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Faith as Exemplified in Moses
Selections from Exodus 3:1-22 ; Exodus 6:1-30 ; Exodus 7:1-25 ; Exodus 8:1-32 ; Exodus 14:1-31 ; Exodus 15:1-27
The Children of Israel had been captive in Egypt for several hundred years. During that time another Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph. As the sons of Jacob multiplied, the king of Egypt became more and more afraid of their possible ascendancy in his empire. Therefore, moved with fear, he began to persecute them, and to force them to work as common slaves. Thus, God heard the groanings of His people under the iron hand of Pharaoh.
1. The birth of a deliverer. Finally an edict of Pharaoh was given forth that every male child should be killed. There were two, however, who were not afraid of the king's commandment, and when a goodly child was born unto them, they hid him in an ark of bulrushes at the river's brink, where the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe. This little child was rescued by royalty and nursed by his own mother. Thus it was that God Himself brought up the deliverer in the home of the persecutor. A child who was under a sentence of death, became the giver of life to the people of God.
2. The deliverer's attempt in the flesh. When the baby Moses had grown into a man of forty years of age, he spurned everything that the pleasures and the wealth of Egypt could give him. He turned his back on Pharaoh's palace, and, with a heart aching because of the straits of his own people, he went down, bent upon delivering them, but forty years passed before God undertook to deliver Israel through Moses.
3. Hiding away. During the forty years that Moses was in Midian he married the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian. At the end of the forty years God came to Moses and spoke to him.
During the years that Moses was hid away with God he could meditate and think upon the glory of Jehovah.
4. A wonderful sight. God appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Moses stopped and looked, and, "behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." Immediately he said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." It was at that moment that the Lord called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses." And he said, "Here am I." God told Moses to put off his shoes from off his feet, because the place on which he stood was holy ground.
Then it was that he said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Immediately God told Moses that He had surely seen the affliction of His people in Egypt; that He had heard their cry, and that He would send forth Moses to their deliverance.
5. A complaining, doubting spirit. We are amazed when we think of the man whom God had called to deliver His people, saying to the Lord, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the Children of Israel out of Egypt?" The Lord, however, gave him promises that He would be with him.
The story is familiar to all of us: we remember how the Lord gave him His Name, saying, "I Am that I Am." When Moses still demurred, God wrought the miracle of the turning of a rod which Moses held in his hand into a serpent.
God furthermore commanded Moses to put his hand into bis bosom, and when he took it out, it was as leprous as snow. Then He told Moses to put his hand back into his bosom. This time, when he took it out, it was turned again as his other flesh.
Moses still demurred, and said, "I am not eloquent." This time, God took away from him a wonderful privilege and gave it unto Aaron, the brother of Moses, telling him that he should be the spokesman of Moses, and that he should be to Moses instead of a mouth, and that Moses should be to him instead of God.
6. A few conclusions. As we think of what we have just set before you, let us weigh our own experience in its light. Have we not had a call from God? Have we not often warred in the flesh? Have we not often demurred, and hesitated to undertake the work to which we are called? Perhaps God has even given us a vision of His mighty power and work. Before we complain about Moses, and condemn him, let us ask if we have been faithful, and ready to launch out the moment that some Divine order came to us; perhaps Moses far outshines us in our obedience. Let us be careful, lest we miss God's very best in service and spiritual attainments.
I. FAITH IN TRAINING (Exodus 3:12-14 )
When we feel that our faith is weak, we know of no better way to strengthen it than to study the dealings of the God in whom we are asked to believe, with men in the past. Listen to some of the things that God said to Moses:
1. In Exodus 3:8 He said, "I am come down to deliver."
2. In Exodus 3:10 He said, "I will send thee unto Pharaoh."
3. In Exodus 3:12 He said, "Certainly I will be with thee."
4. In Exodus 3:14 He said, "I AM hath sent me unto you."
5. In Exodus 3:17 He said, "I will bring you up."
6. In Exodus 3:20 He said, "I will stretch out My hand."
7. In Exodus 3:21 He said, "I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians."
When we look at the seven statements above, we see, in every instance, a definite promise from the Almighty. Why should Moses be afraid when God kept saying, "I will, I will; and I will"? When God promises to do it, it will surely be done. What God undertakes He is able to accomplish; if we are sent by Him; we are panoplied by Him.
If He is with us, we are armed with all power in Heaven and upon earth. If He is going to bring us through, we need not fear the terrors by the way; if He has said, "I will stretch out My hand," we need not care how weak our hands may be.
There was one other thing that God did to encourage Moses. He said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, * * of Isaac, and * * of Jacob." In other words, He said to Moses, "You are familiar with the wonderful dealings I had with your forefathers; and I was their God, and now I will be thine." If the Lord comes with us, are we afraid to go? Do the silver and the gold not belong to Him? Does He not have all authority, in every realm?
Suppose Jesus Christ stood by us today, telling us to go; and then He said, "I have met the powers of Satan and have vanquished them; I was dead, and I am alive again, and I hold in My hand the keys of death and of hell; I have ascended up through principalities and powers, and am seated on the right hand of God, clothed with all authority." When Christ says such things to us, shall we be weak in faith and afraid to obey His voice?
II. FAITH WARNED (Exodus 3:19 )
We often speak of the faith of Moses, and indeed it was a remarkable faith. Let none of us criticize him in his faith until we can do the things he did; let none of us enlarge upon his unbelief until our unbelief is less than his.
1. The warning. Exodus 3:19 says, God speaking: "And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand." The Lord never promises us that which we are not to receive; He never encourages us in giving us a false hope; He never tries to increase our faith by belittling the obstacles which will beset us by the way.
God very plainly and positively assured Moses that the Children of Israel would resist him, and that Pharaoh would not let the people go. However, God went on to tell him that He would do His wonders in Egypt, and "after that he will let you go." He even told Moses that the Children of Israel should not go out empty, but they should go out with their hands filled with jewels of silver and gold and raiment, and with the spoil of the Egyptians.
2. The refusal. In the 5th chapter, and 1st verse, Moses said unto Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness." Pharaoh did not hesitate a moment to reply, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
A man of little faith would certainly have stumbled here. To be sure, God had told him that Pharaoh would not let Israel go; however, it was not easy for Moses and Aaron to be repulsed with such terrific onslaughts of unbelief.
Sometimes as we go forth in the service of God everything seems to fail which we had hoped would come to pass. Our prayers seem unanswered, our attempts seem futile, and our service seems in-vain.
We should remember that it is not always that our God delivers instantly. If we get our victories too easily, we might begin to think that our own hand had gotten us the victory, and that we had accomplished things by our own efforts and prowess.
3. The direct results. In the 4th verse of the 5th chapter, the king of Egypt said unto Moses and Aaron, "Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens." That same day the king commanded the taskmasters to cease giving straw to the Children of Israel. They were to get their own straw, and yet the same quantity of brick was required from them daily.
This caused a tremendous bitterness in the Children of Israel. They complained, and when they met Moses and Aaron as they came forth from Pharaoh, they said, "Ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us."
This was about all that Moses could bear, and he cried unto the Lord, "Why is it that Thou hast sent me?" He also said, "Neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all." When the enemy seems to have every advantage, and is pressing us on every side, do we sometimes murmur and complain at the Lord? It is not easy to be condemned by the populace; it is not easy to see our leadership seemingly broken.
III. FAITH ASSURED (Exodus 6:1-6 )
When Moses talked with God, the Lord told him several things.
1. "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh." Defeat does not disturb the Almighty He can see the end from the beginning. He knew that Pharaoh would rebel again and again, but God also knew that Pharaoh would be willing yea, more than willing: he would be glad to have Israel go, before God had finished His judgments upon him.
2. Other things God said unto Moses.
1. "I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham * * by the Name of God Almighty."
2. "I have also established My Covenant with them."
3. "I have remembered My Covenant."
4. "I will bring you out * * I will rid you out of their bondage."
5. "I will redeem you with a stretched out arm."
6. "I will take you to Me * * I will be to you a God."
7. "I will bring you in unto the land."
Three times in this passage, concluding at Exodus 6:8 , the Lord says, "I am the Lord." Let every one of us write over every power of darkness the same word "I am the Lord." If God be for us, who can be against us?
3. Moses' plea. It must have been a wonderful thing to have the privilege of speaking to the Lord face to face, as did Moses, God addressing him as we would an intimate friend. Moses said, "Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto Me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me?" He meant, If my own people, Thine own children, have not heard me, how shall I expect Pharaoh to hear me?
Sometimes we, too, get to the place where we want to give up. We hasten to belittle our successes and the possibility of our efforts. Beloved, we need, today, to get a fresh hold on God.
IV. Faith Encouraged (Exodus 7:1-6 )
The skies are brightening as far as Moses is concerned. While so far he has met nothing but rebuff and setback and disappointment; yet he has been learning, step by step to trust God. Now the Lord is speaking unto Moses, and He tells him one thing that, so far as we know, has never been repeated.
1. "I have made thee a God to Pharaoh." In other words, God is saying unto Moses that he should go before Him in the power and might of Deity Himself. He was to speak everything that God commanded him; he was to do mighty works, even the works that only God could do.
God still warned Moses that Pharaoh would harden his heart, but He said that He would multiply His signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. The fact of the business was that every time Pharaoh refused Moses, it gave God an opportunity to magnify His own Name and power in the midst of the Egyptians, and to prove that God was Lord; and that the Children of Israel were His people.
2. "And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them." They went forth and faced Pharaoh time and time again; with Pharaoh's every refusal they were spurred to further attacks against the cruel king of the Egyptians. They both obeyed the voice of God implicitly; they obeyed, no matter what happened, how dark the skies, how rugged the way, how steep the road. They were learning that God is able to bring down every high thing, and every proud thing that exalts itself against the Lord. They were learning that the weapons of their warfare were mighty, through God, to the breaking down of strongholds.
V. FAITH WORKING (Exodus 8:1-4 )
The story of the ten plagues which were brought upon Egypt by the words of Moses, is nothing less than the story of faith at work.
1. The first three plagues. As Moses threw down his rod it became a serpent. How was it then, if this was a miracle, that the magicians threw down their rods, and they became serpents? The second great miracle of Moses was the turning of the water of Egypt into blood; this the magicians of Egypt also did.
The third was the miracle of the frogs; once again the magicians of Egypt did the same with their enchantments.
Moses, perhaps, was dumfounded when he saw that the magicians could duplicate, thus far, whatever he did. However, they could not get rid of the frogs; they could bring the curse, but could not relieve it. Perhaps God Himself permitted all of this, to make Moses lean the harder upon Him; and also to bring a deeper curse upon Pharaoh, because of his rebellion. One thing we know, that step by step, Moses was "as God" in moving God and nature to obey his voice.
2. Is the day of miracles past? My God is a God that still works miracles. If He did not, how could I trust Him in the many places where He commands me to travel and to labor? I have seen with mine own eyes the Lord our God doing the impossible.
When we think of the Apostles, and of Paul, we think of men who knew how to believe God, and to do things which could not be accounted for on any natural lines. In these days, when the modernist is seeking to discount every miracle that God has ever wrought, it is absolutely necessary for us to prove that our God is still the God who wrought the miracles of the Old Testament. We must do the same things as were done then.
VI. THE FINAL TRIUMPH (Exodus 14:13-16 )
We are passing very rapidly over many remarkable things that occurred, and now we come to the final great test.
1. Hemmed in on every side. When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, he led them as he was directed, down by the way of the Red Sea. The news was taken to Pharaoh that Moses with his million and one half of people were entangled in the wilderness; then Pharaoh immediately started out to pursue them.
When the Children of Israel saw the hosts of the Egyptians approaching, they were filled with fear, and they said unto Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" Here was a real trial to faith.
Moses, however, did not waver: he said, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever." He added, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
After Moses had told this unto the people, he sought the face of his God, and cried unto Him. Then the Lord said to him, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me? speak unto the Children of Israel, that they go forward." How could they go forward?
They certainly could not go back; they certainly could not go to the left, or to the right, for, on the one hand were the fastnesses of the mountains and the hills, and on the other hand Pharaoh's hosts. Before them was the impassable sea. It was under such circumstances that God said, "Go forward," and forward they went.
Moses lifted up his rod, and God opened before them sufficient dry land that they might march in through the midst of the sea, and straight across to the other side.
VII. FAITH REJOICING (Exodus 15:1-6 )
1. The thrill of victory. It must have been a wonderful thing to the Children of Israel, as they marched up on the other side of the sea. Surely they knew that there was a God in Israel! If their joy, for the moment, was darkened by the approach of the hosts of the Egyptians who were marching upon the same path through the sea which God had prepared for them, their fear was quickly allayed when they saw that the armies of Pharaoh were having great trouble in passing, because their chariot wheels would come off, and because they were blinded in their route by a cloud of darkness.
Then, after the last one of Israel had passed over, how they must have rejoiced when Moses stretched forth his rod over the sea, and the waters returned to their strength, overthrowing the Egyptians in the midst thereof! Pharaoh's army and chariots and horsemen were altogether overthrown, and there remained not so much as one.
2. The song of victory. Chapter 15 says, "Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel this song." Have you ever accomplished something by faith which caused you to sing? You have read of faith's miracles: Have you ever wrought them? You have heard of Daniel in the lions' den: have you ever had any experience that even shadowed that? You have heard of the experience of the three Hebrew children in the burning fiery furnace: have you ever done or seen anything like that in your life?
Yes, every day there are things just as marvelous, but how few there are who know them, or see them, or believe them! Now when there is victory, there is song. After Moses had finished his rejoicing with the Children of Israel, then Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her, with timbrels and dances.
3. Experiences in the wilderness. After this wonderful miracle one would have thought that the Children of Israel would never again doubt God. They had seen everything that God had wrought by the hand of Moses; all of the miraculous plagues, all of their wonderful deliverances, and yet they were scarcely over the Red Sea and in the wilderness, until, as they journeyed, they struck a place where there was no water. Then they began to chide with Moses. One of the crowning acts of faith in the life of Moses was when he went out and struck the rock at the command of God. There is no water in a rock, and yet the smitten rock sent forth a stream. Beloved, let us never doubt God again, but rather let us believe that it will be even as He has spoken.
"Ask ye of the Lord rain" (Zechariah 10:1 ).
In the following lines we wish to relate something of the Lord's goodness as suggested by the above text.
There had been many months of drought, very dry and hot weather. The previous N.E. monsoon had failed, resulting in only half the normal rainfall. Tanks and ponds had been dry for weeks. Many wells had failed in their supply of water. Droves of cattle were being driven miles to obtain a drink of water. Men and women, on returning late in the evening from work, had to go off in search of water before attempting to cook the food. One evening, two messengers, one following the other, came along to say our well was empty. We knew of only one resource at such a time. There were some clouds above. "Ask ye of the Lord rain." Two of us knelt that evening and asked our Heavenly Father to command the clouds and to send the rain. We retired, believing our God would care for us. On rising next morning we looked but to see "floods on the dry ground." Two and a quarter inches of rain had fallen!
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever."
The Seven Marys
There are six Marys spoken of in the New Testament, and there is one outstanding Mary in the Old Testament. The six in the New Testament, in the order which we will consider them, are as follows: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary, the wife of Cleophas; Mary of Bethany; Mary, the mother of John Mark, and Mary of Rome. Our seventh Mary is discussed in our Scripture; she is Mary (Hebrew, Miriam), the sister of Moses and of Aaron.
We can never cease to thank God for the Bible Marys, They are representative women from various walks of life, women who knew God and served Him in all fidelity. As we study them today we will learn that there is a vast difference in Christians, and yet there is much of similarity. All the Marys of the New Testament loved Christ devotedly, and Miriam was just as loyal, as they, to her Lord. Of the majority of the New Testament Marys, we read two things wherein they excelled. They were last at the Cross, and first at the tomb.
1. You may remember how some of these Marys stood around the Cross during the crucifixion with a love toward their Savior that was. undying and unquenchable. When, at last, He was taken down from the Cross and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, the women followed Him to His burying-place, and watched not far from the Tomb. Their hearts, beyond a doubt, were crushed, but no ignominy or shame which had been placed upon their Lord could break their faith in Him. Finally, they left the scene of interment and wended their way homeward.
2. On the first day of the week while it was yet dark these women came to the sepulchre. They came with spices, but they found the stone rolled away, and the sepulchre empty.
3. The devotion of women to Christ did not end with the devotion of the Bible Marys. It went on into the early Church, and into the centuries which have followed. This very hour the women who publish the glad tidings are a great host. As we study the seven Marys we trust that every one of us will profit thereby. Let us seek to follow the Lord as they followed, and serve Him as they served.
4. The saints of today need the same spirit as those women of yore demonstrated in their fidelity to Christ. We fear that not only the women, but many of the men, are carried away with divers lusts. The world and its allurements has carried them from their faithfulness.
However, not all, by any means have left their Lord. There is a verse in the Book of Revelation which says this concerning overcoming saints: "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins." They were not virgins in sex, but in purity, in faithfulness. They lived above reproach, and now in the Book of Revelation we read of them: "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth."
We are sure that the seven Marys of whom we are to study today will be numbered among God's elect. May God grant that each one of us may find our names enrolled with theirs. One thing we know: those who truly love the Lord will never be turned from their faithfulness for Him.
The Song of songs sets this forth in all clearness. Solomon, in his kingly powers, sought to win the Shulamite away from her shepherd lover. He utterly failed, and the conclusion of the Book of Canticles is thus stated: "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." Thus it is that those who love and trust Christ can never be won from that love which will not let them go.
I. MARY, THE MOTHER OF CHRIST (Luke 1:48 )
The first Mary of the New Testament was none other than the one whom God chose, and thus signally honored, to be the mother to our Lord. There are three things about her which we would like to bring to you.
1. Her undaunted faith. When it was told Mary by Gabriel that she had found favor with God, and that she would bring forth a Son whom she should call "Jesus," she did not hesitate, nor demur. She quietly said, "Be it unto me according to thy Word."
It was not because of Mary's faith that the Lord chose her; it was because of God's omnipotent power and predestinating will. Among all the women who had ever lived, this one woman was singled out. Our admiration for her increases as we think of the confidence she had in God. When her cousin, Elizabeth, saw her a few days later, she said unto Mary, "Blessed art thou among women," and "Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." Thus it was that the faith of Mary is plainly seen.
2. Her humility of heart. When Mary rejoiced before Elizabeth, among other things, she said this concerning the Lord: "He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden." Mary did not claim, therefore, any inherent superiority among women.
To be sure she was of the line of David and was, therefore, from royal blood, yet her lowly estate, as the espoused wife to a carpenter, showed that the glory of her relationship to David had at least departed from her.
Is it not true that the Lord often chooses the humble, the meek to fulfill His greatest purposes? Not many noble are called, but God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.
3. Her praise. Elizabeth first sounded a glorious magnificat, but when she had ceased, Mary spoke and said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." It was to God that she gave honor and glory. It was He who had, according to Mary, done great things, Mary said, "He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts."
Mary finally added these words, "As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever." Would that such words of praise and glory might ascend from all our lips unto God. Remember that Mary was never known for any greatness that was inherently hers. The Church never recognized her as a leader. She was at the Cross, but she had no authority, and no power either to deliver the Savior of men, or to quiet His sufferings.
When the saints of the early Church met together, she was there, but she did not have any outstanding attention paid to her. There is not a recorded word in the whole Bible where the saints of Christ's day or the saints of the early Church, ever gave any peculiar or particular honor to Mary.
II. MARY MAGDALENE (Luke 8:2 )
1. She was demon-possessed. This does not, by any means, suggest that she was an impure woman. The impure woman who anointed Christ was not this Mary. The name of that woman is not given in Scripture. Mary Magdalene, however, had been possessed of evil spirits. Nevertheless she was a woman who had means, because she frequently administered to Christ of her substance. She was one of those well-to-do women who was under the control of evil spirits. No doubt, she was illtempered, high strung, and disagreeable.
2. She was remarkably saved. When she saw the Lord she needed Him, and He recognized her need. She saw Him, and trusted Him. He saw her, and delivered her, and saved her with a wonderful salvation. "A Calcutta paper relates that recently a young Brahman came to the house of a missionary for an interview. In the course of the conversation he said; 'Many things which Christianity contains I find in Hinduism; but there is one thing which Christianity has and Hinduism has not.' 'What is that?' the missionary asked. His reply was striking: 'A Savior.'"
3. She was zealous. From the day that Mary Magdalene was saved, she never forgot the One who saved her. She was true to Him through His life of service. She was true to Him when He hung upon the Cross. She was true to Him when He lay in the grave. She knew and loved the One who was her Redeemer.
We have read of "a girl whose wonderful grace and purity of character charmed every one who knew her. One day a friend touched the spring of a little gold locket which she always wore on her neck, but which she would let no one see, and in it were these words: 'Whom having not seen, I love.'"
III. MARY, THE WIFE OF CLEOPHAS (John 19:25 )
Our key verse says, "Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene."
1. Mary the wife of Cleophas was the mother of one who was chosen to follow Christ. Here was a real honor. She herself had known the saving grace of the Son of God, and from her two sons, one was chosen as a disciple. This was no small distinction. Any woman who loves the Master rejoices when she sees her offspring called to serve the Living God. Hannah had no greater joy than to know that her Samuel was the Prophet of God. Thus it was, when James the Less was serving with Christ, going hither and thither with the Master, then Mary the wife of Cleophas, the mother, rejoiced.
2. Mary the wife of Cleophas was herself a faithful follower of her Lord. She, too, stood at the Cross when Christ died. Her son had forsaken and fled, but not she. She, too, was at the empty tomb along with the other women. Her son was not there, but she was there. It is required of a servant of the Lord that he prove faithful.
What made this Mary so devoted to Christ? "What is it," says one "that so draws men, that wins their allegiance away from every other master, that makes them ready to leave all for His sake and to follow Him through peril and sacrifice even to death? Is it His wonderful teaching? No man ever "spake like this Man." Is it His power as revealed in His miracles? Is it His sinlessness? The most malignant scrutiny could find no fault in Him. Is it the perfect beauty of His character? None nor all of these will account for the wonderful attraction of Jesus, Love is the secret He came into the world to reveal the love of God He was the love of God in human flesh. His life was all love. In most wonderful ways during all His life did He reveal love. Men saw it in His face, and felt it in His touch, and heard it in His voice. This was the great fact which His disciples felt in His life. His friendship was unlike any friendship they had ever seen before or even dreamed of. It was this that drew them to Him, and made them love Him so deeply, so tenderly. Nothing but love will kindle love. Power will not do it men will take your gifts and then repay you with hatred. But love begets love; heart responds to heart. Jesus loved."
IV. MARY OF BETHANY (Luke 10:42 )
1. Let us observe certain contrasts. Mary stands among us as the representative of the spiritual versus the carnal, and, as a contrast of the spiritual versus the social. She and Martha were both saved. Both of them loved the Lord devotedly, and yet they lived in altogether distinct realms of vision and of spiritual life.
We wonder if Mary in her beautiful spirit, her desire to hear the words of her Lord, and in her devotion of service to Christ stands in contrast to us. Are we as spiritual as she? Do we listen as she listened? Do we serve as she served?
2. Let us observe that she was a woman of deep thought. In this she excelled the Apostles who had been with the Lord far more than was she. She not only sat at His feet and heard His words, but she believed them. She weighed them; she carried them with her, and meditated upon them. It was for this cause, that she saw depths of meaning in what Christ said, depths that no others saw. It was she, only, who anointed Him against the day of His burial.
Such spirituality as was Mary's can come to us only as we know Christ in a personal and real way. We have read the following story.
"On the inside of the dome in the rotunda in Washington are painted a number of angels. When the artist first showed his work, the committee said, 'Your form and color are all right, but the faces lack spirituality.' Again he painted, and again was told the same thing. He tried once more and received the same criticism. Completely discouraged, he went to his studio and wondered why he could not paint to satisfy his critics. It began to dawn on him that, in order to get the spirituality into the faces of his angels he first must have it in his heart. God heard his cry and gave him the "new life." He then went at his task again. This time he succeeded in painting into his angels' faces that spirituality, without which his work was useless.
"We can have no power in bringing others to Christ unless we show them that we have had the 'new life' ourselves."
V. MARY, THE MOTHER OF JOHN MARK (Acts 12:12 )
We now pass over the Marys mentioned in the Gospels to a special Mary who was well known among the disciples of the early Church. There are some noteworthy things about this Mary.
1. She was a woman who delighted to yield her home to the church in Jerusalem as a gathering-place. She evidently had a large house, and she was, therefore, a woman of means. Not only that, but she had a large house to which the saints were, not once, but always welcome. Our key verse tells us that when Peter was released from prison, he at once went to the house of Mary, the mother of Mark, and found the saints gathered there praying.
Beloved, anyone must be a real Christian, when she yields her house, time and again, for the gathering of saints. There is much of work about it, both by way of preparation, and also by way of after cleaning.
2. She was a woman who gave her son to the Gospel. It was John Mark who traveled with Paul. He was Paul's right-hand man for a long time. In this she was similar to that other Mary, the wife of Cleophas.
As we see it, no mother could have a greater joy than to give her child as a missionary, a preacher, or an all-time worker for Christ. We remember the joy that thrilled our own mother when we told her that we had been definitely called to preach the Gospel. She was simply overwhelmed with gladness.
VI. MARY OF ROME (Romans 16:6 )
Now we go to a Mary who is mentioned in Romans 16:1-27 . Our verse is very simple. It reads: "Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us."
1. This Mary was a Roman, who had, no doubt, adopted the name of "Mary" upon her conversion. This was quite customary in those days. It is still the custom in foreign fields for converts to assume the name of some noted believer. There is, however, something very beautiful in the fact this woman chose the name she did. You can all imagine why. Perhaps she was thinking of Mary, the mother of Christ, or of Mary Magdalene, or of Mary the wife of Cleophas, or of Mary of Bethany, or of Mary, the mother of John Mark. There was something in one of these Marys, or in all, which touched her and caused her to select that name.
2. This Mary was an ardent laborer for the Lord. By this we do not mean that she was a preacher, or an evangelist. Not at all. In the New Testament days women were not known as evangelists, preachers, or teachers. They were known because they sustained and strengthened the hands of the ministers who did preach. Thus Mary bestowed labor upon Paul. Paul says "on us." Perhaps it was Paul and John Mark; it may have been Paul and Silas, or Paul and Barnabas. However, she was a woman who served the saints. Let us do likewise.
VII. MARY, THE SISTER OF MOSES (Exodus 15:20 )
1. Mary was a prophetess with a song. We must remember that in her youth she had stood over against the river and watched as her brother, Moses, lay in an ark of bulrushes. It was she who ran down and spoke to the daughter of Pharaoh suggesting that she secure a Hebrew nurse for the baby. However, that little babe in his earlier years was in the palace of Pharaoh, and afterward, in his maturity he dwelt in the land of Midian. It was only when Moses was eighty years of age that Moses returned to Egypt as the deliverer of Israel. Miriam, had, therefore, known far more of Aaron, than she had known of Moses. However, when Moses returned, she was there to greet him, and when Pharaoh's host was overthrown in the Red Sea, it was she who led the women in a wonderful song of deliverance. Study the words of her magnificat.
2. Mary was conscientious for the right. In Numbers 12:1 there is a startling statement. It reads like this: "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman he had married." We admire Miriam and Aaron because of their faithfulness to God above their faithfulness to Moses. However, there is a tinge of sadness, because both Miriam and her brother, Aaron, no doubt spoke against Moses partly because they were jealous of him, even though he was their brother.
This jealousy is revealed in Numbers 12:2 of the chapter named: "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath He not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it."
Let us be very careful lest any of us allow ourselves to become jealous of another, and then lest we use our fidelity to God and to the truth as an excuse to condemn our brother. We must ever give honor to God's right of choice in the selection of individuals to do His work.
"Our Mothers An Appreciation: 'When Jesus therefore saw His mother,' etc. (John 19:26-27 ), Our Debt to Motherhood: 'Render therefore to all their dues: honor to whom honor' (Romans 13:7 ).
God and Motherhood: 'For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother' (Matthew 15:4 ).
A Holy Family: 'Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me' (Isaiah 8:18 ).
A Mother's Wages: 'Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages' (Exodus 2:9 ).
The Nobility of Motherhood: 'The price of a virtuous woman is far above rubies,' etc. (Proverbs 31:10-13 ).
An Utter Folly: 'A foolish man despiseth his mother' (Proverbs 15:20 ).
The Law of Thy Mother: 'My son, keep thy father's, commandments, and forsake not the law of thy mother' (Proverbs 6:20 )."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Exodus 15". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26