"I will surely be with you," God said, "and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship God on this mountain."
1. THE HINDRANCE FOUND IN THE SENSE OF OUR OWN WEAKNESS (vers. 11, 12).
1. Moses knew the pomp and pride of the Egyptian court. He remembered how Israel had rejected him when he was more than he was now. Once he had believed himself able for the task, but he was wiser now: "Who am I?" etc. He might serve God in the lowly place he held, but not there. Moses in this the type of multitudes. God's call for service is met on every hand by the cry, "Who am I that I should go?"
2. How God meets this sense of weakness.
(1) By the assurance of his presence. It was not Moses only that should go, but God also. The conviction that he is with us, and that we speak for him, makes the meekest bold, the weakest strong.
(2) By the assurance of success: "Ye shall serve God upon this mountain. He is armed with faith and hope. From self let us look to God and his pledged word.
II. THE HINDRANCE FOUND IN THE SENSE OF OUR IGNORANCE (vers. 13-17).
1. His own thought of God was dim. How then could he carry conviction to the hearts of the people? The same lack of clear, living thought of God keeps tongues tied to-day.
2. How it may be removed.
(1) God is THE UNCHANGING ONE. He had revealed himself to their fathers: he was all this still. It was his memorial for ever. Grasping this thought, all the past is God's revelation.
(2) He takes with him a gospel for present need (vers. 16, 17), and these two things will be God's full revelation. We must make men apprehend the revelation which God has given of himself in the past, and proclaim him as the God of to-day. I have surely visited you, and I will bring you up out of the affliction." - U.
When I first entered the ministry, twenty years ago, I was filled with an enthusiasm that was as fresh as it was inexperienced in the work of winning souls. I felt sure, when I began to preach, that all the world would hear and be converted. The gospel was so simple; the news so good; the grace of Christ so precious — that I could think of nothing else but that my hearers would at once give themselves to Christ. I was under the impression that the reason people were not converted in greater numbers was that the preachers did not make the gospel simple and plain. This I supposed that I could do. Alas, I was as ignorant as Moses when he made his first attempt to save his brethren. I did not know what the bondage was, though I myself had been delivered. I did not realize the darkness of the unrenewed mind, the enmity of the unrenewed heart. I did not know the strength of the chain with which Satan has bound souls. But, like Melancthon, who had a similar thought, I found that "old Adam was stronger than young Pentecost"; and I confess that to this hour, though I have been in the work for twenty years, I never sit down by the side of an unconverted man, woman, or child, to attempt to lead them to Christ, without a certain sense of fear. My insufficiency always comes before me when I think of what is involved in this work. To persuade a man to reform his life, to give up certain sins and hurtful lusts, is comparatively easy: but to convert a sinner to God is difficult work indeed; and without the aid of the Divine Spirit it is impossible for man to effect it. What answer have we to give to this honest shrinking from a difficult work? Let us hear how God answered Moses: "Certainly I will be with thee." As though He had said, "Why, Moses, you did not expect that I was going to send you down to Egypt alone, to deliver My people? Have you forgotten that I said I had come down to deliver? You indeed are to be My instrument; but I will be with you to make you mighty, and to bring the apparently impossible work to pass." This puts the work in a new light. If God goes with us to the work, then can we undertake anything. When Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and make disciples of all nations," He did not forget to say, "Lo, I am with you alway."
Certainly I will be with thee.
Take this assurance as applying to the whole service of sanctified life, and it entitles us to draw four practical inferences.
I. "Certainly I will be with thee." — THEN MAN IS SERVANT NOT MASTER He should know his place, or he can never keep it. As servant, he should —
1. Constantly consult his Master.
2. Constantly speak in the name of his Master.
3. Constantly be jealous of the honour of his Master.
II. "Certainly I will be with thee." — THEN THE WORK MUST SUCCEED. What is the guarantee of success?
1. Not human cleverness; ministers may be clever, so may churches, etc.; we may have learned sermons, able sermons, ingenious sermons, etc.
2. Not skilful organisation. Cards, bazaars, registers, circulars, etc., all useless as ends.
3. The word of the Lord is the guarantee of success. "The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." "My word shall not return unto Me void."
III. "Certainly I will be with thee." — THEN THE SERVANT IS TO BE RECEIVED FOR THE MASTER'S SAKE. "He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me." The true minister carries a blessing with him. The Romans were to receive Phoebe in the Lord. What a lesson to ministers — they are representatives of God!
IV. "Certainly I will be with thee." — THEN THERE NEED BE NO LACK OF GRACE OR POWER. "If any man lack wisdom," etc. "Lo, I am with you alway," etc. "Ye have not because ye ask not, or because ye ask amiss." The servants may take counsel of one another, but not to the interruption of continuous and trustful prayer to the Master.
1. God is with His servants for their comfort.
2. For their guidance.
3. For their safety.Application: Notice —
1. The individuality of the promise, "I will be with thee" — with the one man.
2. The emphasis of the premise — "Certainly." Who is with us in our life-ministry?
IT WAS CONSIDERATE. Promise made when most needed-at time of weakness.
II. IT WAS EMPHATIC. Leaving no room for doubt.
III. IT WAS SYMPATHETIC. "With thee." Not I will follow thee — not I will go before thee-not I will be near thee — but with thee — as a companion to cheer thy soul; as a friend-to give thee counsel; as a God — to make thee victorious. How can a mission fail when God is with the worker?
The mission of Moses resembles that of every Christian minister, in that —
I. HE WAS SENT TO HIS BRETHREN.
II. WHEN HE WENT TO THEM, HE FOUND THEM IN A STATE OF BONDAGE AND OPPRESSION; THEIR SPIRITS CRUSHED, THEIR MINDS DEGRADED.
III. HE FOUND THAT HE ONLY PROVOKED THEM BY HIS ENDEAVOURS TO DELIVER THEM.
IV. PROMISES WERE GIVEN TO SUPPORT HIM UNDER HIS DISAPPOINTMENTS. View the promise in the way of —
1. Encouragement. God will be with every minister —
(1)As a guide;
(2)To strengthen and support him under trial;
(3)To comfort and console him.
2. Caution. While each pastor rests on the consolation of this privilege, he must not forget the call to watchfulness and holiness which is inseparably connected with it.
()God thus puts Himself apparently into a secondary position. Moses is to stand at the front, and, so far as publicity is concerned, to incur the whole responsibility of the proposed movement. It was easy for Moses to say that he was prompted of God to make certain representations to Israel and Pharaoh, but how were they to be convinced that Moses was servant and not master? This is the difficulty of all the highest service of life, namely, that the spiritual is invisible, and yet omnipotent; public attention is fixed upon the human agent, and professions of spiritual inspiration and impulse are treated with distrust, if not with contempt, by the most of mankind. It is the invisible Christ who is with the Church. Were He present manifestly, it is supposed that greater results would accrue from Christian service; but the supposition must be mistaken, inasmuch as He to whom such service is infinitely dearer than it ever can be to ourselves has determined the manner of Christian evangelisation. What, then, is the great duty and privilege of the Church? It is to realize the presence and influence of the Invisible. The Church is actually to see the Unseen. There is another vision beside the vision of the body; faith itself is sight; and where faith is complete, there is a consciousness of God's presence throughout our life and service which amounts to a distinct vision of God's personal presence and government.
()Moses has been, as it were, audibly and visibly called to service and invested with authority. A keen pleasure would seem to attach to experiences of that kind. Surely it was a blessed thing to speak face to face with God, and to go straight away from the communing to do the work which had been prescribed. The directness of the interview, the absence of all second causes and instrumentalities, has about it a solemnity which profoundly affects the heart. But is my destiny less Divine because it has been revealed to me under conditions which seem to separate widely between the Creator and the creature? Has God only one method of working in revealing to a man what that man's work in life is intended to be? We do not always see the fountain; sometimes we have to be content to drink at the stream. The danger is lest we imagine the stream created itself, forgetting in our irreligion and folly that the stream is impossible apart from the fountain. A man is sometimes awakened to his destiny by his fellow-men. In other cases a man's destiny seems to be determined by what he calls his circumstances or his environment. But why this wide and circuitous way of putting the case to the mind? We do not depose God by mistaking the origin of our action; we do but show the poorness of our own judgment, or the want of justice which impoverishes our lives of their best qualities. Every man should put to himself the question — What is my destiny? What does God mean me to be and do in the world?
()In the early days of the Theological Seminary at Alleghany, it was often in great need of money. Once, in a time of extremity, the Rev. Dr. Francis Herren, President of the Board of Directors, the Rev. Dr. Elisha P. Swift, also a director, and Rev. Jos. Patterson, met to devise some way of relief. With all their faith, the first-mentioned brethren were greatly dejected, "We have no one to help us," said one of them. "No one!" replied Mr. Patterson, warmly: "Why! I know of a thousand here." The two looked astonished. He continued, "Is not Dr. Herren a cipher? is not Dr. Swift a cipher? am not I a cipher? But Jesus Christ is surely One. And if we put one before three ciphers, does it not make a thousand?" They took new courage, went to that One who is able to help, and did not pray in vain. beautifully says, for our comfort: "I have a pledge from Christ — have His note of hand — which is my support, my refuge and haven; and though the world should rage, to this security I cling. How reads it? 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' If Christ be with me, what shall I fear? If He is mine, all the powers of earth to me are nothing more than a spider's web."
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