January 20, 2010

Exodus 7-9 Unyielding Hearts

Posted in God's Character, Human Nature at 1:04 am by webpastormike

Unyielding Hearts

I feel compassion for Moses.  Here he is in the Exodus story doing everything that God commands and nothing is turning out well for him.  That seems so backwards.  From our way of reasoning, if you do what is right, if you obey God’s call, it should go well for you.  But life does not conform itself to our belief system.  Life does not bend for us.  Life is difficult.  Moses was homeless, powerless, and indigent.

Did you ever wonder where Moses lived during all this?  How did Moses support himself?  He did not have a salary.  He did not have an inheritance.  Moses had no income.  The time that he lived with his in-laws ended at the burning bush.  Who supported this prophet’s lifestyle?  Was it Miriam or Aaron who paid for his food and shelter?  Was this why they felt they could criticize him so openly later on in the desert?

Jesus was homeless too you know: “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head…” and when I think about it, so was Elijah, particularly after the massacre of the priests of Baal.  How can you balance this inequity?  Should we not see people who prosper because they follow their calling from God?

Moses, Elijah and Jesus all confronted their communities with the words of God but He did not protect them from the retaliation that ensued.  Then to top it all off the people did not listen.  Pharaoh was the quintessential blockhead.  Everything Moses said was God’s word, and everything Moses did was backed up with a miracle.  But still he did everything that he could to mollycoddle Moses into changing rather than recognizing the wisdom of subjecting himself to the will of a Supreme Being.

All the while Moses continues to obey, and continues to suffer for it.  Even beyond the plagues and Passover and the parting of the Red Sea, Moses does everything right but his world is turned upside down by the responsibility of his call and the radical change that happens because of God’s plan. Right up until that one little emotional outburst with the rock when God’s death sentence was pronounced.  Even Moses had not earned a special place in God’s eyes so that He could wink at sin and let it go without consequences.  None of his obedience mattered when it came down to disobedience.

You and I have both seen the ministers whose lives have been devastated because of disobedience.  Perhaps they thought about being special or exempt because they followed God’s call, or perhaps they just had an emotional outburst, or maybe the heart is just wicked. But my question is: Where are the ministers who suffer for doing what is right?  Are they not cast aside into a ditch of irrelevance in favor of those who can play the political games and who succeed at marketing attractiveness over the long term?

Where are the men and women who will not compromise?  Where are the prophets who declare “thus saith the Lord” and then face the backlash without giving up?  Are there any who remain who can face the wrath of a culture that focuses on the humanity but discards the divinity?  Where are the deliverers who will not stop until the deliverance is complete?  Are there any who remain in the ranks of the ordained?  Surely there must be those who do live “just as the LORD commanded them”. The Master God told Elijah that He had reserved for Himself people who refused to bow their knee at the cultures mandated no-god Baal.  In the book of Ezekiel chapter 48 God remembered the descendants of Zadok “the Zadokites who stayed true in their service to me and didn’t get off track as the Levites did when Israel wandered off the main road…” and of course Jesus spoke to his disciples as to “those who lost…for my sake” in a promise set in the future.  But none of the disciples have shown us that life becomes easier.  I wish they would, but no amount of wishing will make it so.  All of them died martyr’s deaths except the exiled John.  No amount of fantasy can change reality.  Life is difficult, and obeying God makes it even more difficult.

So the question remains.  Why bother obeying God at all?  If peace and prosperity does not come from following the beautiful plan that the Father has laid out for our lives, why not just listen to the heathen “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”?

I can think of only two reasons today.  The first is because only God is good.  To follow any other course of life is self-destructive because it is by definition wicked and evil. Refusing to follow God’s good rule is socially destructive because self-interest breeds communal degradation and rampant lawlessness that consummates in chaos.  Just look at the impact that our sexual freedoms have had on families and you can see what I mean.

The second is because human life is not about human life.  We are not here to pursue comfort, ease and prosperity, despite the swan song of materialism.  Human life is about being part of the answer that God gives every time we pray in the manner that Jesus taught us.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

The lesson of Moses is that Exodus is not about Moses, it is about God’s terms of deliverance and Kingship over His people.  It is about focusing on how we are to interact with God first (have no other gods before me) and how we are to live with others (thou shalt not…).

Jesus made it clear that the whole point of human life is that God sets the standards on how we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our fellow humans the way that we treat our own bodies, carrying one another’s burdens and so fulfill the love command.  Remember that He said if we try to save our own lives we will lose them, but if we lose our lives for His sake, we will find our life in Him.

Look up and see the prophet in your midst, those suffering for living and speaking God’s bold word of truth.  Do not be frightened by their suffering, but give unto them, and you will not fail to receive the prophet’s reward.

Remember, your life is not about you.



  1. Prince's mom said,

    With little elaboration and with much succinctness, I respond with three thoughts:

    1) “If we have eyes to see and ears to hear” and CHOOSE to see and hear with them, then, no matter what, we know, “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good.”

    2) “Why bother obeying God at all?” you ask. “Because this is not my home.” Dorothy dreams of going “somewhere over the rainbow.” I dream of living eternally beyond the Narrow Gate.

    3) “Where are the ministers who suffer for doing what is right…[those] who will not compromise?” you ask. I know where there is one. He speaks with the “boldness of Peter”; proclaims God’s Word from his heart with passion and truth; and, in all humility, chooses to be a reflection of God’s Light for God’s glory not his own and, like Christ, his life’s model, chooses always to “serve rather than to be served.” How blessed is he and how blessed are his sheep, the Shepherd, and the Father.

  2. Steve Gedon said,

    I wonder though, whether Moses felt he must have gotten that bush thing all wrong. Why aren’t people responded as he thought? When things don’t go as we thought they should or have planned, we must wonder if we’ve gotten outside of God’s will.
    How should we understand when chaos is also part of God’s creative plans of redemption? — Steve

  3. Prince's mom said,

    “When things don’t go as we thought they should or have planned, we must wonder if we’ve gotten outside of God’s will.”

    That’s a tough one; and one that, when people get to the point where they think and/or verbalize such a thought and/or sentence, causes many to throw up their hands and say, “I don’t understand; I don’t want to understand; I can’t understand, and so I give up on this religion thing.”

    I agree but also disagree with the comment. I agree because 1) this is what most people think and 2) this is what we think if we don’t take the time to stop and think. But I disagree because we are never outside of God’s will. God’s will is God’s will, and there is nothing that we can do that will change His will for our lives. His will will play out in our lives one way or another. Because He has given us free will, we make poor choices; and we will continue making poor choices as long as we live because we are imperfect, “broken pieces of pottery” in the Potter’s hands; but He, the Creator of everything and the One Who is in control of everything, will keep causing things to occur until His will for our lives is accomplished.

    If we are wise enough to assess whether “we have gotten outside of God’s will,” and I would suggest the Wesleyan Quadrilaterial for that, then it is God’s will that we learn and grow from the experience so that we can grow deeper in our relationship with Him learning to become dependent upon Him and learning that He wants us to become dependent upon Him. And ultimately, if we grow our relationship with God, then we become more Christ-like, which is what God wants us to be striving for all the time — that is striving for perfection — and that is God’s will for our lives.

    So…I guess the question is not “have we gotten outside of God’s will for our lives”; but “What is God’s will for our lives?” Is it that we are to become a doctor or a teacher or a pastor? Or is it that God’s will for our lives is that we become like Christ? And if, as I believe it is the latter, then He will not be dissuaded, let alone by us, in accomplishing His will for and in each of our lives.

  4. Prince's mom said,

    My house is filled with books: children’s books although I am an adult; old books although I like to think of myself as young; few novels although I like to imagine; and many Bibles, some belonging to my parents, grandparents, and great aunt — they are for keeping — some special editions like one called the Hummel Bible — they, too, are for saving and remembering their specialness in addition to the Word inside — some, each with a special purpose and called names like the Archeology Bible, the Chronological Bible, the Life Principles Bible — they are for cross-referencing, clarification, and elucidation; and some are the used ones, the living ones, the friends, the companions, the cherished ones, the ones filled with the teacher’s red ink evident in the underlining of words and the presence of notes in the margins. Accompnaying them are books, among other topics, about people in the Bible like Moses, Paul, and Jesus, many about Jesus and Paul — they, too, are for cross-referencing, clarification, and elucidation. When I am not reading the Bible, I am reading one or more of these books sometimes just for “leisure,” sometimes because the Spirit keeps telling me over and over again when I don’t listen the first time that I should be reading/consulting a particular book. The latter happened yesterday and last night until I picked up Charles Swindoll’s “Esther.”

    How amazed I was that after I wrote the preceding blog entry that on the very first page of Chaper One in the very first paragraph and beginning with the very first sentence, I should find the following statements about the book of Esther and Esther herself and realize that this book in the Bible, in which God’s name is never mentioned, so very much applies to the thought ““When things don’t go as we thought they should or have planned, we must wonder if we’ve gotten outside of God’s will.” And so I share with you in words so much more eloquent and defining than mine the following thoughts:

    “God’s presence is not as intriguing as His absence. His voice is not as eloquent as His silence. Who of us has not longed for a word from God, searched for a glimpse of His power, or yearned for the reassurance of His presence, only to feel that He seems absent from the moment? Distant. Preoccupied. Maybe even unconcerned. Yet later, we realize how very present He was all along….

    “Though God may at times seem distant, and though He is invisible to us, He is always invincible. This is the main lesson of the Book of Esther. Though absent by name from the pages of this particular book of Jewish history, God is present in every scene and in the movement of ever event, until He ultimately and finally brings everything to a marvelous climax as He proves Himself Lord of His people, the Jews….

    “‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! — Romans 11:33….’

    “Furthermore, God has a will. But make no mistake about it, His ways are ‘unfathomable.’ No human being can predict or plumb the depths of God’s will. Try though we may, we cannot unravel the tapestry of His plan. Not fully. Not as long as we’re earthbound….

    “We live our lives under the careful, loving, gracious, albeit sovereign, hand of our God. And the movements of time and history tick off according to His reckoning, exactly as He ordained….

    “He is there with you on your own personal pilgrimage…His unsearchable mind working in concert with His unfathomable will, carrying things out under His sovereign control….

    “Be still…deliberately pause and discover that God is God…. Stop trying to pull the strings yourself. Stop manipulating people and situations. Stop making excuses for your irresponsibilities. Stop ignoring reality. Stop rationalizing your way through life. Stop all of that! How? you ask. Be quiet. The immortal, invisible, all wise God, hidden from your eyes, is at work. Be very still and, for a change, listen” [pages 1-18].

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