Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Divine promises are not long kept separated from human duty. Scarcely has God presented to Moses this welcome, almost dazzling prospect for Israel, when there breaks upon his ear an announcement of his own connection with it, and that in the most trying and responsible position. That he was to have some sort of connection with the liberation of Israel Was just what he might expect. God assuredly had not chosen to visit him so far from Egypt, and in that solitary place, simply to give him the good news and leave him there. And now a duty indeed is laid upon him, the duty of duties; he who has not been near Israel for forty years is to be the chief agent in their deliverance.
I. CONSIDER THE RECEPTION WHICH MOSES GIVES TO GOD'S ANNOUNCEMENT. Observe -
1. The point on which Moses expresses no doubt. He says no word of doubt as to the possibility of Israel being delivered from Egypt. The achievement is from the human point of view a great one, and how it is to be managed he has not yet the slightest clue, but he does not doubt that it will be managed. He might have asked, "How can a thing so great as this be done, and the thraldom of generations utterly cast off?" but he had profited already by the lesson of the burning bush, and no such question crossed his lips. For whether is easier, to preserve a bush amid the fierce flames, or to deliver a nation from bondage? The power that can do the one can do the other.
2. The point on which he is full of doubt. "Who am I?" etc. His mind is turned at once to his own qualifications. And what wonder? It was a great leap from being a shepherd in the wilderness to being an ambassador to. a king, and a leader of men. The fact that Moses questioned his personal ability and personal worthiness is, though it may not at first appear so, a great indication of his very fitness for the post. He did not jump at the chance of distinction. He had a remembrance of his bad odour in Egypt. He had lived, too, at court, and knew how hard it is to get at kings. We can hardly call this doubt of Moses blameworthy, for he was spoken to as a sinful man, and God did not expect from him at this first opening of the interview a response such as could only come fittingly from an angel, ready at once to fly on any errand of the Almighty. A Gabriel would not have said, "who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?" for angels cannot be spoken of as either humble or proud. But Moses was deeply conscious of his own faults. Indeed, if he had not been, God would not have chosen him. Men of a different sort, self-complacent and self-confident, were the last God would have looked to in such circumstances. The men he wants are such as feel keenly all natural defects - sensitive, may be, to criticism and harsh words of every kind; men, too, who for their own inclination, love the quiet and shady nooks of existence, and do not care to leave them, save under the pressure of some manifest public claim or some persistent voice of God to the tender conscience within. Such men are generally called, upon their first emergence into public, presumptuous, meddlesome, and fanatical; and they have to lay their account with these hard names. They are apt to meet with a great deal of gratuitous counsel, given on the grounds of what is called common sense. Moses well knew the difficulties that would come in his way. The one thing he had yet to learn was that God knew him far better than he did himself.
II. CONSIDER THE ENCOURAGEMENTS GOD GIVES TO MOSES. There is no word of rebuke in any way, but immediate and abundant encouragement.
1. The emphatic assurance of God's presence and companionship. The "I" of Moses is met by the "I" of God. Moses was to go to Pharaoh strong in the consciousness that the God who sent him was also with him. There would not be about him anything that ambassadors usually had - rich personal adornments, pomp of attendance, great profusion of presents, distinguished earthly rank. But the absence of these things only makes more manifest the presence and dignity of the invisible God. The less of earth was seen, the more of heaven; the less of man, the more of God. If God be for us, who can be against us? If God be with us, what need we care who forsake us? Because Moses felt his own deficiencies, compared with the greatness of the work before him, God gave him this promise, and the fulfilment of it gave both needed and sufficient strength during all his conflict with Pharaoh. What about our relation to Christ's promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world?" The mournful truth with respect to us may be that we do not feel, either the greatness of the work before us, or our utter lack of strength to do it. We must know the burdens and the bonds, the smitings and the contumely, the sighing and the crying, of spiritual Egypt, before we can appreciate the necessity and graciousness of Christ's parting promise to his people.
2. God adds something even more noticeable than the promise of his presence. We do not say it is more important, but it is certainly more noticeable. He makes an intimation of a very helpful token to be exhibited in the future. Moses needed no more tokens of God's power at present; he had a sufficient token in the burning bush. If this had failed to impress him, neither could he have been persuaded by any additional wonder. But God gave to Moses a word which would keep in his mind the prospect and hope of a great sign in the time to come. What a thought to take with him through all the dismal succession of the plagues, through all the steady progress towards deliverance - that somehow or other God would bring the large host of Israel in this very mountain; to this lonely place where few people lived, because few could live! Moses would need a token by-and-bye even more than he bad needed one now. His greatest difficulties were to be, not with Pharaoh, but with Israel; not in getting them out of Egypt, but in leading them onward to Canaan. Some difficulties doubtless he would expect, but all the stubbornness, waywardness and carnality of Israel he did not yet foresee. So the Apostle found his greatest difficulties and sorrows, not from those who stoned him at Lystra, imprisoned him at Philippi, and conspired against him at Jerusalem; but from the fornicators, the litigious, the schismatical, the deniers of the resurrection at Corinth; from the pliable yielders to Jewish bigotry, in Galatia; in short, from.all who, having professed to receive the truth, acted in a way incompatible with their professions; and thus we see God keeping Moses, as it were, ahead of the people. He was forty years ahead of them already. The creature comforts of Egypt, for which Israel lusted so in the wilderness, were no temptation to him, seeing he had become used to the wilderness. And so, when he came again to Horeb, with all this vast host in his charge, it was to rejoice in the strength that came from a fulfilled promise of God.
III. CONSIDER THE EXPECTATION FROM ISRAEL WITH WHICH GOD LOOKS FORWARD TO THE GIVING OF THIS TOKEN. Not only will God bring Israel to this mountain, but when they reach it, it will be to serve him. He says very little; only, "Ye shall serve God," but that little would be enough to set Moses thinking. And yet, with, all his anticipations, they must have fallen far short of the reality. One small word from the lips of God has behind it a fulness of meaning far beyond present thoughts. We learn, by the time we come to the end of this book, that serving God meant gathering in solemn and timid awe around the smoking mount; meant for Moses himself forty days and nights of retirement with Jehovah; meant the construction of the Tabernacle with all its holy contents according to the pattern shown in the mount. What a difference in the knowledge, the obligations, and the outlook of the Israelites when they left Sinai! And if the word "service," looked at in the light of past experience, was a word of meaning so large with respect to them, is it not incumbent on us to do all we can for ourselves to fill the great terms of the Christian dispensation with the fulness of their meaning? Faith - atonement - the blood of Christ - regeneration - love - holiness - heaven: let these words represent to our minds an ever-growing, a devout and correct experience of the great body of the truth as it is in Jesus. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.