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—JULY 13.—EXODUS 2:11-25.—
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall
inherit the earth."—Matthew 5:5 .
THE deliberateness of Divine providence often astounds us. Our lives are so brief, our limitations so many, that any plans we may have must be pushed to completion as rapidly as we are able. But not so with the Almighty, who is "from everlasting to everlasting God." He has unlimited time at His disposal, and accordingly is working out His sovereign will with great deliberation. It is a comfort to His people to be assured that He knew the end from the beginning, and is working all things according to the counsel of His own will. Bible Students are being blessed in proportion as they are learning that the Divine will is always a good will—just, wise and loving.
The education of Moses is briefly summed up in the Scriptures in the statement that "he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." Legend tells us something of his schooling in the philosophies of that time, and declares that he was a successful Egyptian general; but it is for us to follow the Bible account. The time was nearing when God intended to bring the Israelites out of Egypt into the land which He had promised Abraham should be theirs—a pictorial illustration of the still more [R5252 : page 170] wonderful deliverance by the greater than Moses, which is now nearing.
God's providences may be noted in respect to the experiences of Moses, who is credited by the Lord with having been "the meekest man in all the earth." God wanted a meek man for the important position which He intended Moses to fill. And the lessons and experiences given to Moses helped to make him meek. Who cannot see that, if he had been proud and arrogant, he would have been unfit for the duties and responsibilities which devolved upon him as the leader of his people out of Egypt to the borders of Canaan? Perhaps no man in the world had a more difficult task than that represented in those forty years of Moses' experience. We may be sure that he was prepared for the ordeal only by the experiences of the eighty years of his life which preceded the Exodus.
The adopted son of the princess of Egypt, Moses must have been a court favorite, and in danger of cultivating pride and arrogance. As an offset to this, he had continually before him the fact that his features were Jewish, and that thus every one had knowledge of his identity with the despised and oppressed people. The tendency of this would naturally be toward one of two courses: Either he would seek to ignore the Hebrews and to become more and more identified with the Egyptians, or he would exercise faith in the special promises of which his people were heirs as children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This was perhaps his first test. Would he prove loyal to God and to those Divine promises relating to the future? Would his faith be equal to the task of casting in his lot with the enslaved and oppressed people, and thus losing caste with Pharaoh, his family and all the Egyptians of influence? St. Paul notes that Moses was a victor in respect to these matters. He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the riches and honors which might have been his as an adopted member of the royal family. (Hebrews 11:24-26.) We may well surmise that if he had taken side with the Egyptians, he might even have become the reigning Pharaoh.
To Moses the Promise which God made to Abraham, and repeated to Isaac and to Jacob, and which still waits its fulfilment, was more to be desired than all the riches and honors of earth. Moses stood well this test in respect to his faith and loyalty. He would be on God's side at any cost! Similarly, there have always been tests, both to the Natural Israelites and to the Spiritual Israelites, and these tests are still applied in our day. The world [R5252 : page 171] holds out inducements to the Jew to abandon his covenant relationship with God, as it also holds out inducements to the Spiritual Israelite to abandon his spiritual relationship with God.
It is still true that the friendship of the world means enmity with God, and the friendship with God means the enmity of the world, so widely different and opposed is the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light and everything related thereto. It is still as true today as in Moses' time that "Whosoever will live godly [in this present time] shall suffer persecution." But it shall not always be so. A great change is impending. Those who love righteousness will be exalted, blessed, while those who love sin will be restrained and punished.
Trusting in the Lord's Promise, Moses believed that the time had come for the deliverance of the Israelites from their bondage. He knew well of his miraculous preservation, and had the assurance of God's Promise that this signified that God had a special work for him to do. He was ready and anxious to begin that work. He knew not of his own unreadiness. Nothing was further from his thought than that he would require forty years more of special schooling. Supposing that the time had come to strike for liberty, he was on the alert. He would inspire his people with confidence in him. They should know that although he was educated in the court of Pharaoh, his sympathies were with them, and that he could be relied upon as their leader.
An occasion to show his zeal for his brethren came when he saw an Egyptian abusing one of them unjustly. He threw himself into the conflict. The Egyptian was killed in the scuffle. The Israelite was delivered. Moses perceived that none of the Egyptians knew of the matter, so he buried the victim in the sand. He doubted not that his brethren would quietly pass the word along that he was their friend and defender, and that thus they would look to him with confidence as their leader, when God's providence would open the door for them to leave Egypt. But all these dreams faded when, on the following day, he perceived that there was no such loyalty among his brethren as he had expected, and that instead of being his followers they were ready to deliver him to the Egyptian authorities for having rendered assistance to one of their race.
Thoroughly discouraged and fearing for his life, Moses fled to the wilderness of Midian. It looked as though all of his loyalty and all of his forty years of education and development had gone to waste. He had supposed that he was being prepared to be the captain of the Lord's host and to lead it forth. In one hour all of his hopes were dashed and he was a fugitive, fearing to show his face in the palace amongst the Egyptians or amongst those of his own race. "A wasted life," was undoubtedly his comment—forty years spent in cherishing hopes and ambitions never to be realized.
As the fugitive sat upon the casing of a well, shepherds brought their flocks to it for water. Amongst the sheep-tenders were Jethro's daughters, and opposing them some ungallant shepherds, who not only did not help, but hindered them. Moses, full of the instinct of justice, not only took their part, but helped by drawing water for their flocks, and incidentally walked with them toward their home. Jethro was appreciative of the stranger, who did not at the time disclose his identity. He who was learned in all the learning of the Egyptians, and who had been one of the generals of Egypt, was now thoroughly crestfallen, meek, tractable, teachable.
Moses married one of Jethro's daughters, and continued to be a humble shepherd for forty years. He did not at the time understand the Lord's providence in his affairs, but he was all those years learning a most important lesson of meekness, of full submission to the Divine will. When the lesson had been learned, God's time had come to put His thus doubly educated servant into a most important place, for which he would have never been qualified without just such experiences.
God's dealings with Moses illustrate the general principles of His dealing with all those of whom He would make special servants prepared for special services. Our Lord Jesus in the Heavenly courts testified His loyalty and fidelity to the Almighty. As a means toward his further exaltation the opportunity was given Him of becoming the Savior of mankind, and thus of carrying out the Divine Program. He gladly responded. "Although He was a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." (Hebrews 5:8.) And the Apostle declares that because of this demonstration of His full submission to the Father's will "unto death, even the death of the cross," therefore God highly exalted Him in His resurrection, not only as high as He was before, but higher—"far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named."—Philippians 2:9-11; Ephesians 1:20-23; I Peter 3:22.
Similarly, God during this Gospel Age is calling out of the world a saintly company, a Little Flock, to be associated with Jesus in His great work of the future, the blessing of all the families of the earth, as promised by God to Abraham, saying, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Those responsive to this special invitation are required to demonstrate their loyalty to God, "through evil report and through good report—as deceivers and yet true." At times these saintly ones have even been branded, as was St. Paul, "the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things."—I Corinthians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 6:8.
These insults came frequently from poor, blinded slaves of sin, and at other times, the Bible says, from those who are "willingly ignorant." But, nevertheless, all these sons of God whom He is now receiving as members of the Royal Priesthood to be members of the Bride class, must be tested in respect to their humility—their submissiveness to the Divine will. Only those who learn this lesson and become copies of God's dear Son (Romans 8:29), will be "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light"—prepared for the glory, honor, immortality, and the Divine nature which God has promised to His faithful, elect Church.
"In pastures green?
Not always; sometimes He
Who knoweth best in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
Out of the sunshine, warm and soft and bright,
Out of the sunshine into darkest night;
I oft would faint with terror and with fright,
Only for this—I know He holds my hand;
So, whether in the green or desert land,
I trust, although I may not understand.
"And by still waters?
No, not always so;
Ofttimes the heavy tempests round me blow,
And o'er my soul the waves and billows go.
But when the storm beats loudest, and I cry
Aloud for help, the Master standeth by,
And whispers to my soul, 'Lo, it is I!'
Above the tempest wild I hear Him say,
'Beyond this darkness lies the perfect day;
In every path of thine I lead the way.'"