07.5 Moses 7, Day 5

God, Family, Ministry

If you are a Christian you are called to be in Ministry Work.  But where does that calling and obligation fit with the other callings and obligations God may have given you in your life?  Obviously, ministry work is important, very important.  But what if you also have a family and children?  Are these things in conflict?

I think that is one of the very interesting topics in our scripture and our discussions today.  We don’t know when Moses’ wife and children were sent back to Midian.  The bible doesn’t say exactly.  In specific terms, the only time reference it gives to this event is in Exodus 18:2: After she was sent, she was received by Jethro.

We know that Moses wasn’t an advocate of leaving women and children behind.  In Ex 10:11 Pharaoh told Moses that he and the men could leave to worship God, but they had to leave the wives and children behind.  This was not acceptable.

We also see that Moses’ sister, Miriam, was a prophetess and had a leadership role in the worship service, leading all the women of the community in praise of God.  There is clearly a role for both men and women (and children) in ministry work.

The Apostle Paul advocates for those who devote their lives fully to ministry work to stay single as a way to avoid the conflict that both obligations present.  But that does not mean and he does not indicate that those who are married cannot participate in ministry work or that they must leave their families behind to do so.

In fact, this conflict can often lead to bigger problems.  A passion and dedication to ministry can bring some to ignore or fail to fulfill their role in their own household.  This, in turn, can weaken that relationship and cause other problems, marital issues and separation and a weakening of the family structure.  That approach is not supported in the scriptures.  The opposite is true.  We see the strength of the joint ministry work of Priscilla and Aquila.  We see the dedication to family members, even ones that are not blood relatives, such as Ruth and Naomi.  We know that God could have brought Jesus into this world in any number of miraculous ways, but He chose for Jesus to be born to Mary and Joseph.

Moses’ wife and children could have been sent away for safety reasons, if they were in mortal danger either during plagues or even when the Hebrews were rising up to stone Moses over food and drink.  But I believe a more supported reason would have been to spread the good news of God’s glory to people who could not be otherwise reached, and then, only for a short time.

Who else could have brought the news of God’s miraculous redemption of the Hebrews to Jethro than his own daughter and grandsons (who would likely have been full grown adults)?  Would he have believed or accompanied a stranger?  I think this is supported in the fact that Jethro returns with his daughter and grandsons to Moses.  There is no indication of disapproval or the action or that Moses was not fulfilling his role from any words of Jethro.  In fact, he celebrates God with Moses and the elders of the community.  Furthermore, he goes on to coach Moses and give him wisdom in how to raise up leaders.  This structure and hierarchy of the people was a part of God’s design and training to turn this group of former slaves into His nation.

In the same way it is wise for us, in our churches, to look for capable servants of the Lord to raise up as leaders, prayerfully and each according to their current talents.  I was visiting with a co-worker who was searching for a new church for her family.  The church they attended was fine, bible-based and God centered, but the long-term members of the church had each carved out their roles and areas of service which they had lead for years.  After 3 years, neither she nor her husband had been able to find a way to serve inside the church in any meaningful way that wasn’t received as trespassing on someone else’s turf.

Are we getting into a situation like Moses where others can’t grow because we have refused to let go of our own turf?  Not only is that detrimental to the church and community, but it is unhealthy for us and others.  Have we fallen in love with serving the Lord or is our love in the Lord?  We cannot even imagine what God has in store for us next if we don’t trust Him enough to cling to Him instead of to a position of service or authority.  That does not mean to abandon the role you are in – it simply means that we shouldn’t be doing it alone, but instead looking to bring others alongside.  Run your leg of the race, but understand clearly who you are handing the baton to for the next leg.

 

 

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
Scripture doesn’t say.  When they had passed through the red sea and Egypt’s army was destroyed to  send word to family., Ex 10:11

b.
When God calls them (spouse and children) for His ministry – when they are going into safety and they have provision

11.
a.
He was delighted, praised God and brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, ate with the elder in God’s presence

b.
How God has rescued us and blessed us with His grace

12.
a.
He was not raising up other leaders by delegating work.  He was trying to do it all Himself.

b.
Can’t be all things – Moses role was to be the people’s representative before God, select capable men to also serve

c.
capable men from among the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain

d.
the people of the tribes of Israel

e.
To be a capable man from among His followers and for Him to continue to show me how He would have me serve

 

07.4 Moses 7, Day 4

Where are you in the story?

Some of the stories in the bible cry out for us to see ourselves within the characters and elements in the story.  I think this is clearly one of them.

Are you an Amalekite?  Someone who is aggressive to the people of God, bringing them under attack.  No matter what easy target they may seem to be, full of wealth but weak in strength or organization, this is still a bad place to be.  There may be times that those who oppose God’s people appear to be winning the battle, there is suffering and even casualties in the battle, but God always prevails. If you are keeping score (as evidently Moses was told to do when God told him to write this down), the score at this point is God 1, people who oppose God 0.

Are you a Joshua?  Do you lead others into the front lines of battle?  Are you in the mission field?  Then you must realize that without the support of prayer warriors who are away from the front lines, you falter in battle if that support weakens.  It is not your strength, but God’s that wins battles.

Are you a solder in Joshua’s army?  Are you one of the unnamed people in the battle?  Sometimes we can believe that if we aren’t a recognized leader we are less important.  Without you wielding the sword of the word of God, the battle would be lost.  But take care not to envy recognition, this lead to the fall of angels.

Are you a Moses?  A prayer warrior on a hill.  Do you channel God’s power to others by standing watch and providing prayer and support?  But even Moses, even with a dedication to prayer and holding the staff of God, grew weak and weary.  Don’t try to hold this position on your own, join with others.  Sometimes we think, it is just prayer, I can do that all by myself – but there is strength in numbers.

Are you and Aaron or Hur?  Do you raise up you arms to the support of others with arms upstretched?  Do you proactively accompany others in their ministry?  Sometimes we can hang back or get engaged in other busy activities and not be present to know that those we are called to support are in need.  Go to the mountain with them.  Be present with the leaders.

Are you the staff or the rock (or in our earlier story of the waters of Marah, the piece of wood)?  Are you the one who is present, quietly waiting for God to open others eyes that you are there, but upon whom God works His power?  Do you miss out on being the instrument of God’s blessing because you are too proud or too impatient to wait for God to call you in to action to perform His miracle?

My Answers:

8.
a.
The blessing of the Lord – that God was with them

b.
Both were important but I would say the staff – when it would lower, they would begin to lose

c.
Recognize the power of those who stand with God for those who are in the heart of the persecuted church.  Be one of those.

9.
a.
This (what had happened)

b.
as something to be remembered, and that God would blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.  For Joshua

c.
How God is revealing Himself to me through my study of His word so that it might bless others

07.3 Moses 7, Day 3

Being Blind

There was a verse in today’s reading that both shocked me and humbled me.  Exodus 17:7, “Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD here with us or not?” (NLT)

Here is why this was so shocking to me.  In Exodus 13:21-22 we read, “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”  These people were living day and night in the physical, visible presence of God in His shekinah glory in the pillar, 24x7x365 and they are blind.  “Is the LORD here with us or not?”

They see themselves.  They see their thirst and their physical needs.  They see Moses and Aaron.  But they don’t see God.  How is that even possible?

When they have physical needs, they don’t turn to the source of all power who has saved them and brought them out of Egypt.  They turn first to Moses.

But then my eyes were opened to how I act the same way.  When I am sick or hurting, I turn first to doctors and medicine.  When they are not able to help me, then I turn to God in prayer.  I’m walking with God every day and reading His word, but my approach is completely backward.  I’m not saying God wouldn’t use a doctor or medicine to help and heal me, He works in both ordinary and miraculous ways, but where am I turning first and where as a last resort?

We foster this blindness even in church. “If anyone is in need of prayer…”  Aren’t we all in need of prayer?  We need to continue to lift the blindness and see that God is present with us just as He was with the Hebrew people in the wilderness.  We should turn to Him first and then allow Him to work in and through whomever He chooses for His glory.

My Answers:

6.
a.
quarreled – accused him of not giving them water to drink

b.
Because he did not now have nor had he ever had power to provide water to drink, only God had that power

c.
Told Moses to go in front of people, take the elders, take the staff, I will stand before you by rock of Horeb, strike the rock adn water will come out of it for the people to drink

d.
Jesus is the provider and source of the living water.  He is the rock from which that water flows

7.
a.
3 and none.  15:24 drink, 16:2-3 food, 17:3 drink

b.
Who I turn to first – Israel turned to Moses – I turn to doctors & other people of authority

07.2 Moses 7, Day 2

430 years in Egypt

For the past 430 years the Israelite people had not been their own nation.  They had lived as a separate people but they had lived within the governance of Egypt.  For the past 100 years or so of that time they had lived as slaves, an oppressed people.

As we pick up the scriptures this week, less than a week ago they had participated in the passover and now they were a free people under the kind and loving rule of a new king, the King of Kings.  But they had know idea how to live that life.  Imagine if you took a slave out of one of the most oppressed places in our modern world and brought them into your home to live with you as part of your family.  They wouldn’t know how to live or what to do.  They would have so much to learn and it would take a great deal of patience and love to teach them.

That is exactly what we see God doing.  At this point in time, this collection of God’s chosen people have more in common with the livestock they tend than they do with the loving God who saved them.  When they thirst, they expect to be given water and grumble.  When they are hungry, they expect to be fed.

God could have just been the shepherd and given them food and water, but He wanted more for them.  He had a bigger lesson in mind and we see this in the “tests” that He gives them.  These weren’t tests to trick them.  These were tests like you would give a student.  These were tests to be able to evaluate if they were grasping the correct concepts that He is trying to teach.  He is trying to teach them to trust in Him, to obey Him, to turn to Him and rely on Him alone, to accept His love and His providence and to serve and worship Him alone.

As a good shepherd of His flocks, God would have given them food and water, shelter and safety.  But He didn’t want them to be just creatures, He wanted them to grow and know who He was, and in that reflection, who they were supposed to become.  Genesis 12:2 God said to Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.”  These people in this desert are the people of that promise, but they still have a lot to learn.

My Answers:

3.
a.
3 days

b.
Cried out to God.  Showed him a piece of wood.

c.
If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees

d.
I am the LORD, who heals you

4.
a.
lack of trust and faith in God, romanticizing how things were in Egypt, focus on themselves and their physical needs

b.
the LORD, 8

5.
a.
40 years, bread by morning (manna in the field), meat by evening (quail in the encampment)

b.
There was obedience required in how much they gathered, when they gathered, on what days they did and did not gather

c.
the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life.

d.
To have the LORD Jesus take up residence in and tend the garden of my heart