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The Sovereignty of God
by Fenny West
5/01/2009 / Bible Studies
Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 "I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.' 3 The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said. 4 And the LORD will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deut.31:1-8
Moses had been told he would not be leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land because he failed to honour God when asked to speak to a rock. Israel had always murmured once they hit a bump on the road to the Promised Land and were getting on Moses' nerves.
If you were in Moses shoes what would you do? How would you take it? Would you throw tantrums or would you take it in your strides and let God be God and still be submissive and even plan your succession like Moses did?
Let's put this story in its proper context. This was a man who carried the burden of over 6 million Jews on his shoulders, who approached Pharaoh boldly to 'Let my people go' as the emissary of God. He performed many miracles to attest his mandate from God. God hardened Pharaoh's heart many times and more trouble was even visited on Israel following his intervention. The people complained that Moses had made matters worse. Eventually, after God had displayed his awesome power through the 10 plagues culminating in the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh relented and let them go.
Not long after they had left Egypt loaded with the silver and gold of the Egyptians, (because God had promised they would not come out empty handed), they met with the Red sea in front of them. They looked back and they saw an armada of the Egyptian army pursuing them. All hell broke lose as they became so enraged that they wanted to stone Moses whom they accused of bringing them there to kill them. They reminisced of the garlic, licks, and cucumber they had in Egypt and wondered why Moses did not leave them alone. They even wanted to choose another leader to take them back to the land of slavery.
Moses called on God and God told him what to do. He encouraged the Israelites to 'stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. 'the Egyptians you see today, you will see them no more.'
He stretched out his rod and the sea was parted for the people to walk on dry ground! Pharaoh's soldiers and chariots dared and drowned like a stone.
You would think that with such miraculous deliverance they would never disbelieve God again in the face of adversity, but this was not the case. Soon there was no water and they complained. Later they complained there was no meat. Moses was always in the firing line; he always sought God's face and God directed him as to what to do. Bitter water had been turned sweet during his reign; spring water gushed forth as he struck a rock as God directed, but when told to 'speak a rock' on another occasion when there was no water, he chose to strike it at his peril. This is where it all went wrong for him. He lost the prize of entering the Promised Land. He was told to choose a successor.
However, Moses was submissive to God. He understood the sovereignty of God. He knew he was a servant of God; it was all about God and not him.
What are the lessons to be learned here?
God wants the work He has started in you to continue to bless others even long after you have gone. He desires you to bless, not just your generation, but the generations to come and you need to take sides with Him and plan your succession. Like David who when told that he was not allowed to build the temple of God, did not only accept God's verdict but also made abundant provision for his son, Solomon, to build the temple of God.
Moses in our story was not bitter and twisted as most of us would be but saw the bigger picture as more important than his personal wish, ambition, self-interest and aggrandizement. He encouraged the people and laid his hand on Joshua in the presence of the nation to transfer his anointing and confer his authority and approval of his successor.
Be a catalyst, promoter and bastion of generational blessing. It is not about you but about God. You were saved to serve God and humanity- not yourself.
This lesson is unmistakeable. Moses was a mighty man of God. He was a man who was highly educated, raised up in Pharaoh's house, finance through Pharaoh's coffer's, yet he identified with his people. He knew he had a calling. He started rough trying to do things his own way so God allowed him to be a fugitive after he killed some Egyptians who were maltreating his kit and kin. During his exile in Midian God worked on him for forty years till he became mellow, tame and humble. Now, in spite of his previous eloquence he did not consider himself good enough when God came to him to go and confront Pharaoh as God's emissary. We see this trait of humility on display in this text. Moses, in spite of all the aggravation of the Israelites interceded for them when God wanted to wipe them out.
God would want to bring you and I to that place where we would 'let this mind be in you' as it was with Christ who humbled himself even to die the death on a cross, who laid aside his majesty, was thrown into the sewer and sea of sin, separated from the Father for rebels like us. The way up is the way down. He must increase and we decrease. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Let's submit ourselves to God and then resist the devil, then he will flee from us.
We serve a God of integrity. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it comes into being. It was God who said he will deliver the children of Israel who had being in bondage for over four hundred years. It was prophesied before they went there and God would not relent on His promise. We see how God is putting things in place to bring it about. His word will not fall to the ground. Hold on to that word which He gave you. Pray it back to Him. He is a God of integrity. He has the wherewithal to fulfil His promises. The earth in all its fullness belongs to Him. Silver and God belong to Him. There is nothing too hard for Him heaven earth will pass away but His word will not pass away. Like Job, say to yourself: I will wait until my change comes. The vision may tarry, it may not have blossomed; there may be no fruit on the vine, no cattle in the stall, yeti will rejoice in the god of my salvation. I n His time He will make al things beautiful. Say to yourself, like David, 'My times are in His Hands.' God is not a man that He should lie.
We learn a lot about ministry from what Moses did. Many a times we see ministers building their kingdom instead of God's. We must seek first the Kingdom of God. Pastors are called to feed the sheep not fleece them. The sheep are called to support the Pastor, help him to help them, lift his hands in prayers and intercession like Moses' hands were raised by Aaron and Hur. We need each other in ministry. It is not a one-man band. He is the Vine and we are the branches. Without Him we can do nothing. We are co-labourers with Him but He calls the shots.
We also see the importance of the word of prophecy in this passage which underscores the need for us to treasure what God had said to us corporately or as individuals. Such prophecy can be a faith fuel in times of discouragement as we can latch unto them and pray it back to God or even remind the enemy what God said and reaffirming that our God is a God of integrity, Who stands by His word to perform it. If He said it, He will do it.
Leaders should train others to take up the mantle. Jesus had the twelve disciples, then those in the inner circle- Peter James and John (and Andrew). We also had the 70 Elders. Moses also on the advice of his in-law-Jethro- appointed Elders to help him. Joshua in this story was his assistant who learnt a lot from Moses and this helped him when he was thrust into that position. Let us commit to faithful people what we have been entrusted to so that the house of God will be built into a magnificent edifice to the glory of God.
God has promised His presence to those who are with Him, who have repented of their sins, sold-out to Him and doing His will. As it was with Moses and as it was with the disciples, so it is with us. The promise is unchanging. It is guaranteed: 'I will not leave you nor forsake you until the end of the age.' The good work He has begun in each one of us He will continue to work at until He brings it to a glorious conclusion. Regardless of what we see, giants, winter, storm, thunder, lightning, hail stones, valley, credit crunch, persecution, cross, Job-like experiences etc, etc, the promise of God remains: 'I will never leave you nor forsake you until the end of the age.'
Moses heard from God and acted on what He heard in spite of the fact that what he heard was not music to his ears. Often we claim to hear from God just what we want to hear. We in other words hear selectively. We rebuke the Devil when the word we hear runs counter to our aspirations and ambitions. We need to come to the realisation that God is sovereign and speaks what He wants to speak. He speaks to direct us in the right way. He speaks to correct us or even rebuke us. Hence there will be times when what we hear may graze or crush our ego. We need to examine what we hear in the light of God's word; and once it lines up with His word we need to say amen to it. It is for our good. Running away from the will of God is running into the wrath of God, as Jonah can testify. God says I will direct you with my eyes. I will teach you the way you should go. ( Ps32:8). Trust the Lord at all times. Lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Moses was wise when he said: 'unless your presence goes with me, do not send me.'
We have the Holy Spirit as our Guide, come to guide us into all truth. Let's consult Him, and involve Him in all we do and He will lead us to our Promised Land, His desired haven- the land flowing with milk and honey.
In spite of the giants, the Promised Land remains God's promise for us. In spite of the cross we carry along the way, it is still God's desire and delight that we forge ahead trusting Him Who knows best, Who knows the end from even the beginning.
Destiny speaks. Joshua was a type of Jesus. Moses represented the Law. Just as the law came by Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The Law is a school master that leads us to Christ. Through the law we see the enormity of our sin and how helpless we are in meeting the demands of God. It is only by grace that we can come and be accepted in the beloved, not of works lest any should boast. Joshua was destined to lead the people into the Promised Land as Christ the Last Adam- led us into Salvation; how it came about is a different matter. Jesus was destined to die on the cross. Judas, the Jews and the Romans were conduits, who represented us who were afar off.
The will of the Lord shall be done.
God is all-powerful, decrees and it stands, commands and it comes into being. He is sovereign and has the last Word in our lives and in the affairs of this World. Regardless of what is happening to us or around us, we need to acknowledge this truth, confess it, hold on to it, rejoice in it and expect His prevalence.
Lord, help us to submit to your sovereign will
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