Sermon 2503. The Question Between the Plagues
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1897.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MAY 24, 1885.
"How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?" Exodus 10:3.
PHARAOH is the type and image of proud men. God permitted him to be left to the natural hardness of his heart and he stoodup against Jehovah in a very remarkable way. Those who are students of the ancient history of Egypt, those especially whohave seen the remains of the colossal statues of the kings and those tremendous pyramids which probably were the places oftheir sepulture, will know that man worship was carried on to the very highest degree in connection with the ancient kingdomof Egypt. Our modern civilization has deprived kings of much of the dignity which once hedged them round. We have grown wonderfullyfamiliar with our fellow men in the very highest places of the earth, but in those old monarchies, when the king was absoluteand supreme, when his wish, even though he was little better than a maniac-was the law that governed the people-when not adog dared move his tongue against the despot, then kings seemed to be like little gods and they lorded it over their subjectswith a vengeance!
No doubt they grew intoxicated with the fumes of the incense which their subjects willingly offered to them and so came tothink themselves almost, if not quite, Divine-and assumed the position and honors of God, Himself. It is not so very amazing,therefore, that Pharaoh should have thought that, in the God of the Hebrews, he had merely met with just another one of thesame stamp as himself, against whom he could carry on war and whom he might even subdue. He said within himself, "Who arethese Hebrews? Their fathers were a company of shepherds who came and settled in Egypt! And as for these people, they aremy slaves. I have built cities with their unpaid labor and I mean to hold them in captivity. They talk about their God, their'Jehovah.' Who is Jehovah that I should obey His voice? Let it be a battle of Pharaoh against Jehovah and let it be foughtout to the bitter end! I will show these people that I care not for them, or their Prophets, or their God."
That same pride which grew so strong in Pharaoh-growing upon that whereon it fed until it came to a colossal form-that samekind of pride is in the hearts of men even to this day! They do not take upon themselves the same high and mighty airs, but,as far as their circumstances will allow, it is still a duel between man and his Maker, between the sinner and his Judge.In the case of some here present, there is now going on a battle between yourselves and your God. Oh, that you would considerthis matter in the right light! That you would look at it with calm, steady and reasonable consideration, for then, I think,you would at once throw down your weapons and beg for peace on Gospel terms-and this would be the happiest hour that you haveever lived! God grant that it may be so! I am going to make a running application of my text all through my discourse, andI pray that the Holy Spirit, Himself, may make a direct application of it to anyone whom it may concern.
I. To aid your memory, let me say, first of all, that THIS QUESTION HAS ABOUT IT AN AIR OF ASTONISHMENT-"How long will yourefuse to humble yourself before Me?" I have no doubt that as Moses and Aaron uttered this question, they put it in tonesindicative of surprise-"How long is it to be that you, proud Pharaoh, will refuse to humble yourself before the only livingand true God?"
And, surely, that astonishment must have arisen partly from the judgments which God had inflicted upon Pharaoh You know whatJehovah had already done. He had turned the water into blood and destroyed the fish. He had made frogs to come even into theking's bedchamber. He had brought innumerable lice and flies throughout all the land. He had sent disease upon the cattle,boils and sores upon man and beast, storms of hail and rain and mighty thunder! With stroke after stroke, almost without apause, Jehovah had smitten the proud king! Yet still, after seven plagues, Pharaoh stood out as proud and obstinate as everand, therefore, the Lord sent to him the question of our text, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?"
I think I know some cases that are almost parallel with that of Pharaoh. Here is a man who has been very lofty and proud,but already he has been brought from wealth to poverty. At this moment he scarcely knows where to lay his head, yet in hispoverty he has not turned to God. He has been smitten with sickness and that not merely once or twice, but many times. Turningover the pages of his diary he can note on such a day, fever-on such a day some other deadly dis-ease-and these strokes havefollowed one after another. Yet, on being able to creep out again and to come into the place of public worship, he is stillfound as hardened in heart as ever he was. How long will it be, my Friend, before you humble yourself before God? The ProphetIsaiah might well ask concerning you the question he put in his day, "Why should you be stricken any more?" The rod seemsto be wasted upon you-you have been struck till "the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint," and you are covered with"wounds, bruises and putrefying sores." Yet you turn not unto the God who smites you, but you grow prouder and yet prouderstill notwithstanding all His chastisements and judgments!
What shall God do next with you? Where shall the next arrow be aimed? An eye, a hand, a foot-shall these be struck? Or shallthe Lord lay the cold hand of death upon your heart? Shall "the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or thepitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern"? I cannot tell how or when the summons may come foryou, but I would very earnestly say to any of you who have been the subjects of many Providential trials and Divine judgments,"How long will it be before you humble yourselves before God?"
The question of our text may have been put in astonishment from another point of view, namely, because of the many false pretencesof humility which Pharaoh had made. When he was struck, he sent for Moses and Aaron again and again, and he cried out to them,"I have sinned, pray for me. Forgive me just this once." Then, when his prayer had been heard and the plague had been removed,Pharaoh went back to his old natural hardness and said, "I will not let the people go." Therefore the Lord sent to him thequestion, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?" Is it not much the same with some of you, my Hearers? Iwant to speak right home to your hearts and consciences! Have you ever, in the time of your sickness, promised God that ifyou should get better, your life should be altogether different? Yet, though the Lord spared you, there has not been any truechange in you! Did you not say, "Please God, if I am delivered this time, I will be a better man in all respects"? Yet youare not any better than you used to be! Remember that those resolves of yours are all preserved upon God's file in Heaven-youhave the counterfoils of those resolutions in your memory, but the resolutions, themselves, are registered in the Court ofKing's Bench above! And one of these days you shall see those broken resolutions again and, as you hear them read, you shallhave to answer for having acted falsely towards the Omniscient God and for having lied to Him! God deliver you from the greatsin of thus mocking Him!
Meanwhile, I press this question upon the heart and conscience of any to whom it applies, "How long will it be before youhumble yourselves before the Lord? Will you go on all your lifetime with the mimicry of repentance, with the mere pretenseof faith? Will you always be trying to play fast and loose with God? Will you never shake yourselves clear of this shamefulplay-acting and come to downright earnest repentance before your God? Will you play yourselves into Hell? Will you go on sportingwith eternal realities as if they were only a child's game?" Oh, let it not be so! Let this question of the Lord, Himself,come rolling, like a peal of thunder, into your heart and conscience, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself beforeMe?"
Do you not think, too, that this question came from Moses with surprise as remembered the many mercies of God to Pharaoh?God had heard the prayers of Moses on behalf of Pharaoh. The proud king might think it a little matter, but he who had prayedfor him and obtained the answer to his petitions did not think it a small thing. When the frogs were in all the land-onlyby the prayer of Moses were they all slain! When the swarms of flies came and defiled the whole country, it was the prayerof Moses that removed the plague so that there remained not one! It might be a little matter to Pharaoh-for men who receivefavors often think but little of them-but they who win favors from God by prayer always highly esteem them! So Moses seemsto be astonished as he says to Pharaoh, "Has God done all this for you? Has He removed His rod from you? Has He said to theexecutioner, 'Put back the axe'? Has He fetched you out of the prison of His judgments, taken the chains off your wrists andset you free-and do you still stand out against Him? How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Him?"
Let me put this question to some who are here. God has been very gracious to you, my Friend, in delivering you from many accidentsand diseases-and you are spared till your hair is turning gray. It would have been easy enough for your life to have cometo an end long ago, yet here you are, still spared by God's mercy! You are not a pauper, as you once thought you would be.You are still living in comfortable circumstances and that great trial which, at one time, darkened your life like a heavycloud, has passed away. And you can now look up with a cheerful countenance and remember times of great despondency and threateneddistress. Will you not, then-won by this mercy, subdued by this great love-humble yourself before your God? What more canHe do for you than He has already done? See how He has made you the special objective of singular Providential care! I referyou to your diary and ask you to remember how kindly and tenderly and graciously God has dealt with you these many years.O Sirs, if terrors will not move you, let love subdue you! Oh, that the Grace of God might find out the secret spring of yourheart and bring you now, at once, to humble yourselves before the Lord!
So I think I am right in saying, in the first place, that there is an air of surprise about this question to Pharaoh, becauseof wasted judgments, forgotten promises and neglected mercies-"How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?"
II. Now, in the second place, to change the strain a little, and but a little, let me add that THE QUESTION BREATHES A SPIRITOF KINDNESS.
You know that when a person does not intend another's good, he strikes the fatal blow at once without a word of warning. Buthe who is a father, though he must use the rod, speaks many times and pleads, and admonishes, and persuades before he givesa stroke. This is just what God did with Pharaoh by His servants Moses and Aaron. He said, "How long will you refuse to humbleyourself before Me?"
In Pharaoh's case, that which God required of him was right. It was humbling to his pride, but it was right. What right hadPharaoh to hold the Israelites as his slaves? They were not his people-they had been admitted into the kingdom as honoredguests. One of that race had saved the nation in the time of famine. Joseph had preserved Egypt and made the king strong inthe midst of his people. Gratitude to Joseph ought to have caused the Israelites to be treated in a very different way. Atany rate, if Pharaoh did not wish to have them in Egypt, he ought, at least, to have permitted them to go in peace and notto have held them in bondage. This was all that God asked of him-"Let My people go. They are none of yours, they are Mine.Let them go that they may serve Me."
And, Brothers and Sisters, that which God requires of a sinner is a right thing. He bids you leave your sin. Is not that right?He bids you break off your sins by righteousness. Is not that right? He has provided a way of salvation through the Atonementof His Son, Jesus Christ, and He bids you accept it. Is not that right? All that He asks you to do is to confess and forsakeyour sin. Is not that right? If you cannot undo your sin, the least you can do is to acknowledge it like a man-and that iswhat God asks of you. He bids you trust His dear Son. Is that a hard thing, an unreasonable thing? If He has appointed a Saviorand equipped Him for the service of salvation, and has bid you, who needsalvation, to trust Him to save you and never thinkof self-salvation, but to take Jesus Christ to be the beginning and the end of salvation to you-is not that a right thing?Well, then, how long will it be that you will still refuse to humble yourself before Him? A right-minded man never desiresto postpone a right action! If it is just and right, He wishes to let it be done at once. And, oh, dear Friends, it is themost just and right thing that can be conceived of, that a sinner, guilty against the God of Love, should confess his guilt,seek mercy and accept pardon in the way in which God provides it for men!
This question is put in a spirit of kindness and I desire to put it very kindly to any one of you who has not yet yieldedto the Lord-"How long will you refuse to humble yourself before God?" Dear Friend, you say that you intend, one day, to humbleyourself beneath the mighty hand of God. Do you think it will grow any easier while you delay? Is it difficult, now, to yieldyourself to the Lord? It will be more difficult in a year's time, even if you are spared till then, for a man's habits hardenevery day that he lives! They spin new webs about him. They hold him fast, poor fly that he is, every hour that he lives.If it ever is an easy matter to bow before the Lord, it is easier at this moment than it will be tomorrow. Say not, therefore,"I am waiting for a more convenient season," for the most convenient season that ever can come is now! There will be greaterinconveniences tomorrow than there are tonight-and so will it be ad infinitum!If you would be free from your bondage, breakloose at once! You have waited too long, already, and you do not find it easier from day to day, neither will you if you stilldelay to submit to the Lord. Therefore, yield to Him at once. God help you to do so!
Do you not know that if God means to save you, He will send heavier plagues upon you than any you have felt as yet If youwill not come to Him with one blow, you shall have two! And if two will not suffice, you shall have twenty, for He will haveyou. It would be better to yield at once! There is no greater wisdom than the moment the Lord says, "Seek you My face," toanswer, "Your face, Lord, will I seek." "Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding," which mustbe driven to their work and goaded on in their labor. There are some who come to Christ like vessels towed into port, allbut wrecked, with torn sails and broken timbers. It is better by far that you be gently wafted into the haven by the softsouth wind of Love, or that you spread your canvas to a favoring gale and fly before the breeze into the Fair Havens of salvationby Christ! I would put it to you, dear Friend-Why do you want to be beaten, bruised, cut and wounded? Why not, as you are,say tonight-
"Jusst as I am-without one plea But that Your blood was shed for me, And that You bid me come to You, OLamb of God, I come"?
At any rate, there is one other thing I will say to you-a time for decision should be set. I would like to press the questionof the text, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?" I remember a man of God who was talking with a younglady to whom he had spoken many times about her soul. At last he said to her, "Well, Hannah, you do intend to come to Christone day?" "Yes, Sir," she replied, "I do intend." "Well, now," he said, "will you give me a date when you will come to Christ?You are 20 now, will you come to the Lord Jesus Christ when you are thirty? Will you put that down as a definite promise?"The young lady answered, "Well, Sir, I should not like to promise that because I might be dead before I was thirty. Ten yearsis a long time and I might be dead and gone before that time. I hope I shall know the Lord before that." "Well, Hannah," thegood man said, "we will say nine years, then. That is to be the time that you fix when you will yield to the mercy of God.""Well, Sir," she said, "I hope it will be before then." "No," he said, "the bargain is made-you will have to run risks fornine years, you know. You make the bargain that you will come to Christ in nine years' time. Let it stand so and you mustrun the risk."
"Oh, Sir!" she exclaimed, "it would be an awful thing, a dreadful thing, for me to say that I would wait nine years, becauseI might be lost in that time." The friend then said, "Well, suppose we say that you will serve the Lord in 12 months' time?Will you just take this year and spend it in the service of Satan, and then, when you have enjoyed yourself that way, giveyour heart to Christ?" Somehow, the young woman felt that it was a long time and a very dangerous time, so she answered, "Ishould not like to be hung over an awful chasm and for somebody to say, 'I will pull you up at the end of a year and set yourfeet on a rock.'" No, she could not bear that thought! And as her minister pressed her to set a time and brought it down bylittle and little, at last she said, "Oh, Sir, it had better be tonight! It had better be tonight! Pray to God that I maynow give my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is such a dreadful thing to be without a Savior! I would have Christ asmy Lord this very night." So I put it to you-yield to Christ at once and do not keep on saying, "I hope it will not be longbefore I become a child of God."
You know how people often talk when they owe you money-they promise to pay you "next Monday." Then, when the next Monday comes,they say that, unfortunately, there was a remittance which they fully expected on the Saturday, but it did not come. Theyfeel quite certain it will come on Wednesday morning, so they will be round at your house with it, or, would you mind callingupon them at noon on Wednesday? When you call on Wednesday, they are so sorry-such a thing never happened to them before,but they lost a purse when they were out in the street, so could you allow them another month's credit? That is how they goon, until at last you say, "Well now, look here, will you tell me once and for all when you will pay me? Do fix a day." Andyou think you have done something when you get a day for payment fixed at last. So shall I think that there is something gained-though,mark you, I have not much confidence in such an ar-rangement-if there is a deliberate attempt made to fix some kind of timewhen you will yield yourself to Christ! And, of all the times that I can think of-if I may, for once, be your solicitor andsit down quietly and give you my best advice- my experience suggests to me that I had better quote to you this passage ofScripture, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Today is in your power, it is here at present! Ithas almost gone, flying with the setting sun, but you have today at present-therefore use it, for tomorrow is not yours, andtomorrow may never come for you!
The question of our text is asked, then, not only with an air of surprise, but also with a great measure of kindness. Andin that kindly spirit I wish you to suppose that I am walking round the front of this lower gallery and shaking hands withevery unconverted person and asking, "How long will it be before you trust in Jesus?" And then, mounting the stairs to getto you who are in the upper gallery, that I may put to you the same question. And, after making the round of the whole building,threading my way as best I can through these crowded aisles and taking each one by the hand, giving a hearty grip, and saying,"How long is it to be? How long is it to be?" And, "Had it not better be now?" God grant that it may be now that you willhumble yourself before the Lord, for Jesus' sake!
III. In the third place I will deal with the text in rather a different style, yet still keeping to the same objective thoughI change the line of argument. THIS QUESTION IS ASKED IN A TONE OF POWER.
If I could speak it as Jehovah would speak it by His servant Moses, I think it would run like this-"Thus says Jehovah, Godof the Hebrews, How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go that they may serve Me." God as Godsays to Pharaoh, "It is no use for you to stand out against Me. As well might a moth contend with the furnace. It is of nouse for you to lift your puny hand against Me. You know not how great My power is. I have given you a taste of it, but I haveyet more terrible plagues in the rear which I will bring forward-and you will have to bow before Me." And you know, Brothersand Sisters, how Pharaoh did at last have to bow before Jehovah! The firstborn of his strength was cut off in the dead ofnight and there was wailing in the palace and in all the land. And then, when Pharaoh said, "I will pursue, I will overtake,I will divide the spoil. My lust shall be satisfied upon them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them"-he dashedforward to pursue the hosts of the Lord and you know what followed. "For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots andwith his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them." Then was heard the song of Miriam,"Sing you to Jehovah, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea." As the rushingwaters bore him away, proud Pharaoh learned when, too late, how great a fool he had been to contend against the Infinite Majestyof Almighty God!
And I say to you, Brothers and Sisters, who are fighting against God, you must either bend or break! As God lives, you mustbow before Him in repentance, or you shall be crushed beneath Him in the day of His anger! Think not, when we talk to youof God's mercy, that we come to you as your equal might come, and reason with you as though God were afraid of you! Do youtalk of your great strength? He is almighty! As for you, your breath is in your nostrils and the Lord could cause you, ina moment, to fall dead in a fit, as many have done before you! If you will not yield to Him, He is infinitely glorious withoutyou! And if you rebel against Him, in what way can you affect the supremacy of His empire? As well might a drop of spray hopeto shake the cliffs of Albion as for you to contend against the Majesty of God!
O Brothers and Sisters, fight not against your God! What profit can there be to you in this rebellion? Already you have foundno profit in it. Therefore be not so mad as to continue warring against your God. "Come now, and let us reason together, saysthe Lord: though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall beas wool." He is a God ready to forgive! "He delights in mercy." He wills not the death of any, but that they turn to Him andlive. Still, if you will persist in contending against Him, see what your end will be-"Everlasting destruction from the Presenceof the Lord, and from the glory of His power." Jesus Himself put the final issue thus, "These shall go away into everlastingpunishment; but the righteous into life eternal."
IV. I conclude my sermon by trying to show that THE QUESTION OF OUR TEXT IS OF WIDE APPLICATION.
Let me try to put the case to you who are here present. Forget Pharaoh and only think of yourself. Let the Lord Jesus Christ,Himself, with the thorn-crowned head and the pierced hands stand by your pew and, looking right down into your soul, say inHis matchless tone of music-the music of the heart of love-"How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?"
What is your difficulty, dear Friend? What is the cause of your quarrel with your Lord? Do you even refuse to think aboutreligion? I know that many do. They get up late on Sunday morning and loiter about the house all day, with no care to go towhat they call these "preaching-shops." They would rather go for a walk. The Bible is never read by them-they say that itis such a dreary book-which shows how unacquainted they are with its contents. Religion they regard as a mere make-up of priests,though they have never fairly examined its claims. Well, Friend, will you not at least give the Gospel a hearing before youcondemn it? Will you not listen to God's message of salvation that you may form a sober judgment concerning it? Will you not,at any rate, read that Book which you have hitherto despised, that you may find out whether it really is the Book of God?Oh, no, you know too much to read the Bible! You are far too cultured to listen to the common preaching of such poor folkas we are. That is how you talk, but are you not ashamed to speak so? Do you not, yourself, judge that when a man thinks heknows everything, he really knows very little? And that when he affects to be such a very superior person, he is not so highand mighty as he thinks himself to be? Humble yourself enough, at least, to be wise? Humble yourself enough to listen to thisquestion of Nicodemus, "Does our law judge any man before it hears him and know what he does?" Hear the story of Christ andexamine and weigh the evidence of His Messiahship. Consider the claims of Christ and confess that you have not met them. Andthen give your whole heart and soul to seek to know the way of salvation!
But, suppose you have thought of religion, what is your trouble? You say, "Well, I understand that I cannot be saved exceptby confessing myself a sinner." You would not need salvation, would you, if you were not a sinner? Surely, there is no hardshipin refusing to you what you profess you do not need! If I opened a doctor's shop and posted in the window a notice statingthat I would give away no pills or draughts to men who were perfectly well, nobody would accuse me of a lack of humanity becauseI acted like that. Those who are well have no need of a physician! So, to qualify yourself for being saved, you must firstconfess that you need to be saved! Come, Friend, have you always been perfect? I should like to see you stand in the middleof the congregation and let us all look you up and down! If you did not blush, I should know that you were not perfect-andif you did blush, it would be a confession that you were imperfect! We have all transgressed the Law of our God. Some in oneway and some in another, but, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," and we must confess that it is even so.When we have done this, then will be fulfilled to us the ancient promise, "Whoso confesses and forsakes his sins shall havemercy."
If you have made a confession of sin, what is further the matter with you? "Why," you say, "I am told that I must be savedby Divine Grace." Yes, and how else would you like to be saved? Do you wish to be saved by your own merits? You have not any!You would like to set up some merit of your own, but why try to set up a lie? God is the God of Truth and He cannot endurethat which is false. If ever any of us gets to Heaven, it will be by the free and undeserved mercy of God-why should you quarrelwith such terms as these? When a thing is to be given away for nothing, I would be the last man to try to run it up in price!The richest man can have it for nothing and that is a price which exactly suits the poorest. Blessed be God that salvationis all of Grace from first to last! Humble yourself to accept it "without money and without price."
"But I understand," says one, "that I am to be saved simply by believing in Christ, and I do not like that way of salvation."Why do you not like it? Salvation by the atoning Sacrifice of Christ, through the sinner simply trusting in Christ, will greatlyglorify Him. This makes the way of salvation possible to lame feet, blind eyes, deaf ears and enables poor guilty souls tofind perfect righteousness which they could never find in any other way! Humble yourself, therefore, and submit to God's planof salvation! Really, it seems to me that if a man gives anything away, he has a right to give it in his own way. And if Godgives salvation, surely He has the right to give it in His own style! And if He will give it to all who confess their needof it, and come and freely accept it because Christ has worked it out, who shall quarrel with such terms as these?
In closing, I would very affectionately press home this passage upon all whom it concerns. Listen to the Lord, Himself, asHe puts to you this solemn question, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?" Here are many of us who, longago, came to Jesus and humbled ourselves before Him, and we did not think it any degradation. I would sooner have some mento put their foot on my neck than I would have the best words of certain other men. One might be willing to sit still andbe abused by some men and then say, "It is a pleasure, even, to be noticed by such persons," while, if certain others wereto praise you, you might ask as the philosopher did of old, "What have I been doing amiss that this wretch should speak wellof me?"
Ah, poor Sinner! If you once get a view of the Lord Jesus Christ and know who He is, and what He is-if you can, by faith,perceive His beauties, you will say, "To fall at His feet is a high privilege! To submit myself to such an One as Jesus Christof Nazareth is a higher honor than to receive a peerage from an earthly sovereign." Therefore, let us go together-you whonever went and some of us who have often been-let us go together and let us cry to Christ, "Lord, receive us! We are nothingbut a mass of sin and misery! Receive us and save us, for Your mercy's sake, and unto Your name shall be the glory foreverand ever!" Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: EXODUS 10:1-20; PSALM105:26-38.
Exodus 10:1, 2. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for Ihave hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I mightshow these My signs before him: and that you may tell in the ears of your son, and of your son's son, what things I have workedin Egypt, and My signs which Ihave done among them; that you may know how that I am the Lord. God would stamp the early historyof Israel with the deep impression of His Godhead. His overthrow of the proud Egyptian king should let Israel know in thevery beginning how great a God had chosen her to be His own peculiar portion.
3. And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long will you refuseto humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Can you imagine these humble individuals, Moses andAaron, thus bearding the great king whose word could make their heads roll upon the ground? They were not afraid, for Godwas with them, and they who speak in God's place are traitors if they are not brave. The ambassadors of so great a King mustnot demean themselves by fear! Therefore right boldly said they to Pharaoh, "Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews, How longwill you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me."
4-6. Else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow will Ibring the locusts into your coast: and they shall coverthe face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped,which remains unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which grows for you out of the field: and they shall fill yourhouses, and the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither your fathers, nor your fathers'fathers have seen since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.Moses had delivered his message. He had uttered his solemn warning, so he waited no longer in the tyrant's presence.
7. And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve theLORD their God; know you not yet that Egypt is destroyed? The seven former heavy judgments had so effectually bruised Egyptthat the people began to cry against their king for his obstinacy in still farther resisting God.
8, 9. And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who arethey that shall go? And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, withour flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD. Pharaoh was inclined to make terms withMoses, but God will have no conditions with men who are rebelling against Him! An unconditional surrender is all that Godwill accept.
10, 11. Andhe said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I willlet you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evilis before you. Not so: go now you that are men, and serve the LORD; for that you did desire. And they were driven out fromPharaoh's presence. See how proud, how stout-hearted towards evil is this wicked and foolish king! When his people appealto him to yield, he only does so for a moment, and then he drives out the messengers of God in anger.
12-17. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up uponthe land ofEgypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail has left. And Moses stretched forth his rod overthe land ofEgypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning,the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land ofEgypt, and rested in all the coasts ofEgypt:very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. For they coveredthe face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit ofthe trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, throughall the land ofEgypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God,and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray you, my sin only this once, and entreat the LORD your God, that He may takeaway from me this death only. See how he is obliged to come to his knees at last? He will be soon up again, for his heartis not humbled, though he is eating his own words! An unhumbled heart is not subdued by judgments-it is apparently so-butreally it is still a heart of stone.
18-20. And he went out from Pharaoh, and entreated the LORD. And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind which took awaythe locusts, and cast them into the Red Sea. There remained not one locust in all the coasts ofEgypt. But the LORD hardenedPharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go. God kept His Divine Grace back from him, so that he relapsedinto his natural state of obduracy. Pharaoh is the great mirror of pride and obstinacy! I wonder whether we have a Pharaohhere? Now let us turn to the 105th Psalm and see further what God did against this proud Pharaoh.
Psalm 105:26-28. He sent Moses, His servant, and Aaron whom He had chosen. They showed His signs among them, and wonders in the land ofHam.He sent darkness, andmade it dark; and they rebelled not against His Word. So cowed were they by that awful darkness, thatfor a time they seemed to repent of their rebellion against the Lord.
29, 30. He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish. Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambersof their kings. Though the fish could not live, the frogs could. When good was taken away, evil came. What a strange successionof miracles was this-the fish slain, but the frogs multiplied!
31-34. He spoke, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts. He gave them hail for rain, and flamingfire in their land. He smote their vines, also, and their fig trees; and broke the trees of their coasts. He spoke, and thelocusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number There is great sublimity in this expression. God had only to speakand whole battalions of devouring locusts and caterpillars seemed to leap out of the earth, or to drop from the clouds-"Hespoke, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number."
35-37. And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground. He smote also all the firstbornin their land, the chief of all their strength. He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feebleperson among their tribes. I t was a notable miracle that, after all the oppression they had endured, they should be in sucha state of health that "there was not one feeble person among their tribes." When God makes His people march, He puts theminto marching trim!
38. Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them. Yet this was the mighty nation whose proud kinghad defied the Lord! At last they had had enough of the combat; they were glad that the people of God should retire out oftheir land and they themselves bowed low before Him. May we be taught humility of heart, so that we can sing the hymn I havechosen!-
"Sovereign Ruler, Lord of all, Prostrate at Your feet I fall. Hear, oh, hear my earnest cry! Frown not, lest I faint and die!"