Slavery and Shelter

Exodus 1‑12  •  26 min. read  •  grade level: 6
(Exodus 1-12)
The book of Exodus is practically what you might call the book of redemption, the book of escape. In Genesis you have creation, but in Exodus you have redemption-redemption from slavery by purchase and by power. If you think that Exodus illustrates the whole truth of the gospel, it is an immense mistake. It only takes you out of Egypt and into the wilderness, whatever these types may mean. Leviticus shows you how the souls that are on the ground of redemption can happily approach God, whose purpose was to bring them first to Himself, and then to a land which flows with milk and honey. In the book of Numbers you see the way in which they are cared for as they pass through the wilderness on the way to the promised land. Thus in type and figure we see that which God would bring us into now.
Possibly you may have just waked up to discover the blessed truth of the gospel, and have learned that you are going to heaven. I should therefore like to tell you, before you take many steps of the heavenward journey, that you may know a good deal about heaven before you get there. All these incidents in Israel's history are but figures and types, or illustrative pictures that God has given us to show us the way in which He deals with our souls now, and thus though we are yet in the world, we may get an ever-deepening knowledge of God.
If you look at the commencement of the book of Exodus you will find that the Israelites were in the world, and living in the flesh. Egypt is a figure of this world where Satan rules, where the flesh is ministered to, and where it has plenty to feed upon, and where as sinners we are found to be the servants of Satan. It perhaps may be some time before we find out what our case really is. In the second chapter the King of Egypt began to oppress the children of Israel. In the third chapter God has prepared a deliverer in the person of Moses. He was in the backside of the desert when " the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." He could not understand how there could be a bush all aflame, and yet not burnt. Then God spoke to him. He had His eye upon His people, hitherto unconsumed amidst affliction, and He was going to bring them out; and though as an unholy people they were amenable to the wrath of a holy God, yet would He find a way by which He might dwell among them and fulfill His purposes about them. It is a great thing to get in our hearts the thought of the purpose of God.
Chapter three explains a little what God's purpose is, viz., to bring us out of bondage and into that blessed holy scene of love and liberty where Christ now is, and to put our hearts into the enjoyment of all that is His there, Israel's groans had gone up to God, and so have yours and mine. What led God to me? How was it you were converted? What was at the back of all? God's purpose, and He had His eye upon us, and His ear was open to our cry of distress. "And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey " (chap. 3:7,8). That was God's purpose, while at the same time Israel was learning that there was nothing to give their souls rest in Egypt. It is what we get in the fifteenth chapter of Luke, "and no man gave to him." What is that? You are in a scene that cannot give you one single thing that meets the soul. The will of the prodigal took him from his father. What brought him back? His misery.
Just so here, the Lord had seen all His people's misery, and to deliver them was His purpose. God had His eye upon the affliction, sorrow, and trial of His beloved people,- and there were two things He proposed. To deliver them, and to bring them up out of that land (it was the land of the whip, as well as of. the fleshpots and leeks, and rung with the lash of the taskmaster), and to bring them into a good land, and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. Yes, heaven is a land that flows with milk and honey. This is the figure that God uses to describe the blessedness of association with Christ in heaven, and the unspeakable joy, gladness, and peace with which the Holy Ghost fills the heart of a believer.
Well now, that was God's purpose, but how long did they take to reach Canaan? They took forty years, and learned a great many lessons in those years. What was the purpose of God? To bring them out, and bring them in. The wilderness was no part of God's purpose, but it was part of the ways of God. They had to learn themselves. And that is what you have not learned yet, my dear young convert. I want to encourage you. What will you have to learn? You must learn, perhaps in a very practical, bitter way, the absolute good-for-nothingness of the flesh. You will then learn the goodness of the Lord, and the tenderness of the Lord, and the pity of the Lord, and the wonderful way the Lord will come in to meet and help your soul. That is what they learned (see Deut. 8).
I want you to be quite clear as to the difference between the purpose of God and His ways. And what is the purpose of God? He is not going to judge me, you reply. But I would not call that the purpose of God. That is His mercy. His purpose is to have you and me in heavenly glory by-and-by in the absolute likeness of Christ. "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:29, 30). And why? Because it was His purpose to conform us to the image of His Son. Wonderful tidings, indeed, beloved friends, that you and me, once slaves of sin and Satan, God is going to have forever in the joy of His own presence, and in the likeness of His blessed Son. If you have the purpose of God unfolded to your soul by the Spirit, and apprehend it by faith, you will make a good start, and a good journey too.
In the fourth chapter Moses gets his commission: " Thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my first-born: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me " (vers. 22, 23). Now mark, there is relationship. If a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are no longer looked at by God as a poor sinner. You are no longer a slave. What is the message that Moses has to carry? " Israel is my son." It is a wonderful thing to wake up, in the very day of your conversion, to the truth of sonship. " Let my son go, that he may serve me." That is the point. God comes in, and He says, I must have My people all to Myself. If you have just been brought to know the Lord, what a wonderful thing to find that God's heart beats toward you as a son, and He looks for you to enjoy son-ship. Do you?
Chapter five gives us an added privilege, as we hear the Lord say, " Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." What does the Lord want with you? A feast. You are called to a feast now, but you must get clean out of Egypt for that. And just as Pharaoh said, " Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I. know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go " (ver. 2), so will Satan hinder the young convert from making a clean break with the world if he can do so. The first thing you find out is that you are a sinner, and the next that you are to be a worshipper. You can never worship in the world, nor can the song of deliverance ever be sung truly in Egypt. Sinners can go through a form of worship. But spiritual worship is a question of the truth and enjoyment of the Father, and there must be disassociation from what is of the world and of the flesh, for that to be known. Hence we can understand Moses and Aaron's words, " The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God " (ver. 3). Three days' journey in the wilderness. That is a good long distance; it leaves the world fairly behind. You will find three days abundantly in Scripture. But Pharaoh will not have this, and immediately increases their burdens and their work. It is very instructive. As long as we were going on easily doing the devil's work he left us alone, but the moment the chains were felt as it were, oh, how he put the pressure on (vers. 4-19).
This action of Pharaoh is just a figure of the way in which the devil, when he sees a soul seeking to get free, immediately binds the chains more tightly round him lest he should escape to Christ. Oh, thank God, if you have passed through this misery, and are free. Perhaps you are saying, I thought I believed the gospel, and yet now I am no better than I was, and I am far from happy. Do not faint, nor let Satan drive you back. It is a good thing for us to learn, at the start, our utter good-for-nothingness, and powerlessness. That is what the soul must pass through. You have no power, and Satan has a great deal.
But God's purpose must be carried out, and " He that is for us is stronger than he that is against us," hence in the next chapter the Lord speaks again (chap. 6:1-8). Pharaoh still keeps them in bondage, but to the children of Israel God sends a lovely message. Mark the seven " I wills." Seven in Scripture is always the number of spiritual completeness. (I) " I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." That is good. They were feeling those burdens. (2) " And I will rid you out of their bondage, and (3) I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments; and (4) I will take you to me for a people, and (5) I will be to you a God.... And (6) I will bring you in unto the land... and (7) I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord" (vers. 6-8). It begins with, " I am the Lord," and it closes with, " I am the Lord." His " I will " never fails, and faith always reposes on God's Word. I recommend you to take God's seven " I wills " to your heart. I think I hear you saying, " I have had a good many doubts." You will never have any more if you hug those " I wills." God will not fail of His word, and His purpose He always carries out. Your redemption and mine does not depend upon what we are, it depends upon God. We could not help ourselves, and we cannot do ought for ourselves. Leave all with God, and peace is the result.
How blessedly God spoke here to encourage His people. But did they hear Him? We read, "And
Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage" (ver. 9). The pressure of the enemy was so great that they became hopeless. If you have never yet learned what deliverance is, then let me encourage you to wait on God, and listen to Him. Do not struggle. Satan is too great a foe. Let God deliver you. In these chapters you will get the way in which you are delivered, from the righteous judgment of God on the one hand, and the power of the enemy on the other hand. Are they to go or not is the question? Of course Pharaoh says he will not let them go, and then God brings in His power to effect His purpose. The various plagues I do not touch on, but in the eighth chapter I want to show you the wiles of the devil. Pharaoh, conscious of weakness, begins to make compromises, hoping still to keep his slaves. The first compromise he proposes is very interesting. " Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land" (ver. 25). Where? " In the land." Do it in the land, says Pharaoh. Could they sacrifice to God in Egypt? Impossible.
What is their answer? " And Moses said, It is not meet so to do... for we shall sacrifice the abomination (the idol) of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? " (ver. 26). No, we cannot worship, or be really for God in the midst of Egypt, i.e., the world. " We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, as he shall command us " (ver. 27), is the answer of faith. Now that is a very fine statement on Moses' part. It is a principle of immense value for your soul and mine, that if I am going to have God, and be for Him, I must do without the world. You cannot have the enjoyment of His love, if you want to go on with the world.
This firm reply of Moses leads to compromise number two on Pharaoh's part, " I will let you go that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away" (ver. 28). Ah, how wily Satan is. Don't you be too out and out, he says to a young convert: "Ye shall not go very far away." Ah, how many a young saint has the devil tripped up with this kind of word. Do not go very far. Do not be an enthusiast. Listen. The further you go from the world the better, and Satan will never put his hand upon you again if you once get fairly out of Egypt. If you once get fairly into the wilderness, thank God, he will never place his foul hand upon you again. Never, no, never.
But Pharaoh does not yet let them go. God again steps in with deeper judgments, and at length Pharaoh says, " Go, serve the Lord your God; but who are they that shall go?" (chap. 10:8). Moses is very clear about who shall go. " We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go: for we must hold a feast to the Lord " (ver. 9). All they loved and all they possessed were to go. All for God-was Moses' motto. Christian mothers, converted fathers, do you see this? It is here as elsewhere in all Scripture, the divine principle of "thou and thy house." We are not going to be a divided family, says Moses, and, more than that, we shall take every sheep and every bullock we possess, for all belongs to God. Why? Because redemption puts you upon the ground of belonging to God altogether. I do not think anything could be more plain. This plain reply suggests a third compromise to Pharaoh. First he says, " Let the Lord be with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you (ver. 10). And then, as if he loved the children, and would save them from evil, he adds, " Not so: go now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire" (ver. 11). He says, Leave the children. The devil says, Parents, you can be devoted to Christ, but let your children be in the world; and many a parent heeds that suggestion, and sows seed that bears fruit in the shape of worldly-minded and worldly-wayed sons and daughters, who break their parents' hearts in later days.
Irritated by the refusal to leave the children, Pharaoh refuses to liberate his slaves till further judgment wrings from him a fourth compromise, to wit, I will let you have the children, but you must leave the goods with me. " And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed (i.e., let your business be in the world, conducted on worldly principles); let your little ones also go with you " (ver. 24). But faith never wavers, and Moses' reply is splendid: " Our cattle also shall go with us: there shall not a hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord until we come thither" (ver. 26). Ah, how firm is this man, that God's people belong to God, spirit, soul, and body. It is very refreshing. My heart is quite refreshed as I see the way this man says, We must be entirely for God. Not a hoof can be left behind. We could not leave an ox behind.
Everything must be the Lord's. It is a principle of faith. What the Christian is, and what he has, is all the Lord's. " Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body " (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
When you come to the twelfth chapter you find Pharaoh admitting this principle, as he says, " Go, serve the Lord, as ye have said, also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also " (vers. 31, 32). The very devil himself has the sense that the Christian should serve the Lord devotedly. The enemy of Christ has the sense that the Christian belongs to Christ, and that all he has, and is, should be devoted to the Lord absolutely.
The eleventh and twelfth chapters bring us to another point. What is it? The utter impossibility of any soul having to do with God, save on the ground of death, because death is upon every man, as the judgment of sin. There could be no relationship between our souls and God, save upon that ground. In the eleventh chapter you find God saying, " All the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die " (ver. 5); and then " that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel " (ver. 7). What was the difference? Were not all equally sinners? Surely. The difference was this, that the blood of the lamb sheltered Israel but not the Egyptians-the world. The Egyptians were in opposition to God's mind, and were His foes opposing His work, while Israel is looked at here as being the people of God, standing in the full value of the blood, as God knows its efficacy.
In the twelfth chapter we have the well-known story of the blood of the lamb, the lamb slain instead of the first-born, i.e., substitution (ver. 6). They were to kill the lamb, and to put the blood, not inside where they could see it, but outside where God could see it. It is a striking figure of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will find that there are four very striking types of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. There are many sacrifices pointing on to the work of Christ presented in various ways in the Old Testament, for it is the picture book of Christ. First of all there is this paschal lamb. That is the figure of the death of Christ in substitution and atonement, as bearing the wrath of God due to us. Then the next figure is the Red Sea. That is a type of the death and resurrection of Christ for us. The third is the brazen serpent, the judgment of sin in the flesh, attesting the necessity of new birth. You do not get this truth until the very end of the wilderness journey, when the utter badness, and incorrigible wickedness of the flesh had been proved, after full testing. The fourth is the passage through the Jordan. It is also a striking figure of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of our death and resurrection with Him. Each of the four teaches, therefore, a distinct and different aspect of the truth of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you are not quite clear-as to this paschal lamb being a type of the Lord Jesus. If so, reference to New Testament Scripture should assure you, as you listen to four distinct witnesses. When the Lord Jesus appeared on the earth, John the Baptist said, " Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world " ( John 1:29). When He died on the cross, the apostle John wrote, " For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken" (John 19:36). This is a direct quotation of Ex. 12:46. Again the apostle Paul Wrote, " Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us " (1 Cor. 5:7). And lastly, the apostle Peter says, " Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition From your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you; who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in, God " (1 Peter 1:18-21). Your sin and mine did not come in by accident, so that God had to meet an unforeseen difficulty. All was seen and provided for in the bygone ages of eternity. All God's purposes and ways circled round Christ, and the Old Testament is full of figurative truth which found its perfect answer in Him as a man here. When the blessed Lord died, the Roman soldiers " brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs, that the scripture should be fulfilled, "A bone of him shall not be broken" (John 19:32-37). Scripture must be fulfilled, and the manner of the fulfillment shows us how completely our chapter is a type of the Lord Jesus.
They were to kill the lamb, and then they were to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood (vers. 7, 22). Further, God said, " The blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you " (ver. 13). God was going to pass through the land as a judge, and the only thing that could save the soul from God's judgment was the sprinkled blood. There are a great many souls that miss this point. The hyssop must be used. It was to be dipped in the blood, and in this case the Israelite had to use it himself. If you are going to get any of the value of the blood of the lamb, you must use the hyssop as well. I have no doubt it means this, the soul in the sense of absolute good-for-nothingness availing itself of the death of Christ. People believe that Christ died, and rose, and that He finished the work of atonement, but they do not appropriate the value of His, death to themselves. When one gets down in self-judgment, brokenness, and repentance before God, I believe then our souls use that bunch of hyssop. We flee, as sinners of the deepest dye, to Christ. The judgment due to us has fallen upon God's near Son, and the Lord passes over us in righteousness. The blood upon the lintel keeps God as a judge out. He cannot twice judge-first the lamb, and then the first-born. Peace with Him is the result. Peace with God does not rest upon your feelings. It is the atoning blood of the Lamb, God's own Lamb, put down before God's eye, that is the basis of your peace: " When I see the blood, I will pass over you." It is not " when you see the blood." No. It is God who sees it.
Possibly you say, I do not think I appreciate the blood of Christ sufficiently. I am quite sure you do not, but God does. And He says, " When I see the blood, I will pass over you." Understand this, that the basis of the peace of your soul with God is that shed and sprinkled blood (ver. 8). But then all the way along you and I are to keep in our hearts the memory of what it cost our Savior to redeem us. This " the lamb roast with fire " brings before us. That describes the agonies of the soul of Christ on the cross. The 22nd, the 69th, the 88th, and the 102nd Psalms describe the inward experiences of the blessed Lord when He was bearing our sins. Oh, what it cost Him. They were to eat the lamb " roast with fire." " Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof " (ver. 9). You are called to feed not only on the death, but on the moral ways and the beautiful intelligence of Jesus. Knowing what lay before Him, He went steadily on to death. " Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth" (John 18:4). And then you feed upon the beautiful, and lovely walk of the Lord Jesus. You have thus material for your soul to feed on all your days. Feed on Christ. " Bitter herbs " carry the thought of self-judgment, because my sin cost Christ His life.
Redemption by blood is a wonderful truth, and the moment the people are under the shelter of the blood, and have fed on the roast lamb, they start on their journey, and we read: " It came to pass that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt" (vers. 41, 42).
The blood that shelters them from God as a judge, establishes their relationship with God on the ground of accomplished redemption, and from that moment they are regarded and called, for the first time, " the hosts of the Lord." How much better to be among His redeemed hosts than to be the slave of sin and Satan! How do you stand, and what is your relationship towards Him? Have you yet made a spiritual start similar to that made by Israel? If so, you will follow with interest the succeeding chapters in their history.
We're a pilgrim band in a stranger land,
Who are marching from Calvary;
Where the wondrous cross, with its gain and loss,
Is the sum of our history.
There we lost our stand in a death-doomed land
As children of wrath by the fall;
There we gained a place as heirs of grace
At the feast in the heavenly hall.
So we sing, while we haste o'er the wide world's waste,
Of our home by the crystal sea,
Where the waving palm and the swelling psalm
Fill the air of eternity.
We read our guilt -in the blood that was spilled,
And we weep o'er the crimson flow;
But we joy in the grace of the unveiled face
Of a Father-God here below.
And as sons of God, redeemed by blood,
We hasten from Egypt away;
We cross the sand to the pleasant land;
And the joys of an endless day.
We were children of night, kept far from the light,
Enslaved by a cruel foe;
But Jesus' pains broke the iron chains,
And redeemed our souls from woe.
Now, as children of light, we walk, and we fight
In a path of triumphant, joy;
For our strength in the Lord, whose word is our sword,
While faith is the shield we employ.
Our home is with God, and our path has been trod
By the faithful of ages all,
And us He will bring, as on eagle's wing,
To our place in the marriage-hall.
Then, then we shall sing, as the bride of the King,
Of the blood that has brought us so nigh,
To bask in the blaze of the Ancient of days
At the throne far above the sky.