Specific, Individual Assignments
“Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 ASV).
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Noah and Moses played major and historic roles in God’s plan. Their convictions and consecrations to the Lord’s service are powerful examples for us even today. Noah and Moses both gave their will, their life, their everything, in service to God. Their experiences were similar: each displayed leadership under extreme pressure, each endured difficult trials, and each enjoyed miraculous deliverance. Their experience in these processes fortified their faith and instilled in them the courage to go forward in a new beginning. Their unique characters and personalities provide us with wonderful insights into the possibilities for our own spiritual life. Through them we may have the assurance of our hope in Christ and develop a deeper conviction in things that we too hope for but we cannot see.
Noah — A Man of Conviction
We remember Noah mostly for building the ark, an amazing accomplishment from which we may learn multiple lessons. His long dedication to this task based on God’s promise must have been very difficult ‑‑ all of the time ‑‑ not merely in building such a technological behemoth, but in dealing with the inevitable social strain and intimidation that were surely directed at him and his family from the crowd. If criticized for building the ark, would Noah have been able to shrug it off? Did he become a laughingstock for announcing the coming flood? For expecting a cataclysmic event without historic precedent?
The scriptures are not explicit with this in‑ formation. In fact the entire story of the flood is only recorded as commands from God with a verse that follows to indicate Noah’s obedience. Though there is no record of ridicule or social stigma, we know from Jude 7 that the fallen angels were permitted great influence in
“the world that then was” (2 Peter 3:6). Certainly they persecuted and mocked Noah and his family in an effort to turn the faith of this one righteous human family left on the earth.
Noah’s response? Surely, it was in harmony with his mention as a man of faith (Hebrews 11:7). Additionally, the Apostle Peter testifies that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). This implies that, whether through his actions, words, displayed faith, or a combination of all of these, he was a majestic witness of God’s love and power to the evil world around him.
Moses recorded that Noah “walked with God” and was “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Genesis 6:9). As so many children’s books have led us to believe, Noah was most likely ridiculed. Yet he continued to defend God. Nowhere is there any implication of his hesitation in obedience to God. For his faithfulness to continue for 100 years was truly a test of his fortitude and faith. What a startling example of conviction and endurance.
How About Us?
How great is our faith? If asked, would we devote our lives to building something so economically counter-intuitive, socially outlandish, great and odd as the ark? Yet have we not been asked to do just that? Have we not been asked to devote the remainder of our lives (certainly less than 100 years from the time of our consecration) to a task so great that it cannot be thought feasible by human hands, engineering, or strength? Does this task not require our daily attention and strenuous labor as we fight our own flesh, the Adversary, and the world at large? In our struggle against this world, will we not stand out to others as a peculiar people, worthy of ridicule, as our labors appear ludicrous to those not spirit begotten?
Indeed, our consecration, and our heavenly call, can well be compared to Noah’s great assignment from heaven to build the ark. Noah devoted all of his time and energy to his heavenly assignment, just as we must devote all of our resources and energies toward ours. The social rejection that Noah endured strengthened his resolve and desensitized him to the cares of the age. Can we look at our struggles in the same context? What could we accomplish if we truly believed we could not fail? When we are cast out by our peers as odd, perhaps we should not lament the loss of their respect or friend‑ ship. Instead, we should rejoice and rest safely in the knowledge that God has removed the distraction of their friendship from us. Can we ascend to that same level of assurance in what we hope for?
Noah’s task required a strong intellect, ingenuity, and craftsmanship. Building the ark would have been difficult even though he received the plans directly from God. This lengthy project would take a strong intellect. It is doubtful that a structure of that size could be completed today with only hand tools and the power of four men. God only gave Noah the initial directions: dimensions, etc., and nothing more. So Noah’s ingenuity is clear.
What kind of life training would Noah have needed in order to build such a vessel? Perhaps he was a builder or a craftsman in that primitive economy; trades that would have equipped him with the skills to build the ark. Whether through these types of experiences during the first 500 years of his life, or through some other more
direct method, God certainly provided Noah with the skill and ability that he required to accomplish such a demanding and sophisticated task. Likewise, God provides His children with the essentials required by them to serve Him.
Though “not many wise” (1 Corinthians 1:26) are called, we receive our wisdom and understanding from the holy Spirit. Thus we also have the intellectual power to complete all of the heavenly tasks given to us by our Lord, just as Noah was able to build the ark. His son Shem, who aided in the ark’s construction, is sometimes credited with building the Great Pyramid,1 an even greater engineering feat. God provided these men with the information and understanding they needed to fulfill their services to God.
They were prepared through a life experience that honed their skills and through inspiration from God. We can be sure that, as the Lord’s consecrated, we too will receive the necessary preparation and understanding for the tasks ahead, whether through training or other interventions of the holy Spirit (Philippians 1:6). Noah was justified by his faith in a future that he could not see. He was powerfully convinced in his heart. In his example, we are encouraged in the same path.
(1) There is no direct evidence, however. — Editor
Moses — The Pattern of Humility
Like Noah, Moses also received one primary assignment from God: to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and establish the Law. Like Noah, Moses’ calling from God also included leadership under pressure, miraculous deliverance, salvation to a new life and a new beginning. When we look closer at the life of Moses, we find helpful insights and tips for progressing in our own spiritual life.
The chronology of Moses’ life mirrors the progress that we make in our own spiritual life. Moses was third‑born, at a time in which Pharaoh’s edict ordered that all male babies be drowned in the river Nile. Before Moses’ character could be revealed, the faith of his parents, Jochebed and Amram, was shown in their decision to place baby Moses in a basket and float him downstream. Their full faith in God must have given them assurance to leave the baby’s fate in the hand of God. They trusted that He could save their child. They did everything in their power to ensure this possibility. However, once the basket was lowered into the water and released, Moses’ life lay solely in the hand of God.
Their faith was rewarded by God’s miraculous salvation. Moses was saved from certain death for a grand purpose. What a powerful influence we as parents can have on the salvation of our own children. Do we have the full faith in God that will put our children in a position to be used by God in a powerful way? Like Noah and his parents, when God selects us for a large part, or even a small part, in His great plan, we may be sure that He will carry it through with equal care and attention. Our purpose in God’s plan will also come to pass.
Thus Moses’ life began under the protection of Pharaoh’s daughter. Through God’s providence, Moses was actually raised by his own mother for about seven years. Surely, during that time, she told him of his heritage and about her steadfast faith in God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Moses had no control over his upbringing. He had no part in his parent’s decision to hide him in the river and he had no say in his early education. Instead, God was in control of it all. God carried the basket safely to the princess’ bath and prepared her heart to accept such a child as her own. Though we have heard and read the story countless times, it is important to remind ourselves that this, too, was a miracle. Without God’s miraculous intervention, this account would not have been possible.
There is nothing too great for God! God is in control of our lives also, and His purposeful plan in our life may prove to be as vital as His plan for Moses. Our God of miracles is at work in our individual lives, overruling circumstances for our benefit in His service (Matthew 6:25‑33, 1 Thessalonians 5:24). Let us remember this when we suffer an injustice, or when we cannot understand God’s purposes or when we cannot feel God’s guiding hand in our lives. When we seem to be floating out of control, God is with us too!
As Moses grew older, he was inspired and believed in his Jewish heritage. It is equally important for us to remember our roots and continue to lay a strong foundation at the beginning of our spiritual life. Through the example of Moses, we may be assured that God will provide an opportunity for us to grow up, healthily, into Christ. If we seek Him, we will find Him, through Christ (Hebrews 11:6).
Moses attended the royal academy of Egypt where he learned the arts, sciences, technology, and state‑of‑the‑art engineering principles.
Through this unique life experience, God provided Moses with an education during which he developed the skills that would be activated after the exodus. From the beginning of Moses’ life, God had an intricate plan for Moses to further His purposes, and in this plan we see the beauty and majesty of God.
Before the exodus Moses’ experience in the desert as a shepherd served as another great training experience. Perhaps Moses felt like he was wandering aimlessly without a purpose but we see God developing him for a great work. With his flock, Moses watched for danger, analyzed patterns of his sheep’s behavior, and learned the lay of the land. His mind was constantly set on protecting and leading his flock, a skill that might later translate into protecting and leading the flock of God’s people. He would also develop great patience, necessary for leading a rebellious and stiff‑necked people (Deuteronomy 9:6).
In Egypt, Moses enjoyed a high social status, which also came with the mantel of power. Not surprisingly, when Moses saw an injustice against his Jewish brothers, he used that power to exact justice by killing the of fending Egyptian. Later, on the opposite side of the social spectrum, as a shepherd in the wilderness, he found himself with no social status and very little power. However, here Moses would learn to make more prudent, calculated decisions when protecting his sheep. God made him a shepherd on the backside of the desert in order to develop in him a humble and trusting relationship with his flock. In retrospect, it is easy for us to see God’s providence in these two stages of his life. With this insight we may look more closely for God’s hand during similar developmental stages in our own life.
Moses’ experience as a shepherd of sheep on the backside of the desert proved vital for him as a leader of the Israelites. They looked to him as their deliverer and sought his wisdom and fairness to resolve disputes. As valuable as his desert training was, perhaps he could not see God’s providence in his experience. From our vantage point, we clearly see the finger of God working in all of his experiences for specific purposes and for the much greater tasks that would be required later in his life.
Moses began his personal relationship with God at the burning bush at the ripe old age of eighty! What new beginning might we be ca‑ pable of when we reach eighty years old? From Moses’ experience, we see the fantastic and encouraging capability of our Heavenly Father to prepare him for something useful even though he must have felt that he was isolated and away from his people.
Using His Example
On the strength of Moses’ example, let us recast our experiences and strengthen our faith that God provides every joyful and difficult detail of our life. Like Moses, our confidence in our experiences and our efforts to develop a better skill‑set will help us be‑ come better servants. God’s task for Moses was so big that it took two thirds of Moses’ life to prepare him for it, and Moses was blinded to this fact until the burning bush experience. Likewise, God is now training us for our future work ‑‑ not only for our future experiences and opportunities to serve, but also for our service beyond the veil, the details of which we cannot presently comprehend. Let us not be blind to these providences of God. What a comfort it is to know that our struggles, our tears, our doubts, and our fears are all part of God’s master plan for our life. God is preparing us for a future service to further his majestic purposes!
Perhaps the greatest lesson we may learn from Moses is that of his humility. Moses’ humility was developed and forged in his life and during a time when he least expected it, when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses is called the most humble of any man (Numbers 12:3). When meeting God at the burning bush, Moses insisted that there were better men for the task, that he was not a good speaker, etc. But God pushed Moses and showed him
that he could do mighty things through God’s power. Similarly, the Apostle Paul could do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Despite Moses’ hesitation, he proved ready to be used by God, and obey God. This life testimony is a valuable lesson to us in our uncertain‑ ties, struggles, tears, doubt, and fears.
Moses laid down a consistent and clear path for us by asking God for help before doing anything. From the time Moses returned to Egypt until the end of his life, Moses asked God for direction in everything he did and faithfully followed it. Though Moses pleaded with God and expressed his opinion, he was proactive in following God’s will. We should be equally proactive. In addition, Moses demonstrated an indifference to earthly pleasures. He is remembered equally for being very faith‑ ful at doing what our Heavenly Father asked of him, and for looking past the pleasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:25‑26). Moses’ example strengthens our spirit.
Moses was fully engaged with God, and the people of Israel saw the evidence of this in the radiance of his face when he came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets (Exodus 34:29). What was the reaction of the people of Israel? They were all afraid of him, including his brother Aaron. The people of Israel saw that Moses was different, and this physical testimony of God’s favor on Moses was an important sign to them.
Are we fully engaged with God? Do others see the reflection of this engagement in our faces? It is interesting that Moses did not know that his face glowed but he was indeed reflecting God’s radiance and love to the Israelites, and they got the message. People are watching us also. We can be sure that they will clearly see the testimony of our lives. Like Moses, we should be fully focused on the will of God. This focus will help us put away earthly ambitions, hopes, and dreams so that we may be ready to serve our Heavenly Father.
Moses also shows us how proper leadership is grounded in prayer. While God prepared Moses to be a leader during the first eighty years of his life, that leadership training was tested in the wilderness. The children of Israel went through an amazing cultural transformation from slavery to freedom as the children of God. Surprisingly, some of them developed open discontent toward Moses’ leadership; so he turned to God for guidance. (For example, in Numbers 11:2, the people cried out to Moses, and in response, he prayed.) Like‑ wise, if we are called to lead, prayer is crucial in our decisions. Just as Moses was tested, our Heavenly Father tests us in order to develop His precious fruit.
Let us look to Moses’ example of a rich prayer life and improve our own. His prayer life was one of his sustaining elements. It will prove equally valuable in ours. Prayer represents an opportunity for us to communicate with the Creator of the Universe! Our experiences are trying at times, but just as in Moses’ life, our experiences are designed to build character, faith and a greater understanding of God. Let us turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer with each of our experiences. Like Moses, let us walk honestly before God and be sensitive to discern His intervention in our lives.
In the Old Testament, before the Gospel call was given, God provided encouragement to Spiritual Israel through the life experiences of these two great men. God gave them specific, individual assignments. God may be doing the same thing with us in our consecrated lives (2 Corinthians 6:1‑2). It may not seem as if we are living in an epic time like Noah and Moses, but indeed we are! We are living in the greatest transition of the ages in the history of mankind. Like Noah and Moses, we are being developed for our own specific, individual assignments. It is our privilege and our duty to develop a close, personal relationship with God.
Categories: 2014 Issues, 2014-November/December
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