Sunday, June 28, 2009


"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
It's leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."

(Jeremiah 17: 5-7, NIV)

I am not making this up.

My Bible fell open to this passage in my lap this morning with my first cup of coffee in hand and the birds singing around me and my eyes still working to focus. I had plans to read the Gospels. I do not
ever open the book to see which page faces me and look there for what God might say to me. But the words caught me. I could go no further.

Which one am I? The man trusting in flesh? Or the man whose confidence is in the Lord? Just how far will my confidence be tested?

After he left Egypt, Moses wandered
for the rest of his life. He never had another home. And he was in the center of God's will. For those who claim he didn't mind, I must point out that the Lord's punishment for the one time Moses abused His power was to forbid him from entering the Promised Land (Numbers 20).

No home. Not even at the end.

Keep in mind that Moses wandered in the desert, under extreme conditions. Searing heat. Shifting dunes. Sandstorms. Snakes. Sleeping on the ground under a tent. For the rest of his life.
That was his destination: the desert, the tent, the heat, the parched earth moving under his feet. I am fascinated by his strength, his endurance, his faithfulness. In a lifetime of drought, his leaves were always green.

How did he do it?

For those who contend that Moses was able to endure because of all that he had seen -- the miracles, the deliverance from Egypt, the glory of the Presence -- I remind you of the other Israelites who saw the same miracles, the same deliverance, the same glory. They were not inspired to be faithful. They seemed to spend their days alternating between grudging compliance, grumbling, sinning, and planning to kill somebody. God finally decided to start over with a new generation. So Moses had to wander for two lifetimes, rather than one.

"For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief." (Hebrews 3: 16, NASB)

The book of Hebrews emphasizes that Moses did all of it by faith.

Let me say it here: faith isn't easy.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (11:1)

Try staking your life on it. I guarantee that you will sweat. That's why the writer of Hebrews adds
: "you have need of endurance." (10:36)

I am grateful that this same writer did not leave me all alone to cope with my challenges. He also assures me that my personal resolve and whatever courage I can muster is not all that I have. "Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need." (4:16)

There's that word again: confidence. It helps me to think of faith as confidence, properly placed.

Moses was a man whose confidence rested firmly upon the Lord . He looked there for the answer to his need. Whenever he faced a crisis, a calamity, a concern, he turned to God and waited for the answer. It's a remarkably simple way to live. I suppose, for most of us, it seems a little foolish at first glance. I mean, shouldn't we decide for ourselves what seems best and call God in for the desperate moments? But no, Moses knew a secret. We are all, always dependent upon grace and desperate for mercy. Most of us only know it once in a while, but the underlying reality is ever present with us, even when we are blind to it. Moses saw this. He lived in it. He chose to place his confidence in God, moment by moment.

That's how he did it.

1 comment:

  1. I was doubly struck by your words whenever our pastor had us open to Heb. 11:13-16. (I had read this post before attending Sunday service). We have been slowly working our way through Genesis looking at the major theme ("leaving Egypt and possessing Canaan was God's design for Israel"). We concluded with the resolution of Joseph's life, as God had ordered it, and of how God transformed Judah and Joseph. Other themes developed were these: "God's sovereignty rules over man and sin" and "God's sovereignty is our hope."

    One of the most arresting statements I have ever heard regarding the sovereignty of God was made by (I think!) Paul went something like this: The sovereignty of God is a wonderful pillow upon which to lay your head.

    I wonder how Moses slept.


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