Verses 16–22

Moses is here more particularly instructed in his work, and informed beforehand of his success. 1. He must deal with the elders of Israel, and raise their expectation of a speedy removal to Canaan, Exod. 3:16, 17. He must repeat to them what God had said to him, as a faithful ambassador. Note, That which ministers have received of the Lord they must deliver to his people, and keep back nothing that is profitable. Lay an emphasis on that, Exod. 3:17: “I have said, I will bring you up; that is enough to satisfy them, I have said it:” hath he spoken, and will he not make it good? With us saying and doing are two things, but they are not so with God, for he is in one mind and who can turn him? “I have said it, and all the world cannot gainsay it. My counsel shall stand.” His success with the elders of Israel would be good; so he is told (Exod. 3:18): They shall hearken to thy voice, and not thrust thee away as they did forty years ago. He who, by his grace, inclines the heart, and opens the ear, could say beforehand, They shall hearken to thy voice, having determined to make them willing in this day of power. 2. He must deal with the king of Egypt (Exod. 3:18), he and the elders of Israel, and in this they must not begin with a demand, but with a humble petition; that gentle and submissive method must be first tried, even with one who, it was certain, would not be wrought upon by it: We beseech thee, let us go. Moreover, they must only beg leave of Pharaoh to go as far as Mount Sinai to worship God, and say nothing to him of going quite away to Canaan; the latter would have been immediately rejected, but the former was a very modest and reasonable request, and his denying it was utterly inexcusable and justified them in the total deserting of his kingdom. If he would not give them leave to go and sacrifice at Sinai, justly did they go without leave to settle in Canaan. Note, The calls and commands which God sends to sinners are so highly reasonable in themselves, and delivered to them in such a gentle winning way, that the mouth of the disobedient must needs be for ever stopped. As to his success with Pharaoh, Moses is here told, (1.) That petitions, and persuasions, and humble remonstrances, would not prevail with him, no, nor a mighty hand stretched out in signs and wonders: I am sure he will not let you go, Exod. 3:19. Note, God sends his messengers to those whose hardness and obstinacy he certainly knows and foresees, that it may appear he would have them turn and live. (2.) That plagues should compel him to it: I will smite Egypt, and then he will let you go, Exod. 3:20. Note, Those will certainly be broken by the power of God’s hand that will not bow to the power of his word; we may be sure that when God judges he will overcome. (3.) That his people should be more kind to them, and furnish them at their departure with abundance of plate and jewels, to their great enriching: I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, Exod. 3:21, 22. Note, [1.] God sometimes makes the enemies of his people, not only to be at peace with them, but to be kind to them. [2.] God has many ways of balancing accounts between the injured and the injurious, of righting the oppressed, and compelling those that have done wrong to make restitution; for he sits in the throne judging right.