Editor's Note: This is the transcript of my recorded Bible study under this title at Truthtellers.org..
TV “prosperity preachers” teach the power of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary enables Christians to prosper in every way: health, finances, career and destiny as well as spiritually. Yet, in many examples, the Bible reveals how God really prefers to deliver His saints. Such is not according to a formula but the will of the Holy Spirit and unique to every Christian. God specializes in allowing dilemmas and bondages to arise in the lives of His saints. He does so in order that we be spiritually tested, pruned and purified but also that He may have opportunity to show Himself our Deliverer.
How do we cope with such God-ordained trials and afflictions? We submit to God within them, thanking Him that He is working all things together for good. Yet, as we patiently bear our crosses, the Holy Spirit may arouse a burden in ourselves or other saints that we have dwelt under such repression long enough and it is time to pray earnestly for deliverance.
This was the case for Moses and the children of Israel after 400 years of Egyptian bondage. As the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses began life with tremendous advantages and potential. He might, perhaps, have become Pharaoh.Yet, after he killed an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating an Israelite, he fled all such opportunity and dwelt for 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai herding sheep. His reversal of fortune was baffling to him. Yet, unwavering in faith, he believed it was God’s will that he finish his life in the humble solitary state God had allowed, on the back side of Mt. Sinai, looking at the backsides of sheep.
But God, having ordained that he be humbled for a time, now had other plans: that Moses be exalted as a public leader. So God appeared to him in a burning bush and said, “Behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to me…therefore come now and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring my people, the sons of Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:9-10.
However, Moses believed his inability to speak effectively rendered God’s proposal impossible. He said, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past and since thou hast spoken to thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” And the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say.”
But Moses continued to believe he was in reality and God was not. He had decided long ago what he was incapable of and did not appreciate anyone, even God, contradicting the obvious. This angered God. He would have liked to have delivered the Hebrews through a stutterer so He might be most fully glorified. Yet God compromised. He allowed Moses’ older brother, Aaron, to speak for him. Thus, Moses consented to go with Aaron to Egypt.
Even in Egypt before Pharaoh’s court, God refused to heal Moses’ verbal affliction. God was determined, as He would still be 1500 years later with the apostle Paul’s incurable eye disease and with similar thorns in the flesh in believers today, that His strength be made perfect in our weakness. This story teaches us that, although we may believe we have a perfect understanding of how our afflictions and limitations make any great ministry impossible, God has a very different view and can cause us to transcend them. As such, we are not, like Moses, to shut the doors God may be opening to ways in which He wants to use us in weakness to help others.
A historical anecdote helps make my point. In 1939 there were many people in England, as there are everywhere, with nervous disorders, such as phobias, obsessiveness and depression. For many of these, there seemed no cure. But when Hitler began bombing England, the medical establishment was astonished at how many such emotional basket cases pitched in to the defense of Britain. Responding to crisis, they forgot themselves and felt better than ever before.
What force pulled them upward and outward from themselves? The answer is simple: human need. Viewing themselves as indispensable to the war effort sublimated their fears and obsessive introspection. Thus, God’s means of deliverance of Moses from a life of obscurity in the desert also did not come from a miracle of healing. Rather, God told Moses it would come from responding to the need for deliverance of million and a half Hebrews languishing in Egyptian slavery. They might well remain so for another 400 years unless Moses obeyed God. To do this, God told Moses to make use very largely of that which was within his power. He said to Moses, "What is in your hand?" Moses replied, "My shepherd's staff." God turned it into a snake and back into a stick, but that humble stick would also divide the Red Sea.
Scripture tells us that God doesn’t require of us what we don't have, which is perfect physical empowerment, but what we do have. All of us, like the nervously afflicted British citizens in 1939, can say, "I will respond to human need as much as I am able. Such is the stick in my hand through which God can do wonders."
But an important question remains: Do we have a powerful personal desire to help deliver others? Are we humble enough to follow and assist other people who have that desire? When Moses as a young man in Egypt saw a Hebrew savagely beaten, perhaps to death, very strong personal righteous indignation overcame him. His desire to help the Hebrew victim could not have been more powerful. Yet Moses' idealism faded over time. The victim of baffling reversal and exile, Moses, far from leaping at the opportunity to help others, replied to God, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will." In other words, "Let somebody else do it." Moses would be quite content to observe another deliver the Hebrews, one who had the gift of eloquence.Michelangelo Moses
So God compromised with provision of articulate Aaron, and Moses finally obeyed and put one foot in front of the other, until finally he and Aaron were in Pharoah's court. Behold, Moses was full of all the concern and motivation he needed! It came from the Holy Spirit. The same was true when later he descended from Sinai to find the Hebrews worshiping a golden calf. He was so full of zeal that, breaking the tablets of stone, he possessed the passion that today we see in Michelangelo’s sculpture of him.
Like Moses, we cannot legitimately claim it is not in our nature to perform works of heroism or deliverance. Every Christian can love the less fortunate as themselves and prove it by acts of charity and kindness. Scripture says, "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (I John 3:17) The Bible also says if we lack anything, including sufficient love of the lost to take action, but pray earnestly, God will give us love not of ourselves.
One of the great facts about human potential is that if people really want or enjoy something they will reveal the strongest tendency to create time for it or make it happen. In college my biology professor told our class of a medical student who got himself through four years of medical school, working as an elevator operator. He kept his textbook propped open and, in the 10 or 15 seconds between floors, memorized a new term or concept. He might easily have claimed that becoming a doctor was far beyond his financial resources; but, as countless successful entrepreneurs have demonstrated, if our will is strong, a way can usually be found where there seemingly is no way. What seem insurmountable handicaps have a way of being overcome, especially when we desire to help others. Such transcendence is all the more made possible by God’s gifts of a spiritual burden and vision to us.
What must not happen is this: Because of hardships or physical affliction we begin, as Moses did, to respond to human need according to a small-minded formula that upholds our rights and conception of reality and ignores God’s power. Instead, we should respond to need, acknowledging that, though we are in pain, exhausted, impoverished, because our greatest cause is to do God’s will and help others, even in our duress, we will make opportunity for God to work.
For example, if I am extremely tired, a good idea for an article or a Bible study comes to me. I must not allow it to escape. I jot it down in as few as two or three words. I have a seed, out of which, when I am rested, an expanded statement of truth may quickly grow. By simply preserving an idea, I have taken a step toward fulfilling God’s will and providing truth to those who don’t have it.
Satan wants to convince us the hardships of our circumstances require that personal survival come before human need or speaking the whole truth. Yet Scripture repeatedly affirms that God "gives strength to those who have no strength." He "lifts up those who are cast down." Just as God protected Moses and the Israelites all night from the advancing Egyptian army, He says of those who put Him first, "I will be their rear guard. I will make a way where there seems to be no way." Scripture is full of affirmation that when we say, "Yes, Lord," nothing shall be called impossible.
Let us conclude with Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
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