The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
April 22, 1880 Israel Arrives at Sinai
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.
The , obedient to the onward movement of the , left , having tarried there some time, and journeyed on toward . Their line of march had been across open plains, over steep ascents, and through narrow defiles. Again and again, when they had crossed a sandy waste, and their further progress seemed impossible because of the huge piles of massive rocks which lay directly in their way, a narrow passage would appear, and when this was passed, another barren, uninteresting plain would open to their view.

It was through one of these deep, gravelly passes that they were now called to pass. What a scene was this! Millions of people walled in by abrupt cliffs of rocks which rise hundreds of feet on either side, following a by day, and guarded at night by a , as if the eye of God were fastened directly upon them. Christ in this wilderness school is here giving his people their first lessons in faith and trust in God.

Finally they come to a long range of mountains, upon which the cloudy pillar rests. The people encamp beneath its shadow, and while locked in slumber, the bread from Heaven gently falls upon the encampment. In the early morning, as the sun begins to brighten behind the dark ridge of eastern mountains, its soft, golden tints penetrate the dark gorges, seeming to those weary, almost discouraged travelers, like golden beams of mercy from the throne of Heaven.

Anxious eyes often turn in wonder upon the pillar of cloud hanging over the mount. The immense, rugged piles of granite rocks, with their irregular shapes and peaks, seem thrown together in the wildest confusion. The whole country seems strangely solemn to the weary travelers. They frequently contrast the verdant valleys of Egypt with these dark, and cheerless ravines, and the bustling activity of their former home, with the mountain solitude.

Here the Lord had gathered his people to himself, that he might talk with them. There was nothing here that they chose to worship, nothing to divert their minds, and nothing upon which they would fasten their affections. Everything was calculated to make man feel his nothingness in the presence of him who has “weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.”

Soon after their arrival at Sinai, Moses received a divine summons to ascend the mountain. Alone he climbed the steep and jagged rocks, placing his feet in steps made without hands; and far up on those solitary heights, God informed him that Israel was now to be taken into close and peculiar connection with himself, and that they were to become an organized church in the wilderness, and a nation whom he would govern. These are the words which he spake:–

“Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

Moses came down, and having assembled the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the message of God. When it was made known to them, they answered: “All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” Here they entered into a solemn covenant with God to accept him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of his divine authority.

Again Moses ascended, and the Lord said unto him, “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever.” When the Hebrews met with difficulties in the way, they were disposed to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and accuse them of leading the host of Israel from Egypt to destroy them. God would now honor Moses before them, that they might be led to confide in his instructions.

The Lord was about to come near to his people; they were to hear his law spoken, not by angels, but by himself; and Moses was now commanded to prepare them for that solemn event: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.” The people were required to refrain from worldly care and labor, and to possess devotional thoughts. God required them also to wash their clothes. He is no less particular now than he was then. He is a God of order, and requires his people to observe habits of strict cleanliness. Those who worship God with uncleanly garments and persons, do not come before him in an acceptable manner. He is not pleased with their lack of reverence for him, and he will not accept the service of filthy worshipers, for they insult their Maker. The Creator of the heavens and the earth considered cleanliness of so much importance that he said, “And let them wash their clothes.” Some who profess to be followers of Christ, call order and neatness, pride. They seem to consider it a virtue to leave their houses and premises in a disorderly, unimproved condition, thinking that they will thus give evidence of their disregard for temporal things, and their high estimate of spiritual things. But this same neglect and slothfulness which characterizes their business life, will be imparted to their religious life. Their religious experience will be defective. Says the apostle: “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” God requires his people to be neat and orderly. All his directions to the children of Israel were of a character to establish habits of order and cleanliness in their dress, and in their surroundings. This was essential in order for them to preserve health, and to exert a proper influence upon other nations as a people adopted by the living God.

The Lord continued his instructions to Moses: “And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it. Whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live. When the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.” This command was designed to impress the minds of this rebellious people with a profound veneration for God, the author and authority of their laws.

Three days the people were before the mount. During this time, they had ample opportunity to review their past course of murmuring and impatience, and to repent. God had given them his gracious promise that they should become a peculiar treasure unto him, on condition of obedience; but if they were disobedient he would reject them, and choose another people.

Many regard the Jewish economy as an age of darkness. They have received the erroneous idea that repentance and faith had no part in the Hebrew religion, which they claim consisted only of forms and ceremonies. But the children of Israel were saved by Christ as virtually as is the sinner of today. By faith they saw Christ in those types and shadows which pointed forward to his first advent and death, when type should meet anti-type. They rejoiced in a Saviour to come, typified by sacrificial offerings, while we rejoice in a Saviour who has come. That which was expectation to ancient Israel, is certainty to modern Israel. The world’s Redeemer was in close connection with his people then, being enshrouded in that cloudy pillar. Let us not say, then, that they had not Christ in the Jewish age. The inspired apostle writes: “By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” “esteeming the reproaches of Christ of greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”

The command given to Moses to sanctify the people, brought great responsibility upon him. He was to faithfully point out their past errors, that they might, by humiliation, fasting, and prayer, purify their hearts from the defilement of sin, as well as cleanse themselves from all outward impurities. When the children of Israel were doing all they could to remove from them all defilement of the flesh and spirit, they were doing the same work that God requires us to do if we would be brought into close communion with him. However severe and close the battle to overcome wrong habits, and sinful indulgences, it must be fought and the victory gained. After the power of the will is brought into activity, then there must be a firm reliance upon Christ. When Israel thirsted in the wilderness, and yielded to sinful murmurings, Christ was to them what he is to us, a compassionate mediator, and he pardoned their transgressions. After man has done what he can to cleanse the soul-temple, then Christ’s blood alone will avail for us, as Christ’s typified blood availed for ancient Israel.

Jenny @ 4:49 am
April 15, 1880 Journeyings of the Israelites
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

While wandering in the , the were preserved by a continual of in the falling of the . In the morning they were to go out and gather food for the day,–an for every person. They were commanded not to let any of this remain until the morning; nevertheless, some of them did attempt to keep a supply until the next day; but it bred worms and became offensive.

On the , it was found that a double quantity had been deposited, and the people gathered two omers for every person. When the rulers saw what they were doing, they hastened to acquaint of this apparent violation of his directions; but his answer was, “This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy unto the Lord. Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over, lay up for you, to be kept until the morning.” They did so, and found that it remained unchanged. And Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord. Today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.”

The Lord is no less particular now in regard to his Sabbath, than when he gave the foregoing special directions to the children of Israel. He required them to bake that which they would bake, and seethe (that is, boil) that which they would seethe, on the sixth day, preparatory to the rest of the Sabbath. Those who neglect to make suitable preparation on the sixth day for the Sabbath, violate the fourth commandment, and are transgressors of God’s law. In his instructions to the Israelites, God forbade baking and boiling upon the Sabbath. That prohibition should be regarded by all Sabbath-keepers, as a solemn injunction from Jehovah to them. The Lord would guard his people from indulging in gluttony upon the Sabbath, which he has set apart for sacred meditation and worship.

The Sabbath of the Lord is a day of rest from labor, and the diet should then be more simple, and a less quantity should be taken, than upon the six working days. Many have erred in failing to practice self-denial upon the Sabbath. They partake of full meals, as on the six laboring days, and as a consequence, their minds are beclouded, they are stupid and drowsy, and often suffer with headache. In this condition they can have no truly devotional feelings, and the blessing resting upon the Sabbath, does not prove a blessing to them. The sick and suffering require care and attention upon the Sabbath as well as upon other days of the week; and it may be necessary for their comfort to prepare warm food and drinks. In such instances, it is no violation of the fourth commandment to make them as comfortable as possible. The great Lawgiver is a God of compassion as well as of justice.

God manifested his great care and love for his people in sending them bread from heaven. “Man did eat angels’ food;” that is, food provided for them by the angels. The three-fold miracle of the manna–a double quantity on the sixth day, and none upon the seventh, and its keeping fresh through the Sabbath, while upon other days it would become unfit for use–was designed to impress the Israelites with the sacredness of the Sabbath. After they were abundantly supplied with food, they were ashamed of their unbelief and murmurings, and promised to trust the Lord for the future; but they soon forgot their promise, and failed at the first trial of their faith.

After leaving the wilderness of Sin, the children of Israel encamped in Rephidim, where there was no water. Again they distrusted the providence of God, and such was their blindness and presumption that they now came boldly up to Moses with the demand, “Give us water, that we may drink!” His patience failed not. “Why chide ye with me?” he said, “Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?” “Wherefore is this,” they cried, “that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”

Thus they began again to reason from the promptings of their own natural heart. The pillar of cloud seemed to them a fearful mystery, and as to that man Moses, who was he, and what object had he in attempting to lead them out of Egypt? They even accused him of designing to kill them and their children with privations and hardships, and then enriching himself with their possessions. But Moses prayed earnestly, and the Lord directed him to take the elders of Israel, and the rod wherewith he smote the river, and to go on before the people. And “Behold,” says the Lord, “I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb, and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.” He did so, and the water gushed out in such abundance as to satisfy their thirst.

The cloud of glory rested directly before the rock. Had that cloud been removed, the people would have been destroyed by the brightness of the glory. Christ would have been revealed in his glorious form standing by the rock. But as it was, the glory of the Lord was seen by all the congregation who stood at a distance.

Here we see the matchless mercy of Jesus Christ displayed. Instead of commanding Moses to lift up his rod and call down some terrible plague upon the wicked leaders in this murmuring, as he had done upon the Egyptian leaders, he was simply told to take some of the leading men of Israel to be eye-witnesses of a miracle which Christ himself would perform for their deliverance. 

It was Moses who “clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths,” who “brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” It was he who smote the rock, but it was Christ who stood beside him and caused the life-giving water to flow.

In their thirst, the people had tempted God, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” If God has brought us here, why does he not give us water as well as bread? That if showed criminal unbelief, and Moses feared that the judgments of God would rest upon them for their sin. And he called the name of the place Massah, temptation, and Meribah, chiding, as a memorial of their wicked murmurings.

God directed the children of Israel to encamp in that place, where there was no water, to prove them, to see if they would look to him in their distress, or murmur as they had previously done. They should have known that he would not permit those to perish with thirst, whom he had promised to take unto himself as his people. But instead of humbly entreating the Lord to provide for their necessity, they murmured against Moses, and demanded of him, water. God had been continually manifesting his power before them in a wonderful manner, to make them understand that all the benefits which they received came from him; that he could give them, or remove them, according to his own will. At times they had a full sense of this, and humbled themselves greatly before the Lord; but when brought into straight places they charged all their troubles upon Moses, as though they had left Egypt to please him.

Had not the Lord been slow to anger, and mercifully considerate of the ignorance and weakness of the children of Israel, he would have destroyed them in his wrath. He exercises the same pitying tenderness toward modern Israel. But we are less excusable than was ancient Israel. We have had every opportunity to elevate and ennoble our characters, which they did not have. We also have their history, recorded that we may shun their example of unbelief and impatient murmuring and rebellion.

Had they reformed and become obedient to God’s commandments, he would have established them in the land of Canaan, a holy and happy people, without a feeble one in all their ranks. But their lack of faith called down upon them the just displeasure of God; and so it will upon us in these last days if we do not trust God any further than we can see. We should seek God in prayer, constant, earnest, heartfelt, prayer. He will reward all who diligently seek him, for he has told us that the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous availeth much.

The children of Israel tarried some time in this pleasant spot where there was plenty of water. The Amalekites, a tribe inhabiting that part of the country through which they were passing, became greatly disturbed by this. They felt that their territory had been invaded by this immense number of people, and they now came out to make war against them. Moses therefore directed Joshua to choose out soldiers and take them on the morrow to give battle with the enemy, while he himself would stand upon an eminence near by, with the rod of God in his hand. Accordingly, the next day Moses and Aaron and Hur took their position on the top of an adjoining hill, while Joshua and his company attacked the foe.

As the battle progressed, it was found that while Moses held up his hands toward heaven, entreating help from God, Israel prevailed; but when, through weariness, they were lowered, the enemy was victorious. Aaron and Hur stayed up the arms of Moses, and so, through the rest of that day, success was with the Israelites, and at its close the enemy was put to flight.

This act of Moses, in reaching up his hands toward heaven, was to teach Israel that while they made God their trust, and exalted his throne, he would fight for them, and subdue their enemies. But when they should let go their hold upon his strength, and should trust to their own power, they would be even weaker than those who had not the knowledge of God, and their enemies would prevail against them. Then “Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi; for he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” If the children of Israel had not murmured against the Lord, he would not have suffered their enemies to make war with them. 

Before Moses reached Egypt on his mission to deliver the Israelites, he had, as we have seen, sent his wife Zipporah and her sons back to her father’s house. When Jethro heard of the deliverance of the Hebrews, he visited Moses in the wilderness, and brought to him his wife and children. On learning of their approach, the great leader went out to welcome them, and after the first greetings and salutations had been exchanged, he conducted them to his tent. Here he related all the wonderful dealings of God with Israel. Jethro rejoiced, and blessed the Lord in words that show the devoutness of his heart, and having offered sacrifices to God, he made a feast to the elders of Israel.

Jethro’s discerning eye soon saw that the burdens upon Moses were very great, as the people brought all their matters of difficulty to him, and he instructed them in regard to the statutes and law of God. He therefore counseled Moses to select proper persons and put them as rulers over thousands, also others over hundreds, and again others over tens. The men chosen for these important positions were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” The most difficult cases were to be brought before Moses, who was to be the people, said Jethro, “to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God. And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.”

This advice was followed, and not only was Moses relieved of too heavy a burden, but more perfect order was established among the people. “And Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land.”

The leader of Israel was not above receiving instruction from his father-in-law. The Lord has greatly exalted Moses, and had wrought wonders by his hand; yet he did not conclude that because God had chosen him to instruct others, he needed not to be instructed, He gladly listened to the suggestions of Jethro, and adopted his plan as a wise arrangement.

Jenny @ 4:43 am
April 8, 1880 Journeyings of the Israelites
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

After leaving the , the , guided by the , journeyed through the . Although the scenery around them was most dreary, composed of solemn looking destitute of , , and the sea stretching far away behind them, its banks strewn with the bodies of their enemies, they were in the consciousness of their , and for a time every thought of was hushed.

But for three days they journeyed without finding any water to quench their thirst, having that only which they had been commanded to take in their vessels. and were acquainted with this route, and knew that after traveling several days in the way in which they were then going they would find only bitter water. With what intense anxiety, therefore, mingled with forebodings, did they watch the leading of the pillar of cloud. And how the heart of Moses ached as the people gave the glad shout, Water! water! and it was echoed all along the line. Men, women, and children in joyous haste rush to the water, when lo, what a moan of anguish breaks forth from that vast company,–the water is bitter.

In their grief and disappointment, they reproach Moses for having led them in such a way, and do not consider that the Divine Presence in that mysterious cloud had been leading Moses and Aaron as well as themselves. Filled with sorrow as he saw the suffering of the people, Moses did that which the people should have done: he prayed earnestly to God, and he did not cry in vain. The Lord showed him a tree to which had been imparted healing properties, so that on its being cast into the fountain, the water became pleasant to the taste.

God here made a covenant with his people, through their leader:–If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

From Marah the people journeyed to Elim where they found “twelve wells of water and three-score and ten palm trees.” In this delightful spot they remained several days before entering the wilderness of sin. When they had been a month away from Egypt, they made their first encampment in this wilderness. Their store of provisions had now begun to fail. There was scanty herbage in the wilderness and their flocks also were fast diminishing. Famine seemed to be staring them in the face, and as they followed the cloudy pillar over the desert wastes, doubts filled their hearts, and again they murmured, even the rulers and elders of the people joined in complaining against the leaders of God’s appointment: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full! for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” The children of Israel seemed to possess an evil heart of unbelief. They were unwilling to endure hardships in the wilderness. When they met with difficulties, they would regard them as insurmountable obstacles. Their confidence would fail, and they would see nothing before them but death.

They had not really suffered the pangs of hunger. They had food for the present necessities, but they feared for the future. They could not see how the hosts of Israel were to subsist, in their long travels through the wilderness; and in their unbelief they saw their children famishing. The Lord was willing that their supply of food should be cut short, and that they should meet with difficulties, that their hearts might turn to Him who had hitherto delivered them. He was ready to be to them a present help. If, in their want, they would call upon him, he would manifest to them tokens of his love and continual care. But they were unwilling to trust the Lord any further than they could witness before their eyes the continual evidences of his power. If they had possessed true faith and a firm confidence in God, inconveniences and obstacles, or even real suffering, would have been cheerfully borne, after the Lord had wrought in such a wonderful manner for their deliverance from bondage.

The Lord had promised that if they would obey his commandments no disease should rest upon them, and it was criminal unbelief in them to anticipate that themselves and children might die of hunger. They had suffered greatly in Egypt by being overtaxed with labor. Their children had been put to death, and in answer to their prayers of anguish, God had mercifully delivered them. He had promised to be their God, to take them to himself as a people, and to lead them to a large and good land. But they were ready to faint at any suffering they should have to endure in the way to that land. They had suffered much while in bondage to the Egyptians, but now they could not endure hardships in the service of God. They were ready to yield to gloomy doubts, and to sink in discouragement when they were tried.

The sinful course of the Israelites is recorded as a warning to the people of God now upon the earth. Many look back to them, and marvel at their unbelief and continual murmurings, after the Lord had given them such repeated evidence of his love and care. They think that they would not have proved so ungrateful. But some who thus think, murmur and repine at things of far less consequence. They do not know themselves. God frequently proves them, and tries their faith in small things; and they endure the trial no better than did ancient Israel.

Many have then present wants supplied, yet they will not trust God for the future. They manifest unbelief, and sink into despondency and gloom. Some are in continual trouble lest they shall come to want, and their children suffer. When difficulties arise, or when they are brought into strait places–when their faith and their love to God are tested–they shrink from the trial, and murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Their love does not prove pure and perfect, to bear all things. The faith of the people of the God of Heaven should be strong, active, and enduring–the substance of things hoped for. The language of such will be, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name; for he hath dealt bountifully with me. Self-denial is considered by some to be real suffering. Depraved appetites are indulged. And a restraint upon the unhealthy appetite would lead even many professed Christians now to start back, as though actual starvation would be the consequence of a plain diet. And, like the children of Israel, they would accept slavery, diseased bodies, and even death, rather than to be deprived of some hurtful indulgence. Bread and water is all that is promised to the remnant in the time of trouble.

God was not unmindful of the wants of his people, and in his wisdom he provided the needed supply. He said to their leaders; “I will rain bread from Heaven for you.” The Lord designed to prove them, and by indulgence through miraculous provision for their wants to test them to see whether they would keep his commandments or no. The Lord promised to supply them through Moses with abundance of food. By his power he would give them flesh to eat in the evening and in the morning bread in abundance. Moses told them that their murmurings were not against him, but against the Lord. He that was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud heard all their murmurings and bitter complaints. While Aaron was speaking to the congregation there was a remarkable change in that pillar of cloud.

The Lord designed to give the Israelites evidences of his presence that they might be held in restraint and subordination as they knew the presence of the Lord, not merely the man Moses, was guiding them. Evidences of this kind were the books of knowledge opened to their senses that they should learn in regard to God, and his fear be before them. The greatest changes were to be wrought in the characters of these demoralized people. God was working by his power to lift them up through a knowledge of himself. Thus a visible manifestation of the glory of God was given them; a splendor which they had never witnessed, which symbolized the Divine presence. While the people were greatly terrified at this revelation of God, and feared his judgments, an audible voice came from the glory commanding Moses and Aaron to draw near to the cloudy pillar in which his glory was manifested. And the Lord talked with Moses and Aaron, and the Israelites heard his voice, saying that he had heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, and repeated his promise of flesh in the morning and bread in the evening. There God gave them evidence that he would supply their necessities, protect and preserve them, if they would be obedient to his commandments. In the evening the quails covered the ground about the camp. And in the morning the ground was covered with a strange substance, in small, white grains of the size of coriander seed, hard, and pleasant to the taste. The children of Israel knew not what it was, so they called it manna, which means, What is it? Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, gather of it every man, according to his eating, an omer for every man according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.”

The people gathered the manna, and found that there was a sufficiency for the entire company. They “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” We are also told that “the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

According to the direction of Moses they were to gather an omer (about five pints) for every person; and they were not to leave of it until the morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but what they laid by bred worms and became offensive. The supply for each day was to be gathered each morning; for as the heat of the sun increased, the substance melted and disappeared.

Jenny @ 4:37 am
April 1, 1880 Israel Leaves Egypt
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

The had followed the directions given them of God; and while the was passing from house to house among the , they were all ready for their journey, and waiting for the rebellious king, and his great men to bid them go. “At , there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” All the in the land, “from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle,” had been smitten by the . When the Egyptians had seen the great preparations made by the people of God for that dreadful night, they had mocked at their hopes, and ridiculed the token of blood upon their door-posts. But now there was wailing throughout all Egypt. Pharaoh remembered his proud boast, “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.” His haughty pride was now humbled. He called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and 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.” He hoped that a blessing from God would protect him from the further effects of that dreadful plague. The officers of the king, and the people, united in imploring the Israelites to be gone, for, they said. “We be all dead men.”

“And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment. And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required; and they spoiled the Egyptians.”

The Lord revealed this to Abraham about four hundred years before it was fulfilled: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”

Although the Israelites left Egypt in haste, yet they were arranged in order, being divided into companies, with a leader for each. A “mixed multitude” accompanied them, and “flocks and herds, even very much cattle.” The latter were the property of the Israelites, who had never sold their possessions to the king. Jacob and his sons had brought their flocks and herds with them to Egypt, where they had greatly increased. The children of Israel also had become exceedingly numerous, and it was a vast company that at the dawn of day were on their way from the land of bondage.

“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea.” “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him; for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

The Lord knew that his people would meet with opposition, should they attempt to pass through the land of the Philistines. The latter would regard the Israelites as fugitives escaping from their rightful masters, and would make war upon them. In bringing them by the way of the Red Sea, the Lord revealed himself a compassionate God, as well as a God of judgment. He informed Moses that Pharaoh would pursue them, and he directed him just where to encamp before the sea. He told Moses that he would be honored before Pharaoh and all his host.

After the Hebrews had departed from Egypt, the counselors of Pharaoh informed him that his bondmen had fled, and would never return to serve him again. The Egyptians regretted that they had been so foolish as to think the death of their first-born was the result of the power of God. In bitterness they asked of one another, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” It was a great loss to be deprived of the service of these laborers, and notwithstanding all that the Egyptians had suffered from the judgments of God, they were so hardened by their continual rebellion that they decided to pursue the Israelites and bring them back by force.

Pharaoh prepared a well-equipped army, composed of the priests of their idol gods, and of the rulers, and of all the great men of his kingdom. They thought if their priests accompanied them, they would be more sure of success. The most mighty of Egypt were selected, that they might intimidate the Israelites with the grand display of their power and greatness. They thought that when the news should reach other nations, that they were compelled to yield to the power of the God of Israel, whom they had despised, they would be looked upon with derision. But if they should go with great pomp, and bring Israel back by force, they would redeem their glory, and would also have the service of their bondmen again.

On the third day of their journey, the Hebrews encamped by the Red Sea, whose waters presented a seemingly impassable barrier before them, while on the south a rugged mountain obstructed their further progress. Suddenly they beheld in the distance the flashing armor, waving banners, and moving chariots of a great army. As they drew nearer, the hosts of Egypt were seen in full pursuit. Terror filled the hearts of Israel. Over all the encampment rose a tumultuous sound. Some cried unto the Lord, but far the greater part hastened to Moses with their complaints:–

“Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? for it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”

Moses was greatly troubled because his people were so wanting in faith, especially as they had repeatedly witnessed the manifestations of the power of God in their favor. He felt grieved that they should charge upon him the dangers and difficulties of their position, when he had simply followed the express commands of God. True, they were in a place from which there was no possibility of release unless God himself interposed to save them; but having been brought there in obedience to divine commands, Moses felt no fear of the consequences. His calm and assuring reply to the people was,

“Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

It was not an easy thing to hold the hosts of Israel in waiting before the Lord. They lacked discipline and self-control. Impressed by the horrors of their situation, they became violent and unreasonable. They expected speedily to fall into the hands of their oppressors, and their wailings and recriminations were loud and deep.

The wonderful pillar of cloud which had accompanied them in their wanderings and served to protect them from the fervid rays of the sun, had moved grandly before them all day, subject neither to sunshine nor storm, and at night it had become a pillar of fire to light them on their way. They had followed it as the signal of God to go forward; but now they questioned among themselves if it might not be the shadow of some terrible calamity that was about to befall them, for had it not led them on the wrong side of the mountain, into a impassable way? Thus the angel of God appeared to their deluded minds as the harbinger of disaster.

But now, as the Egyptian host approaches them, expecting to make them an easy prey, the cloudy column rises majestically into the heavens, passes over the Israelites, and descends between them and the armies of Egypt. A wall of darkness interposes between the pursued and their pursuers. The Egyptians can no longer discern the camp of the Hebrews, and are forced to halt. But as the darkness of night deepens, the wall of cloud becomes a great light to the Hebrews, illuminating the whole camp with the radiance of day.

Then hope came to the hearts of Israel that they might yet be delivered. And Moses lifted up his voice unto the Lord. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward. But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”

Then Moses, obedient to the divine command, stretched out his rod, the waters parted and Israel went into the midst of the sea, upon dry ground, while the waters stood like congealed walls on either side. The light from God’s pillar of fire shone upon the foam-capped billows, and lit the road that was cut like a mighty furrow through the waters of the Red Sea, and was lost in the obscurity of the farther shore.

All night long sounded the tramping of the hosts of Israel, but the cloud hid them from the sight of their enemies. The Egyptians, weary with their hasty march, had seen the Hebrews only a short distance before them, and as there seemed to be no possibility of escape, they decided to take a night’s rest, and make an easy capture in the morning. The night was intensely dark, the clouds seemed to encompass them like some tangible substance. Deep sleep fell upon the camp, even the sentinels slumbered at their posts.

At last a ringing blast arouses the army! The cloud is passing on! The Hebrews are moving! Voices and the sound of marching come from toward the sea. It is still so dark they cannot discern the escaping people, but the command is given to make ready for the pursuit. The clattering of arms, and the roll of chariots is heard, the marshalling of the captains, and the neighing of the steeds. At length the line of march is formed and they press on through the obscurity, in the direction of the escaping multitude.

In the darkness and confusion, they rush on in their pursuit, not knowing that they have entered upon the bed of the sea, and are hemmed in on either hand by beetling walls of water. They long for the mist and darkness to pass away, and reveal to them the Hebrews and their own whereabouts. The wheels of the chariots sink deep into the soft sand, the horses become entangled and unruly, and angels of God go through the host and remove their chariot wheels. Confusion prevails, yet they press on feeling sure of victory.

At last the mysterious cloud changes to a pillar of fire before their astonished eyes. The thunders peal, and the lightnings flash, waves roll about them, and fear takes possession of their hearts. Amid the terror and confusion the lurid light reveals to the amazed Egyptians the terrible waters massed up on the right hand and on the left. They see the broad path that the Lord has made for his people across the shining sands of the sea, and behold triumphant Israel safe on the farther shore.

Confusion and dismay seizes them. Amid the wrath of the elements, in which they hear the voice of an angry God, they endeavor to retrace their steps and fly to the shore they have quitted. But Moses stretches out his rod, and the piled up waters, hissing, roaring, and eager for their prey, rush together, and swallow the entire Egyptian host in their black depths.

As the Hebrews witnessed the marvelous work of God in the destruction of the Egyptians, they united in an inspired song of lofty eloquence and grateful praise. Miriam, the sister of Moses, a prophetess, led the women in music.

God in his providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastnesses, with the Red Sea before them, that he might work out their deliverance and forever rid them of their enemies. He might have saved them in any other way, but he chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in him. 

There are times when the Christian life seems beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before, and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly above all discouragements, “Go forward!” We should obey this command, let the result be what it may, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. 

The Hebrews were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when Moses bade them advance, if they had refused to move nearer to the Red Sea, God would never have opened the path for them. In marching down to the very water, they showed that they had faith in the word of God, as spoken by the man Moses. They did all that was in their power to do, and then the Mighty One of Israel performed his part and divided the waters to make a path for their feet. 

The clouds that gather about our way will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Unbelief says, We can never surmount these obstructions, let us wait until they are removed, and we can see our way clearly. But faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things. Obedience towards God is sure to bring the victory. Through faith only can we reach Heaven.

There is a great similarity between our history and that of the children of Israel. God led his people from Egypt into the wilderness, where they could keep his law and obey his voice. The Egyptians, who had no regard for the Lord, were encamped close by them; yet, what was to them a great flood of light, illuminating the whole camp, and shedding brightness upon the path before them, was to the hosts of Pharaoh a wall of clouds, making blacker the darkness of night. 

So, at this time, there is a people whom God has made the repository of his law. To those who obey them, the commandments of God are as a pillar of fire, lighting and leading the way to eternal salvation. But unto those who disregard them, they are as the clouds of night. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Better than all other knowledge is an understanding of the word of God. In keeping his commandments there is great reward, and no earthly inducements should cause the Christian to waver for a moment in his allegiance. Riches, honor, and worldly pomp are but as dross that shall perish before the fire of God’s wrath.

The voice of the Lord bidding his faithful ones “Go forward,” frequently tries their faith to the uttermost. But if they should defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty was removed from their understanding, and there remained no risk of failure or defeat, they would never move on at all. Those who think it impossible for them to yield to the will of God and have faith in his promises until all is made clear and plain before them, will never yield at all. Faith is not certainty of knowledge, it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To obey the commandments of God is the only way to obtain his favor. “Go forward,” should be the Christian’s watchword.

Pharaoh, who would not acknowledge God and bow to his authority, had delighted to show his power as ruler over those whom he could control. Moses had declared to the haughty monarch, that God, whom he pretended not to know, would compel him to yield to his claims, and acknowledge his authority, as supreme ruler.

In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the Lord plainly showed his distinguished mercy to his people, before all the Egyptians. He saw fit to execute his judgments upon Pharaoh, that he might know by sad experience, since he would not otherwise be convinced, that the power of God was superior to all other. That his name might be declared throughout all the earth, he would give proof to all nations of his divine power and justice. It was the design of God that these manifestations should strengthen the faith of his people, and that their posterity should steadfastly worship Him alone who had wrought such merciful wonders in their behalf.

It had been very hard for the Egyptian monarch and a proud and idolatrous people to bow to the requirements of the God of Heaven. While under the most grievous affliction the haughty king would yield a little, but when the scourge was removed he would take back all he had granted. Thus, plague after plague was brought upon Egypt, and he yielded only while he was compelled by the dreadful visitations of God’s wrath. The king even persisted in his rebellion after Egypt had been ruined. Moses and Aaron related to him the nature and effect of each plague, before it came, that it might not be said to have happened by chance. He saw these plagues come, exactly as he was told they would come; yet he would not yield. At first he would only grant the Israelites permission to sacrifice to God in the land of Egypt. After Egypt had suffered by God’s wrath, he consented that the men alone should go; and when the land had been nearly destroyed by the plague of locusts, he granted that the women and children might go also, but still refused to allow them to take their cattle. It was then that Moses warned the king that the Lord would slay the first-born.

Every plague had come a little closer, and had been more severe than the preceding; and the last was to be more dreadful than any before it. But Pharaoh humbled not himself. And although, when the first-born of Egypt lay dead in every house, the rebellious monarch relinquished his grasp upon his bondmen, yet, after his people had buried their dead, and felt assured that the judgments had ceased, he dared once more to array himself against Jehovah. His last act of rebellion, in pursuing the hosts of Israel to the Red Sea, filled up the measure of his iniquity. This place was appointed for the closing display of the power of God before the infatuated Egyptians. Then were fulfilled the words which the Lord spake to Moses, “And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord.” The judgment of God was manifested in the utter destruction of the Egyptian host.

Jenny @ 8:30 pm