The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt…
Behold the Lord... shall come into Egypt... and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. The presence of God would produce consternation among the people. This is significant enough. It need excite no wonder, indeed, that the coming of the holy and righteous One into the midst of those who had provoked him by their idolatries would result in quaking of spirit, in liveliest agitation. What could await such guilty ones but the most serious rebuke, the most distressing judgments? But the presence of God is not only troublous to idolatrous Egyptians, but to his own servants. So the prophet himself found (Isaiah 6:5). The psalmist "remembered God, and was troubled" (Psalm 77:3). Why is this? Concerning the trouble which the presence of God brings to the human spirit, we remark -
I. THAT HIS KNOWN NEARNESS TO US AND POWER OVER US MIGHT BE EXPECTED TO PRECLUDE SUCH ALARM. Why should we be concerned to find God appearing unto us? Do we not know well that he is "not far from any one of us;" that "in him we live and move and have our being?" Do we not know that he is judging our actions and our attitude toward himself every moment, and is, moreover, expressing his judgment by Divine bestowals and inflictions day by day? Why should terror or alarm, or even apprehension, seize us because he manifests himself to us, and constrains us to feel conscious that we are standing in his near presence? But, however we may reason thus, it is the fact -
II. THAT OBSERVATION AND EXPERIENCE UNITE TO PROVE THAT HIS FELT PRESENCE DOES TROUBLE US. Both Old Testament and New Testament history show that any visitant from the unseen world causes "the heart to melt;" and if any mere messenger (angel), how much more he who reigns over all that realm - the Divine and eternal Spirit himself? And we find now that when men, in the full possession of their spiritual faculties, have believed themselves to be in, or to be about to pass into, the near presence of the Eternal, their spirit has shrunk and trembled at the thought. We ask -
III. THE EXPLANATION OF THE FACT. The explanation is found in two things.
1. In our sense of God's greatness, and the corresponding consciousness of our own littleness. Those who move in a humble social sphere are agitated when they find themselves in the near presence of human rank, especially of high rank, more especially of royalty; how much more so when men feel themselves to be (or to be about to be) before the King of kings, the infinite God!
2. In our sense of God's holiness and the corresponding consciousness of our own imperfection and sin.
(1) The Christian man may have his reason for apprehension; for has he not to bring his life of Christian service to the judgment of his Divine Master, for his approval or his disapproval; and is he not conscious that this his service has come short of his Lord's desire, if it has not been blemished or even stained by many sins?
(2) The impenitent man has abundant reason for anxiety and even for alarm; for he is the child of privilege and opportunity; he has known his Lord's will; he has heard many times the sacred summons; he has often felt the movings of the Divine Spirit in his heart. But he has "judged himself unworthy of eternal life;" he has striven to silence the voices which came to him from heaven. He is open to the most terrible and intolerable rebuke of God (Proverbs 1:24, etc.); he lies exposed to the penalty of deliberate disobedience, of persistent rejection of the grace of God (Luke 12:47; John 3:18, 19, 36; Hebrews 10:26-31; Hebrews 12:25). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.