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3. And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Ger shom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:
4. And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.
5. And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:
6. And he said unto Moses, I thy father-in-law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.
7. And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.
We are now called to turn aside from the general history of the Israelites, to a little incident in the domestic life of Moses. It appears, that, probably owing to the great difficulties which he found awaiting him in Egypt, Moses had sent back his wife and children to his father-in-law Jethro, that they might dwell in safety under his charge, until his own authority was established, and the way made plain before him. These having now, by the Almighty's merciful guardianship, been accomplished, it was his bounden duty, and no doubt his earnest desire, to enjoy again the society of his wife and family. Accordingly, the chapter opens by informing us, that Jethro, having heard of all that God had done for Moses, came with his daughter and her sons, to the camp of the Israelites, and brought them unto Moses. It is added, that Jethro was a priest of Midian. There can be no doubt that he was a priest of the true God, or Moses would not have permitted him, as we find him in the 12th verse, to offer a burnt offering and sacrifices to Jehovah. As Jethro was descended from Midian, who was the son of Abraham and Keturah, it is not surprising that the knowledge of the Most High should have been retained in his family; and even had it not, it is difficult to imagine Moses dwelling for forty years under Jethro's roof, and marrying his daughter, without having been instrumental in imparting the word of life to her family.
As soon as Jethro had arrived at the encampment, he sent to announce the fact to Moses, who, notwithstanding his own high rank and authority, at once went forth to meet him, and “did obeisance.” Such, in the best days, and by the best men, has ever been the respect and reverence paid to age, and to superior relationship; and it is impossible that it should not remind us of one of the greatest men in our own national history, who, when advanced to the highest legal dignity, never passed the inferior court in which his aged father sat without entering it, and humbly kneeling before him, asked a parent's blessing. Happy are those families in which such feelings are not extinct, and doubly happy when the bond of close relationship is drawn still closer by the mutual love and reverence of each, to the heavenly Father of them all.
8. And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them.
9. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10. And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you
out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
Moses having brought his relatives into his tent, affords us another improving domestic lesson, by the nature of the conversation with which he entertains them. “ Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them." In fact, he narrates to them, as all would have done, the events which had passed during their separation, only he does not, as many under his remarkable circumstances would have been tempted to do, make himself the hero of his story; but delights to refer all to God, and to allow the Lord's doings, and the Lord's deliverances, to form the great burden of his conversation.
It is well, in our domestic intercourse, to bear this in mind; if we speak, as we are often naturally led to do, of the events of our past lives, let us be careful not to “sacrifice to our own net, or to burn incense to our own drag,”* but to trace all to that wise, and good, and gracious Being, who has appointed our going out and our coming in, and to whom every measure of success with which we may have been blessed, is simply and entirely to be referred. How painful is it often to the Christian, to hear those whose success in life is obviously alike disproportioned to their talents and their merits, dwell upon their own
* Hab. i. 16.
exertions with complacency, and their reward with pride; without bestowing one word of grateful reference to Him whose power, and that alone, whether for good or ill, has made them what they are.
12. And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God.
There is yet a third lesson to be derived from the incidents before us. Moses, to honour still farther his aged parent, invites Aaron and all the elders of Israel to a feast, and there, after Jethro had offered a burnt offering and sacrifices, they "eat bread” together “before the Lord.” Such family festivities as these were shortly afterwards not only permitted but enjoined by the Almighty, when, having given directions respecting their sacrifices, He added, “There ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee."* While again, at a much later period of their history, we find the same joyous and festive custom still adhered to; for on the important occasion of anointing Solomon king, we are told, “They did eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness;" the pious David himself, apparently regulating and partaking of the feast.
The service of God is not a hard service, nor the Master whom we obey a severe taskmaster. The Lord remembers that man possesses a body as well as a soul, and loves to minister to the happiness of both; and we cannot doubt that He, who in the days of his flesh was not absent from the wedding-feast, or when Lazarus "made him a supper, and Martha served,” delights in the assemblages of his children, even for purposes such as these, when they are held, as in the case of which we are speaking, " before the Lord,” that is, when they who are present bear in mind the apostolical injunction, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
* Deut. xii. 7:
Let the Christian, therefore, freely use the liberty wherewith God has blessed him, only let him “take heed, lest by any means this liberty of his become a stumbling-block to them that are weak;” but let it rather be an opportunity of edification, as well as pleasure to himself, and those with whom he associates. Thus will he fulfil the scriptural command, that his conversation be that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers,
,'* and thus every meeting will be such, as 'would be indeed held “before God,” if the presence of the Most High were as palpably visible, as it is, although invisible, certain and undeniable. Under such restrictions, who would forbid the festivities of which we speak? Certainly not that Saviour who when on earth delighted to make the social meal the vehicle of some of his most beautiful lessons of heavenly wisdom and heavenly love.