Exodus 10:28
This was the third of the great plagues, and it came, as in certain previous instances, unannounced.

I. THE LAST OF THE ADMONITORY PLAGUES (vers. 21-24). The plagues, viewed as trials of Pharaoh's character, end with this one. The death of the first-born was a judgment, and gave Pharaoh no further space for repentance. We may view this last of the nine plagues:

1. As awful in itself. Whatever its natural basis, the preternatural intensity of the darkness now brought upon the land told plainly enough that it was one of the wonders of Jehovah. For three whole days no one human being in Egypt saw another, even artificial light, it would appear, failing them in their necessity. The fearfulness of the plague was heightened to those stricken by it by the fact that the Israelites "had light in their dwellings"; also by the fact that the sun in his different phases was the chief object of their worship. When one reflects on the terrors which accompany darkness in any case; on the singular effect it has in working on the imagination, and in intensifying its alarms, it will be felt how truly this was a plague laid upon the heart (Exodus 9:14). Darkness suddenly descending on a land invariably awakens superstitious fears, fills multitudes with forebodings of calamity, creates apprehensions of the near approach of the day of judgment; what, then, would be the effect on the Egyptians when they "saw their crystal atmosphere and resplendent heavens suddenly compelled to wear an aspect of indescribable terror and appalling gloom"? We may gather how great was the distress from the fact of the king being compelled, after all that had happened, again to send for Moses (ver. 24).

2. As symbolic of a spiritual condition. Egypt was enveloped in the wrath of God. The stroke of that wrath, which might have been averted by timely repentance, was about to descend in the destruction of the first-born. Darkness was in the king's soul. The darkness of doom was weaving itself around his fortunes. Of all this, surely the physical darkness, which, like a dread funeral pall, descended on the land, must be taken as a symbol. When Christ, the sin-bearer, hung on Calvary, a great darkness, in like manner, covered the whole land (Matthew 27:45). The darkness without was but the symbol of a deeper darkness in which Christ's spirit was enveloped. The sinner's condition is one of darkness altogether. He is dark spiritually (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6). He is dark, as under the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3). God's people are "children of light," but the transgressor's soul is buried in deadliest gloom (Ephesians 5:8). The place of woe is described as "the outer darkness" (Matthew 25:30).

II. PHARAOH'S LAST ATTEMPT (vers. 24-27).

1. It was made under dire compulsion. The darkness had shaken his heart to its foundations. It is noteworthy that each of these three last plagues extorted from him a full or partial consent. The lesser plagues, severe though they were, had not had this effect. He could hold out under two, and in one case under three of them.

2. It was, like the former, an attempt at compromise. He would let the "little ones" go, but the flocks and herds were to be left; an absurd prohibition, when the object was to sacrifice. It is made painfully evident that Pharaoh's judgment has left him; that he has become absolutely reckless; that he is no longer his own master; that he is being driven by his passions in opposition to all right reason and prudence; that the end, accordingly, is very near.

3. It testifies to his increasing hardness.

(1) There is on this occasion no confession of sin.

(2) Neither does Pharaoh concede the whole demand.

(3) He ends the scene with violence, ordering Moses never to appear again before him, under penalty of death.

III. PHARAOH'S REPROBATION (ver. 29). Moses took Pharaoh at his word. "Thou hast spoken well; I will see thy face no more." God's work with this great, bad man was ended, save as the judgment for which he had prepared himself was now to be inflicted upon him. He had not been given up till every conceivable means had been exhausted to bring him to repentance. He had been tried with reason and with threatening; with gentleness and with severity; with mercy and with judgments. He had been reproved, expostulated with, warned, and frequently chastised. His prayers for respite had in every case been heard. He had been trusted in his promises to let Israel go, and when he had broken them was still forborne with and trusted again. Plagues of every kind had been sent upon him. He had suffered incalculable loss, had endured sore bodily pain, had been shaken in his soul with supernatural terrors. His first plea, of ignorance, and his second, of want of evidence, had been completely shattered. He had been made to confess that he had sinned, and that Jehovah was righteous. Yet under all and through all he had gone on hardening himself, till, finally, even God could wring no confession of sin from him, and his mind had become utterly fatuous, and regardless of consequences. What more was to be done with Pharaoh? Even that which must be done with ourselves under like circumstances - he was rejected, reprobated, given over to destruction. "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" (Luke 13:7). It was the same fate which overtook Israel when the nation became finally corrupt and hardened. - J.O.







I will see thy face no more.
I. IN THIS WORLD OFTEN THE WORST OF MEN COME IN CONTACT WITH THE BEST OF MEN.

1. Pharaoh, an idolater, the greatest of tyrants, a signal monument of God's displeasure; Moses, a true worshipper of the true and living God, the meekest of men, an object of God's highest favour.

2. Such opposite characters as these come in contact in families, in schools, in political and social circles.

II. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE WORST OF MEN MAY COME IN CONTACT WITH THE BEST WITHOUT BEING AT ALL BENEFITED.

1. Think of the noble example which Moses set before Pharaoh.

(1)Disinterestedness.

(2)Meekness.

(3)Holiness.

2. Think of the important truths which Moses taught Pharaoh.

(1)The existence of one true God alone.

(2)That this world is under God's control.

(3)That Pharaoh was accountable to God.

(4)That God was ready to forgive those who had rebelled against Him.

III. WHEN THE WORST OF MEN COME IN CONTACT WITH THE BEST WITHOUT BEING BENEFITED THE PARTING IS DEEPLY AFFECTING.

(J. G. Roberts.)

I. THAT GOOD MEN ARE OFTEN BROUGHT INTO CONTACT WITH BAD MEN.

1. Irrespective of moral character.

2. Irrespective of mental temperament.

3. Irrespective of social position.And why?

1. That men may be imbued with the ideas of a common manhood,

2. That class prejudices may be destroyed,

3. That charity may be developed.

4. That life may become a unity.

II. THAT WHEN GOOD MEN ARE BROUGHT INTO CONTACT WITH BAD MEN THE MEETING SHOULD BE EDUCATIONAL TO BOTH.

1. The companionship of the good should be influential to the moral improvement of the bad.

2. The companionship of the bad should inspire the good with feelings of gratitude and humility. Good men might have been far otherwise.

III. THAT WHEN GOOD MEN ARE BROUGHT INTO CONTACT WITH BAD MEN THE MEETING IS NOT ALWAYS VALUED AS IT OUGHT TO BE, AND ITS OPPORTUNITY FOR GOOD IS OFTEN UNIMPROVED. Lessons:

1. That a good life is a heavenly ministry.

2. That good men should seek to influence the bad aright.

3. That good men may learn lessons from wicked lines.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. With contempt.

2. With threatenings of evil.

3. With banishment.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. They scorn their taunts.

2. They impart to the language of the wicked a deeper significance than was intended.

3. They are courageous.

4. They bid them a sad farewell.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

The obstinacy of Pharaoh appears odious to us; but, alas! the same obstinacy is found in all sinners. It is seldom we meet with those who openly say, "I will not be converted, I will do nothing for God, I mock Him, I brave Him, I defy Him." They do not use language such as this, but yet they cherish some secret sin. Among the wicked boys who are unfortunately to be found in most large towns, you will scarcely meet one, even let him perhaps be a thief, who would not say, "I do not wish to die an enemy of God"; but, then, in the meantime he cherishes his sin. What is still more sad, we sometimes hear even serious persons say, "I wish to do the will of God, but cannot cure myself of this fault; it is stronger than I. I do not wish to lose my soul, I wish to obey the commands of God; but I cannot give up the society which is called bad, I cannot give up such and such a habit which I am told is a sinful one, I cannot make those sacrifices which I am told are necessary; I will not do it." And it is thus that people trifle with eternity! Let us take heed; we must give ourselves to God — wholly and without reserve. He will have no divided service.

(Prof. Gaussen.)

Remark the solemn and terrible reply of Moses, "Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more." To understand the meaning of this answer we must remark that it does not finish with this verse, but that it has a continuation in the succeeding chapter. It contains a terrible threat to those who despise and reject the word of God. This was to be the last time that Pharaoh should hear the voice of the man of God, who had so often warned him and prayed for him. For him no more time was to be given. It was finished; the measure of his iniquities was filled up; the wrath of God was to come upon him to the uttermost. "Then Moses went out from Pharaoh in great anger." There is such a thing as holy anger, for the Bible says, "Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Our Lord Himself was indignant with the buyers and sellers in the Temple. And He was "much displeased" with His disciples when they rebuked those who brought young children to Him. He looked round about with anger on those who wished to hinder Him from curing a man on the Sabbath day. The anger of Moses was caused by the obstinacy and ingratitude of Pharaoh, and by the insulting manner in which he braved his Creator and his Judge. The meaning of his terrible reply was this, "Thou hast rejected the word of God; the word of God rejects thee. Thou dost not choose any more to see the face of the servant of the Lord, who has come ten times to warn thee in His name. Well, thou shalt see his face no more. The word of God has been brought to thee, but the word of God will leave thee. The grace of God has been offered thee; thou hast despised it, therefore now will the grace of God leave thee. Thou hast chosen to ruin thyself, therefore thou wilt ruin thyself." How terrible is this! We must all die. Death is very formidable: it is very sad and solemn when we mourn for others; but there is a remedy for this sorrow in a loving Saviour, and in the knowledge that there is a home where all the children of God shall meet each other again. What is really much more terrible than death is thin sentence, "Thou shalt see My face no more."

(Prof. Gaussen.).

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