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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 18 - Acts 7:36 - The Exodus, the Journey and the Rest Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Let me note the following points here: (1) the judgment; (2) the deliverance; (3) the discipline; (4) the rest.

I. The judgment. It was judgment or wrath against Egypt, Israel's oppressor, and in favor of Israel. It was terrible judgment—first the ten plagues, and then the overwhelming in the Red Sea. These were the "terrible things in righteousness" by which God condemned Egypt ere He set Israel free. "I gave Egypt for thy ransom." That which might have fallen on Israel fell on Egypt, and Israel went free. There never were judgments on a nation like those which fell on Egypt. And Israel might be said to be the occasion. "Let my people go that they may serve me," was God's message to Pharaoh, but he refused; he risked the judgment, and the judgment came. It was a judgment for Israel to remember forever. Every one of these ten plagues was connected with them and their deliverance. And the last act of vengeance at the Red Sea was still more strikingly on their account. They stood still, and not only saw the salvation of God in their own deliverance, but in the destruction of their foes. Truly Jehovah, their God, was a jealous God; a consuming fire. The God who pardons and delivers His own is a God who takes vengeance on them who know Him not. Israel saw the wrath, but it fell not on them.

II. The deliverance. He brought them out of the land of Egypt and the house of bondage. It was Jehovah's own doing; by His own right hand and His stretched out arm He did it. It was a complete and glorious deliverance. Our deliverance from this present evil world is like that from Egypt. It is a deliverance (1) from idolatry; (2) from bondage; (3) from oppression; (4) from death. And then it is (1) a divine deliverance; (2) a free deliverance; (3) a complete deliverance; (4) an irreversible deliverance; (5) a glorious deliverance; (6) a certain deliverance; not ambiguous nor unconscious, as if a man might be out of Egypt, and yet not know it, but certain, so that the delivered one knows that he is free. Am I then delivered? This is the great question. And am I acting, and speaking, and living like a delivered man? Does the love of the Deliverer constrain me?

III. The discipline. In Israel's case it was the discipline of the desert, where they were placed alone with God. There Jehovah proved and tried them, and saw what was in their heart. That desert discipline brought out their unbelief, murmuring, foolishness, and distrust of God. For they were placed in circumstances in which God was all—leader, protector, feeder, companion, healer. They were thrown entirely upon Him. Our discipline, after deliverance, is that of the desert, though there are many points of difference. There was danger to Israel, that was discipline, and so is it to us; enemies, that was discipline, so to us; a waste and weary land, that was discipline, so to us; continual changes, that was discipline, so to us; heat and weariness, that was discipline, so to us; no earthly storehouse for bread, nor earthly well for water, that was discipline, so to us. Every day was trial, discipline, often chastisement and rebuke, so to us. The words to us are very explicit, "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten,"—"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." God is daily searching us, sifting us, trying us, to bring out the evil that is in us, that we may know ourselves, and that He may have fresh opportunities of bringing out all His supplies and resources. He brings us as He did Israel, into neediness, and straits, and sickness, and danger, and poverty, and sorrow, and care, that He may get opportunities of displaying all His love and fullness. Let us not grudge Him these; they will soon be at an end. It is only here, on this sad poor earth, that He can have such opportunities. When we reach the kingdom, our sin, and emptiness, and weakness, and grief will be done. It is only now and here that God can thus display Himself in His grace, and longsuffering, and plenteousness.

IV. The rest. Israel reached his rest after forty years' wandering. The expression, "brought them out," may refer either to Egypt or the wilderness, for from both He brought them out. But Israel's rest was earthly and temporary, ours is heavenly and eternal. "There remaineth a rest for the people of God." We that have believed do "enter into rest." Let us fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into this rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. There are three steps or stages, (1) out of Egypt; (2) through the wilderness; (3) into the rest.

Yes, there is rest. (1) Rest even here as the earnest; (2) Rest at death, for blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; they rest from their labours; (2) Rest when the Lord comes, "to you who are troubled, rest with us."

It is rest from weariness, rest from labour, rest from care and sorrow, rest from pain and sickness, rest from sin, and conflict, and fear;—everlasting rest, in the land of rest, the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

O rest of the weary, come! O day of rest, dawn! Then farewell to the wilderness, and welcome the Canaan of peace, the Paradise of God. The days of our mourning shall lie ended. The songs and everlasting joy shall then begin.