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Accordingly, one day, as the wanderer was tending his flock near Horeb, the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush. The flame burned brightly, while the bush remained unconsumed; and, when Moses advanced towards it, to ascertain the cause of the miracle, the Lord revealed himself in an audible voice to him, and offered to send him on a mission to deliver his oppressed brethren from the hated yoke of Egypt.
From the zeal which Moses had exhibited before he left Egypt, one would have expected to have read that he instantly cast away his shepherd's crook, and, girding up his loins, addressed himself on his journey. His conduct, however, was far otherwise. In order to free himself from the task, he pleaded his own littleness, the ignorance and obstinacy of the people, his want of eloquence, and his slowness of speech; and when these objections were removed by promise and by miracle, he still hesitated, saying, “O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send;" that is, he begged of the Almighty that he would be pleased to transfer his choice to some one more competent than himself for such high service.
The Divine purpose was not thus to be frustrated. However unwilling his instruments may prove, the Almighty has power to make them work according to his holy will and pleasure. Moses was told that his brother Aaron, who possessed all the eloquence which he deemed necessary, should meet him as he approached Egypt, and should act as his spokesman to the Hebrews, and to Pharaoh.
Having, at length, yielded to the Divine will, Moses hastened to take leave of Jethro, and then advanced towards Egypt. As he was proceeding on his journey, Aaron received the Divine command to go forth and meet his brother in the wilderness, which he did, and they then proceeded together to the land of Goshen.
Although grievously oppressed, the patriarchal government seems still to have subsisted among the Hebrews. Hence we read, that when Moses and Aaron reached the land of Goshen, where their brethren were located, they assembled the elders of the tribes, and declared their mission to them. They concluded by displaying the marvels which Moses had been authorized to work; and the elders were so thoroughly convinced that they had received power from on high to accomplish their deliverance, that “they bowed their heads and worshipped."
MOSES AND AARON BEFORE PHARAOH.
Moses and Aaron now proceeded to follow the instructions which had been given in the mount. They went to the court of Pharaoh, and boldly demanded the release of the Hebrew nation from his galling fetters. The stern heart of the Egyptian monarch for a long time resisted the demand, and miracle after miracle was performed in his sight, in order to convince him that he could not withstand the power of Jehovah. The land and the people mourned because of the judgments of the Almighty; and it was not till all the first-born of Egypt were struck dead, that the hardened monarch consented to release his captives. Then it was, in the depth of the night, that he called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “ Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” Exod. xii. 31, 32. *
The design of the annexed engraving is to exhibit Moses and Aaron in the performance of their mission before Pharaoh. In it the artist has exhibited the costly, but chastened splendour which surrounded the throne of the obdurate monarch. In the foreground stand the intrepid prophet and his more eloquent brother; on the right, a magician with his divining rod; and, in the centre, the king, crowned with the regal asps, and seated on a throne, whose decorations are symbolic of invincible power and immortal duration.
The authority for the throne is found in an unique bronze specimen preserved in the Louvre; and for the costumes, architecture, etc., in the early monuments of Egypt. The throne affords a singular illustration of the celebrated lion throne of Solomon. The engraving at the end of the article exhibits the Red Sea above Suez, which is the probable point of the passage of the Israelites.
The conduct of Moses before Pharaoh was strikingly intrepid. When the Lord appeared to him in the Mount of Horeb, he had exhibited signs of fear which appeared to be insurmountable. But his strength was evidently rendered sufficient for his arduous task. No sooner had he entered upon his mission, than he assumed a boldness which neither frowns nor threats could intimidate. Although repulsed on many occasions, he still made the same imperative demand, “Let my people go;" and, lifting up his awful rod,
* The reader is referred to “ The Death of the First-born,” for the minute details of the events referred to in this paragraph.
beckoned the vengeance of Heaven to descend upon both the monarch and his people.
It has been said by Solomon, that
The wicked flee when no man pursueth:
Prov. xxviii. 1.
An illustrious example of the truth of this remark is before the reader. Nor is this an isolated instance. In all ages of the world the righteous have been privileged to stand before the great ones of the earth with holy boldness. Unshaken courage is, indeed, the characteristic of the righteous. By it the martyr has been enabled to embrace the stake, and hold out his hands to the wild beast let loose upon him by his more ferocious fellow man. Divine grace enables a man to brave every evil in life with holy faith and fortitude. Nay, more; it enables him to meet death with rejoicing. As the dread enemy stares him in the face he can exclaim, in a tone of triumph, “O death, where is thy sting? 0 grave,
where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. xv. 55, 56. Of what inestimable value, then, is religion! Reader, see that you possess it; see that your eyes are ever looking to the eternal hills from whence alone our help cometh: then, whatever may be your portion below, whatever may be your trials, your happiness will be secured. Thus
Thus you will be safe for time and eternity.