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though Israel knew that the Lord had said, “ I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgment; I am the Lord.” But, alas! Israel had learned to commit fornication in Egypt; and they practised the lesson in the wilderness, and ever after. For when the Lord presents before them their course, in the days of Ezekiel, in the parable of the two lewd women, He says, “they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth.” The infidelities of Judah and Israel were multiplied in their after history; but it was only a fruit of their not having left their whoredoms brought from Egypt.”
On their entrance to the land under the leadership of Joshua, this is noticed though in grace, by the Lord. After the people were circumcised anew, “the Lord said unto Joshua, this day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.” And nothing but the power of circumcision can keep the heart of the saint separate from the world now; for if the flesh be allowed, the world at once has an open
door. But, in another form, Egypt still was Israel's snare, after their settlement in the land. Outward weakness was the designed characteristic of Israel's polity by Jehovah; that the people might know that “they got not the land in possession by their own sword; neither did their own arm (at any time) save them; but Thy right hand and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour toward them.” And the song
should have been ever heard in their midst, “ Thou art my King, O God; command deliverances for Jacob. Through Thee will we push down our enemies; through Thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save
But Thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast
The father of the man that blasphemed the name of the Lord in the camp of Israel was an Egyptian (Levit. xxiv), Hagar also, Abram's bondmaid, was an Egyptian.
put them to shame that hated us. In God we boast all the day long, and praise Thy name for ever.”
It was for this intent that they were forbidden to multiply horses, and that three times a year their coasts were to be left entirely unguarded; while all their males were brought together in solemn assembly, to Jerusalem, before the Lord. But Egypt was celebrated for its horses and chariots; and this is noticed in the Lord's prohibition to the king," he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you ye shall henceforth return no more that way.” Their redemption from Egypt and all its power should have been final; nor should any thing have tempted them to return. But, in the reign of Solomon, we find that horses were one chief article of commerce with Egypt. In 1 Kings, x. 28, 29, it is recorded that Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt:---"And a
. chariot came up
and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for an hundred and fifty.” While in the days of Isaiah, the Lord complains, amongst other tokens of departure from himself, that their land also is full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots." But in the following chapter of the book of Kings, there is opened a still further effect of Solomon's affinity with Egypt. This wisest of men was corrupted byit.
King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh. ..... For it came to pass when Solomon was old that his wives turned away his heart after other Gods.” How near is the neighbourhood, and how subtle the connection of the flesh," the world, and the devil! And how instructive is the lesson, that as to Israel, the first enemy that invaded their land after the death of Solomon was Shishak king of Egypt! “ It came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; and he took
the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house: he even took away
all: and he took away all the shields of silver and gold which Solomon had made." What force do these historical notices give to that statute of the kingdom (already partly
quoted)" he shall not multiply wives to himself that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold!" And how full is the illustration of a part of the passage which is the subject of the present comment, " Yet he also is wise and will bring evil, and will not call back his words !"
There may be the silver and the gold, and the tapestry, and carved work, and fine linen of Egypt”—but it is Egypt still! There may be its wisdom, and policy, and power;
its horses and chariots—but still the word of the Lord remains in all its force, “ Woe to them that go
6 down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses and trust in chariots because they are many; and on horsemen because they are very strong; .... now the Egyptians are men and not God; and their horses flesh and not spirit.” And as a ground of trust to Israel, Egypt's character is most accurately given by a heathen man. “ Now behold thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it; so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to ALL that trust on him.” And this judgment is entirely confirmed by the Lord, through Ezekiel, who says, “ And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed, to the house of Israel. When they took hold of thee by the hand, thou didst break and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand." Nor should this instructive warning to Israel be allowed to lapse while the saint has this significant note of divine wisdom concerning the world through which he is passing, that it is “the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified !” Heaven-bestowed names and titles are more unchanging, and more significant, than our careless hearts are wont to conceive. But finally, as to Egypt, when God speaks of it in all its glory, he speaks of it only as “the tabernacles of Ham!" all the first-born of Egypt: the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham!” And it may be said, that the example of Moses gives the only proper action of faith towards it. “By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not
ir He smote
fearing the wrath of the king." He esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”
All this recorded testimony to Israel about Egypt gives especial pungency to the denunciation of the prophet;
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God ; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down and they all shall fail together” (Isaiah, xxxi. 1–3).
The special and instructive contrasts here, are “Men" and “God;” and “flesh” and “spirit.” Man with his horses, and chariots, and horsemen presenting an array of strength, resistless in the estimation of the natural mind; but “when the LORD shall stretch out his hand both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.” How deep is this infatuation of a people whose privilege and strength is thus presented to the eye of faith, that they should look to Egypt or horses and chariots as their strength!
“ There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the foun. tain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee ; and thou shalt tread upon their high places." (Deuteronomy, xxxiii. 26-29).
This was Israel's folly, to turn trom God and his Spirit to trust in Egypt and in an arm of flesh, because they walked as men.
But what is this to the church's folly that is associated with her head in heaven, and is blessed with the ever-abiding presence of the Holy Ghost on earth; and has God for her, and the infinite treasures of his grace as her resource; and Eternal glory before her; when she is found turning to seek the world's friendship, and practically trusts in the flesh and in carnal wisdom for her guidance and help! The Lord teach our hearts more the force of that word, “If ye then be risen with Christ!” And lead us to beware of following the course of“ Demas," of whom the apostle says, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” 66 If GOD be for us who can be against us.” There is nothing more certain than this, that every degree of confidence that is reposed in man by a saint or in himself, is so much of his trust withdrawn from “the living God." weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God.” But faith alone can use those weapons; and when faith fails, there is always the practical turning to the world and its strength and wisdom for help. This only is the right position of our souls, " to have the sentence of death in ourselves; that we should not trust in ourselves; but in God that raiseth the dead.” And again let it be said; “if God be for us who can be against us!” “There is no king saved by the multitude of a host; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. A horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver any by his great strength .... our soul waiteth for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”
“ One thing is evident: God is now working in the last days. Dissolution is, on all sides, not only going on, but felt to be going
If we are faithful, and have sufficient power to blend largeheartedness with faithfulness, we shall be the first of blessings in this state of things. Otherwise, except for a certain individual blessing and faithfulness (which is always something), we shall be nought. But we ought to love the church (the beloved Bride of Christ), and seek its good ; surely, more than a David, or godly Israelite, or Jew, could, or did, that of Jerusalem; and seek it's good for Christ's sake.”