Exodus Chapter Six
God renews his promise. (1-9) Moses and Aaron again sent to Pharaoh. (10-13) The parentage of Moses and Aaron. (14-30)
Commentary on Exodus 6:1-9
(Read Exodus 6:1-9)
We are most likely to prosper in attempts to glorify God, and to be useful to men, when we learn by experience that we can do nothing of ourselves; when our whole dependence is placed on him, and our only expectation is from him. Moses had been expecting what God would do; but now he shall see what he will do. God would now be known by his name Jehovah, that is, a God performing what he had promised, and finishing his own work. God intended their happiness: I will take you to me for a people, a peculiar people, and I will be to you a God. More than this we need not ask, we cannot have, to make us happy. He intended his own glory: Ye shall know that I am the Lord. These good words, and comfortable words, should have revived the drooping Israelites, and have made them forget their misery; but they were so taken up with their troubles, that they did not heed God's promises. By indulging discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have, both from God's word and from his providence, and go comfortless.
Commentary on Exodus 6:10-13
(Read Exodus 6:10-13)
The faith of Moses was so feeble that he could scarcely be kept to his work. Ready obedience is always according to the strength of our faith. Though our weaknesses ought to humble us, yet they ought not to discourage us from doing our best in any service we have to do for God. When Moses repeats his baffled arguments, he is argued with no longer, but God gives him and Aaron a charge, both to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh. God's authority is sufficient to answer all objections, and binds all to obey, without murmuring or disputing, Philippians 2:14.
Commentary on Exodus 6:14-30
(Read Exodus 6:14-30)
Moses and Aaron were Israelites; raised up unto them of their brethren, as Christ also should be, who was to be the Prophet and Priest, the Redeemer and Lawgiver of the people of Israel. Moses returns to his narrative, and repeats the charge God had given him to deliver his message to Pharaoh, and his objection against it. Those who have spoken unadvisedly with their lips ought to reflect upon it with regret, as Moses seems to do here."Uncircumcised," is used in Scripture to note the unsuitableness there may be in any thing to answer its proper purpose; as the carnal heart and depraved nature of fallen man are wholly unsuited to the services of God, and to the purposes of his glory. It is profitable to place no confidence in ourselves, all our sufficiency must be in the Lord. We never can trust ourselves too little, or our God too much. I can do nothing by myself, said the apostle, but I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Exodus》
 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
With a strong hand — That is, being forced to it by a strong hand, he shall let them go.
 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
l am Jehovah — The same with I am that I am, the fountain of being and blessedness, and infinite perfection. The patriarchs knew this name, but they did not know him in this matter by that which this name signifies. God would now be known by his name Jehovah, that is, 1. A God performing what he had promised, and so giving being to his promises. 2. A God perfecting what he had begun, and finishing his own work. In the history of the creation God is never called Jehovah, till the heavens and the earth were finished, Genesis 2:4. When the salvation of the saints is compleated in eternal life, then he will be known by his name Jehovah, Revelation 22:13, in the mean time they shall find him for their strength and support, El-shaddai, a God All-sufficient, a God that is enough.
 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.
I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel — He means their groaning on occasion of the late hardships put upon them. God takes notice of the increase of his people's calamities, and observes how their enemies grow upon them.
 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
I will bring you out: I will rid you: I will redeem you: I will bring you into the land of Canaan; and, I will give it you - Let man take the shame of his unbelief which needs such repetitions, and let God have the glory of his condescending grace which gives us such repeated assurances.
With a stretched out arm — With almighty power: A metaphor taken from a man that stretches out his arm, to put forth all his strength.
 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
I will take you to me for a people — A peculiar people, and I will be to you a God - And more than this we need not ask, we cannot have, to make us happy.
 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.
I am the Lord — And therefore have power to dispose of lands and kingdoms as I please.
 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
But they hearkened not to Moses for anguish of spirit — That is, They were so taken up with their troubles that they did not heed him.
 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.
That he let the children of Israel go — God repeats his precepts, before he begins his punishments. Those that have oft been called in vain to leave their sins, yet must be called again, and again.
 And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?
Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened to me; they gave no heed to what I have said, how then shall Pharaoh hear me? - If the anguish of their spirit makes them deaf to that which would compose and comfort them, much more will his pride and insolence, make him deaf to that which will but exasperate him.
Who am of uncircumcised lips — He was conscious to himself that he had not the gift of utterance.
 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
The Lord gave them a charge, both to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh — God's authority is sufficient to answer all objections, and binds us to obedience without murmuring or disputing.
 These be the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.
This genealogy ends in those two great patriots, Moses and Aaron; and comes in here to shew that they were Israelites, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh, whom they were sent to deliver, raised up unto them of their brethren, as Christ also should be, who was to be the prophet and priest, the Redeemer and law-giver of the house of Israel, and whose genealogy also like this was to be carefully preserved. The heads of the houses of three of the tribes are here named, agreeing with the accounts we had, Genesis 46:8-27. Reuben and Simeon seem to be mentioned only for the sake of Levi, from whom Moses and Aaron descended, and all the priests of the Jewish church.
 And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.
The age of Levi, Kohath, and Amram, the father, grandfather, and great grandfather of Moses is here recorded; and they all lived to a great age, Levi to one hundred thirty seven, Kohath to one hundred thirty three, and Amram to one hundred thirty seven: Moses himself came much short of them, and fixed seventy or eighty for the ordinary stretch of human life. Psalms 90:10. For now Israel was multiplied, and become a great nation, and divine revelation was by the hand of Moses committed to writing, and no longer trusted to tradition; the two great reasons for the long lives of the patriarchs were ceased, and therefore from henceforward fewer years must serve men.
 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
His father's sister — That is, kins-woman. So the Hebrew word is frequently used.
 And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Aminadab — A prince of the tribe of Judah. The Levites might marry into any tribe, there being no danger of confusion or loss of inheritance thereby.
 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.
According to their armies — Like numerous armies, in military order, and with great power. In the close of the chapter, he returns to his narrative, from which he had broken off somewhat abruptly verse 13, and repeats, the charge God had given him to deliver his message to Pharaoh, verse 29.
 That the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I am the LORD: speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say unto thee.
Speak all that I say unto thee — As a faithful ambassador. Those that go on God's errand must not shun to declare the whole counsel of God.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Exodus》
“ I WILL.”
Note the seven “ I wills” in Exodus 6:7-8, and see how they correspond to the blessing of the Gospel—
Ⅰ. “ I will” of salvation. “ I will bring you, ＆c. (Eph.2:5).
Ⅱ. The “ I will” of severance. “ I will rid you,” ＆c. (Col.1:13).
Ⅲ. The “ I will” of power. “ I will” of power. “ I will redeem you,” ＆c.(Eph.1:19 to 2:6).
Ⅳ. The “ I will” of separation. “ I will be to you a God” (John 15:16).
Ⅴ. The “ I will” of relationship. “ I will be to you a God” (11. Cor.6:17,18).
Ⅵ. The “ I will” of leading. “ I will bring you,” ＆c. (John 17:24).
Ⅶ. The “ I will” of heritage. “ I will give,” ＆c. (1. Peter 1:3,4).
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
06 Chapter 6
Now shalt thou see what I will do.
God’s reply to the prayer of a disappointed worker
I. This reply to the prayer of Moses intimated that God would bring the true result of his mission more thoroughly within the cognizance of his senses. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh.”
1. The mission had hitherto been a great tax upon the faith of Moses. The first repulse made him cry out for the visible and the tangible.
2. Now the mission is lowered to the sensuous vision of Moses.
II. This reply to the prayer of Moses vindicated his conduct against the recent insinuations and reproach of the Israelites. Men often take a wrong view of our conduct. God always takes the right view. He knows when His servants are doing what He tells them. He sends them messages of approval for so doing. This vindication--
1. Would reassure Moses in his work.
2. Would clear his conscience from all condemnation.
3. Would enable him to interpret his apparent failure.
III. This reply to the prayer of Moses indicated how thoroughly the work announced by God should be accomplished. “For with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.”
1. This shows how wicked men are, under the providence of God, brought to do that which they had once resolutely refused. The sinner knoweth not the future, or he would act with greater wisdom in the present.
2. God makes these revelations in response to prayer, that He may reanimate the dispirited worker.
IV. In reply to the prayer of Moses, God vouchsafes a new and sublime revelation of his character.
1. A sublime revelation of His name.
2. A comforting reference to His covenant.
3. A pathetic reference to the sorrow of Israel.
1. That God speaks to disappointed souls in prayer.
2. That the Divine communings with a disappointed soul have an uplifting tendency.
3. That God deals compassionately with the weakness of Christian workers. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
God’s long restrained wrath
When the ice on the great American rivers is broken up, it is sometimes obstructed in its course towards the sea by a log of wood, or something else, that arrests it. But then, as block after block of ice accumulates, the waters above increase in volume and weight, till their force, with mighty crash, sweeps away all the mass. And so the wrath of God, though long restrained by His love and mercy, sweeps away the incorrigible sinner to perdition. (H. R. Burton.)
Conditions of successful work for God
1. Faith in God, and honest conviction that God will do as He says He will.
2. Courage to ,do what faith declares. God doesn’t use cowards or faint-hearted men to do much for Him. He told Joshua to be of good courage.
3. Perseverance. Keep right on in the place God gives you to work for Him. Many men fail right on the eve of battle. The best silver mine in England was worked for a long time by a man who became discouraged just before it yielded the richest ingots of choicest silver, and he sold out for a song and lost a princely fortune. Keep at it. Get others to help, and work and plod and win success.
4. Enthusiasm is a valuable element, and one that most men need. Too many are afraid of enthusiasm, but all of us need to put more fire and feeling in what we do for the Lord. (D. L. Moody.)
The judgments of God upon wicked men
I. That God sends severe judgements on men who reject His commands. “Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh.”
1. Notwithstanding his kingship.
2. Notwithstanding his obstinacy.
3. Notwithstanding his despotism.
II. That these judgments are often witnessed by Christian people. “Now shalt thou see.”
1. They are seen clearly.
3. Solemnly. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
God’s everlasting “shalls”
It is a great thing to get hold of one of God’s everlasting “shalls.” For when God says a thing shall be done, who shall hinder? When God says “shall,” you may be sure that He is stirring up His strength and making bare His mighty arm, to do mighty and terrible things in righteousness. Just read through this chapter, and note how Jehovah asserts Himself--“I am the Lord”; “I have remembered My covenant”; “I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt”; “I will rid you of their bondage”; “I will redeem you with a stretched out arm”; “I will take you to Me for a people”; “I will bring you into the land concerning which I did swear to give it to Abraham, and I will give it to you”; “I am the Lord.” All this is very refreshing and encouraging to me. It must have been so to Moses, as he stood there and listened to these strong and blessed words. And so I learn from such words this lesson: when I am discouraged or cast down either about my own salvation, or about the work of the Lord--to turn to the blessed Scriptures and search through the pages, and read over and over again the strong, sure words of God. They sound like bugle-blasts to me, calling me to faith and service. So may the strong words of God reassure any fainting heart! Be sure that He will not be untrue to even the least of the promises He has made to you; but will fulfil them all most gloriously. These promises are like the cakes baked for Elijah, in the strength of which he went for forty days. Only we may eat them fresh every day if we are so disposed. (G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)
I am the Lord.
Duty to Jehovah
Consider the meaning of our duty to God; the great truth that we have such a duty; and how it comes about that we have it.
I. Duty is something which is due from one to another: something which ought to be given, or ought to be done; not a thing which is given or done under compulsion, under the influence of fear, extorted by force, not even a free gift or offering; quite different from this; if a thing is a duty, it must be done because it is right to do it and wrong to omit it.
II. The words of the text are as it were, the sign manual whereby Almighty God, in His dealings with His ancient people the Children of Israel, claimed from them the performance of that duty which they owed to Him. The words which gave validity to an Israelitish law merely rehearsed the fact that He who gave the law was Jehovah; and nothing more was added, because nothing more remained to be said.
III. Notice the principles upon which our duty to God depends.
1. There is a relationship, a close vital connection between God and man, which does not exist between God and any other of His creatures; man is in a very high sense “the Son of God,” so that it is inconceivable that the true aims and purposes of God and man can be distinct. Man being made in God’s image, ought to do God’s will.
2. Our duty to God depends also on the ground of election. God deals with us now as with His Church in former days; it is still a Church of election. We, to whom God sends His commands, are still rightly described as redeemed out of the house of our bondage; and if the redemption of Israel out of Egypt be nothing better than the faintest type and shadow of the redemption of mankind out of the power of the devil, how much greater is the appeal which is made to us on the ground of ,that deliverance which Jesus Christ has wrought out. (Bp. Harvey Goodwin.)
I have also established My covenant with them.
A true pattern of gospel redemption
I. That gospel redemption comes to the soul after a period of moral bondage and distress.
1. It finds the soul in a condition of moral bondage. “Whom the Egyptians keep in bondage.” It is the bondage of sin. It has been long continued, through many years of our lives. It has been degrading. It has been fruitless to ourselves. Almost hopeless.
2. It finds the soul in a condition of anxious grief. “I have also heard the groaning,” etc. Tears of repentance. Cries for pardon.
3. It is generally preceded by some Christian agency. Aim of ministry to awaken desire for moral freedom.
II. That gospel redemption comes to the soul by virtue of a Divine covenant and promise. “I have remembered,” etc.
1. God through Christ has made a covenant of salvation with all who trust in the atonement.
2. By virtue of this covenant, all contrite and believing souls may find rest in and pardon from God.
3. This covenant is--
III. That gospel redemption brings the soul into holy and responsible relationship to God. “And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God” (Exodus 6:7).
1. It constitutes the soul a Divine possession
2. It places the soul under the peculiar guardianship of the Infinite.
IV. That gospel redemption leads the faithful into the inheritance of Canaan. What a change! All things are yours. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Reasons for human redemption
I. The burden of man is a reason for human redemption. No human hand, but Christ alone, can remove it.
II. The Lordship of Christ is a reason for human redemption. He only could fulfil violated law; forgive past neglect; and enable us to keep it in future.
III. The covenant of God is a reason for human redemption. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
God’s covenant to His people
I will bring you out.
1. God is able to deliver His people.
2. God is able to lead His people.
3. God is able to bring His people home.
I. Redemption is possible, although the difficulties are great, because God is its Author. On the Divine side--
1. Satisfaction to the throne in the obedience of Christ; and on the human side--
2. The sanctification of man through the blood of Jesus.
II. The magnitude of redemption is less than the Divine resources. God is able to supply--
2. Patience; and--
3. Preservation for the journey.
III. God can fulfil all prospective desires in heaven. (British Weekly.)
Israel and Pharaoh: types of the new and old man
I. Israel’s position in Egypt. One of great and increasing trial. Iron bondage, occasioned instrumentally by cruelty and jealousy of Pharaoh. Ordained of God to wean them from Egypt, and make them long for promised land.
II. The judgment on Egypt. Real contest between kingdom of light and kingdom of darkness. Satan has supernatural power; and in order to deceive Pharaoh, and harden his heart, he gave the magicians power, as far as he could (for there is a limit to his power), to work miracles of deception in imitation of miracles of truth. A miracle does not necessarily prove a man comes from God; but only that he is connected with some higher power--one of two kingdoms. It is the morality of the miracle, and the holiness of the doctrine it is meant to attest, that proves it to be from God.
III. The bearing of these on the Christian’s life. See Romans 7:9; Romans 7:24 : State of awakened soul; o]d man and new, with conflict between them; new man often oppressed, old man often dominant though under judgment. (G. Wagner.)
A stretched out arm
The significance of this figure, “a stretched-out arm,” must have been well understood by the Israelites. The deities of the Egyptians were represented with outstretched arms, as symbols of irresistible might. In the hieroglyphics which may yet be seen upon the obelisk at Heliopolis, and with which the Children of Israel must have been familiar, two outstretched arms occur as part of the title of one of the kings, Osirtasen Racheperka, with this meaning, “Osirtasen, the sun, is might!” God’s outstretched arm, therefore, is opposed to the king’s; and He adds, “I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burden of the Egyptians.” Moses must also have bethought him of the promise made to him upon the mountains: “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”: his outstretched arm was now endued with “might”; it was the instrument by which many of the plagues were brought upon the land, and by which at last Pharaoh and his host were overwhelmed. (T. S. Millington.)
They hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit.
Physical destitution stifling spiritual life
A permanent principle of our nature, and a distinctive feature of the Divine government are here embodied in an example. We shall endeavour to explain the historic incident, and to apply the spiritual lesson.
I. The fact which embodies the principle. It consists of three parts--
1. The message addressed to Israel: “Moses so spake unto the children of Israel.” In that message, whether you regard its Author, its bearer, or its nature, everything tended to entice; nothing to repel them. Its Author was the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; its bearer was Moses, a man who for their sakes had sacrificed his position among the princes of Pharaoh, and taken refuge in a desert; its nature was hope to the desponding and freedom to the enslaved. The time, too, seemed fit: when the bondage had become unbearable, word is sent that the bondage is almost done.
2. Their neglect of the message: “They hearkened not unto Moses.” It was a spark of tire that fell, but it fell on wetted wood, and kindled therefore no flame. They saw nothing against it, but they let it alone.
3. Examine near the specific reason of their apathy. The cause of their indifference to liberty was the extreme severity of their bondage. They hearkened not “for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage.” Here is a paradox: the slavery is excessively severe, and therefore the slave does not care for freedom. Broken hearts have lost their spring, and cannot bound from the bottom of the pit at the call of a deliverer. Great need does not, alone, produce great exertion. The hopeless, helpless captive steadily refuses to stir, lest the chain by the movement Should saw deeper into his flesh.
II. The principle embodied in the fact. These things happened to them in order that their history might be a type for us.
1. The message. To us, as to them, it is a message of mercy. Specifically, it proclaims deliverance to the captive. God recognizes all mankind as slaves, and sends an offer of freedom. Christ is the Messenger of the covenant. A greater than Moses is here, publishing a greater salvation. Through the lamb slain is the deliverance wrought. The death of Christ is the death of death.
2. Such is the proposal; but it is not heeded. Comparatively few disbelieve the message or revile the messenger. They simply pay no heed.
3. The reason of this neglect. A carnal mind, which is enmity against God. At one time prosperity, at another adversity, becomes the immediate occasion to an evil heart of departing from the living God. At present we are called to investigate only one class of these occasions or causes of neglect. Anguish of spirit and cruel bondage still make many captives hug their chains, and refuse to hear the voice which invites them to glorious liberty. The lesson here parts into two branches, one pointing to our neighbour’s neglect, and another to our own.
To the saddest of the sad
Little words often contain great meanings. It is often the ease with that monosyllable “so.” In the present instance we must lay stress upon it and read the text thus--“Moses spake so unto the Children of Israel.” That is, he said what God told him to say. He did not invent his message. He was simply a repeater of the Divine message. As he received it, so he spake it. Now, the message Moses brought was rejected, and he knew why it was rejected. He could see the reason. The people were in such bondage, they were so unhappy and hopeless, that what he spake seemed to them to be as idle words. There are hundreds of reasons why men reject the gospel. Amongst all the reasons, however, that I ever heard, that with which I have the most sympathy, is this one--that some cannot receive Christ because they are so full of anguish, that they cannot find strength enough of mind to entertain a hope that by any possibility salvation can come to them.
I. And first, will you notice that what Moses brought to these people was glad tidings. It was a free and full gospel message. To them it was the gospel of salvation from a cruel bondage, the gospel of hope, the gospel of glorious promise. It was a very admirable type and metaphorical description of what the gospel is to us. Moses’ word to them was singularly clear, cheering, and comforting; but they could not receive it.
II. We come now to note that it was received with unbelief caused by anguish of heart. We can quite understand what that meant. Let us look into the case.
1. They could not now receive this gospel because they had at first caught at it, and had been disappointed. They limited the great and infinite God to minutes and days; and so, as they found themselves at first getting into a worse case than before, they said to Moses, deliberately, “Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians.” They did as good as say--You have done us no good; indeed, you have increased our miseries; and we cannot believe in you or accept your message as really from God, seeing it has caused us a terrible increase of our sufferings. Grace may truly and effectually come to a heart, and for awhile cause no joy, no peace; but the reverse. Yet press on; be of good courage. Wait hopefully. The God who begins in darkness will end in light.
2. The inability of Israel to believe the message of Moses arose also from the fact that they were earthbound by heavy oppression: the mere struggle to exist exhausted all their energy, and destroyed all their hope. If you have such a struggle for existence here, you should seek that higher, nobler, better life, which would give you, even in penury and want, a joy and a comfort to which you are a stranger now.
3. But, worst of all, there are some who seem as if they could not lay hold on Christ because their sense of sin has become so intolerable, and the wretchedness which follows upon conviction has become so fearful, that they have grown almost to be contentedly despairing. A man who has begun to be numbed with cold, cries to his comrades, “Leave me to sleep myself to death”; and thus do despairing ones ask to be left in their misery. Dear soul, we cannot, we dare not, thus desert you.
III. The message was at first not received by Israel by reason of their anguish of soul, but it was true for all that, and the Lord made it so.
1. The first thing the Lord did to prove His persevering grace was to commission Moses again (Exodus 6:1; Exodus 7:2). So the Lord God, in everlasting mercy, says to His minister, “You have to preach the gospel again to them. Again proclaim My grace.”
2. But the Lord did more than that for Israel. As these people had not listened to Moses, He called Moses and Aaron to Him, and He renewed their charge. It is a grand point when the Lord lays the conversion of men on the hearts of His ministers, and makes them feel that they must win souls. Moses was bound to bring out Israel. “But there is Pharaoh.” Pharaoh is included in the Divine charge. They have to beat Pharaoh into submission. “But these Children of Israel will not obey.” The Lord put them in the charge: did you not observe the words, “He gave them a charge unto the Children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh”? Moses and Aaron, you have to bring Israel out, Pharaoh is to let them go, and Israel is to go willingly. God has issued His royal decree, and be you sure it will stand.
3. I cannot help admiring the next thing that God did when He told His servant what to do. The Lord began to count the heads of those whom He would redeem out of bondage. You see the rest of the chapter is occupied with the children of Reuben, and the children of Simeon, and the children of Levi. God seemed to say, “Pharaoh, let My people go!. . . I will not,” said the despot. Straightway the Lord goes right down into the brick-town where the poor slaves are at work, and He makes out a list of all of them, to show that He means to set free. So many there of Simeon. So many here of Reuben. So many here of Levi. The Lord is counting them. Moreover He numbers their cattle, for He declares, “There shall not an hoof be left behind.” Men say, “It is of no use counting your chickens before they are hatched”; but when it comes to God’s counting those whom He means to deliver, it is another matter; for He knows what will be done, because He determines to do it, and He is almighty. He knows what is to come of the gospel, and He knows whom He means to bless. ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Men content to remain in bondage
When Moses came to the Hebrews to deliver them from bondage, they distrusted his commission, and begged to be let alone that they might serve the Egyptians. And so it happens when Christ, the Divine Emancipator, comes to men who have long worn the inherited chain of bondage to sin. They have become so habituated to the hopes, the desires, the pleasures and expectations of a worldly life, that they give no heed to Him who offers to break their chain and bring them forth into glorious and immortal liberty. I have seen the caged eagle beating vainly against the iron bars of his prison, his plumes soiled and torn, his strong wings drooping, the light of his glorious eye dimmed, the pulse of his proud heart panting in vain for conflict with the careering clouds and the mountain blast; and I thought it a pitiable sight Co see that kingly bird subjected to such bondage, just to be gazed at by the curious crowd. And I have seen the proud denizen of the air rejoicing in the freedom of his mountain home, basking in the noon’s broad light, balancing with motionless wings in the high vault of heaven, or rushing forth like the thunderbolt to meet the clouds on the pathway of the blast; and I thought that that wild and cloud-cleaving bird would choose death, could the choice be his, rather than give up his free and joyous life to drag out a weary bondage in a narrow and stifling cage. And yet I have seen a greater and sadder contrast than that. I have seen men, made in the image of the living God, endowed with the glorious and fearful gift of immortality, capable of becoming co-equal companions with archangels, consenting to be caged and fenced around and fettered down by customs and cares and pleasures and pursuits, that only bind them to earth, make them slaves of things they despise, and answer their noblest aspirations with disappointment. (D. Marsh, D. D.)
Ready for deliverance
Imagine some poor shipwrecked mariner cast ashore upon a lonely island in mid-ocean. The gallant vessel which had been his home upon the deep went down with all its precious freight before the fury of the storm. His fellow-voyagers all perished in the terrible conflict with the winds and the waves. He alone was cast alive on shore, to suffer more than the bitterness of death in sorrowing for his lost companions, and in longing for a return to his far-distant home. The climate of the island is perpetual summer. Everything needed to sustain life springs from the earth without cultivation, Flowers blossom and fruits ripen through all the year. The forests are full of singing birds. But to the lonely shipwrecked mariner this seeming paradise is a prison. He longs for his distant home beyond the melancholy main. The first thing in the morning and the last at evening he climbs the rocky height overlooking the sea, to search round the whole horizon for some friendly ship coming to deliver him from his watery prison. And when at last he sees a white sail hanging in the far horizon and growing larger as it approaches, it looks to him as if it were the white wing of an angel flying to his rescue. With eager and frantic joy he makes every possible signal to arrest the attention of the coming ship. And when his signals are answered, and a boat is lowered to take him on board, he is ready to rush into the waves and swim out to meet his deliverers before they reach the land. Yet all his joy is excited by the hope of return to an earthly home, where he must still be exposed to pain and sorrow and death. This earth is an island in the infinite ocean of space. It has abundance of riches, and pleasures, and occupations for a few--much toil, and work, and suffering for many--and it must be a temporary resting-place for all. But it has no home for the soul. The ship of salvation is sent to take us to the land of rest. Shall we not look often and eagerly for its coming? And when it appears shall we not be ready and willing to go? Shall we try so to accustom ourselves to the ways of living on this island waste of earth that we shall be unfitted to live in a land where there is no death? (D. Marsh, D. D.)
Go in, speak unto Pharaoh.
The successive services of the Christian life
I. That the successive services of the Christian life are required not-withstanding the apparent failure of past efforts (Exodus 6:10-11).
1. This service must be continued by Moses and Aaron because the command of God has not yet been executed.
2. This service must be continued by Moses and Aaron because their duty has not been accomplished.
3. This service must be continued by Moses and Aaron because the slaves must be freed.
4. We find Moses and Aaron were sent on exactly the same work as before. There is much waste of effort in the Church, because men are so restless and changeful in their toils. We need determination, concentration, and patience in our effort to free the slave. Failure is no excuse for fickleness in Christian service.
II. That the successive services of the Christian life are more difficult in their requirements. The first injunction given to Moses was to call the elders of Israel together that he might communicate to them the Divine will in reference to their nation. Now he is told to go direct to Pharaoh. The language of the 12th verse shows that Moses regarded the service as increased in rigour.
1. This increased rigour of service is surprising. Must the scholar who has failed in the alphabet be put to the declensions of service?
2. This increased rigour of service is disheartening.
3. This increased rigour of service is a discipline. Increased work has often made a bad workman into a good one. It has increased his responsibility. It has awakened him to reflection.
III. That the successive services of the Christian life sometimes awaken the expostulations of men (Exodus 6:12).
1. These expostulations make mention of natural infirmities. “Who am of uncircumcised lips.” It is unnecessary that men should inform God of their natural impediments to religious service. He knows them. He is acquainted with those whom He sends on His errands, with their weakness and strength. If He calls, it is yours to obey.
2. These expostulations make mention of past difficulties and failure. “Behold, the Children of Israel have not hearkened unto me.”
3. These expostulations are presumptuous.
1. Not to shrink from the successive services of the Christian life.
2. To leave all the moral work of our life to the choice of God.
3. Not to imperil our welfare by expostulation with the providence of heaven.
4. To concentrate our energies patiently on one Christian enterprise. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Johnson tells us that “all the performances of human art, at which we look with praise and wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance; it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united by canals. If a man were to compare the effect of a single stroke of the pickaxe, or of one impression of the spade with the general design or the last result, he would be overwhelmed by the sense of their disproportion; yet those petty operations incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled and oceans bounded by the slender force of human beings.” The great Freetrader’s motto was that of the needle, “I go through.” Having given himself to the cause, he was not the man to desert it; undismayed by reproach and laughter, and undaunted by the tremendous power of his opponents, he pushed on in his arduous task, clearing the way foot by foot by dint of dogged resolution and unflagging energy. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
These be the heads of their fathers’ houses.
The genealogy of the Church
I. That it was, humanly speaking, of very unpretentious origin.
II. That it was, morally speaking, of a very miscellaneous character. We have names in this list of very varied moral worth. Some noted for their piety, others remark, able for their profanity. The Church has now a mixed genealogy. All down through the ages the tares and wheat have been growing together, and they will do so until the harvest, which is the end of the world. The miscellaneous character of the Church is accounted for--
1. By the diversified temperaments of men.
2. By the diversified thinkings of men.
3. By the diversified character of men.
4. By the diversified alliances of men.
III. That it was, socially speaking, of very great influence. It had a great political influence. The Jewish nation was for a long time a theocracy. God was its king. Heaven was its parliament. The priests were of supreme influence in the nation. The community was eminently religious in idea and sentiment. Hence, from the names here recorded there comes out a great stream of social, moral, and political influence upon humanity to-day. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
1. Order in genealogy is useful to give right understanding of the Church’s line.
2. Heads of families in the Church have been too prone to mingle themselves in strange marriages (Exodus 6:15). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
A panoramic glance at history
I. We see the mass of lives that are crowded into a brief era. The ages soon empty their contents into eternity.
II. We see how the minute details of individual life are lost in the aggregate of history. The heroes’ battles are forgotten. The remembrance of our great calamities is no more. The life of the greatest king is summed up into a sentence on the page of the world’s history.
III. We see the great effort of life to culminate in, and give prominence to, the birth of its heroes and emancipators. The whole of these lives were preparatory to the lives of Moses and Aaron. All before them were introductory. There is a gradual process in life. Life is ever trying to find emphatic expression in the conduct of the good. History makes this apparent.
IV. We see here that individual lives derive their greatness from the call of God to service, rather than from social considerations. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
The genealogical table
We have here a genealogy of those two great patriots, Moses and Aaron, to show that they were Israelites, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh, whom they were sent to deliver, raised up unto them of their brethren, as Christ also should be, who was to be the Prophet and Priest, the Redeemer and Lawgiver, of the people of Israel, and whose genealogy also was to be carefully preserved. The heads of the houses of three of the tribes are here named. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are thus dignified here because they three were left under marks of infamy by their dying father; and Moses would put this peculiar honour upon them to magnify God’s mercy in their repentance and remission, as a pattern to them that should afterward believe: the two first seem to be mentioned only for the sake of Levi, from whom Moses and Aaron descended, and all the priests of the Jewish Church. (M. Henry.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》