The Faith of Moses

One can hardly begin thinking about the relationship of faith and Moses without considering the inspired penman’s comments in Hebrews 11:23-28.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

We learn from this passage that Moses’ faith began with his parents who defied Pharaoh’s command. That same defiance cropped up in Moses’ own life as he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and when he finally forsook Egypt. These things were not done for defiance sake, however, as the inspired penman tells us. Moses did these things looking to “the recompense of the reward” and “as seeing him who is invisible.” Moses was defiant toward Egypt because he believed in something greater than what Egypt had to offer; He believed in the existence of and the promises of God.

Nevertheless, Moses faith wasn’t always perfect. We find, in fact, there were several occasions when his faith wavered. We wonder where his faith went when we witness his flight after the Israelites rejected him as their leader (Acts 7:23-29). We ponder how he could, in the presence of God, doubt himself even as God promises to be with him (Exodus 4:10-17). We pause when we see his noble visage wrinkled with anger at the children of Israel and in disobedience strikes the rock to which God had simply said speak (Numbers 20:1-13). Despite these failings, Moses legacy is one of faithfulness. Let’s notice a few things in that regard.

First, Moses faith was a faith that faltered. We mentioned some of the times when Moses faith was less than stellar. He had times in his life when he gave up, had self doubt, and even deliberately disobeyed God. Regardless, with God’s encouragement, Moses found ways to return to the Lord. In Psalm 90, perhaps after the return of the 12 spies from the land of Canaan and God’s wrath with the disappointing report they brought, Moses prayed, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). Moses realized that even in times when our faith falters, that it is only to the Lord that we can turn for ultimate comfort and refuge. So he says, “Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants” (Psalm 90:13). Yes, on occasion Moses’ faith faltered, but he always came back to God when he realized his wrong. We need to let the true spirit of penitence characterize our faith as well.

Second, Moses faith followed. From the time that God called Moses to bring His people out of the land of Egypt to the time that Moses’ foot set down on top of mount Pisgah, he followed the Lord. We remember many of the trials Moses had to endure: the mocking of Pharaoh’s magicians; the rejection of his message by Pharaoh; the complaints of the Hebrew people; the creation of the golden calf by Aaron; the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; the final lack of faith demonstrated by the 10 spies. In each of these times, Moses could have easily given up and thrown in the towel. Indeed at one point God Himself told Moses to just abandon the children of Israel and let Him make a nation from Moses Himself (Exodus 32:9-10). It was in precisely these times that Moses faith shined more brightly than ever when he dedicated Himself to following the path that God had laid out before Him. Under extreme trial, temptation, and trouble Moses’ faith came shining through like a beacon of hope among the fog of despair. What a tremendously faithful follower!

Finally, Moses faith was a faith that finished. While forbidden to enter into the Promised Land, Moses continued to serve God until such a time as his life was required. One can well imagine Moses walking up that rocky path to the top of Mount Pisgah and looking over into the land of Canaan. His time on earth was at an end and he had completed the task God had set before him. Yet his faith looked not finally upon an earthly plateau, but a heavenly one. We find Moses again in the gospel accounts speaking with Jesus about his death (Luke 9:31). We no longer see a Moses that is burdened by the cares of earthly life, but one who is triumphant over death and glorified, providing comfort and peace to One who would lead His people not out of a physical land of bondage, but a spiritual one. No doubt our Lord took comfort in this conversation when He declared upon the cross, “It is finished.” Like Moses, he laid down His burdens of physical existence to take up a glorious heavenly one. Moses faith was a faith that finished.

What joys and comforts the faith of Moses brings to the faithful child of God. Moses’ example gives us much to contemplate. Let us take up his banner of faith in our lives each day as we may falter, follow, and seek to finish the path of faith we each have before us.

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Intellectual Arrogance

Paul the apostle wrote, “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

The law of rationality states that we ought to justify our conclusion by adequate evidence.

Christianity is a religion that isn’t afraid of evaluation. In fact, Christianity invites public evaluation and examination because Christians believe the evidence holds up under public scrutiny (e.g. Acts 17:11). One can see this in even a cursory reading of the New Testament. Advocates of Christianity were publicly tried on multiple occasions without complaint of the trial.

In contrast to that kind of thinking, many “religions” in the world today are woefully lacking. These “religions” don’t see truth as propositional and thus subject to criticism. They want “truth” in religion to be merely a matter of personal subjective conclusion and nothing else.

When asked whether what they believe is “right” or “wrong” the individuals involved in the discussion will not be so quick to claim to be right. They may say things like, “I don’t know” or “you may be right.” Such answers appear “humble.” After all, how could a person be arrogant if they aren’t claiming to know anything?

What is deceiving is that these individuals want you to believe what they believe. They wouldn’t be having a conversation with you if they did not. If an individual truly does not know something or believes that someone else is right, then they are not going to comment at all; that is the truly humble action in such a situation, namely, when you don’t know, to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

On the contrary, when an individual doesn’t know what he or she has, it is the height of arrogance to offer it up as a solution. The humble thing to do in that situation is to keep quiet and let someone who has solutions to answer. On the other hand, it is not arrogant to say, “I have the solution,” present the evidence to support it, and invite criticism.

The truth is that these religions simply don’t want to defend their beliefs under criticism. To justify themselves, they castigate individuals who want to “debate.” This, they say, is the problem. It’s curious to note that they don’t seem to have a problem knowing what the problem is. In a system that claims to know nothing, they know an awful lot when it comes to evaluating the beliefs of others.

Consider the following illustration: suppose you were stranded in the desert without water and you came across two people. One person said, “I have water and here is the evidence that proves it to be clean and healthy. Test it for yourself.”

The second person said, “Don’t listen to that combative fellow who wants to test everything. Do I have water? I don’t know if I do or not. It could be poison. I’m not going to allow you to test it, but let’s drink it together and see what happens.” Who is humble and who is arrogant?

Is there such a thing as false humility? There is. Paul wrote in Colossians 2:23 that some had a “show” of humility, but were not truly being humble. These were humble in appearance only, but not actually. So also those who today “don’t claim to have the answer” are only being apparently humble. The truth is that they want you to believe what they are putting forth, but they want you to believe it without setting forth any evidence or allowing you to subject their beliefs to criticism. Such is truly the height of arrogance.

They are also hypocrites. They are hypocritical because while they verbally deny any claim to knowledge, they certainly don’t live like that. If they lived consistently with their claim to not know the answer, they would give up their unknowable beliefs. The fact is that they live their lives based upon the things that they are teaching to others; their claim “not to know” what they believe and practice is inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst.

What do you do when someone says to you, “You may be right and I may be wrong”? You ask questions like, “Then why are you living the way that you are living?” “If you may be wrong, then why don’t you give up what you are doing?” “If you don’t know, then why are you teaching others the things that you believe?”

The truth is that their comment “You may be right” is simply a ploy for them to escape criticism of their beliefs. It is simply a way to not have to defend what they are teaching to be true. It is intellectually dishonest, arrogant, and hypocritical.

Like the church at Colossae, we’ve allowed individuals who use such ploys to redefine humility. We need to come back to the true standard of humility. Humility isn’t shrugging your shoulders and saying, “I don’t know” but I want you to believe what I’m saying anyway. Humility is offering up what you have, defending it, and allowing others to either accept or reject it based upon rigorous evaluation of the evidence. As a Christian, I have no fear of that process. On the contrary, those who reject rigorous examinations of their beliefs have everything to fear.

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To Whose Voice Are We Listening?

We all listen to the voice of someone. As humans this is inescapable. John Donne (1572-1631) wrote, “No man is an island.”? We come into this world listening to the voice of our mother and father. As children we hear the voices of relatives and friends. Growing older, we listen to teachers and preachers, newscasters and commentators. In adulthood the cacophony of voices that bend our ear can be staggering and in an information society, there is no end of the voices to which we can listen. Such has been the case for centuries. Luke’s inspired pen records “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing”? (Acts 17:21).

There is a point, however, where we must stop listening and start acting. And we should be clear, the voices to which we listen will affect the decisions that we make and the actions that we take in life. The Bible teaches that there is no action taken by man without there first having been a thought in man’s heart. Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things”? (Matthew 12:35). What we believe will affect how we act. We don’t act in any way without first having thought about it. And so our actions reflect the voices to which we have been listening and the voices to which we have been listening become the conventions that shape the decisions of our lives whatever direction our lives take.

If we are honest with ourselves, we will confess that there is no such thing as unconventional thinking and unconventional wisdom. There is no new thinking that can be done that hasn’t, in some shape or fashion, been done. Solomon very wisely confessed this before he began his treatise on ethics (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). It is a deception to think that my thoughts are objectively unconventional; the truth is that one’s thoughts are only unconventional to some while they are conventional to others. Whether we consider our thoughts conventional or not depends upon the voices to which we are listening and even this is only our perception of whether our thoughts are conventional or not because in the final analysis there are only two voices, two conventions, that exist. Yes, there are only two voices in this world that truly speak: the voice of God and the voice of Satan, the voice of truth and the voice of error, the voice of righteousness and the voice of sin (Matthew 21:25).

Satan speaks with many voices from many places and with many advocates appearing as if he has multiple ideas and multiple choices; this is pluralism and while it appears wise, it is a deception. It is a deception because truth cannot exist in the confluence or the synthesis of multiple thoughts. If it is true that truth can only be discerned in the synthesis of plural thoughts, then one of those thoughts from which truth must be discerned is that truth cannot be discerned in the synthesis of plural thoughts. How can it be true that truth must be discerned both from multiple thoughts and not from multiple thoughts? It cannot. We must conclude that pluralism is inherently self contradictory and that truth can only come from one voice, namely, the voice of God.

So, how do we hear God’s voice? There is only one way to hear the voice of God and thereby know the mind of God, namely, through the revelation of God’s mind by His Spirit. If someone can know the mind of God outside of revelation, I’d like for them to explain how. Scripture says that no man knows (independently from revelation) the mind of God except the Spirit of God reveal it to him (1 Corinthians 2:11). Indeed, no man has seen (i.e. understood) God; it is only the Son of God who has declared Him (John 1:18). The only way to know God’s mind is if God reveals His mind to man through inspiration (1 Corinthians 2:12). And there is only one inspired source of truth from the mind of God, the Bible.

To whose voice are we listening: the voice of pluralism or the one voice of truth? May God help us to learn that true wisdom comes from listening to and obeying God’s truth.

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