And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he swore to our fathers.
There were many things in the history of ancient Israel which repeat themselves in the history or experience of the Christian Church. Our text may be regarded as —
1. God's answer to man's question: What is the meaning of human life? Everywhere we see beginnings and advances, but where are the issues or ends? Human life in general has its beginnings or outgoings, but who can foresee its incomings? We may regard human life as a promise or as a prophecy, but to many it is also an insoluble problem. Throughout the kingdom of nature we find everything comparatively plain. We find nothing of the nature of chance or caprice. Certain causes are invariably followed by certain definite effects. "From the greatest planets to the tiniest plants, all things are under the operation of fixed laws. Everything comes to pass in its time, and with all the beauty of that "order which is heaven's first law." Things in the natural world are thus ordered in all things and sure. Are they not equally so before God in the moral and spiritual worlds? Verily He knows all our outgoings and incomings, our sittings down and risings up; He is entirely acquainted with us in all our ways. He knows the end from the beginning in every case. There are no accidents with Him, and He is never taken by surprise. God has no new thoughts, and He makes no new discoveries; the darkness and the light are both alike to Him always.
2. This reveals God's purpose. God's purposes may be far beyond the scope of human vision, but they are fixed as the laws of the material universe; they may lie far beyond the hills and mountains of man's higher thoughts and best conceptions, but they are realities and pregnant with good, and they are always being fulfilled in the experience of His own people. God has done something that man might do something else, and that something else man must either do or perish. What has God done?
3. God's work. "He brought us out from thence." It was not Moses that brought them out. Moses himself was only a weak instrument. In wisdom he might be greater than Lycurgus, in skill greater than Alfred, in efficiency more powerful than Cromwell, in patriotism greater than Washington; but the work to be done required Divine wisdom and power. Moses was an efficient agent because God's Spirit was in him to will and to do as God required.
4. Man's work. Man must ever be regarded as left to the freedom of his own will, for he was so created. When God completed the work of creation, He said in effect, "It is finished. Take the earth, Adam, as I have made it; till it, and live on it; make the best of it; have dominion over it." When God completed the work of man's redemption on the Cross, He said, "It is finished. Take it, ye children of men, and work out your own salvation." When God took the Hebrews out of Egypt, He said in effect, "Follow My servant Moses through good and evil report, and I'll take you into the land which I sware unto your fathers." In other words, God promised to save them only if they were willing and obedient. But alas l they were neither willing nor obedient, and hence we read, "they entered not in, because of unbelief." They were willing to go out, because of their bitter bondage, but they were not willing to go on because of the trials and sorrows of the wilderness. They were discouraged because of the way.
5. The Hebrews were a typical people —
(1) Of true believers. Those who went out and went on and went into the land were typical of those who with the heart believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are willing to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. They have tested His promises and His character in the alembic of their own Christian experience; they have weighed His claims in the balances of Christian thought and meditation until the fire burned within them, and they felt "unspeakably obliged" to go after Him; and so they "press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Their faith and love and religion being alike practical they work towards purity, progress, and perfection.
(2) Of unbelievers. Those of the Hebrews who entered not in because of unbelief, typify those who in every age confound their life with their limbs and their souls with their senses. These sceptics must ever be as "hewers of wood and drawers of water," even in this world. Success, even in this world, implies a high ideal — faith, indomitable energy, and perseverance. With these, men even of average mental powers will succeed, and without them they must abide in the wilderness of circumstances. While holding by the Bible doctrine of Divine sovereignty, we also hold by the fact that God helps those who help themselves. Only hardships can make hardy men. Brave soldiers and good sailors are manufactured by forced marches, wars, and through storms. The best and bravest men become perfect through suffering.
(J. K. Campbell, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.