Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who sought to kill you are dead."
God assures Moses that he has no longer any cause to fear on account of the Egyptian slain forty years before. This last piece of information casts a flood of light on all the hesitation, reluctance, and perplexity which Moses has hitherto shown in his intercourse with Jehovah. It might have made a great deal of difference, if he had only known at the beginning that the men were dead who sought his life. Not but that Moses was honest enough in all the pleas he had started in order to escape from this mission and responsibility; but, deep under all other considerations, and very potent, even though he had been ashamed to confess it, lay his fear because of the slain Egyptian. He might even have got as far as the expressing of the fear, if God had not brought him sharply up by the kindling of his anger, and made him feel that of two perils it was wise to choose the lesser. Better run the risk from some Egyptian breathing vengeance than from the visitations of an angry God; and yet, though checked from speaking, he would be saying very earnestly in his heart, "Oh that I only knew myself to be safe in this matter." Remember the terror with which, after so long a time, Jacob approached his injured brother Esau. Certainly Jacob had the bitter consciousness of wrong-doing to heighten his fears, but Moses would have equally the consciousness of danger. Nor can it be too often impressed upon us, in considering this opening stage of Moses' acquaintance with God, that while he had a profound impression as to the real and awful Being with whom he had come in contact, the extent of his knowledge was not correspondent to the depth of his feeling. He had come into a real acquaintance with God; but it was at first, of necessity, a very imperfect and blundering one. The defective notions of Moses, with respect to God, find their New Testament parallel in the earth-born and earth-limited questions which the disciples so often addressed to Jesus. Hence, even though Moses has seen so much of God's power and promptitude in dealing with every difficulty he has raised, he still remains uncertain whether God has taken into account this peril from the slain Egyptian. It is no easy thing to get to a real and operative conviction that God knows even the smallest transaction in the past life of every one of us. - Y.
All the men are dead which sought thy life.
In a world like this, the greater the man the more enemies he will have.
2. Death in this world is constantly sweeping away our enemies as well as friends.
I. The death of our enemies should RESTRAIN RESENTMENT. Were it not wrong to return evil for evil, to revile those who revile us, it would scarcely be wise. While we are preparing our retaliating machinery, death is doing his work with them. Our blows will scarcely reach them before they fall, and then, when they are gone, they can do us no harm. But if we have retaliated, the memory of the retaliation will give us pain.
II. The death of our enemies should STIMULATE US TO OVERCOME EVIL BY GOOD. The sublimest conquest is not that which will crush the body or wound the feelings, but that which will subdue the enmity and win the hostile soul to friendship and love.
IT IS SOMETIMES MANIFESTED BY REMOVING GOOD MEN AND GREAT WORKERS FROM DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS.
1. Christian workers are sometimes removed from the pride of high society.
2. Christian workers are sometimes removed from the contamination of great sin.
3. Christian workers are sometimes removed from the pedantry of great learning.
4. Christian workers are sometimes removed from physical evil.
II. IT IS SOMETIMES MANIFESTED BY INFORMING GOOD MEN AND GREAT WORKERS OF THE REMOVAL OF DANGER. Time aids the enterprises of heaven. Death subdues the hatred and passion of men.
III. THE DIVINE PRECAUTION DOES NOT ALLOW AN ABANDONMENT OF THE WORK COMMITTED TO THE GOOD.
Hearing a whole choir of birds chirping merrily together, my curiosity was excited to inquire into the occasion of their convocation and merriment, when I quickly perceived a dead hawk in the bush, about which they made such a noise, seeming to triumph at the death of an enemy. I could not blame them for singing the knell of one who, like a cannibal, was wont to feed upon their living bodies, tearing them limb from limb, and scaring them with his frightful appearance. Over this bird, which was so formidable when alive, the most timid wren or titmouse did not now fear to chirp and hop. This occurrence brought to my mind the case of tyrants and oppressors. When living, they are the terror of mankind; but when dead, they are the objects of general contempt and scorn. "When the wicked perish, there is shouting" (Proverbs 11:10
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