Exodus 5:7

I. THE DEMANDS OF GOD PROVOKE THE WRATH OF THE UNGODLY. The mad persistence of Pharaoh in his injustice is marked -

1. In his haste: his commands were issued "the same day."

2. In the severity of the decree: they should find their own straw, and yet deliver the same number of bricks.

3. In his determination to have his commands obeyed. It is not meant to be an idle threat: the overseers are "straitly charged." When God's word is resisted the soul is inflamed to greater evil. The unregenerate spirit is the same everywhere. God's claim has only to be pressed home to be repelled in the same fashion.

II. THE WAY TO DELIVERANCE SOMETIMES LIES THROUGH DEEPER TROUBLE. Israel's case was now harder than it was before (vers. 11-14), and solely because God had arisen to fight for them: but it was the last struggle of a doomed foe. It is thus -

1. In the Church's struggle with the world of unbelief: God's message is met with scorn, repression, and opposition of science falsely so called. But these shall vanish away like smoke, and their utterances and deeds will at last be the monuments of their infamy.

2. In the contest with the dominion of sin in the soul. The might of sin is felt most when the Spirit's call is first heard; but God has said, "Let my people go," and the wrath of the enemy will soon be swallowed up in his destruction.

3. In the breaking of the yoke of death. When God's call is heard, "Come up higher," we wrestle in pain and mortal weakness with the dread adversary. He seems to triumph. But the last tie that bound us is broken, and we bid an eternal farewell to the bondage and the grief. - U.







Ye shall no more give the people straw.
I. THAT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE IN SOCIETY WHO STRIVE TO MAKE THOSE UNDER THEM DO THE IMPOSSIBLE. Pharaoh tried to make the Israelites do the impossible, when he commanded them to make bricks without providing them with straw. This demand of tyranny is heard to-day, in our large factories, and amongst our agricultural population.

1. All require men to do the impossible who wish them to work beyond their capabilities.

(1)Physical strength.

(2)Intellectual ability.

(3)Moral energy.

2. All require men to do the impossible who wish them to work beyond their opportunity. Every man must have time, and a proper time to do his work. He must not be expected to do two things at once.

3. Contemplate the method employed to get men to do the impossible. These methods are various. Some will condescend to flattery and cant to get men to do that for which they are wholly unadapted. Others will use force and persecution.(1) They set taskmasters over us. To watch our conduct. To inspect our work. To augment our burden. To darken our sorrow.(2) They abuse us. They say we are idle, and that even after we have made the best attempt within our power to fall in with their unjust demands.(3) They mock our religious sentiment. "Therefore, ye say, let us go and do sacrifice unto the Lord. They impeach our religious motives. These, then, are the ways and methods in which we are treated, when tyrants endeavour to compel us to do the impossible.(4) Some people will attempt to accomplish the impossible. It will involve you in utter failure and distress at last, when you will get no sympathy from those who urged you to it.

II. THAT THE PEOPLE WHO STRIVE TO MAKE THOSE UNDER THEM DO THE IMPOSSIBLE ARE THROWING SOCIETY INTO AN ATTITUDE OF PAIN AND COMPLAINT. "Then the officers of the Children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants."

1. The requirement of the impossible tends to throw society into an attitude of pain. National happiness is to a very large extent the outcome of a free and sympathetic employment of the working classes.

2. The requirement of the impossible tends to throw society into an attitude of complaint.

III. THAT THE PEOPLE WHO STRIVE TO MAKE THOSE UNDER THEM DO THE IMPOSSIBLE, AND WHO THROW SOCIETY INTO AN ATTITUDE OF PAIN ARE BUT LITTLE AFFECTED BY THE WOE THEY OCCASION, AND GENERALLY RESENT ANY MENTION OF IT TO THEM. "Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks."

1. Notwithstanding the outcry of the oppressed, the tyrant demands renewed work. "Go therefore now, and work."

2. Notwithstanding the outcry of the oppressed, the tyrant adheres to his cruel measures. "There shall no straw be given you."

3. Notwithstanding the outcry of the oppressed, the tyrant mocks their woe, and treats them with contempt.Lessons:

1. Never require the impossible.

2. Never attempt the impossible.

3. Adapt methods to ends.

4. Cultivate kindly dispositions toward your employers.

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

Writing on the treatment of his brother, General A. S. Johnston, Mr. W. P. Johnston says: "His command was imperial in extent, and his powers and discretion as large as the theory of the Confederate Government permitted. He lacked nothing except men, munitions of war, and the means of obtaining them! He had the right to ask for anything, and the State executives had the power to withhold everything."

(H. O. Mackey.)

I. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE PAINFUL AGGRAVATIONS OF THE LOT OF THE TOILERS OF EVERY AGE.

II. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE UNSATISFACTORY EFFORTS OF MEN SEEKING FOR HAPPINESS APART FROM RELIGION.

III. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE POWERLESSNESS OF ALL RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS NOT POSSESSED OF A LIVING CHRIST.

IV. AN ILLUSTRATION OF FUTILE ENDEAVOURS TO ATTAIN CHRISTIAN PEACE WITHOUT EXERCISING LIVING FAITH.

(F. Hastings.)

"If thou come to serve the Lord," saith the wisdom of the Son of Sirach, "prepare thy soul for temptation." Have you listened to the gracious pleading of the Spirit of God, in sincere anxiety for a complete and eternal deliverance? You will meet with hindrances, one of the first will arise from those who make a mock at sin, who deride the privileges and duties of pure and undefiled religion.

I. THE PREJUDICES OF THE CARELESS AND WORLDLY AGAINST SINCERE AND VITAL GODLINESS.

1. It is regarded as the dream and vision of a heated and enthusiastic imagination.

2. It is regarded as inconsistent with a proper attention to the duties of active life.

II. ANOTHER TEMPTATION WHICH SATAN EMPLOYS TO OPPOSE AN ENTIRE DEVOTION OF THE HEART TO GOD, IS BY EXAGGERATING THE IMPORTANCE OF WORLDLY PURSUITS. "Let there be more work laid upon the men." What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, if he shall lose his own soul? A double caution may be deduced:

1. To those who would hinder the spiritual freedom of others whom they may control or influence; as Pharaoh would have impeded the political deliverance of Israel. You may settle from Scripture and prayer whether the resolutions and desires you oppose arise from the inspiration of God, or the imagination of men. Woe to him that striveth with his Maker.

2. You who are thus hindered, remember that Scripture addresses you with a cautionary voice Be not slothful in business.

(J. R. Buddicom.)

Note that —

I. BENEFACTORS MAY EXPECT MISREPRESENTATION. Moses was censured; Christ rejected by His own. The enemy will slander. Our hope is in working only for God.

II. SIN ASKS TO BE LET ALONE. Pharaoh blamed Moses; Ahab blamed Elijah; the Jews blamed the disciples.

III. SIN BECOMES MORE TERRIBLE WITH AGE. Pharaoh grew more exacting, and the people weaker; he answers prayers with falsehoods and insults. Sin toys with youth, but scourges manhood.

IV. ALL APPEAL MUST BE MADE TO GOD. Moses turned to God; he did not censure the elders.

V. IT IS DARKEST JUST BEFORE DAY. Sin grows worse till it breaks down. It threatens in order to drown conscience.

(Dr. Fowler.)

When Moses demanded from Pharaoh the liberation of the Hebrews, the tyrant increased their burdens; and in like manner, when the soul rises to expel evil from its domain, it then for the first time discovers the full bitterness of its bondage. Its earliest impulse thereon is to blame the truth which awakened it to a sense of its degradation, for causing the misery which it only revealed. The preacher is accounted cruel when he has been only faithful; and his hearer accuses him of personal malice when he has been only holding up a mirror wherein the angry one caught a glimpse of himself. But all these are hopeful signs. They are, indeed, when rightly regarded and fostered, the prophecies of a coming conversion. The docile slave, who is contented with his condition, is petted and made much of by his master; but if he tries to run away, he is immediately put into fetters. So, when we are roused to battle with sin, it is then that, most of all, we feel its power. Satan does his worst on the soul just as he is about to be expelled from its possession.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. THAT MAN CANNOT ACCOMPLISH WORK WITHOUT MEANS. A man cannot write a book without intellect, or build a church without money, or save souls without intimate communion with God. Folly to make the attempt.

II. THAT ONE MAN HAS OFTEN THE POWER TO INTERCEPT THE MEANS BY WHICH ANOTHER MAN WORKS.

III. THAT WHEN MEN ARE ROBBED OF THEIR MEANS OF WORK, THEY ARE THROWN INTO GREAT STRAITS.

IV. ANY MAN WHO INTERCEPTS THE WORE. OF ANOTHER TAKES A FEARFUL RESPONSIBILITY UPON HIMSELF.

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

I. THAT THE CHURCH IS OFTEN CAST UPON HER OWN RESOURCES. Times of dark depression.

II. THAT WHEN HUMAN AID IS THUS WITHDRAWN, MEN EXPECT FROM THE CHURCH THE SAME AMOUNT OF WORK THAT SHE ACCOMPLISHED BEFORE.

III. THAT WHEN THE CHURCH DOES NOT ACCOMPLISH HER WORK IS FULLY AND SPEEDILY UNDER THESE DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES, SHE IS PERSECUTED AND SLANDERED BY THE WORLD.

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

The intervention of Moses in behalf of his people was not, at first, attended with happy results. The people themselves were abject and spiritless, and Pharaoh was stubborn and unyielding. The condition of the Hebrews grew worse instead of better. And yet, it was but passing through a stage as helpful to its ultimate success as any other. Great enterprises are wont to encounter such cheeks in their initial stages. The worm that is to be a butterfly must go into the condition of a chrysalis, and lie motionless, and seemingly dead. The seed that is to be a plant must "fall into the ground and die." Men want the rapid, the grand, and noticeable; and the "kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation." Men desire deliverance, but they do not like the process of deliverance. Yet such checks are tests of character, trials of men's faith and earnestness. Moses did not despair of a cause because it had met with a reverse. He believed that the cause was God's. He believed in himself as God's instrument to make it victorious. Now I have said that this sort of discipline is common; and doubtless it is needful and salutary. A defeat at the outset, duly used, is the security of an augmented success. Yet, at no age is the trial that is ever repeating itself, though it be with diminished force, an unprofitable subject of contemplation — the trial of an over-sanguine expectation followed by painful and disheartening failure. Such an one, starting with a full, strong confidence in his own sincerity and earnestness, looks for large and speedy results. "The strong man armed keepeth his house, and his goods are in safety." He looks at him over the ramparts with placid contempt. And now comes the hour of despondency. His ministry is a failure. He is nothing; he can do nothing. Men will not heed his message. "The trial of your faith is more precious than of gold that perisheth." Try it again. "Thou shalt see greater things than these." "God will help thee, and that right early." "And thou shalt come again with joy, and bring thy sheaves with thee."

(R. A. Hallam, D. D.)

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