had there been. "To-morrow" had Moses said that the swarms of flies should come (viii. 23). On the morrow they came. "To-morrow" had the murrain been threatened. The morrow came, and the murrain appeared (ix. 5). "Tomorrow" had the hail been predicted (ix. 18). On the morrow the Lord rained hail on the land. Each time the plague foretold was sent. It tarried not for a single day. Just one night intervened between the warning and the plague each time. And Pharaoh, awaking on the new day, had to hear of the sorrow and havoc which was spreading over the country. "On the morrow" (x. 4), on the present occasion, the locusts were threatened. Past experience would indicate that they certainly would come. Moses and Aaron had left Pharaoh's presence.

Now Moses will tell of the counsel tendered the king by his servants. Their hearts they had hardened when the thunder and hail ceased (ix. 34). But the threatened infliction of the locusts woke them up. They believed it would come unless the king relented. Nothing they knew could avert it but the monarch's surrender to the summons addressed to him. Speak, then, they must. Speak they did, in a strain surely to which neither they nor the king had been accustomed. Flattery was discarded. Verboseness was out of the question. In plain, unvarnished language, and in words few, earnest, and unmistakeable, they delivered themselves. "How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?" (7). To get rid of Israel they were willing, and that immediately and unconditionally. The God of the Hebrews, they were waking up to see, was not One to be trifled with. Moses and Aaron were therefore recalled to the palace to hear the king's decision. "Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go?" Thus spake the proud Meneptah. To this question Moses replied, that with young and old, and with flocks and herds, would they go, to hold a feast to the Lord. Egypt was destroyed, yet Pharaoh was obdurate. The men might go, not the little ones. That was the king's last word, and Moses and Aaron were driven from his presence. Pharaoh had spoken God now acted.

All that day and all that night an east wind blew, and when morning dawned the east wind brought the locusts, which "went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt." Moses had not overstated the infliction. "Before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt" (14, 15). A desolated country it must have looked.

Pharaoh had once said, "I have sinned" (9: 27). He said it now again. But confession under fear, what is it worth? "I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only" (10: 16, 17). In this there was no conscience work, no real repentance. He desired the removal of God's hand from his land; that was all. It was removed. But his heart remained as hard as ever.

Eight plagues had now been sent, and this last a dreadful one. Locusts on the ground, covering the face of it, so that the land was darkened. Locusts, too, in their houses, and filling them. And when they were gone, not a green thing in herb or tree could be seen. Could Meneptah say still, "Who is the Lord? I know not the Lord." What an answer had he already got. The Lord of whom he was ignorant had power over the waters, power over the ground, power over the persons of men and animals, and power over the air. In what domain of the natural world was He not supreme? He could foretell the plagues. He could bring the plagues. He only could remove the plagues. He did what the idols could not. He was found to be the absolute Master of the powers of nature. He was, and would yet prove that He was, the sole Arbiter of the destiny of His creatures.

Darkness and Death.

Exodus 10: 21 12: 42.

Two more plagues and Israel would be free. Eight have passed before us, divided into four classes, affecting the water, the ground, man and beast, and the atmosphere. The dust brought forth lice, and the land was corrupted because of the flies (viii. 17-24). Hail with thunder and lightning visited Egypt, and the east wind brought the locusts. Now darkness and gloom would overspread the land; darkness by the absence of natural light, and a gloom the consequence of universal bereavement. The light of heaven hidden, the light, too, of families would be quenched by the death of their firstborn.

And first, of the supernatural darkness. Without any warning to Pharaoh it overspread the land; a mysterious, dense darkness, to which men on earth had been strangers. How it was caused we cannot say. "He sent darkness," we read, "and made it dark," (Ps. cv. 28). For three days that continued. The morning light spread not over the land. The noonday sun dispersed not the thick pall of darkness. It was impenetrable. No gilding was there in the west as the sun each day sank to rest. Darkness that might be felt enveloped the land and enshrouded the people. In Goshen each day there was light; in Egypt nothing but darkness. He who of old divided the light from the darkness (Gen. i. 4) sent darkness upon Egypt, whilst light shone in Goshen. Darkness was once upon the face of the deep (Gen. i. 2); the Egyptians might understand something of what that must have been. Then it enveloped the globe; now it lay like a funeral pall over all the land of Egypt. How it subdued the people! They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days (Exodus x. 23). Mysteriously it must have come; mysteriously it may have passed away. The sun, they would then find, had not ceased to shine. The moon and the stars still governed the night. What the Egyptians felt is to us unknown. What effect it had on Pharaoh is related. He would let the people go, young and old, but would retain their cattle. This his last attempt at a compromise signally failed. "Not a hoof should be left behind" was the inexorable claim made by Moses (24-26). Pharaoh refused, and forbad Moses to enter his presence again on pain of death. "Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more" was the rejoinder of the son of Amram. But first he would deliver his last message. God's dealings had failed to make the king obedient. That, then, must now come of which God had foretold Moses (iv. 23). Pharaoh's firstborn son should die, yet not his only. "From the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts," all should die. A stillness, unnatural stillness, had pervaded the land during the three days of darkness. Now a great cry would be heard throughout all the land, such as never had been and never would be equalled. In every house of the Egyptians would there on the same night be one dead. Gloom and sorrow indeed would be widespread. The God of the Hebrews would enforce His rejected summons. Israel, His firstborn, should go free, and to accomplish that the firstborn of the Egyptians, both of man and of beast, should die.

The mortality would be great, yet special. Only one in each house should die, yet not one house should be without a dead body on that eventful night. The destroying angel would strike with his death-bearing dart the firstborn of each Egyptian family, from the palace to the mill and the dungeon. Who could comfort mourners when all alike were grief stricken? A darkness that might be felt they had known. Now all joy in each house was to be darkened throughout the land; common sorrow would pervade Egypt. A common desire would then possess each one. Israel must depart. So urgently would the people be entreated to go.

Next of Israel what do we read? Four days before had they begun preparations, selecting a lamb for the paschal meal. On the fourteenth of Abib, between the evenings they killed it, and sprinkled the blood on the upper lintel and on the door-posts. Shut in, with the blood without, they eat of the roasted lamb with the bitter herbs as directed. Staff in hand, loins girded, feet shod, were the Israelites within their dwelling-places; the kneading-troughs with unleavened dough bound up in their clothes, ready to be shouldered at the first summons that they should hear.

Amid the wail of Egyptian mourners, in whose wealth they now shared, and with a mixed multitude accompanying them, they, but yesterday a nation of slaves, went forth from the house of bondage. Mourning deep and loud in Egypt; rejoicing, surely, throughout the land of Goshen. What a contrast! Not one house without a dead body in Egypt; not one dead in the land of Goshen. No coffin did they carry away but one, the coffin of Joseph, who with his latest breath had spoken of the deliverance of his people (xiii. 19).

God, their God, who had preserved the land of Goshen from the visitation of the flies, the murrain, the hail, the locusts, and the darkness, had told Israel how to escape the visit of the destroying angel. In obedience, the obedience of faith surely, they sprinkled the blood outside. Nothing else on that night could have preserved their firstborn. And Moses, we read, "through faith kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest the destroyer of the firstborn should touch them" (Heb. xi. 28). Safety was for Israel in that blood, and they proved it.

God in judgment and God providing deliverance, in these two characters He displayed Himself that night; a night never to be forgotten by Israel (xii. 42). But in another character was He displayed likewise. He had told Abraham that his seed should be sojourners in a land not theirs for four hundred years. On this night the allotted sum of years ran out,* and Israel began their journey to the land God had promised them.

{*Four hundred and thirty years (xii. 40) takes us back, we believe, to the call of Abraham, who dwelt, with Isaac and Jacob, as a sojourner in the land of Canaan. Four hundred years (Gen. xv. 13) will then start with the birth of Isaac Abraham's seed.}

A God of compassion, a God of judgment, a Deliverer, and the Fulfiller of His promise, in these ways had He now displayed Himself in the book of Exodus. In other characters will He appear as we proceed. We would close this paper with a reminder, that in this, the first open controversy with idols, He showed Himself to be the true God. Gods many there professedly were in Egypt. There can be but one true God (Deut. vi. 4). And He was now seen to be that, exercising power over the forces of nature, and at will smiting the waters, the ground, and the persons of His creatures. From this power there was no shelter for those who were to feel it. From His judgment there was no appeal. He spake, and it was done. No idol in all the land of Egypt had sheltered its votaries, or had coped with His might. He acted in the land as He willed, as if there was (and that was true) no other God but Him. Moreover, against all the gods of Egypt would He execute judgment (xii. 12).

In what an awful condition for the Egyptians to find themselves, in the hands of the Creator acting in judgment. No refuge, no hiding-place possible. How they felt that as they mourned over their dead. What a blessing it was to be numbered amongst God's people, whose cause He took up, and whose deliverance from all oppression He would effect! Israel were learning that. But now we can say, What grace to be sheltered by blood, the blood of Christ, from the judgment that must come, and the effects of which will rest finally on the ungodly.

A Leader and a Redeemer.

Exodus 13: 17 15.

A new experience Israel enjoyed. They were now on a journey, the end of which would be the land of Canaan. An exodus was commencing, the like of which had never been known; for about 600,000 men, besides women and children, were now on the move, leaving for ever the land of Goshen, and changing their condition from one of slavery to that of freedom. Along with them went a mixed multitude, of what number there is no account. Then all the flocks and herds of Israel moved too. Not a hoof was left behind. A migration it was, unparalleled before or since. To the Egyptians, when they woke up to it, what a change had taken place! Goshen, was depopulated. The taskmaster's occupation was gone. The brickyards and fields, hitherto alive with men, were deserted. Silence must have reigned where the hum of men performing their daily task had been heard but as yesterday.

And what a sight it must have been the vast multitude moving from their dwellings in orderly array, with one object before them, an object never before seen a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, that they might go by day and by night. The Lord God of the Hebrews thus put Himself at the head of the exodus. He, not Moses, was leading; the people were following. That pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was the token of Jehovah's presence, which was never to leave them for forty consecutive years. From Rameses they started on the fifteenth of Nisan (Num. xxxiii. 3), and took their way to Succoth; from thence they moved and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.

Were they to march just straight out of Egypt? It seemed like it. But a sudden turn was made by God's communication to Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel that they turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon; over against it shall ye encamp by the sea" (xiv. 2). (We follow the Revised Version.) Was this turn back, which Numbers xxxiii. 7 confirms, a mistake? It might seem like it, for it put the people in a very unfavourable position apparently. The sea was before them; Pharaoh's army was coming on behind them (xiv. 9). The King, indeed, judged they had made a mistake, deeming, as God had said, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in" (xiv. 3).

But why had he let them escape at all? Numbers xxxiii. 4 tells us. The Egyptians were too busy burying their dead at first to pursue them. But now, in all haste, and confident of wreaking his vengeance on, as he thought, a defenceless people, Meneptah put in motion his well-trained army. Six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, with captains over every one of them, were on the march to Pi-hahiroth. Pharaoh in his chariot, with all his horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, came in sight of Israel, that untrained host now encamped by the sea (Ex. xiv. 9). No hope of escape for them, he doubtless thought, now. Either death by slaughter or by drowning was the alternative. No hope of escape, the Israelites feared, as they saw the trained hosts of Egypt advancing against them. God's promise to rid them of Egyptian bondage, and to redeem them with a stretched out arm and great judgments (Ex. vi. 6) was forgotten, if the people had ever really grasped it. They cried out now unto the Lord, and blamed Moses for so far bringing them out of Egypt. Egyptian servitude would be better than death in the wilderness, so they said.

Had they really been led into a false and defenceless position where they were, confronting the sea? Was not the pillar of the cloud still with them, the token of Jehovah's presence? So to encourage the people was Moses now desirous. "Fear ye not," he said; "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (xiv. 13, 14). But how would God fight for them? As yet, it would seem, it had not been disclosed. But Moses, trusting God, had now the Lord's mind revealed to him. Israel were to go forward. Moses, by his outstretched rod, was to divide the sea. The people would find a way made for them; the Egyptians would follow; God would get honour over them, and the Egyptians should know that Israel's God was the Lord.

Preparation was made. The angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud removed from the front and guarded the rear, interposing between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. To Israel it gave light; to the Egyptians it was darkness, forming an impassable barrier between the two. Next Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and a strong east wind made it to go back all that night, and made the sea dry land. And the waters were divided. A path was thus opened where none had been before, and Israel could tread it in safety with the waters a wall unto them on the right hand and on the left. What none had presupposed was now opened up. There was a way of deliverance, but through the sea for Israel, God's chosen people. On dry ground they walked through its breadth till they reached the opposite shore.

"The waters were a wall unto them on the right hand and on the left" so runs the historical record. "With the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up (see R. V.): the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea" (xv. 8). So sang Moses and Israel, describing in poetic language the passage made through the waters. It was a passage of dry land, whilst the waters on each side were piled up. To pursue the Israelites the Egyptians had to follow in their wake, and the pillar of cloud intervening between the two hosts effectually prevented the Egyptians overtaking them.

So passed the hours of night till the morning watch. Israel reached the opposite shore in safety, whilst the Egyptians were still in the bed of the sea. Difficulties beset the latter. The Lord troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily. Into the sea they went. Would they ever get out of it? To pursue further they now saw was hopeless. "Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord lighteth for them against the Egyptians" (xiv. 25). This was their last word of which we have any intimation. They confessed thereby their defeat. But was there safety for them in flight? Again at God's command Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea. On the first occasion it was to open a way for Israel; on this occasion it was to close up the way that had been opened. The sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared. That path through its depths was closed up not to be re-opened. The Egyptians fled against the sea, but the Lord overthrew them in its midst. Its "waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. There remained not so much as one of them" (xiv. 28). "They sank into the bottom as a stone." "They sank as lead in the mighty waters" (xv. 5, 10). There they met their death; there, too, were they buried. "The sea covered them." Such is the testimony of eye-witnesses to that awful judgment.

Who is the Lord? has now received a full answer. Egypt was destroyed (x. 7). The firstborn in every family was dead. The chosen chariots of Pharaoh and his captains lay buried in the sea. But more: Jehovah, in the character of Redeemer, had now displayed Himself. What He promised Israel in Exodus vi. 6 had come about, and His redeemed people on the first morning of their deliverance proclaimed it: "Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed" (xv. 13). What redemption was redemption by power they now understood, and began to enjoy it. God had wrought in Egypt on their behalf, God had sheltered them in Egypt from divine judgment (xii.), God had redeemed them with a stretched out arm at the Red Sea (xiv., xv.). In these ways had He made Himself known. Other manifestations of Himself will follow.

God the Provider.

Exodus 15: 22; 17: 7

The controversy with Egypt was settled decisively. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore; and as a redeemed people they sang the first song from men to God that we meet with in Scripture that of accomplished redemption. Now they were God's people, and He was their God (Ex. vi. 7). So they said, "This is my God, and I will praise Him" (Ex. xv. 2, R. V.). Those of men redeemed by God are privileged to call Him their God. Israel as the redeemed nation could say that. All those now redeemed as individuals by the blood of Christ are privileged to say it. God is their God.

Israel had seen what God could do on their behalf, dealing blow after blow on Pharaoh and his people. They were witnesses, too, as they stood on the eastern shore of the sea on that never-to-be-forgotten morning, of God's faithfulness to His word. What He had promised Abraham (Gen. xv.), what He had told Israel (Ex. vi.), He had fulfilled. Now to journey on the road to Canaan was that which lay before them a march that began at Rameses, and would only end when they crossed the Jordan. Experiences new, and by them wholly unforeseen, would they meet with by the way. And the first was a three days' journey through a waterless district in the wilderness of Shur.

Halting probably at times by the way, but not encamping, they arrived at length at Marah, their first encampment east of the sea (Num. xxxiii. 8). Water they found. But disappointment awaited them the water was bitter; they could not drink of it. Three days without water, and then water too bitter to drink! In what an evil case they seemed to be. Bitter was the water they had reached Marah, i.e., bitter, they called it. Marah it is still, if the modern name, Huwara,* represents the spot. What should be done? Who could alter the character of the water, bitter as it was because of the strata from which it came? The people murmured against Moses. But he was not responsible for the nature of the soil, nor for the character of the water. Had he misled them? That could not be, for the pillar of cloud was with them. They murmured. Moses cried to God. God instructed him in the emergency. Near by was a tree, which, if cast into the waters, they would become sweet. What the tree was is unknown. It was evidently a miraculous effect. God was providing for His people, and He here met the need.

{* Stanley mentions the report of another spring south of Huwara so bitter that neither men nor camels could drink of it. Bitter water seems to characterise the district.}

In these papers, noticing some of the ways God is revealed in the book of Exodus, we confine ourselves for the most part to the narrative, leaving aside typical and dispensational teaching as that with which, for the present, we are not concerned. We may, however, remark in passing, that the tree has been thought to foreshadow for us the cross of Christ, which can make sweet to the Christian that which before was bitter to him.

To return. The water made sweet, they could encamp there before proceeding to Elim. With flocks and herds, and women and children, encampment at times would be needed. And now to the lately murmuring people their God and their Provider spoke: "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of those diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Ex. xv. 26). What response was made to this, if any, the historian has not recorded. The further history of the people, however, shows plainly that it made no permanent impression upon them for in the wilderness of Sin they murmured again. Hunger, they complained, attacked them. In Egypt they had not known that. The flesh-pots they had then sat by, and eat bread to the full. Death under God's hand in Egypt would have been preferable, they said, to hunger in the wilderness (xvi. 3). Now He who had led them, and redeemed them too, would meet their temporal need. Flesh they should have, and bread would He rain from heaven for them day by day on six days of each week. Quails were to furnish them with flesh, and the manna would be their bread.

The quails appeared that evening, and covered the camp. In the morning the dew lay round about the host. When the dew disappeared, a small round thing, white like coriander seed, was seen on the ground as small as the hoar frost. That was the bread. Manna, they called it i.e., what is it? (xvi. 15). It was something quite new. It was not the product of the soil, for the manna fell on the dew (Num. xi. 9). It was not peculiar to that region the wilderness of Sin for it fell wherever the people were throughout their wilderness journey, and whilst they remained east of Jordan, only ceasing after they were west of that river (Joshua v. 12). It was bread which they knew not, neither did their fathers know, that God might make them know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live (Deut. viii. 3).

They eat bread to the full, as the Lord promised. An omer a head was the regulation equal to about half a gallon, dry measure. Each day the needed full supply came down; but on the sixth day there was twice as much that each one gathered. Why was that? The people at first knew not, till Moses taught them. On the morrow the seventh day would be the Sabbath. On that day none would come down. God, who had rested on the Sabbath day in Gen. ii., would have His earthly people to rest on it now likewise. Henceforth the Sabbath was to be a sign between God and Israel (Ezek. xx. 12). On that day they were ever after to rest. Hunger was now appeased, and really was banished from the camp. God gave them nothing more. But the manna sustained them all the wilderness journey through.

Removing from the wilderness of Sin, they pitched in due course at Rephidim, two stations intervening, namely, Dophkah and Alush (Num. xxxiii. 12-14). At Rephidim they wanted water, so murmured again. Now there was nothing wrong in being hungry in the wilderness of Sin, or being thirsty at Rephidim. These are natural conditions of the creature no longer in Paradise. But their failure was in murmuring, and in viewing Moses as the cause of their condition i.e., without water. God, who had led them through the Red Sea, was leading them still, for we read: "They journeyed from the wilderness of Sin by their journeys (R.V.) according to the commandment of the Lord" (xvii. 1). If God was leading, then their arrival at Rephidim must be right.

There a more determined attack on Moses was made: "Wherefore hast thou brought us up (R.V.) out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?" (xvii. 3). Foolish indeed were they, and how forgetful of the great deliverance at the Red Sea. Evidently the spirit abroad indicated that the people were in no mood to be trifled with; for Moses told God that they were almost ready to stone him (4). The Lord at once told him what to do. It was true that there seemed no appearance of water. But water should appear. "He turneth the rock into a standing water" (Ps. cxiv. 8). Moses with his rod was to smite the rock, the Lord standing before him upon it in Horeb, and water would come out. Moses did so, and water flowed forth. Freely and fully was the want supplied. The men, the women, the children, and the cattle all got the refreshment they desired.

God was the Provider. The bitter water was made sweet; the manna came down each night; the water flowed out of the hard rock and all for a murmuring people. What grace what patient dealing on the part of God! And till they reached Sinai, and promised obedience to the law, God dealt with them in pure grace, supplying each need, but not visiting on them their murmuring.

We would, just in conclusion, remind the reader that the manna, as we learn from John vi., was typical of the Lord incarnate. And as the people could only eat of the manna after it had been pounded in a mortar, or ground in a mill and baked in pans (Num. xi. 8), so to feed on Christ the true bread, He had to die, and we eat His flesh and drink His blood. Then of the water supplied after the manna, the very order is suggestive. The refreshment by the Holy Ghost could only come consequent on the Lord's death i.e., the rock smitten. So whilst all that we have reviewed happened naturally, we may say, for Israel, there is a moral order to be traced in these two events which New Testament teaching alone enables us to understand first the death of Christ, then the coming of the Holy Ghost.

God Dwelling on Earth.

Exodus 25 40.

In pursuance of our subject ways of God as set forth in the book of Exodus we are led on to chapter xxv., in which we have the divine announcement that God would dwell in the midst of Israel.

Never before had He dwelt upon earth. He had walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day (Gen. iii. 8); He had visited Abraham at Mamre, and had consented to partake of that patriarch's hospitality (Gen. xviii. 1-8); to Moses had He appeared in the burning bush in the wilderness of Sinai (Ex. iii. 2). Now He would dwell on earth, for He had a redeemed people, and so could dwell among them. The same holds good in the present dispensation. God has a redeemed people redeemed now by the blood of Christ and they are builded together for His habitation by the Spirit (Eph. ii. 22).

After the provision of water from the smitten rock at Rephidim, Amalek came out in power to oppose the people's progress, and was defeated. To Sinai then Israel came, no further opposition being offered to their advance. There they heard what was new to them, God speaking to them directly out of the fire. God then declared, directly from Himself, the covenant which He commanded them to perform, even the ten commandments (Deut. iv. 12-13). Fitting it was that they should have direct from His mouth those ten words (Deut. x. 4). He thus talked with them face to face (Deut. v. 4). After that He communicated to Moses in the mount His will to dwell among them: "Let them make Me a sanctuary: that I may dwell among them" (Ex. xxv. 8).

Thereupon very definite and minute instructions were given as to this sanctuary. For who of the children of men could know beforehand what would suit God? So its form, its measurements, were all from Him. The colours of the curtains, the number of them, and their textures He prescribed, as well as the ordering about the vail which divided the two chambers, and the hanging also before the door. Then the different vessels, and where each was to be placed, were subjects of divine revelation. For wood, the acacia, called shittim wood, indigenous to the desert, was to be employed; whilst of metals, gold, silver, and brass were each pressed into the service; and precious stones and onyx stones were also in requisition. God was the God of creation, so could claim the use of created things. Inanimate nature yielded its stores for that work.

Great was the privilege of being where God would dwell; and great was the favour of having part in the preparations for His dwelling place. In this men and women, if wise-hearted and at the same time willing-hearted, could participate. The women spun; the men worked under the direction of Bezaleel and Aholiab, those two called out and specially fitted by God for the service entrusted to them. A busy time it must have been in the camp during those few months, on the six working days of the week for on the Sabbath all work stopped, the looms were deserted, and the workshops on that day were closed. Israel were all abiding in their tents.

Besides the erection of the tabernacle, God revealed His mind as to the service to be carried on, and marked out those who were privileged to have part in it. A sacrificial ritual He ordered, and chose the tribe of Levi to be ministers in the sanctuary. Then there was a new institution that of a holy priesthood, to be confined to the family and house of Aaron. Aaron and his sons designated for that office, a high priest in the person of Aaron Israel were to acknowledge. Priests there had been, as Melchisedec, but no family set apart for priestly service is mentioned in the Word till the consecration of Aaron and his sons. Minute directions were given as to their consecration, and the garments of the high priest were specially described (Ex. xxviii., xxix.). Then the service of each day in the sanctuary and at the brazen altar was regulated by divine enactment; and the order of their ecclesiastical year (Lev. xxiii.), as well as that of the festal sacrifices, was subsequently made known to Moses (Num. xxviii., xxix.) for communication to Israel.

All was ordered by God; for the sanctuary, the high priest, and the sacrifices were typical of One who was to come, whom the world had never seen. The sacrifices spoke of His death, and foretold God's acceptance of His sacrifice. The sanctuary, too, spoke of Him, the vail and parti-coloured curtains typifying His history in connection with earth a history not yet completed, for it will run on throughout the millenial age. Then the high priestly garments prefigured some of His personal characteristics. But on this we cannot enlarge.

The work for the tabernacle all completed, Moses surveyed it and passed it. And on the first day of the first month, he reared up the tabernacle, set all things in order within; then the Lord in the cloud took possession of it as His dwelling place in Israel. "The cloud covered the tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Ex. xl. 34).

Thus ends the book of Exodus. It opens with Israel in servitude, and God hearing their groanings and remembering His covenant. It closes with the people emancipated and brought to God, and God taking up His abode in the tabernacle, dwelling on earth in the camp of His redeemed people. He stopped not short of His purpose.