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by Dr. John Thomas
The relative condition of these two people was very similar to what it is now in regard to the Jews and papal nations among whom they are scattered.
The Jews have a vague idea of the promise made to Abraham, and, therefore, cherish the hope of restoration to Canaan; but of the name of God they are as ignorant as the generation to whom Moses was sent.
"Who is Yahweh" said Pharoah, "that I should let Israel go?
I know not who the Lord God of Israel is".
This is the predicament of existing nations.
They are called by the name of Christ, but as to God's character, they are as ignorant of it as of His person.
As to Israel of "the fourth generation," we have seen that "they understood not" when Moses supposed they would have recognized in him their deliverer; and, when God was about to send him for that very purpose forty years after, Moses inquired what he should say unto them when the elders of Israel should say to him, "What is his name?
" -- the name of Him Whom he styled "the God of their fathers".
Thus, without understanding of the promises, ignorant of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and serving the gods of Egypt, they differed only from the Egyptians in being the oppressed instead of the oppressor, and "beloved for the fathers' sake" -- a type of their present condition, preparatory to their everlasting emancipation from the tyranny of nations as ignorant as, but more brutal than, themselves.
Such was the benighted condition into which God's people Israel had fallen "when the time of the promises (the end of the four hundred years) drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham".
But though Israel had forgotten them, God had not.
They were overwhelmed and absorbed in their personal sufferings which elicited a cry of great distress.
This was the crisis of their fate.
"Their cry came up to God by reason of the bondage.
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
And God looked upon the children of Israel, and had respect unto them.
He sent an angel to deliver them.
Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, in the vicinity of Horeb.
Seeing a bush on fire yet not consumed, he drew near to take a closer view of it.
As he approached, the angel addressed him in behalf of the Lord, saying, "I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrow and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, etc. Come, now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the Children of Israel, out of Egypt".
Thus Moses, whom forty years before "they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge?
the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush".