By Horatius Bonar
"Intreat for me." -- Exodus 8:28
PHARAOH is brought down from his haughtiness. He had but a little before scoffed both at Moses and his God; now he is humbled,--only for a season indeed,--yet he is humbled. He confesses Jehovah; he becomes a suppliant to Moses and to his God. Is this the Pharaoh that said, "Who is the Lord?" How is he come down from his pride!
What brings him down? It might be (1.) true repentance; (2.) cunning; (3.) terror. It is only the last of these that is here at work, and his impressions pass away with the terror. He cares no more about God than he did before; but he would fain be delivered from these judgments. Now let us look beyond Pharaoh.
I. The sinner's day of prosperity. There is such a thing as prosperity even in this fallen world; prosperity for the wicked,--"Lo, these are the ungodly that prosper in this world." They are not in trouble as other men. They revel in pleasure, they roll in wealth, they are decked with honour; all things go well with them. They say, "Tomorrow shall be as this day, and more abundant." The sinner sits at ease, and puts away the thought of trouble. He basks in sunshine, and laughs at storms. He sails onward with favouring breezes, and believes in no shipwreck. No adversity for him!
II. The sinner's day of trouble. No prosperity lasts forever; nor is it even life-long, or half a life-time. Then the clouds gather; the tempest breaks; the waves wash over the vessel, and it becomes a wreck. Sometimes it is one long day of trouble, after as long a day of peace. Sometimes it is the alternation, at brief intervals, of joy and sorrow, light and darkness, health and sickness, prosperity and adversity. Each man has his day or days of trouble. Let this be thoroughly pondered and laid to heart. Care will come; distress will come; sickness will come; death will come; weariness will come. The sky will darken; the smile will vanish; the night will fall. These are certainties, O sinner,--and perhaps very near. Thou canst not ward them off. Wise precautions cannot ward them off; nor potent friends; nor prudent councillors; nor sanatory regulations; no; these will not avail. God's word, God's purpose, will break through all these, and lay thee low. Thou wilt find what it is to be in the hands of the living God. He will deal with thee. He is dealing with thee now by His goodness; to-morrow He may be dealing with thee in severity and sore displeasure.
III. The sinner's helplessness. He knows not what to do. He once thought himself strong; now he feels himself weak; unable to contend against his ills. The current is too strong; he cannot swim against it. His foes are numerous; his difficulties great; his friends fail; his conscience awakes; his heart trembles; what can he do? He is utterly helpless; and in his helplessness he turns coward.
His remembrance of God. Hitherto God had not been in all his thoughts; now he says, God only can help me. Man cannot; devils cannot; angels will not. Perhaps God will. His long despised God comes now to remembrance. So in danger the sinner cries. In shipwreck; in the plague; he cries.
His dread of God. He does not go straight to God; or if he does, it is in despair. He trembles before Him; afraid to look up. He is overawed, overpowered by a sense of God's greatness. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. God is to him the most terrible object of all, yet he cannot but betake himself to Him in some way. He is undone any way. Perhaps this dreadful God, who is more powerful than these evils, may succour him.
VI. His appeal to God's people. He once despised them, hated, and shunned them; now he goes to them with, "Entreat for me." What a different man a saint seems now! He has something to say with God, and that is a great thing for a despairing sinner. He has influence at court. So he goes to him. How often has the stricken, afflicted sinner, had these words wrung from him, "Pray for me."
O sinner, look forward to your day of darkness. Prepare for it now. It is coming. How dreadful to be overtaken by it unprepared.
O sinner, go now to God; straight to God; not to Moses, nor to any saint; but at once to God. Go, with all thy sins, and burdens, and trials; go now! He will receive you, and bless you.
The day is coming when another cry shall be heard; when you shall cry on rocks and hills; and all in vain. O seek the Lord while he may be found! When Jesus Christ the great Judge may come, we know not. He may come soon. Earth is growing old. Its sin is heavy upon it. Your sin adds to the load. It will soon be too heavy to bear. Then the vengeance comes. God's long-suffering is great, but not forever. The great day approaches. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Up and make ready! Up and watch!