I Will bring again the Captivity of Egypt.1. The goodness and mercy of God extend to heathens. He hath a care of them in their captivity, and after they have suffered His appointed time He will show kindness to them.
2. The afflictions of nations and persons may be long, yet not without end; they may suffer seven and seven years, yea, twenty, thirty, forty years together, which is a long time, and then see an end of their sufferings.
3. God sometimes deals more favourably with heathens than with His own people. "At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians," but it was the end of seventy years before He gathered the Jews out of Babylon: His own people were thirty years, or near upon, longer under the Babylonish yoke than the Egyptians. There was just cause for this; God's people had sinned worse than the heathens, and so provoked Him above them.
4. Nothing is too hard for God, or can hinder the fulfilling of His will. The Egyptians were scattered among the nations, here a family and there a family, and that forty years together; so mingled with the people of other countries that they had well nigh forgotten Egypt, and had so drunk in the manners and customs of the places where they lived that they were neutralised thereunto; they were so rooted among the nations that it seemed impossible to pluck them up, and plant them in their own countries; yet notwithstanding these things, saith God, "I will gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered." The Jews had lain longer n Babylon, and were like dry bones in the grave, without hope (Ezekiel 37:11); but God made good His word; He brought them out with a strong hand, breaking in pieces gates of brass, and cutting in sunder bars of iron.
5. It is the same hand, the same God, that drives men out of their countries and comforts, into deep and long afflictions abroad, and brings them back out of the same, to enjoy their countries and comforts.
(W. Greenhill, M. A.)
Because they wrought for Me.I. THE DISPOSAL OF STATES AND NATIONS IS THE WORK OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
1. Do we examine this dispensation in reference to the authority of God? It is unquestionably His prerogative: He has a right to do what He will with His own.
2. Do we consider it in connection with the Divine power? Nothing is too hard for the Lord; no difficulties lie in His way.
3. Do we survey the relation it has to the righteousness of God? He is the moral governor of the universe, "who renders to every man according to their works." Individuals can be rewarded or punished in another world; but communities are judged only in this.
4. Do we think of it in application to our own times? Unless we fix upon this principle we shall be in danger of debasing ourselves by joining in worldly parties and political rage; of feeling too much confidence in one class of men and too much fear of another; of prescribing the course of events, and suffering disappointment and mortification when our favourite measures are subverted.
II. MEN MAY SERVE GOD REALLY WHEN THEY DO NOT SERVE HIM BY DESIGN. Nebuchadrezzar is called the servant of God, as well as the Apostle Paul — but observe the difference between them; and, as God will derive glory from all His creatures, inquire which of these characters you are resembling. The former serves God, only from the influence of an overruling Providence — the latter, from the operation of Divine grace.
III. NONE CAN BE LOSERS BY ANYTHING THEY DO FOR GOD. Even services done for Him by worldly men obtain a temporal reward. The Egyptian females (Exodus 1:20, 21). Jehu was a vain, ostentatious, wicked prince, but "the Lord said unto Jehu," etc. (2 Kings 10:30). So here, "I have given Nebuchadrezzar the land of Egypt," etc. This is indeed a poor recompense. It may appear splendid and important in the eye of the vain and the sensual, but the righteous are fax from envying it. Egypt was all the remuneration of Nebuchadrezzar — and what could it do for him? What is it to him now? Ye servants of the most high God, who know Him and love Him; He has provided some better thing for you. He who noticed the hardships endured by the poor soldiers before Tyre, when every head was bald and every shoulder peeled, will not suffer you to labour in vain: He sees your difficulties; considers the burdens under which you bend; He hears your groans, and your sighs — when without are fightings, and within are fears. Is it a vain thing to serve the Lord? You will find your reward in the very nature of your work; you will find it in the glow of pleasure which attends virtuous exertion; you will find it in the approving testimony of your own conscience; you will find it in the esteem of the wise and good; you will find it in the blessing of them that were ready to perish; you will find it in the applause of your Lord and Saviour — "Well done," etc.
1. This passage affords us a striking view of and insight into some of the mysterious acts of God's Providence. We behold how He can maintain His throne in the midst of the commotions of the universe; that no earthquake, throe, or agony in the terrestrial world can shake the foundations of its pillars or remove it from its steadfastness; and as the Governor of the world, we are struck with the harmony of all His actions, and the power whereby He extracts the good from every ill! If the sins of nations or individuals were always immediately followed with the punishment they merit, this world would not be a state of probation; obedience would not be voluntary, but forced; we should walk, not by faith, but by sight; we should not honour God by our confidence in His perfections and in the dispensations of His Providence. To destroy is easy, and discovers little perfection; it is the perfection of a tyrant. But the wisdom of God appears in making even the wrath of man to praise, and engaging that the remainder of that wrath He will restrain. This, then, is the plan upon which He acts in the government of the world, and hence He is called a wise Governor.
2. Behold an instance of the goodness and severity of God! Long did He spare that rebellious nation, the Jews; often did He warn them, sending His prophets to call them to a sense of their duty towards Him. But they steeled their hearts against conviction, and would none of His advice. At last He complains of them, they were like bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke; He fed them at His own stall; He gave them His easy yoke of duties, which ought to have been delightful, coming from so kind a hand; but, alas! they would not draw it in by gentle treatment; He goaded them by corrections; they kicked against the pricks, and ran back upon His chastisements; they were like a backsliding heifer! But behold the severity of God! The cup of their iniquity was full; Manasseh had greatly contributed to it; he had expressed a great quantity of the roots of bitterness into their portion, and his successors after him, with the exception of Josiah, added to it; till Zedekiah completed the measure and drew down on them wrath to the very uttermost.
3. Service of any kind done for God never goes unrewarded. None can be losers by anything they do for Him: in one way or other He will surely recompense them. He is independent of the creature; the cause can never be dependent on its effect; He could act both in the natural and moral world without human agency; and doubtless He would have done so had it been as agreeable to His wisdom as it was easy to His power. But where would be the reward of the faithful steward? In the moral world the power which He manifested on the day of Pentecost might be again exerted. But what room, then, for the work of faith, the labour of love, and the patience of hope?
(J. Summerfield, M. A.).