Monday, February 27, 2012

Ephraim's Evil and Our Wicked Ways: Applications of Judges 12

Judges 12 
1The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire. And Jephthah said to them, “I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand. And when I saw that you would not save me, pI took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and theLord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, q“You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.” And the Gileadites captured rthe fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at rthe fords of the Jordan. At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.

Judges 12 will provide a couple of interesting studies- the main one will be about Jephthah who is mentioned in the 'wall of faith' in Hebrews 11.

But today, I wanted to focus on the Men of Ephraim and a particular kind of evil that is prevalent in our culture today- alas, even in the Church of Jesus Christ!

To characterize this group, I need to go back a few chapters in Judges. In chapter 7, we get an account of Gideon defeating the Midianites and find a similar problem in Chapter 8 as we find here in Chapter 12:
Then the men of Ephraim said to him (Gideon), “What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they accused him fiercely.And he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not athe gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the grape harvest of Abiezer? bGod has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do in comparison with you?” cThen their anger1 against him subsided when he said this.
Do you see a parallel pattern? Yes, the Men of Ephraim are professional complainers- the kind that stir up dissension and spread negativity, rumors, lies, and instability.

Is this a serious sin or just a personality profile? Let's see what God's Word says:

Proverbs 6:
16 There are dsix things that the Lord hates,
dseven that are an abomination to him:17 ehaughty eyes, fa lying tongue,
and ghands that shed innocent blood,18 ha heart that devises wicked plans,
ifeet that make haste to run to evil,19 ja false witness who kbreathes out lies,
and one who asows discord among brothers.
Here is a similar statement in Galatians 5:

19 Now bthe works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,cdivisions, 21 envy,4 drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that dthose who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

My fear is that there a certain sins that we tolerate in our lives and in our churches that are as destructive, maybe even more destructive, that the so called 'vices' that we rail against. Stirring up negative attacks is one of these issues. Sadly, some of my observations in 30 years of Christian service is that we usually give in to the attacks- sometimes allowing good people to be railroaded in the process.

Let's look at some of the issues surrounding the Men of Ephraim:


There is a steady stereotype found in these type of people

Most of the time, these types of men will not tell you these things in person. One on one, these men are pretenders and appeasers. They will hint to the crisis, but never own up to its authorship. They will say things like "I have heard" or "they say" without specifying individuals. These people are usually weak in person and are fearful of the crowd they run in. It is a pack mentality. They feel emboldened in numbers and depend on emotional responses. They need the targets of their attack to be afraid of them.
Notice in both accounts that the criticism is of the same substance. Dissenters spin worn out critiques and a one size fits all complaint. Because it is a group think operation- they repeat the issues among themselves so much that the complaint is accepted as truth without substance.
This is one of the saddest results of such an environment. There are individuals within the pack who twist details and mis-represent statements and question motives. Because they act without nobility, they are always skeptical of everyone. Their default mode is suspicion and are quick to believe outright lies without substantiation. The Men of Ephraim told lies about Jephthah as well: “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.”
A peacemaker will try to diffuse situations that they have spun up only to find it as disconcerting as the proverbial tar-baby. I have always been amazed how ineffective an appeal to logic is with them. Often, I try a technique where I get them to at least admit there is another way of looking at a situation, but it has always been futile to a determined dissenter. My experience is that these are issues of the heart... not the head. We will look at two responses later and we should always try to find a peaceful solution- but most of the time the end result is unavoidable.
Notice Jephthah has to put in his 'test' for the Ephraimites, because he counts on them not telling the truth. Some of the biggest mistakes we make in life is when when count on men without character - and a lack of character goes hand-in-hand with men without courage.


In Judges 8, the Ephraimites challenge Gideon with great vigor. And Gideon appeals to their pride in his response. He basically praises them to appease the attack. Some may call this a wise response- He knows them and has more important things to do so he uses guile in the political solution.

The problem with this response is that it only encourages the behavior. The more we yield to the mob mentality only poisons the situation and creates the potential for someone else getting waylaid in the process.

Here in Judges 12- Jephthah doesn't play that way. He is a warrior. He explains in futility that he did ask for help, couldn't wait around on them, risked great sacrifice in his actions, and, with God's help, prevailed.

When the troublemakers don't get what they want, he knows what he has to do.


At some point, it is going to happen. Rebel rousers leave a great path of destruction. But the Scripture always proves true:

 zDo not be deceived: God is not mocked, for awhatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For bthe one who sows to his own flesh cwill from the flesh reap corruption, butdthe one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
42,000 Ephraimites were killed as a result of their own making. And it sounds harsh to say it this way- Israel was in a better off without them. Because these people create constant instability.


I will study Jephthah, the leader, later- but there are important applications of this part of the passage.

1) We have to diligently search our hearts and get rid of any root of bitterness that may exist.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the tholiness uwithout which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one vfails to obtain the grace of God; that no w“root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;  (Hebrews 12:14,15)
Is there some issue that you constantly gripe about? Is there a person that you consistently tear down? Do you ever find yourself pulling others into your attack of others? In the long run, you are only hurting yourself.

2) Is there a group of dissenters that need confronting? It is important that you implement Matthew 18 and begin the process of winning brothers or cutting out problems. These are very sensitive issues, but no family or organization can sustain itself with groups who constantly poison the water and pollute the air.

3) I guess I need to finish this hard post by mentioning what I think is a sin of anonymous e-mails, internet postings, or other faceless, nameless attacks. I am a huge fan of freedom of speech and freedom of dissent- but I do not believe in anonymous speech. If you say it- you need to put your name on it.

4) We all get better with healthy critique and dissent. The key to this is personal one on one communication and upfront dialogue. But the secret shadows of whisper campaigns have hurt good men and women of God throughout the history of the church. Little ones have stumbled in the dark attacks and terrible judgement awaits those who have participated in these types of actions.

It takes a strong leader to take on the Men of Ephraim.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ex-Rex: Early Reactions to Joshua 12

This post is part of a series I am doing this year to study all the chapter 12's in the Bible for 2012.

"Another One Bites the Dust". A first reading of Joshua 12 gives you the list of the Kings that are taken down. East of the Jordan by Moses and West of the Jordan by Joshua.

When you read Joshua, you have to hearken back to Deuteronomy 20 where God gives inspiration, organization, and specific commands for the Israelites to capture the 'land of inheritance'- especially the command to 'do not leave anything alive that breathes' and 'completely destroy' all the ites "as the Lord God commands".

Obviously, this has been an area of attack by skeptics and non-believers for ages- the cruel God of the Old Testament and His Holy War on the land of Canaan.

For some reason, this has never bothered me. I mean, I understand why some would be upset and confused. But I have never felt like this is out of the nature of the God of the Bible. Yes, it is contrary to the 'big ole Santa Clause god' that many worship, but is is well within the expectations of the God of the Bible whose wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

But the 'Warrior God' has never bothered me. I want my God attacking sin and injustice.

Think of it this way- the world is polluted and infected by evil men. True freedom led to the infection that now destroys. The world is littered with pain and betrayal and lies and half- hearted tokens of selfish ambition.

God's plan involves a process where He will educate and liberate His people. He does this by calling a man out of the pagan world and begins a process that will, slowly over time, set the stage for types and shadows of everlasting salvation- in real time, space, and history.

He promised this man (Abram), in a beautiful covenant- land and descendants.

So throughout the pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy) he has marked out this territory and constantly renews the covenant with new people and new signs.

The current commander is now Joshua who is succeeding the Mosaic part of the covenant by conquering the land.

And so God marks out the territory- and will now till it up- seeking to rid it of impurity and false worship and intending to root into pure and holy ground a people to show the world who He is. They will themselves be a type and shadow of the ultimate fulfillment of this covenant of grace.

The land will eventually house a King and a temple- the land will be a place of endless blessing and curses- always showing man to be unfaithful- totally incapable of fulfilling the requirements of the covenant because of their sin nature.

But God has already sworn the penalty- Who will pay for the broken oath. He alone passed through the split carcasses- Throughout Jewish history, He is moving toward the day when He Himself will be the sacrifice foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament and will serve forever as the High Priest in the heavenly temple- and secure our place in the eternal land.


A final thought about the God who fights... This point is brilliantly pointed out by Tim Keller  as he quotes Miroslav Volf :

My thesis is that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance…My thesis will be unpopular with man in the West…But imagine speaking to people (as I have) whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned, and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit…Your point to them–we should not retaliate? Why not? I say–the only means of prohibiting violence by us is to insist that violence is only legitimate when it comes from God…Violence thrives today, secretly nourished by the belief that God refuses to take the sword…It takes the quiet of a suburb for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence is a result of a God who refuses to judge. In a scorched land–soaked in the blood of the innocent, the idea will invariably die, like other pleasant captivities of the liberal mindif God were NOT angry at injustice and deception and did NOT make a final end of violence, that God would not be worthy of our worship.           Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf 

In other words- it is our faith in God to ultimately right all wrongs that allows us to give in and leave it to Him. If you take away the God of eternal justice, you actually instigate revenge among humans. Only God's grace, born in His holiness, can break the sin cycle of an 'eye for an eye'.


I want to end this initial thought on the warrior Joshua, to mention another great warrior, Joshua Chamberlain. I am reading the classic "Soul of the Lion" which elegantly details his life, his work as a ministerial candidate and teacher at Bowdoin College, and his courageous decision to volunteer to fight and preserve the Union.

This sweet man of Christ, turned into a warrior, and his gallant leadership played a huge role in winning at Gettysburg and changed the tide of the Civil War.

I guess the point I am making is that we as christians sometimes lose the understanding that there are times to fight. And we must leave our passivity when the battle is raging.

And just as Joshua in the Bible, and just as Joshua Chamberlain were misunderstood when they decided it was time to fight; we must be willing to be mis-understood and attack with gusto.

I can give testimony that the weak and cowardly will not like the posture of war- it takes a real man to do it right in the face of opposition.

But when God says the kings must fall, and the idols must be torn down- may we be found to fight faithfully and fearlessly in the task.

What will our list of victories look like? What kings and idols have toppled under our assault?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pentateuch Principles: A Final Look at Deuteronomy 12

It is mid- February and the weather seems like late spring. It is hard to believe that I am about to leave Deuteronomy 12 and prepare to take on Joshua 12. The early peek is that it will be a challenge of names, places, and dates.

I wrote in the last post about the large impact that spending time in God's law has had on me. The governor placed on thoughts, actions, and attitudes has been very apparent. Without the message of the gospel, I would be in real trouble before a Holy God of Perfection.

The thoughts of being ceremonially clean and unclean based on my daily choices has pressed my prayer life and prompted my awareness of the Holy Spirit in my heart.

I am taking a Wednesday night class on evangelism and it has been another good pressure as well. The bottom line is that God has not given up on His desire to grow me more into the son He desires me to be. And I am not even close to being all that He desires of me.

So if I may- there are 3 major principles that seem to be not only a part of this chapter, but also a big theme of the first 5 Books of Scripture.


I have blogged a lot on this topic- the links are below:
Time to Check My Idols, March 9- 2009
Hurts So Good, The Pain of Progress- Nov. 2, 2009
Where Are the Idols?- July 23, 2005
The Gospel Confronts the Addict- July 12, 2011

The passage here in Deuteronomy 12 is specifically commanding the Israelites to counter the places and forms of worship they will encounter when they enter the promised land. And the message is clear- RIP IT UP- TEAR IT DOWN- UTTERLY DESTROY THE FALSE WORSHIP. In other words......ruthless.

How does this challenge me? In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes about the confrontation with the Corinthians and his very earnest quest to deal with unrighteous behavior in the church:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the mweapons of nour warfare are not of the flesh but have odivine power pto destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and qevery lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to robey Christ, sbeing ready to punish every disobedience, twhen your obedience is complete.
How passive I am! How weak I am! How soft I am! I walk well for a few days and then retreat to my comforts. I listened to a presentation on prayer one time and the teacher made an impression with his analogy.

Our spiritual lives are a battle. We walk into a full frontal fire on the beaches of Normandy- pull out our beach towels, sunscreen, sun glasses, and sit with our toes in the sand while the enemy blasts our friends and family.


The most important command in Deuteronomy 12 is this:

“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, oeveryone doing whatever is right in his own eyesfor you have not as yet come to pthe rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you.
 We see this same language at the end of Judges:

21:25 cIn those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Is there any more corollary statement in Scripture to the post-modern, post-everything American culture?

As I look over my list of detentions for the school year, I see this as the most common issue with my students. The fruit of an entitlement culture is ultimately the attitude that 'I can do what I want, when I want. I may ask for forgiveness- but I am not interested in permission'. And the reason that I see that attitude so well? It resides right here in my heart as well.

How can I be a part of a kingdom, if I acknowledge no King?


Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy about 14 times in the gospels! He knew the Law. He loved the Law. He lived the Law. He wrote the Law.

He knew that the Ram in the thicket was pre-figuring Him. He knew all the blood in the temple was a foreshadowing of His sacrifice.

I guess we say it so much that we almost grow callous to the pain and the shame.

Men sometimes shake their fist as God and cry, "He's not fair!"

And we say "Yes"- He is not fair.... He is merciful beyond comprehension.

Deuteronomy 12:32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Repetition and Precision: Opening Reactions to Deuteronomy 12

You may have heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect".

But a dear brother in the Lord used to make it very clear that this saying is not exactly true.

He corrected or clarified it like this:

"Practice makes permanent. 
Poor practice produces poor habits.
Perfect practice produces permanent perfection."

I can tell you as a coach, that nothing produces improvement more than quality, intense, and organized reps. The more I can organize a practice to enable a maximum number of repetitions, the better we all feel about our progress toward the goal.

In a sense, Deuteronomy is another rep. The name of the book literally means 'Second Law'. It is a series of 'sermons' that Moses delivers to the Israelites on the plains of Moab. It is a book of covenant renewal- a refresher on the way of their God- and what to expect as they go into the promised land. It also preps the death of Moses and the transfer of leadership to Joshua, a type of symbol where the LAW (Moses) doesn't save- but Jesus (Joshua) does.

Deuteronomy is the third most often quoted book in the New Testament, next only to the Psalms and the prophecy of Isaiah. It is a covenant document which discloses to us the Lord’s desire to bless his chosen people as they live in relationship with him. At the heart of this covenant of grace is God’s great declaration: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” There is no greater blessing than that—God being our God, and we being his people. P.G. Mathew

Most scholars believe that it was the Book of Deuteronomy that was re-discovered in the reign of Josiah  (2 Kings 22) in 621 BC. I wish, as a nation, we would re-discover the Book that is foundational to all the principles our government is founded upon.

Any study of the gospels will also make you very aware that Jesus had a lot of repetition with this grand book as well.

But especially here in Deuteronomy 12- there is a lot of repetition within the chapter itself.

Points of repetition in Deuteronomy 12:

1) The command to be careful:
Verse 1: Statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do
Verse 13: Take care that you do not
Verse19: Take care that you do not
Verse 28: take care that you do not
Verse 32: you shall be careful to do

When I see how meticulous the Law is- I realize how careless I am. I tend to drift, float. Being careful means that I- think, plan, consider, evaluate. It is a call to be more disciplined and that I be willing to take on sin. Nothing is insignificant. Again, I am not under LAW- but the LAW is a picture into God's heart and boundaries of blessing. My trend should be to tighten down more toward holiness than loosen in license.

2) The command to be thorough:
Verse 1: all the days that you live on the earth
Verse 14: there you shall do all that I am commanding you
Verse 20: as I have commanded you
Verse 28: Be careful to obey all these words
Verse 32: Everything that I command you

Again- very similar to the point above. But a huge part of this is not being satisfied with so called 'pet-sins'. Are there areas of my life that need to light of the LAW? My media choices, my spending, my selfish desires?

3) The blessings of God- enough to rejoice!:
Verse 7: And you shall rejoice... in all that you undertake, in which the LORD has blessed you
Verse 10: live in the land, when He gives you rest - so that you live in safety
Verse12: And you shall rejoice
Verse 15: As much as you desire
Verse 15: the blessing of the Lord that He has given you
Verse18: ANd you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake
Verse 20: When the Lord your God enlarges your territory
Verse 20: you may eat meat whenever you desire
Verse 21: whenever you desire
Verse 28: that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever

Any study in God's LAW tends to trend us to negative thoughts. Restrictions. And like EVE, we stare and long for what is forbidden without any thought to the all the LAVISH YESES  in God's kingdom.
Think of how David spoke so lovingly of the LAW in Psalm 119- It is sweet, he loves it, it is protection and blessing. I need to rejoice! And the greatest celebration is that Jesus has paid my sin debt that mounts as I read my transgressions.

4) Care for the Levites (the priests):
Verse 12: and the Levite that is within your towns
Verse 18: and the Levite
Verse 19: do not neglect the Levite

God's Word has always challenged us to take care of the ministers. And this is more motivation to give. I need to support my ministers- speak well of them. I need to give more. At the end of the year, am I supporting my church? Am I supporting missionaries? For a few dollars a year, we can feed others. For a few dollars, we can support children.

5) God's Name:
Verse 5: Seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all of your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there.
Verse 11: then to the place that the Lord your God will choose to make His name dwell there
Verse 21: If the place that the Lord your God will choose to put His name there is too far away

I need to lift up HIS NAME. His name needs to be clearly on my forehead- on the doorposts of my heart- my home- my children- my school- my city. I want it all to be under HIS NAME and captive to HIS Kingdom. I encourage us to walk around, point at people and places and say , "HIS"!

6) Blood:
Verse 16: you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water
Verse 23: Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh
Verse 24: You shall not eat it, you shall pour it out on the earth like water.
Verse 27: The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God.

Seems like this is more than hygienic. Of course it is wise to not eat raw meat. But this is the beginning stages of preparing us for the heavenly mercy seat and the Blood of the Lamb as the supreme sacrifice.

The major emphasis in Deuteronomy 12 will be covered in the next blog post. But here are 'fundamentals' that we can all rep.

The most interesting thing about these last few weeks in the LAW is how it resonates deep down in my soul. In quiet moments, in the shower, when I wake up- the echoes of these commands well up in me. It is so good to meditate on these desires of God for my life.

A true gospel understanding allows us to come back to the MORAL LAW and find handholds to press us toward a truer  and deeper walk. And it is beautiful freedom, applied as the Spirit allows, not to constrain others but to apply to our heart and choices.

The most crucial part of Deuteronomy 12 is the section found in verses 1-14. This will be covered in my next post, likely next week.

I: The severe eradication of idol worship
II: The severe eradication of human autonomy
III: How it foreshadows covenant fulfillment in Christ

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Humble Autobiography? Numbers 12

Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? oHas he not spoken through us also?” And pthe Lordheard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. And qthe Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him rin a vision; I speak with him sin a dream. Not so with tmy servant Moses. uHe is faithful in all my house. With him I speak vmouth to mouth, clearly, and not in wriddles, and he beholds xthe form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.

We come to a very interesting verse/slight problem in verse 3 in Numbers 12.

'Moses was very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.'

The issue is that we teach Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch and here is a comment, written by the author himself, praising his humility.

There are some in the camp of scriptural criticism who point to this and press their view of the multiple authorship of these books, often referred as the JEDP theory.

But...OH.. we have to be so careful here.

There is a fine line between our theories, based on human presuppositions, and confident teaching on the subject.

I truly believe that rampant liberalism has done more harm to the true Christian faith than any heresy of rival religion.

It is so important for any Christian in the field of Biblical research or advanced studies to be well acquainted with the classic book, Christianity and Liberalism, written by J. Gresham Machen in the 1920's as a clear distinction between orthodox Biblical faith and empty liberal ritual. Sadly, it is the area of higher learning that much of the compromise takes place.

Machen said it clearly in his last chapter:
The Church, it is now apparently supposed, has almost been educated up to the point where the shackles of the Bible can openly be cast away and the doctrine of the Cross of Christ can be relegated to the limbo of discarded subtleties.
I have a past post on this book- but the best thing you could do is take about 4 weeks and devour that book. Read it and re-read it. Outline it- mark it up- re-write his arguments. It is extremely important to not get lost in liberal, ear twitching, man adulating philosophy. My post can be accessed by clicking here: Machen's Christianity and Liberalism.

Now back to our issue:

No doubt some editing could take place in the final compilation of the Mosaic books. After all, the death of Moses is written about in Deuteronomy 32. And that is what we could have here in verse 3- as the language is being updated to a more royal Hebrew, the editor places a truthful note that clarifies the text. We trust in God's sovereignty to protect the truth of His word in faithful transmission.

But there could be another idea: What if he wrote it that way, under God's direction, and speaking truth?

In Acts chapter 20, we have another bold statement, declared by Paul and written as Scripture:

 26 Therefore hI (Paul) testify to you this day that iI am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for jI did not shrink from declaring to you kthe whole counsel of God.

No doubt, there are differences here ( who is recording it, etc) but the Bible is a very transparent Book- it doesn't gloss over sin, but it also is willing to speak the truth about men and their virtue as well.

One thing is clear: Moses was meek.

Meekness is often confused with weakness- but it is not the case. And, I believe, there is a slight shade of variation of meekness and humility. It has been sad researching the modern definitions of these terms- not many would label meek as a virtue. It is seen as spineless and without courage.

Biblically, though, it is a supreme virtue. It is one with power or right who doesn't claim that right or withholds power for the sake of another. The supreme example is the Lord Jesus who willingly let go of His heavenly station to be found in flesh (Phil 2). We also see it when He does not call out for legions of angels to rescue Him from the cross.

The evidence for Moses' meekness is found in chapter 11.

In a very unusual passage, God takes some of the Spirit that is in Moses and allows it to be transferred  to 70 elders to help share the burden of the people. Two men, Eldad and Medad, remain in the camp and they prophesy after the Spirit has rested on them.

This causes a rise in Joshua, Moses right hand man since his youth, and he speaks up. "Moses, my lord, stop them."

Instead, Moses rebukes Joshua- "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and the Lord would put His Spirit on them!"

Even though Moses may be 'down' here, I truly believe this is evidence of his meekness. He is not threatened by a rival and longs more for God's glory that his own, even if his circumstances are tough.

How does God get a man to this point? Often, these are men who have suffered humility and still learned to press into their relationship with God.

Think of Moses, tending the sheep for 40 years in the wilderness as God is preparing him to lead a different type of flock called the Exodus.

A similar spirit is actually shown by David in his account with Shimei in II Samuel 16. As this bitter little man is hurling stones and David's protectors are ready to take him out, David prohibits them by saying:

“Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me,1 and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” 
These men of God, in full view of their sinful nature and the grace of their God. is able to bear with and willingly give up any self defense for the sake of others. They trust God to do any defending that needs to be done- but have no expectations for Him to do so.

It is also interesting that this type of meekness can be mis-understood by good people. They think that this means apathy or laziness or softness- but in these cases... it is not so. Yes, it could be 'hyper-calvinism', or cowardice, or inappropriate pacifism - but a key component is that these men aren't hindered by what others think- their zeal is for the Lord first and truth is more importan than popularity or human approval.


In all of these situations, God steps in to validate, authenticate, and he ruthlessly vindicates.

Look what he says about David:

I Kings 14: 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:“Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes9 but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back, 

Think about what an awesome statement this is! This is AFTER David's sin and is how God evaluates David's life.

He does the same with Moses:

And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him rin a vision; I speak with him sin a dream. Not so with tmy servant Moses. uHe is faithful in all my house. With him I speak vmouth to mouth, clearly, and not in wriddles, and he beholds xthe form of the Lord.

And the penalty for speaking against God's special servant? Miriam is struck with leprosy.

And the meek Moses prays for her- and likely spares her, in that her penalty only lasts 7 days.

What are some applications for this passage:

1) Be careful when you speak ill of anyone- you may be heaping judgement upon yourself.

2) Press hard into God and ask him to develop in you a heart for Him. Think how much it means to Him to find a man who runs toward Him in these ways.

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." II Chronicles 16:9 

3) Be willing to trust God enough to defend you. Learn to trust in His ways and His timing.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. " I Peter 5:6

I truly believe that the Lord heard Moses' cry of depression in Numbers 11 and He used these circumstances to support Him. I said it before, I feel a little sorry for Miriam because she took a hit because of Moses' need more than her sin- but God's punishment is not unjust.

How good might we feel one day to see God knock the Accuser to the ground as he defends us on judgement day.

"This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased."

"Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Embrace the gospel today and watch His Spirit do the work!