“This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat,” by Louis A. Dole

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“This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.” – Exodus 16:15

Readings

Exodus 16:11-31 · John 6:27-51 · Psalm 97

Sermon

These words were spoken of the manna that was miraculously given to the children of Israel on their journey from Egypt to Canaan. The people were going hungry and were beginning to wonder if a mistake had not been made in leaving Egypt, a land of material plenty. In every tent there were murmurings and misgivings. They had gone but a few days into the wilderness when they came to Marah where they found the water bitter. After the Lord had helped them there, they journeyed a short distance to Elim where they found the twelve wells and seventy palm trees. But as they journeyed from Elim, hunger overtook them.

Then, just as the Lord had turned the bitter waters of Marah sweet for them, so now He gave them food. They had not sown, nor planted, nor harvested. It had come in answer to their prayers and was given every morning except on the Sabbath throughout the forty years of their wandering. It never failed them. They never had to worry about their food. They were allowed to gather only enough for each day’s need. Every evening their store would be gone. Yet as the days, weeks, months, and years went by, they knew from experience that they would have their daily bread.

This miracle testifies to the Lord’s love and providence which is constantly caring for us. The manna is a symbol of that food for the soul which the Lord came to give. He said He was the Bread of Life, that He came into the world that men might have food for their souls. The spirit as well as the body craves food. We do not live by bread alone. In the Lord our ideals are fulfilled. Through Him comes the power of a new life. The goodness of His life is food for men.

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“And Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and… Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and… Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan.” – Genesis 13:11, 12

Readings

Genesis 13 · Luke 17:20-37 · Psalm 125

Sermon

The story of the return of Abram and Lot from Egypt would as mere history have little meaning for us today. It would be only a statement of the fact that two shepherds, to keep their herdsmen from strife, agreed to separate, one to keep to the highlands, the other to the plains. As mere history there is nothing in the story of the Jewish people any more than in the history of any other nation.

The Word is Divine not because of the mere historicals, but because the Lord has worded and arranged those historicals so as to express spiritual truths. By means of this history He has drawn pictures of otherwise invisible and inexpressible spiritual things. And more than this, He has taken the natural events and ideas and so arranged them as to tell the story of His own Incarnation and Glorification, and to tell it in the order of its progress from infancy until His work was completed. So the story tells about spiritual changes that took place in the human nature which the Lord assumed in the world, and at the same time it teaches us about changes that must occur in every regenerating person.

There is an evident and practical lesson just beneath the surface of our text. We can not get knowledge of spiritual things until we have knowledge of natural things in some degree. There are two reasons for this. First the faculties are developed on the natural plane before they can be developed on the spiritual plane. Natural things are used to develop the faculties. Second, into the knowledge of natural things spiritual knowledges can be insinuated.

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“Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanes,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanes, saying,
“Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanes, in the sight of the men of Judah;
“And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.
“And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.” – Jeremiah 43:8-11

Readings

Jeremiah 43 · Matthew 16:21-28 · Psalm 80

Sermon

When the king of Babylon took Jerusalem, he appointed Gedaliah governor over the poorer class of people who were left in the land when Judah was carried away to captivity in Babylon. Ishmael, a Jew, stealthily slew Gedaliah, and fled, taking some of the people with him, intending to join the Ammonites. Then Johanan, one of the leaders of the remaining Jews pursued Ishmael and brought back the Jews whom Ishmael had taken with him. But Johanan feared to return to Jerusalem, lest the king of Babylon should visit punishment upon Jerusalem for the killing of Gedaliah, and planned to flee to Egypt. First, however, he asked Jeremiah the prophet to consult the Lord as to where they should go. Jeremiah brought him the Lord’s answer, telling him to go to Jerusalem, where he would be protected by the Lord. But Johanan accused Jeremiah of being a false prophet plotting for his destruction. So Johanan went to Egypt, to Tahpanes the house of Pharaoh, taking with him all the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah.

In the narrative of the text is presented a graphic picture of the destructive consequences of knowing the truth but reasoning against it and following fallacious appearances. The spiritual lesson lies near the surface. Jeremiah, because he spoke the words of Jehovah, stands for the Word of the Lord, the Divine truth, which counsels and unerringly guides. Jeremiah counseled Johanan and his company to go to Jerusalem, to dwell there, and not to fear the king of Babylon. But Johanan and those with him were afraid to do as the prophet advised, and reasoned that his counsel was false. They chose rather to go into Egypt, to the ruling city there.

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How Truth Is Preserved, by Louis A. Dole

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“And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.” – Exodus 2:3

Readings

Exodus 2:1-10 · Matthew 7:15-29 · Psalm 99

Sermon

Our age prides itself on its tolerance, particularly on its religious tolerance. We hear it said, “It does not matter what you believe; one religion is as good as another.” But truth is sacred. It does matter vitally what one believes. For if men believe falsity, they will do evil. The need of the world is for truth in every aspect of its life, for truth in its concepts of God, for truth in its international relationships, in its ideas of government, in its trade and commerce, for truth in its ideas of marriage and family life, for truth in education. Only the thoughtless can say that truth does not matter, or that it does not matter what men believe as long as they are sincere.

This is a very popular attitude, but we all remember that it did matter that thousands were educated in the principles of Naziism from their childhood and so believed that they were a superior and chosen people and should rule the world by brute force. And people can be brought up to despise all religion and to deny all ideas of God. They can even be brought up to believe in emperor worship, of which there is a very modern witness.

Our text tells of the preservation of truth. The saving of the infant Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter has an appeal to all readers of the Bible. Even when there is no knowledge of the spiritual lesson contained therein, there is a sense of dramatic fitness in the saving by Pharaoh’s daughter of the one who was afterward to free Israel from the Egyptian yoke.

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“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.” – Deuteronomy 33:16

Readings

Deuteronomy 33:1-16 · Revelation 5 · Psalm 145

Sermon

Moses was nearing the time of his passing into the spiritual world, and after the eastern custom, having called the tribes together, he pronounced a blessing upon each of them. The words of our text form a part of the blessing pronounced upon Joseph as represented by the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

The blessing of the text must have brought back wonderful memories, for the story of Israel as a nation began with the appearance of the Lord in the burning bush. The Israelites had lived as a subject race in Egypt for over two centuries, and yet had been kept quite distinct from the Egyptians. It is remarkable that the peoples had not wholly mingled, for the very name of Jehovah had been lost during the stay in Egypt. But to Moses in his eightieth year was given the experience at the burning bush. It was then that he heard the command to lead the people to the land promised to their fathers. He at first shrank from the great task, and only when he was convinced by miracles that the Lord would be with him did he undertake it. But he who dwelt in the bush took the people across the sea, fed them in the wilderness, protected them from their enemies, and finally brought them to the borders of the promised land. How difficult had been the way! How often had the people rebelled, and wished that they might go back to Egypt! Even Moses was at times discouraged. But now the journey’s end was being reached, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that his leadership had not been in vain. As he is about to resign his authority to Joshua, he thinks of how the Lord had been with them and had led them all the way, and commends the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.

To the Jews Jehovah was invisible; of Him they were not to attempt to make any likeness. Yet, although invisible, they felt that He was God of gods and Lord of lords, and knew that it was He that dwelt in the bush, the bramble. To have appeared in the olive, the vine, or the fig would have seemed more appropriate, but He had been heard from the bush.

In this we have revealed a fundamental truth of religion, that the Lord dwells in the commonest experiences of human life, and happy is he who sees Him there. For as the days and years pass, and as a man passes the threescore years and ten, he will remember the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
“But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” – Deuteronomy 11:10, 11

Readings

Deuteronomy 11:1-12 · Mark 4:21-41 · Psalm 135

Sermon

“We want a decent country to live in” would express the desires and ideals of a great many people; but perhaps we should not be very far wrong if we affirmed that most of these people have little idea of how they are going to get it or even of what they mean by it. They may have in mind economic security, a good job with good pay, or they may want a world in which they will be free from troubles and from interference with their own lives, and free from war.

In our text two countries are contrasted. They are strikingly different. Egypt is a flat country, fertile, with an even climate. It has no precious metals and little variety in fruits and animals. It receives no rain from heaven, its fruitfulness depending upon the inundations of its great river, the Nile. In Bible times its people worshiped the calf. Palestine, on the other hand, is a land of hills and valleys, with a complex climate ranging from intense heat at Jericho 1300 feet below sea level to the wintry snows of Mount Hermon 10,000 feet above the sea level. It produces a variety of summer and winter fruits and vegetables, of the precious metals and stones, and is made fertile by rain, by brooks and rivers and the melting snows: “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills… a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.”

The Egyptian ideal was that of external comfort and wealth. Israel prospered there under Joseph and did not wish to return to the Holy Land. But their long-continued life there resulted in bondage, and Moses was raised up to lead them out. The words “Out of Egypt have I called my son” express a great blessing. Abraham went down into Egypt and became rich in flocks. Our Lord was carried down into Egypt and there found protection from Herod. Egypt could both shelter and enslave. She could nourish, she could teach, and yet her wealth and knowledge could never wholly satisfy. And this is the reason given in the Word itself: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” Therein is its limitation. Man has higher possibilities than the merely natural.

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“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” by Louis A. Dole

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“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 32:4

Readings

Exodus 32:1-14 · Luke 12:13-36 · Psalm 52

Sermon

While Moses was in the mount receiving the commandments from the Lord, the people took their golden earrings and made of them a molten calf, and they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

This is a story of folly that sounds little less than insanity. The Lord, through Moses, by mighty miracles had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and brought them to Sinai. Yet because Moses was some time in the mountain the people turned against him. They could not have been more foolish.

Yet many today repeat this insanity in another form. Moses stands for the Divine Law which came through him. There is the Divine Law. It is given in the Word. Yet there are many who are too ready to put it out of mind. “As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” It is because minds and hearts are absorbed in things of self and the world and closed against heaven. When men are absorbed in things of the body and self, and in getting on in the world, closing the interior planes of the soul which otherwise would be opened to heaven, they turn from heaven and the Lord to the world and to themselves, loving self with all the heart and life. This is what is represented by the absence of Moses and by their contemptuous cry, “As for this Moses… we wot not what is become of him.”

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“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” – Exodus 13:17

Readings

Exodus 13:14-22 · Matthew 26:31-46 · Psalm 62

Sermon

The distance from northern Egypt, where the Israelites had been dwelling, to Jerusalem, which was to be their future capital, was about two hundred miles by the direct route, whereas the distance by the route they actually traversed was not less than four times as great. The way by the seacoast, which led through the land of the Philistines, was near, but the way through the desert was far; and not only was it far but it was through almost foodless and waterless country. Yet the Lord led the Israelites by that long and difficult way.

The Christian Church has long recognized that the journey from Egypt to Canaan is a type of our preparation for heaven. They think of Egypt as picturing the state of life into which we are born, the love of sensual, selfish, and worldly things; the journey in the wilderness has been dimly seen to be the type of trials which are met with, the crossing of the Jordan the passage from the natural to the spiritual, and the entrance into Canaan the reward and rest of heaven. There is much that is true and helpful in this interpretation, but it overlooks the fact that some of Israel’s hardest battles were fought after they crossed the Jordan, and that it was not until the time of Solomon that the country had rest from war.

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