Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 328 - September 1883
Thus was Moses an outcast for many long years, not more from the incensed king of Egypt than from his own unworthy brethren, who loved him the less, the more abundantly he loved them; as unmindful of the promised deliverance as unappreciative of him who forfeited all on their account. Israel denied him who was in that day the type of the Holy and the Righteous One. It was no new thing.
"And when forty years were fulfilled, an angel [of the Lord, D E H P, almost all cursives, and many ancient versions] appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire of a bush. And Moses, on seeing, wondered at the sight; and as he went up to observe, there came a voice of [the] Lord unto him, most authorities, but not the best]: I [am] the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and 1 Isaac and 2 Jacob. And Moses trembled, and durst not. observe. And the Lord said to him, Loose the sandal of thy feet, for the place where 3on thou standest is holy ground. I have surely [lit. seeing] seen the ill-treatment of my people which is iii Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and am come down to take them out for myself. And now come, I send [or will send] thee into Egypt. This Moses whom they denied, saying, Who established thee ruler and judge? him hath4 God sent [both] ruler and deliverer, with an angel's hand that appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, having wrought wonders and signs in the land of5 Egypt and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is the Moses that said to the soils' of Israel, A prophet will God6 raise up to you out of your brethren, like me." (Ver. 30-37.)
God ordered the trials for Moses as none else would. For him, at the vigorous age of forty years, spent with every natural advantage possible in that day, who would have planned an equal period in the comparative solitude of Midian, without a project or even a known communication with his race, in patient waiting on God? Yet what wiser, if God were acting in wisdom and power by Moses to His own glory?
Then came a most singular but suited manifestation: an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai, in a flame of fire of a bush. It was no less significant than that vouchsafed to Joshua at a later day. When conquest of Canaan was in question, what more encouraging than a man seen with his sword drawn, captain of Jehovah's host? When the work was to bring the people through a waste howling wilderness, what more appropriate sign than a bush blazing yet unconsumed, and yet more " the good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush?" Moses, himself, " separated from his brethren," could well appreciate its significance, when wonder and fear had yielded to reflection in the light of the Divine communications he had received.
"And as he went up to observe, there came a voice of [the] Lord, I [am] the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And Moses trembled, and durst not observe." Before redemption, even a saint trembled when brought into God's presence. Be it that His voice declares Him the God of promise, of the fathers Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, " Moses trembled, and durst not observe." Till redemption, peace is impossible. "And the Lord said to him, Loose the sandal of thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Before the exodus of Israel from Egypt there was a manifestation of divine righteousness in delivering them and judging their oppressors, and holiness is proclaimed inviolable from the outset; no less is it so when Israel are called under Joshua to uncompromising conflict with the Canaanite dwelling in the land. " Holiness," it was sung at a later day for an epoch not yet fulfilled, "becometh Thine house, O Jehovah, for ever." The same prefatory admonition precedes alike the types of redemption accomplished for His people, and of warring in their midst with Satan that they may enjoy their proper privileges. God will be sanctified, whatever His grace in redeeming His own from the house of bondage, or in leading them to victory over the powers which usurp their heritage. Let us not forget it. How often irreverence has crept in, both in learning divine righteousness and in conflict with the enemy! "These things ought not so to be."
But redemption was in His heart; and of this He forthwith speaks to Moses, now wearied from selfconfidence as much as from worldly association. "I have surely seen the ill-treatment of My people which is in Egypt, anal have heard their groaning, and have come down to take them out for Myself." Who but God would have thus undisguisedly spoken of a poor set of slaves as "My people "? Others would have delivered and bedecked them first. It is the same God who as a father falls on the neck of the returning prodigal in his rags and kisses him, whatever the honours afterwards lavished on him. But, let it be the foreshadowing or the antitypical reality, it is of the utmost moment to apprehend that redemption is the work of God present in person, and delivering, not merely from the enemy, but for Himself. Their ill-treatment must be avenged, their groaning be heard and answered with His consolations; but He comes down to take them out for Himself.
"To deliver " was of course verified also; but the literal rendering is much more expressive, and gives not mere relief from the usurper's hand, but the positive object; and what can surpass it? If it be often overlooked, both in doctrine and in practice, it is of the more consequence to insist on it. Elsewhere may be put forward liberation, of which it is of course right in its place to point out the nature and .effects; but here it is God's taking Israel out for Himself, as said of Joseph in ver. 10, and not infrequently in scripture, though the emphatic force only comes out fully in redemption. For Christ suffered once for sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God. It will be manifest when we are in glory; it is no less true now to faith while we are here on earth. Nor can any truth bound up with redemption be of deeper moment for the soul. True spiritual experience rests on and springs out of it. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt." But how different the feelings of Moses! When in Egypt, he had gone forward in his own energy; and now, when sent of God, he makes objections and difficulties! How instructive the twofold lesson for us! So it is ever. The man who was not called readily proffered to follow the Lord wheresoever He might go; as ignorant of himself and of the world and of the enemy, as of Christ. The disciple who was called begs leave first to go away and bury his father, but learns from the Lord that there must be no object before Himself.
"This Moses whom they denied, saying, Who established then ruler and judge? him hath God sent both ruler and deliverer [or, redeemer] with an angel's hand that appeared to him in the bush." The language is framed so as to maintain the parallel between Moses, as before of Joseph, with Jesus the despised and denied Messiah, whom God is to send from the heavens, not only to bring in generally the predicted times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, but to redeem Israel from the hand of the enemy, and to gather them out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. It is not only the New. Testament but the Old, as the Lord expounded to the sorrowing disciples on the day of His resurrection, which teaches the sufferings of Christ end the glories which should follow them. Ought not Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory"? Indeed, He had taught the same before His death. There will be the bright and judicial manifestation in its due season; for as the lightning when it lighteneth out of the one part under the heaven shineth unto the other part under heaven, even so shall the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things and be rejected of this generation. Then indeed will He bless Israel, in turning every one of them away from their iniquities.
Of Him Moses was but a shadow, however honoured of God as both ruler and deliverer, with an angel's hand that appeared to him in the bush. Jesus the Son of man will Himself appear on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; and He shall send forth His angels with a great sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other. A greater than Moses shall be displayed in that day; but in this day a far greater humiliation was His than that of Moses. Still in both respects the analogy was close, evident, and intentional; for the Holy Spirit in the word was providing for the help and warning or blessing of man, and the clear intimations of scripture left the Jew especially without excuse, as Stephen demonstrates.
"This [man] led them out, having wrought wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years." None denies that Moses stands in the front rank of great as well as good men; but it is God who made His presence signally known and respected in what He did by him chiefly, though sometimes without him, in that long succession of wilderness patience, and of power fruitful in wonders, abundant in instruction. Stephen's aim is however to give scope to an under-current of analogy to Christ, and hence the man Moses comes into prominence, the better to furnish it as his solemn appeal to a people who never forgot their oldest folly and never truly learnt from God when again putting them to the test. What could Moses have done without God for one day in the desert, not to speak of forty years? What wonders and signs could he otherwise have wrought in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, before Meribah on the day of Massah in the wilderness, when the Jewish fathers tried Jehovah, proved Him, and saw His work? No doubt there was intrinsic power in the person of the Sea, who from everlasting to everlasting is G d. Only, subsisting in the form of God, He counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God (in blessed contrast with the first man, who sought to be what he was not, to God's dishonour and in disobedience), but emptied Himself, taking a bondsman's form, coming in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, death of the cross. All between His birth and death was alike moral perfection; a man who never did, never sought, His own will, nothing; but the will of God, till all closed in the yet deeper doing by suffering it for sin in death of atonement, that God might be glorified even as to sin, and we righteously delivered. Bat in His service, of Him pre-eminently it could be said that God anointed Rim with the Holy Spirit and with power; who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with Him. And if that generation denied Him, saying Who established thee ruler and judge? none the less did God raise Him to be a more blessed Redeemer, a more glorious Ruler of the kings of the earth, as He is ordained of God to be Judge of living and dead, whilst He will also fulfil every hope of Israel according to the prophets.
No wonder therefore it is added, "This is the Moses that said to the sons of Israel. A prophet will God raise up to you out of your brethren, like me." The difficulties and differences of the most celebrated Rabbis prove what a stone of stumbling is the true Christ, the Lord Jesus, to unbelieving Israel. How otherwise could we account for such a man as Abarbanel perverting the words of Deut. xviii. here cited, to Jeremiah? If there be among the prophets, yea in all the people, a marked contrast with the honoured deliverer from, Egypt. and the law-giver in the wilderness, it is the mourning man of Anathoth, whose testimony and life show a continuous struggle of grief and shame between his burning sense of God's ignored rights and his love for the people of God who most of all ignored them, as well as himself. Utterly untenable is the theory of Aben Εzra and others, that Joshua is meant, who but supplemented, and in little more than one direction, Moses' work, but in no adequate way stands out as the prophet raised up from his brethren like Moses. Hence the effort of some most distinguished among the Jewish teachers to interpret as a succession this singular prophet! as contrary to usage in the language as to the fact in their history. Compare Num. xii. and Deut. xxiv. The position of Mediator, whose words must be heard on pain of death, points to Moses' peculiarity; only in the highest degree true of none but Messiah. And if the Jews did not then realise the consequence of refusing to hearken to him, soon did the threat begin to fall on their guilty heads. "The wrath," says the apostle Paul, "is come upon them to the uttermost." And not yet have they paid the last farthing. The unequalled tribulation is still before them, though a believing remnant will be delivered out of it, hearkening to Him whom the nation opposed to their own ruin.
3) "Ιn" is the more common reading.
4) The perfect has best, not most, support.
5) Probably Lachmann's choice of ἐν τῇ Αἱγ. is right (B C &c.), which may next easily have lapsed into 4, ἐν γῇ Αἰγ.,-ου or-ῳ both being well supported, but not the oldest. `
6) The Received Text adds "The Lord your," as in the Authorised Version, and "him shall ye hear," but not so the. oldest.