Verses of Exodus 5
Exodus 5:17 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
THE OPPOSITION THAT IS MADE TO RELIGION
Exo 5:17-18. But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle; therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the Lord. Go therefore now and work.
MAN prides himself upon his reason: but let him be under the influence of passion or interest, and nothing can be found more unreasonable: his eyes are blinded, his heart is hardened, his conscience is seared, and his actions are nearer to those of a maniac, than of a rational being. Nor is his madness ever carried to a greater extent, than when religion is concerned. Look at the persecutors of God’s people, from Cain to this present moment: what have they been, but agents of the devil, fighting against God, and murdering their fellow-creatures with insatiable cruelty? A just specimen of their conduct we have in the history before us. Moses and Aaron were sent of God, to require that the Hebrew nation, who were then in Egypt, should go and offer sacrifices to him in the wilderness; where they might serve him without any fear of offending, or of being interrupted by, the people amongst whom they dwelt. Pharaoh not only refused his permission, but proudly defied Jehovah, and ordered immediately that such burthens should be laid upon the people as it was impossible for them to bear. On their complaining to him of the oppression which they suffered, and of the unmerited punishment that was inflicted on them, he relaxed nothing of his unrighteous decree, but exulted in their miseries, and dismissed them with invectives: “Ye are idle, ye are idle,” &c.
In discoursing on these words, it will be profitable to us to consider,
What is that sacrifice which God requires at our hands—
We, as well as the Hebrews, are called to sacrifice unto our God.
But is it our flocks and our herds that he requires? No [Note: Psa 50:8-15; Psa 51:16.]: this is the message which he has sent us; “My son, give me thy heart [Note: Pro 23:26.].” The sacrifice that he demands, is,
An humble heart—
[Every child of man must, at his peril, present this to God — — — And every one that presents it to him, shall certainly he accepted [Note: Psa 51:17.] — — —]
A believing heart—
[“Without faith it is impossible to please God [Note: Heb 11:6.].” It is faith that renders every other offering pleasing and acceptable to him [Note: Heb 11:4.]. This he considers as a sacrifice — — — It was not sufficient, that penitents under the law confessed their sins, or that they brought their sin-offering to be presented by the priest: they must lay their hands upon the head of their offering, and thereby profess their faith in that atonement, which in due time was to be made for the sins of the whole world [Note: Php 2:17. The lamb that was offered every morning and evening, was to have a meat-offering of fine flour mingled with oil, and a drink-offering of wine poured upon it: and all was to be consumed together: Exo 29:40. St. Paul, referring to this, calls their faith the sacrifice; and says, that he should rejoice in offering (in pouring out as a libation) his own blood, to be presented to God together with it.]. In like manner we also must not only “acknowledge our iniquity,” but must by faith transfer it to the sacred head of Jesus, who atoned for it on the cross, and through whom alone we can ever find acceptance with God [Note: Joh 1:29.].]
A thankful heart—
[This is a tribute most justly due to Him, who has loaded us with so many benefits, but, above all, has redeemed us by the blood of his only-begotten Son. The command given us is, “Rejoice evermore;” “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice.” This is a sacrifice peculiarly pleasing to God [Note: Heb 13:15; Psa 107:22; Psa 116:17.] — — — and “the very stones will cry out against us,” if we should refuse to offer it [Note: Luk 19:40.].]
An obedient heart—
[This is the crown of all. It is the end of all. For this we repent; for this we believe; for this we give thanks to God: all without this were only a solemn mockery. It is in order to this that God has vouchsafed to us so many mercies [Note: Rom 12:1.] — — — And we may be well assured, that every act of obedience, however small, if only it proceed from an humble, believing, and thankful heart, shall be accepted of him [Note: Heb 13:16.].]
Reasonable as such a sacrifice is, we are shocked to see,
In what light it is regarded by an ungodly world—
Did Pharaoh contemptuously resist the divine mandate; did he treat the request of the Hebrews as a pretext for idleness; and did he make it an occasion for the most cruel oppression? Here we may see a true picture of the world at this day: it is precisely thus that religion is now opposed;
[Pharaoh regarded the proposal of Moses as unworthy of notice. He saw no necessity for either himself or others to obey the commands of God; nor did he believe that any evil consequences would ensue from disobedience [Note:, 9. He calls the menaces with which God’s command was enforced, “vain words.”]. And how are the requisitions, which are now made to us in Jehovah’s name, attended to amongst us? Is not this the universal cry; ‘There is no need of so much religion; we shall do very well without it; we have nothing to fear, though we live in the neglect of it?’ Yes: all our exhortations to serve God with your whole hearts are, by many, considered in no better view than as weak, though well-intentioned, effusions of a heated imagination.]
[Men who choose not to obey the calls of God will always revile those who do. They will impute their zeal to hypocrisy, or idleness, or conceit, and vanity. They will presume to judge the motives of religious people, with as much confidence as if they could see the heart. Pharaoh had certainly no reason to ascribe to idleness the request that had been made to him: yet with a malignant triumph he professes to have seen through their motives, which he was determined to counteract. So, at this time, the enemies of true religion will represent the professors of it as heretical and seditious, and the Ministers of it as people that “turn the world upside down.”]
[It is happy for us that all possess not the power of Pharaoh; and that the law has affixed bounds to the tyranny of man. Were it not so, we should still see, that the natural enmity of man against his God is as fierce as ever. Civilization has altered our habits, but made no change at all in our hearts. Husbands, parents, masters, in numberless instances, obstruct the progress of religion in the hearts of those over whom they have influence; either requiring services that shall interfere with their religious duties, or laying snares to divert their attention from them. And when complaint is made by their injured dependents, they will shew no regard to then: consciences, but will exult in tyrannizing over them with their imperious mandate.]
The opposers of true religion—
[Many who in themselves are serious and devout, are as bitter enemies to spiritual religion as the most abandoned profligate can be. When the Jews wanted to expel Paul and Barnabas from Antioch, they could find no better, or more willing, agents than “devout and honourable women [Note: Act 13:50.].” But it were better for any one to have a millstone about his neck, and to be cast into the sea, than to be found among the opposers of vital godliness [Note: Mat 18:6.]. “Their Redeemer is mighty;” and he will avenge their cause. Instead therefore of setting yourselves against them, and calumniating them, inquire what is the reason that you yourselves are not religious. May not your own words be retorted upon you; “Ye are idle, ye are idle; therefore ye say, Let us not sacrifice unto the Lord?” Yes; it is no calumny to affirm this: “Go therefore now, and work.” Go; and instead of obstructing the sacrifices of others, present to God the sacrifice that he demands of you.]
Those who meet with persecution for righteousness’ sake—
[“All who will live godly in Christ Jesus are taught to expect persecution:” therefore think it not strange that you are called to suffer; but rather “rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake.” Are you discouraged, because the relief you have sought for is withheld, and your troubles seem to increase? It was thus that God dealt with the Hebrews in the instance before us: and he not unfrequently deals thus with his people, in order that he may be the more glorified in their ultimate deliverance. If therefore the shadows of the night be still lengthened, you need not despair; for “at evening-time it shall be light;” and in the hour of your deepest distress God will surely interpose for your succour and relief [Note: Deu 32:36.]. Take care however that the enemies of religion have no cause to find fault with you for neglecting the duties of your station. It is no little stumbling-block in their way, when you give them occasion to adopt the language of the text. See to it then, that you be active and diligent in every work to which God, in his providence, has called you. The direction given you by God himself combines worldly activity with spiritual fervour, and represents each of them, in its place, as truly acceptable to him; “Be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord [Note: Rom 12:11.].”]
Verses of Exodus 5
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.