You see, I had heard little pieces from a pastor I listen to on the way to work- and then a big hunk from another more well known later- that led me to the conclusion, "These guys are preaching to rich/well-to-do congregations. Why are they not reaching out to the poor- or at the very least, less well-to-do people like me?"
But that wasn't what God wanted to talk about- not directly, anyway. And at one point when I was actually open in my mini-frustration, He said, "Wait, you will hear a word from someone that will make it all make sense." So I waited, and kept reading. And got no closer till about 15 minutes ago.
And this morning, I was reading in Exodus 16-18 and began to look at Moses and the Israelites in a different way. These are the chapters in which the following things happen:
- The Israelites "murmur" about lack of food and receive manna;
- The Israelites "contend" about lack of water and Moses strikes the rock at Massah and Meribah;
- The Israelites go to war with Amalek;
- And Moses' father in law Jethro pays a visit.
And while the stubbornness of the Israelites in not using miracles to build their faith is legendary, I began to look at Moses' leadership. Now no one, I hope, will disagree that few men who walked the earth were ever closer to God than Moses. But as I looked at this in a different light, here's what I saw:
Chapter 16- Now Moses HAD to realize that they were getting to a point that the people were hungry. In his semi-mystical way of waiting for the Lord to provide, you see no evidence that he went to God in advance of the problem. Instead, he allowed the murmuring to grow until God acted first, and told him He would send quail and manna. He waited till God addressed him about the problem to acknowledge that trouble was brewing.
How often do we wait until God "has to say something" to deal with a problem?
Chapter 17, part one: So they move on into the desert, which is noted for one thing in particular- lack of water. We often talk about the Israelites not learning lessons from even the immediate past. But leadership comes from the top, dear Moses, and you waited until you had to say:
Exo 17:4 And Moses cried to Jehovah, saying, What shall I do to this people? Yet a little and they will stone me.
Did the desert suddenly get MORE dry? No, but Moses again waited until he felt he had to pray for his own safety. Then, and only then (apparently), did he go to God.
How often do we wait until we're "in deep enough" to go to God?
Chapter 17, part two, and Chapter 18: In the last section of 17, Moses ascends the hill to watch Joshua's army battle Amalek. When he holds his arms in the air, Joshua wins; but as his arms grow tired and droop, the enemy stars to come back. Finally Aaron and Hur (not Ben Hur, silly) come up to hold his arms up, and Joshua wins the day.
Again, though, Moses is not inspired by the fact that sometimes he needs help. This is when Jethro drops by to drop off Moses' wife and kids, and he looks at what Moses is doing. Particularly, he notices the long line of Israelites with gripes both major and minor, marching in an endless line to Moses for judgment while others stand around with their fingers in their noses.
Exo 18:14 And Moses' father-in-law saw all he was doing to the people. And he said, What is this thing which you are doing to the people? Why are you sitting by yourself, and all the people standing beside you from morning until evening?
Exo 18:15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, Because the people come to me to seek God.
Exo 18:16 When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor. And I make known the statutes of God, and His laws.
Exo 18:17 And the father-in-law of Moses said to him, The thing which you do is not good.
Exo 18:18 Wearing you will wear out, both you and this people with you. For the thing is heavy for you. You are not able to do it by yourself.
So Jethro, whom we learn just a few verses earlier was a pagan priest until he listened to Moses' story about all that had happened since he left, then tells him, "Now here's what we would do in the business world:"
Exo 18:19 Now listen to my voice. I will counsel you, and may God be with you. You be for this people before God, and you bring the matters to God.
Exo 18:20 And you warn them as to the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they should walk, and the work which they should do.
Exo 18:21 And you, you shall look out men of ability out of all the people, who fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain. And you place these over them as rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
Exo 18:22 And let them judge the people at all times. And it shall be that every great matter they shall bring to you, and every small matter they shall judge. And you make it easy on yourself, and let them bear with you.
Exo 18:23 If you do this thing, and God command you, you will be able to stand; and also this people will go in peace to their place.
Wow. "Don't try to do it alone"- what a concept! And it was more than that- he was taking the advice of a former pagan as to how THEY would do it. IDK that Moses ever thought about, "I don't wanna do it that way because that's the way the Egyptians did it," But one of the things that I alluded to at the very beginning of this post was hearing that famous pastor advertising a sea cruise to the Holy Land and the Greek Islands, "paid for by the guests travelling with us". And I thought, "There's another example. IDK how much tickets to this cost, but it's sure beyond what I can afford- IOW, catering to the rich yet again."
Now you can see problems I have here- of pride, class envy, etc. But I was also trying to loop into it the Pastor's fault- why serve just the rich? What about us?
And then the next pastor came on, and the words that God had promised me came out. He was starting a message on the Collosaean Church, and began it with something to the effect of, "Paul told them they were in a good place, and needed to use their advantages for the Kingdom of God."
Oh, ho. "Do you see what IIIIIIIIIIIII see?" America is a land where even the poor are "well-to-do" by the standards of say, Sudan. The "rich" of America have a unique opportunity to minister to the poor of the world- whether it be sending Bibles to China, or helping at the homeless shelter, or sponsoring a Guatemalan child (as I do.) Every one of those people being helped could easily say, "Oh, look at the rich American feeding us the crumbs off their table." Only the giver can judge whether he/she is sending help or crumbs. And this is why we NEED to have pastors who deal with the rich. Like Collosae, we are in that "good place." If the greatest difference between America and the rest of the world is our wealth, let us use that wealth to God's advantage.
Point made, o Lord. Instead of "murmuring," "contending", or "doing it myself", I need to be thankful that this nation has rich to be preached to. Remember the charity that THEY have given ME. And pray for the pastors that serve ALL of us.