Bargaining with Pharaoh (8): “Go Now, You Who Are Men!”
To offer our children
to the Lord is not easy,
but one example from
church history shows just
how great the blessing of
such an offering may be.
Pharaoh’s next offer of compromise related to the families of the Israelites. When he asked Moses who would go, Moses replied that it would be their young and old, sons and daughters, flocks and herds; in brief, everyone and everything they had must leave Egypt (Exo. 10:9). So Pharaoh told Moses,
“The LORD had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desired.”
— Exodus 10:10-11
So now, after much of the struggle had already passed, Pharaoh would allow the men to go, but their children had to stay in Egypt. And notice, he made this offer out of his deep concern for the children! As he said, “For evil is ahead of you.”
How many Christians fail at just this point! They themselves seem to leave the world behind, but they do not bring their children with them. They know how difficult the Christian life can be, and they don’t want to see their children suffer in that way, so they never take a firm stand that their entire house must serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15). This is a major reason why today, so many second-generation Christians eventually stop following the Lord altogether. And if the children remain in Egypt, then eventually it will be discovered that the parents never really left, either.
No doubt, to take such a stand is not easy, but we should not listen to Satan’s subtle expressions of concern about how our children may suffer hardship if they follow the Lord; it is still by far the most meaningful, most blessed life any human being can live, and we should surely desire that they would follow in this way, too.
As I was considering this, I was reminded of one very positive example in this regard from church history: that of the parents of Hudson Taylor, he who would eventually become the pioneering missionary to China.
Even before his birth they gave him, their firstborn son, to the Lord. His father had been convicted by the words of Exodus 13, that all the firstborn must be the Lord’s (vv. 2, 11-12, 15). This, of course, is very practical: if the firstborn is the Lord’s, then all who follow after will be as well. And so after much discussion and consideration they knelt down together and prayed to offer Hudson to the Lord. His mother wrote, many years later,
This act of consecration they solemnly performed upon their knees, asking for the rich influence of the Holy Spirit, that their firstborn might be set apart indeed from that hour.
— Hudson Taylor: Growth of a Soul, pages 33-34
And after their prayer, they had a deep sense that their offering had been accepted, so that now his life “must be held at the disposal of a higher claim, a deeper love than theirs” (ibid.).
But though he had been offered in such a way, Hudson was not saved until his teenage years, and that, as the well-known story tells us, was through the very definite prayers of his mother.
And eventually, in 1853, at the age of 21, he left for China. The story of his parting from his mother is especially touching; I quote an excerpt of it here, but I will also link to two pages from his biography (See “A Mother’s Offering of Her Son to the Lord”) if you want to read the full story:
My beloved, now, sainted mother, had come to Liverpool to see me off. Never shall I forget that day, nor how she went with me into the cabin that was to be my home for nearly six long months. With a mother’s loving hand she smoothed the little bed. She sat by my side and joined in the last time we should sing together before parting. We knelt down and she prayed – the last mother’s prayer I was to hear before leaving for China. Then notice was given that we must separate, and we had to say goodbye, never expecting to meet on earth again.
For my sake she restrained her feelings as much as possible. We parted, and she went ashore giving me her blessing. I stood alone on deck, and she followed the ship as we moved toward the dock-gates. As we passed through the gates and the separation really commenced, never shall I forget the cry of anguish wrung from that mother’s heart; it went through me like a knife. I never knew so fully, until then, what “God so loved the world” meant. And I am quite sure my precious mother learned more of the love of God for the perishing in that one hour than in all her life before.
— Ibid., page 187
What grace Hudson Taylor’s parents had to exercise to offer their son so completely to the Lord! Nor could they possibly have known how many millions and millions of souls will be eternally grateful to the Lord, and to them, that they did.
May the Lord grant so many more Christian parents the same grace, to offer their children to Him today!
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— 3 February 2024 —