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The Exodus from Egypt, pt. 1

by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

 

33And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, “We be all dead men.” 34And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35And 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: 36And 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. 37And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle… 41And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.” (Ex 12:33-38, 41 AV)

 

51And it came to pass the selfsame day, [that] the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies. (Ex 12:51 AV)

 

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.” (Ex 13:19 AV)

 

At last was fulfilled the promise made by Jehovah to Abraham more than four hundred years before. He had said, “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” (Genesis 15:13). Literally had this been fulfilled. The experiences of Abraham’s seed in Egypt was precisely as God had said. But He had also declared to Abraham, “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance” (Genesis 15:14). This, too, was now made good. There were no provisos; no ifs or peradventures. “Afterward shall they come out with great substance.” So God had decreed, so it came to pass. So had God promised, so He now made good His word.

“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day it came to pass that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt” (12:41). Upon this verse we commented briefly in our last paper. Those who went forth from the land of bondage are here termed “the hosts of the Lord.” Israel was the Lord’s hosts in a threefold way: First, by covenant purpose, by the eternal choice of a predestinating God; Second, by creation, who had made them for Himself; Third, by purchase, for He had redeemed them by precious blood.

“And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies” (12:51). The last three words in this quotation show that Israel did not issue from Egypt as a disorderly mob. How could they, seeing that it was the Lord who “brought them out”! God is not the author of confusion. There is a supplementary word in 13:18 which brings this out in further detail: “The children of Israel went up by five in a rank” (margin) “out of the land of Egypt.” A similar example of Divine orderliness is to be observed in connection with our Lord feeding the hungry multitude. In Mark 6:29 we are told that Christ commanded the disciples to “make all sit down by companies upon the green grass”. And we are told “they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.” The fact that Israel went forth by “five in a rank” exemplified and expressed God’s grace, for five in Scripture ever speaks of grace or favor.

There is another word in Psalm 105:37 which adds a beautiful touch to the picture here before us. There we are told, “He brought them forth also with silver and gold; and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.” How this illustrates the need of diligently comparing Scripture with Scripture if we would obtain the full teaching of the Word on any subject! Nothing is said of this in the historical narratives of Exodus; it was reserved for the Psalmist to tell us of this Divine miracle, for miracle it certainly was, that not a single one in all that vast host was sickly or infirm.

“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” (13:19). This was no ancestor or relic worship, but an act of faith, the declaration of Joseph’s belief that the destination of Israel was to be the land which God had promised to give to Abraham and his seed, which promise the faith of Joseph had firmly laid hold of. During their long bondage in Egypt this commandment which Joseph gave concerning “his bones” must have often been the theme of converse in many of the Hebrew households; and now, by taking with him the embalmed remains, Moses showed his sure confidence that a grave would be found for them in the land of promise. Nor was his confidence misplaced, as Joshua 24:33 shows: “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem.”

Hebrews 11:22 tells us that this commandment which Joseph gave was “by faith,” and here, hundreds of years after, we behold God’s response to the faith of His servant. Moses had much to occupy him at this time. An immense responsibility and undertaking was his — to organize the “armies of Israel” and lead them forth in orderly array. But in simple dependence Joseph had put his dying trust in the living God, and it was impossible that he should be disappointed. Therefore did Jehovah bring to the mind of Moses this command of Joseph, and caused him to carry it out. Blessed demonstration was it of the faithfulness of God.

But what, we may ask, is the typical lesson in this for us? Every other detail in the exodus of Israel from Egypt, as well as all that preceded and followed it, has a profound significance and spiritual application to us. What, then, is foreshadowed in Israel carrying the bones of Joseph with them as they commenced their journey across the wilderness toward the promised land? If we bear in mind that Joseph is a type of Christ the answer will not be difficult to discover.  II Corinthians 4:10 gives us the N.T. interpretation: “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our bodies.” It is the power of the cross applied to the mortal body which ever craves present ease and enjoyment. It is only by “keeping under” the body that the life of Jesus (the new nature) is manifested by us.

“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children” (12:37). “Rameses means ‘child of the sun.’ It was a fortress the Israelites, as slaves, had helped to build for the Egyptians. It was named after one of their great kings, whose remains, as a mummy, are now in the British Museum. He was the Pharaoh who oppressed Israel so cruelly, and the father of the Pharaoh who pursued the Israelites and was drowned in the Red Sea. He was a great warrior; he conquered Ethiopia and other lands.” Typically, Rameses speaks of that system: ‘This present evil world’ (see Gal. 1:4), from which the grace and power of God delivers His elect, that system over which the mighty fallen angel, Satan, presides as Prince.

“So here, on the very threshold of their journey, we have a strange and wonderful parable — a picture that everyone who knows the rudiments of astronomy can appreciate. As the literal Israel was called out of the domains of the ‘child of the sun’ to journey to a land unknown to them, so is the spiritual Israel — the Church — called out from the realm described in the book of Ecclesiastes as ‘under the sun’ — all this kingdom in which the planets (‘wanderers’) move in their never-ceasing revolutions around the sun — to go to that undiscovered realm, in which, because what of it is visible to the eye is at such an inconceivable distance from us that their movements can hardly be detected at all, we call them fixed stars — that calm, immovable heaven of heavens that we see gazing at us every night, unperturbed and untouched by anything that can occur in our solar system of wanderers, where our earth, like the rest, is a poor restless wanderer in a path that never arrives anywhere. How graphically Solomon describes all our life ‘under the sun’, its mirths, its cares, its toils, its joys, and its sorrows, as unceasing ‘vanity and vexation of spirit’!.... ‘The thing that hath been is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

“To that ‘third heaven,’ as Paul calls it (2 Corinthians 12), that Paradise altogether beyond and free from any of the influences of our planetary system, the believer is going. We belong not to the world. Chosen in Christ before this world’s foundation, we belong to an eternal realm beyond and apart from all men’s ambitions, schemes, philosophies, religions (see Ephesians 1:4-10).

“Such a calling is mysterious. No wonder Paul, even when in the very act of trying to explain it to us, lifts up an earnest prayer that a spirit of wisdom and revelation might be given us, so that we might be able to ‘know what is the hope of His calling’ (Ephesians 1:18). It is all so new; it is all so unearthly; its doctrines, its maxims, its hopes and fears, its rules of conduct, are all so different to what is ‘under the sun’” (C. H. Bright).

“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth” (vs. 37). “Succoth” means “booths” or “tents.” This spoke plainly of the pilgrim character of the journey which lay before them. This was one of the great lessons learned by the first pilgrim: “Here have we no continuing city” (Hebrews 13:14); for “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:3). Booths are all that we have down here, for “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). But, blessed be God, the day is now near at hand when we shall exchange our temporary “tents” for the eternal “mansions” of the Father’s House.

“And a mixed multitude went up also with them” (12:38). Very solemn is this; it was a wily move of the Enemy. Scripture presents him in two chief characters — as the roaring lion and as the cunning serpent. The former was exemplified by the cruel oppressions of Pharaoh; the latter, in what is here before us. Satan tried hard to keep some, at least, of the Israelites in Egypt; failing in this, he now sends some of the Egyptians to accompany Israel to Canaan! This “mixed multitude” would doubtless be made up of Egyptians and others of different nations who resided in Egypt. A variety of causes and motives might prompt them. Some, through intermarriages with the Israelites (Leviticus 24:10), and now loathe to part with their relatives; others, because afraid to remain any longer in a land so sorely afflicted with Divine judgments, and now rendered desolate and untenable; others, because quick to perceive that such wonders wrought on behalf of the Hebrews plainly marked them out as a people who were the favorites of Heaven, and therefore deemed it good policy to throw in their lot with them (cf. 9:20). But it was not long before this “mixed multitude” proved a thorn in the side of Israel. It was this same “mixed multitude” who first became dissatisfied with the manna and influenced Israel to murmur (see Numbers 11:4).

It has been well said that “when a movement of God takes place men are wrought upon by other motives than those by which the Holy Spirit stirs the renewed heart, and a mass attach themselves to those who are led forth.” Witness the fact that when God “called Abraham alone” (Isaiah 51:2), Terah (his father) and Lot (his nephew) accompanied him (Genesis 11:31). Witness the Gibeonites making a league with Joshua (Joshua 9). So, too, we find that after the Jewish remnant returned from the captivity “a mixed multitude” joined themselves to Israel (Nehemiah 5:17), though later “they separated from Israel all the mixed multitudes” (Nehemiah 13:3). So, too, we read of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7)! And these things are recorded for our “learning.” This fellowshiping of believers with unbelievers, this sufferance of the ungodly among the congregation of the Lord, has been the great bane of God’s saints in every age, the source of their weakness, and the occasion of much of their failure. It is because of this the Spirit of God says, “wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

 

 

 

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