Our fathers in Egypt did not grasp Your wonders or remember Your abundant kindness; but they rebelled by the sea, there at the Red Sea.
not failed in obedience and trust. Think what a mighty host it was, yet how imperfectly organized. Think of the strain of their manifest peril at the Red Sea, and the exceeding toil and weariness of their climb up the wadies to Sinai. Think of the difficulty, in that arid region, of providing food and water for so many creatures. Think kindly of them, and though the sense of their sin is not lightened, considerateness for the sinners is nourished. The disobedience that roots in unbelief, or in despondency, puts men into the pitifulness and mercy of their God.
I. DISOBEDIENCE ROOTED IN UNBELIEF. Here a distinction is necessary. Here is an unbelief which is wilful, which a man chooses, and for which he seeks reasons, and this is wholly sinful, and needs humbling punishment. And there is an unbelief which is the natural human response to difficult and trying circumstances, which seem to force doubts upon us. All are liable to this kind of unbelief in sharing the trials of human life. But there is a Divine gentleness in the dealing with the disobedience which has its root in this unbelief.
II. DISOBEDIENCE ROOTED IN DESPONDENCY. This reminds us how differently things affect different dispositions. Some are naturally despondent. They always see the dark sides, are ever ready to give up in despair. And this spirit often leads to failing obedience. Men have not spirit enough to do what they ought. But God "knoweth our frame." - R.T.
I. THEIR UNWORTHY AND UNGRATEFUL DEPORTMENT TOWARDS GOD UPON A MOST SIGNAL MERCY AND DELIVERANCE. To provoke, is an expression setting forth a peculiar and more than ordinary degree of misbehaviour; and seems to import an insolent daring resolution to offend. A resolution not contented with one single stroke of disobedience, but such a one as multiplies and repeats the action, till the offence greatens, and rises into an affront: and as it relates to God, so I conceive it strikes at Him in a threefold respect:
Our fathers understood not Thy wonders in Egypt.
I. WANT OF UNDERSTANDING OF GOD'S WONDERS IS THE SOURCE OF SIN. Many professing Christians of whom we have a good hope that they will prove to be sincere, never had any deep conviction of sin, nor any overwhelming sense of their need of Jesus: hence they have seen little of our Lord in His glorious offices, and all-sufficient sacrifice, and have gained no thorough understanding of His truth. They are like slovenly farmers, who have ploughed their fields after a fashion, but they have not gone deep, and the land will never yield more than half a crop. We have all around us too much surface work.
II. FAILURE OF MEMORY FOLLOWS UPON WANT OF UNDERSTANDING.
1. Mercies should be remembered. It is a great wrong to God when we bury His mercies in the grave of unthankfulness. Especially is this the case with distinguishing mercies, wherein the Lord makes us to differ from others. Light, when the rest of the land is in darkness! Life, when others are smitten with the sword of death! Liberty from an iron bondage! O Christians, these are not things to be forgotten!
2. Mercies multiplied should never be forgotten. If they are new every morning, our memory of them should be always fresh. Read the story of the ten plagues, and see how the Lord heaped up His mercies upon Israel with both His hands. Even if they had forgotten one wonder they ought to have remembered others. "Forget not all His benefits."
3. The Lord's mercies ought to be remembered progressively. We should think more and more of His exceeding kindness.
III. GRIEVOUS PROVOCATION FOLLOWED THEIR FORGETFULNESS OF GOD. It is a high crime and misdemeanour to sin in the presence of a great mercy. Abhor the sin which dogs your heel, and follows you even to your knees, and hinders you in drawing near to God in prayer. Oh, the accursed sin which even on Tabor's top makes us fall asleep or talk foolishly! Lord, have mercy upon us, and forgive the sins of our holy places, and let it not stand against us in Thy book that "They provoked Thee at the sea, even at the Red Sea."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Of His power;
2. Of His goodness;
3. Of His patience.
II. THE AGGRAVATION OF THEIR UNWORTHY DEPORTMENT TOWARDS THEIR ALMIGHTY DELIVERER. The baseness and ingratitude of which He casts in their teeth, by confronting it with the eminent obligation laid upon them, by the glorious deliverance He vouchsafed them: a deliverance heightened and ennobled with these four qualifications:
1. Its greatness;
2. Its unexpectedness;
3. Its seasonableness:
4. Its undeservedness.
III. THE CAUSE OF THIS UNWORTHY BEHAVIOUR, which was their not understanding the designs of mercy in the several instances of it: "They understood not Thy wonders in Egypt." Now, in every wonderful passage of providence, two things are to be considered:
1. The author, by whom;
2. The end, for which it is done: neither of which were understood by the Israelites as they ought to have been
(R. South, D.D.)
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