The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 29: Satan's Enmity Against the Law
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Though the Egyptians had so long rejected the knowledge of
God, the Lord still gave them opportunity for repentance. In
the days of Joseph, Egypt had been an asylum for Israel; God
had been honored in the kindness shown His people; and now
the long-suffering One, slow to anger, and full of compassion,
gave each judgment time to do its work; the Egyptians, cursed
through the very objects they had worshiped, had evidence of
the power of Jehovah, and all who would, might submit to God
and escape His judgments. The bigotry and stubbornness of the
king resulted in spreading the knowledge of God, and bringing
many of the Egyptians to give themselves to His service.
It was because the Israelites were so disposed to connect
themselves with the heathen and imitate their idolatry that God had
permitted them to go down into Egypt, where the influence of
Joseph was widely felt, and where circumstances were favorable
for them to remain a distinct people. Here also the gross idolatry
of the Egyptians and their cruelty and oppression during the
latter part of the Hebrew sojourn should have inspired in them
an abhorrence of idolatry, and should have led them to flee for
refuge to the God of their fathers. This very providence Satan
made a means to serve his purpose, darkening the minds of the
Israelites and leading them to imitate the practices of their heathen
masters. On account of the superstitious veneration in which
animals were held by the Egyptians, the Hebrews were not [p. 334] permitted, during their bondage, to present the sacrificial
offerings. Thus their minds were not directed by this service to
the great Sacrifice, and their faith was weakened. When the
time came for Israel's deliverance, Satan set himself to resist
the purposes of God. It was his determination that that great
people, numbering more than two million souls, should be held
in ignorance and superstition. The people whom God had promised
to bless and multiply, to make a power in the earth, and
through whom he was to reveal the knowledge of His will—the
people whom He was to make the keepers of His law—this very
people Satan was seeking to keep in obscurity and bondage, that
he might obliterate from their minds the remembrance of God.
When the miracles were wrought before the king, Satan was
on the ground to counteract their influence and prevent Pharaoh
from acknowledging the supremacy of God and obeying His
mandate. Satan wrought to the utmost of his power to counterfeit
the work of God and resist His will. The only result was to
prepare the way for greater exhibitions of the divine power and
glory, and to make more apparent, both to the Israelites and to all
Egypt, the existence and sovereignty of the true and living God.
God delivered Israel with the mighty manifestations of His
power, and with judgments upon all the gods of Egypt. "He
brought forth his people with joy, and His chosen with gladness:
. . . that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws."
Psalm 105:43-45. He rescued them from their servile state, that
He might bring them to a good land—a land which in His
providence had been prepared for them as a refuge from their
enemies, where they might dwell under the shadow of His wings.
He would bring them to Himself, and encircle them in His
everlasting arms; and in return for all His goodness and mercy to
them they were required to have no other gods before Him, the
living God, and to exalt His name and make it glorious in the
During the bondage in Egypt many of the Israelites had, to a
great extent, lost the knowledge of God's law, and had mingled
its precepts with heathen customs and traditions. God brought
them to Sinai, and there with His own voice declared His law.
Satan and evil angels were on the ground. Even while God
was proclaiming His law to His people, Satan was plotting to
tempt them to sin. This people whom God had chosen, he would
wrench away, in the very face of Heaven. By leading them into [p. 335] idolatry, he would destroy the efficacy of all worship; for how can
man be elevated by adoring what is no higher than himself and
may be symbolized by his own handiwork? If men could become
so blinded to the power, the majesty, and the glory of the infinite
God as to represent Him by a graven image, or even by a beast
or reptile; if they could so forget their own divine relationship,
formed in the image of their Maker as to bow down to these
revolting and senseless objects—then the way was open for foul
license; the evil passions of the heart would be unrestrained, and
Satan would have full sway.
At the very foot of Sinai, Satan began to execute his plans
for overthrowing the law of God, thus carrying forward the same
work he had begun in heaven. During the forty days while
Moses was in the mount with God, Satan was busy exciting
doubt, apostasy, and rebellion. While God was writing down
His law, to be committed to His covenant people, the Israelites,
denying their loyalty to Jehovah, were demanding gods of gold!
When Moses came from the awful presence of the divine glory,
with the precepts of the law which they had pledged themselves
to obey, he found them, in open defiance of its commands, bowing
in adoration before a golden image.
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