October 5, 2009

Moses, the Party-pooper

Moses brings to mind a man standing on a mountain with clay tablets in his hands. He cries out to his people to follow God. If anyone knows the story, they know that most of the time, the people did not do what he said.

Moses did lead the people out of slavery in Egypt, but many of them needed convincing, and after they made their escape from Pharaoh’s clutches, they often criticized Moses and wanted to go back to Egypt. During his life, he was not the beloved leader the nation later put on a pedestal. Why did he do it? He could have stayed in Egypt and became a leader there. He had been adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and historians say that her father tried to formally adopt him and make him the heir to his position. However, historians also say that Moses even, as a child, threw the diadem on the ground. As the Bible says, Moses trusted God.

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Faith in the King of kings comes with a value system that the world does not understand. Most would say turning down that position and privilege was a foolish choice. He could have had power and wealth and could have made a great name for himself. But Moses “balanced the best of the world with the worst of religion” and deliberately chose suffering rather than sin.

This is not to say being a wealthy king is sinful. David was called a “man after God’s own heart” and he had money and a throne. The sin is in the motive. Moses had a choice. He could identify with the family who saved his life by hiding him in the bull rushes as a baby, or with the family who forced his birth family and their relatives into slavery. God asked him to pick one and he did.

Every day I am offered choices. I think of Moses and need to weigh my options. My activities are generally not in the category of sin, but if God asks me to do something that is difficult or will mean personal sacrifice, and I have more pleasant things I could do, then choosing what is easy and comfortable rather than obeying God becomes a sin.

Identifying with Jesus Christ is a great treasure. It might not look like it in this life, much less feel like it, but the rewards of following Jesus instead of doing my own thing are eternal rewards. Besides, here and now I have the people of God as my companions. Together we share in the struggle of obedience, often without seeing immediate results. Yet together we know that God is with us and will take care of us. We encourage one another.

Those who choose the pleasures of sin may feel like they are “partying with their friends” but the day will come when their lives will be evaluated. All that does not pass the test of God’s refining fire will be lost. The pleasure will be gone, the party over.

Faith’s eternal perspective might make life seem joyless, but God even takes care of that. There is joy in choosing Him over personal pleasure or personal gain and the joy He gives does not depend on riches, power, or even personal comfort. It is a joy that bubbles up from the inside and overrules whatever might threaten it on the outside.

Moses knew the secret. His following gave him a rough time, but he choose to obey God. Eventually this man became revered in the eye’s of God’s people and in our eyes too, because he said no to sin and yes to God.

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