What Do You Seek?
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel (Psalm 103:7).
In the preceding verse, David distinguishes Moses from the sons of Israel, not in terms of leader to people, but rather by the comparative degree of intimacy with God. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend (Ex. 33:11a). Furthermore, Moses prayed, ...if I have found favor in thy sight, let me know thy ways, that I may know Thee...(Ex. 33:13). Moses, amidst and almost despite his calling, had received a remarkable revelation, that knowing God was the ultimate purpose; a life continually sought after. So then, having the assurance that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, Moses, by faith, would eagerly anticipate God’s gracious response in revealing more of Himself through His ways.
Why is this so remarkable? First of all, this concept could only have come through divine revelation. Consider the vessel through whom it came-“Moses, the Lawgiver,” with his continuous exhortations on keeping the Law. It is important to note that the prayer mentioned above was uttered by Moses after he had received the Ten Commandments with much of the Law consisting of statutes and ordinances. It has been said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. Moses, without benefit of the Prophets and other Old Testament writings; having only a fractional knowledge of what is commonly known today as the complete Old Testament, most assuredly was blessed with New Testament revelation. Could it be that many of us have underestimated the light which Moses possessed while possibly overestimating our own?
By contrast, the sons of Israel only knew God from afar.....and they wanted it kept that way. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the peoples, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of God may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” So, the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where was (Ex. 20:19-21). Sadly, the relational perspective of the sons of Israel towards God, for the most part, could be reduced to, and summed up as, “What has God done for me, lately?”, or possibly a written record entitled, The Acts of God: Tales from a Distance.
This was a people who spoke of God often enough, but only as it impacted their personal welfare. There was no interest in knowing the person of God: His heart, His mind, His divine purposes, nor a desire to be known by God in order to be purged and refined, that they might walk in a manner pleasing to Him. They could only praise or fear God for His acts of deliverance or judgment. Moses, sought that which was eternal. The sons of Israel sought that which was external and temporal.
While the unfolding of God and His eternal purposes continues in ever greater revelation throughout Scriptural history, the demands and weaknesses of the natural man remain constant. Christ, in His day on earth, addressed this issue in typically blunt fashion. Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered, and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign.....” (Mat.12:38-39b). And the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.....” Jesus replied, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:17, 20).
We have been speaking of God’s ways, but how are they defined? What are the ways of God and how are they pursued? Jesus said, “I am the Way” and “Learn of Me.” The word “way” is defined as: a natural path or road, a course of conduct or way of thinking. His Way leads to “Truth and Life.” That is why we are to follow Him. What was it that Christ imparted to His disciples for 3 ½ years in private homes, in the hills and along dusty roads? It was nothing more and nothing less than Himself. That is how they learned His ways. He did not hand out workbooks and outlines and then proceed to conduct seminars, after which they received their hard-earned sheepskins, literally, validating their qualifications for ministry.
He charged no tuition, offered no scholarships based upon merit or special hardship cases. (Come to think of it, they were all hardship cases.) He imparted to them what He had received from the Father. They, in turn, were to impart to others what they had received from Christ, which in turn was to be passed on from generation to generation, in the same Way and through the same Way. As an example, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, For this reason I have sent to you Timothy.....and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ.....(I Cor. 4:17).
Speaking of the Corinthian church, Paul’s letter to them made it abundantly clear that they were in desperate need of being reminded of his ways. How could a church be so gifted, and yet, so carnal? Well, first of all, to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (I Cor. 12:7). Secondly, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable Rom.11:29), or putting it another way, to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift (Eph. 4:7). Paul did not mince words when he told the Corinthians, For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (I Cor.4:7). Today, it is all too common to hear various churches boldly proclaim as to how mightily God is moving in their midst. I often wonder if maybe some are only partly correct. Yes, God may be moving, but maybe to a new address, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
Gifting without godly character is not a pretty sight. It produces a craving for the acts of God and not His ways. We become addicted to, and drunk, from “the old wine.” Our spiritual senses become dulled and eventually we come to the place where we no longer desire the new, truly spiritual wine which gives life; for we say, “the old is good enough.” (Luke 5:39b). The craving for these acts becomes insatiable because only His ways, or Way of God-namely, Christ Jesus, can ever satisfy. A true barometer of where our heart’s treasure lies will come at the conclusion of our meetings when from within, spoken or unspoken, the question is asked along the lines of, “did we have a good meeting?”
The criteria may vary, but often is strongly related to one or more of the following; the preaching and teaching, the praise and worship, manifestation of the gifts, a good crowd, etc. There is a better line of questioning because it is based upon better criteria; “Did we meet the Lord?” “Did we receive something of Himself?” “Did we receive a greater revelation of the Lord and His eternal purposes?” If our spiritual education has not taught us that our primary goal should be the consideration and pursuit of such things then I would equate that with being told that I have earned a high school diploma only to discover that I am functionally illiterate. Educational malpractice does indeed exist within the Church. We are not speaking of higher spiritual education, but rather what should be taught as the basics, the elementary principles of the faith, upon which we are able to build towards spiritual growth and maturity. Paul reminded this same church, For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:11).
I would submit to you that what we commonly refer to as, The Book of Acts, is a rather unfortunate name. It does not do the historical account of the early Church justice, for it is so much more than that. It is The Book of Ways, His Ways, manifested within and without His Body, the Church. This was taught by men who, as stated at the outset, knew Christ and His ways. They could impart no more and desired nothing less. It was all they knew. May God raise up men of this caliber, who are truly qualified to show us THE WAY, causing us to exclaim with Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable HIS WAYS!” (Rom 11:33).
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