Brought Out, to be Brought In
“He brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.” — Deuteronomy vi. 23.
OUR text occurs in the passage where the Israelites are told to personally instruct their children concerning the testimonies and statutes and judgments of the Lord. When they asked the meaning of the various ordinances of God’s house, their parents were to tell them, — not to refer them to the priest, but they were themselves to instruct their children in the things of God. In our own case, however much we may love and appreciate the Sunday-school system, — and we cannot love it too much, — I hope we shall never forget that the first duty towards the child belongs to the parent. Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever had such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother; neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring.
We should especially tell our children our own experience, for so it is enjoined in this passage: “When thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord our God hath commanded you? Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” Perhaps, my friend, there is no testimony that you can bear, which will be so useful, so interesting, and so striking, as the testimony of what you have yourself seen and handled of the Word of life. Tell the gospel as you find it in the Bible, but set it in the frame of your own experience of its preciousness. Tell your son how you sinned, and how the Lord had mercy upon you; tell him how he met with you, how you were brought to seek his face, how you were born again, how you received a new heart and a right spirit. He will think the more of this great change because it happened to his father, or to his mother, or to some kind friend. And, mayhap, if he be not himself converted as a child, in his later life he may think of what you told him or the remembrance of his mother’s God may rise before him when he is far away from the scenes of his youth, and has spent many years in foolish vanities ; and he may even then turn to God, beckoned back to the great Father’s house above by the memory of his godly father and mother here below.
It is my earnest desire just now to bear witness on the behalf of many of God’s people, while I try to explain the meaning of our text, “He brought us out . . . that he might bring us in.” We shall have three heads to our discourse. First, we were brought out. As surely as Israel was brought out of: Egypt, we who believe in Jesus have been brought out of the house of our bondage. Therefore, secondly, we are out; and thirdly, the Lord who brought us out will bring us into another and a better country, — into “Thy land, O Immanuel,” into that place of rest and everlasting jubilee which God by covenant has given over to his people as their perpetual possession.
I. First, dear friends, let us speak upon the fact that WE WERE BROUGHT OUT. Our text says, “He brought us out from thence;” that is, Jehovah, the God of Israel, brought his people out from the house of bondage; and, in like manner, we bear our testimony that the Lord has delivered us from the bondage of sin and Satan.
Our witness, therefore, is, first of all, that God has had to do with us. Some there are who think that God dwells far away, shut up in eternal seclusion; but we have not found it so, for he has had dealings in mercy with us. They suppose that the things here below are too little and too commonplace for God to consider; but it has not been so with us, for he has dealt well with his servants according to his Word. They suppose that there is a thick veil that shuts us out from the Invisible, a great gulf that parts us poor mortals from any communication with God. They smile and turn upon their heel when we begin to talk of God; they are “agnostics” — know-nothings. Perhaps they will not say that there is no God; but they do say that they do not know whether there is a God or not; and, as to any communication between the Holy One of Israel and such poor creatures as we are, they will not believe it to be possible. Well, then, we have to bear our testimony upon this point, and it is this, — that, with some of us a very little while ago, and with others of us so many years ago as to be among the memories of our youth, God had solemn dealings. We were in the land of darkness, and in the valley of the shadow of death. We wore fond of sin, we were slaves to it; and we had no wish nor will to escape from it; but he who is the Father of our spirits, having loved us with an everlasting love, and having made a covenant with his only-begotten Son on our behalf, rent the heavens, and in majesty came down.
This was done spiritually, for God is a Spirit; and, therefore, they who were round about us knew it not; and we ourselves saw him not, and beheld no similitude; neither heard we any voice with our outward ear. But, though it was spiritual, God’s coming to us was very real, for spirit is as real as matter, and God is as real as the things that we touch, or see, or feel. We are not deceived in this matter; or if we are, it has become so much a matter of daily consciousness, as well as of past memory, that we must be indeed besotted beyond all conception. But it has not been a dream to us, for it has changed our whole lives, and it doth to-day affect and move us most powerfully. We can imagine that it is a dream that we eat and drink, but it is no dream that God lives in us, and we live in him. It may be a dream that we have grown up from childhood into manhood, — though it would take a great deal of argument to prove that to us, — but it is no dream that, whereas we were blind, now we see. It is no dream that, whereas we were dead, now we live. It is no dream that things we did not believe in are now to us the best and highest and most practical of facts. It is not a dream that God has dealt with us; and, though we cannot expect men to believe us, we feel sure that, had they known what we know, they would have been as little doubtful about it as we are; had they passed through the experience we have had, they would have been as dogmatical in their assertion about it as we take leave to be. Though we may be thought fools for this confidence, we think we are not fools. In other matters, we are at least the equals of the men who think us fools as to our religion, and we can reason as well as they. If they have understanding, we have understanding also; and, at any rate, we are quite willing to leave the matter to the test of the next world. You see, beloved, we have two strings to our bow; if we should turn out to have been wrong, and should die like dogs, we shall be none the worse; whereas, if our beliefs turn out to be well-founded, the ungodly will be in a sorry case indeed. So we bear our witness without any kind of fear or blush, or any alarm about being thought fools for it, and we say that God has dealt with our spirits. Our spirit has spoken to his Spirit, and his Spirit has spoken to our spirit, and there have been divine communications to us from the great God who made us, who, we assert, has new-made us, and brought us out of our former condition into another and a better state. So, with the Israelites, we can say, “He brought us out.”
In describing this bringing out, I have to remind you that the Christian’s life runs parallel with the life of Israel in Egypt.
In order to get Israel out of Egypt, the first thing was to make Israel loathe Egypt. When Israel was in Goshen, and the land brought forth plentifully, Israel was like sheep in clover, and, like a bullock that loves deep pasture, had no desire to come out from the fat Delta of the Nile. Israel prospered, Israel was great. Was not Joseph at the head of the State; and even after his death, did not the memory of Joseph still make every Egyptian respect the Israelites? They would have lived there still, there would have been no coming out of Egypt for Israel if all had gone well with them there. The Lord saw that the first thing to be done, in preparation for the people’s emancipation, was to make them loathe Egypt. So there arises a new king that knows not Joseph, a king who considers that the existence of a foreign people in the midst of his nation is a source of danger. He must begin if possible to reduce their numbers. They shall work for him, and render the unpaid labour of slaves. When they do this, and still multiply, they shall find their own straw, with which to make the bricks. When they complain of this, they shall have the tale of the bricks doubled until they begin to sigh and cry and groan by reason of their taskmasters. If you had met an Israelite ten years before the period of slavery, and had said to him, “Do you feel at home in Egypt?” he would have answered, “Certainly; everything prospers with us, we cannot do better than be here.” But afterwards, if you had met him, and put to him the same question, he would have said, “Wish to stay in Egypt? Not I! Would God I could escape from the taskmaster! It is cruelty from morning to night, and a toil that is terrible; and I have heard” — and the strong man would stand and weep as he told the story, — “I have heard that now there is an edict issued that our male children shall be cast into the river, so that, if we have a son born into our house, it will be indeed an unbearable sorrow, for our children must be destroyed by the tyrant.” It was a great step towards the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose when he made Israel to feel that Egypt was the house of bondage.
It is in some such way as this that God makes his own elect to feel that the state of nature, the worldly, natural, sinful state, is a state of bondage. Look at the multitude of our fellow-men; they have no wish to enter into any other state, they are quite satisfied with the condition in which they now are. Provided that they can earn good wages, that they can make money, that they can enjoy themselves in the pleasures of this life, they do not want anything more. You seem to be as those that mock when you talk to them about another world; they have enough difficulty to make both ends meet in this world, they say. You speak about a judgment to come; they would be a deal more impressed with some information about the police-courts than about the last dread assize when the Judge of all shall sit upon the great white throne. No, if they do not believe themselves to be mere beasts, to live and die, and then there will be an end of them, yet they act as if that were their belief. It is so with the most of our fellowmen; and it was so with you and with me in our unregenerate state. If we could have had our choice, we should have had a good time of it here, perhaps taking as our motto, “A short life and a merry one.” Or, if we were more prudent, we should have wished to have a well-ordered, moral, upright life, in which we could be respectable and respected, and that would have satisfied us. O sirs, it is a miracle of grace that God has made us to loathe that old land of Egypt, and to count it to be the house of bondage! And now, to live unto ourselves is slavery; to live for this world seems to us to be the meanest and most beggarly thing that can be.
That was the first thing, then, that God did towards bringing out his people, he made them to loathe Egypt.
The next thing he did was, to make them see his wrath upon Egypt, — the plagues that he sent therein. They had, no doubt, looked upon the Egyptians as being a very happy people, like themselves; they were, for a time, birds of a feather. But now they see all Egypt made the target for Jehovah’s thunderbolts. At one time, all is darkness; at another time, the very air is filled with lice and flies. One day, the frogs come up everywhere, even into the king’s chambers. At another hour, boils and blains are on man and beast; and at the appointed period, there comes a shower of fire, and the fire is mingled with hail, and the fire runs along the ground, and the great terrific claps of thunder come, peal upon peal, one after the other, and Israel thinks, “This is a poor country to live in; we must rise up and be gone. If God deals thus with the Egyptians, God grant that we may not be Egyptians! Let us clear out of this land as soon as we can.”
So has God made some of us see his judgments upon guilty men. We have walked through the world with our eyes open, and we have seen men as others do not see them, with the leprosy of sin white upon their brow. We have seen them with the fever of lust which nothing could abate. We have seen them droop and die; and with our eyes open we have seen them pass into that region which is divided for over from all hope by a great gulf, so that they that would pass from us to them cannot, neither can they come to us that would pass from thence. Yes, and our spirits have listened till we have heard in dread and fear the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth of souls that passed away unforgiven, without God and without hope. We have heard that this city is to be burned up, for it is the City of Destruction; and, burdened as we were, we began to run from it, that we might perhaps escape ere God should pour out the full vials of his vengeance upon men. I am talking no dreams now; or, at any rate, they are such dreams as I have had when most awake, — such dreams as some here present have had, and such dreams as have made us anxious to get away from this present evil world which lieth in the wicked one, that we may not be destroyed with it in the day of God’s righteous wrath. Furthermore, dear friends, God brought his people out of Egypt by breaking the power which held them in bondage. When they wished to get away from Pharaoh, they could not, for he held them as his slaves; but in due time God began to deal with Pharaoh, and at last, when he had smitten the first-born in all the land, and the chief of all the strength of Egypt, they could not hold in captivity a single Israelite, nay, not even a cow or a sheep or a goat that belonged to Israel. The power of Egypt was so completely broken that not a hoof was left behind. And there came a day with us when the power of sin was finally broken. We sat at the foot of the cross, looking up, weeping and wondering, and on a sudden, as we believed in Jesus, we learnt the meaning of the angel’s message to Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” for there and then he saved us from our sins. The guilt of sin was gone; but, what was stranger still, the power of sin was gone, too. We had proved the truth of the apostle’s words, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” With the crimson blood that bought our pardon there fell the white and sparkling drops that cleansed our nature; the water with the blood delivered us from the guilt and power of sin, and we were free strangely free. We wondered how it was that we had not the desires and passions and inclinations that we used to have; or, if they came, we had a new life and power with which we fought with them hand to hand. We welcomed them no more as friends, but we spumed them as our worst foes, for God had delivered us from the great bondage we were under. Sin is a thing abhorred and detested by us, and our spirit has come clean out from under its power as a reigning force.
Remember also, beloved, that when the Lord broke the power of Egypt over Israel, it was on the night of the passover that He did it. That was the final blow that fell when the Israelites had slain the paschal lamb, and sprinkled its blood upon the lintel and the two side posts of their houses. When Jehovah saw the blood, then he passed over them in such a wondrous way that they also passed over the Egyptians, and marched out of the land more than conquerors through him that had bled for them under the emblem of the paschal lamb.
Beloved, that redemption has been accomplished for us also. It is not everyone who can remember the very day and hour of his deliverance; but, as I told you the other morning, of Richard Knill, who said, “At such a time of the day, clang went every harp in heaven, for Richard Knill was born again,” it was e’en so with me. I looked to Jesus; and as I looked I lived, and there and then I came clean out from that old slavery in which I had dwelt up to that hour. Blessed be the name of God for that glorious emancipation!
Yet once more upon this part of our text, “He brought us out” when, after being set free, we were violently pursued by our old sins. The Israelites went up harnessed, marching in their ranks, and, I doubt not, singing as they went because they were delivered from the daily task and from the cruel bondage; but suddenly they turned their heads while they were marching, for they heard a dreadful noise behind them, a noise of chariots and of men shouting for battle ; and, at last, when they could really see the Egyptians, and the thick cloud of dust rising behind them, then they said that they should be destroyed, they should now fall by the hand of the enemy. You remember, beloved, after your conversion (it may not have happened to you all, but it did to me), there came a time when the enemy said, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” So Satan, loth to leave a soul, pursues it hot-foot. He will have it back if he can; and often, soon after conversion, there comes a time of dreadful conflict, when the soul seems as if it could not live. “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that the Lord brought us into this condition of temporary freedom, that we might be all the more distressed by our adversaries?” So said unbelief; but you recollect how God brought his people right out by one final stroke. Miriam knew it when she took her timbrel, and went forth with the women, and answered them in the jubilant song, “Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” I love best of all that note in the song of Moses where he says, “The depths have covered them.” “There remained not so much as one of them.” What gladness must have been in the hearts of the children of Israel when they knew that their enemies were all gone! I am sure it was so with me; for after my conversion, being again attacked by sin, I saw the mighty stream of redeeming love roll over all my sins, and this was my song, “The depths have covered them.” “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
II. There has been so much in the first part of our subject, — “He brought us out,” — that I must speak only very briefly upon our second division, which is, WE ARE OUT.
That is to say, dear friends, we are out of the bondage of sin and death, never to be captured again, and never to go back again of our own free will. “Oh!” says one, “that is strong teaching.” I do not care whether it is strong or weak, it is Bible teaching. Our Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” To the woman at the well our Saviour said, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The work of the Holy Spirit is no temporary regeneration, but one that really makes the man new for ever, and the devil himself cannot undo the work. No, dear friend, if God brings you up out of Egypt, you shall never go back again into the house of bondage.
I heard, the other day, of a woman who came, at the end of a certain revival meeting, to make a confession of her faith. She said she had been regenerated six times! Now, I have heard and read in the Bible of people being born again; but to be born again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, is not what I have read anywhere in the Scriptures, or, if such a thing be possible, — if being born again does not finally save men, remember that awful warning of the apostle, “It is impossible if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” The Word of God is very explicit about that matter. “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” Our Saviour also said, “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither lit for the land nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out.” You cannot imagine surely that a person can be regenerated twice; if the work of regeneration is accomplished once, and it does not save the soul, then there is no salvation for it. That is all God ever will do, and therefore do I bless and glorify his name that there never was and never shall be an instance in which he has made a man a new creature in Christ Jesus, and then the work of grace has failed. There are plenty who come near to this point, and who seem sometimes to have really reached it; but rest you sure of this, beloved, if the Lord has brought you forth out of this captivity, none shall ever undo what God has done. We are out; we are out. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” We hold to that plain and blessed truth. Of old, the Lord said, “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Nothing can be more definite and explicit than that. We are bound for the land of Canaan, and into Canaan we shall go.
We are out; that is, we are now separated unto the Lord. If we are indeed what I have described, we do not belong in the fullest sense to any country or to any people, but we belong to God, we are separate from all people upon the face of the earth. You cannot make anything but a Jew of a Jew; you may do what you like with him, but he always remains a Jew. And you cannot make anything of a Christian but a Christian. Put him where you may, he is a Christian still; whatever sphere of social life he occupies, or in whatever country he dwells, he is ever a Christian. I was never ashamed of being an Englishman except when I have seen an Englishman behaving wrongly towards other people; then, I have felt as if I would be a Frenchman, or anything else; but I would be a Christian first of all, and above all. When I am a Christian, I know no nationality. We are cosmopolites, — inhabitants of every place, wherever we may be, if we are inhabitants of the holy city which is above. Our citizenship is in heaven, therefore we are separated from all the rest of mankind. The world knows us not, because it knew not our Lord. May God separate us more and more unto himself!
But we are separated that we may be preserved by the Lord, and blessed by the Lord; for Israel, when brought out of Egypt, had to live by manna that dropped daily from heaven, and by water that gushed out of the rock. That is how all Christians ought to live. You are not to depend now upon the world; you are to depend upon God for everything, for your bread and for your water, and for all you need. The whole of your life is to be in him; not only that which is spiritual, but even that which is outward and visible, is still to be a life in Christ, and a life for Christ, for you are dead to the world, and your life is hid with Christ in God. The Lord said, even by the mouth of Balaam, “The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” Oh, what a mercy it is to be out of Egypt in that respect!
Dear brethren, whatever our condition may be here, we are out of Egypt en route for the glory land. He who brought us out of Egypt will bring us into Canaan. Our home is not here, our feet are not fixed upon this narrow plot of earth, they are moving towards another country, that is, a heavenly.
III. I can only just touch upon the last part of our text, — HE WILL BRING US IN, — much about it.
The Lord brought us out on purpose that he might bring us in. He for our time has gone; but I want to say this did not bring us out merely for what we are now, but also for what we are yet to be. If Israel had only been what she ought to have been, she would have been into Canaan almost as soon as she was out of Egypt; and if you and I were all we ought to be, we should even here enjoy full felicity, for there is a heaven below, and there is a rest for the people of God which we find in Christ even now.
So, next, the delay is caused by our unfitness. The Israelites were unbelieving, so they had to wander for forty years in the wilderness before the nation entered upon its heritage in the land of Canaan. And it is because you and I are so carnal, and there is so much of unbelief about us, that we go up and down, backwards and forwards, and do not fully enter into the possession of the glorious privileges which are ours by covenant right. Yet, even here, we who have believed do enter into rest, we have a foretaste of heaven, we have the first-fruits of the Spirit. We have tasted the grapes of Eschol, and we are longing to cross the Jordan, and to be —
“Where our dear Lord his vineyard keeps,
And all the clusters grow.”
The Lord brought us out with this design, that he might bring us in; it is clear that he who brought us out can bring us in. That which remains to be done is not as much as that which has already been done. There is not half as much difficulty between here and heaven as there lies behind us, between here and our fallen condition. Atonement has been made; and that is the greatest work of all. Sin has been put away, eternal life has come into these dead souls; and merely to keep that flame alive, albeit it needs divine power, yet is a small thing compared with the putting of the light within us, and the redeeming us from sin, and death, and hell.
He brought us out, and he will bring us in, else he would lose all that he has done. If the Lord does not bring us into glory, then the precious blood of Christ has been shed in vain, and the Holy Spirit has operated upon our hearts in vain. If God does not finish his work upon us and in us, then men and devils will say that he began to build, but he could not finish. A soul in whom the Lord does not finish his work would be a monument for the eternal derision of Satan and all his hosts; and that shall never be. God’s eternal purpose would fail if he did not bring us in. Let us therefore trust in him, and say, “He will bring us in.” Despite the Girgashites, and the Hittites, and all the other “-ites,” he will bring us in. Across the Jordan we shall go with our Joshua, Jehovah-Jesus, at our head, and we shall take our possession, every one of us in that glorious land, and stand in our lot in that day, as surely as he has brought us out.
The important point for us to settle is, — Has the Lord indeed brought us out? If any of you are still in bondage, the Lord make you to feel your bondage! The Lord make you to cry out in the bitterness of your soul! That is half-way towards getting out; that feeling of loathing for your present state is half the battle of your coming out of Egypt. The Lord make you to cry and groan, and look right out of yourselves wholly to the Lord Jesus; and if, by the grip of faith, you get hold of my Master’s skirts, there is none that shall make you loose your hold; for, if you have a hold on him, he has a firmer hold on you. If you have but touched him with the finger of faith, he has laid his eternal power under bond to save you, and he must and will accomplish the work, great as it is. God has laid help upon One who is mighty, and that mighty One shall never fail. Oh, the bliss of being in Christ! It is to be out of Egypt, and it is to have the certain prospect of being, by-and-by, in heaven.
God bless you all, dear friends, for Christ’s sake! Amen.