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God of Jacob,” being the invocation that has reechoed from the lips of God's people from that period to the present, whatever the external aspect of the church may have been, or perhaps ever will be.
It embraces the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of Joseph and his brethren, the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel ; and includes the cruel bondage of their descendants in Egypt, and the wonders and miracles done at the court of Pharaoh through the instrumentality of Moses and Aaron, up to the night of their memorable exodus and great deliverance. The whole of this period of four hundred and thirty years is throughout, the space of time in which they dwelt in lands and countries in which they were strangers, first “tabernacling in tents, having no certain dwelling-places ;” and subsequently, from the time of Joseph, living in the land of Egypt, partly under the sunshine of royal favour, and partly under the grinding yoke of royal oppression.
The peculiarities that appear in this chronological date are chiefly the following:
1st. It has two durations assigned to it--namely, four hundred, and four hundred and thirty years.
The former, that of four hundred years, was announced to Abraham in one of those gracious Divine manifestations, which form such bright spots both in his own life, and that of his immediate posterity; giving him the blessed assurance that God was his “shield, and his exceeding great reward.” The history of it is thus briefly given by Stephen, in his defence before the council : -“The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran; and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And He gave him none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on: yet He promised that he would give it him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.” (Acts vii. 2–6).
The latter duration, of four hundred and thirty years, is not named until after the period had expired. On that awful night, when all the firstborn of the land of Egypt were slain, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on the throne, to the first-born of the captive that sat in the dungeon, Moses, in relating the departure of the children of Israel, says, in the verses already quoted, "that their sojourning was four hundred and thirty years”—and that in the “self-same day” they left, or “ went out of, the land of Egypt.” St. Paul also names this duration of the period in his Epistle to the Galatians (iii. 17), as including the space of time between Abraham being constituted in his seed—that is, in Christ-the head of the covenant of grace,
, and the giving or promulgating of the law on Mount Sinai. He says, “ Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, which was confirmed before of God, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (ver. 29.)
2d. The next peculiarity observable is, that the commencement of these two durations is at separate times the four hundred and thirty years being reckoned from the calling of Abraham, and the four hundred years from the time of Isaac being mocked by Ishmael.
The commencement of the four hundred and thirty years possesses no ambiguity or uncertainty : the events that mark it are fixed with unquestionable precision, and are-The call of Abraham from the land of his fathers, the promise of the Messiah from his seed, and the grant of the land of Canaan. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. xii. 1-3.) “Unto thy seed will I give this land." (7.) This COMPLETE GRANT of the kingdom of Canaan, “ from the river of Egypt, unto the great river, the river Euphrates,” which was subsequently more fully confirmed—a grant which never has, and never can be, rescinded-gives the Israelites a title to this territory, which no other people ever had to any earthly possessions. It is theirs, not merely by conquest, by long enjoyment-but it is theirs by THE GIFT OF GOD. “And the Lord said unto Abram, Lift up thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” “Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” (Gen. xiii. 14, 15, 17.) Again, on God's changing Abraham's name, he said, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the lands of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Gen. xvii. 8.) So that, although his posterity are now, and have been for so many centuries, expatriated from it, yet it is still, and ever will be, their own land.
The commencement of this four hundred and thirty years is further rendered remarkable, by Abraham, as the head of his posterity, sojourning for a time in Egypt;—that land from which they were, many years afterwards, so signally to depart. And as far as it regards the parties, the names, the scene of operations, and the judgments on the king of Egypt, the great deliverance which terminates this period appears to be shadowed forth by it; for it is said (Gen. xii, 17—20), “And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai, Abram's wife.” “And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had."
Perhaps it is to the day on which this transaction took place, that allusion is made in one of the verses already quoted; and that it is from this day that the four hundred and thirty years are reckoned; "the self-same day ” when “the hosts of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt.”
The particular event which marked the com