Is your life at all mirroring the walk of the Hebrews where we’ve now left them… IMAGINE. IT. FOR. A. MINUTE?
Grumbling and complaining is where we find our liberated nation this week. Grumbling and complaining while the serve out the consequences of idol worship. This portion of our reading brings to mind the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for…” Is it possible to be liberated and still never be free? That’s an important questions. See the end of this post for my answer.
Manna every single day – morning, noon and night. Until they grumbled and complained and God gave them meat – meat coming out of their nostrils, they were overrun with it. Over and over again the Hebrews test the Lord with their grumbling and complaining and over and over again the Lord delivers for them – but not without consequences.
For forty years this group of “vagabond” slaves would wonder in the desert cursing both God and Moses for their plight when really they themselves needed to change. Change their way of thinking, adjust their expectations and even open their eyes to a new perspective. At any moment their situation could have changed and they could have been delivered by their faith in God, but they chose to identify only with the tangible realities in their lives. Even when God invited them up to the mountain – fear kept them from meeting with Him there. They missed the blessing of His presence and then hated Moses all the more because of the favor he was offered in his time with God. Is that where we live today? Are God’s people still quibbling and complaining in ungrateful postures when all the Lord has done is more than enough for all of us?
Jethro gives Moses some sound advice in this portion of our reading… It speaks to those moments when Moses says – “This is all too much for me, these people you have given me.”
Exodus 18:17-23 (NIV)
17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
This revelation brings me to two points:
1. We should never try to be everything to the people we serve. It is appropriate to be valued and to be looked to as a leader, but if our end all be all is found in a man/woman and not in God – LOOK OUT! You’re headed for a ditch in the desert and right quick. Beth Moore grabbed my heart early on in my leadership days. She said, “You should strive to be the kind of leader who points people to Jesus so that when your job is finished you can get out of the way and they’d still follow Jesus.” She also advocates being a student of many teachers, but a follower of one Christ. Jethro was telling Moses – it is a disservice to both you and the people that they look to you for everything in their lives. It will wear all of you out. Suffering from Ministry or Lifestyle Burn Out?
2. We should not look to one person to help us resolve our problems and provide us ministry. We should seek wise counsel when needed, but trust that God’s provision is not from some “special” anointed one, but from the ones who are holy submitted and given over to the Holy Spirit direction in their lives. I’m looking for people who lead me to Jesus. [Period]
As for whether or not freedom and liberation are different, I say yes. I believe liberty is the permission to be free, but freedom is the state of actually walking in the liberty you’ve been granted. It is highly possible one could truly be liberated and not be free.
Lots of meat in this week’s reading. We’re moving right along. Let me know what your meditating on from last week’s reading. We jump into the LAW books next week – OH, LORD. HAVE. MERCY. Please… 🙂 See you then.