Out of Egypt
“When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”— Matthew ii. 14, 15.
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”— Hosea xi. 1.
EGYPT occupies a very singular position towards Israel. It was often the shelter of the seed of Abraham. Abraham himself went there when there was a famine in the land of his sojourn. To Egypt Joseph was taken that he might escape from the death intended for him by his envious brethren, and become the foster-father of the house of Israel. Into Egypt, as we all right well know, went the whole family of Jacob, and there they sojourned in a strange land. There Moses acquired the learning which was so useful to him. It was out of the spoils of Egypt that the furniture of the Tabernacle was made, as if to show that God intended to take out of heathen hands an offering to his own glory, just as afterwards the timber of the Temple was hewn by Hiram the Phoenician, that the Gentiles might have a share in building the Temple, in token that they would one day be made fellow heirs with Israel. But while Egypt was for awhile the shelter of the house of Israel it became afterwards the house of bondage, and a country fraught with danger to the very existence of the elect nation. There was a very useful purpose to be served by their going down into Egypt for awhile, that they might be consolidated into a nation, and might acquire many useful arts which they could not have learned while they were wandering about in Palestine: the lesson was valuable, but it was learned in much misery. They had to smart beneath the lash, and faint beneath their labour: the iron bondage entered into Israel’s soul, so that an exceeding great and bitter cry went up unto heaven. Yet, when the heaviest burdens were laid on their shoulders, the day of liberty was dawning: when the tale of bricks was doubled, Moses was born. When man had come to his extremity of persecution, then God took his opportunity of salvation, and led his Israel out of Egypt in the teeth of their tyrant master. It had been at first a Goshen to them, a place of great abundance in the Delta of the Nile; but afterwards it became a Mizriam to them, for that is the Hebrew word for Egypt, and it means a place of straits and tribulations. The point that is meant to be brought forward by the prophet is that they were called out of Egypt, for it was not possible for them to mingle with the sons of Ham and lose their separate existence. They were on the banks of the Nile, and at first dwelt there in much comfort, but this seductive ease was not allowed to hold them: full soon they were heavily oppressed, and their existence was threatened; yet both from the comfort of Egypt and from the captivity of Egypt they were called, and at the call of God they came forth. The living seed may go into strange places, but it can never be destroyed. The host of God may walk through fire, but it shall not be burned. God has made the living seed immortal, and it cannot die, for it is born of God. Out of deadly lands, where every breath is disease, they shall be called by the eternal voice. Those whom God has chosen may be cast far, but they shall never be cast away; they may dwell among a people like the Egyptians, most superstitious and debased, a nation of whom even the heathen Juvenal made sport when he said, “Oh, happy people who grow their gods in their kitchen gardens,” for they worshipped leeks and onions, and all kinds of beasts and fowls, and creeping things; but the children of the Lord cannot be suffered to remain among such a people, for the Lord desires to make of Israel, and of all believers, a people separated unto himself. Out of the midst of guilty Egypt the Lord called his people, whom he had formed for himself, to show forth his praise. The abundance of superstition, though it be like the sea, shall not quench the spark of the divine life in the living family of God: it shall burn on amidst the waves until the God who first enkindled it shall by his own right hand pluck it from among the billows, and set it as a light upon a candlestick that it may give light to all that are in the house. Neither Egypt of old, nor Babylon, nor Home can destroy the seed royal; out of all dangers the church must emerge the better for her affliction. “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” is a text worthy to be made a proverb, for it is true all through the history of the chosen seed. They are called out from amongst the surrounding race of rebels, and when the call comes none can hold them back. It were easier to restrain the sun from rising than to hold the redeemed of the Lord in perpetual servitude. “The Breaker has gone up before them, and their King at the head of them”: who shall block up their road? God is still calling them out, and until the very last of his elect shall be ingathered it shall still stand true, “Out of Egypt”— and out of anywhere else that is like to Egypt, out of the worst and vilest places, out of the places where they are held fast in bitter bondage, out of these— “have I called my son.”
At this time I shall first call your attention to the text in Hosea according to the sense in which the prophet first uttered it. He speaks of the natural seed called out from the sheltering world, for Egypt was a sheltering world to Israel, the natural seed, and they were called out of it by the omnipotent power of God. Secondly, we shall notice the divine seed called out literally from a sheltering Egypt, and brought up from it into the land of Judea, that he might be the glory of his people Israel. Thirdly, we shall spend a little time in considering the chosen seed, those who are given unto Christ of the Father: these also must come out from the world, whether it be friendly or hostile. The Lord hath said to them, “This is not your rest, for it is polluted he is saying the same to-day. Still is it true of the spiritual seed as of our Lord Jesus and of the natural seed, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” May the Holy Spirit be our teacher while we handle this great subject.
I. Let us think of THE NATURAL SEED of Israel, as called out of Egypt, for with them this wonderful text began to be expounded. It is well worth considering, for this constituted one of the loftiest lyrics of Hebrew poetry. The deliverance of the people of God out of Egypt “with a high hand and with an outstretched arm” is a song which the nation never wearied of singing, and which we ought never to weary of singing either, for at the close of all things we and all the spirits redeemed shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God and of the Lamb. The great redemption of the Exodus shall always be so eminent a type of the greater redemption upon the cross that the two may be blended together, and words that were sung concerning the first deliverance may be readily enough used as expressions of our joy in our salvation from death and hell.
“From Egypt lately come,
Where death and darkness reign,
We seek our new, our better home,
Where we our rest shall gain.
We are on our way to God.”
While speaking upon this natural seed I want you to notice, first, that if they are to be called out of Egypt they must first go down into Egypt. They cannot come out of it if they have not first gone into it. I do not know of anything that could have tempted them down into Egypt, for it had nothing to offer which was better than Canaan; but the fathers of the tribes were driven there by a famine which troubled the whole world. The Lord sent a man before them, even Joseph, who laid up in store food for the seven years of famine, and Israel went down into Egypt that they might not die, but might be cherished by Joseph, who had become lord of the land.
The Lord may, in order to prevent his people falling into a worse evil, permit them to go into that which seems hopeful, but ultimately turns out to be a great trial to them. Suffering is infinitely preferable to sinning; the Lord may therefore send us sorrow to keep us from iniquity. Dear friend, the Lord who reads your heart may know that it is absolutely necessary for you to be tried, and so spiritually to go down into Egypt. He may send a famine to drive you there; he may place you under great tribulations, and so he may bring you down both mentally and spiritually into a sad condition, where you shall sigh and cry by reason of bondage. Do not look upon this as a strange thing, for all God’s gold must pass through the fire. It is one of the marks of God’s elect that they are afflicted. The Lord Jesus saith. “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.” Depend upon it that if you are one of the true seed you must go down into Egypt: for the Lord said to Abraham, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs.” The escutcheon of the chosen bears the emblem of a smoking, furnace and a burning lamp. Even if the world shelters you, it will sooner or later become to you the house of bondage: yet into that house of bondage you must go, for there is a great educational process going on in affliction to prepare us for the land which floweth with milk and honey. Egypt is one of the early lessons; strangely early with some; their religious life begins with a cloudy morning and threatening of storm. This will work them lasting good. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth hence we have “When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt.” The earliest days of Israel were in Egypt, the nation in its infancy was called from thence. While the divine life has not yet attained to maturity we meet with straits and troubles, and have to go down into Egypt and feel the weight of the yoke upon our shoulders. This is one of God’s ways of preparing us for freedom, for he that has never tasted of the bitterness of bondage will never be able to appreciate the sweets of the liberty wherewith Christ makes men free. So Israel must first go down into Egypt; he descends that he may rise to greater heights.
Note next, that it was while in Egypt, and at the worst time of their bondage in Egypt, that they received the first notification that the nation was to be called the son of God. Israel is not called a son until Moses comes to Pharaoh and says, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me.” God had been with Abraham, and called him his friend, but I do not perceive that he called him his son, or that Abraham addressed the Lord as “Our Father which art in heaven.” Neither do I find similar sweet words flowing from the lips of Isaac or of Jacob; but when Israel was in bondage, then it was that the Lord revealed Israel’s adoption, and openly declared, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, and he receives them even while the scourge is sorely bruising them. They were a poor down-trodden nation— a nation of slaves begrimed with brick-earth, and bleeding beneath the lash of their taskmasters! The Egyptians must have utterly despised a people who yielded so readily to all their exactions; they looked upon them as a herd of slaves, who had not the spirit to rebel, whatever cruelties they might endure. But now it is, while they are lying among the pots, and their faces are stained with tears, that the Lord openly before proud Pharaoh owns the nation as his son, saying, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” I think I see Pharaoh’s grim, sardonic smile as he seems to say, “Those slaves, those wretched brickmakers, whom the lowest of my people despise,— if these are Jehovah’s firstborn, what care I for him or them?” Learn hence, dear brothers and sisters, that God is not ashamed of his children when they are in their worst estate. We are told concerning our Lord Jesus, “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Ay, and not when they put on their beautiful array, and when the jewels are in their ears, and when they are led forth with music and dancing, and when they shout over Egyptian chivalry drowned in the Red Sea, will they be more the Lord’s children than they are in the house of bondage. The Lord God speaks of their adoption for the first time when they are still under the oppressor, and when it seems impossible that they can be rescued. The Lord speaks very plainly to the haughty Pharaoh, “Let my son go that he may serve me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.” Oh, but is it not a blessed thing to go down into the Egypt of tribulation if there for the first time we learn our adoption of the Lord? Is it not a sweet thing oven to be under the heaviest bondage if you are by such means made to understand better than ever you did before what it is to be a son and a heir, a joint heir with Jesus Christ? The firstborn of every creature is he, and we are the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. The heritage of the firstborn belongs to Jesus, and to us in him; and we often know this best when our heart is broken for sin, and when our troubles are overwhelming our spirit. “Fear not,” saith he, “I will help thee.” “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.” Yes, it was in Egyptian bondage that they received the first witness of the Spirit that they were as a people the sons of God.
When it became clear that they were really the sons of God, then they suffered persecution for it. A place which, as I have said, was at first their shelter, now became the iron furnace of oppression. Their hard labours are doubled, their male children were ordered to be cast into the river, and edicts of the most intolerable kind were fulminated against them. Now, brethren, Satan soon knows the man that God has owned to be his son, and he seeks to slay him even as Herod sought to kill Jesus. When the man-child was born, the Dragon knew who that man-child was, and sought to destroy him, and vomited forth floods to sweep him away, until we read that the earth helped the woman, and there were given to her wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished from the face of the serpent. No sooner is the child of God really acknowledged to be such, than at once the seed of the serpent will hiss about him, and if they can will cast their venom upon him: at any rate, they will bite at his heel, till God has taught him in the name of Jesus to break the serpent’s head. Rest assured that this is another mark of the election of grace. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. In Ishmael’s case it was seen that he that is born after the flesh persecuteth him that is born after the Spirit, and so it is now. You cannot expect to pass through this Vanity Fair without exciting the jeers and sneers of the ungodly; for the Lord’s inheritance is unto him as a speckled bird: the birds round about her are against her. Every David has his Saul, every Nehemiah his Sanballat, and every Mordecai his Haman.
But now comes the crown of the text, that is, “I have called my son out of Egypt,” and out of Egypt Israel must come. For Egypt was not Israel’s portion: it was “a land that was not theirs.” My brethren, we are not citizens of “the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”; and the best thing in this present evil world is not your portion nor mine. Friendly Egypt, sheltering Egypt, was not Israel’s inheritance. He gave them no portion even in the land of Goshen by a covenant of salt. They might tarry there for awhile, but out of it they must come, as it is written “thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt.” The best side of the world when it seems warmest and tenderest to us is not the place whereon we may lie down with comfort. The bosom of our God— that is the true shelter of his people, and there we must find rest. If we are dwelling in the world, and are tempted to be of the world, and to take up with the riches of Egypt, we must by grace be taught to cast all this behind our back, for we have not our portion in this life, neither can we have our inheritance until we enter upon the life that is to come. Jacob said on his death-bed, “Bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt,” and Joseph gave commandment concerning his bones that they should not remain in Pharaoh’s land. Even so the saints of God are weary of the world’s dominions; they tremble like a bird out of Egypt.
Not in Egypt would God reveal himself to his people. What saith he? “Come ye out from among them: be ye separate, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” When he called Israel his son it is in connection with this coming out. “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” And you and I must be fetched out from the world and all its associations, and truly severed from it, if we are ever to come to know the Lord our God. In Egypt God was not known, but “in Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.” His people must not permanently reside in a strange country. The land of tombs was no fit home for a living people whose God was the living God: therefore it is written, “Out of Egypt have I called my son”; and the heathen knew it, for they said one to another, “Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt.”
There were many difficulties in connection with this calling of Israel out of Egypt. Perhaps one of the chief obstacles was their own wish to stop there; for, strange as it may seem, though it was a house of bondage to them, they did not wish to stir from it at the first. Their spirit was broken by their sore bondage, so that they did not receive Moses and Aaron as they ought to have done, but they even chided with them. Ah, brethren, the chief work of God with us is to make us willing to go out, willing by faith to follow Jesus, willing to count the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. He did make them willing, and they went out at last right joyfully, marching in rank, like a trained army; not needing to be driven, but hasting to escape out of the enemy’s country. Moreover, the Lord made them able to go, as well as willing, for it is very beautiful to think that there were no sick people in the whole nation of Israel at that time of the going out. We read,— “There was not one feeble person in all their tribes.” What a splendid thin for a whole nation to have no weaklings! There was no need to carry any in the ambulance, but they all went marching forth with steady foot out of the dominions of Pharaoh. O child of God, has God given you the will to get out of the bondage of the sin and the corruption of this crooked generation? He that gives you the will will give you the power. Perhaps you are crying, “Who shall deliver me? To will is present with me, but how to perforin that which I would I find not.” Rest assured that God the Holy Spirit, who has given you the will, will also give you the strength, and you shall come marching out of Egypt, having eaten of the Paschal Lamb. The Lord stunned their enemies, so that they begged them to be gone, and bribed them to make haste. With blow upon blow he smote the Egyptians, till on that dreadful night, when shrieks of pain went up from every house in Egypt, the Egyptians hastened them to go. “We be all dead men,” said they, “unless you go”; and even their taskmasters urged them to immediate flight. Our God knows how to make even the wicked men of the world cast out the Christian: they cannot endure him when once his adoption is made known; they grow tired of his melancholy presence, tired of his convictions of sin, and of that gloomy face which he carries about with him, and they say, “Go out, go out, we cannot endure you.” They perceive something in him which is foreign to themselves, and so they thrust him out. Egypt was glad when they departed, and so even the world itself seems glad to be rid of the Lord’s elect when God’s time is come to set a difference between Israel and Egypt.
The spiritual meaning of all this is, that from under the power of sin, of Satan, and of the world God will certainly call his own redeemed. They shall not abide in the land of Egypt; sin shall not be pleasant to them; they shall not continue under Satan’s power, but they shall break his yoke from off their neck. The Lord will help them, and strengthen them, so that they shall clean escape from their former slavery. With a high hand and an outstretched arm brought he up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and with that same high hand and outstretched arm will he save his own elect, whom he has loved from before the foundations of the world, and whom he has purchased with his most precious blood. They, too, shall sing as Israel did, “Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously,” in the day when God shall deliver them. So far we have spoken of the natural seed.
II. Now we turn with pleasure to THE DIVINE SEED, the man Christ Jesus. He had to be called out by an angel from the sheltering Egypt into which Joseph and his mother had fled with him. I dare say when you have read that passage in Hosea, you have said, “I cannot see that it has anything to do with Christ.” The passage in Hosea is about Israel evidently, for God is speaking of Israel both before and after the verse; but look ye: the natural seed of Israel is the shell of the egg of which the divine seed is the life. God calls Israel his son. What for? Because within that nation lay that seed which afterwards was known as the Well-beloved, the Son of the Highest. They were the shell, and therefore to be preserved for the sake of the Blessed One who, according to the flesh, lay within the race. I do not think the Lord would have cared about the Jews more than for any other nation, if it had not been that in due time He was to be born of them, even he in whom is his delight, that choice one of the Father, the Son whom he loveth. So when he brought his son out of Egypt, it means first that he rescued the external, nominal, outward sonship; but the core, the living core within, is this Son, this true Son, of whom the Lord said, putting all others aside, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And the passage, if I had time to show you, could not be limited to Israel, for if it had been it would lose much of its accuracy. Why, think you, was the passage made so obscure, for it is obscure confessedly, and anyone reading it without the spiritual teaching which Matthew received would never have perceived that Christ was going down into Egypt to fulfil that word? I take it, the reason of the obscurity was this,— that its fulfilment might be of the Lord alone. Suppose his father and mother had known these prophecies, and had purposely set themselves to fulfil them, there would have existed a kind of collusion which would have beclouded the wonderful wisdom of God in bearing testimony to his Son. Mary and Joseph may have known of this prophecy, but I greatly question whether they perceived that it referred to their son at all, or to the Son of the Highest: but now they must do the very thing that God says shall be done, without knowing that they are fulfilling a Scripture. One of the worst things you and I can ever attempt is to try and fulfil a prophecy. Good mistress Rebecca wanted to fulfil a prophecy, and what a mess she made of it! She endeavoured to make her second son the heir, and in the attempt she brought upon him and herself a world of sorrow. Had she not better have let the prophecy alone? Surely, if a prophecy is made of God, God will see that it comes to pass. If it is a Chaldaic prophecy, a prophecy of soothsayers and magi, no doubt they will try to make their own oracle true; but the Lord, who seeth the end from the beginning and ordaineth all things, can speak positively of the future. If any of you set up for prophets, beware of prophesying till you know that you can make it good. God doth not need such petty provision: he wants no help from us: his word will surely be established. Mary and Joseph did not try to fulfil the prophecy, for they could not have understood it to mean what it did mean. It was purposely put in a dark and cloudy form, but still the Lord knew what he was doing: “That it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son.”
Remember one thing, that all the words of God in the Old Testament and the New refer to Christ; and what is more, that all the works of God have an opened window towards Christ. Yes, I say that in the creation of the world the central thought of God was his Son Jesus, and he made the world with a view to his death, resurrection, and glorious reign. From every midge that dances in the summer sunbeam up to the great leviathan in the sea, the whole design of the world worketh toward the seed in whom the earth is blessed. In providence it is just the same: every event, from the fall of a leaf to the rise of a monarchy, is linked with the kingdom of Jesus. I have not time to show this, but it is so; and if you choose to think it over, you will clearly perceive it. He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the children of Israel, and everything that has happened or ever shall happen in the outside world, all has a look towards the Christ, and that which comes of the Christ. I love to find Jesus everywhere,— not by twisting the Psalms and other Scriptures to make them speak of Christ when they do nothing of the kind, but by seeing him where he truly is. I would not err as Cocceius did, of whom they said his greatest fault was that he found Christ everywhere; but I would far rather err in his direction than have it said of me, as of another divine of the same period, that I found Christ nowhere. Would it not be better to see him where he is not than to miss him where he is? The pattern of the things on earth is in heaven; is, in fact, in Jesus, the Son of God. He is the pattern according to which the Tabernacle and the Temple were builded; ay, and the pattern according to which this brave world was made, and worlds which are yet to be revealed. All the treasures of the wisdom of God are hidden in Christ, and in Christ they are made manifest. I do not wonder therefore that this passage in Hosea should point to him.
It is certain that our blessed Lord is in the hightest sense the Son of God. “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Write the word SON in capitals,— and it must mean him: it cannot with emphasis mean anyone else. I would rather give up the idea that Hosea even thought of Israel, than think that the Holy Spirit did not intend that we should sec Jesus in those memorable words, “My son.”
It came to pass that our Lord must find no room in Israel, and so must go down into Egypt. There was no room for the young child in the inn; and now the Edomite, the child-devouring Herod, has risen, and there is no room for the new-born King anywhere in Palestine. Alas, how sad a picture of the visible church, where Christ, at times, can find no room! What with contending sects, Pharisees and Sadducees, there would seem to be no more room for Christ in the church to-day than there used to be. By fear of Herod his parents are made anxious, and by angelic direction they must go down into Egypt, where Herod’s warrant would not run. Heathen Egypt will shield while hypocritical Judea will slay. Jesus, like another Joseph, must be carried down into Egypt, that the young child’s life may be preserved. Here he has a foretaste of his life-trials, and early begins his life of affliction. The King of the Jews flees from his own dominions, the Lord of all must know the heart of a stranger in the land of Egypt. The poet represents, his mother as saying—
“Through the desert wild and dreary,
Following tracts explored by few,
Sad at heart, and worn, and weary,
We our toilsome march pursue.
Israel’s homes lie far behind us,
Yet we pause not to look back,
Lest the keen pursuer find us,
Lest grim murder scent our track.
“Eagles o’er our heads are whirling,
Each careering towards her nest;
E’en the wolf and fox are stealing
To the covert of their rest;
Every fowl and noxious creature
Finds on earth its lair and bed;
But the infant Lord of Nature
Hath not where to lay his head.
“Yes, my babe, sweet sleep enfolds thee
On thy fainting mother’s arm;
God in his great love beholds thee,
Angels guard thy rest from harm.
Earth and hell in vain beset thee,
Kings against thy life conspire;
But our God can ne’er forget thee,
Nor his arm that shields thee, tire.”
Mark well, that, if the Lord Jesus Christ had willed it, even though but a babe, he might have blasted Herod as he did another Herod in after days, and he might have made him to be eaten of worms. The glorious Jehovah could have sent a legion of angels, and have driven the Idumaean dynasty from off the throne, if so it had pleased him; but no violence was used— a gentler course was chosen. When Jesus stands up to fight he wars by non-resistance. He says, “My kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight.” He conquers by flight rather than by fight. He taught his people when persecuted in one city to flee to another; and never did he bid them form bands, and battle with their persecutors. That is not according to Christ’s law or example. A fighting church is the devil’s church, but a bearing and enduring church— that is Christ’s church. His parents fled with him by night, and took him down into Egypt, that he might be sheltered there. Traditions tell us wonderful stories about what happened when Jesus went into Egypt, but as none of them are inspired, I need not waste your time with them. The only one that might look like fact is, that his parents sheltered themselves in a temple wherein idol gods were ranged, and when the child entered all the images fell down. Certainly, if not actually true, it is a poetical description of that which happens wherever the holy child puts in an appearance. Every idol god falls before him. Down he must go, whether it be Dagon, or Baal, or Ashtaroth, or whatever the god may be called; ay, and he that wears the triple tiara on the seven hills, and calls himself the vicar of God on earth, must come down, and all his empire must sink like a millstone in the flood. We do not know how the young child and Joseph and Mary lived in Egypt, except that they had received gold from the Magi, and that being a carpenter, not a hedge carpenter, but one skilled in joinery and wheelwrighting, Joseph could find plenty of work in Egypt, where vast multitudes of Jews were already settled. Whether our Lord was carried to Alexandria or not we cannot tell. The probability is that there he was housed, for it was the great rendezvous of his nation and the centre of their learning: there had the Bible been translated into the Greek tongue by the seventy, and there flourished schools of Jews much more liberal than those in Judea. It is, therefore, not unlikely that the Prince of Peace went to that region where we have most unhappily illustrated Christianity with cuts— not all of wood, nor all innocent of blood. But Jesus could not stop in Egypt. “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” His parents by a brave act of faith went back at the command of the angel to the Holy Land: thy land, O Immanuel! Jesus could not stay in Egypt, for he was no Egyptian. He did not come to exercise a ministry among the Egyptians. He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, in his public working. Being called out of Egypt the heavenly vision was not disobeyed. His foster-parent Joseph took him back, and they settled in Nazareth. Yet remember he had been in Egypt, and this was a prophecy of blessing to that land; for wherever Jesus goes the air is sweetened. Every plot of land that his foot hath ever trodden on shall be his for ever. What said God to Jacob? “The land whereon thou liest will I give thee.” And the same is true to Jacob’s great descendant. Jesus has slept in Egypt, and Egypt is his own. God has given it to him, and his it shall be; glory be to his blessed name.
III. Let us turn to think of THE CHOSEN SEED that shall be brought out of Egypt. Here I would remark that this passage may be taken and should be taken literally. God has a chosen people who shall assuredly come out of the very Egypt which now exists. It is remarkable that early in the gospel day the truth was gladly received in Egypt. Egypt became the land of saints and divines, and as it had once been the source and home of civilization, so it became an active camp for the soldiers of the cross. Under the successors of Mahomet all this was swept away, and now the Crescent’s baneful beam falls where once the heavenly sun shed out its infinite glory, and scattered health among the sons of men. Egypt did turn to God, and it will turn again. Let me read you this passage (Isaiah xix.): “In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perforin it. And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them. In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.”
So that we feel clear that our God has yet a son to call out of Egypt, and he will call him. There shall be a seed to serve him even in the midst of the down-trodden people who live by the Nile-floods, for God hath said it. There is one passage to which I should like to refer you, because it is so full of comfort. (Jeremiah xliii. 12): “And he shall array himself with the land of Egypt,”— think of that— putting it on as Joseph put on his coat of many colours,— “as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace.” Yet shall Christ wear as a robe of honour this land of Egypt, and again shall it be true, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
Let ns learn from this that, out of the strangest and oddest places God will call his son. Certain brethren among us go the lodging-houses in Mint-street, Kent-street, and other places. Can any good thing come out of them? Assuredly, it can, for “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Out of Thieves’ Acre and Ketch’s Warren saints shall come. Some of you perhaps know of holes and corners in London where a decent person scarcely dares to be seen: do not pass by these abominable haunts, for out of such Egypts will the Lord call his sons. The worst field is often the most hopeful. Here is virgin soil, unploughed, untilled. What harvests may be won by willing workers! Oh ye brave hands, thrust in the ploughshare and break up this neglected soil, for thus saith the Lord, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Many of you who live in the midst of Israel, and hear the gospel every day, remain disobedient; but some from the lowest and vilest parts of the earth shall yet be called with an effectual calling, and they shall obey, for it is written, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
But we will take the text, and conclude with it, in a spiritual sense. All men are in Egypt spiritually, but God calls out his own sons. Sin is like Pharaoh, a tyrant that will not yield: he will not let men go; but he shall let them go, for God saith, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” We are in a world which is the destroyer of grace as Pharaoh was the destroyer of Israel’s little ones. You do not think a good thought but what it is laughed out of you: you scarcely catch a word of Scripture, but as soon as you get home you are compelled to forget it. Nevertheless out of that,— “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” You shall be delivered yet. Put you your trust in Jesus Christ, for “to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,” and out of Egypt will he call every son of his.
Perhaps you are in the dark, as the Egyptians were during the plague, or as when God turned the dark side of the pillar to Egypt. Ah, but if you are one of his, if you will but trust Jesus, which is the mark of being God’s elect, out of darkness will God call you; out of thick Egyptian night will he fetch you, and your eyes shall be made glad with the light of the gospel of Christ.
Perhaps you dwell in the midst of superstition, for the Egyptians were horribly given to superstition, but yet out of that will God call his people. I look to see priests converted. I hope yet to see leaders of the gospel found among men that were once steeped to the throat in superstition. Why not? “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Where did Luther come from but from the monastery, and he preached the word with thunder and lightning from heaven, and God blessed it to the emancipation of nations. He will bring others of that kind; out of all sorts of ignorance and superstition he will fetch them, to the praise of the glory of his grace. I feel encouraged to pray for those who appear to be hopeless: I feel as if I must cry to God, “Bring them out of Egypt, Lord, the worst, the vilest.” You here that know what Egypt is, and are in it, and know you are in it, oh, believe that the Emancipator has come, the Redeemer has appeared; with an offering of blood has he stood before God, and given Egypt for a ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for you. Oh, that he might win those with power whom he has bought with price, and to him be glory, world without end. Amen.