"And a mixed multitude went up also with them." (v. 38.) It is impossible to ignore the presence and importance of this company as a typical people, both in the aspect of their own position and responsibility, as well as constituting a very real source of danger and entanglement to the people of God. Unsheltered by the blood, as not belonging to the nation, without any vital interest in the people themselves, the purposes of Jehovah concerning them, or the land to which the nation was bound, their whole position formed a contrast to that of the redeemed company, among whom, however, they cast in their lot and "went up with them."
It is not difficult to recognise the counterpart of this "mixed multitude" in that vast professing company, unsheltered by the blood of Christ, without personal interest in God's redemption, or future prospect in any way connected with the Lord's people, but yet identifying themselves because of some present and personal advantage with them.
The vast profession of Christendom with which we are surrounded, overshadows and includes the two companies typically represented by redeemed Israel and the "mixed multitude"; and the intermingling is so complete, that the distinct identity of each is lost: as this latter company was marked alone by the facts that they "went up also with Israel," so of their modern counterpart, who are identified by the same special characteristic. If personally enquired of, they know nothing of shelter by the blood of the Lamb from God as a Judge, of His word as furnishing them with security and confidence, of resources in Him for the wilderness, of a pilgrim spirit and pilgrim character by the way, of the place towards which God's own redeemed are journeying. They are only where they are, because the profession of Christianity is that by which they are best served.
A truly solemn picture of the mass. Dear reader, let me earnestly urge you to look to it that you are not, as a professing Christian for years, one of this company; for should the separating event of the rapture of the redeemed actually take place in your lifetime, though you may have passed muster among your fellow-creatures as a Christian up to that solemn but fast approaching moment, you will be then and there unmasked, by being left behind, to be rapidly followed by irreclaimable apostasy and judgment. (2 Thess. 2:10-12.) Or should death intervene for you, though possibly not unmasked even then, you will be at the great white throne; for while not one mere professor will be found amongst the company caught up, not one will be missing among the company brought up before that solemn sessional throne for judgment.
But this "mixed multitude" constituted further a standing snare and danger to the people of God, as will be clear by a reference to Numbers 11:4-6, where it is said of them that "they fell a lusting"; the effect of their influence upon Israel being that they became speedily leavened by the fleshly spirit, which was manifesting itself amongst them. "And the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember," etc. It is thus with the Lord's people in the present day, the professing but entirely worldly element in their midst perpetually recalling and reviving the tastes, delights, and desires of the Egypt, which, according to God's thoughts, and their own redeemed condition, they have left; awakening and ceaselessly perpetuating the interests and lusts that the natural man, in the believer, is ever prone to turn to; thus inviting and insuring the governmental dealings in discipline of a Holy God, jealous of the love and affections of his own, founded on the ever present ground of known redemption and sovereign grace. (Numbers 11:33.) "While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote them."
This ceaseless subtle influence for evil, and a harvest of sorrow, may, alas! lurk in the person of one of "the mixed multitude," in the very homes of the people of God; the leaven and lust of the world and worldliness may be nursed and fostered with assiduous care by the nearest and dearest; much grace indeed is needed, and blessedly available too, to meet and repel the approach and advances of the world spirit from such a subtle quarter. Let young Christians beware and accept a faithful because scriptural warning as to the first assaults of alluring worldliness, through the medium of the affections and natural relationships; remembering that it was owing to the influence and intimacy of a Delilah that Samson was drawn aside from the path of Nazariteship, ending a career, that opened bright with the promise of energetic testimony for Jehovah, and separation from the world, in a condition of sorrowful and disciplinary humiliation.
In verses 39-42 we have three very striking characteristics of the truly redeemed ones, in contrast to "the mixed multitude"; of the former it is recorded (v. 39) that "they were thrust out" (v. 41), they "went out." (v. 42). "It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out." In this threefold character, which belonged equally to the whole company, they are presented to us. First, as those whom the Egyptians could no longer tolerate on the ground of their being the channel of God's most solemn dealings with their consciences, up to the point of the judgment of death, so "they were urgent upon the people that they might send them out of the land in haste, for they said, we be all dead men." Secondly, pressed by the sense of the cruel bondage they had been in, out of which the door of escape now lay wide open before them, they "went out" of their own voluntary will in glad liberty. Thirdly, with their hearts bowed before Jehovah on account of this marvellous intervention in grace, on their behalf, on that night "to be much observed to the Lord," they are under the immediate sense of His grace and power in "bringing them out from the land of Egypt."
Is it not in this threefold character that the redeemed ones of the present dispensation are called to appear? First, as the channels of God's dealings with the conscience of the world, and, if faithful in this first characteristic, as little tolerated by the world of this day, as the Egyptians of that; bearing the testimony of the judgment of death, as the sentence under which a guilty world lies, and as such "thrust out" from their company; and truly where this faithfulness in following in the footsteps of the Master, who did not hesitate to say, "Now is the judgment of this world," is found, the world's rejection surely follows, for "if ye were of the world the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord." (John 15:19, 20.) Secondly, under the experimental consciousness of Egypt's cruel bondage, of the deliverance from the scene of sorrows, exercises and afflictions, imposed by the oppressor, into a scene of liberty and blessing, the believer willingly goes out; also pressed by the bitter memory of "the famine," "the want" and the husks. Having turned his back upon the "far country" once, he presses forward with earnest consent toward home and heaven; by that he is henceforth characterised. Thirdly, in the full and unclouded apprehension of "the grace of God that bringeth salvation"; in the deep enjoyment of the inexhaustible well spring of the love of God, who "commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us"; who has redeemed us "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," the believer rests in that marvellous combination of Divine Wisdom, Love, and Power, by means of which he is intelligently conscious that he has been "brought out" from the world of judgment, and can count upon the full resources of that same God of grace to sustain him, all through the years of his pilgrimage.
It is to be noted that the lacking of one or more of these characteristics indicates defective testimony. God looks for the threefold character of faithfulness to the world, departure from the world, and the abiding sense of grace in those whom He has redeemed.
M. C. G.