1 Then Yahweh 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.
The ways of providence are plainly illustrated in several minor elements of the work of Moses. First, there is the man on the throne of Egypt at the time when Moses was instructed to demand the liberation of Israel. A good deal depended upon the character of this man.
If he had been a reasonable, pliable man, he might have complied with the demand too soon for the work to be done. It was necessary that he should refuse, and that he should refuse obstinately many times, because the liberation of Israel was only one of several things that had to be accomplished by the work entrusted to the hand of Moses.
Had the liberation of Israel been the only object aimed at, a single day's destroying judgment on the Egyptians would have sufficed, after the example of Sennacherib's army decimated in a single night in the days of Hezekiah. But a higher object was aimed at, both as regarded Israel, the Egyptians, the world at large, and posterity. This object is clearly defined several times in the course of the narrative. It is plainly exhibited in this simple statement:
"THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED THROUGHOUT ALL THE EARTH" (Exodus 9:16).
Israel was sunk in idolatry...If Israel was bad, the Egyptians were worse: the Canaanitish nations were reeking in iniquity, and the world at large lay in darkness. Left to itself, this state of things must have resulted in the establishment of incorrigible barbarism. The purpose of God (which was declared to Moses), that ultimately He would fill the earth with His glory (Numbers 14:21), required that a beginning should be made then, in the exhibition of His power in a way not to be mistaken.
To allow of this exhibition, it was needful there should be a plain issue between God and man, and resistance on the part of man, and an ensuing struggle sufficiently prolonged and diversified to exclude the possibility of doubt as to the nature of the operations performed.
Ways of Providence Ch 10
2 And Elohim spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Yahweh
3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of Elohim Almighty, but by my name Yahweh was I not known to them.
The God of Abraham was about to begin the fulfilment of the covenant in that part of it which related to "the fourth generation" of the natural seed. He was therefore in relation to Israel about to become known as the performer of His word. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew Him as Almighty; but as they had died without receiving the promises covenanted, they knew Him not as Yahweh: yet as Yahweh is now the name of Abraham's God unto all generations, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will know Him as set forth in his memorial, when they rise from the dead. He will then be Yahweh to them.
Elpis Israel 2.4.
4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
A babe, though born of Israelites, was unclean (Job 14:4; 25:4), which is the same thing as unholy, until its circumcision, and after presentation to the Lord.
"Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord."
This was the law, but how great the number so called were wicked men, Israel's history shows abundantly. Some, however, desired to keep the law. They grew up "blameless" (Phil. 3:6), observing all the precepts of the decalogue, conforming to the temple worship, and abstaining from contact with all legally unclean and interdicted things. This was a man's own righteousness acquired by working according to the law (Phil. 3:9).
This was the righteousness Israel followed after, which they sought to establish in opposition to the righteousness Paul preached (Rom. 9:31; 10:3), and styled by the prophets "filthy rags." Many such men were ignorant. They had the token of the covenant in their flesh, but they were "children in whom was no faith," and "without faith it is impossible to please God."
Thus an Israelite might be legally blameless, but if without faith, his legal righteousness could entitle him to no more than length of days in the land which the Lord had given His people. The twelve tribes inherited the land under the law of Moses, which could confer upon their generations only a temporal life interest in the country.
Could it have given them an everlasting inheritance therein, the nation, whatever its misdeeds, would not have been expelled, and its citizens might have attained to everlasting life as a recompense for keeping the law.
The transgressions of Israel consummated in their rejection of the gospel of the kingdom, would doubtless have brought down heaven's judgments upon them, which would have ultimated in the triumph of the truth; but they would not have been punished in the way they have, by an expulsion from their country, if the word spoken by angels in the hand of Moses, could have conferred an everlasting title to it.
The Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained
9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
The disconsolate Israelites... were in no mood to listen
There is no artificial glow such as would have characterised a patriotic fictitious narration - no heroic confidence of the people; no sublime resignation in the prospect of Divine interference; no magnificent attitudinising - not even on the part of Moses; for Moses himself, rebuffed by the heartless reception of this message by the people...
And shall we say that it was unbefitting divine wisdom that Israel's afflictions should be aggravated, as the first result of divine interposition on their behalf? On the contrary, it accentuated the situation; it gave acuteness to the crisis; it deepened and sharpened Israel's interest in the issue at stake; it chased away all indifference, and thoroughly roused the solicitude both of Israel and the Egyptians in the controversy about to be debated with stupendous power. It was a fitting preparation for the display of Omnipotence in exhibition of Yahweh's mighty name.
Visible Hand of God Ch 11