On the Acts of the Apostles.

Chapter 7:20-29.

Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 327 - August 1883


Chapter 7:20-29.

But now Moses is dwelt on at great length, as before Joseph more briefly. Thus is brought before their minds another and most salient personal type of the Messiah,-besides the general testimony to the truth for their consciences.

"At which season Moses was born, and was exceedingly [lit. to God] fair, who was nourished three months in his father's house; and when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was instructed in all [the) wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works. But when he was about forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the sons of Israel; and seeing one wronged, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian. For he thought that his brethren understood that God by his hand was giving them deliverance; but they understood not. And on the day following he appeared to them as they were striving, and compelled them to peace, saying, Ye are brethren: why do ye wrong one to another? But he that was wronging his neighbour thrust him away, saying, Who established thee ruler and judge over us? Dost thou wish 'to kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday? And Moses fled at this saying, and became a sojourner in the land of Midian where he begat two sons." (Ver. 20-29.)

The enemy had raised up a suited instrument, another king over Egypt which knew not Joseph. Suffering became the portion of Israel and a deadly stroke was aimed at the promise in the person of their babes, For the commandment of the king was to expose them that they might not be preserved alive. At that critical moment Moses was born, fair unto God, with a glorious career before him, however dark its beginnings. He too, came under the sentence of death, and, after being nourished three months in his father's house, was cast out like the rest. But we have the highest authority for affirming that it was "by faith," whatever the natural affection of his parents, he was hid by them these three months (Heb. xi. 23). " They were not afraid of the king's commandment." God interfered for him providentially; and, the least likely of all in Egypt, Pharaoh's daughter, took him up and nourished him for her own son It was manifestly an intervention of God.

But Divine providence is no guide for faith, nothing but the word. Providence brought in, whence faith led out. "By faith Moses when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to be evil-entreated with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked unto the recompense of reward."

None can deny that Moses was capable of justly estimating the situation. He was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and works. He looked, however, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. His eye was on the kingdom of God; he awaited the Messiah; he knew that the purposes of God, as they centre in Christ, had Israel as their inner circle on earth. His affections, therefore, were not with the court of Egypt, or the most brilliant vista it could open for a man of his energy. Poor degraded Israel he loved, and loved, net so much because they were his people, but as the people of God.

So when he was about forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. Alas! they were fallen, not in their circumstances only, but in their souls. Faith wrought in but few of them to expect a deliverer or to appreciate such as had faith in God. In such circumstances the worst moral condition is apt to be found. An unfaithful Israelite sinks below an Egyptian; and Moses must learn this, as Joseph had learned it before; as an infinitely greater than Joseph or Moses learned it even before the death of the cross. "And seeing one suffer wrong, he defended him and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian; and he supposed that his brethren understood how that God by his hand was giving them salvation, but they understood not. They were dark and dead Godward. The hardness of man they felt. The hope God had given to Israel had almost vanished from their souls. There was certainly no expectation of a deliverance at hand; yet surely they ought to have looked for it. The fourth generation was proceeding, in which, according to the word of Jehovah, they, so long afflicted, were to quit ajudged Egypt, and to come into the promised land again. But God was not in their thoughts, and Moses was misunderstood. Nay, worse than this; "And the day following he appeared unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren, why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wouldest thou kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday?" The keenest wound, as the basest blow, comes from God's people: when man rules therein and not God, Satan works underneath it all.

Yet was it all profitable discipline for Moses, who "Red at this saying and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons." He must learn of God alone in the wilderness. The wisdom of Egypt must be, as it were, unlearned: God deigns not to honour it for His deliverances. The wisdom that He uses must come down from above. We shall see how God wrought when the due moment arrives. Meanwhile Moses is the rejected of Israel as Joseph before of his brethren. Only as Joseph shows us exaltation over the Gentiles when separated from his brethren, Moses gives us, in another direction, the complication from the offended power and anger of the Gentiles. But it mill be noticed that it is during this compulsory exile from Israel that he has a family given him. So the Virgin's Son, Emmanuel, speaks in Isaiah viii. There too Israel are unbelieving; there too is a hostile confederacy of the nations; but, "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me, are for signs and for wonders, in Israel from the Lord of hosts which dwelleth in Mount Zion." Faith waits upon the Lord that hides His face from the house of Jacob, and it looks for Him. At the worst of times He is for a sanctuary; at the right moment He works out unmistakeable deliverance. How solemnly all this bore en the actual circumstances of the Jew! They did not understand that Jesus was their Deliverer. They gradually grew to hate His words, because His words judged them in the secret of their souls, and His parables portended sure destruction on their pride and unbelief. Hence they cast Him out even unto death; but God raised Him up and was now manifesting the children He had given Him, as yet from Israel only, but seen to be from Gentiles also. The hour of Messiah's rejection is but the occasion for a higher glory and a more intimate relationship with those who meanwhile believe; just as the stranger in the land of Midian becomes the father of two sons which he had not in Egypt with the sons of Israel around him.

Had Stephen invented these remarkable facts and yet more remarkable foreshadowings? No Jew, however prejudiced, could deny them to be the brief, true, and bright reflection of God's word in their own hands. The undeniable truth inspired by the Holy Ghost shone solemnly on that which they had done to One attested by God to them by works of power and wonders and signs which God wrought by Him in their midst, as they themselves too well knew. Such is man on the one hand, and such God on the other: so surprising as to provoke the unbelief and ill-will of all who do not bow to His revelation as well as to the bitter conviction of their own evil. To the believer it is the old but ever new lesson of learning the first man, and the Second: where this is learnt, the heart seeks and owns it could not be otherwise, man being what he is, as also God what He is; for He cannot deny Himself, though man in his blindness constantly denies both himself and God. But the correction comes when Christ is brought home to the soul by the Holy Ghost in the gospel: one repents, and believes. Such an one reads his own evil in what man did and is: anything of iniquity in a Jew or a Gentile is not overmuch marvellous; he can find a match for Pharoah or for Israel in his own breast if not his own life, or in both. But greater grace assuredly than was ever shown by a Joseph or a Moses, he knows in the Son of God who came down from heaven not to do His own will, but His who sent Him—in the Son of man who came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Thus does faith turn all things past or future to present account; as a man's unbelief loses all blessing from every quarter, and will rather destroy his own soul than give honour really to God and His Son.