God's Ways with Moses
James Smith, 1855
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth — to such as keep his covenant and his testimonies." Psalms 25:10. His paths are often trying, and sometimes mysterious — but they are always instructive and profitable. They were devised by the highest wisdom, and are sanctioned by infinite love. The record of his dealings with his people of old, is intended to comfort, instruct, and admonish us. He is the same God still. What he was to his ancient people — he is to us still. Our dispensation may be more spiritual — but the Lord is the same. Let us therefore read his blessed Word . . .
as marking out the pilgrim's path,
as showing what God can do, and
what he will do when his people's circumstances require it.
"He made known his ways unto Moses" (Psalm 103:7). Whatever things were written aforetime — were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.
He made known his ways in PROVIDENCE. God's providence is a great fact. It is God providing for, disposing of, and managing the whole of his creatures. God's special providence is his . . .
special attention to,
special care for, and
special directing of,
his beloved people.
In the life of Moses, God made known the ways of his special providence. How wonderfully providence wrought in preserving him for three months in his mother's house in such times, on the banks of the Nile, in the ark of bulrushes, among devouring crocodiles; and then again, when Pharaoh sought to slay him. Surely, the child of providence is safe until the God of providence calls him hence.
How wonderfully providence wrought in preparing him for his office and work. He was instructed in all the wisdom of Egypt — at Pharaoh's expense; sent into the land of Midian, to Jethro, to study there; and then led to the bush at Horeb, to gain a more intimate and blessed knowledge of the Lord.
Egypt was his grammar-school,
Midian was his university,
he took up his degrees at the burning-bush, where he was ordained a prophet of the Lord, consecrated as the bishop of the Hebrews, and appointed as the chaplain to Pharaoh.
How wonderfully providence wrought in supplying all his needs.
He was fed for forty years by Pharaoh's daughter;
for forty more years, he was sustained by the prince of Midian;
and for the last forty years, he was fed with bread from Heaven.
How wonderfully providence wrought in delivering him from all his foes. He was delivered . . .
at his birth — from destruction;
at the Red Sea — from perishing in the waters; and
from the rage of the people again and again.
How wonderfully providence wrought in leading his obedient ones safely into the promised land:
first, by the pillar of cloud and fire,
then, by direct communications from the mercy-seat,
and then, by the ark going before Joshua and his host through the Jordan into Canaan.
He made known his ways in GRACE. For though there is much grace displayed in God's providential dealings — there is a way which is emphatically the way of grace; and this was made known unto Moses.
The way of salvation — which was set forth by the Passover, the daily sacrifices, and on the great day of atonement. Salvation by substitution, sacrifice, and grace.
The way in which he manifests himself to his own, as . . .
at the bush in Horeb,
on the Mount Sinai,
and in the tabernacle.
Here he enjoyed the ordinary and extraordinary manifestations of Jehovah's condescension kindness, and love.
The way in which he would dwell with men. By . . .
his Shekinah glory among them,
his Spirit in them, and
their finding him a refuge and a dwelling-place, according to Psalm 90:1; 91:1.
The way in which he leads his own people aside to teach them, prepare them for duties, and bless them. He led them into the wilderness, and there taught them the most important lessons, prepared them to possess and enjoy the land promised to their fathers, and conferred upon them numerous, great, and singular blessings.
The way in which he communes with them as the Lord their God. He met them in his tabernacle, and conversed with them from off and above the mercy-seat, frequently, familiarly, profitably.
The way in which he corrects his children for their negligence, rebellions, and folly (Exod. 4:14). He was never at a loss for means, he never failed to use the rod when necessary, and he never used it with undue severity. He corrected them but in measure, and would not leave them wholly unpunished.
The way in which he can exalt his servants to honor. How honorable was Moses made before Pharaoh, the inhabitants of the countries bordering on the wilderness, and among all the tribes of Israel? (Exod. 11:3.)
The way in which he works for his own glory and his people's good in . . .
the plagues of Egypt,
the destruction of various hostile nations,
and in the constant supplies he sent them.
The way in which he may be overcome. Even by urgent, affectionate, importunate prayer (Exod. 17:4). More than once did he yield to the entreaties of Moses — and proved that faith, prayer, and penitence are invincible at his throne.
The way in which he tries his children . . .
in Pharaoh's doubling the tally of bricks — and refusing to give them straw,
in allowing them to be beaten by their task-masters;
in the miracles wrought by the magicians;
in the unbelief, fretfulness, and frequent murmuring of the people;
in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram;
in the weakness of Aaron, and the envy of Miriam;
and in the craft of Moab, and the designs of Amalek (Exodus 15:24; 17:3; 32:14; Num. 12:2).
The way of entering into the land of promise — by faith. Moses ascended Nebo, saw the land, and was fully satisfied with what God had done. This is just the same way in which true believers die . . .
in peace with God,
satisfied with all his dealings, and
on the very borders of the celestial Canaan.
All these things are full of instruction to us! Let us therefore . . .
meditate upon them,
pray over them, and
endeavor to derive advantage from them.
God's ways are clearly not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts; but as the Heavens are high above the earth — so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts!
God's ways and his works . . .
manifest his nature,
exhibit his character, and
unfold his secret purposes!
He, therefore, who would know God — must study the ways of God. "Whoever is wise, and will observe these things — and he shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord." Psalm 107:43