Spurgeon Sunday Week 2

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Concluding my “Exodus” theme with this Spurgeon Sermon… Personally ready for winter to be over already…

“For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.”—Exodus 14:3

ISRAEL WAS CLEAN escaped from Egypt. Not a hoof of their cattle was left behind; nor foot of child or aged man remained in the house of bondage. But though they were gone, they were not forgotten by the tyrant who had enslaved them. They had been a very useful body of workers; for they had built treasure cities and storehouses for Pharaoh. Compelled to work without wages, they cost the tyrant nothing but the expenditure of the lash. His exactions of forced labor had grown intolerable to the people; but the buildings erected had been a joy to the lord of Egypt. When they were quite gone, Pharaoh woke up to a sense of his loss; and his attendants felt the same; so that they cried, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” Then they resolved to drive them back again, and they thought it easy to do so; for they said “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” They knew that the Israelites had no spirit for war, and they felt sure that they had only to overtake them, and hurry them back, like a drove of cattle. They had found them such submissive servants that they expected to fit on them their fetters again, and rivet them forever. Perhaps their God had shot his last arrow, and Egypt might capture his people again without fear of plagues. Thus men thought; but the Lord thought otherwise.

Do not I speak to some at this hour who, during the last few months, have, by the power of the Lord’s gracious hand, escaped out of the bondage of sin? You have got clean away from your old master. With a high hand and an outstretched arm has God brought you forth into liberty. You remember the sprinkling of the blood and the eating of the Paschal Lamb, and you are now on your way to Canaan. But your former master and his friends have not forgotten you. You were once a valuable servant to Satan, and he will not willingly lose you. Some of you whom God has saved by grace could drink for Satan, and lie for him, and swear for him, and lead others into evil ways, and you could do cheerfully other things which I need not mention, which he always desires to have done in his kingdom. You were a trained servant, and knew your master’s way so as to answer his purpose better than most. Servants of Satan usually serve him greedily, and you were very eager. Nothing is too hot or too heavy for men who are thoroughly enthusiastic for evil. Sins that should be thought degrading are followed by men under the notion of pleasure and gaiety. “A short life and a merry one,” is too often the cry of persons who are preferring death to life. The devil has the knack of making his bondsmen boast of their freedom; and they follow with eagerness that which is to their own loss and ruin. Poor slaves! their slavery has blinded their minds. Thanks be unto God, certain of you have lately fled from your former bondage; but the point I am to speak of is this—the great tyrant has not forgotten you, and he designs in his heart your capture and re-enslavement. He and his are continually looking for opportunities by which they may bring you again into the thraldom of evil, fasten the manacles of habit upon your hands, and fit the fetters of despair upon your foes. By the grace of God I hope that the Prince of evil, and his helpers, will be disappointed; but they will leave no stone unturned to effect their purposes. One of their hopes of driving you back is the belief that you are entangled by your circumstances and surroundings. They conceive that you have got into serious difficulty through your conversion, and that you cannot find your way out of your perplexity. No, the enemy says, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil.” The Pharaoh of the infernal regions thinks to drive the fugitives back again like a flock of sheep; and, notwithstanding all that God has done for them, he hopes again to bring them under his yoke. If Jehovah has brought you out, his work will never be undone; but the enemy’s hope lies in his belief that you are hopelessly entangled by your present environment…

To some, the entanglements come from having to deal with new matters. All things have become new, and among the rest even their ordinary business wears a different aspect. It used to be conducted in such and such a way; but now, on examination, the man says, “I am a Christian. I cannot do as I have done; and yet, how can I alter it?” It is a very simple matter to fall into those ways of trade which are questionable; but it is not quite so easy to quit them, and yet to gain a livelihood. When you alter one custom of trade, another matter hangs upon it, and needs a change; and it is not easy to bring partners, and clerks, and workpeople, out of old ways into new. They are very apt to be sticklers for former methods. Moreover, there are people in the trade who think you more nice than wise, and will even refuse to do business with you if you are so particular. It is no small thing for the convert to set himself right with the world in his changed mode of dealing; yet this has got to be done, and done with decision, too, or there is no escaping from evil. At such a time the struggler feels—I am entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut me in; and the enemy of souls is of the same opinion. Now is his opportunity; but if you escape him now he will never again have such an advantage over you…

It may be that, in his earliest days, the young convert finds out with surprise that his own heart is brimming over with sin. He thought that he was so changed that no sin remained in him, and no temptation from without could move him. He hoped that he was so sure of the truth of God that he should never doubt, and now he has to cry, “Lord, help mine unbelief,” for he can hardly decide whether he believes or not. He has discovered another law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity. He finds that when he would do good evil is present with him; and this inward conflict between the flesh and the spirit comes upon him as a terrible surprise. “Why am I thus?” cries he. “Can I be a child of God and have such dreadful thoughts? Could I feel so wretched if I were indeed a possessor of grace?” When young beginners get into this rough road, they are taken by surprise, and know not what to do. Then is it that the adversary of their souls hopes that “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in…

My text is, “Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” Upon this I make the first observation, that this is not true. It is only what Pharaoh said. And so when Satan says, “They are entangled in the land,” it is not true; it is only one of the sayings of the father of lies. “They say”—says one. Well, what do they say? Let them say it: their saying will not make it true. A troubled one comes to me, and complains of a certain charge which has been made, and he adds, as the sharp edge of it all, “Sir, it is not true.” Well, then, do not fret about it. One cries out, “They are taking away my character, and I feel it keenly because what they say is cruelly false.” Friend, do not feel it at all. You ought to feel it if what they say is true. Now, what Pharaoh said was not true; and his speech did not cause the children of Israel to be really entangled in the land. Pharaoh’s tongue speaks his wish; but his wish will not be realized. Our adversaries say that our cause is defeated. Is it? “Ah!” say they, we have shut him up. The man cannot answer us; we have crushed his faith, and argued his confidence to death.” Have you? By the grace of God we stand fast in the once-delivered faith, after all your sophistries and boasts. You say that we are entangled; but we are not. “Show us,” say they, “the way in which you will get out of the wilderness.” No, that we cannot do; but, if you will wait a while, the Lord will show you that, by leading us graciously through the divided sea, and it may be also by drowning you therein, as he did the Egyptians when the waters overwhelmed them. Israel could not guess her way, but Israel could wait till God revealed it. Newly-emancipated one, thou art shut in with doubts and difficulties suggested by carnal reason; but, I pray thee, believe thy God. By the blood of the cross, I entreat thee, believe the Lord Jesus. By the eternal judgment and the great white throne, believe thy God. “Let God be true but every man a liar.” Wait thou till he shall clear thy way, through the very heart of the sea if need be: a way which will conduct thee in safety to the other shore, where, with timbrel and with song, thou shalt proclaim his victory…

Note well that the Lord would not only find them a way, but, at the same time, overthrow their enemies. You have come up out of Egypt, O young believer, but the taskmasters are at your heels! There may come a decisive moment, after which they shall never pursue you again. These who seek your soul are to be destroyed, so that there shall not be one of them left. I believe that many a young convert hates sin, and hates all evil habits, but these evils keep dogging his footsteps, and seem as if they would master him; and then there comes a time of great struggle and tremendous battling without and within: on that one desperate field he fights the matter out. His adversaries are drowned in that Red Sea: his old sins and his old habits love for ever their former power. The Red Sea rolled between Israel and Egypt; and whatever else might trouble the pilgrim host, they were never, throughout the whole forty years, molested by Pharaoh, or any of the Egyptians. It is a grand thing when a man gets clean away from the world and is reckoned as dead to it. He has burnt his boats, and has landed on the shore, from which he never can go back again, but must fight out the battle against sin even to the end. When a man is sworn into the army of Christ for eternity, and the world has cast him out, there is nothing for him but to go right ahead. Everything that he has is now staked on the cross of Christ. Happy man to have come to such a pass—to be once for all crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him! The Egyptians of sin which had so fiercely pursued him are drowned, and the rest of the Egyptians of evil have given him up; and he may go on his way to the promised land in peace, so far as his old taskmasters are concerned…

According to your faith, so shall it be. Oh, no! The devil may say that we are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut us in; but we shall get out of the labyrinth right enough. Is it not written: “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” We shall yet sing unto the Lord who hath triumphed gloriously. Our sins and our fears hath he thrown into the sea. So be it. Hallelujah! Amen.

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